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
Chapter 4: Back to the Beginning
Sarah forced herself out of bed, thankful that the morning sickness hadn't lasted very long and suddenly wished she had a Gallifreyan guide to pregnancy. At the moment she was just tired from lack of sleep, but the only person she knew who might be able to tell her what to expect was inaccessible.
She rubbed her eyes, trying to force them to focus. Every time she tried to sleep, she was tormented by stray thoughts and regrets and the feeling that this should have been different somehow. And when she was too tired for even her restless mind to keep her awake, she'd wake up screaming from the nightmares.
She couldn't help wishing she wasn't pregnant; that this was the bad dream and she would wake up soon. It wasn't the baby's fault. It wasn't anyone's fault, except maybe hers. She'd tried to put a good face on things for her friends, hoping it would raise her spirits, but she could feel the world she'd built for herself starting to crumble and she wasn't sure how long she could keep herself together.
Abortion was out of the question. She'd made a promise once so many years ago. Never mind that the woman she'd made the promise to had died, and the reasons no longer existed. A different Sarah, a lifetime ago. But pride would make her keep her word, that and a sense of survivor's guilt.
After she showered and dressed, she glanced at her calendar to discover that she had actually agreed to go shopping with Jo. Jo had been pestering her since Tegan had gone back to Australia, and in the end Sarah had agreed. It was better to accept the inevitable, after all. There was absolutely no way that Jo wouldn't spend the next eight (or however many) months she had left in her pregnancy hovering over her, as proud as if the baby were Jo's grandchild. She hoped she could stand it.
She fortified herself with toast and tea before leaving the house. Judging by what Jo had said on the phone, today would be a whirlwind tour of maternity and baby supply shops. Sarah didn't intend to buy much, there would be time enough for that later, but Jo had six children of her own and several grandchildren (Sarah was vague on the number and sexes, though she'd seen pictures often enough), so she was counting on her to be a guide through the mysteries of babydom.
By the time Jo drove up, Sarah was waiting on the front steps, as ready for this ordeal as she was ever going to be. As she got into the car, she reminded herself that the Doctor liked Jo and that Jo's brand of dizziness was precisely what she needed. She'd spent too much time worrying over things she couldn't do anything about at the moment, so she pasted on a bright smile and decided that she would put it all out of her mind, at least for the morning.
The shopping expedition ended up being more fun than Sarah had expected. Jo was full of lively opinions on everything from prams to nappies and Sarah found herself laughing more than she had since she'd found out about the baby. And Jo had stayed away from anything but the more general aspects of the pregnancy, so Sarah hadn't had to field any difficult questions, though she suspected that Jo was planning to ambush her at lunch.
After they had ordered, Jo had smiled and Sarah had braced herself, expecting an interrogation. Instead, Jo had proceeded to show off everything she'd bought that morning for her grandchildren. Sarah had only bought a pregnancy book that Jo had pushed on her, wondering how much of the information would be relevant to her situation. She wondered what Jo was waiting for.
It turned out to be the food. Once they had been served, and the waitress had left, Jo said, "I've been thinking about having a get-together for all of us. Not just our little clique but everyone I can come up with who travelled with him. I know the Brigadier has met some of the others and I thought you might have. I've already buttonholed Tegan but the few she knew weren't from Earth."
Sarah thought for a minute. "Well, there's Harry, and I don't know where he is at the moment. Oh, and Rose but I think she's still travelling with him. At least she was when I met her not long ago. I could give you her mother's phone number, but I don't know if that would help. It's been busy every time I've tried it." She regretted the words the moment they left her mouth. The last thing she wanted to do was shove her pregnancy in Rose's face. "The others I've met are either dead or off-planet," she added vaguely hoping Jo wouldn't press for details.
But Jo had other things on her mind. "You ran into him recently, you're being horribly elusive about this pregnancy, and Tegan's certain you two were lovers at some point. Plus you've been having these little whisper sessions with Liz. who seems to have put herself in charge of your pregnancy, despite being a research scientist not an obstetrician. Why would she be doing that unless there was something unusual about your pregnancy? It's his, isn't it? The Doctor's, I mean," she finished triumphantly.
Sarah took a sip of water to cover her shock. She tended to forget that Jo for all her fluffiness, had a brain. There really was no point in prevaricating. "Um, yes. It's his. Liz was rather dubious when I told her, but I needed someone I could trust to keep an eye on things."
Jo looked a little stunned. "I was teasing. I didn't think you had actually slept with him. I've never been certain why Tegan thought that. It's really his baby? No wonder you've been wandering around in a daze. Do you think it'll have two hearts?" She giggled suddenly.
"Liz is running some tests to see what we can figure out about anatomy and genetics. Beyond that, I guess we'll be surprised," Sarah said. "Who knows, maybe your idea of a get-together will draw him out of the woodwork."
"Or make him run in the other direction, screaming in horror. Can you tell anything this early in the pregnancy?" Jo asked. "Don't look at me that way. I was always helpless at science, no matter how hard the Doctor tried to drill it into me."
"Apparently some of the foetal DNA ends up in the mother's bloodstream. I did a freelance article about it a few years ago. They can run all sorts of tests on it, if they can get enough for a proper sample, and their methods for doing that are improving. And in my case we're not worried about genetic defects or paternity. Liz is just trying to get a look at the non-human DNA and extrapolate from there. She's also doing whatever other tests are traditionally done."
"Now my eyes are glazing over," Jo said with a smile. "I can't see the Doctor settling down to happily ever after."
Sarah shrugged. "I wouldn't expect him to. As far as proper parents go, the kid will be horribly lacking."
"Oh, you'll do well enough," Jo reassured her. "I managed and everyone knows I'm a scatterbrain. You're a lot more sensible than I ever was."
"Which explains why you got pregnant after being happily married for over a year, while I was the idiot who had a one night stand with an elusive alien time-traveller. So back to your planned party...."
Jo started to say something, but stopped as she realised that the waitress was coming over to check on them. After they had both reassured her that everything was delicious and that they just wanted the bill, Jo said, "I've got a list. Would you believe I went to drop off a Christmas present at my youngest daughter's science teacher's house - he'd been helping May enormously with Science and Maths, Cliff tries but either gets distracted by his own projects or throws up his hands in exasperation after fifteen minutes - and there was a picture of Mr. Chesterton and his wife and the Doctor's first incarnation. His wife and I spent an hour or two gossiping. May was horribly embarrassed about the whole thing." Jo finally stopped, and Sarah suspected it was because she needed to take a breath.
Sarah couldn't help smiling as she said. "As I was telling Liz the other day, kids whose parents are interesting often grow up wanting to be normal."
"Normal is highly overrated, Sarah. May will grow out of it. The others did. Sarah, you've explored the galaxy and fought monsters, you can't tell me you're afraid of a tiny little baby."
"Not afraid, precisely. More like, I don't know, overwhelmed. I liked my life the way it was, mostly. And it wasn't all that long ago that I looked at the Doctor and finally decided I needed to move on. It's like the universe is playing some big cosmic joke on me." Sarah tried not to sound bitter about it as she reached for the bill. "My treat. You're being wonderful and I've been out of sorts."
"I hadn't noticed." Jo reached for her shopping. "Got your book? Why don't we do some shopping for us? You've still got a few months to go before you're in maternity clothes, and something new might perk up your spirits."
"Oh, why not?" If she went home, she'd end up sitting around and brooding. "Do you want me to do some research? Try to track down other companions?"
"That would be wonderful. Thank you."
Jo's enthusiasm left no doubt in Sarah's mind that this was what Jo had been aiming for all along. She didn't mind. It would give her something to focus on, besides the baby.