Summary: What happens after Inconceivable
Blame: paranoidangel42 because she keeps asking for more.
It had taken five months but finally Sarah and Nat had agreed on a date to paint the nursery. Never mind that they were both eight and a half months pregnant now, and weren't likely to be much help in fixing up the baby's room. As far as Nat was concerned, Josh and Sarah's other friends would be expected to do all the work, while Sarah and Nat sat in state and directed things.
At least, Nat couldn't say that Sarah hadn't done anything to prepare for the baby. Besides moving in and unpacking, she had managed to finish the baby blanket - by the end she was confident enough in her own knitting abilities to decide to make a matching cap (she had resisted the urge to make a scarf), and had purchased and spent an entire night sticking up the glow in the dark stars.
To Sarah's surprise, Tegan had decided to fly in specifically for this. She had managed to work her way up into the top levels of the administrative division of the airline she had once worked for as a stewardess, and never needed to worry about the cost of airfare from Australia.
Jo had hinted that she might be bringing other companions, and Sarah wasn't quite sure how she felt about that. It was one thing to expect her friends to help her in this way, but most of the others would be strangers. She had thought about inviting Jack Harkness, but they weren't exactly friends and she didn't really want to encourage Torchwood's attention, now that she had read their original charter.
She had left a message for the Doctor, but he hadn't responded. He hadn't actually helped her move - she'd hired a moving company for that, but he'd come round that day and helped her direct the movers and unpack necessities. He had spent the entire time talking nonsense and avoiding any serious discussion about what would happen after the baby was born. To be fair, she had done the same.
Sarah kept returning to the same line of thought she'd had when she first told him - humans might be his favourite species, but there was still that line between them. She sometimes wondered if the reason he spent so much time with humans was that it meant he was always the smartest person in the room. She had never felt her limitations travelling with him, but this was a very different situation.
He wouldn't hurt her deliberately, she supposed, but if it came down to what he saw an obvious fact - that she wasn't intelligent enough to raise a child of his species - he'd expect her to accept it as truth. And while she had always tried to convince herself that it didn't matter that he was incapable of returning the love she felt for him, or that his feelings about her were no different than they were for any of his other companions, she had to admit that it did matter, especially after the way she had reacted to Rose's presence.
Josh and Nat arrived as she was laying down drop cloths in what would be the baby's room and she had Josh help her move the paint into the room.
"Think you have enough paint?" Nat asked surveying the variety of colours that Sarah had bought.
"One of my friends is an artist and offered to do a mural. I wasn't about to say no, though I did warn her that if it involved fluffy pastel animals, she would end up in excruciating pain. No offence intended."
"None taken," Nat said with a smile. "I know that's not your style."
She had invited Sarah over to see the room that she and Josh had designated as the nursery, ostensibly in the hope that that would get Sarah more interested in such things Sarah had bit her tongue and restrained herself to such comments as "It's so adorable." which it had been.
But as Sarah stood there, listening to Nat babble on about baby furniture, she had heard an edge of desperation in the other woman's voice and realised that the problem wasn't the baby, but Josh. Or more precisely Josh's tendency to ask 'how high' when Sarah said jump. Sarah hoped she could find some way to convince Nat that she wasn't a threat to her relationship with Josh. She would have thought being pregnant with another man's child would be enough, but she also knew how irrationally people behaved when they were in love.
Sarah led the others to the rickety lift installed by a previous owner and then into the room on the second floor which she'd chosen for the nursery. After the trip to Cardiff and that visit, she had decided not to move into the gatehouse, but had bought an old Victorian house nearby. As her relationship with Nat hit snag after snag, she couldn't help but think that living that close wasn't as good an idea as it had seemed at first.
Knowing what they'd be most interested in, she said, "I've been looking at furniture. I'll make a decision after I see what Tegan does with the mural and have it delivered next week." She was going to elaborate, but was interrupted by the ringing of the doorbell.
