Thomas Barrow, Jimmy Kent, Downton Abbey
Title: Christmases Yet To Come
One afternoon in early December Thomas stopped Jimmy as they passed each other in the hallway leading to the kitchen.
"Have a look around for my watch, will you Jimmy."
"Yes. Remember I broke the chain on it last week and now I've dropped the damn thing somewhere."
"Why on earth would you wear it without the chain?"
"I've always worn it, have since my mother gave it to me when I left to go into service. Foolishly I just couldn't be without it. It made it though the war. Never thought I'd just lose it around the house. I figured maybe it happened when we tried to help the hall boys stop the Christmas tree from falling over and we all ended up under it, but I didn't find it anywhere near there."
"I'll keep an eye out."
Thomas was too busy for the rest of the day to do any searching, so he had alerted everyone he could, but by the staff dinner no one had seen it. Jimmy was late, arriving just before Mr. Carson.
"Any luck with the watch, Mr. Barrow?" he asked as he sat down beside him.
"No. I guess it could be anywhere. I was going to try retracing my steps but I'm not even sure where I had been before I noticed it missing. If it doesn't show up before New Year's I'll have to buy a new one in January. Won't be the same, of course."
"Sorry. I'd hate it if I lost my mother's locket. We all like to keep a little part of our past."
"Yes. Good or bad." Thomas sighed. "Oh well, no use crying over spilt milk. Just glad I pulled my mother's picture out of it a while ago. Maybe it was a premonition."
Jimmy smiled as Thomas turned away to talk to Mrs. Hughes. A couple of years ago I would never have believed he could be sentimental. Don't think anyone would. Maybe aloof, nasty, and superior, but not sentimental. But it's surprising how things change when you really get to know someone.
Late Christmas Eve Thomas sat in his room staring into the fire. It had been a long day and he wanted nothing more than to go to bed, but he had dropped into the armchair to take off his shoes and that was as far as he got. He used to really like Christmas. Not that he ever told anyone that; nor that anyone would have cared. But now he found that, instead of looking forward to it with anticipation or excitement, it made him nostalgic for the past or for things that might have been.
He reached into the drawer beside him and pulled out a small, carved wooden box. There wasn't much in it. A cufflink that had belonged to Phillip - should have thrown that out, the bastard, a shoulder badge from Edward's uniform, Lady Sybil's earring that he had found on the floor after they had cleared out her things, a photo of his parents, himself and his younger brother just before he died, his mother's photo from the watch. Sorry about the watch, mum. His mother didn't have much money of her own, just what her father had left her, but she had used some of it to buy him the watch. 'I wanted to give you something just from me, Tommy'.
The photo was taken the Christmas just before he left home; the last time he had seen her. She had given one to his father and one to him. I think she knew. After she died, he had carefully cut out her face making it just the right size to fit the picture frame inside the front cover As he rummaged through the box, touching pieces of his past and realising that the past was all he had that mattered, there was a knock at the door.
"Thomas, it's Jimmy, can I come in?"
Thomas put the box back into the drawer and pulled the other chair closer, indicating to Jimmy to sit beside him.
"I wanted to wish you a Happy Christmas."
"Thank you, Jimmy. And you too."
They sat quietly for a moment until Jimmy reached into his robe pocket and held out a box tied with red and green ribbon.
"This is for you."
"I ... I didn't get you anything."
Jimmy shrugged. "Doesn't matter."
Thomas took it, carefully easing off the ribbons and removing the lid. He peered inside then looked up in surprise.
"This is my watch! Where did you find it?" As he lifted it out of the box, a gold watch chain came with it.
"This way you won't lose it again."
"You shouldn't have." Thomas could tell the chain was expensive and he knew Jimmy never seemed to have enough money.
"I wanted to." Jimmy blushed slightly and looked down. "Open it."
Thomas pressed the release button and the lid swung open. He looked back and forth between the watch and Jimmy.
"This is you. You gave me a photo." He sounded like he couldn't believe it.
"My, you are observant," Jimmy laughed. "It's one you can always carry with you." He held Thomas's gaze as he cautiously reached over, trailing his fingers along the back of his hand, gently tracing his scar. "Because maybe it's time to talk about something else I can finally give you."
~~ End ~~