Thomas Barrow, Jimmy Kent, Alfred Nugent, Downton Abbey
Title: The Queston
Sometimes it's better not to ask.
About a month after he had been made first footman Jimmy was sitting in the servants' hall late one night, shuffling his cards. He wasn't interested in playing, just keeping his hands busy. Alfred sat across from him, apparently engrossed in whatever book he was reading and not interested in conversation. Jimmy had tried, but Alfred just grunted out a few words. Well, fuck you, Alfred. I might as well go to bed. As he stacked his cards Thomas entered the hall, hesitating when he saw Jimmy, but finally taking a seat at the far end of the table and picking up a newspaper. Jimmy was glad for his promotion, but it still irked him that the price had been letting Thomas stay. Seeing him every day only served as a reminder of that kiss, of those lips on his and the smell and taste of cigarettes. He managed to avoid him as much as he could, but they inevitably ended up together several times during the day. He just hoped that his silence and scowls conveyed his distaste. But tonight that wasn't enough. He wanted to embarrass him, the way he had been embarrassed. And he had a witness in Alfred.
"Mr. Barrow, Alfred and I have a question."
Alfred looked up from his book. What's he up to? He cast a sideways glance at Thomas and saw that he had lowered the paper he had been reading.
"Oh. What would that be?"
"Do you like to bugger or be buggered?"
Jimmy watched as Thomas's eyes widened.
"See, Alfred and I have a bet and we figure you can make one of us the winner of a quid. I say since you're not really a man you like to take it up the ass."
"Jimmy!" Alfred warned as his face drained of what little colour it had. "What? I didn't ..."
"Shut up, Alfred, let him answer."
Thomas saw Alfred look at him and shake his head quickly as he mouthed, Not me. He considered a moment whether he would answer or just get up and walk away. So it's going to be like that, is it? You're treading on dangerous ground, boyo. You're so wrapped up in yourself. To think I did everything to protect you. You know nothing about what's gone on with Mr. Carson or Mrs. Hughes or Bates. And you know absolutely nothing about me. You just assume you do and it's never wise to assume. Not when I'm involved. He lit a cigarette and settled back in his chair.
"Well, Jimmy, I thought I would do the buggering. You see, you were going to be my first, but I could instinctively tell that's what you wanted. Naturally you would have had to help, instruct me in the finer points of how you liked it. Rough, gentle, on your back, on your knees, ankles tucked into the headboard, bent over a chair. I had heard about all of those, but had never tried any of them. Never thought I would. At least not with a man."
"Of course you would know. A pretty boy like you must have had all kinds of offers and I was sure you wouldn't have missed out on the chance for attention. You like it so much. Flaunting your body with that special walk you have. You know, the way you swing your hips as you play with your hair."
"I never ..."
"You're quite the coquette for a man."
"I'm a what?"
"Too erudite for you? Flirt. Tease."
"I didn't ..."
"Oh, not when anyone was around, but when we were alone. The little touches on my hand, playing with my glove. Accidently pushing your hip into my backside. Bending over in front of me to pick up something that you dropped. How many times can you drop a napkin?"
"Now you just wait ..."
"I mean, after all, who wouldn't be tempted to take advantage of something like that. Even Alfred, dear sweet Alfred who can only think of Ivy, might have strayed from the path if he had seen what was on offer. But unlike Alfred, I'm a weak man. I wouldn't need to try to sneak into the maid's quarters to get my leg over. You would be so convenient and it seemed you were determined to be accommodating. That's all I wanted, just a little sex that didn't involve my hand, but then you promised I could have more. I was shocked when you finally pushed me away so violently. I couldn't understand after you had said how long you had waited for someone like me and that there was so much between us. I thought you meant it. I thought I had found someone who liked me, even if it was a man. I could live with that and not feel dirty because you made me feel it was alright."
It took Jimmy a few seconds to grasp the implications of what Thomas had just said. Thomas could almost see him processing it. And now the denial.
"I didn't say any of that. Alfred was there. He saw ..."
"Just what did you see, Alfred?"
Alfred seemed too stunned to reply.
"I saw you kissing him."
"Hmm. And anything before that?"
"No. I wasn't there then."
"No. You weren't."
Thomas leaned back in his chair to watch what was going to happen next. Just as he had expected, Jimmy was so upset and confused that he had become the aggressor and not the victim that he had missed the obvious flaw in his story. He had counted on Jimmy's concern with the perceived threat to his own manhood and how only he had been affected that he wouldn't see it. And he wasn't disappointed. Poor boy's not really all that bright. If it was true, why had Thomas kept quiet and taken the blame. He would probably think of it later, but it would be too late to turn the tables and the lesson would have been taught. Don't fuck with me, you little shite.
Jimmy looked at Alfred, eyes pleading.
"Alfred, nothing happened. Honest. He's lying. You saw how mad I was."
"Well, you seemed to be angry. But then you went overboard with trying to get Mr. Barrow fired. And without a reference. It was, I don't know ... odd, more than a bit over the top. It even made me think I had to do something when you wouldn't."
"That wasn't me. That was your aunt. Ask her."
"Yes, Alfred. Ask Miss O'Brien. I'm sure she'll be glad to tell you the truth."
"Alfred, please. You know me. I told you all about it. I would never do anything like that."
"I don't know about you, Alfred, but the lady doth protest too much, methinks."
"Alfred! I'm not like that." Jimmy was almost in tears.
"Just keep telling yourself that. I'm sure everything will be fine."
He turned to leave, but as he reached the door he looked back.
"Did that answer your question? Sorry you lost the bet Jimmy."
Of course this never happened, but I would have paid to see "the big girl's blouse" squirming.