Thomas Barrow, Jimmy Kent, Downton Abbey
Warning: Canonical character death
The day after the funeral Jimmy was alone again. Alfred and Daisy had left earlier in the morning, but not without making him promise to come and visit. They had even set a date in two weeks. Knowing Daisy, she'll make sure I'll be there even if she has to send Alfred to bundle me into the car. But now there were still things to do, yet so little he cared about
Thomas's death hadn't been unexpected, but that didn't make it any less devastating. Jimmy thought he was prepared. They had planned everything down to the last detail. Some people might have thought it morbid, but this was the last thing they would do together and neither of them wanted it any other way. But now after surviving on his emotions, Jimmy felt lost, abandoned. He hadn't slept much for a few days because he and Thomas had still shared a bed until his last night. So when Jimmy climbed into their bed the first night he couldn't get comfortable. Or the night after that. There was no reassuring sound of Thomas breathing beside him, no matter how laboured it had become.
He sat down on the sofa and laid his head against its back cushion, closing his eyes. So what now? All the legal mumbo jumbo is taken care of. We made sure of that, locked it down tight. It's just the personal stuff. I need to do something with his clothes. Jimmy felt his chest tighten and his eyes begin to sting. Not yet.
He pushed himself off the sofa and went to the record player, pulling some of their old records from their covers and stacking them on the spindle. 'I'm not buying any of those 45's or LP's', Thomas said. 'Only 78's. The sound is much better even when they do get a bit scratched'. As the first record dropped onto the turntable, Jimmy pulled a photo album from the shelf. Thomas had been the one to take the photos, save them, sort them adding notes about where and when. 'I want to be able to look back and remember,' he answered when Jimmy teased him about it.
He flipped through it. Photos from the early days at Downton. One of the cricket matches. A servants' ball. That trip to the sea shore with the family. God, dressed in livery at the sea shore. He knew other albums held memories of their past together - holidays, their first flat, Sammy, the dog that Thomas first hated but ended up loving - but this one was about the beginning. Before they even knew they had a future. Or at least before I knew we had one. Thomas always seems have known in some way. He just waited for me to catch up.
The last photo in the book was the two of them, standing side by side, close together. Why is it out of sequence? He checked the inscription underneath - Thomas and Jimmy, Thirsk 1923. He flipped back and the previous one was 1931. That's not like Thomas to get it wrong. He studied it carefully, although he really didn't need to; he knew exactly when it was taken.
Late summer, another fair. After they had a couple of drinks Thomas had taken off his jacket, leaving it with someone while they wandered, looking at stalls, trying a few games. They had come across a photographer who had set up in the open, using the trees lining the grounds as a backdrop.
'Let's get a photograph. It'll be our first,' Thomas smiled at him. 'The first of many.'
They couldn't figure out how to stand, seeming for all the world like two recently demobbed soldiers until the photographer told them to relax - 'Look like you're friends having a good time.' Thomas went to put his arm across Jimmy's shoulders, but he edged away, giving him a warning look.
While the photographer adjusted something, Thomas pulled him to one side.
'Jesus, Jimmy, friends act like that. No one will suspect if they see this.'
'I don't care. Don't do it.'
'Fine,' Thomas sighed as they stepped back in front of the camera. They shoved their hands into their pockets almost simultaneously.
'Thomas,' Jimmy whispered as they turned slightly towards each other.
'Doesn't mean I'm not gonna let you fuck me when we get back.' With a quick glance sideways he saw the edges of Thomas's mouth twitch up
'Gentlemen, steady please.'
Jimmy eased the photo out of the corners that held it to the page. That's odd, they seem new. In the background he heard the next record drop and it began to play as he held the photo, trailing his finger along the side of Thomas's face. After a moment he settled back to listen to the song.
I'll be loving you, always
With a love that's true, always.
When the things you've planned
Need a helping hand,
I will understand, always.
Days may not be fair, always,
That's when I'll be there, always.
Not for just an hour,
Not for just a day,
Not for just a year,
Jimmy sat up suddenly. I shouldn't have put that one on.
A few years after Matthew Crawleys' death, Mary Crawley had gotten engaged and there was a large party at Downton to celebrate. Late in the evening Thomas had gone for a cigarette and Jimmy managed to slip away to join him. They stood in the shadows under one of the open windows listening to the orchestra when 'Always' began to play. When Thomas reached over and pulled Jimmy close, he felt him tense.
'No one can see.'
'I know. Just habit I guess.' He paused and leant his head against Thomas's shoulder. 'Won't ever be like that for us, you know.'
'What? Married?' Thomas laughed. 'No. Never thought it would be. Doesn't mean I don't love you.' He began to sing softly. 'Not for just an hour, Not for just a day, Not for just a year, But always.' He turned his head and kissed Jimmy's forehead. 'Will that do?'
He looked down at the photo. I still don't understand why this isn't where it should be. He turned it over.
I knew you would find this. The first of many, remember? Love you always.
~~ End ~~
"Always" was written in 1925 by Irving Berlin as a wedding gift to his wife.
Inspired by a photo that appeared on Tumblr taken from the 2014 Downton Abbey Engagement Calendar. It shows Thomas and Jimmy standing close together, bodies angled slightly towards one another, but faces toward the camera. Thomas is in his shirtsleeves and they both have their hands in their pockets. This also made me think of Berlin's song "Always" for some reason.