Summary: What happens after Inconceivable
Blame: paranoidangel42 because instead of stopping me, she egged me on. Welcome to the (pre)babyfic conspiracy. We are evil. Fear us. Or join us. Or run away screaming in horror.
It had been a day for surprises. Her mind was still reeling with the knowledge that she was carrying the Doctor's baby when the phone rang. Jo, saying she had run into Tegan in the airport and wondering if Sarah might like to join them and Liz for a drink later. She'd agreed, feeling even more like the world was conspiring against her.
By the time she got to the pub, the other three women were already seated at one of the tables, with drinks in front of them. She ordered a lemonade, and hoped the others wouldn't comment on it. She was quickly disillusioned.
"Not drinking, Sarah?" Liz asked. Her friend had said often enough that she found Jo much more bearable if she was at least slightly drunk. Sarah always seemed to drink twice as much as any of the others, though she never seemed the worse for wear. Jo, on the other hand got very giggly after a beer or two.
Sarah blushed. "Um, ah, one night stand with an old friend. Thought I was past the age when pregnancy was an issue. Apparently not. I just found out and it hasn't really sunk in yet."
She hoped they wouldn't ask who the old friend was. She wasn't sure how they'd react. Liz, she thought would take it in stride, but the other two.... She'd suspected he was sleeping with Rose, but she'd never asked about the others, before and after her.
Jo and Tegan stared at her, slightly horrified, saying things like "at your age" and "I thought you were more sensible".
Liz looked merely thoughtful. She said, reassuringly, "It's not that bad. Think of it this way, you have a good income and lots of life experience. It's not as though you're seventeen and struggling to finish school and take care of a baby."
"I feel like a walking advertisement regarding accidental pregnancy. Maybe I should take up visiting schools. Don't do what I did kids, or you might end up just like me. You'd think I would have known better," Sarah vented.
"It's just weird." Jo said, "Here we are, all three of us grandmothers and you're just starting a family. But think of it this way, you have all of our experience to draw on and maybe it's time for you to stop gallivanting around and settle down."
Sarah winced; she hadn't thought of that. "I'm not sure that's possible. Most of my recent adventures have involved old enemies out to get me. I don't think they'll stop because I'm having a baby." She'd have to talk to Josh. She wasn't certain the Crimson Chapter was completely gone and heaven only knew what the White Chapter would make of this.
Tegan said sharply, "You have to. That's no life for a baby. You're responsible for someone besides yourself now. Stop being so selfish."
Sarah put on a brave grin, the other woman had no idea what her life was really like. "I'll try. However inconvenient the timing, I want this baby. It's just difficult. I never planned on having children and my life was built around that. It's going to be a major change."
"Well, why don't you let me get you started." Liz suddenly smiled. "I bought this for my daughter this morning, then she called to let me know it was a girl. She's the sort," she said confidentially, "who will persist in dressing her daughter in pink frills. I don't know where she gets it from. Not me. Anyway, consider this your first baby gift. It seems especially appropriate after your recent trip."
She passed Sarah a dark blue romper with space shuttles, astronauts and stars sprinkled all over it, causing the other two women to giggle. Sarah stared at it, suddenly understanding the other woman's thoughtful expression earlier. She hadn't expected it to turn up so soon. Hadn't been certain it would show up at all.
"Dr. Shaw? Lavinia Smith. I hope you don't mind that I brought my niece along. Sarah Jane. No school today. You understand."
"Oh no, no problem at all. I'm glad you could make it. We've got a rather knotty problem with this virus and I hope you'll be able to help us sort it out. And it's Liz, please. Now the problem is...."
Sarah tuned out the conversation. Not that she didn't like science, but she spent too much time listening to Aunt Lavinia natter on about her work. She looked all around, absorbing every detail of the lab. The whole thing had been so exciting. A secret military base and Aunt Lavinia being called in to consult. She'd known her aunt was well known in certain circles, but she hadn't imagined anything like this.
"Oh, a baby. Is she yours or do you....?" She didn't want to think that the baby was here for experiments.
"Oh, no." Liz looked up from her work. "UNIT's science advisor dropped her off not all that long ago. Said he needed a safe place to stash her while he dealt with something."
"What a chauvinist," Lavinia said disapprovingly. "As though you didn't have your own work to do."
"More eccentric, I'd say." Liz smiled. "Trust me. I'm sure he would just as happily have dumped her in the Brigadier's lap without a second thought. Sometimes it's just easier not to argue with him."
Sarah said, "Oh what a cute romper. I guess the mother doesn't buy into the stereotypes if she's dressing her daughter in a space themed outfit. What's her name?"
"You'll have to forgive Sarah," Lavinia said to Liz, "She never stops asking questions."
"I don't mind. Her name is Fred, of all things. Her mother's named Sarah, like you. He said that she'd probably sleep til he got back and that he had to bring her home soon. Eccentric," she repeated, though she was smiling when she said it.
