Thomas Barrow, Jimmy Kent, Downton Abbey
Title: Good Tidings
Warning: Season 5 spoilers

Jimmy half-woke as he turned onto his back. He lay for a few seconds before he realised something was wrong. Propping himself up on his elbows he searched the semi-darkness until he could just make out a shadow sitting in the corner of the room.

"Thomas, come back to bed."

"I will in a minute or two, just go back to sleep."

Jimmy dropped back onto the pillow. In the three years they had been together nothing had changed. It's like this the week before Christmas. Normally Thomas slept like a log, with his gentle snoring comforting Jimmy any time he woke up, but that changed at this time of the year. Jimmy hadn't been able to find out why. Whenever he asked, Thomas just shrugged and said he didn't know. This year Jimmy decided not to ask. He didn't believe him and it bothered him that there were still secrets between them.

He sighed and closed his eyes. It's stupid to let this worry me. Turning to his side, he waited until he felt the bed sag. Thomas shifted closer then wrapped his arm around Jimmy's waist, pulling them together.

"I'm sorry," Thomas murmured into his ear.

"It's nothing, Thomas. Really it's not."

"I'm sure." Thomas paused. "But you never asked this year."

"Yeah, well, it's never done me much good has it?"

"It's just "

There was silence.

"Just what, Thomas?"

"I had to spend that first Christmas all alone after you fucked that witch Anstruther and then were given the sack. And I can't shake that. You were bloody stupid. Just to prove a point to yourself that you knew you couldn't prove."

"Lady Anstruther?" Jimmy tried to turn but Thomas was holding him too tightly. "I never saw her after she went to France. How the hell could I fuck her? Besides we've spent Christmas together here since 1923."

"No we haven't Jimmy."

"Jesus, Thomas. Of course we have. What's wrong with you?"

"Don't shout you'll wake the others."

"I'm not shouting."

"Yes you were, Jimmy. You were shouting in your sleep again. It's Christmas Eve, can't you let me have some peace this week."

Jimmy opened his eyes as he tried to get his bearings. The man looking down at him wasn't Thomas.

"Wait, where's Thomas?"

"A better question is why it's always this Thomas you talk about. And it's one you should ask yourself"

Jimmy began to realise where he was. The man was Eli Grafton; the two of them shared a room. He wasn't at Downton in Yorkshire but at Clifton Hall in Lincolnshire. A short train ride away, but it might as well have been at the other end of the country

Jimmy shook his head to clear the last cobwebs. "I'm sorry Eli."

"Yes, but being sorry doesn't mean I get a full night's sleep, does it."

"No."

"Well," Eli answered as he returned to his bed, "stop this nonsense."

"I didn't know I was doing it."

"Like every bloody night this week, Eli huffed as he slid under the covers. "Take my advice and deal with this. You need to talk to him. Is this Thomas on the telephone?"

"Downton is."

"Then call Downton. Make some excuse why you have to speak to him and settle this before I murder you in your sleep."

"I can't"

"Bollocks! I'll distract Crichton tomorrow morning for fifteen minutes. You get into his office and use his telephone."

----------

"Thomas," Mr. Carson said as he entered the servants' hall, "there's a telephone call for you. He said it was urgent." He stopped and glared. "Your father isn't dying again, is he?"

"I wouldn't know, Mr. Carson, I haven't taken the call yet."

"Go on, but don't dilly dally," Mr. Carson called after him as he left the hall, "we have a lot of work this morning before we can have our Christmas meal."

"Twat," Thomas muttered as he closed the door of Carson's office behind him.

As Carson waited not-so-patiently in the hall, he wondered why the voice at the other end of the line had sounded vaguely familiar.

"Sit down for a while," urged Mrs. Hughes who had overheard the conservation, "I'm sure he will only be a moment or two. Besides it is Christmas, good will and all that."

"That's fine for you to say, but he's not in your office, is he."

"That wouldn't make much sense, would it, since I don't have a telephone."

He frowned at her then caught the twinkle in her eye. She's teasing me. "Oh very well. I could use a cup of tea I suppose."

Mrs. Hughes went to the kitchen to arrange for the tea, but before she returned Thomas came back into the hall.

"You weren't very long after all," Mr. Carson admitted begrudgingly. "Although I worry when I see you smiling like that."

"It was just good news very good - for a change. Words from a friend that I never thought I would hear and an invitation I never expected to get."

"That's nice," Mrs. Hughes said as she stood in the doorway. "Good tidings at Christmas."

"Yes, Mrs. Hughes," Thomas laughed. "And I'll get right upstairs Mr. Carson. You don't need to rush."

Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson looked at one another in surprise when they heard Thomas humming as he walked out of the room.

~~~ End ~~~