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Title: Failing to Communicate
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: Melody Pond, the TARDIS, Amy Pond, Rory Williams
Rating: PG
Word Count: 2250
Summary: The Doctor is dead, long live River Song.

The Doctor is dead, poisoned in Berlin, 1938, by the war criminal Melody Pond. Thousands of planets mourn, hundreds celebrate, and Melody Pond floats in space.

Literally, the TARDIS has turned off the artificial gravity.


After the Doctor dies, Melody takes Amy and Rory back to Leadworth. Amy walks out of the TARDIS without looking back, and Melody gives her brain a little kick and tells it, "Hello, psychopath here," to remind herself that she doesn't care.

Rory shoots pained looks between Melody and his departing wife and says, "Aren't you coming?"

Out there is Leadworth. Out there Mels had a flat, a job - of a sort, and community service to finish up. None of that seems to matter anymore. Especially not the community service, then again, that hadn't mattered to Mels when she was actually doing it.

"No, I..."

Rory nods and doesn't ask her to explain. He's a good dad, he's been a good dad since they were five.


The gravity turns back on suddenly and Melody hits the deck with a crack that ricochets all the way up her spine.

She glares at the console and says, "That was childish."


The sonic screwdriver was in Amy's pocket when she walked out of the TARDIS, and there was never a good moment for Melody to say, "Early birthday present?" so she goes at the console with a crowbar that she found in a cupboard.

Something made of heat and green sparks explodes underneath Melody's hand.

"Okay," Melody concedes, trying to bandage up her fingers with her off hand, "that was childish too."


The thing is, there's a lot Melody doesn't understand about her Time Lordliness - and, really, it's not like there are people lining up to teach her - but somewhere, deep in her bones, she knows that a TARDIS without a Time Lord is just a box, and the last time anyone did a headcount Melody was the only one who even sort of qualified.

The other thing is, even if Melody had the slightest idea of where to look for Madam Kovarian, which she doesn't, the idea of going back and saying, "Mission accomplished, what next?" is singularly unappealing.

She and the TARDIS will just have to get used to each other, Melody decides.

That's when the lights switch off all at once and Melody slams her shin painfully into something solid that she would have sworn wasn't there two seconds ago.


Melody knows that if the TARDIS really didn't want her on board she'd be long gone. The TARDIS could have teleported her into a passing star, or turned off the oxygen, or... any number of things.

Melody spends a sleepless night making a list of all the grisly ways the TARDIS could kill her if she wanted to.

The next day she finds a copy of the TARDIS manual in the library and discovers one-thousand-seven-hundred-and-twenty-six ways that hadn't occurred to her.


Just in case Melody hadn't worked out the source of the TARDIS's anger, there's a while where she can't turn right without coming face to face with a holographic representation of one of the Doctor's regenerations. It's not like she can't recognise them, Madam Kovarian had given her the Spotter's Guide.

She only makes left turns for a week. On the TARDIS this only rarely results in her walking in circles.


Melody dreams of the Doctor; not the one she met in Berlin, or at least not only him.

This was the great warrior that the universe needed to be saved from? He couldn't even drive the box. And the one in the multi-coloured coat really could have done with concentrating on a dress size when he was regenerating.

She dreams of her parents too. Them and all the other people who've called the TARDIS home for a time.


Melody pats the TARDIS console in the way you might pat a large and unpredictably aggressive dog and says, in what she imagines to be a conciliatory tone, "Look, it's not that I didn't like that asteroid field, and that volcano was fascinating, but next time could we go somewhere fit for human habitation?"

The gravity doesn't switch off and nothing explodes, so Melody takes that as a maybe.


Before, whenever Melody felt moved to address the TARDIS, or, you know, attack her with a crowbar, she went straight for the console. But it's not like the TARDIS won't hear her wherever she is, so Melody's looking slightly to the right of the kettle when she says, "I had to kill him, you know that, right? I know that you know that, because I know you've been in my head. I can feel you in there at night, riffling around. I didn't have a choice. They didn't leave me any choice."

