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Harsh Reality Over False Hope

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‘Suppose I wanted to give it a try…’

Thomas glanced over at Jimmy, the duster in his hand momentarily stilled. The footman was studying a silver candelabrum with abject focus and considering Mr. Carson was going to re-inspect all his work it was only sensible Jimmy made sure there wasn’t so much as a fingerprint smudging the surface. Plus, he still had to go through roughly fifty pieces so Thomas didn’t envy him. As a head butler his duties were far less taxing though still enormously irritating half the time.

Since Mrs. Hughes was understaffed and the available maids all had their hands full some of the men were dispensed to deal with duties usually reserved for the women. Thomas was indignant at having been saddled with dusting the various knickknacks around the library shelves but at least he could suffer this injustice in the company of Jimmy. That certainly brightened up the day a little…

‘Give what a try Jimmy? Dusting?’ Thomas smirked at Jimmy’s predicted roll of eyes. He went back to dusting, holding a beautifully gilded bowl in one hand. He was willing to bet this object alone was worth all the wages he’d made since his first day of work at Downton. Some people got all the good luck…

‘No, not dusting. You know I didn’t mean dusting.’

‘But I do so love to tease you.’ Thomas caught himself a moment later and realised how implicit that comment could sound from someone like him. He and Jimmy were on good grounds, best friends really, since he’d taken a beating in his stead. He didn’t want to ruin that now. He glanced wearily in Jimmy’s direction but the other didn’t seem to have heard him which was a relief.

‘It’s just a thought I had, stupid really. I just keep remembering what my mother told me once, that we should try everything at least once in our lives…’ Thomas could tell Jimmy was trying to get at something and he didn’t rush the lad. Whatever had him twisted in knots must be out of the ordinary indeed since Jimmy didn’t strike him as a particularly cautious sort.

‘Your mother sounds like a smart woman.’

‘She was. I miss her sometimes, you know.’ A thick silence fell over the room for a while after that. Thomas was not particularly close to his family, on account of his preferring the company of men to women, so he understood on some level what Jimmy felt. Still, it was one thing to have living parents who despised you versus dead ones. Dead was dead after all, for better or for worse.

‘So this thought….’ Thomas only had a few more objects to dust and he had a feeling that if he didn’t get to the root of the matter now Jimmy wouldn’t bring it up again. Truth be told, he was curious and he wanted to know. Maybe he could help…

‘Right! Is it good? Sleeping with a man I mean?’ Thomas was so startled he dropped the priceless globe in his hand. Through some saving grace the crystal fell on a pillow and escaped unscathed. Thomas spared a second to panic, breathe in relief and silently offer a prayer of gratitude to whatever deity watched over him, before he turned to gawk at Jimmy. The footman was on his feet, having jumped up when he saw the globe fall, not that he could have done anything about it.

‘Wh-What?!’ Jimmy relaxed a little though Thomas couldn’t imagine doing that now. Not with their current topic of conversation!

‘I’m just curious. There must be some enjoyment when you…you know… or else why would you risk your freedom and your soul for it. So is it good then?’ Thomas kept blinking, somehow hoping the words would rearrange themselves and the world would continue spinning once more.

‘You should see your face right now. You look like a fish out of water.’ Jimmy chuckled and picked up the silverware again.

‘Damn straight I do! You can’t just ask something like that and expect me to act like everything’s normal. Why do you want to know anyway?’

‘Like I said, I’m thinking of giving it a try. Just once mind you. I wanted to know what I might be in for before I made any decisions.’

‘For God’s sake man! You’re talking about it like you’re wondering what you should eat for supper! Have you any idea how this makes me feel?’ Jimmy seemed surprised by this and Thomas’ stricken expression seemed to unnerve him further.

‘Why are you so upset? I wouldn’t mind telling you what it’s like to be with a woman so what’s the big deal?’ Thomas looked like he was on the verge of tears though he refused to let it show past the shine of his eyes.

‘Except you being with a woman is normal, it’s not a crime or a sin or a permanent stain on your character! Being this way is not something you try. It’s not a choice you make if you have any other and saying otherwise is probably the worst thing you’ve ever said to me.’ Jimmy had the decency to look horrified. He left the table with the silver and moved closer to Thomas who looked miserable.

‘I’m sorry Thomas, I didn’t think…. I didn’t mean to make light of your burden. I don’t understand how someone like you thinks or what you’ve had to go through. I just meant… I don’t have an interest of that sort in other men but I like you. I don’t think of you like I do other men… You know what, forget I ever said anything. This whole thing was stupid and embarrassing so let’s pretend it never happened.’ He made to turn away but Thomas reached out and grabbed his arm.

