Thomas Barrow, Jimmy Kent, Downton Abbey
Title: The Middle of the Night
The creak of a floorboard pulled Thomas out of the depths of sleep but didn't wake him. That happened when his bed sagged as someone sat down beside him.
"What the hell ...," he coughed out as he bolted upright, fists clenched.
"Shhh. It's just me," Jimmy whispered so close to his ear that Thomas jerked away, smacking his head against the metal headboard.
"Jesus, Jimmy, what are you doing here. It's the middle of the night."
"Can't slip anything by you," Jimmy muttered as he eased himself closer to Thomas who, in confusion, shifted further away.
"All right, no need to be cheeky," Thomas admonished as he reached over to turn on his bedside lamp. He sat blinking in disbelief for a moment at the sight of Jimmy wearing only his pyjamas. "That still doesn't answer my question. Why are you here?"
"Promise you won't laugh."
"Only if you tell a joke."
"Now who's being cheeky?"
"Fine. What is it?"
"First, shove over so I can get in."
"Wha ...," Thomas spluttered as he tried to take in what Jimmy had just said. "There's ... there's no room.
"We'll make room. Just turn on your side." Jimmy waited for Thomas to comply before he swung his legs up onto the bed and spooned his body against him. "Turn out the light."
With the room once again in darkness they lay in silence until Thomas couldn’t take it any longer.
"I had a nightmare."
"We all have nightmares, Jimmy. The war ..."
"It wasn't the war," Jimmy interrupted. "It's always about something else."
"Does that mean you've had it before?"
"Yes, but not in a long time." Jimmy reached back and pulled Thomas's arm around him. "No, that's not right. I think I have it every night, but it hasn't been as bad. I thought I had gotten to the point where it didn't wake me. But tonight ... tonight was different." Jimmy pulled Thomas's arm tighter. "It hasn't been this bad in years," he repeated.
"What is it?"
"That's the odd part, I don't really know." Jimmy took a deep, shuddering breath. "You see, I never actually remember. It's like my mind won't let me; the minute I wake up it's gone. All that's left is the paralysing fear."
"But that still doesn't ..."
"Explain why I'm here," Jimmy finished for him. "I needed someone to talk to and I wasn't going to Mr. Carson or Molesley, was I."
He could tell from the silence that Thomas didn't believe that answer any more than he did himself. Turning to face him he leant their foreheads together, half-expecting Thomas to pull away and pleased when he didn't.
"You're my friend. My only friend, I guess, and I trust you. Strange that, considering how we started out. So who else would I go to? Who else would I want to go to?"
He turned away again, bringing Thomas's arm up, clutching his hand to his chest. Not the entire truth, but close enough for now.
"I don't want to be alone, so I'm going to stay here tonight."
Thomas knew he wasn't asking permission, just stating what was obvious to both of them, but at the same time leaving the door open for him to object. As if he thinks I ever would. He pulled Jimmy closer, holding him while they fell asleep.