Summary: What happens after Inconceivable
Blame: paranoidangel42 because she keeps asking for more.
When Sarah walked into the other room, she was almost relieved to see the familiar blonde woman sitting at the desk. The site had once been a holiday camp for the rare Gallifreyan who wanted a pastoral experience and the room still bore traces of it's former use. Sarah had chosen the site for that reason. It had an independent generator and despite the rough appearance of the buildings, supplied many of the comforts of the city, there being even fewer residents who liked roughing it in practice.
While she was lost in thought, the Doctor blew past her, picked up Romana and spun her around. Their joy at seeing each other was obvious on their faces and for a moment Sarah felt once again like the outsider she had been when she lived on Gallifrey.
It didn't last long, though. Before Sarah knew it Romana was hugging her and admiring the baby.
"Calla would be so pleased," Romana said, as she took Fred from Sarah without bothering to ask and proceeded to make silly faces at the baby. "I think she was more invested in the cross-breeding project than she was in the more practical aspects of planning for life after the war."
Sarah started to protest, but Romana stopped her.
"Like most Time Lords, her passions, Calla's interests were not necessarily practical. She never had to worry where her next meal was coming from...I know you didn't either, but you at least understand the concept of scarcity, which isn't something Gallifrey has had to deal with in millennia. Your caches of food, tools and information are the reason we're doing as well as we are."
The Doctor grinned at Sarah, "I told you that you underestimated your contributions." Turning to Romana he retrieved Fred and asked, "What happened? I thought the plan was supposed to wipe Skaro and Gallifrey and their populations out of existence, and when I survived, I thought it was a fluke. But then I found one Dalek, and soon there were more. Sarah had the theory that my survival was causing the rest of it to unravel."
Romana smiled at Sarah, "That's our theory as well. What we've recovered of the Matrix has noticed a rewriting of history but we were still trying to track down the cause, though we were starting to suspect it might be your survival. Our TARDISes are still grounded or I would have sent someone to fetch you."
"But the survivors seem to be doing well," the Doctor said.
"We are, for the most part. You missed the worst of it. The first winter was rough, but given the devastation, the remaining population has grown a little more interested in the basics of survival." Romana sighed. "It will get back to normal eventually but for now this sort of life is a novelty."
The Doctor laughed. "Stuffy old Time Lords making a fad of roughing it. This I have to see."
"You will. There's a dinner with the High Council tonight. You and your companions will all attend." Romana grinned back mischievously. "Including the ones Maxil didn't recognise."
"Rose and Martha," Sarah said promptly. This would be fun. They were about to be dropped into Time Lord society head first. Though, from what Sarah knew of both women, they were more than capable of holding their own.
Romana nodded. "We are glad to see you, Doctor. We'd caught traces of your presence, but we weren't certain if you had survived or if it was just an echo. Between the hopefully temporary loss of the Matrix's full capabilities and the psionic debris from the War we were having trouble tracking you down."
The Doctor sat down in Romana's chair, spun around a few times and then put his feet up, as if he were admiring his trainers. "I couldn't sense anyone else. I thought everyone had died...been erased from history." He kissed the top of Fred's head.
"Comfy?" Romana gave him a dark look, but didn't bother arguing. "That was the plan. We're still not sure what happened. Just that history has been changing slowly and the number of survivors keeps growing larger."
"Yes, thank you. Although..." The Doctor stood up with a flourish. "Sarah, you're the one who should be sitting down."
Sarah eyed him. "I'm fine, stop hovering. You'd think I was the first woman to ever give birth. Honestly, Doctor, I've been resting for the past fortnight. I need to stretch my legs a bit." She turned to Romana. "That sounds like what the Doctor was saying about the Daleks, but then if your plan worked it would have tied the fates of both races together. Both consigned to the stuff of legends, erased from history."
"Precisely," Romana said crisply. "If one survived, the other would too. And the Doctor was the keystone. He wasn't supposed to survive either."
"But I did. One Time Lord. Then one Dalek. But the two of us surviving left the door open for more. I should have come back to Gallifrey. As long as I didn't there was always the potential that someone else had lived. I just wasn't willing to close that door. But as long as there was a chance that Gallifrey still existed then Skaro might not have been destroyed either." The Doctor ran his fingers through his hair, leaving it a disordered mess. "If I had come back here right after, and seen what had become of Gallifrey, it would have removed all other possibilities. But I didn't. I couldn't. As long as I didn't return, I could believe that you and this planet were still here, where I had left you."
