A/N: Nothing you recognize belongs to me! The lyrics are from 'Broadway' the Goo Goo Dolls. Some quotes taken from 'A Good Man goes to War.' Enjoy!
Your anger don't impress me
The world slapped in your face
It always rains like hell on the loser's day parade.
You see you'd love to run home
but you know you ain't got one
'cause you're livin' in a world
that you'd best forgot around here.
Broadway is dark tonight
You're a little bit weaker than you used to be.
Broadway is dark tonight.
See the young man sittin' in the old man's bar,
Waitin' for his turn to die.
He didn't understand, River thought as she watched her father walk away. Of course, Rory Williams didn't know he was her father, anymore than Amy knew that she was River's mother. She'd never seen him in his centurion garb but she'd heard stories—from the Doctor, from her mum—about how he guarded that black box (the Pandorica, they called it) while her mum was trapped inside, waiting for the Doctor and her younger self to touch it so she could be healed, so she could live. And when he came to her, asking for her help (to save herself, ironically, but he didn't know) she had to turn him down. It almost killed her, watching him walk away. She was so tired of hiding, so tired of being unable to lay all of her cards out on the table.
It's me! she was screaming inside her mind. I'm right here! But the words remained in her head where they belong, and she only sighed before she turned to the shadow behind her. "They'll never forgive me," she murmured.
The darkness shifted and a woman stepped into the dull gray light of Stormcage prison. She was shorter than River, but wiry and strong. Her blonde hair was pulled tightly back from her face, which was bare. She was far too old to cake on mascara like she used to, although she didn't look it. She wore dark jeans and a battered leather coat like armor, a trick she learned centuries ago. Her face was hard, set in lines that hinted at a life lived rough. She shrugged. "They'll understand, eventually."
"They're my parents!" River argued. "They need me!"
The woman shook her head. "Not yet. You can go to them, but not yet."
River flopped down onto her bed and stared at the wall, arms crossed over her chest. "I don't know why I listen to you," she replied. "You won't even tell me your name."
"Two words," the woman said. "I gave you two words, and they'll work as good as anything else."
"Bad Wolf," River Song said softly. "But what does it mean? I've seen those word before, seen them a thousand times when I was looking for him. Everywhere he went, that phrase followed—a thousand different time zones, a million different locations, right to the end of the universe, but he would never tell me what it meant."
The woman crouched down in front of her, her elbows resting on her knees. "It means," she told the other woman, "that he is not alone. It means that however far and fast he runs, he will never run without a hand to hold. It means that no matter what happens—no matter who or what tries to separate us, I will come back."
It was going so well—until everything fell apart. The Doctor taken Demon's Run without a drop of blood spilled. He'd returned Melody Pond to her mother and father. He'd liberated Amy and sent her captors away with a chilling reminder of what happened to those who harmed his friends. Then the trap had sprung, and Amy had been left holding an empty blanket while her child—a flesh avatar—dissolved in her arms, and headless monks closed in on his friends, and he was left with a situation that spiraled out of control faster than he could even try to stop it.
That was, of course, when she decided to show up. River Song appeared in a flash of light—a signature effect of a Vortex Manipulator. The designers apparently thought that it added 'flash' to time travel. He was old enough to prefer something a bit more subtle. Of course, that brought to mind a flash of blonde hair and pink tongue and a teasing remark about a certain space-and-time ship and he squashed it relentlessly. He couldn't afford to be distracted, not now, not when so much depended on his actions.
"Well then, solder, how goes the day?" The question was classic River—enigmatic, provocative, and just a tad condescending. She was smiling at him; her lips quirked as if she was trying to hold some exclamation of mirth in.
He was not amused. In fact, he was livid. He'd summoned her and she'd ignored him. He had come every time she called but when he needed her she had refused, told Rory that it was too early. If she had been there he might have saved Melody. If she had been there perhaps he wouldn't have to tell two people who had already been hurt far too much for his sake that their daughter was lost. No one else moved as he stalked towards her. She remained still as he moved to stand in front of her, so close that their noses were almost touching. "Where the hell have you been?" he demanded, his voice low and dangerous. "Every time you asked I have been there—where the hell were you today?"
