Chapter 35 MEMORY
CHAPTER 35. MEMORY
Toby sat at the bus stop staring off into space, he hadn't even noticed the old woman taking a seat on the empty bench until she spoke.
"Ah, I know that look. Alpha troubles?" The old woman with the crimson lipstick and white hair tied in a fashionable braid laying over her left shoulder smiled sweetly.
"Oh, sorry?" Toby blushed, that was exactly what he was thinking about. "Not troubles no." He replied. No it wasn't problems, more like he wished to see Quinton off but instead he was headed to work.
"Ah, come now, we have a little wait. Spill. Is he gorgeous and tall? My Walter was a strapping man. With such beautiful eyes."
Toby ducked his head, "He is very handsome and sweet."
"Are you on your way to see him then?" The old woman wearing the red cardigan asked straightening her blue dress skirt over her knees.
"No. I'm on my way to work. Although I wish I were there with him. He leaves today."
"On a holiday?" The woman asked innocently.
"No. He's being deployed and he will be gone for a year."
"Oh, my goodness a soldier then. My Walter was a soldier." The woman couldn't help but produce a picture from her black leather handbag. She smiled sadly on the photograph before showing it to the young blond Omega.
"This was my Walter. He was a proud man. These are my three boys. All soldiers." She smiled lovingly at the old photograph, the edges were bent and the color fading. Toby couldn't help but think of Quinton, how handsome the man was in his uniform. All three of the Omega's sons were equally handsome. His heart ached remembering how just this morning Quinton had been sure to kiss him goodbye. Toby had clung to the soldier just a little tighter in response, knowing that a year would feel like an eternity. The man the old Omega pointed to had startling green eyes, and Toby's chest tightened for the soldier that would be departing at any moment.
He then glanced at the three other men in the picture, just young men in their early, mid and late twenties. They stood so proudly, a familiar grin on their faces. Here Toby was just aching for his Alpha if a picture of some strangers had him seeing his Quinton in their faces, then he wasn't going to be in good shape.
"It's not easy being part of a soldier's life. My sons never married or had children, well all except for the youngest. He had the sense to begin a family and at an early age. At first I was angry at him, the Omega wasn't particularly suitable. I could see right through her knowing the type. She wanted security and a name. I wanted to stop the match but Walter was very adamant I let the boy be.
He thought that time would show the girl's true colors. It's not easy being the wife of a soldier. The long deployments the unknowing and the moving from place to place. It's even harder when the children follow in the tradition, a mother rarely sleeps but a soldier's mother never knows peace. "
Toby felt his own heart pinch, he wondered if he could be as strong as this Omega was.
"One must always be supportive of their Alpha soldier. He can't have doubts of commitment and love, not while he has a battle and men to concentrate on. It's a lonely life. And that threat of loss, it's hard and unsettling."
"I-well we just met."
"You're young and pretty, there's plenty of fish out there."
"Not like this one." Toby smiled pulling out the photo strip the two had taken last night.
"Oh, he's a handsome one!" The Omega smiled hungrily running her eye over the strip. "He looks like a reckless one."
"He puts on the front of a rogue but he's actually quite the opposite. He's taken my little brother under his wing. And he's clever and funny. He has this way to make you feel safe and secure with just a smile and an easy joke."
"If he's so perfect why are you here and not seeing him off? Do you not love him like he loves you?"
"No! I-of course I love him. He's better than I deserve and I'll make it up to him when he returns. You see he got me this job and if I lose it I'll make him look bad. I want to hold on to him until he has to pull away and get onto that train but I have to be strong. I want him to not worry about me or my brother. You're right he has to know everything is taken care of here. Knowing him he'll be trying to send me some of his pension home. I don't need him to. I can take care of myself. I just want him to be safe, and to not have us to worry over."
The older woman smiled sadly, "You're a good boy. I wont lie to you it's hard on the heart. It makes the body take on a bitterness but if you're smarter than some old hags you won't let that fear of loss make you overbearing. Thus forcing the ones you have left here to pull and push you away. Until you are sitting alone in your home surrounded by photographs of the past. And empty excuses as to why one's own grandchildren can't be bothered to visit. " The old woman sighed and waved her hand with a bitter laugh, still clutching at the photo strip like one a life line.
"How long has he been gone? Your mate?" Toby allowed the old woman to continue to look down at the small photographs.
