Summary: What happens after Inconceivable
Blame: paranoidangel42 because she keeps asking for more.
As usual x-posted to my lj.
Chapter 1: Old Friends
Chapter 2: Girl Talk
Chapter 3: Ladies Who Lunch
Sarah was surprised to see the Brigadier when she entered Liz's lab. From what Liz had said, Sarah had assumed that they hadn't spoken to each other in years.
"Hello, Miss Smith." He shook her hand. "It's been a while. I was called in to consult on this Siluran business and thought I'd stop and say hello to Dr. Shaw."
"It's good to see you again after all these years, Brigadier." Sarah paused awkwardly. "I'm afraid I've lost track of your current title."
"Don't worry about it, Miss Smith. I was never comfortable with my promotions. I found I preferred fieldwork. Now, if you two will excuse me, I'm expected in a meeting."
"I'm glad you stopped by. It has been way too long," Liz said. "Please, don't be a stranger."
After he left Sarah looked at Liz inquisitively, but didn't say anything.
Liz took pity on her. "He stopped by unexpectedly. I haven't seen him in years I don't know - maybe our talk made me realize how much time had passed and that it might be time to forgive and forget."
Sarah sat down in a chair by Liz's rather messy desk. "He never knew what to make of me. He seemed willing to accept that women have careers; he always spoke of you highly, but I confounded him for some reason."
"He knew. About your relationship with the Doctor. Between our own past and my mentioning that I was meeting you for lunch, it came up somehow." Liz reached over and patted Sarah's shoulder. "So I apologise. I'm sorry I didn't believe you."
"Liz, I don't blame you. Hell, I don't even believe some of the stuff that's happened to me over the years. It was just...I'm fifty-two and I thought I was past this. Pregnancy, motherhood and all of the complications involved because the baby is half-alien. I was feeling overwhelmed and I walked out because I just couldn't cope. If I'd been in any shape to argue the point rationally. I might have been able to convince you. I didn't think of mentioning that the Brigadier knew, or suggesting that you do some tests. I'm still not sure why you decided to give me the benefit of the doubt."
Liz sat down at her desk, facing Sarah, and started looking for a file. "I was worried about you. You've isolated yourself to some extent; your social life consists of the rare times Jo and I badger you to come out and play and Josh and Nat, was it?" At Sarah's nod, Liz continued, "You compartmentalize your life more than the rest of us have ever done."
"So, you're saying I need to get out more." Sarah smiled to show she wasn't offended.
Liz replied, "No, I'm saying you need to let people in more. We've been there, we might understand, Sarah...at least some of it. And I get the rest. You've gone to great pains to pretend your relationship with him was just like ours - friend, colleague, mentor - but it wasn't. You have to trust us to be there for you. It's why we get together in the first place and why you keep coming round, even though I know Jo gets on your nerves. Heaven knows how she'll react when she finds out..."
"...But I need to trust her." Sarah completed for her. "You're right, Liz. I do tend to err on the side of paranoia and the events of the last few years have made that worse. Nothing like an alien's long-term revenge plot to screw up your head. However, given the way you reacted, I'd rather not tell them until I have proof. And trying to explain this to Nat and Josh, especially Josh, is going to be a nightmare. I have to tell them something, though."
"Why 'especially Josh'? In fact, why tell them at all? It's not as though the child will have two heads or something." She paused in her searches and looked up at Sarah. "I feel weird about saying this but we're different. We understand about the Doctor."
"Because Josh of Josh's beliefs. I sprung the Mandragora's trap during that ill-fated space trip I took last year, but the Orbus Postremo still exists and the Crimson chapter is probably still trying to kill me. With Sir Donald's death, Josh became keeper of the White Chapter and I need him on my side. And he's a friend, who I've lied to way too often. Nat too. It's going to be interesting, though. His beliefs about aliens are firmly black and white."
"Fair enough. Here it is." Liz waved a file, triumphantly. "The Doctor's medical records from his days with UNIT."
Sarah stared, "I didn't know those still existed."
"Paper only. And I think they'll be disappearing soon. I don't like the current climate much. There are rumours that he's not in great favour with the current government."