She went to answer it, leaving the other two to look around the room. Sarah opened the door to discover that the rest of her guests had arrived. Jo hugged her despite the large shopping bag she was carrying - she had offered to make curtains for the nursery and had ended up recovering the cushions from the window seat to match. When Jo released her she was instantly engulfed by Tegan in the other woman's usual exuberant manner.
Once Tegan was done hugging Sarah, Liz had stepped up with a bemused look on her face and said, "When in Rome..." and gave Sarah a quick hug.
That left only... "Turlough, what on Earth are you doing on Earth? I thought you hated it here."
"I've got my reasons." He smiled enigmatically and gestured at her stomach. "I'm not even going to ask. I thought you had more sense than that."
"I thought I did too. You look good." She linked her arm in his and drew him inside, leaving the others to follow after. "Are you going to help Tegan with the mural?" she wheedled.
"She's already got me to agree to that. We did some preliminary sketches that I think you'll like."
"Well, try not to resort to bloodshed."
Tegan's voice came from behind them, "Would we do that?"
"Yes." Sarah was most definite. They always reminded her of squabbling siblings.
As Sarah entered the room, Josh accosted her. "The stars are rather random. I'd have thought you'd want to be more accurate. We can take them down and do proper constellations if you want."
Before Sarah could react, Turlough looked up at the ceiling and said dryly, "There are other planets, with different constellations, you know." He turned to Sarah, "Did you manage that from memory?"
"God, no. I'd never have got the proportions right. I had K-9 project a star chart on the ceiling and used that as a guide." Sarah ignored Josh's bewildered look. She really didn't want to get into that now. She had been determined to get the stars up for just that reason.
"Oh, I like the effect," Liz said. "So you just sit down somewhere out of the way and tell us what to do."
"The window seat," Jo interrupted, pulling the cushions out of her bag and plopping them down where they belonged. "We don't want to hang up the curtains until after the paint's dry."
Sarah sat down in the window seat and Nat rolled her wheelchair beside her.
"So, oh ruler of all you survey, what did you have in mind?" Turlough asked.
"Mural on that wall. For the wall by the door I found this wonderful blackboard paint, that you can draw on with chalk."
"She won't be old enough to do that for a while, SJ," Josh said gently.
Sarah smiled. "It isn't for her, at least not yet. It's for me to write notes to myself on, like 'buy nappies'."
"Can I call you SJ also?"
"Shut up, Turlough."
He gave her an innocent look.
Sarah made a mental note not to mention her cult to Turlough until after Josh left. She suspected the latter wouldn't appreciate the former's sense of humour. She continued with her instructions, "The blue paint is for the rest of the room. Anyone who's feeling terribly artistic can help Tegan and Turlough with the mural, otherwise, pick a side of the room and start painting."
"Did you want to see our sketches?" Tegan asked.
The five of them got to work while Nat took out her knitting and Sarah started a sign she was making to hang on the door, in English and Gallifreyan. Five minutes later, Sarah was thankful for the drop cloths as Jo had managed to spill some of the blue paint. The conversation had turned to babies - at least that was a safe topic, Sarah thought, though if Turlough hadn't been contributing snarky comments, she would have zoned out.
By the time lunch arrived in the form of pizza, Josh and Turlough had discovered that they had attended the same boarding school and had bonded over their mutual hatred of St. Brendan's to everyone's relief. Turlough had been sniping at Josh since he arrived and Josh was quick to snap back. This discovery had led, of course, to a discussion of the Brigadier, and some suitably edited stories of Liz, Jo and Sarah's time at UNIT.
Mixing these two groups of friends had worried Sarah, but she now started to relax and enjoy the afternoon. Thankfully Tegan and Turlough had only two bouts of 'artistic differences' (one of which being who got to paint the TARDIS on the wall) and Jo had only spilt one other can of paint (and got some in her hair, though nobody knew how). When Sarah started to feel guilty about not helping and offered to make tea, cheerfully refusing all offers of help, everyone seemed to be working happily.
