Summary: What happens after Inconceivable
Blame: paranoidangel42 because she keeps asking for more. I need to stop working on this and finish my ficathon fic!
As usual x-posted to my lj.
She was very surprised when Liz called her two weeks later.
"Tegan's heading back home tomorrow and we thought we'd get together for lunch before she went."
"I think I'll have to cry off. My stomach's still a bit upset." Sarah knew Liz would hear that as 'I feel like an idiot and don't want to talk to anybody'.
Liz's tone was overly patient. "You have to see them sometime. You can say it was a false alarm. Sarah, please, I'm starting to worry about you."
"Oh, all right. I might be a little late, I've got a meeting at 11:30." Liz was right. No matter how pathetic the three of them might think her, she had to go back with her head held high.
The meeting was with Josh. Sarah didn't plan on telling him about the baby, yet. Her head was too messed up at the moment to deal with the implications of the Orbis Pastrami (as she called it privately).
She did, however, let it slip that she was meeting some old friends for lunch.
"I'm coming along. I don't believe you have other friends," Josh teased.
"Girls only. And don't you have that meeting with the bankers?"
Josh frowned. "I don't know how dad did it. It's boring," he whined, making Sarah laugh.
"The hazards of being Sir Donald Wakefield's only son. Look, I'll play nice. Why don't you walk over to the café with me? It's just around the corner. I'll introduce you and then you can toddle off to your meeting." And I get to shove you in Liz's face. Fantasy world, indeed.
"An offer I can't refuse. Lead on, MacDuff."
"You're mixing your quotations, Josh."
He smirked at her as they walked into the restaurant.
"Over here, Sarah." Tegan was waving as though she didn't expect to be heard over the din.
Sarah threaded her way through the crowded café to their table with Josh right behind her, wondering just what she was trying to prove by bringing him along. Maybe she was just tired of keeping secrets. "Everyone, this is my assistant Josh Townsend. Josh, I'd like you to meet Dr. Liz Shaw, Jo Jones, and Tegan Jovanka, who we ran into on the flight back from Australia last year."
Josh smiled. "Tegan, I remember. The two of you were having the most cryptic conversation I ever heard. 'The Celery Stalks at Midnight' and all that." He was mystified when Tegan and Sarah looked at each other and burst into hysterical laughter. "It wasn't that funny."
Sarah finally caught her breath and replied, "Yes, it was. You have no idea," and started giggling again. The absurdity was a relief after the stress of the last few days.
"So why is it I never knew you were an international spy, SJ?" Josh could never resist teasing her.
"We can't all be deranged cultists, Josh. And don't call me SJ." The words came out of Sarah's mouth before she could stop them, but to her relief, Josh just laughed.
Some of the relief must have shown on her face, because Josh smiled and said, "If you can joke about that, things must be all right between us."
She hadn't realized he was still worried about that. She had thought that just falling back into their usual patterns had been reassurance enough. She said impulsively, "Look, I'm sorry I came down on you so hard about that. It was a bit of a shock, you have to understand. But I shouldn't have...there are plenty of things I never told you about my life, so I shouldn't have come down so hard on you for keeping secrets." Pot and kettle. She saw the understanding looks on the other women's faces. They had all had to deal with that at one time or another.
"That means a lot to me, SJ. Now, off to the bankers. Are you sure I can't stay and have lunch with you?"
"Nope. Responsibilities and all that." Not that she'd ever been terribly responsible. She was going to be a terrible role model for the baby.
"No boys allowed," Jo clarified.
Tegan added, "If you don't leave how are we supposed to gossip about you?" causing Liz to roll her eyes at Sarah.
He gave them all an exaggerated frown and left. Sarah sat down at the table.
"Cute, and young. Are you stealing the cradle now, Sarah?" Tegan asked, once Josh was out of earshot. "He's not the baby's father, is he?"
"I thought Sarah said the baby's father was an old friend," Jo objected. "You've only known Josh a few years, right? I can't believe you had Sir Donald Wakefield's heir working for you as an assistant. And what's with this deranged cultist business? You're not saying he was sent to kill you, are you?"
"No, he's a member of the other chapter, sent to protect me from the Crimson chapter...." Sarah broke off as the waitress came over to take their orders.
While the other two were ordering, Liz took the opportunity to squeeze Sarah's hand and say quietly, "I've been stewing over our conversation all week. I'm not saying I believe you, but I'm willing to do some tests. Especially if you're still feeling queasy. I don't want you feeling like you have nowhere to turn. I hope it's enough."