‘Do you mean that?’ Jimmy glanced at the hard grip, fighting the instinct to yank himself free, before he stared deep into Thomas’ pleading eyes. Usually he saw the devil inside the man which made him such a fun sport to have around but in that moment all he saw was a great deal of loneliness and pain. It pulled at Jimmy’s heartstrings.

‘I do. I really, really do.’

‘Is something the matter here gentlemen?’ Mr. Carson’s gruff voice served as the most effective shock to reality imaginable. The two jumped away from each other and turned guiltily towards the door where a very stern Carson stood. Thomas and Jimmy straightened up, trying their darndest not to let the guilt show on their faces.

‘No Mr. Carson. Nothing is the matter here.’ Thomas answered, easily sliding back into his butler persona. He’d had years of practice though even with all the scandals and tricky situations he’d been caught in, this one still ranked among the top five.

‘That’s good to hear. It looks to me like you are quite done here Mr. Barrow. Perhaps you can dust the vases in the other rooms now. You can carry on James. I will come by shortly to inspect your work.’ Carson turned to leave and he obviously expected Thomas to follow.

‘Come to my room tonight.’ Thomas whispered the words urgently so just Jimmy would hear before he fell into step with the older man, his thoughts racing.

***

The knock was expected but when it came it still set Thomas’ heart racing. He’d been pacing from one corner of the tiny room to the other like a madman. He’d finished his duties earlier than Jimmy which was a curse more than a blessing. It just gave him more time to be tortured by his thoughts. Their previous conversation was playing over and over on a loop but he still dared not hope.

He’d travelled down that path before and Jimmy had been so repulsed… The memory alone crushed him. Surely the young man was just out for a thrill or maybe he’d made a bet with Alfred at his expense but the ridiculous thing was that he was willing to take even that breadcrumb of affection. He was a thirsty man in the dessert and Jimmy was offering a drop of water.

‘Come in.’ Jimmy slipped inside and the two stood facing each other, all of a sudden unable to form the simplest coherent sentence.

‘So, here I am, because you told me to not for any other reason!’

‘Stop backtracking Jimmy. You said one thing the first time I made my attraction known, then you claim to actually share it and now you’re saying there’s no reason for your being here. Just stop and make your meaning clear. Please.’

‘I don’t…. I don’t know how to make something I don’t know myself clear!’ Thomas flinched at the sudden show of anger and Jimmy regretted it immediately. Thomas was a proud man, even vain to some extent, and to see him look so…vulnerable was strange. Jimmy was one of the few out there who understood most of the things Thomas did weren’t entirely out of spite but because he was hurting inside. It was his only shield against a world which didn’t bother to know him before they hated him. Perhaps understanding this was why Jimmy managed to carry on a genuine friendship with Thomas when so few others had in the past.

‘Oh to hell with it!’

Jimmy closed the distance between them, reached for the lapels of Thomas shirt and pulled them together. Thomas was too awed to realise Jimmy’s lips were pressed against his, firm and passionate and everything he dreamed they’d be. He wasn’t sure what to do so he followed Jimmy’s example and turned into the skid. He returned the kiss with vigour, opening his mouth to the invading tongue and tangled the two verbal muscles in a sensual dance as old as time. A kiss such as this would be considered vulgar and no respectable lady would ever engage in it but what they were going to do that night would be as far from respectable as possible.

When Thomas pulled away to gasp for air he noticed that half the buttons of his shirt were already undone and his jacket was pushed down his shoulders. He caught Jimmy’s eye, looking desperately for any hint of disgust and when he saw none he knew Jimmy wasn’t playing him for a fool. Thomas felt positively delirious and he wondered if he wasn’t actually caught in some pleasant dream. Surely the Sandman wouldn’t be so unbearably cruel….

Jimmy came in for another kiss and Thomas was all too happy to receive him. He felt hands push his coat and shirt down his arms and he was led backwards towards the bed. When he reached the iron rail he let himself be pushed on his back and looked with open lust up as Jimmy nearly ripped the shirt off his own back. Mr. Carson would have a fit if he ever saw the prestigious uniform treated with such disregard.

