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
Chapter 5: Retail Therapy
Chapter 6: Synchronicity
Chapter 7: Remember When
Chapter 8: Think of the Children
Chapter 9: Domestic Disputes
Sarah had spent the better part of the last month positioning herself at Torchwood under a false identity, and she wasn't planning to allow the Doctor to expose her. If she had been able to get him alone, it would have been be one thing, but he had moved through the corridors surrounded by an entourage. Better to lay low for the moment, and wait for a better time.
She had honestly thought that this would be a simple reconnaissance mission. Find out about Torchwood and the ghost shift and then get out as neatly as possible, after which she'd decide what, if anything, she was planning to publish.
At first, everything had gone as planned. She had got a job in the data entry/research division, based on false credentials supplied by a contact at UNIT. Her co-workers seemed nice enough and when she realised that a few of them knitted at lunch, she brought out the baby blanket she had started at Jo's and asked for help. Sarah understood the general idea now, but her stitches always seemed to be too loose or too tight or slipping off the needles. It had turned out to be a brilliant bonding strategy and they had passed on a surprising amount of information during gossip sessions over lunch and their knitting.
With their help, she had made progress, both on her investigation and on the blanket which took up most of the space in the backpack she was carrying now. She considered discarding it, but it wasn't heavy, and wouldn't impede her movement.
Of course, the moment he showed up, everything started happening at a breakneck pace. Sarah froze for a second when she saw the Cyberman, then headed for the alien tech room. She'd seen a few weapons there with enough fire power to take them out. From what she gathered as she moved through the corridors, these were a new breed from an alternate universe, probably the ones he had mentioned in his note that were immune to gold.
By the time she reached the tech room, everything was in chaos and it was easy to sneak in and grab a blaster and a spare power pack she'd noticed earlier among the unidentified alien artefacts. She hid in an alcove as she checked over the blaster - there had been a time when this was second nature to her - and slipped the spare charge into the backpack. For once she was grateful for her wartime experiences, if nothing else, they would keep her and her baby alive.
After that she stopped thinking and let her instincts take over. She did her best to herd the others out of the building, though from what she heard, the streets weren't any safer. She wasn't planning on going anywhere - at least there were weapons here, if this one failed her.
The worst moment was realising that there were Daleks in the building, as well. The Doctor had told her that some had survived, but she wasn't prepared for the chill in her stomach when she heard their cold, metallic voices.
Five minutes...for five minutes there were Daleks above the streets of London, and then they were pulled back, they and the Cybermen both, as though by a giant magnet. Sarah had no idea what the Doctor had done, but she knew he had to be behind it. She found herself racing up the stairs, following them to the executive level to see if there was anything she could do to help. She wondered how Sydney Bristow had managed it. That was telly of course, and this was real life and she was at least twice the other woman's age.
She paused at the top of the stairs to catch her breath and heard the Doctor's cry of "Rose". She ran, cursing her slowness, but by the time she reached the room he was standing there, alone, face pressed against the wall, tears streaming down his face.
She hesitated, torn between the desire to comfort him and the fear of interfering. Whatever had happened to Rose, he didn't need Sarah showing up, six months pregnant and another reason for guilt. He had enough of those - she knew that better than anybody.
Sarah quietly turned and left. As much as she needed to talk to him, it could wait. It had to wait.
She walked tiredly down the stairs, too drained to feel much of anything, except relief that she hadn't come face to face with a Dalek. It wasn't until she was halfway down, that Sarah realised she had lost her blonde wig during the fight or her race up the stairs.
Fearing that she would be recognised by one of the few remaining staff members, she started considering her options There was no way she'd make it to one of the exits without being seen, but the staircase would bring her near the alien tech department, where she had seen the TARDIS earlier. As much as she hadn't wanted to intrude on the Doctor's grief, it seemed the safest option for both her and her baby. If she could make it there, well, she still had her key on her keyring. She could only hope he hadn't changed the lock. She could hide there until things calmed down and she could slip away. Sarah suspected he'd be occupied for a while.
