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Hang In There

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“Is this seat taken?”

“It’s not a seat, it’s a front stoop.”

“Well, you’re sitting on it, aren’t you? What’s a seat if not something you sit on?”

“You’re a weird lady.”

“What? Weird how? Is it my suspenders? I thought they were rather stylish.”

“It’s more like, your everything.”

“Fair enough. So, can I sit with you, then?”

“I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”

“And have rules ever stopped you from doing something before?”

“No. But I’m in enough trouble today already.”

“Well, don’t worry, you’ve got a good amount of time alone out here yet, no grown-ups are going to open that door to check on your obedience or lack thereof for a while.”

“Good.”

“So. Why are you sitting all alone out here, anyway?”

“There’s a new therapist over. I’m supposed to stay out of the way while the grown-ups have a private conversation about little Melody’s history with behavioral problems.”

“Ah.”

“Melody’s me, by the way. I’m not supposed to tell strangers my name, either. But who cares.”

“Who indeed.”

“I prefer Mels, anyway. It fits this body better.”

“If you say so. So, what’s this about a therapist?”

“A new one. I stopped counting. I don’t care. They’re not going to change anything.”

“Why are they here, then?”

“…I scare them.”

“Scare who? …your parents?”

“They’re not my parents. I know who my parents are, and they’re not them. These two just own me because my body’s too young for them to let me own myself.”

“Annoying, isn’t it.”

“Totally. And that’s part of what scares them. That I know I don’t belong here. That I know I’ve been around longer than everyone else thinks I have. That I use big words, and I know things I shouldn’t know yet, if I’m really this young of a human.”

“Sometimes people do get scared of people who know things. That’s ‘part of’ what scares them, you said. What’s the rest of it?”

“…I get angry. Like, really, really angry. More than people are supposed to. It fills me up, and I don’t have anywhere to put it, so I break things. Toys. The dishes. My arm, once. The rules, all the time. It scares them. So they get therapists to talk to me about it.”

“It scares you too, doesn’t it. How angry you get.”

“Shows how much you know. I’m not scared of anything.”

“I bet you’re not, you brave girl.”

“And if I’m angry, I have a reason! One big, bad reason. Everybody should be angry about it, if they were smart.”

“And what’s that?”

“…you won’t believe me. Nobody believes me.”

“Try me.”

“It’s because of the Doctor.”

“The Doctor, huh? Doctor who?”

“No one knows. He’s got his name locked away with all the rest of his horrible secrets.”

“Secrets, huh? Tell me more.”

“He’s an alien. He has a ship that can travel anywhere in space, and anywhere in time. The future and the past. He’s been everywhere. He’s met every Prime Minister and President. He’s fought in every war in the world, and on other worlds, and wars that haven’t happened yet.”

“Sounds like a fascinating person.”

“Yeah, I guess. But he’s also terrible.”

“How so?”

“Well, he’s been everywhere, right? All over time and space. So he knows everything that’s gonna happen, and he’s there when it happens. And you know what happens?”

“What?”

“Lots of bad stuff! Death and destruction and the agony of entire species, kind of stuff! And he doesn’t do anything about it!”

“What makes you think this Doctor doesn’t do anything about it?”

“Well, if he did, then the bad stuff wouldn’t happen! So that’s that.”

“I see.”

“You don’t believe me.”

“I never said that.”

“I can hear it in your voice. You don’t believe me. Nobody believes me. Nobody else knows about the Doctor. They’re all too stupid to know.”

“You know what, Melody?”

“Mels.”

“Mels, right. You know what, Mels? I think someday soon, you’re going to find somebody who believes you. More importantly, you’re going to find somebody who believes in you. And you three are going to be friends for a good long time. More like family, really.”

“I don’t have friends.”

“You will.”

“How do you know?”

“Call it a hunch. You’re going to be amazing, Mels. And there will be people who see it. People who, when you’re with them, can help you feel a little less angry all the time.”

“…I’d like that.”

“Hang in there, Mels. Now, I’d best be on my way. That door’s going to open any moment now, and you’re not supposed to be talking to strangers.”

“Alright. Bye, then. Wait – just so you know, I do like the suspenders.”

“I expect you do. Until we meet again.”

“Will we?”

“You’ll see.”


The Doctor closed the door of the TARDIS behind her, smiling to herself.

It was a risky thing, what she’d just done – gone walking through her wife’s past, back before Melody Pond broke free of her psychopathic conditioning and became River Song. She’d told herself, for a very long time, not to do anything like this. As much as she, in her two prior regenerations, had longed to go back and alleviate some of the pain in River’s childhood, she had always known that she didn’t dare do so. As much as it was agony to stay away – especially after Darillium, especially after she was dead – the Doctor hadn’t dared draw near.

But Madame Kovarian hadn’t known that the Doctor would ever be a woman, and so couldn’t have conditioned little Melody to hate this version of her. So at long last, the Doctor had thought herself safe enough to interact with Mels without triggering any timeline-altering homicidal rages.

It would be a couple years yet, in River Song’s personal timeline, before she moved to another school, where she’d meet a girl and boy her age – a girl who not only already knew about the Doctor, but was still waiting for him, and a boy who would be their loyal soldier forever. They would be her friends, and family, and the way out of her anger. She just had to hang on a little longer to find them.

As the TARDIS re-entered the time vortex, the Doctor sent a silent prayer to who-or-whatever might be listening that her brief visit had given Mels enough hope to get there without breaking too many more bones along the way.