Thomas Barrow, Jimmy Kent, Downton Abbey
Title: Let Me Kiss You
Warning: Canonical character death
Sometimes it just doesn't work out
About a week after the beating Jimmy brought Thomas's lunch tray as he usually did. He knocked at the door, waiting for Thomas to ask him in. When there was no reply he opened it cautiously.
He was sitting up on the bed, head clutched in his hands
"Thomas. What's wrong?"
Thomas looked up and even though the room was in semi-darkness he was squinting.
"I have this terrible headache, Edward. The light is so bright. Can you close the curtains?"
Jimmy set the tray down and went over to him.
"They're already closed, Thomas. But I'm Jimmy. Who's Edward?"
As Thomas focused on his face, he closed his eyes briefly, then reopened them.
"Of course, Jimmy. What was I thinking."
"Someone I knew a long time ago. During the war."
"Do I look like him?"
"No, not at all."
Jimmy still didn't understand why he had made the mistake, but put it down to the headache.
"I brought lunch."
He retrieved the tray and set it on Thomas's lap.
"It looks good. So what's the news today?"
Jimmy told him about the fight two of the hall boys had gotten into.
"And when Mr. Carson went to break it up, one of them accidentally elbowed him in the groin."
Jimmy laughed at the memory of Carson bent over, sputtering words that he didn't think he knew. And the look on Mrs. Hughes face, somewhere between aghast and amused. He had expected Thomas to laugh with him, but he heard nothing. He was just looking at his food after having taken a few bites.
"Is the food okay, Thomas?"
Thomas looked up from the tray and stared at him as if he didn't recognise him once again. Jimmy reached out and shook his shoulder. He cringed and pulled away, his face contorted in fear.
"Don't, Father, please. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to break it. It... it just fell."
Jimmy was getting scared. He stood up and gently took him by both his shoulders, just holding him steady. He knelt down so their eyes met.
"Thomas, it's me Jimmy. Oh God, what is wrong with him? "Jimmy Kent."
That seemed to sink in.
"Jimmy. When did you get here? I've got a terrible headache. Can you get me something for it?"
Jimmy lifted the tray and set it on the desk.
"Yes, but you should lie down while I do."
"Anything you say." Thomas lay back on the bed and smiled up at him. "Let me kiss you?"
"Wh .... What?"
"Are you going to get me something for this or not?" Thomas snapped at him. "It fucking hurts." He started to cry.
Jesus. Jesus, Jesus.
Jimmy ran from the room and down the stairs, bursting into the middle of a conversation between Mr. Carson and Alfred.
"James ...," Mr. Carson started, about to give him a lesson in manners
"There's something wrong with Thom ... Mr. Barrow. It's like he doesn't know where he is or who I am. I think we need Dr. Clarkson."
"I'll be the judge of that," Mr. Carson said as he started to climb the stairs. Jimmy had left the door to Thomas's room open so they just walked in. Thomas was sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at the vomit on the floor.
Mr. Carson's face showed his shock as he turned accusingly to Jimmy.
"When did this happen? Why did you not say before?" Then he turned to Alfred who had followed them. "Telephone Dr. Clarkson immediately. Tell him it is an emergency."
Jimmy wracked his brain, trying to remember if there had been any indication that something was wrong. Thomas had been distracted the last few days, but he thought it was just boredom since no one came to see him other than Jimmy.
"I... I don't know. Last night he was a bit out of sorts but I thought it was just Thomas being Thomas."
"Well, obviously it was not"
He went over to Thomas.
"Thomas, it is Mr. Carson. Do you know me?"
Thomas looked up.
"Of course. I'm sorry for the mess. I'll clean it up."
As he tried to get up, Mr. Carson gently held him down.
"There is no need. We will take care of it. You just lie back down. I have sent for Dr. Clarkson."
"Why? I'm fine." He suddenly clutched at his head again. "Except for this bloody headache."
"I am sure you are, my boy. But as a favour to me?"
He settled back on the bed. "You were always nice to me."
Mr. Carson left him and whispered to Jimmy.
"This is not good. I do not need to be a doctor to know that. I am going back downstairs. Stay with him. Keep him talking if you can. I do not know if that's the right thing, but it is all I can think of."
After Mr. Carson left, Jimmy pulled up a chair close to the bed, staring down at Thomas who now seemed just to lie there, unaware of anything. He reached out, hesitantly taking his hand and squeezing it.
ĒThomas. Look at me."
He first looked at their hands and then at Jimmy.
"I see I won you over after all."
Jimmy laughed despite himself and was pleased when Thomas smiled back at him.
"Well, you are persistent. Could get rid of you for a year. All my snide remarks and "evil eyes" made no difference."
Thomas licked his lips.
Jimmy looked around and spotted a glass on his dresser, but no water.
"Alright, I'll get you something to drink. I have to leave though. Will you be okay?"
"Of course, dear."
Jimmy had almost jumped away from him before he remembered he probably didn't know what he was saying. When he came back with the water, Thomas was sitting up in bed again.