The carnage was overwhelming. She hadn't been aware of the extent of the casualties. She'd seen worse during her war years, but still...she forced herself to continue on. There was nothing more she could do for them; she had to keep moving. There were enough people still wandering the halls that she didn't want to risk a change in plans. The clutter of the tech room would give her enough cover to get to the TARDIS without being seen.
Less than ten minutes later she reached it unseen by the remaining Torchwood staff. To her relief, her key still worked and she let herself in, carefully closing the door behind her. She thought about heading to the galley for a cup of tea, but now that she was safe, her exertions caught up with her and she sank to the floor of the TARDIS in exhaustion, intending to rest for just a moment first.
Instead, she fell into a doze, only to be woken by a worried voice calling, "Sarah, Sarah." She could hear the familiar sounds of the TARDIS dematerializing and tried to focus her eyes on the Doctor, but too many nights of troubled sleep had finally caught up with her.
She forced herself awake enough to reassure him, "Doctor, I'm okay, just tired." Sarah could hear the blurriness in her voice. She was vaguely aware that he was scanning her body with his sonic screwdriver. When he gathered her in his arms, she snuggled against his chest. For the first time in ages, she didn't feel alone.
"Let's get you to bed," the Doctor said softly.
"Bed is good," was about all she could manage. She dozed, stirring as he undressed her, not minding much - it wasn't anything he hadn't seen before. She felt his hand linger on her swollen belly, but she wasn't awake enough to gauge his reaction.
Soon he was tucking her between cool sheets, and she nestled down, absently noticing that the pillow smelled of him. A few moments later he slipped into bed beside her and gathered her in his arms murmuring, "It's okay, Sarah. You're safe now," in her ear as he settled down beside her. He stroked her hair gently, and as she allowed her sleepiness to overcome her she felt his other hand slide protectively to her stomach.
When she woke, he was gone, but that didn't surprise her. She had shared his bed for long enough to know that he only needed about a half an hour of sleep a night. Sarah looked around the room, confirming what she'd been vaguely aware of before; this was his bedroom. It changed as his personality did, but she had always been able to tell.
She knew that carrying her to his bed had been as much habit as anything else. Sarah had a history of letting herself get to the point of exhaustion because she didn't want to miss anything. She'd force herself to stay awake as long as he did until her body took over and she crashed and burned. He'd given her a room on her second trip with him, but she had moved into his when they became lovers and only rarely used her own.
She crossed the room, absently glancing at book titles and fiddling with some of the gadgets he had left lying around. She wasn't surprised to find maternity clothes hanging beside his in the wardrobe. The TARDIS always knew. Sarah took a quick shower and dressed, smiling when the baby moved restlessly. Then she gathered up her courage and went off to find the Doctor.
He was in the console room, lying on his back under the console.
"I see some things never change, Doctor."
He sat up with a start, nearly knocking his head against the console. "Awake are you?"
Sarah smiled at him. "I won't even ask how long I slept. I haven't been sleeping well," she added by way of explanation.
The Doctor bounced to his feet. "How about some tea?" His gaze drifted down. "And we should talk."
"Sounds good." She followed him to the galley.
Once they arrived he insisted she sit down, while he made tea.
"I'm not an invalid, Doctor."
"You just slept for over twenty-four hours, Sarah. I'd rather you rested as much as possible." He grinned at her suddenly. "And for once you can't argue. That's my child, you're carrying. I have a right to be concerned about you. Our baby," he repeated as he sat down across from her. "So what were you doing in Torchwood anyway? As if I need to ask."
"The usual. Investigating. I promised several people I'd get out quickly if it turned dangerous, but I didn't expect everything to go to hell so abruptly. And when it did I grabbed a weapon from alien tech and started fighting. From what I'd heard, I didn't think I'd be any safer out on the streets." She paused. "I feel like an idiot now, and I'm sure I'll hear about it from other people so don't start lecturing me. If I'd realised it would be quite so dangerous...I was just curious about the organisation behind the ghost shift."