"People thought my Walter dense, a man of brute strength and empty thoughts. I have to pretend life goes on, I've pretended for twenty years. But it's been forty years since I last touched the back of his hand, forty years since I locked arms with him. When you're young it's like you get this mad chance at love. And being young you are naively under the impression that it will last forever. That you have a lifetime to say everything you need to say and do. First love, true love, is like a tiny fragile candle lighting up the dark, the flame you want to protect it and hide it away from everyone that would have a look. I selfishly held onto mine, and every deployment I felt that candle flicker and threaten to extinguish. And with every return it grew so bright.
My children made me stronger, three Alpha sons, I was so blessed. When they died, I felt as if pieces of my own heart were stolen from me. Plucked out so savagely, I couldn't breathe from the pain of it. War is such an ugly thing my boy, it silences not only those who fight in it but the ones they leave behind. I didn't want my grandsons to be soldiers but they follow in their father's foot steps.
War steals from us our mates and our children. First my husband was taken, then my sons. It's been forty years since I last put my arms around my Walter. Twenty since I last wore black in mourning. And not a day goes by I yearn for his arms and his scent. I have an old handkerchief in a box sealed up tight, and that's all I have to remember him by. I won't lie to you, I would have let the grief steal me away, I would have dropped dead right then and there but I had my grandchildren to tend to. They were fatherless and I couldn't leave them alone with that neglectful witch. He was young my Walter, I met him at a dance. I was supposed to be introduced to his friend but instead our eyes met and it was like the world stood still."
Toby put an arm around the older woman's fragile shoulders, tears blurred his vision. He offered a tissue for her to dab at her eyes."I thought he was too good for me. We were equal in intelligence and our families both were of similar social standings. But he, he had a heart that was so beautiful and I was a bit shallow. Oh, my Walter. He was the quiet type, an Alpha of his word a true gentleman. I was so spoiled, reckless and compulsive. Yet, he still chose me. He has left me to pretend life goes on, and selfish me everyday it does I feel more and more bitterness towards his absence. Or maybe because the last words I had for him were indifferent. I was more upset that I had to attend the next months of social engagements alone. Angry that he would allow our sons into a war zone. I didn't even say goodbye to him when he left."
Toby bit his lip, he should go find his Quinton, his Quinton with an easy smile and a big heart. Work be damned, they could fire him, but he needed to tell Quinton, needed to be held by him one last time even if they only had a minute. Life was short, this old Omega was right, it was all too short.
"I should go." Toby was on his feet, which way was the train station, god what if the train already left?
"Oh, I've upset you." The woman was standing withdrawing a rather expensive mobile her tears gone.
"No, it's just. I don't know if the train has left already. And I don't know-"
"I have a feeling there has been a delay." The older woman took Toby's arm gently. "You are just a beautiful thing. You will do nicely." She sniffed, slipping the photo strip into her pocket.
An expensive black Mercedes pulled up and the woman spoke in quick french to the driver now holding open the door. "Tell me Tobias how do you feel about children? You see I am getting on in years. And I do wish for a grandchild or two. I wouldn't be opposed to three or four."
"I'm sorry-" The blond Omega was completely at a loss for words.
"Well not right away, I can understand if you wish to wait. You young kids with your suppressors these days. I believe it takes about six months to come off those pesky heat suppressors. You know in my day we had to just bite the bullet and let nature have it's way with us. " The old woman patted Toby's arm happily, a smile lighting up her flushed face. "Frederick s'il vous plaît, nous emmène à la gare." Sliding into the car next to the confused blond. Helena Hill placed her mobile back in her purse. "Yes, I do believe there has been a delay. I'll have a car pick you two up. And don't worry about Joshua, I'll speak to the headmaster personally. The boy after all was in the right, I do believe I myself have been tempted to punch a Trevor in the face a time or two."
"Wait, Joshua is in trouble at school? Just who are you?" Toby demanded.
"Joshua punched another Alpha in the face. I've raised three Alpha sons god rest their souls and two Alpha grandsons. Boys establish territory and dominance at this age. I'll take care of this. If you knew the Trevors you would find the urge to do violence almost overwhelming. And please sweet boy call me Grandmere."
"Imagine that." Quinton shrugged "Apparently some mad man called in a bomb threat."
"Well lucky us we get one more day of civilian life." The Omega male to his right giggled, "I know how I'm going to spend it." Quinton nodded he had the same idea, maybe he could pick up some flowers on the way to Toby's work.
As he carried his bag over his shoulder, the crowds were clearing and his green eyes fell upon a familiar figure. The blond was wearing black uniform slacks, a white waiter's uniform shirt, and the tie loose around his gorgeous neck.
Quinton was caught off guard, so much so it was as if the whole train station stood still, and the crowds of people dissolved into nothing. There was only a smiling Toby waiting for him across the foyer.