"I couldn't have prevented this," River told him and the smile slipped from her lips.
"You could have tried," the Doctor bit back, and turned away from her. He didn't see the shadow detach itself from the wall behind River, didn't see the other woman move into the light to stand beside her—but Rory did. And Rory recognized her. He'd seen her hundreds of times over the two-thousand years he spent guarding the Pandorica. She never stayed for long, but she was always there, watching, waiting. She wouldn't speak to him, not even when he shouted at her and threatened her with his hand gun (he never would have fired it, and maybe she knew). Most of the time she would smile sadly, give a little wave, and then vanish.
"So, my love, could you." The words, spoken in a voice that was achingly familiar, stopped the Doctor in his tracks. He was still in a way that Rory had come to associate with extreme anger or paralyzing fear, still in a way that was totally alien and impossible to replicate. He stood there for a moment, his face completely blank, and Rory couldn't help but wonder who this strange woman was, and what hold she had over him.
River turned to face him and Amy. "I know you're not all right," she told them, her voice soft and her face earnest. "But hold tight, because you're going to be."
"What are you talking about?" the ginger girl cried. "And who is that!" She pointed at the blonde woman standing next to River.
"I'm an old friend," the woman replied. She smiled at them, a small, sad smile. "I used to travel with the Doctor."
The Doctor whirled around, his face set and furious. Her eyes were lighter and her hair darker than he remembered, amber instead of chocolate brown and honey instead of wheat-colored, respectively, but she remained his pink-and-yellow-human—or she would have been, if the whole situation hadn't been impossible. "Who are you?" he demanded. "What are you?"
She regarded him levelly. "You know who I am."
He shook his head. "I know who you appear to be." He strode towards her, invaded her personal space. She remained calm, remained immovable. "Stop it," he hissed. "Show me your true form and we'll talk about what to do with you, but not until you tell me who you are. Because what you're claiming is impossible. Rose Tyler is gone and she is never coming back."
"I am the Bad Wolf," she said softly. "I create myself." She reached a hand out to him. "I take the words and scatter them—a message to lead myself here." He flinched. "Do you believe me now?" she pressed. "No one else could possibly have known those words. We were alone on Satellite five, you, me, the Emperor of the Daleks and the TARDIS."
The Doctor was Amy Pond's best friend. She'd known him since she was seven years old. She'd believed in him while everyone around her (excepting Rory and Mels) told her that he was a figment of her imagination. She'd thought that she was his best friend as well, that he told her things about himself, important things, but here was a woman who traveled with him, who was able to incite a reaction from him on a level that spoke of some sort of deep attachment and he'd never even mentioned her. He looked at her like he'd seen a ghost, but then he took a breath and his comfortable mask was back in place.
"You're late," he told her. "You've jumped too far. You're looking for 2008."
She laughed. "Oh Doctor, I found 2008 centuries ago."
If possible, he turned even paler. "What?"
She went on the offensive, stepped towards him, invaded his space like he had hers. "I've been to the Crucible an' then Norway, Doctor, an' thanks for dropping us off in the back of beyond."
He gaped at her. "Then—then why are you here?"
She seemed to deflate, to crumple in on herself. The anger flickered and died, and she looked like the Doctor did on very bad days—like she was so, so tired and everything was ugly and everything hurt. "Because you were wrong," she replied. "Because he died—and I lived."
"Oh." He sounded like he'd been stabbed. "Oh, Rose."
"He was ninety-eight when he died," she continued. Her eyes were fastened on the floor and her fingers clenched, although she resisted the urge to play with the hem of her jacket. She wasn't twenty years old, damn it. She could do this, she could face him. She took a deep breath. "We had a fantastic life, really." And then she lifted her chin, because she wasn't ashamed of him. Because no matter what the original Doctor thought, her John was brilliant. "But you were wrong about John, Doctor, an' you were wrong about me. He was a good man, the best man I've ever met." He winced and she knew her words stung, but they were the truth. John, her John with his single human heart and over a thousand years of memories, he was so much braver than the alien standing in front of her. "But when he died an' I didn't, I figured there was nothing left in that universe."