However when she got to the kitchen, she discovered that she was out of the hot chocolate she had offered Tegan and Nat, and after putting the water on to boil for the tea, headed back upstairs to ask what they wanted instead. Sarah never knew for certain what had caused the shift in the discussion, or why they had let it had spiral out of control when they knew she would be right back, but as she walked down the hallway, she could hear loud voices coming from the room.
"...nonsense about the Doctor. I wish she would tell us what really happened, but I don't want to push her. The last time I questioned her, she withdrew into herself and refused to seek medical attention. I'm worried about the baby." Liz. Sarah's stomach tightened and she resisted the urge to...to what? She didn't know what she could do.
"The whole thing's ridiculous. The Doctor doesn't do things like that. She's just made up this fantasy in her mind..." No wonder Jo had been so calm when Sarah had told her. Liz must have warned her to humour Sarah. "I don't suppose you have any idea who the real father might be."
"Josh, do you want to answer that?" Nat's voice sounded odd somehow.
"What are you talking about?"
Sarah was totally unprepared for Nat's response, though she had to admit it made a certain twisted sense. "Oh, God, Josh, don't do this. Your precious Herald. You think I don't know I'll never measure up to her in your eyes."
"You can't possibly be suggesting..." Sarah could hear the horror in Josh's voice. "Nat, it isn't like that. It's never been like that. And I don't want it to be like that. She's a friend, yes, but no more. That would wreck everything." At least he had the sense to see that. She hadn't, when she'd been in Josh's place and the Doctor had come into her life. "I love you. Sarah's just a friend who needs some support now. You have to believe me."
"I'm sorry, Josh. I had to ask." Nat's voice was shaky.
"Which doesn't answer the question of who the baby's father is." At least Tegan had the sense to change the subject.
"Sarah will be back soon, do we want to have this conversation now?" Thank heaven for Turlough. Sarah had been discomfited by the thought of walking into the room. "And stop hogging the grey paint, Tegan. You're not the only one doing spaceships."
"You haven't changed a bit, have you Turlough?" Tegan snapped back.
The spell broken, Sarah returned to the kitchen and mechanically finished making the tea. By the time she returned, the fight was in full swing. Aside from slight hints of tears on Nat's face, and the raging argument, all seemed to be as she had left it. She dodged a bit of paint that Tegan flicked in Turlough's direction.
"Children, behave," she said, practising her motherly voice, which only caused Jo to giggle, and didn't do anything to end the battle. "I don't want my baby's room looking like a three-year-old designed it, so stop throwing paint." That was more effective. "Tegan, Nat, I'm out of hot chocolate, I'm afraid. Can I offer you something else?"
"Tea will be fine," Tegan said, as she snagged the blue paint back from Turlough.
Nat smiled shakily at her and said the same.
Somehow she managed to get through the rest of the afternoon pretending she hadn't overheard the conversation. Nat, at least, seemed a little warmer towards her, and Turlough kept giving her speculative glances. She hoped she'd manage a quick chat with him later.
As it turned out, she had more than a few minutes. When the painting was done and everyone started to get ready to leave, he asked if he could crash on her couch for the night.
"Of course." She tried to keep the surprise out of her voice.
Tegan looked at him in surprise. "I wouldn't have thought you two knew each other that well."
Turlough smirked at her. "After we left you off at Heathrow, we ran into her again. We got along quite well, if you must know."
Tegan started to retort but was stopped by Liz and Jo, who almost dragged her out the door. This was unexpected, and Sarah wondered if they thought Turlough might be able to get her to open up as the other three had all tried and failed. She'd have to warn him to expect an interrogation.
Sarah shut the door with a relieved sigh. She had no intention of confronting her friends with what she had overheard, but that hadn't made it any less difficult to smile and pretend that nothing was wrong. She turned to Turlough and said, "I hope you're envisioning an evening filled with snarky commentary about everyone we know, because I could really use a laugh right now."
"Sounds like a plan to me." He smirked at her and followed her into the living room.