Aunt Lavinia added, "Why don't you sit in that chair and cuddle her while we sort this out?"
Sarah suspected her aunt had come up with that idea to keep her in sight and out of trouble. She picked up the baby gingerly. Dolls and babies had never interested her, but the baby was more interesting than listening to Dr. Shaw and Aunt Lavinia talk about pneumowhatsits. Dr. Shaw was much younger than she'd expected and she started rethinking her desire to become a reporter.
She'd been dithering between journalism and science since she started high school and she still wasn't sure. Perhaps she'd earn a degree in science and then go off and work for a science magazine. That would be fun. Nothing to do with viruses though. Physics or engineering. She liked figuring out how things worked.
The baby stirred in her arms and she regarded it uncomfortably. A sleeping baby was one thing, but she was sure that if the baby woke up and started wriggling or crying, she'd drop it or do something else stupid. She didn't have any experience with babies.
Sarah took a deep breath and started talking to it softly. "So your name is Fred. Fredericka, maybe, like the Georgette Heyer novel. It goes with your outfit. Maybe you'll be an astronaut when you grow up. That would be cool. Or you could build spaceships or study the stars. Ask your mum about Maria Mitchell. She was an astronomer and very famous." She went on babbling in a soft voice about women scientists and aliens.
Sarah supposed this wasn't what one normally said to a baby but she'd always been scornful of baby talk. So she just talked normally about all the things that interested her and all the cool things the baby could see and do when it was older. "And never stop asking questions. You'll never learn anything, otherwise."
She realized her arm was falling asleep. She looked up at the clock on the wall. They'd been here almost an hour. She hesitantly shifted the baby to get a better grip easing it to the crook of her other arm, like she'd seen other women do. She placed her free hand on the baby' s chest to steady it and then paused. She could have sworn she'd felt two hearts beating. That was weird. A birth defect, or a heart murmur, maybe.
She wasn't a doctor, she couldn't be sure, and Aunt Lavinia had said that UNIT's job was dealing with unusual phenomena. Maybe there really were aliens. "If you're an alien, you're a very cute one," she said to the baby quietly. "Not planning to take over the Earth any time soon, I hope."
Now that she looked closer, the spaceships on the baby's outfit looked odd. More like planes than rockets. Another thing to wonder about.
Her train of thought was interrupted by her aunt's voice. "Sarah, give the baby back to Liz. I think we've isolated the problem. I've got some books back at my lab that might help. I'll stop by tomorrow, while Sarah's at school."
Sarah obediently handed the baby back to Dr. Shaw, hoping she hadn't been lying when she said they weren't going to experiment on her. "Thank you, Dr. Shaw," she said quickly before her aunt nagged her about it.
"It was nice to meet you, Sarah, perhaps we'll meet again someday." Dr. Shaw smiled at her. "Thanks, Lavinia. Not that I'd say anything against the Doctor. He is a brilliant scientist, after all. But it was fun solving a problem without him for once."
Sarah frowned as she got into her aunt's car. Today hadn't gone according to plan at all. She'd thought she have a chance to snoop around and ask questions, instead she'd ended up babysitting and that had raised more questions than it answered. Someday she decided, she'd find out more about UNIT.
As Sarah had gone through uni, she'd convinced herself that her original thought, that the baby had a heart condition, had been right but the belief that there was something odd about UNIT had persisted. When the opportunity had presented itself, she had jumped at the chance to masquerade as her aunt and investigate further.
She stared down at the romper in her hands. Cause and effect. She just hoped that he didn't mess up the navigation when he tried to return Fred to her. Maybe she'd grow up to be like Fred on Angel. Sarah wouldn't be surprised.
She realised that the other three were staring at her. "Sorry, I zoned out there for a moment. That space trip was as harrowing as anything the Doctor ever put me through. I'm still shocked that Josh and I made it back to Earth. The romper's marvellous, Liz." She smiled at the other woman, wondering suddenly if Liz had felt those two hearts beating and made the obvious connection. She decided it was time to change the subject. "Jo, when you called you said something about pictures of Tegan's new grandchild. I might as well get used to looking at babies."
The conversation ranged over babies and old times and adventures and absent friends. Before Sarah knew it, the others were making noises about getting home to their husbands and families, another thing she would have to get used to.
At least she knew that at some point during the next year, she'd find a way to get in touch with the Doctor and she knew that the baby would be born healthy. She'd worried about that, between her age and lifestyle and the baby's father not being human. She'd manage the rest somehow. She had to.
As they left the pub, Liz put a hand on her arm, holding her back as the other two went on ahead. "Why don't you stop by the lab and have lunch tomorrow? We can talk some more."
Sarah smiled at her, "That would be lovely. I haven't been back to UNIT since the Doctor left. Can you believe it? Used to be they couldn't keep me away." She was certain Liz knew now. Not that that was a bad thing. She didn't think it was safe to visit a regular doctor, especially knowing what she already did about the baby's anatomy, so if Liz volunteered, Sarah planned on taking her up on the offer.