Sarah smiled reassuringly at her. "It is. I know it's hard to believe what I told you. Quite honestly, I never thought I'd be in a situation where I'd have to tell anybody. Hell, I'd be much happier if this were a false alarm." She realized the waitress was waiting patiently for her to order. "I'll have tea with lemon and the chicken salad. House dressing."
"Well, at least that's healthier than your usual cheeseburger with everything," Jo said. "So, back to Josh and the baby. You never answered our other questions."
"No, he's not the baby's father. And neither is Harry. Beyond that I'm not saying. I'm not absolutely certain there is a baby yet. I'm hoping it was a false positive."
"You don't think that's going to stop us from speculating, do you?" Tegan grinned. "You usually don't drop tidbits about your love life like that. We'll pounce on every scrap we can get."
"You have to remember," Jo added, "we're all married and settled. You're the one with the interesting, exotic life. It's all about living vicariously through you."
"Oh, there are times I'd trade my life for yours without a second thought," Sarah said lightly, "Especially, when I'm running for my life yet again." It wasn't quite a lie. There were rare times when she wondered what it would be like to have someone to come home to, but she'd only ever met one man who might be worth the sacrifice and he was less apt to settle down than she was.
"Right," Tegan said sarcastically. "Back to the baby's father, or the man you slept with recently without paying proper attention to the recommended methods of protection, if you prefer. There must be something you're willing to tell us. Older? Younger? What's he look like? Was it a case of picking up where you left off or unresolved sexual tension?"
Jo took up the thread. "Is he married? Is that why you won't tell us anything? Or someone who'll be killed if they knew he'd been with you? If you won't tell us anything, we'll have to start making things up, Sarah."
"Oh, for heaven's sake." Apparently, Liz was the only one who doubted the truth of her stories. Sarah considered and then said, "All right, I give. I ran into him and it was like no time had passed, even though it's been more than twenty years since I saw him. Um, not married, but he had a girl with him, though I'm not quite sure if they were friends or lovers. Looks fabulous, even after all these years."
"So do you," Jo interjected.
Sarah ignored her and continued, "He showed up at my hotel room ostensibly to talk. Ostensibly being the operative word. You can guess the rest. No, I'm not going to go into detail."
"Spoilsport," Tegan said.
Liz rolled her eyes at Sarah again.
Sarah said, "And people say I stick my nose where it doesn't belong. Anyway, the next day we decided we had to move on with our lives, separately. I don't know where he is, and have no way to contact him. So there you go. One night stand with the ex...if you ask me it was more sordid than exciting."
"Sarah, as much as I adore my husband, I've been married to him for thirty years," Jo said. "Showing up at my hotel room unexpectedly in the middle of the night with seduction on his mind is just not happening here."
"I'm with Jo," Tegan said. "I know we've spent too many years trying to fix you up with someone, but in the end it's nice to know someone close to our age who's still out there trying to make the world a better place and having adventures and wild flings. We know domesticity isn't your thing."
"It wasn't mine either, but I coped in the end. It'll be okay, Sarah," Liz said gently. "Whatever happens. If it isn't a false alarm, we'll be there for you, the way you've always been there for us."
The food arrived and conversation ceased for a moment.
Sarah stared thoughtfully at Liz, realizing she had overreacted to the other woman's scepticism. Too many years of not trusting anyone. Liz hadn't stopped caring about her, even if she didn't believe that the baby was the Doctor's. Sarah could have appealed to her on a scientific basis. Alien DNA would probably show up in tests. She'd just been too upset to think of it and too quick to assume the worst.
Jo interrupted her train of thought, asking about the trip to Australia that Josh had mentioned and Sarah spoke briefly about Will Sullivan and the visit to Antarctica that went so horribly wrong, before finding a way to turn the conversation back to pregnancy and babies, asking all sorts of practical questions that had never occurred to her before. She didn't know how useful the information would be, but she had discovered over the years that asking questions prevented having to answer them.
By the time lunch was over, Sarah was in a much better frame of mind, than she'd been since K-9 had told her 'You are pregnant, mistress'. The thought of being responsible for a baby still scared her, but knowing her friends were on her side helped. She arranged to come by the lab the next day to see Liz, thinking that maybe she could do this after all.