Summary: What happens after Inconceivable
Blame: paranoidangel42 because she keeps asking for more.
The Doctor was as good as his word. Five minutes later Nat peeked through the door, just as the baby finished nursing.
"How's the new mum?"
"I've been better. I want you to know that I admire you more than you know. I'm not even sure which end is up at this point. Expect me to call often with questions." Sarah had thought about what to say, and decided that asking for Nat's help, which she knew she would need later, would be the best approach. She awkwardly jiggled Fred on her shoulder. "Is this right?"
"Yes. It gets easier. I was a nervous wreck right after Lissa was born. I doubt you'll be that bad." She rolled over to the bed. "Not quite as cute as Lissa."
"Hey, that's my baby you're talking about." Sarah gave Fred a doting smile. "Do you want to swap? I'll hold Lissa if you want to hold Fred." She almost bit her tongue, but Nat knew Fred's father was an alien now.
"Why not?" Nat laid Lissa on Sarah's lap and took Fred. "Hello, adorable." She looked at Sarah and said hesitantly, "She's a little cool to the touch."
"Lower body temperature. It's normal. The Doctor used to claim that sharing a bed with me was like sleeping with a life-sized hot water bottle." She cuddled Lissa, absently. "I kept thinking Lissa felt feverish. I have the same problem with human men, to be honest. Even before they started playing with my DNA, I'd been his lover too long and my sense of normal was skewed. After a while, I just stopped trying. You'll also notice her pulse is a little odd."
"But you...you're human. I've bandaged your wounds. You've been in hospital."
Nat sounded bewildered and Sarah didn't blame her. If she hadn't worked closely with Calla, she might not have understood either. "It's hard to explain, but Calla wasn't trying to change me into her species, but to work with my body so that I could carry a child to term. The changes are only noticeable at the DNA level. I don't give blood; I don't carry an organ donor card but mostly my physiognomy is still human." She offered Nat Lissa back and they swapped again.
"So what is he? The Doctor I mean. I'm sorry about all these questions," Nat added awkwardly, "But discovering that your best friend's lover is an alien...."
"It's weird, I know. The Doctor's a Time Lord. His planet's...gone. Destroyed in the war. It's a long and complicated story and I should probably save it for sometime when my head is clearer. Reproductive biology's mostly the same." She smiled at Nat. "I know you're wondering. The differences are internal rather than external for the most part." She glanced down at Fred, who had fallen asleep. "And we're close enough physically that we found each other attractive."
"I guess I get that. He is rather cute," Nat teased. "Although, I imagine when you first met, you were closer to his apparent age."
Sarah couldn't help giggling. "His species changes...regenerates when they're near death. He didn't look anything like that when I first met him. In fact, I'd say he looked about my current age or older and I was younger than he looks now. We can't seem to coordinate that for some reason."
"He obviously adores you though. I'm sorry about what I said earlier. All of it." Nat's voice faltered at the apology.
"Well, I have been acting weird and I can understand your reluctance to believe he was real. I, um, asked him to overdo the doting lover to reassure you that I wasn't interested in Josh and I guess it backfired a bit. He isn't usually that demonstrative. And, just so you know, besides that, everything I told you about our relationship is true." Sarah paused, then added, "I left out some of the less believable aspects, but I did try to be honest with you and Josh."
Nat squeezed her hand. "I know you did and I'm very sorry about what happened. That thing took every fear I had..."
"And twisted it into something worse. I know. I've dealt with them before."
"I don't know how you managed to stay cool." Lissa started fretting, and Nat shifted so that she could feed her.
"It didn't understand what it got from my mind. I was there when Calla died, Nat. I...she was the head of the committee charged with planning for the future. How her people would survive and rebuild after the war. I was placed on the committee by the President, who was a friend of the Doctor's and who thought I might have a unique viewpoint. I worked with her and after her death, I became the head of the committee. That was my world for the longest time." She rocked the baby, hoping she wouldn't accidentally wake her. "When it comes down to it, the only way I could fail Calla was by giving up, by losing my baby. That wasn't going to happen."
She looked up to see the Doctor in the doorway.
"Do you want me to take her so that you can rest a little?" He didn't give her a chance to reply, but strode into the room and snatched the baby from her lap.
"And you can show her off," Sarah replied good humouredly.
"That too," he replied with a grin.
"Wait. Can you help me into the nursery? And then let everyone come up. I don't really want to sleep now."
"Nightmares?" He asked gently. "Okay. If you feel you're up to it. But I want you to get some rest tonight."
"I promise I will. Nat, come with me." Sarah watched her holding Lissa in one arm and manoeuvring the wheelchair to the door with her free hand. "I think I'm going to be jealous. Especially when I'm lugging around a two-year-old."
"It has it's advantages." But Nat smiled. "I'll meet you there."
"Sounds good." Sarah leaned on the arm the Doctor offered her.
"Can you stand?"
Sarah tried, but her legs still felt wobbly.
"Take Fred then." He unceremoniously dumped the baby back in her arms, and then picked them both up.
She smiled up at him, and was rewarded by a quick kiss.
"Now direct me. Liz just showed me where your bedroom was. I assume it's on this floor." He was already walking out the door.
"The next door down to the left. I made a sign and everything." Sarah grinned at him.
"So I see. Very nice. Your Gallifreyan handwriting is always so much neater than mine."
"I'd say that applies to English too." Sarah relaxed into his arms. She was so tired of being strong.
Nat had left the door open and he carried her inside, dropping her gently into the cosy armchair.
"Oh, this is just brilliant, Sarah Jane. Fantastic." The Doctor bounced around the room investigating everything. He set the solar system mobile swinging, then wandered over to look at the mural. "TARDIS parking. I take it I'm supposed to park here when I come round."
