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The Call

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Thomas fidgeted in his chair, he was sat in the butler's office staring down the telephone. Richard has said that they should “keep in touch” so what better way than to call him? It had been a week since Richards departure from Downton and Thomas had missed him, granted they had only known eachother for a few days, but Thomas had a real connection with him, he felt like he really had a friend, well, more than a friend.

He twiddled with the silver pendant Mr. Ellis had given him before he left. He just had to call him, or at least write a letter, no, he would call.

He stood up with as much confidence as he could muster and made his way around his desk to the telephone.

“Here goes nothing.” He thought to himself.

 

He cautiously picked up the device and held it to his ear.

“Operator this is Mr. Barrow of the Grantham House please ring me Mr. Ellis in London.”

“One minute please as I process your request.”

The phone buzzed a few times in his ear before finally Richard must’ve picked up the phone.

Oh how long he had waited for this, the few days without Richard had been excruciatingly dull, he wanted to see him again, to hug him again, to kiss him again. He just missed him so much he didn’t know what to do with himself.

At last a voice spoke.

“Mrs. Ellis, whom am I speaking to?”

“Mr. Barrow of Grantham House, may I speak to Mr. Ellis?”

“I’m sorry my husband is out, I expect him back soon, shall I relay a message for you.”

Mrs. Ellis. It just clicked what she had said. Richard was married, to a woman. So he had kissed Thomas full well knowing he had a wife back home whom he loved. Was he even like Thomas? Or was he just using him as a fling on his royal tour? Now Thomas felt sick.

“This can’t be happening.”

Instead of answering, he angrily hung up the phone by slamming it back together.

He needed air.

Thomas made his way out the door, not bothering to grab his jacket, he knew it was raining but he just couldn’t care.

He stormed through the halls, making his way outside, he didn’t need to worry about the wierd looks people were giving him, he knew they wouldn’t ask questions about him, they never bothered to ask, not that it mattered to him, he was used to it.

Finally he reached the door. He pushed past it, being sure to slam it behind him.

The night air was freezing, and the rain coincided with his mood by gradually starting to pour harder. He fumbled around in his pocket for a cigarette.

“Oh great, left that in my jacket.” He thought bitterly.

His hand pulled out a small object from his pocket. The silver pendant.

He glared at the metal, how had he held it so dear just moments ago? It seemed to mock him now, it was probably just some meaningless piece of garbage that Richard handed off to him as a joke, something that Thomas would treasure and Richard could laugh about while he lived his perfect life with his pretty little wife.

Oh god how he hated Richard, he hated him so much that he could- no, he didn’t hate Richard, he still liked him. But why? He had no reason to anymore, he had every reason to not like Richard right now. But he just couldn’t, he could only remember Richards smiles, and the playful gleam he got in his eye when they were together.

“Stop, stop thinking of him please Thomas please.” He couldn’t convince himself no matter how hard he tried.

“I hate him, I hate him so much. I, I can’t hate him. No, I- love him.”

The rain masked the tears that had begun to stream down his face now.

How long had he been out in the rain? Not even he knew. Nobody had come out to see where he’d gone, but again, that wasn’t a surprise.

He just wanted to feel loved and wanted, and that’s how he felt with Richard, and now, now it was all going away, now he felt alone again. And that was a scary place to be.

He almost regretted not bringing his jacket with him, the chill of his now wet shirt was starting to sink in. But he just couldn’t find the energy to care, he felt so tired and drained all at once. He just sank onto the cobbled stones beneath him, closing his eyes to try and stop the flow of tears that kept coming, but to no avail. A heavy sob wracked through him. It was happening all over again, he had been through this too many times. Why couldn’t he just keep his feelings to himself and not fall for anyone? Why did he have to fall for almost every man that came along and then become heartbroken over something that never would’ve happened, why would it happen anyways? Who would love Thomas? The broken butler who nobody likes. Thomas didn’t even like himself, why should he have expected Richard to like him any more than that?

He was tired of being miserable, tired of crying. He just wanted a break from this lonely life.

That’s when he decided that he wouldn’t be like this anymore, no he most certainly could never be like this. He wasn’t going to be foolish and soft anymore. He was going to keep to himself and his work. His only friend would be himself and he was okay with it. His new chapter was going to start now, on these wet cobblestones.

He stood up to take one last look at the pendant that he still held in his hand. He glared at the metal. He was just about to chuck it out of sight when Mrs. Hughes voice rang through the courtyard.

“Mr. Barrow? Are you out there?”

She squinted her eyes to try and look through the rainstorm.

He lowered his arm and slid the pendant into his pocket again, then he hastily wiped his face so that it didn’t look as if he’d been crying, even with the rain masking his tears he still looked miserable.

“Yes Mrs. Hughes, I’m here.”

“There is a telephone for you, from a Mr. Ellis.”

He got that feeling again, the fleeting moment of hope that he knew would be crushed, but he was weak right now, so he didn’t stand his ground and ignore it.

“I’ll be right in.”

Mrs. Hughes retreated back inside and Thomas followed soon after. He made his way swiftly to the butlers office.

There it was, the telephone was just sitting there, mocking him. He could hear a faint voice coming through the handset.

Was he shaking from anxiety or because he was freezing? He didn’t know. He outstretched his arm and took a deep breath to calm his nerves, and steadily picked up the phone.

“Mr. Barrow speaking.”

“Thomas is it really you? Oh god how I have longed for this moment. How are you?”

Was he lying? He sounded genuine.

“I’m doing quite well, how are you? Oh and how is your wife?”

Silence on the other line.

“Yes about that, I’m so sorry you had to find out like this. Thomas I hope you can understand that to fit in and keep my job in the royal household it’s quite necessary for me to be married.”

Well that made sense, Thomas hadn’t even thought of his wife being there purely so that Richard wouldn’t be suspected of anything suspicious. His wife was there so no one would ask any questions.

Now he felt like an idiot.

“Oh, I see, then I’m afraid I’ve been quite silly again, I thought, well I don’t need to say what I thought but I’m sorry.”

“You needn’t be sorry Thomas, trust me, I would’ve told you while we were together but there wasn’t a time for it, I didn’t want to ruin any of our moments together.”

“Richard I’ve missed hearing you, it’s so dull around here now.”

“Strange, I don’t remember a single dull moment when I was there, well I suppose I was with you the whole time.”

He laughed at that, nobody ever said things like that, no one ever said that they enjoyed being around Thomas. They continued talking for a while, until there was a muffled voice coming from the other line.

“Thomas, I’m afraid I must go, there’s a royal emergency with this coat I’m working on, but please write or call again soon, and thank you again for calling.”

“I’ll be sure to, and I’ll miss you until we talk again, goodbye Richard.”

“As will I, goodbye Thomas.”

The line went dead, Thomas set the phone down and meandered to his desk and took a seat.

He pulled out the pendant again, it’s meaning had been restored, he sighed and closed his eyes. The rain could be heard pattering against the small window, he was still drenched but he still didn’t care, now he felt happy, and he just sat there, living in that feeling, composing the letters in his head that he would write to richard someday, and imagining when they would reunite, nothing at all could ruin his mood at that moment, not one single thing.