Thomas Barrow, Jimmy Kent, Downton Abbey
Title: Laying Them On The Table
This is a sequel to It's In The Cards
Over the month or so after the incident with the cards, Thomas noticed that Jimmy's attitude towards him gradually changed. At first it wasn't anything he could put his finger on. They had been friends, of sorts, for over a year, but Jimmy had maintained a distance that Thomas was sure he would never bridge. But now Jimmy smiled at him more often; it was sheepish, almost bashful and yet it was a warm smile. He even joined him in the yard without being asked or on a walk to the village, saying very little, but making it clear he wanted to be there.
As he sat at the servant's table one evening before bed, he glanced over the top of his newspaper and caught Jimmy staring at him. When he lowered the paper and looked directly at him, Jimmy quickly shifted his eyes down to the cards he had laid out in front of him in an endless game of patience. A maid and one of the hall boys sat at the far end of the table ostensibly reading a book together, but obviously much more interested in a story of their own.
"I think we need to talk," Thomas said quietly as he nodded his head toward the hallway that led to the yard.
They both got up and walked the short distance to the yard, Thomas pulling out a cigarette and lighting it on the way. Instead of standing in his usual spot, Thomas hoisted himself onto a crate that sat to one side. Jimmy didn't follow suit, but stood in front of him, staring at the ground, nervously dragging his toe back and forth in the dirt.
"So, what's going on?"
"Nothing." Jimmy paused before stuffing his hands into his pockets and raising his head to look at something over Thomas's left shoulder. "About those cards."
"You burned them, right?"
"That's not an answer, Thomas," Jimmy snapped, although he had already guessed what it meant.
"Do you want them back then?"
"No, it's just ..."
Thomas took a long drag on his cigarette, letting the smoke curl though his lungs and drift out his partially opened lips, waiting in vain for Jimmy to go on.
"It's just what, Jimmy?"
"You looked at them again, didn't you?"
"You mean I looked at that one again. Yes."
Even in the semi-darkness, he could see Jimmy's cheeks flush.
"It's just I don't want you to get the wrong idea. I like women. I'm not the same as you."
Thomas flicked his cigarette away, watching the trail of its glowing end.
"I think you've made that abundantly clear," he answered angrily. "So then what the fuck is this all about."
"It's just ..."
"It's just. It's just," Thomas mocked. "Get to the point before I die of old age."
"Well, I want ..." Jimmy's eyes shifted away.
"You want me to tie you up. Is that it?"
"Yes, what." You're going to have to ask for it Jimmy.
"Yes, I want you to tie me up." Jimmy glared at him, then realised how it sounded and hurried on. "I want someone to tie me up. I don't want to be touched, I want to have all my clothes on. I just want to know what it feels like."
"Right. So, not like the photo at all. Really? You've fooled yourself into thinking that? And I'm the lucky man you turn to. How nice." So that's what all the smiling and hanging around me has been about. Trying to gather the nerve to explore your little secret. "And what's in it for me?"
"Well, you get to have a naughty bit of fun. I assume you think it will be fun, right?" Jimmy nodded. "And I get to sit and watch. I don't think that's exactly fair." Although the idea isn't bad at all. Jimmy under my control.
"I can't. That's all I want to do. Can't you see that I'm willing to trust you? Doesn't that mean anything?"
Thomas hopped off the crate and started toward the door.
"Wait. Please. I know it seems strange."
"Bizarre is more like it."
"Fine. But who else could I ask? Alfred?"
Despite himself, Thomas laughed at the image of Alfred's reaction to a request like that. He turned back.
"You have a point."
"I thought maybe you would understand."
"Why? Because I'm perverted?"
"No. Because you're my friend." Jimmy looked away for a moment and then back. "My only friend." He hesitated. "Is that what you think? That I'm perverted?"
"You forgot 'too'."
"No I didn't. Maybe one time I thought that way, but I know now you never meant to hurt me. That you would never hurt me." In fact, you love me. "That's why I trust you. Why you're the only one I could ask."
Thomas lit another cigarette and leant against the crate, intently searching Jimmy's face.
"So, if I agree, where and when do you plan on doing this?"
"Really? You haven't thought that through? Do you have the rope?"
"You're not very well prepared, are you." Thomas laughed. "Never mind. There's always a coil of rope in the game larder. Sneak four or five yards. We'll use my room. Unless you want to try this outside somewhere, but I don't think that's wise. Unexpected passersby and all. Tomorrow night?"
In the moonlight Thomas saw Jimmy's eyes suddenly take on a panicked look. Faced with the imminent reality of his fantasy, he seemed to be having second thoughts.
"Unless you've changed your mind."
"N... No. It sounds good.
Thomas dropped his cigarette and ground it out with his foot. "I think that's enough plotting for tonight." He yawned and stretched. "I'll say good night."
"Oh, and sweet dreams," Thomas called back over his shoulder. I can just imagine.
to be continued