Thomas hadn’t felt the warmth of another body on top of his since he’d been betrayed by the Duke of Crowborough and he was starved for attention. He was happy Jimmy seemed to be just as eager because he doubted he had the patience to take this slowly and do it properly. His back arched when Jimmy started kissing other parts of his exposed skin besides his mouth. He felt the demanding lips on his throat and along his jaw. He felt them on his collar bone and shoulders and briefly even on a nipple. Jimmy seemed surprised to find that particular spot made Thomas shiver. Suddenly Jimmy stopped and when Thomas glanced over to see what the problem was he saw the most adorably confounded look on the other man’s face.

‘What’s wrong? Did you… Did you change your mind?...’ The idea was torture to Thomas but he wasn’t going to force Jimmy into anything he wasn’t comfortable with. He wasn’t that sort of monster.

‘No! It’s the other thing actually… I don’t really know what to do next.’ Thomas couldn’t help it, he laughed. It didn’t go down well with Jimmy who glared daggers at him. Like most men he was awfully vein about his prowess as a man and any insult to it was a blow to his overinflated pride.

‘Don’t worry about that you dolt. I’ll take care of it all.’ Jimmy didn’t look entirely convinced but he did look relieved. Once more at ease, he returned to nipping and sucking at any available patch of Thomas’ skin which took his fancy. At some point Thomas trod his fingers through the blond curls and Jimmy loved it. He’d always preferred a feisty partner in the sack.

Thomas took advantage of his hold and pulled Jimmy up for another hungry kiss before he suddenly mounted him. The younger footman was flabbergasted and Thomas noticed a hint of dread in his inquisitive eyes. Thomas resisted the urge to roll his eyes, obviously seeing the source of the other’s discomfort.

‘Stop fretting Jimmy. It doesn’t become you.’

‘I’m not fretting! I’ve just never been the one on my back before.’ Thomas raised Jimmy’s hand to his lips and placed a soft kiss on the back of it. He relished how the other’s pupils dilated at the sight.

‘And you don’t have to start now. I’m not going to do anything which will put you ill at ease but I will make you feel pleasure so heavenly you will never look at another woman again.’

‘I’ll take you up on that challenge.’

‘Good.’ The time for talking was over and both men couldn’t be happier with that.

Jimmy had been affectionate in his ministrations but it was clear he was new to touching a man like that but Thomas had far more experience. Jimmy found himself swept up in a wave of intense pleasure which was entirely new to him. Women so rarely took the time to pleasure a man since they assumed it should be the other way around and Jimmy had never realised what he was missing. Now he finally understood why his previous partners were so insistent on him taking his time with lavishing kisses and teasing.

He felt a thug on the waistband of his trousers and he raised his upper frame on his elbows so he could see better. He’d heard about this and Jimmy was very interested to find out if it lived up to all the talk but he’d never managed to convince a woman to engage in fellatio before. They seemed to think the act entirely too vulgar but the way Thomas looked at his cock, with such open hunger, gave him hope. He didn’t think he’d be so aroused to see another man’s mouth stretched around his length but the way Thomas’ cheeks hollowed, sucked and bobbed around the member was enough to nearly send him over the edge.

‘Enough!’ Thomas let the slickened cock fall out of his mouth and the obscene wet sound drew a groan out of Jimmy. ‘Bloody hell Thomas, you’re way too good at doing that.’

‘Then why did you stop me? You aren’t satisfied yet.’

‘Isn’t it obvious? If you keep going I’ll be spent and exhausted before we get to do much of anything. You’re fantastic at… doing what you were doing, but I want more.’

‘How could I possibly resist such sweet words?’

Thomas removed the rest of his clothes and Jimmy did likewise, leaving the two men naked as the day they were born. Jimmy took a moment to admire the sight. It was hard to tell because of the butler uniform but Thomas was quite well built with muscles in all the right places so he looked both powerful and lithe. There was something very elegant about him, almost delicate, but not in a feminine way. Jimmy doubted he’d ever be able to look at Thomas again without thinking of the body he was hiding under all the layers of clothes.

‘This next part is the biggest hurdle…’ Thomas looked ill at ease which had Jimmy worried.

‘What is it? Surely this isn’t your first time?’ That actually got a laugh out of Thomas.

‘No, it’s not that. It’s just that if I want to walk right tomorrow I have to make some preparations before you…’ He trailed off and it took the other man a second to catch on.

‘Oh! Well, do those preparations hurt?’ As an after taught Jimmy added, ‘We don’t have to go that far tonight, if you don’t want.’ But it was clear his mind was set on it. Thomas sucked in a breath through tightly pressed lips.

