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.
Sarah looked around as she made her way down the corridors of the current UNIT operation. It had changed so much from the shoestring operation she remembered.
She rubbed her eyes. She hadn't slept much. There were too many thoughts running round her brain and too many decisions that would have to be made.
Last night, she'd been numb. She'd said some things that she now regretted. Told the others she was pregnant, before she'd had a chance to absorb it herself. They meant well, but she suspected only Liz's support would amount to anything worthwhile. Jo and Tegan would try, but they'd been attempting to fix her up for years and they didn't quite get that there were other ways to live.
Liz looked up, slightly startled, as Sarah entered the lab. "Thought I'd have to come down and escort you. How did you get all the way up here?"
"My old security clearance was still on file. I never thought much about it at the time, but the guards seemed impressed. They double checked my identity, made me an ID card and told me I could go. Rather fun for a reporter. We're always being chucked out of places. Wish I'd known sooner." Sarah's tone was light, but a little bit forced.
"I'm almost done, then we can be off to lunch." Liz spoke briskly. "Like the new lab? Much better than the one I had back in the seventies."
Sarah glanced at the state of the art equipment. "I take it you're well funded these days. I was rather surprised you came back here, but then I was never quite sure why you left in the first place, self-absorbed teenager that I was in those days."
"Once the Brigadier and the Doctor had left, there was no reason not to."
Sarah stared at her. "Okay, the Doctor I get. From what I understand, he basically came in and took over what was supposed to be your job, but the Brigadier?"
Liz looked embarrassed. "We were involved. It didn't end well. I, um, wouldn't tell Jo this."
"Don't worry. I wouldn't dream of it. I made the mistake of hinting once that I fancied the Doctor. She made it clear that she thought it was a sign of sexual deviancy." Sarah stopped suddenly at the expression on Liz's face.
"Sexual deviancy is a bit strong but seriously, Sarah, of all the men to have a crush on, why on earth would you choose him? Not exactly attractive and I never got the impression that he was interested in humans that way. Lesser lifeforms and all that."
Sarah winced. She'd assumed last night that Liz had known. This was going to be incredibly awkward, but she didn't really have a choice. She couldn't risk a regular obstetrician, and Harry wasn't available. She hoped Liz would be an ally, once she knew.
Liz continued, not noticing Sarah's reaction, "So, moving on to men you did sleep with, do you want to talk about the baby? Last night you looked rather blind-sided and it wasn't just that romper. Talking through it might help. I won't judge, I promise. Although the romper thing was weird in itself. Finding it in the shop and then finding out you were pregnant. It would be so strange if it was your daughter."
Sarah sat back and closed her eyes, trying to marshal her thoughts. "Yeah. Well, I'd just found out. As in a hour or two before. It hadn't sunk in yet. Still hasn't. I just blurted it out, when it probably would have been better to wait and think things through first. You know my lifestyle. Late nights, adventure, danger, that sort of thing. I was looking forward to growing old as disgracefully as possible."
"And being pregnant out of wedlock isn't disgraceful enough for you?"
Sarah smiled thinly. "I'm fifty-two and used to being the only person I need to consider when making decisions. I've only ever managed an affair that lasted longer than a year once. I've got a dangerous life, and just saying I need to change it doesn't make it so."
Liz started putting away her equipment, making no move to interrupt Sarah's rant.
"I'd make a lousy mother. I'm not good at following rules, how could I expect my child to? I'll be parenting a teenager in my late sixties. God, if it were anyone else's child I'd have an abortion and be done with it."
Liz couldn't let that pass. "Anybody else's child? Do you want to elaborate on that? I didn't even know you were seeing someone. Though you did say an old friend. Don't tell me Harry finally showed up from wherever he's been hiding."
Sarah decided to address the last part first. "No, I haven't even heard from Harry in years and he was never interested in me anyway. I guess you didn't know he's gay."
"No idea. Go on. Tell me about this mysterious guy. Anyone I've met?" Liz sat down on a stool beside Sarah.
Sarah took a deep breath and then said in a rush, "Yes, it's the Doctor. We, um, Lord, like you and the Brigadier, we were involved back in the day, but it was long over and then we ran into each other again and I guess old habits die hard. It was supposed to be closure." She patted her stomach. "Doesn't look like it ended up that way."
"Sarah, this is becoming ridiculous. It was one thing to start telling stories about this cult that just happened to think you were their herald, now you're claiming that your relationship with the Doctor wasn't just a case of 'he's reasonably attractive but it will never happen' but a torrid romance."
"I wouldn't call it that." Sarah hugged herself. This was not going well. "More like, what's the phrase they use now, 'friends with benefits'. We were always friends first. The rest was just icing. I thought it was enough at the time, but then he left and I...no one ever measured up." She shrugged.
Liz shook her head. "Sarah," she said gently, "you need to stop this. Making up stories isn't going to make your life more interesting. I can understand why it started, here we are with wonderful families, and you're feeling old, missing the adventures you used to have and thinking you need to come up with a reason to justify being alone. I don't know if you actually believe the tales you're spinning, but they aren't real. No deranged cultists, no fantasy romance. Probably no baby – just a stomach bug and menopause. Try living in the real world for once, it might surprise you."
Sarah stood suddenly. There was no point in prolonging this conversation. She had no other options available but it was clear that Liz wasn't going to listen. "You're right, of course, about everything. I won't take up any more of your time, then and I don't think I'll stay for lunch. Upset stomach. Oh, and here." She pulled the romper out of her handbag. "Save this for your next grandchild, I guess I won't be needing it. I'll see myself out."
It was ironic, she thought as she walked back to the entrance. She'd kept her secrets, her silence for so long about so many things, measuring out what little was safe to speak of like it was precious and even Liz hadn't believed the little she'd said aloud. Liz, like the others, had settled back into normal life easily. Adventures were for the young. She'd never believed that, but it seemed the rest of the world did.
Maybe she should have gone with the Doctor, when Rose had offered. She shook her head. It would have been awkward, even without the baby on the way. Rose hadn't understood what was really going on, that the moment Sarah started travelling with them she would cease to be 'the ex'. Sarah was too old for the much younger Rose to see as a threat to her own relationship with the Doctor.
It would have been fun, though, being around people who didn't assume she was making up stories every time she spoke. She walked out the door to discover it had started raining, and murmured, "It figures." She'd find some way to get through this pregnancy, even if she had to do it alone.