"You really should lie down."
"I want that water," Thomas reached out, his hand shaking. When he took the glass, it almost slipped from his grasp.
"Here, let me." He held the glass to his lips, but Thomas didn't drink. It was like he had forgotten how. With his free hand he tilted Thomas's head back and let some of the water slosh against his lips. Thomas licked but still didn't swallow.
"That's enough, thank you."
Jimmy reached over and set the glass on the desk.
"Let me kiss you."
Jimmy didn't answer because he had no idea what to say. He wasnít sure if Thomas was talking to him or some apparition.
"I could have loved you, you know. If you only gave me a chance." He started to cry again.
Jimmy sat on the bed beside him and pulled him close, trying to comfort him.
"Yes, I know."
Thomas settled his head against his chest as his sobs faded.
"I want to know what it's like to kiss you again. I did once, didn't I? In your room?" He sat up straight and looked directly at him. "But it wasn't right somehow. There was something wrong." He searched his face for the answer.
Jimmy almost began to cry himself.
"Yes. I wasn't ready. It wasn't your fault."
Thomas smiled. "Oh, that's good. You know I would never hurt you." Then after a brief pause he seemed to lose himself again. "I'm going to lie down, Edward. I don't feel well."
As he lay back on the bed he brought both hands up to cover his eyes, moaning in pain.
"Christ, did I get shot? I need a medic."
Jimmy reached over and gently pulled his hands away. He leaned in and kissed him, letting his lips linger, teasing with his tongue. When he pulled away, Thomas's eyes were closed.
"So that's what it was like Jimmy. I can't believe I forgot that."
Jimmy heard footsteps on the stairs and went out to find Mr. Carson and Dr. Clarkson.
"He seems to be calm now, but he's still complaining of a headache?"
"Has he been confused and disoriented?" Dr. Clarkson asked.
"Yes. And he was sick," Jimmy replied.
"That doesn't sound promising. Please wait here while I examine him."
Mr. Carson looked at Jimmy.
"I am going downstairs again. The word has spread and I need to speak to everyone. Will you wait here?"
"Yes. If you don't mind."
After Mr. Carson left, he paced the hall. Shit, I should have taken up smoking. Finally the door to Thomas's room opened and Dr. Clarkson appeared.
"Does he have any relatives?"
"What? Why does that matter?" Jimmy suddenly realised he was shouting.
"Calm down Mr. Kent. He has slipped into a coma and I fear he will not come out of it."
"That's impossible. He was fine until today."
"Sometimes these things take a few days to manifest themselves. There is nothing I can do at this point. If you believe in prayer, then I suggest this would be a good time."
After the doctor left to share the news with Mr. Carson, Jimmy went back into the room. Thomas was motionless, eyed closed, arms at his sides. I'm staying here no matter what.
"Yes, Mr. Carson."
"I have heard. As you know Thomas only has a cousin in India so it would appear we are his family. I have let Lord Grantham know and we are to do whatever we can to make him comfortable."
"Is there really nothing that can be done?"
"Dr. Clarkson says it is too late."
"Is it alright if I stay?"
"I mean for as long ..."
"Oh." Mr. Carson considered. The doctor had said it was only a matter of time, perhaps a day. "Yes. I think we can manage."
After Mr. Carson left, he sat down in the chair beside the bed again, taking Thomas's hand. I was a shit to him and now he's fucking dying because of me. He brought Thomas's hand to his lips, kissing it gently. Someone cares about you. Maybe too late, but someone cares.
Over the evening and that night, Jimmy sat holding his hand. Someone brought him food and when they did he took the opportunity to take a quick break before returning to his vigil. Early the next morning he woke with a start to find his head resting on Thomas's chest, holding tightly to his hand. He listened carefully for his heart. When he sat up Thomas was looking at him, much like his old self.
"What are you doing up here?" His sentence echoed the past.
"I had to keep an eye out." Jimmy watched as he recognised his own words.
"Did you kiss me or was I dreaming?"
"Yes, I did."
"Oh. I must be sicker than I thought." His laugh was weak. "Taking pity on an old fool, were we."
"Never mind, Jimmy. It's a wonderful memory to take with me."
"Where are you going?"
Jimmy woke with a start to find his head resting on Thomas's chest, holding tightly to his cold hand. He listened carefully for his heart, but heard nothing.
~~ End ~~
This assumes Thomas will not appear in S4 which we all know isn't true
I'm positing this as a slow subdural haematoma, although the progress of symptoms I mention or the time frame may not fit exactly. Perhaps there was treatment available in 1922, but that wouldn't have suited my story at all.
The inspiration for this came from a short poem I wrote (although I'm hardly a poet.) Thomas speaking to Jimmy.
Let me kiss you.
Thatís all I ask.
Let me kiss you
one more time
before I die.
And if thatís not to be.
Then the memory
of our only kiss,
sweet and painful,
will die with me.