Summary: What happens after Inconceivable
Blame: paranoidangel42 because she keeps asking for more.
He'd taken the baby. Sarah hadn't thought, hadn't wanted to believe he would be quite so callous about it, but after everyone had left he had encouraged her to go to sleep, and she had. When she woke up a few hours later she was alone in the house and the TARDIS was gone.
K-9 had been recharging in a corner and hadn't noticed anything, but then he wouldn't consider the Doctor, an enemy. After twenty minutes of frantic searching through the house, Sarah had to admit it to herself; he'd taken Fred and he probably wouldn't be bringing her back.
She ended up curled up in the floor of the empty nursery, too exhausted, both emotionally and physically, to throw things, although she desperately wanted to. She suddenly hated this room, and wondered why she had put so much effort into it. His admiration seemed like such a sham now. Why did she always let him get to her like this?
Sarah stared at the equations he'd written on the wall and tried and failed to fight off tears. He'd been so kind, that evening cosseting her and doting over their daughter. She'd dared to believe that everything was going to be alright. While all the while he'd just been patting her on the head in his usual absent-minded way, not really aware of what he was doing.
He'd wanted the child, of course. It was natural. He was the last of his kind and the species survival instinct was strong. And she'd been the only one left who could carry the child to term. Calla's research had died with her, early in the war. Otherwise, he probably would have turned to Rose. Sarah was relieved he hadn't. The girl didn't deserve that.
She had, at least, made the conscious choice to go through this, a long time ago. If they had stayed on Gallifrey, if that had even been possible, things might have been different. Calla, she remembered, had had strong feelings about that at least.
It had been almost the first thing Calla had said to her, that night on the TARDIS. She wrapped her arms tightly around her legs, and remembered.
Sandia had been the first major loss in the war. The planet had been devastated, the genebank destroyed, millions of people and more than a hundred unborn children. They had managed to save a few - a half a dozen children still safe in their artificial wombs, twice that number of staff, but that was all. They had tried so hard, but it was just too little, too late.
Calla was the Director of the entire genetics program. Leela had saved her by the simple expedient of knocking her out when she wouldn't come with them. Sarah, meanwhile, had dealt with the computers, pulling off as much biodata as possible, before helping Leela carry her to the TARDIS.
That night had almost been worse than the day. The Gallifreyans were silently mourning their losses, in shock over the carnage and what they had lost. Sarah was shaken herself by the devastation, and as much as she wanted to comfort the Doctor, she had no words for what had happened.
And then, when they were alone in the room they shared, Sarah had reached for him, thinking to comfort him with her body, to reaffirm that life went on. He'd snapped at her, called her callous and unfeeling, said she didn't, couldn't understand. He told her to leave, and she left. If she'd stayed, it would only have made things worse between them.
She'd wandered to the galley for a cup of tea, feeling fragile and alien. Incompatible instincts. If he'd been human, he would have understood. If she'd been Gallifreyan, she wouldn't have made that faux pas. They'd avoided this particular issue, up until now by keeping things light. She couldn't help wondering if this would break them in the end.
After what she'd seen on Sandia, Sarah had few illusions that she'd ever make it home again. Her survival depended on the Time Lords and more importantly on the Doctor. Limited resources might make her superfluous, given time.
Leela was in the galley staring into space. When Sarah greeted her, she said, "Andred rejected me. Why would he do such a thing? Is it because I am barren to him? You are more like them, than like me, though they say we are the same. Can you explain this?"
Sarah opened up the cupboard and started making the tea, trying to marshal her thoughts. "I...you're wrong, Leela. The Doctor rejected me tonight, just as Andred did to you. For the same reasons, I imagine. Maybe I understand them better, but still I am more like you. I'm still human. Losing those children was hard, and you and I both tried instinctively to replace them."
"And the Time Lords did not. I do not think so. Why would they not want to replace what is lost? Here are some biscuits to go with the tea." Leela put the tin on the table.
Sarah chose her words carefully. "Think about it, Leela. They grow their children in vats, you saw that. I don't know if they can bear children as you and I could. They don't lie together to make babies, they do it for pleasure. And that pleasure would be inappropriate while they are mourning their losses. It doesn't make it easier for us, though."
"Still, they have lost too much this day. Andred should put me aside for one who is not barren."
"I don't think he will, Leela. He cares too much about you." And I wish the Doctor cared as much about me, but it's not going to happen.
Just as the kettle whistled, Andred came through the door. "There you are. Leela, I'm sorry about what I said earlier."
"As am I. Sarah pointed out that our customs of mourning are different, and that I should respect yours."
He wrapped an arm around Leela's shoulders. "I should have understood that too. Come back to our room with me and we can talk. Goodnight, Sarah."
"Goodnight." Sarah watched them go and resigned herself to being alone. She doubted the Doctor would come looking for her.
Instead, shortly after Leela and Andred had left, Calla walked in. "Hello. Sarah, is it?"
"That's right, Lady Calla." Sarah hesitated. "Would you like some tea? I'm very sorry for your loss." It sounded so inadequate, but she didn't know what else to say. She still didn't have a firm grasp of social etiquette among the Time Lords, and wondered if she ever would.
There was an awkward silence as Sarah poured the tea.
"I overheard your conversation. You are worried about Leela's reaction."
The comment startled Sarah, but she gathered her wits and answered, "She'll be fine, I think." She bit her lip. "You can put it down to primitive instincts, I suppose."
"Andred had applied for a child but after I had seen some of Leela whilst in the Capital on business, I thought that no good would come of introducing alien genes into our race. Perhaps I was wrong. Giving her a child might be a kindness to both of them." Calla sipped the tea and watched Sarah over the cup.