He gathered both her hands in his. "You're probably right about being safest in Torchwood, near the weapons, but, Sarah, while I understand your impulse to find out what's really going on, I've got a strong inclination to lock you up somewhere safe until the baby is born."
"Nowhere's safe, Doctor," Sarah said sadly, "You know that as well as I do." She started to say more, but was interrupted by the whistle of the kettle. She fell silent and watched as he bustled around making the tea, wondering how to broach the subject of Rose.
In the end, she didn't need to, because when he returned to the table with two cups and a plate of biscuits, the Doctor told her what had happened. It took a while, and his pain at losing Rose was evident. By the time he finished, she was gripping his hand. "The Pete from the alternate universe managed to get back and catch her before she fell into the void. She's safe with her family and Mickey, but I'll never be able to see her again unless I do something really stupid."
"I'm sorry." It felt horribly inadequate.
He attempted a smile, but it faltered. "Sarah," he finally said awkwardly.
She broke in before he could say more. "I know I've got lousy timing here. The last thing I ever wanted..." she stopped, hesitating, "We were a long time ago - it feels like a whole other life for me and it was one for you - and here I am showing up with the worst timing ever and...I lost my wig and I couldn't get to the exit without being seen and the TARDIS seemed like a safe place to hide. I thought I'd be gone before you got back, but I fell asleep instead."
"Right, let's talk about that. Were you planning on telling me at all? I got your message that you didn't mind me dropping in for dinner. Would it have hurt you to say something about this at the time?" He was shouting now. "Sarah, you're six months pregnant with my child."
"What was I supposed to do, Doctor? Call your girlfriend?" Sarah was yelling and crying and hating every word that came out of her mouth. "Or maybe I should have just told her mother - 'You know that bloke who your daughter's travelling with - let him know he's going to be a daddy.' Do you think I planned this? This was supposed to be me getting on with my life, getting over you." She was interrupted by him getting up and pulling her abruptly into his arms. Sarah let out a shaky sigh and sobbed incoherently into his chest.
"I'm sorry," the Doctor said in a quieter tone. "I just...I thought I saw you earlier today and then it turned out to be a pregnant blond...except it was you." He tipped her chin so he could look into her eyes. "When I think of what might have happened to you, to our child." Daleks and Cybermen.
Sarah had no doubts she knew which of those was more important to him. She tried to damp down the sudden fear that he would take the baby away from her after it was born. Humans might be his favourite species, but did he really want one raising his child? She didn't say anything, though. She'd always known caring about him the way she did was ultimately futile.
He saw the look on her face and suddenly sat down and pulled her into his lap, still cradling her. "My Sarah Jane. Don't you dare."
"Don't I dare what?"
"You're such a little thing, I had forgotten." He looked down at her and smiled before kissing the top of her head.
"Well, you're always so tall. And stop trying to distract me." Sarah tried not to relax into his embrace, tried not to fall again, but he was holding her and stroking her hair, and it was easy to close her eyes to the truth and forget how this would end. How it always ended, with him walking away without looking back and her trying desperately to pick up the pieces of her life.
Instead he said, "We keep playing out this scene, Sarah. You and me. We go along for a little while pretending we can make it work and then we fall apart again and I'm not sure why. And now we have our daughter to think of. I don't know what happens next. But you're still my best friend."
"And I love you," Sarah said softly.
"What? Why should I always conform to your psychological hard wiring? Just because your species thinks sex is something you do with your best friend on a rainy Saturday when there's nothing good on the telly...."
The Doctor burst out laughing. "Fair enough. Although you must admit I have a bit more interest than that." He smirked at her, before continuing, "I suppose I avoid the phrase because it has such loaded connotations, and I never wanted to mislead you. At least humans have a concept of friends with benefits. I never knew it mattered so much to you."