The kettle whistles, which is either the TARDIS responding or the laws of thermodynamics at work.


The next time they land Melody does get out for a breath of fresh air, although not for very long because they're in one of those times and places where a Nazi uniform cap and jacket is not a fashion statement appreciated by the locals.

"Thanks for that," says Melody, stripping out of the jacket and throwing it to the floor as soon as she's shut the TARDIS doors behind her.

The next time Melody's in the console room she sees that the jacket is still on the floor, but a hat-stand has appeared from somewhere and is standing smugly in a corner as though it's always been there.

"I'll pick up after myself, mum," Melody singsongs, snagging the jacket up.


After that, the TARDIS at least pretends to let Melody do the driving and they visit five war zones, three revolutions, and the Planet of the Giant Carnivorous Humming Birds. Melody does not want to talk about it.

"Whew," she says, leaning heavily against the console, "what is going on out there?" When she looks up a hologram of the Doctor is staring balefully back at her. Melody pats the console and says, "Let's not start all that again, sweetie."


Melody is half submerged in TARDIS innards, not the first Time Lord to have tried and failed to hook the TARDIS consciousness up to the voice interface system.

"Oh, well. I suppose we bicker enough with only one of us able to talk."


The TARDIS has archived everything that has ever happened on board. Usually Melody isn't the type to wallow, plus she has no desire to witness her own conception, thank you very much, but sometimes curiosity gets the better of her.

"Are there any recordings of River Song in your archives?"

Melody sits with her chin in her hands and watches River Song, the woman Melody might be in a timeline oh so very close to this one, running around the console room like a thing possessed.

Mostly, Melody thinks that her shoes are gorgeous.


They have to spend a week making repairs because a Dalek fleet was lurking in the time vortex, and what the hell were Daleks doing in the vortex anyway?

The TARDIS is still teaching Melody how to repair her, mainly she's doing this by catching fire whenever Melody touches something she shouldn't.


The TARDIS is receiving dirty phone calls. The previous occupant was really not careful enough about who he handed his phone number out to.

Someone is calling and not saying anything, Melody is about to pick up and make some extremely off-colour suggestions when the caller's breath hitches and Amy says, "Melody? Are you okay? I mean, of course you're okay, you've a magic time head, and the TARDIS. It's just-- are you okay?"


The next day Rory leaves a long rambling message that basically amounts to, "Call your mother."

Melody doesn't call back and she wonders if maybe she's getting a bit telepathic because she can practically feel the TARDIS's disapproval.

"What?" she snaps. "What could I possibly say to them that will make them feel better? "Oh, hello Mother. Yes, I'm feeling much more sane and I've made friends with the big blue box, although I'm slightly worried that killing the Doctor broke the universe and now we're all going to die.""


People hear the name Melody Pond and they try to perform a citizen's arrest, usually, thankfully, badly. People hear the name River Song and they flee, Daleks flee.

This, as far as Melody is concerned, does not stop it being a stupid name.


They've landed in Leadworth. "I'm not going," says Melody, crossing her arms stubbornly.

The floor lurches out from under her sending Melody sprawling in the direction of the doors, and it's only because she doesn't put it past the stupid bloody ship to turn upside down and shake until she falls out that Melody picks herself up, brushes herself off and says, "Well, I won't enjoy myself."


Amy and Rory are, well, they're probably pleased to see her it's just a bit difficult to tell under all that painful awkwardness.

"Having a party?" she asks. The house is decorated with some of the most half-hearted balloons and streamers Melody has ever seen.

"Well, it's Amy's birthday," says Rory.

"Oh! I knew that," Melody lies smoothly. "Which is why I've brought you this..." Melody rummages blindly through her pockets.

"Gun?" says Rory.

"That is a state of the art fifty-first century laser blaster, I think you'll find. I'm sorry, it was wrapped but I had a bit of a running battle with some Daleks on the way here."

