Thomas Barrow, Jimmy Kent, Downton Abbey, AU, Non-consentual touching
Title: In Vino Veritas


Jimmy groaned as he rolled onto his side. During the night he had the strangest dreams. He could only recall bits and pieces, but in at least one someone had been in bed with him and kept pushing him away whenever he tried to kiss them.

He tried to open his eyes, but his head was pounding and he decided it was too much of an effort. What the fuck happened? As the fog started to lift from his brain he began to remember. It had been the Crawleys New Year's party last night. Once a year on New Year's Eve they thought the staff of the restaurant deserved a good time. There had been speeches and he was sure he prayed that Robert would shut up.

He shifted onto his back. The liquor and wine had definitely flowed, helped by the fact that it was free. At some point he switched from wine to tequila because someone dared him to. When he licked his lips he swore he could still taste the lime. Suddenly an image flashed into his mind. Jesus, the Christmas tree! It had been left up until New Year's Day and someone acting like a whirling dervish - please, not me - had spun right into it and ended up wedged between it and the wall. Oh right, it was that busboy Molesley. He breathed a sigh of relief. At least that's one thing I won't have to apologise for.

He was sure he would have something - or more - to apologise for though. Vaguely he remembered a girl, just not who - in a dark hallway? - and trying to kiss her. That sort of explains the dream, I guess. She pushed him away, but he tried again, even managing to slide his hand Oh fuck, I didn't! Jesus, who was she? The only other thing he could recall with any clarity was her perfume; it was unusual. I'll be lucky if I'm not fired. Probably deserve it. One thing he knew was that come tomorrow he was going to face someone at work who would be out for his bollocks and definitely not in a good way

Cracking open one eye, he winced as the light hit it. I wonder what time it is. He was supposed to go to Alfred's for lunch. Reaching out his arm, he blindly groped for the bedside table and his watch. There was nothing but air. Turning on his side again he managed to get both eyes open, only to find himself staring into a standing mirror.

What the hell! He bolted upright, immediately regretting it as his head swam. When it settled he looked around the room. This isn't my bedroom! He sat for a few seconds, concentrating as he tried to figure out where he was. Suddenly he could see a taxi and being helped into it. But why didn't I go home? Easing over to the side of the bed, he swung his legs out, unsteadily getting to his feet. He looked down. And why am I naked? Glancing around the room, he spotted his clothes neatly draped over a chair and was on his way to get them when the door opened.

"All right, time to rise and shine."

Jimmy stopped dead in his tracks as Thomas Barrow walked in.

"Oh my God, Jimmy." Thomas did a quick about face. "Sorry. I thought you'd still be sleeping it off."

"Well obviously I'm not." Jimmy made a quick grab for his trousers and pulled them on, not bothering to look for his pants. "You could have knocked, you know."

"Yes, sorry."

"You've already said that," Jimmy snapped as he picked up his shirt.

"Right. Anyway, I made coffee and there's some breakfast if you're up to it." Thomas still hadn't turned back.

"We'll see. But first, where's the loo?"

"At the end of the hall," Thomas pointed as he left.

When he had finished at the toilet, Jimmy leant over the sink to splash some water on his face. Thomas Barrow of all people. They hadn't exactly hit it off when he started at Crawleys. There had been a misunderstanding that resulted in Thomas becoming a bit too free with his hands on more than one occasion. Apparently I'm a fine one to talk. After Jimmy finally set him straight by punching him, something he regretted almost immediately, they had gradually become friends.

They would spend their breaks together making fun of the other employees and customers. When they had days off at the same time, they would regularly meet for a movie or a drink. He even went to a gay bar with Thomas a few times, feeling safe that Thomas understood where he drew the line. Although he felt an odd connection to him that he had never had with anyone else, Jimmy realised there was a lot they didn't know about each other. They knew nothing about their families; they had no friends in common other than the people they worked with; they hadn't even been to each other's places. None of this was Thomas's fault. It was peculiar, but Jimmy wanted to keep a distance that he wouldn't let him bridge.

