Angst, Character Study, Introspection, Romance, Standalone
Definitely Not Impervious.
Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart understood battle. Engaging the enemy in combat, fighting against insurmountable odds came as naturally to him as breathing. Love however......
His ex-wife had said he was impervious to emotions. He thought she must have read that phrase in one of those women’s magazines he had seen lying around the house. He knew that it wasn’t true. Well not completely. He knew he loved his daughter. Would lay down his life for Kate, his little Tiger. The image of her smile was what spurred him on to protect the planet when another alien race turned up to say hello, usually followed by surrender or die. Statements like that never went down well with the Brigadier. Nor ended well for the aliens.
But in his more reflective moments he wondered whether Fiona didn’t have a point.
His marriage had failed mainly because of his unflinching dedication to his career. He had agreed to the separation. But hadn’t really fought to save the relationship. He missed the idea of marriage more than the reality. He wasn’t devastated, merely disappointed in himself. He was an old-fashioned man at heart. Find a wife, have a family and work hard. That is what an officer and a gentleman did. So, he met a suitable woman, thought he was in love and then married her. The divorce had hit him harder as a father than as a husband. He missed reading Kate a bedtime story on the rare occasion he got home before she was fast asleep. Hoped he could stay a part of her life. Prayed she wouldn’t grow up blaming him for their family falling apart.
Despite Fiona’s accusations he did have feelings. But that was not the image he could project to the world or his troops. He mourned those who gave their lives as a result of his orders. Took each loss personally. Sergeant Benton, who was more emotionally astute than appearances would have you believe, would bring him endless cups of tea with extra biscuits in that very British way of coping with deep emotional issues without anyone actually speaking about them. But he could hardly sob on Benton’s shoulder about how unfair life was. Stiff upper lip and all that. Hysterical outbursts were not the done thing. And all those biscuits weren’t doing his teeth or waistline any good.
So, in those fleeting moments when they weren’t under attack or the Doctor wasn’t blowing up the lab or he was trying to clear up the mess caused by either of those events, his mind would wander sometimes to the subject of love.
He had really been in love once. Not an adolescent crush or a passing physical attraction but a breath-taking mind-boggling love. National Service and his captivity as a P.O.W had taken that away from him. Coming home and finding Doris married to someone else broke his heart. He didn’t blame her. They had all thought he was dead. In his bleaker moments he had thought she should have mourned him forever but he shook that bitterness aside. That was selfish. He wanted her happy. But he had wanted her to be happy with him. His life would have been different. No army, no UNIT and definitely no Doctor.
But despite having that time traveller as a colleague and friend he didn’t want to go back in time. Not if it meant losing Kate or his career. The Brigadier was nothing if not stoical. But that didn’t stop him wondering.
He hadn’t worn the watch while he was married. Even he realised that wearing a watch given to him by a woman other than his wife was a bad idea. But he couldn’t get rid of it. Locked in his office safe, it was a reminder of a path that had been barred to him.
The day he received the decree nisi he went to the safe and took the watch out. He rubbed his thumb over the inscription on the casing. Sighing he went to put it back but instead stuck it in his uniform breast pocket. That night he put it on his bedside table, feeling foolish at his sentimental act. But he left it there.
He had found out Doris had been widowed purely by accident a few weeks after the divorce. Reading through innumerable incident reports, the unfortunate death of an Army Explosives Officer had barely registered until he saw the name. Discrete enquiries had confirmed that it was her husband. He had thought about contacting her to offer his condolences but didn’t have the courage. Didn’t want to discover she had forgotten him. Or tell him she had never loved him. Or see him as representing everything she had lost and hate him for it. And see through the bravado to what he really was.
Damaged goods. Another phrase Fiona had used about him. Cold, unfeeling and restrained. And she was right even if she had no idea of what had caused that damage. Or would never believe it even if he had been allowed to tell her. He wasn’t the same man who had fallen in love with Doris. Or even the man who had married Fiona. And he didn’t want to have that fact confirmed in so brutal a manner as being rejected yet again.
So, the watch stayed by the bed. And more aliens came and were vanquished. And the Doctor still blew things up and caused havoc. And more paperwork and reports were completed. And Benton continued to bring him cups of tea although he had had words about the excessive number of biscuits.
Sometimes, wide awake in the early hours, he would turn over and see the glint of the watch in a streak of moonlight that crept through the curtains. And see the look on Doris’s face when she gave it to him. Bashful but with a twinkle in her beautiful eyes. He hoped someone would one day look at him like that again.
He would go back to sleep and think, not for the first time, that Fiona was wrong. Cautious maybe. But definitely not impervious.