Sarah moved around the desk and put an arm around him. "You did the best you could. Second guessing yourself doesn't help anyone."
He grinned at her and offered her their suddenly wide-awake child. "Freddles want to go to mummy," he said in fake baby-lisp.
She sighed and took her daughter. "Hello, Fred. Have a nice nap?"
Fred, being a baby, didn't say anything, just blew bubbles at her, causing her to grin. "So what do you think of your namesake, Romana?"
Romana laughed. "She's very cute but, given her parents, I suspect she's going to be a handful when she gets older."
"Oh, probably," Sarah replied with a shrug. "But I've had practice with the Doctor all these years, I think I can handle an actual five year old."
"Oi! Standing right here." The Doctor stole Fred back. "Just for that you can't have her any more."
"You'll change your mind when she gets hungry," Sarah said with a smile. "Though he does change nappies, I'll grant him that."
"He always did like messes," Romana said conspiratorially. "I remember this time back on Regis Xon..."
"I knew there was a reason I took Sarah back to Earth. The two of you always got along way too well for my comfort." The Doctor gave them both a dark look. "I had hopes that Sarah wouldn't get along with Rose, but no...I turn my back for a minute and the next thing I know they're laughing and pointing at me. I can't win."
"No, you can't," Romana agreed. "I have to wonder why you even try."
The Doctor rolled his eyes at her and changed the subject. "Andred said that Leela was pregnant." He beamed at this information, as though he were responsible.
"She waited until she had trained others to hunt and fish and find edible plants. There are a few other communities of survivors and she and some of the Outsiders have been travelling around instructing Time Lords in basic survival skills. It wasn't until after she had returned, that she was willing to consider being tied down with a child. Sarah was right about the possibility that we might have to depend on the natural resources of our own planet for a while. Without Leela's skills, we would be on subsistence rations by now. As it is, gardening has become a bit of a fad. As has womb birth."
Sarah smiled slightly. "Calla said it would, if other options were taken away. I'm glad she was right." She hesitated before asking, "How many survived?"
"About 1500 survived the end of the war on Gallifrey. Over the last five years, that's grown to 2000, between Time Lords slowly finding their way home from other planets and new births. It will be a long time before we reach our former population, but we have started slowly rebuilding the Capitol." Romana flipped through some papers on the desk. "It's been five years since the war ended and things could have gone much worse."
"That's a relief. Did you say that the Matrix had survived?" The Doctor was clearly bubbling over with curiosity.
"A good portion of the information contained in it did. We have a partial backup, but we haven't been able to access the original to see what else might have survived. The power in the Capitol is still out...at the moment clearing the streets of debris is more of a priority. Once that's done, we'll be able to see what we can salvage of the old infrastructure and what will have to be rebuilt. We're not pushing. We have food and shelter, and by autumn we should have a few more buildings out here, to alleviate crowding and for more storage. We haven't had to deal with radiation; the population is small enough that there's been enough food to go around, and those who survived seem to take the rough living as a game."
"Time Lords roughing it. This I have to see," Sarah said with a smirk. "We should meet with Leela's doctor and pass on the information we have about my pregnancy. And I imagine you'll want to spend some time with your granddaughter." She looked up at the Doctor for confirmation.
Fred started to fret before he could answer, and he passed her to Sarah, who resisted the urge to say "I told you so."
Sarah sat down on the edge of the desk to nurse and waited for the Doctor to reply.
"Yes, of course, Susan. And like Sarah, I'd like to see what you've been up to, and how well Sarah's planning actually worked. Though I gather from Maxil's response, she's considered a hero around here." The Doctor grinned, revelling in Sarah's embarrassment.
"I'm sure we can find time for all of that, but for now, Andred will lead you to your chambers so you can dress for dinner. Prydonian robes, please, Doctor. We're not quite as formal as we were, but this is a special occasion." Romana was smiling, but the words were clearly a dismissal.
"Think of what Rose and Martha will say," Sarah added with a grin. "Their eyes will pop out of their heads."
The Doctor snorted, then sighed, "Only for you, my dear. Is our little bundle of whatever done with her meal?"
"I don't think she was very hungry." Sarah handed her back to the Doctor. "You can carry her."
"As you wish." He led the way out of the room and Sarah followed, hoping that the rest of this trip would go as smoothly as their meeting with Romana.