Thomas Barrow, Jimmy Kent, Downton Abbey
Title: The Twelve Days of Christmas
Warning: Season 5 spoilers

Jimmy entered the flat, not bothering to turn on the lights as he walked straight to his favourite chair and threw himself into it. He hated when Thomas went away. It reminded him of how alone and unhappy he had been after he left Downton, how much he had missed him. Even though they had now been together almost five years, each time Thomas left Jimmy's mood darkened and it only lifted when he opened the door on his return. He managed to put on a good face at work, but once he got home it was a different matter.

He stretched and kicked off his shoes. There was nothing he could do about Thomas being gone; it was part of his job that took him away for a couple of days a few times a year. Maybe it seemed worse because they were seldom apart any other time. Not that I'd want to change that. Without Thomas he felt lost so why would he want to have that happen more often.

Jimmy stood to pull off his coat and jacket, tossing them on the floor beside him. Thomas would have my bollocks for that. He's so bloody neat. When he sat back down he began to laugh despite his mood. Of course he can have my bollocks any time he wants, but he needs to be here for that to happen. As his eyes became more accustomed to the semi-darkness he could just make out their Christmas tree tucked into the corner by the window.

And that's the other thing. It's Christmas tomorrow and he won't be here. They hadn't been separated at Christmas except for the year that Jimmy was forced out of Downton. This time though, Thomas would be gone much longer than a day or two since he had travelled to Europe with his manager to visit potential clients their company was pursuing. He knew that the day before yesterday he was in Geneva and that yesterday he was to move on to their last stop in Italy. Neither of them were pleased at being away, but try as they might they hadn't been able to get the trip delayed until after Christmas.

He turned on the floor lamp as he got up to go to the window. He stopped to look at the tree; their presents to each other were there waiting, and the ones from Daisy and Phyllis Baxter, neither of whom ever forgot. Normally they would open them Christmas morning while they sat drinking Thomas's special coffee that he had liberally laced with brandy. Tea just won't do, Jimmy. Christmas needs to start off with a bit of a bang. Jimmy had to admit that he seldom stopped at just one.

He sighed as he stepped past the tree to the window and opened the drapes. It had started to snow when he was walking home and as he looked down at the street he could see the flakes sparkling as they drifted past the streetlamps. Thomas and he both liked the snow, as long as it wasn't so bad that it made getting around impossible.

With the first snow of the season like this, they would start their winter walks in the park where they would either wander aimlessly or follow the paths around the small lake. Jimmy would toss bits of bread to the ducks that huddled near its edge. He had a favourite he had found in the summer last year that he named Carson. It would waddle from the water and follow them for yards, quacking like mad. Thomas would usually just try shoo him away, even though he never succeeded, but in the winter he would scoop up snow, playfully tossing handfuls at him as Jimmy threatened to push him into the snow if he didn't stop. Then, no matter the season, home to the flat and each other's arms as they lay in bed.

As he pulled the drapes closed there was a knock at the door. He didn't want to see anyone so he just waited hoping whoever it was would leave. Jesus I'm a miserable sod. The knock came again, this time followed by a voice.

"Jimmy, I know you’re there. I heard you come in. Open up or I'll just stand here and keep knocking."

It was Lucy Bellamy from the flat downstairs and he knew she wasn't joking. The three of them had become friends early in the four years that he and Thomas had lived there. It started when they had to use her telephone until they finally got their own about eight months later. They found that she was a madcap, uninhibited, free-spirited whirlwind of a woman who either liked you immediately or ignored you forever. Thomas and Jimmy fell into the former category, something Jimmy wasn't so sure about at first, but she had a way of winning you over and making you wonder why you ever had been without her.

"Jimmy, you little bastard, open this door or I'll start to sing." With that she cleared her throat and broke into an horrendous rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas; made even more horrendous because Jimmy hated that song with a passion.

"Oh for God's sake, Lucy, shut up, I'm coming," he laughed as he hurried to the door and pulled it open. He began to laugh even harder when he saw her, cigarette dangling from her lips, boa of red garland wrapped around her neck, wearing the oddest green skirt that sported a pattern of Christmas trees and holly.

"What the hell are you dressed up as," Jimmy asked when he caught his breath.

"Whatever do you mean?" She gave him her best look of innocence. "This is my normal attire."

"Nothing with you, my dear, is ever normal."

"Well," she huffed, "you're awfully sassy for a pansy."

"Lucy!"

"What sweetie? Afraid someone will hear? We're the only ones in the building, remember. Except for my cat, of course, and she's too busy licking herself to give a damn."

"Yes, but your voice is loud enough that the entire street could know."