He took a towel off the rack and gave his face a good rub, hoping it would wake him. In fact it seemed to make him feel a bit better. So how the hell did I end up naked in his flat? Picking his shirt off the floor he buttoned it as he followed the aroma of coffee down the hall.

Thomas looked up from his toast when Jimmy came in, but immediately looked down again. "I poured you some coffee," he said, nodding toward the mug opposite him.

"Thanks."

"There's toast too."

"Not right now."

They were silent for a moment until Jimmy spoke.

"Why am I here?"

Thomas shrugged.

"I was the last to leave the party because I was the one who had to clear the glasses and lock up. When I got outside you were sitting on the curb. I wanted to get you a cab, but you wouldn't tell me where you lived. First you insisted you would be fine where you were, then you kept saying 'I'm sorry' before you keeled over. I wasn't going to leave you lying in the gutter, so I bundled you into my car and brought you here."

So it was a car and not a taxi. "I was supposed to get a ride with Alfred, that towering lout. What happened to him?"

"I have no idea."

Jimmy took a drink of his coffee. "I guess I should thank you," he muttered begrudgingly.

"It's all right." Thomas got up to take his plate to the sink.

"But why was I naked?"

Thomas set the plate down and gripped the edge of the sink without turning around.

"You were in your pants when I put you to bed."

"So I got up in the middle of the night and took them off?"

"I You must have."

Something in Thomas's voice and the fact he still facing away bought Jimmy up short.

"There's something you're not telling me. What is it?"

"Nothing." Thomas finally turned, but kept his look averted. "There's nothing."

From the pink that that crept up his neck, Jimmy knew he was lying.

"I'll remember eventually, Thomas." He paused. "What the hell did you do?"

Thomas's eyes snapped towards him, flashing with anger.

"And why is it me that did something, Jimmy?"

"Because that's the way you are, Thomas," Jimmy almost shouted as he slammed down his mug, splashing coffee all over the table. "I thought you had learned. I thought I could trust you." He stood up, pushing the chair back and toppling it. "Well, more fool me."

Thomas stared at him for a few seconds. When he spoke his anger was gone, replaced by sadness.

"I see. You've never got over that first few weeks. And here I thought we had become friends. Friends trust one another. Talk about fools. Well, I guess you should go." He shrugged and turned back to the sink.

"Too right." Jimmy spun on his heel and left the kitchen, stopping in the hallway. "Where's my bloody coat?"

"In the closet."

Jimmy wrenched his coat from its hanger, grabbing his scarf from a shelf. Not bothering to put either on, he opened the door of the flat, then slammed it behind him. He stood for a moment before collapsing against the wall. He could have denied it. Why didn't he? So he must have. He was still angry, but now he felt disappointed as well, in both Thomas and himself. Like Thomas, he had thought they were friends, but all it had taken for him to forget that fact was the idea that Thomas had done something inappropriate again. How could I have been so blind?

After he pulled on his coat and started down the stairs he was wrapping the scarf around his neck when he realised it wasn't his. Crap! Well, I'm not taking it back to him. Sighing deeply, he suddenly caught a whiff of the perfume from last night; he had to grab the handrail to stop himself from falling. Jesus!

That was all it took. He sank to the stairs as the memory came flooding back. It was Thomas he had tried to kiss. And tried to grab by the The dream? It wasn't a dream He didn't do anything! I climbed into bed with him. But why, why did I do any of that? He knew the last question was something he couldn't answer by himself. He got to his feet and climbed back up the stairs, hesitating only for a few seconds before he knocked.

Thomas opened the door and would have shut it in his face except Jimmy had put his foot out to block it.

"Don't. Please. I know it wasn't you. Now what I need to understand is why it was me."

Thomas hesitated then held the door open so he could come in.

~~~ End ~~~