‘It doesn’t hurt but it’s embarrassing. I need to…um, stretch. If the idea disgusts you, you should look away until I’m done.’

‘Don’t be daft. I said I wanted more so I’m not looking at anything except you this evening. I’m not completely ignorant… I asked around town, very discreetly obviously, so I knew the steps. At least in theory.’ Thomas didn’t know whether to be flattered or horrified. He settled on a bit of both…

‘All right but don’t tell me later I didn’t warn you.’ Thomas still didn’t look entirely relaxed as he reached under the mattress and when he brought his hand back up there was a small container in it. Jimmy would have asked about it but he didn’t want to set Thomas on edge any further. Instead he leaned in and kissed the butler on the mouth until he felt the last of the tension leave the man.

If it had been anyone other than Thomas, Jimmy doubted he would have gone through with it but even though the things he was doing to himself made him cringe he also found the show quite stimulating. He especially loved the way pleasure began twisting Thomas’ features after a few thrusts of his fingers. He couldn’t and he probably never will be able to understand how another man could thrust anything up that place and find pleasure in it but he couldn’t deny that some part of him found the sight of Thomas degrading himself in such a profane manner exciting. Perhaps he was more like Thomas than he was ready to admit but those were thoughts to ponder later.

‘I think I’m ready. I can’t wait much longer…’ Jimmy was going stir crazy himself so when Thomas appealed to him with such a sweetly pleading voice he jumped at the opportunity.

Jimmy drew Thomas close and pushed him on his back again. Was this the way he was supposed to do it? Did two men make love the same as a woman and a man? Before his thoughts could trip him up further, Thomas crossed his arms behind his neck and pulled him down for a demanding, impatient tangle of their tongues. He felt Thomas’ hand guide the head of his cock to the same place which had been filled by three long fingers moments ago and Jimmy push inside the tight heat. Thomas’ body squeezed his member like no woman’s twat ever could and Jimmy had to take a moment to remember he still had to breathe.

They lost themselves in the primal act after that. The only sense they still retained was to keep quiet but short of that they were overtaken by their passion. The sound of skin against skin and lips against skin and moans and groans was all so sensual it really wasn’t a big surprise when their climax drowned both of them. While they waited for their pulses to return to normal they continued exchanging soft kisses, far less passionate than the earlier ones but far more meaningful.

‘It’s too bad your bed is so small. We can barely fit on it, even pressed against one another like sardines in a can.’ Thomas’ usually impeccably styled hair was messy and falling across his forehead every which way. Jimmy found the sight endearing and he absent mindedly began sweeping it out of his eyes.

‘I suppose you could always bring up the point with Mr. Carson.’

‘Yeah right! I like my head on my shoulders if you don’t mind.’

‘So, was it what you expected? Being intimate with a man?’ Thomas couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this content. He hadn’t realised how much he’d missed having a lover even if his choices condemned him to a life of secrecy and sneaking.

‘No, it was way better. I confess, I thought you’d have to be mad to enjoy doing that with another man but now I think I get it. Maybe if others tried it they would be less judgemental.’ Thomas shook his head sadly. Sometimes he really resented the time he was born in. He could only hope the future would be brighter for his kind…

‘I can’t imagine conservative men like his Lordship or Mr. Carson seeing eye to eye with you on that matter.’

‘Hm… Speaking of which, I think I should go and get some sleep before Carson starts making his morning rounds.’ Jimmy rose and began getting dressed, leaving Thomas to follow his movements with sad eyes.

‘I suppose you’re right. Goodnight Jimmy.’ Thomas hated how small and needy his voice sounded. He got out of this bargain more than he could have ever dreamed and it was totally unreasonable to lament what he could never have. Still, he wished he could spend just one night in the embrace of a lover without the constant fear of discovery handing over his neck….

‘Goodnight Thomas and thanks. This was great.’ Jimmy left the room with a spring in his step and Thomas slowly began changing into his night clothes.

For the young footman this was a dalliance, just another fun activity he could boast of having tried at least once before he died. For him, it was a life sentence. Thomas had an inkling Jimmy might pay him more visit in the dark hours of the night and he would happily open his legs to him on all such occasions but he wasn’t soft in the head. Optimism had never been his strong suit and he didn’t see romance on the horizon for the two of them.

Finally he slipped under the blanket, tired and caught between joy and despair. He hoped the morning would bring about some clarity to the whole situation but he knew better than to dream. It was always better to face harsh reality than hold onto false hope.