Title: Mother's Day
Characters: Alice, Jenny, OCs
Warnings: pregnancy and adoption issues, COE Day Five, it'sangstagaingetinthecar
Summary: It should have been her.
AN: Written for a mini-ficfest between queenfanfiction and myself, to celebrate the arrival of the Tennantling. Part of the Intersections 'verse. Unbetaed.
It should have been her.
Hilda, their ship's mercuric AI, had set them down on a lushly violet planet in the Pyrees system during a tense time in the succession of the royal line, thousands of years in Alice's personal future. The eldest princess of the Pyreni royal house had spent the last fifteen years attempting to have a baby and thus secure her throne as Queen. She and her mate had foiled not one but three plots to keep her from bearing, including one by her own siblings. At last, she had managed to catch and hold a pregnancy into the fourth month.
That Alice and Jenny had arrived just as an attempted coup nearly killed the princess and her unborn child was an unfortunate coincidence, as much as anything they did was coincidental. Hilda had a mind of her own, and they rarely touched down on a world but it was embroiled in revolution or change. If every other incident also involved children somehow, Alice tried not to notice.
The physician said the princess would die if she kept the pregnancy. There was, unexpectedly, another option.
"Stop it," Jenny chided her, snapping Alice from her thoughts.
"You're brooding again. I can hear it from here."
"I don't brood."
Jenny let out an unladylike snort. She followed it with a small groan as she shifted position. "You do all the time, you know." Alice tensed, expecting a reference to her father, but Jenny said, "Could you get me some water, please?"
Her tone had turned from teasing to pathetic in moments. Alice immediately jumped up from her seat and went to fetch a glass. Jenny was always thirsty these days. Alice pictured the liquid pouring into her body forming a child, but in Jenny's case, her ingestion of water was not a matter of capacity, but throughput, to say it delicately.
"Here you go." She helped Jenny sit upright from where she'd been resting. She was nearly at term, and the good news from the physician meant she could deliver the baby the same way she'd become pregnant: courtesy of a transfer beam.
It should have been her: Alice had been pregnant before, had lain on the delivery table and grunted out a baby while enjoying her epidural. She was suited to this, as much as anyone was. Jenny wasn't even human. Her body was put together in a different way, and she herself had been born in a cloning chamber, not carried inside a mother. But when the physician had asked, Jenny had stood up and volunteered because she'd known how much Alice didn't want this. She hadn't asked Alice, hadn't sat down to consider the repercussions. She'd said yes to spare Alice from having to say no.
They'd been given a well-appointed suite of rooms, and Alice was permitted to come and go freely to see to Hilda. Jenny was asked to stay, for her own safety as well as that of the child she carried; several factions wanted control of the planet, and many were not above killing the woman acting as royal surrogate.
Jenny, reluctantly, stayed put.
Every morning, Alice gave her a kiss on the cheek and went out into the village that spilled out around the castle like water bubbling from a spring, shops and homes and the bustle of future humans at work and play and trade. She collected descriptions, and told Jenny stories of what she'd seen. She purchased strange, unidentifiable fruits from vendors, biting into tart and sticky-sweet treats before bringing them back to delight Jenny with new flavours. She wandered into shops with technology even they hadn't yet encountered, and came back with intricate toys that played music, or emitted lovely bursts of wild colour.
Each gift was inspected by the palace security, of course. It would hardly be a prison, even a pretty one, without the tender attention of the guards.
Every day, the princess came to visit Jenny's chamber, to lay her head upon Jenny's growing belly, to whisper endearments to her daughter. Alice couldn't bear to watch as the woman in rich hues of wine and plum and mauve lace kneeled on the plush carpet, placing her hands on Jenny, listening to the movements of her child. Joe did that, once. The sensations rushed back every time.
The months here had been hell, in big and small ways.
It should have been her, perhaps for her own closure. Birthing a second child might possibly set to rest her sorrow for the first. Too many nights, she fell asleep thinking about this, knowing she'd never be able to give up the baby that she'd carried, knowing Jenny had known her too well.
Jenny was finished with her water. Alice took the glass. "How are you feeling?"
"Enormous. Tired. No change, then."
Alice sat down beside her, then wrapped sleepy arms around her. Sometimes, Alice could feel the baby kick. Sometimes, Alice whispered her own secrets to her as she grew.
"She won't be a Time Lord."
"No," Jenny said. They had this conversation often. "She's going to be special, though. She's growing as part of me. I can feel her mind."
Alice rested her head on Jenny's. "What is she thinking?"
"Not much. She's warm and happy. I'm sending her mathematics today. My daughter should have a basic grasp of calculus."
Alice laughed, and Jenny twisted.
"Call the physician." Her face twinged. "Do it now."
The transfer beam went smoothly and without event. One minute, Jenny was pregnant. The next, the baby's molecules were reforming in the medical cot. Her mother and father stood by nervously, and as soon as the physician had wiped her down, suctioned her mouth and nose, and pronounced her well, they swooped down on her like doves. Their hands and mouths covered her with love, with kisses, with all the affection two parents could possibly give. The princess was a Queen now, in all but the details of coronation, and the tiny baby was now the princess of the realm.
Jenny watched them, her face old. Alice broke her locked gaze on the parents to pull Jenny into a hug. Later, when the physician pronounced Jenny fine and left her to sleep, Alice climbed back into the bed with her, and held her as silent tears soaked through the fine sheets covering the pretty pillows.
"I thought they would let me hold her."
Alice was caught in a too-sharp memory of holding Steven, his body growing cold in her arms, and she couldn't speak, could only hug Jenny more tightly.
They planned to go, but were asked to stay for the coronation and naming ceremony, nine days after the birth. Already, Jenny was active, on her feet, ready to fly from this place like a bad dream, but they stayed, sleeping within Hilda's more Spartan yet welcome walls. The ceremony took three long, boring hours, and the baby fussed (they were assured this was normal). She was given the names of three respectable great-grandmothers, two aunts, and the woman who carried her, that she would not forget as she grew.
Jenny closed her eyes as the name was read off in all due solemnity. Alice held her hand.
They left the planet before the cake was served.