"It's... lovely," says Amy. There's an awkward moment where Amy goes for a hug and Melody doesn't, then another where Melody goes for a hug just as Amy is pulling back. But eventually they get all their limbs in order and hug and, well, the universe doesn't spontaneously implode which is probably the best anyone can hope for at this point.

"I'll go, then."

"No," says Amy, "stay."

"Yeah," agrees Rory. "It's nothing much, Amy's parents, my parents, you know--"

"Family," says Amy.


Melody gets stuck talking to Rory's mother, which is weird. Of course, Mels had been aware that Amy and Rory had parents, she'd just never really paid much attention to them.

"I'm sorry, what did you say your name was?"

"Mel-- River."

"And you work with my Rory, you're a nurse?"

"Doctor. Doctor River Song."

Rory shoots Melody a scolding look over his mother's shoulder. What? It's not like when they come to read out Melody's crime sheet faking academic qualifications is going to be anywhere near the top of the list.


"So," says Melody, "that was..."

"Yeah," says Amy.

"Yeah," says Rory.

"Well," says Amy, "don't be a stranger."

"I have a birthday too," adds Rory.

"Right, well..."

They skip over the awkwardness of aborted hugs and go to straight for handshakes all round. They might actually work up to semi-natural hugs before she regenerates again, Melody thinks.


"I want to get Rory a sword for his birthday," Melody tells the TARDIS. "Any ideas for good places to shop?"


This time it's an alliance between the Cybermen and the Sontarans, and Melody barely makes it out with her skin intact.

"Since when do Cybermen form alliances anyway?" Melody demands of the TARDIS, holding up the tattered remnants of her shirt in dismay.

She turns round to see their old friend, the hologram of the Doctor, flickering about a centimeter from her nose.

"Yes, yes, I know," Melody tells the TARDIS. "The Doctor kept back the tide of chaos and now that he's gone there's a Time Lord shaped hole in the universe that very nasty things are trying to come through. I know all this. What I don't know is what you expect me to do about it?"


The TARDIS lands them next to rivers for a week, at assorted concerts for the next week. The Beatles at Shae Stadium are fun, and Melody falls slightly in love with Maria Callas. Then they're back to landing next to rivers, or more accurately, in rivers.

Melody drips onto the TARDIS floor and worries about what the drenching is doing to her hair.

"I don't understand your point and I won't respond to it," she tells the TARDIS.


The Doctor is dead, poisoned in Berlin, 1938, by the war criminal Melody Pond. The universe is in chaos, and Melody Pond is getting close to resolving her identity crisis.


Luna Station 5 is the last thing standing between Earth and the combined CyberSontaran forces, and in this relatively primitive century it's strictly a two-man affair.

In all the chaos the two men could be forgiven for not hearing the TARDIS landing, that and Melody has learned the trick about switching the brakes off. So they're kind of startled when they turn around to see Melody lounging against the TARDIS wearing a gun belt that has a brand new laser blaster holstered on one side, and Melody's fifteenth attempt at creating her own sonic screwdriver on the other. The less said about attempts one-through-fourteen the better.

"Hello, boys," she says. "You look like you need a doctor."

"Who the hell are you?"

Melody whips out her sonic screwdriver, spins it round and blows over the top of it like it's a smoking gun. "Doctor River Song, at your service."

Date: 2011-09-05 04:33 am (UTC)
darthfangirl: the thirteenth doctor (doctor who - river - child of the tardis)
From: [personal profile] darthfangirl
So, I sort of love this. Melody is River, whether she wants to be or not. Have you considered posting it to [community profile] rivereffinsong?

Date: 2011-09-05 07:11 am (UTC)
glinda: pirate TARDIS (pirate TARDIS)
From: [personal profile] glinda
Hearts. Hearts in my eyes.