"But crossing between them is impossible!" he exclaimed. "Don't you think I tried? After Torchwood, I tried everything, Rose. I searched and searched and all I found was a way to send a message through."
"Oh, Doctor." She reached up and laid her hand against his cheek. "Impossible is just a word, and I don't think it means what you think it does."
Amy, quite frankly, had had enough. Her daughter was missing, had dissolved in her arms, for fuck's sake, and everyone was just standing around watching the Doctor's personal life get messy! "I'm sorry," she began just a bit sarcastically, "but can we focus for a minute? My baby is gone!"
River turned to Rose, a question in her blue eyes, hope and longing and apprehension warring for expression on her face. Rose nodded once. River reached into the pocket of her gray jumpsuit and pulled out a bit of cloth. It was orange, and worn, and shaped like a leaf. Amy stared at it, and then pulled an identical piece of cloth from the blanket that had been wrapped around the flesh avatar of her daughter.
"A very brave woman," River began, "gave this to me when I was a child. She wrote my name in the language of her people." She was always so collected, so calm, but now—her hand was shaking slightly and her voice caught. "The TARDIS will translate it. Just hold it out—it takes a minute for written word." Amy smoothed the soft fabric out and the words swam and shifted before her eyes. River, one side read. Song, said the other.
"She was from the Gamma forests," the older woman continued, "and the only water in the forest is the River." There were tears in her eyes as she smiled at Rory and Amy who could only gape at her. "It's me. I'm Melody. I've wanted to tell you for so long—but I couldn't. Timelines and all of that."
"You're Melody?" Rory asked, incredulous. "You're our daughter?"
"But—why?" Amy demanded, her eyes flashing as she clutched the baby blanket to her chest. "Why did they do this?"
River looked to Rose, who looked to the Doctor.
"You think this was me? You think I wanted this?" He threw his arms out, encompassed everything that had happened in his motion. His bowtie was cocked to the side and his hair was disheveled. He was the picture of righteous indignation.
"I think this is exactly you," Rose replied sharply. "Do the words 'no second chances, I'm that sort of a man,' sound familiar, Doctor? What about Harriet Jones? You said she was supposed to serve three consecutive terms, and then you erase all of that because she did something you didn't like."
"They were leaving!" he yelled, and Amy couldn't stop herself from jumping. He didn't raise his voice often, and when he did it was terrifying. "I beat them and they promised to never come back and they were leaving and she shot them in the back!"
"They threatened to enslave half of the planet!" Rose shouted right back. "You get in your TARDIS and you run away, Doctor, you never stay. You never ever stay!" She was breathing heavily, almost panting with outrage. Her hands clenched and unclenched reflexively as she glared at him with eyes that had gone disturbingly golden. "I've seen the aftermath, and I've spent the last century cleaning up your messes! You've made them so afraid of you that they were willing to take a child and turn her into a weapon!" Her words rang through the empty ship in the sudden silence. The Doctor was staring at her like he'd never seen her before, like something safe and familiar had betrayed him. Rose swallowed the lump in her throat and tried to conquer her towering anger. She was furious with him, completely and totally, but that could wait.
"The word 'doctor' means healer and wise man," she continued softly. "We get that from you—but what could it mean, in time? In the Gamma Forests a 'doctor' is a mighty warrior. I suppose some of it was my fault. I should have questioned you more, should have pushed you to remember who you had been—but I was afraid." She laughed humorlessly. "I was afraid and the universe suffered." Rose paused. His eyes were wide and bright, and his ridiculous bowtie was halfway to being untied and he looked like a baby giraffe, standing there in a professor's uniform: an old man in a young body in an old man's clothes. She felt old herself, then, felt the weight of her centuries pressing down. They were neither of them as young as they once had been, nor as innocent, and she couldn't believe the lie anymore—not when she knew the truth.
"Coward or killer, a dalek once asked you," she told him. "An' you said, 'coward any day.'" She let that sink in, let the memory wash over him until she could see it in his eyes. "Doctor—what are you turning into?"