"It didn't, when I was younger. My jealous behaviour at Deffrey Vale was as much a surprise to me as it was to you." She pulled free of his embrace and stood up.
"And I didn't help matters by showing up at your hotel room." He stood too, heading towards the console room.
Sarah followed him. "I want to say that was irrelevant, but I honestly don't know. I wasn't surprised when you showed up. But that's the fatal flaw in our relationship, isn't it? Disparate biological imperatives. It's perfectly natural for you to pick up right where you left off even though hundreds of years have passed and it's equally natural for me to be feeling nesting impulses right now. Although why they have to take the form of pestering the baby's father instead of oohing and aahing over cute widdle baby accoutrements, I don't know."
"I can't see you cooing over cute widdle anything, Sarah." He bent down and kissed her as the TARDIS landed. "And I'm not planning on disappearing out of your life completely." He picked up her backpack, which had been sitting in a corner. "I've reprogrammed your mobile, the way I did Rose's. Why didn't I know you knitted? You could have made me a scarf, back when I wore scarves."
Sarah resisted the urge to hit him. He had to have noticed her incompetence. "I just learned and I'm not very good at it."
"So? I do have a time machine. Ow." He rubbed the shoulder where she had punched him, glared at her and then turned on the view screen. "I hope that's your flat. You didn't leave a car at Torchwood, did you?"
"It is. And no. I had rented a room closer to Torchwood as part of my cover, and took public transport. Thanks for the lift home." She smiled at him and left, expecting the TARDIS to dematerialise soon after. Instead he followed her into the flat.
He wandered around the room, fiddling with things. "Me, me, me and me." The photos on the mantle piece . "I'm noticing a pattern here."
"I'd been going through some boxes and found those. Trying to clear out the spare room. I think it's too small for the baby, though, so I'm considering other options."
"A house? Sarah, if you need money, for a mortgage or for anything..." He dug around in his jacket before finding a bank card in one of the inner pockets. He handed it to her. "I was well paid during my time with UNIT and I never spent much of it. The access code is on the post-it note on the back. Use it, as much as you need."
Sarah smiled at him. "I was considering that my emergency fund. If I hadn't seen you, I'd have arranged more illicit access. The sort of work I've built my reputation on isn't really appropriate in my condition, as I proved today."
"Thief. First sonic screwdrivers, next embezzling money from my bank account. Where will it all end?" the Doctor asked whimsically. "I'm glad to know you thought of it. I was afraid you'd go all proud and argue that you could do it alone. Sarah, I'll be around and I want to know everything." He walked over and pressed a hand to her stomach, feeling the baby kick. "She's strong."
"Hyperactive. Like her daddy." Sarah braced herself for his departure. He was so much larger than life, it was easy to believe in his faith in her when he was here. Once he had gone, she wasn't sure she'd be able to hold on to that feeling.
The Doctor hugged her tightly, kissed her on the nose and then wandered back into the TARDIS. He turned to grin at her one more time. "My Sarah Jane."
"Always. Now off with you. I'm sure there's a universe that needs saving somewhere." She'd had her good-bye and it hadn't stuck. She didn't want to hear it now. This time she needed to know he would come back
Sarah watched as the TARDIS disappeared, then turned on the telly to check the date and time, and was relieved to find the news reporters talking about the incident at Canary Wharf that afternoon. She'd slept through a whole day, but it hadn't been real time. A day wouldn't be noticed, it was the years (decades?) that worried her. She had lost track of her biological age a long time ago, but she suspected the maths didn't add up to her apparent age, even considering the odd flow of time on the TARDIS.
She went into the kitchen to sort out the post that had come in her absence and notify her friends that she was okay. Anything else could wait until tomorrow. Tonight she had an appointment with a bubble bath and a Battlestar Galactica marathon. Perhaps the fictional robot invaders would drive the real ones out of her brain so that she could sleep tonight.