"He hinted at something like that, when I saw him. The incident at Christmas. He wasn't pleased with the Prime Minister's actions." Sarah thought about Skaro and consequences, but remained silent; she still wasn't sure which path she would choose now. She shook her head to clear it, then noticed Liz staring at her, "Sorry, my mind wandered. She gave the order to destroy the Sycorax ship after they had agreed to leave."
"Not something that would sit well with him. Now, back to the baby. Let's start with the basics remembering that I don't know anything about Time Lord genetics except what's in here. Adult, male and horribly incomplete. No genetic mapping in the seventies. I don't know how much of it will be useful. Are you sure it's his, Sarah?" Liz asked flipping through the file. "I'd have thought crossfertilization would have to be difficult, if not impossible."
"Couldn't be anyone else's given the timing." She paused. "Five weeks, and there's been no one else in the past six months. It has to be his." Sarah hesitated, then broached her other worry to Liz. "The environments I spent time in...I've been exposed to various types of radiation over the years and heaven only knows what else. Nothing that's ever shown up on tests, but if you start digging I don't know what you'll find." She had some suspicions, but she wanted to see Liz's test results first.
"We'll deal with things as we come to them. Oh, I nearly forgot." Liz reached into the bottom drawer of her desk. "Here's the romper back. I did a double take when I saw that romper in the store. I couldn't figure out how it had ended up on the baby the Doctor had left with me that day and then you turned up, saying you were expecting. I'd never connected you with that Sarah before."
"I did." Sarah shifted restlessly. "When it became clear where our relationship was heading, I wondered if she were mine. It's ironic in a way. I was so adamant about using birth control back then, whether or not I needed it with him. I wasn't ready to be a mother and I wasn't taking chances." She hesitated. "All I know about that day is what I saw and what I deduced later on."
Liz said, "I should have thought of that. This could take a while. Are you hungry, or do you want to finish this conversation first? I don't think it's something we want to be discussing in public. Why don't I take a blood sample and start some basic tests and we can compare notes?"
"Not sure I could keep anything down at this point. Unless you're starving, I'd rather stay and talk." Sarah drank from a bottle of water she'd been carrying.
"I'm fine for the moment," Liz said as she started gathering what she needed. "I don't know much myself except what I saw. The Doctor came in with another man who he introduced as 'a future me' which was bewildering enough. I knew the concept of regeneration; the Brigadier was horribly thrown when the Doctor showed up with a new face, but the reality was hard to grasp. He regenerated, didn't he, when you were with him?"
"Yes. Both, if that's what you're really asking. There was a bit of awkwardness when he changed, but we worked through it. I've also met a few of the other incarnations. What was he like? The other Doctor, I mean."
"Tall, skinny, very young. Brown hair, brown eyes. Blue pinstriped suit and trainers. Bouncing off the walls a bit." Liz smiled at the memory. "Lots of energy. They seemed to get along well, though if they're the same person, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. I need your arm." She swiftly prepared Sarah, and started drawing blood as she listened to the other woman's reply.
Sarah snorted, "You never saw our Doctor in the same room with his previous incarnations. Sniping at each other the whole time. But I could see those two getting along. Mostly. Must have been weird for him though. The...look, ours was his Third incarnation and the one he was with was the Tenth, it'll make it easier to differentiate them. Anyway, the Tenth Doctor is the one I ran into five weeks ago. I'm not sure how much that matters in the grand scheme of things, but if it was our child, he wouldn't have been able to tell his previous self. Time paradoxes and such. But back to your story."
Liz switched the full vial for an empty one. "Third and Tenth, then. And you slept with both of them and the Fourth, is it?"
"We weren't very good at ending our relationship." She replied vaguely, not wanting Liz to pursue that line of inquiry.
Liz couldn't help smiling at that. "I never saw a regeneration, it's somewhat difficult to get my mind around. The Tenth seemed very different from his predecessor. But we've digressed. Ours, the Third, came in to the lab with the Tenth Doctor in tow. They were discussing something about some piece of information that would be easier to find in our time than later. There. That should be enough to start with." She started preparing slides with the blood she had drawn.