"If you want." Sarah said, giving Nat a bemused look. "I think Tegan meant it as a joke."
"Is he always like this?" Nat asked Sarah softly.
"To a greater or lesser extent. And people wonder why I find the idea of raising Fred so overwhelming."
The Doctor was staring at the mural more closely. "But...this isn't all Tegan's work. If I didn't know better...."
"Turlough helped. Thankfully no blood was spilled in the process. I never did find out what he was doing on Earth, but it was good to see him again. He ended up staying the night and we watched Battlestar Galactica and snarked about it." Sarah wondered idly if she could persuade the Doctor to take her to Trion, before or after they visited Gallifrey, so she could show Fred off to him.
"Sarah, I mean it, this is perfect," the Doctor noticed the chalk and absently started writing mathematical formulae on the wall. Sarah recognised enough of the temporal mechanics notations to know that he was trying to work out mathematically what had happened, but most of it was beyond her. "So much better than my home. Stuffy old lot. The nurseries there were all white and perfect and boring." He abruptly dropped the chalk on the little shelf Sarah had put up for it.
"Doctor, come here." Sarah reached out a hand to him, and he walked over and crinkled his eyes at her and the baby.
"My Sarah," he said softly, "As long as you're still here." His tone abruptly became more cheerful. "And I was going to go down and herd the others up her to see our wonderful little Fred."
"Yes, you were." Sarah smiled up at him.
He turned to Nat and grinned at her, "You'll take good care of them while I'm gone."
"Of course." Nat grinned back. "Off with you."
One more grin and he loped out the door.
Sarah sat back in her chair with a sigh and suddenly giggled. "And he didn't even notice the ceiling." But she had seen the shadow that had crossed his face when he'd mentioned his home and wasn't sure how he'd feel about the stars. At least it seemed his plan was for her to raise Fred here, giving her one less thing to worry about.
Nat stared at her. "The stars are the ones you can see from his home world, aren't they?"
"Yes, we used to take a picnic and go outside the dome and lie on our backs and watch the stars come out. This was before the war began in earnest. He'd tell me stories of his life there before he set off travelling and how he'd stare up at the stars and wish he was out there, among them." Sarah's voice drifted off, remembering, until she caught Nat's glance and continued, "He was always more like his own people than he ever wanted to admit, and he had more in common with them than he realised, but he never really fit in to their way of life."
She heard voices in the hallway and looked up to watch way too many people crowding through the nursery door. "Okay, Fred, are you ready to be admired?"
"Of course she is." The Doctor swooped in and stole her and started showing her off with gleeful pride.
After introductions and hellos, Sarah just relaxed in the chair and watched him, wishing she had even half of his energy and letting the background chatter wash over her. To her relief, Rose didn't seem too put out by the Doctor's sudden acquisition of a daughter. Jack was giving her strange looks though. But that was something to be dealt with later, in private. Josh seemed a bit wary, but Sarah put that down to the first time he had knowingly met a real, live alien.
There was a rap at the nursery door, and Sarah wondered for a moment who hadn't come up with the others.
The mystery was solved when Jo peeked through the door. "K-9 said I should just come up."
"Hallo, Jo. Look what I've got." The Doctor shoved Fred under her nose. "Isn't she adorable?"
"Did Sarah have her baby?" Jo asked, then stared at him for a moment, "Doctor?" she asked in tones of incredulity. "You look different."
"I am different. Now that we've covered the obvious, you haven't answered my question. Isn't Fred the most beautiful baby ever?" he demanded.
"Very cute." Jo stared at him thoughtfully. "Try not to spoil her with your adoration, Doctor. Now, can I get into the room to see Sarah?"
He gestured her past him and then pounced on Rose.
"Somebody hasn't had his Ritalin today," Jo muttered to Sarah and Nat as she pulled up a footstool and sat down. "You weren't joking about not being the bachelor uncle type any more, either."
"This seems to be this incarnation's default setting. Heaven help me, I think I'm getting used to it." Sarah pointed out his current companions.
Jo giggled, "Three of them. Isn't that a little extreme?"
Sarah smiled. "He had three on and off during his Fifth incarnation, remember. I don't know what the story is here, though." She looked around the room. Liz was deep in conversation with Jack, comparing secret organisations, Sarah suspected, and Martha and Rose were admiring Fred.
She looked up to see the Doctor hovering over her offering her Fred to cuddle, and she took the baby eagerly. "Hello, little one. Did your daddy tire you out?" She watched tiny eyelashes flutter and close, and a smile crept over her face.
The Doctor laid a hand on her shoulder, and said softly, "Our baby, our Fred."
"She is that. I feel like such a cliché at the moment."
"You just had a baby. You're allowed. Did I tell you how much I like what you did with this room?"
"Several times. And you haven't even noticed the ceiling yet." Sarah held her breath, but he had to see it sometime.
He looked up and his eyes widened. "Sarah Jane Smith, you didn't. How did you manage that?"
"K-9 had a chart. I thought...it's not too much is it...I just wanted her to see those stars the way you showed them to me, once." Her hands were full of baby or she would have reached out and touched him; she still didn't feel confident of her baby-handling abilities.
"No, it's perfect. Thank you, Sarah, for everything." He straddled the arm of the chair and wrapped an arm around her.
For the first time in ages, Sarah felt like things were going her way. She watched as the Doctor idly stroked the sleeping Fred with one finger, and started telling Nat (and everyone else) stories about what she'd been like when they first met. She wouldn't think about the forthcoming trip to Gallifrey or what they'd find there. Those were thoughts for another day.