Sarah couldn't help but feel that she was somehow being tested. "She loves him, and what she saw today...well, survival instincts aren't very logical. The urge to replace what was lost, even though it wasn't our species which suffered today. And we are not likely to return home after the war, if there is even a home for us to return to. Our survival lies with yours."
Calla nodded at her. "From what I have seen of Leela, she is direct and logical and all seems black and white to her. You, on the other hand seem to have some ability to think abstractly."
Sarah couldn't tell if this was a compliment, or a statement of fact.
Calla continued, "Perhaps we could talk for a time. I am suddenly curious about your species, and you clearly have some questions about mine."
"Are you sure you want to do this now, after all that has happened?" Sarah asked softly.
"Now is the precise time these questions should be asked and answered." Calla smiled grimly. "I had not expected either of you to grasp the extent of our loss. Our ways must seem so different to you. I was not even certain that Leela understood that those were our children."
"She has lived among you longer than I have, and perhaps has learned to accept on faith what she doesn't understand. In my own time, we are starting to see the possibility, but I think widespread use will be a long time coming." Sarah sipped her own tea and nibbled on a biscuit.
"Even among my people, this is not used 100%. I have surprised you, I think."
"I haven't seen any pregnant women since I came to live in the Capital, so yes you did. I wondered if you could."
Calla nodded, "You said something similar to Leela earlier. We do not have unwanted pregnancies here, and no one would choose to bear a child during war."
"And you have a much longer lifespan, so I imagine that waiting until afterwards would be less of an issue." Sarah thought a moment. "The women of my species have a limited time during which we can bear children, so perhaps the reaction is more visceral." Which would explain the Doctor's and Andred's reactions earlier.
"Our instincts are more...targeted, perhaps. Your language doesn't have a word for this I think. A couple forms based on the desire to bear a child together." She poured another cup of tea before continuing, "The desire can be quite as intense as your reaction tonight, I suspect, but it does not matter as much to us whether the child is womb-born or not. It would matter to Leela," she mused. "Would she accept a genetically engineered child as her own?"
That explained so much. "Maybe. I don't know. I think she would be more comfortable, bearing it herself. You're going to try, aren't you? To give Leela a child, I mean."
"I can understand her deep desire for a child with her chosen mate. And it is my life's work, after all. I would not have chosen willingly to deny someone a wished for child. It goes against my own Gallifreyan instincts," Calla replied almost sharply. "But your biology is designed to survive through creating as wide a range of biological diversity as possible and your instinct tonight was to get the nearest possible male to father a child on you. Among our people that is considered almost obscene."
Sarah stared at her silently, taking in the implications before she said, "It's not quite that unreasoning. Both Leela and I did go to men we had an established relationship with. If that had not been possible, we might have abstained, or found a like-minded man to bed. Though, in that case, I would probably have done something to prevent an actual pregnancy. I don't know about Leela. I don't think contraceptives are part of her culture." She realised that might not be as reassuring as she had intended and added, "But this applies mainly to interaction with other humans under specific situations. We do create families for the purpose of having children, although in our case it is more of a social structure than a biological necessity. Leela sees no one but Andred. She won't stray."
Calla stood to place her teacup in the dishwasher. "That is what I needed to know. Among our people, pleasure is of a moment, but mating, having a child together is a lasting bond. She may not have our instincts, but I needed to know that she would respect them. Thank you, our conversation has been most enlightening. But you had other questions, I think. Please, ask."
"I know there are two other genebanks and we salvaged as much as we could of the biodata, but what happens if they're both destroyed?" Sarah wondered if she was being tactless, but it was pertinent.
That got a look of approval from Calla. "The natural birth rate will rise sharply. The use of the genebanks has always been limited to encourage some womb-birth, after the war, the demand will go up, but it will take time to rebuild, and priority will be given to parings that cannot bear their own children. The rest of the population will wait or chose the more traditional path. We, like any other species will replace what is lost. Romana told me she wanted you on the committee I was returning to head, to consider the future of Gallifrey after the war. Did she speak to you of that? I had thought her misguided, but perhaps you will offer some perspectives that we would not have considered otherwise."
A backhanded compliment from a Time Lord. Sarah was becoming accustomed to being told that she was 'quite intelligent for a primitive'. "No, she hadn't mentioned it, but I'd be happy to do it. If nothing else, my people have come up with numerous disaster scenarios, which you might consider."
She and Calla had worked well together, Sarah thought, though she had always felt inadequate beside the other woman. And when Calla had died in the first attack on the Capital, Sarah had become the head of the committee. She'd never been quite sure why. Someone (she assumed it had been Romana) had decided that she would be the best person for the job, or perhaps it had all been political. A nice cushy spot for the Doctor's pet primitive, where she couldn't get into too much trouble.
The equations seemed to mock her and Sarah wondered if she had ever understood the Time Lords as well as she had thought. She considered erasing them, but he'd written DO NOT ERASE in large letters on the wall, and she couldn't help hoping against hope that it was a sign that he would return, and that she would see her daughter again someday.
The whole nursery was such a farce. She kept falling in to the same trap, believing he'd come back to her. "I love you," she whispered softly to the empty room. It didn't matter that he wasn't in the room, he wouldn't have heard it if he were standing right beside her and she were shouting in his ear.
With a sudden burst of energy, Sarah pulled the footstool over to the window, climbed up and started taking down the curtains. She couldn't do this. Couldn't deal with an empty nursery. She'd turn it into a library or a storeroom. 'I cannot give him a child,' Leela had said. Sarah had given the Doctor a child and he had taken it away. Calla had understood that she would want the baby too, but Calla was gone and the baby was gone and she had nothing left to fight for.