"Oh," she raised her hand to her boa, clutching it tightly, "now you've really hurt me. I try to be so demure all the time."

"Demure! Are you sure you know what that word means?"

"I'll have you know my mother raised me to be prim and proper, to speak only when spoken to." Her accent had changed from East End London to something akin to a female version of King George, or what she thought he sounded like.

"Fine, fine," Jimmy bowed to her. "You are indeed a demure lady."

"And don't you ever forget it boyo," she commanded, her accent back to normal. She reached out and grabbed his arm. "Come along, there's wine waiting for us downstairs."

"I really don't feel like it, Lucy."

"Nonsense! Just because Thomas isn't here to cuddle you doesn't mean I'm going to let you sit and feel sorry for yourself."

When Jimmy still didn't move, she stood up straight and looked him directly in the eye.

"Of course, if you prefer that I continue with my song. On the third day of Christmas …"

"All right. Stop, stop." He knew he had lost the battle and that she was prepared to stand there as long as it took, serenading him through the closed door if necessary, until he gave in. Might as well save myself some torture.

"Oh, goody," Lucy clapped her hands with exaggerated glee as Jimmy went to get his shoes. "We're going to have such fun."

"That's what I'm afraid of," he muttered as he locked the door.

"What did you say, sweetie?" Lucy asked from half way down the staircase.

"Just that I can hardly wait."

"I knew you would see it my way."

When they got to Lucy's flat she put a record on the gramophone that someone had given her and it began to blare a Christmas carol. Beside it was a stack of more records.

"Please tell me you don't have that song," Jimmy begged as he sat down at the table.

"I might," Lucy said as she gently pushed the cat off her seat and poured them both wine, "and I might not. We'll just have to wait and see."

"I'll need more wine if you do."

"Never fear, dear boy, Lucy's stock seldom runs dry." She slid a plate over to him. "Here, have some of my world famous sausage rolls. I know how much you love them."

------

Near midnight Jimmy made his way carefully up the stairs, his ears still ringing with Christmas music that Lucy never played quietly. He was tipsy more than drunk; he put it down to the sausage rolls. As he unlocked the door and entered the apartment, he smiled to himself. Maybe this is just what I needed.

He almost jumped out of his skin when, as he shut the door, the floor lamp came on and someone demanded, "And what time do you call this to be coming home?"

"Th... Thomas! What are you doing here?"

"Well, I do live here in case you've forgotten." He held open his arms. "Come and give me a Christmas hug."

Jimmy almost tripped as he stumbled across the floor and into Thomas's arms, grabbing him so tightly that he grunted."

"You're bloody home. What about Italy?"

"They cancelled the day before yesterday and asked us to come early next year. So yesterday we beat a quick retreat to the train to France, then to the ferry. We weren't sure if we would make it in time for Christmas, but we were damn well going to try."

"Shut up and kiss me, you idiot." Jimmy was almost crying with joy.

When they finally broke, Jimmy led him to the chesterfield, grabbing onto his hand and pulling him down beside him.

"I thought I was going to spend Christmas alone."

"I know, I know," Thomas's tone was apologetic, "but it couldn't be helped, you know that." He raised Jimmy's hand and kissed it. "Now you won't have to."

"You could have let me know."

"I wanted it to be a surprise so I sent Lucy a telegram from France this morning once I knew I would get here."

"I should have seen your devious hand in this," Jimmy pouted as he elbowed Thomas in the ribs. "I'll bet you told her about that damn song, too."

"Perhaps," Thomas shrugged. "You're not all that upset, are you? I mean about not knowing, not about the song."

"I guess not," Jimmy said as he leant his head against Thomas's chest.

"Well, I brought Swiss chocolate, too. Maybe that will help."

"It might. Tomorrow, though."

"Sure. And we'll go for a walk in the park, so I can bitch about Carson."

"You wouldn't miss it for the world, would you?" Jimmy asked as he sat up and draped his arms around Thomas's neck.

"No. We'll be together so I can put up with that silly duck."

"Will we force Lucy to go?"

"Sure if you want."

"Yeah, I owe her a bit of torment for tonight. I know how much she loves the cold and the snow."

"You're mean," Thomas snorted.

"Nope. Just getting my own back." Jimmy kissed Thomas's cheek. "And speaking of that, let's go to bed. There's something else I wouldn't mind getting."

He stood and pulled Thomas to his feet.

"And if you're good - you know what I mean - I'll forgive you for The Twelve Days."

"And if I'm not good?" Thomas asked as Jimmy led him towards the bedroom.

"You'll just have to keep trying until you are."

~~~ End ~~~