Date: 2011-09-05 01:25 pm (UTC)
sophinisba: Gwen looking sexy from Merlin season 2 promo pics (time lord by keksx)
From: [personal profile] sophinisba
This is delightful.

Date: 2011-09-05 04:41 pm (UTC)
such_heights: amy and rory looking at a pile of post (who: river [child of the tardis])
From: [personal profile] such_heights
Oh, lovely! <3

Date: 2011-09-05 07:38 pm (UTC)
selenay: (donna 1)
From: [personal profile] selenay
This is just lovely!

Date: 2011-09-05 11:55 pm (UTC)
promethia_tenk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] promethia_tenk
This was throughly delightful. Especially:

"I don't understand your point and I won't respond to it," she tells the TARDIS.
=DDD Hahahaha!

Date: 2011-09-06 12:24 am (UTC)
elleth: a ship sailing away from the Return of the King, with the text "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" (Doctor Who: 11 - High Like Cleopatra)
From: [personal profile] elleth
Fantastic doesn't even begin to cover it. I loved the bickering, and the bit about River's shoes.

Date: 2011-09-06 01:24 am (UTC)
catecumen: Ellen custom made by dhampir (custom)
From: [personal profile] catecumen
Ah, lovely. This works even better than the standard "well, it's a time machine, go back and FIX IT" story, and it has a beautiful inevitability to it, because if Melody did kill the Doctor permanently, then really, what other choice would there be but to become the Doctor? :-) Thanks for writing it and sharing it, because it's a lot easier to read it and say "well, yes, of course" than it is to actually write the story.

Date: 2011-09-06 03:22 am (UTC)
themadlurker: (river song)
From: [personal profile] themadlurker
<333333333333 this fic forever

Date: 2011-09-06 12:38 pm (UTC)
chaila: Diana SWORDFIGHTING in a BALLGOWN. (river - tesseract)
From: [personal profile] chaila
So your cut text on the River Song comm ("The Doctor is dead, long live River Song") is the only thing that's made me click on a Who fic in quite awhile, and I'm glad I did. I LOVE this. River and her Time Lordliness! River and the TARDIS! I love how you've given her the space to figure out what it all--the Ponds, the TARDIS, the Doctor--means and to actually make a decision herself to become this kind of Doctor. <3

Date: 2011-09-06 02:22 pm (UTC)
copracat: River from Doctor Who, text: Once & Future (river song)
From: [personal profile] copracat
Thoughtful AU and a great Melody becoming River. Love the TARDIS and her training methods!

Date: 2011-09-06 04:58 pm (UTC)
susanreads: The eleventh Doctor says "Everything's gonna be fine" (who eleven)
From: [personal profile] susanreads
Oh, yes, that's what would have had to happen! I love the TARDIS's attempts to communicate, and MelodyRiver getting the message in spite of herself.

Perhaps I should get a River icon.

Date: 2011-09-06 06:24 pm (UTC)
trialia: River Song (played by Alex Kingston) smiling serenely at the camera while saying 'There's always a way out.' (who] river - serenity)
From: [personal profile] trialia
*sighs wistfully and lies back on the couch to stare at her lifesize cardboard cut-out of Utah!River and think on this fic some more, because it's like that.*

Date: 2011-09-07 09:29 am (UTC)
trialia: River Song (Alex Kingston) drinking a cup of coffee. (Default)
From: [personal profile] trialia
I'm so glad *g* I wasn't sure you would quite understand the way I meant that, but it seems you do :D

Date: 2011-09-07 03:17 pm (UTC)
arobynsung: made by <lj user="visualwit"> (dw: mels smile)
From: [personal profile] arobynsung
Knew I'd love this even before I started reading. This is magnificent, a lovely AU and quite frankly the sort of thing I wish had happened.

Thanks for sharing!

Date: 2011-09-08 08:20 pm (UTC)
januar: River Song from Doctor Who ([dw] river song)
From: [personal profile] januar
This is really really good. I love this.


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