Thomas Barrow, Jimmy Kent, Andy Parker
A bit of fluff to celebrate Rob James-Collier's participation in the London Marathon 2015
Jimmy looked at Thomas as he lay splayed out on the ground, panting, covered in sweat. His face was flushed and his hair was plastered to his forehead.
"What the hell possessed you," he asked, and not for the first time. "You smoke too much, you drink too much, and the furthest you've run is … well, not far enough for this. I warned you."
Out of the blue six months ago as he sat on the couch with Thomas's head in his lap, Thomas had announced he was entering the London Marathon.
"The Marathon. I'm running it next April. Or rather, we're running it."
Jimmy almost choked on the sip of wine he was swallowing.
"What? No! No fucking way I'm doing that."
"Not you, you dolt. The Grantham Team. And since you're no longer part of Grantham Enterprises, you're not invited anyway."
"You're going to run. And who else. Carson?" The image of the vice president lumbering along the route flashed into Jimmy's mind.
"No. Elsie said she would talk him into coming and cheering us on though. I'll believe that when I see it. So just me, Andy, a couple of the mail boys – Peter and Michael. That little one, Nick, will definitely tag along with Peter; they seem inseparable. Makes me wonder what they're up to. Daisy said she'd think about it. Maybe Molesley, but I think he just said that to impress Phyllis. He'll probably come up with an excuse from somewhere. Besides I think he's a bit old."
Jimmy bit his tongue to stop his reply to that. "So, it's not a very large team. Four of you so far."
"Don't forget about Daisy and Nick." Thomas reminded him as he shifted to make himself more comfortable.
"Right. I meant for sure"
"Besides, it's not quantity, it's quality. And it's for a good cause."
"None of the Granthams then."
Thomas shrugged. "What do you think. I asked Mary, but she gave me "the look." You know the one. If it doesn't involve horses or fashion she wonders why you bother. Edith disappeared with her aunt a few months ago. Somewhere in Europe I hear. Liechtenstein? And the last time Robert broke a sweat was when he thought Cora knew about him and that cleaning lady." He paused "If Tom Branson and Sybbie were still here I'm sure they would be in."
"Well, he isn't really a Grantham."
"But Sybbie is," Thomas answered defensively.
Jimmy smiled. Thomas would never hear a bad word about Sybbie Branson. Not that there were many ever said.
"When do you start training then?
"Uh … Tomorrow after work I'll go for a run."
"Shut up, Jimmy. I know it will take more than that. I want to start slow though."
"All right. Makes sense."
Jimmy knew Thomas. This isn't going to turn out well. He decided to let it drop for the time being
"Okay, shift yourself. I'm going to get more wine."
"Me too." Thomas sat up and reached him his glass as he lit another cigarette. He caught the look Jimmy gave him as he walked away. "I'll start tomorrow. Just like the run."
But much to Jimmy's surprise Thomas did train and almost every day. Still Jimmy feared it wasn't enough. Running for a couple of hours wasn't going to mean he could make the marathon distance. And he really didn't cut down on his drinking; not that Thomas drank too much but he did love his wine. And his cigarettes; most definitely his cigarettes. Jimmy began to worry.
One night they met Andy and his husband for an evening out. Jimmy pulled him aside when Thomas wandered off to speak to someone he knew at the bar.
"So, Andy, this marathon …"
"I wondered when you would bring that up. Concerned about the 'old man'?"
"He's not that old! But, yes, a bit."
"I'm joking about his age, Jimmy. You know I love him. And no, not like that," Andy laughed. "He's like my uncle - my cool, weird, gay uncle."
"Good Lord. I hope that doesn't make me your aunt."
"Maybe." Andy winked at him. "I ran with him a couple of times. Did he tell you?"
"Uh … no."
"Well, anyway, he's not too bad."
"But the distance. I mean it's over forty kilometres. It's like from the flat to work and back three times, without stopping. Running, not walking. And he broke a metatarsal last year when he tried to avoid tripping over the cat, remember."
Andy began to laugh again.
"You're like a bloody mother hen. Look, we're running as a group. No one is going to force the pace. I'll make sure of that. And if he starts to struggle, I'll take care of it." Andy could see that Jimmy still wasn't completely happy. "I think he's going to surprise you."
"Right," Jimmy replied uncertainly. "As long as it's a good surprise and doesn't involve ambulances."
Thomas returned, ending their conversation.
"So, what are we talking about?"
Jimmy was about to kneel down beside Thomas when he reached out his arm.
"Shut the fuck up Jimmy and give me a hand."
Jimmy hoisted him to his feet.
"I'm proud of you, you stubborn bugger. I hope you know that."
"And so you should be," Thomas replied a bit breathlessly. "Thank you, love."
Just at that, Andy walked up behind him, trailed by the three mail boys. He threw his arm around Thomas's shoulders.
"We did it! A bit knackered, but not really the worse for wear."
"Right," Thomas agreed, but without as much enthusiasm. "It was an experience, I'll say that much."
Andy hugged him closer.
"So, let's meet at the pub around seven after we all get cleaned up and rest a bit. What do you say?
"Sure. Sounds good," Jimmy answered for them both.
After the others left Jimmy handed Thomas his sweats and jacket. He leant against Jimmy as he struggled into the pants.
"Are you really all right?" Jimmy asked worriedly as they began to walk with the dwindling crowd toward the tube.
"Believe it or not, yes. Now, if you ask me tomorrow ..."
Thomas took Jimmy's hand.
"I got a medal, you know."
~~~ End ~~~
About the mail boys. Peter and Nick are shamelessly borrowed from random-hallboy and nick-the-hallboy on Tumblr. Michael, on the other hand is the character name of one of the hallboys on Downton