"I wonder what it was, and why that time, specifically," Sarah said, thoughtfully.
Liz went on, "I do remember the other Doctor talking about getting the baby back to Sarah and ours brushing him off in that way of his. They definitely called the baby "Fred" more than once. When they left the lab the Tenth Doctor said she'd probably sleep until he got back and that I should just go on with my work. Neither said that I shouldn't touch the baby, but it was strongly implied."
"And then Aunt Lavinia and I came in, and she suggested I hold the baby to keep me out of trouble."
"You looked about as awkward as I would have been. I hadn't had much experience with babies at that point," Liz said.
"And you ended up with three. You seem to have done alright. I suppose there's some hope for me," Sarah said dubiously.
"I think you'll be a great mother." Liz smiled encouragingly. "You'll be fun and exciting and not like all the other mums."
"I'll let the kid stay up until all hours of the night and watch too much telly. Besides, sometimes kids like you to be just like other mums. The only pet I've ever had was a tin dog and I managed to break that once. How can I think about being a mother?" Sarah wrapped her arms around her chest.
"I felt the same way when I was expecting Jamie. I found ways to cope, you will too." Liz returned to the original topic. "So, you held the baby and Lavinia and I worked on the virus. Her idea did work by the way. The Doctor was very impressed."
"He rather liked her, when they finally met," Sarah interjected.
"And then, when we were finished, you put the baby back down in the nest of blankets the Tenth Doctor had made for her and left with your aunt. I went back to work and the Doctors came back in about ten minutes later. You just missed them."
"Just as well. That might have been awkward."
"Stop interrupting or I'll never finish, and I'm starting to get hungry. I told our Doctor what Lavinia and I had figured out, while the other one picked up the baby. The Tenth had an odd reaction to your aunt's name, but when I mentioned you'd been playing babysitter...I think I said 'her niece, Sarah', for the record...he just smiled. Our Doctor asked him if that was significant, and the Tenth Doctor said something to the effect of 'that's for me to know and you to find out.' They both laughed at that. Stop giggling. You're not twelve, Sarah." Liz was giggling herself, which spoiled the effect, somewhat.
"Nope, I'm a grown woman of fifty-two who's about to be a mum, but as he once told me 'what's the point of being grown up if you can't be childish.'"
"Words to live by," Liz said pedantically, causing a fresh bout of giggles. "They left shortly after that, and I don't know any more of that story."
"You never held her then?" Sarah asked.
"No. Is that relevant? I suppose I should have been more curious but I was in the middle of that other problem." Liz looked at her expectantly.
"I'm almost certain the baby had two hearts." Her hand slipped to her stomach again.
"Oh. Yeah, that would be relevant."
"I still don't know if she's mine. I've got eight months of pregnancy to go through with heaven knows what sort of complications. My age would be enough to worry about without dealing with cross-species issues and a possibly not-quite-as-extinct-as-I-thought doomsday cult that wants me dead. There is no guarantee that I'll carry this baby to term or that I'll survive childbirth. That romper could end up on another child. Or it could be a different romper. There are probably thousands produced in that pattern. Is something wrong?" Sarah asked, noting the odd look on Liz's face.
She had been in hospital several times, and presumably everything had checked out. No one had mentioned any anomalies at any rate. But Liz's tests would be more thorough, and if Sarah's suspicions were true...she pushed that from her mind. It wasn't important in the grand scheme of things. She pushed it from her mind and looked at Liz expectantly.
Liz started gathering up the samples and locked them in a small safe. "I don't want someone stumbling on this while I'm not here. I have to do some more tests. There's something weird going on here, but I don't think it's anything to worry about. Let me do the tests and I'll let you know as soon as I've got something conclusive. In the meantime, lunch?"
"That sounds good, oddly enough. Can we talk about things other than babies and the Doctor?" Sarah asked.
"Whatever you want." Liz smiled at her. "You'll get through this, I promise."
Sarah didn't think it would be as easy as Liz made it sound, but she kept that to herself. She'd take it a day at a time and hope for the best. There was nothing more she could do at the moment.