Things had been progressing nicely for Button House in the year following Sam and Clare’s wedding. They had had several more, which had all gone without a hitch. Well, mostly. Thomas had been getting even more romantic with each passing wedding. His poetry production had increased tenfold, and had he not been a ghost, he would have worn a patch in his window seat for all the hours he sat there musing.
There was one positive, though. As passionate as he was getting, less and less of his affections were being directed towards Alison. After the ‘kiss’ at Christmas, Thomas seemed to be happy for them to truly pass into the sphere of friendship. And for that, Alison was more than grateful.
She was working in the garden one afternoon, taking advantage of the glorious summer sunshine. Since the bomb incident, she had been developing quite the green thumb; her plants were tantamount to her children at that point. Thomas sat on the newly painted garden bench with his face turned towards the sky.
“Alison, may I ask you a question?”
“Sure,” Alison said, wiping some dirt off her jeans.
“I noticed a hanging in your room-”
“Thomas, what have I said about going in there?”
He had the decency to look sheepish at that, “Well, I wasn’t… Kitty wanted me to play hide-and-seek, so I…”
Alison chuckled and stood up from her spot by the flowerbeds, throwing herself down onto the bench next to Thomas. She deserved a break after a hard day’s work, she told herself, looking around the garden with a satisfied smile.
“It’s fine, I’m pulling your leg. Actually, it’s really nice that you’re playing with Kitty,” Thomas beamed at that, “Anyway, you were saying?”
“The hanging in your room, the one over the fireplace.” He looked over at her, squinting slightly in the sun, “It looks like some sort of flag, though I do not recognise it.”
“Oh, that. Well, it’s kind of a flag. It’s a bi pride flag.”
Thomas raised an eyebrow, “I can’t say I know what that means.”
“Bisexual, you know what means, right?” Thomas shook his head, “Oh, well…”
Alison had no idea how to begin explaining this to a 300-year-old ghost; they tended to be unreceptive to modern ideas like that. But then, Alison saw how cheerful Thomas was at Sam and Clare’s wedding. Unlike Fanny, he honestly didn’t seem to care that they were both women.
“Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, I love Mike obviously, and I’ve dated other men in the past, but I like women too. I would date a woman, haven’t had the chance to yet, though.”
Thomas gasped and the sparkle in his eyes could not entirely be down to the brightness of the day, “You feel for women as I do?”
“Well, not as-” Alison waved her hands in the air vaguely; she wasn’t sure there was a strong enough word for how Thomas felt towards women, “But yeah.”
“Do you harbour feelings for Lady Rachel too?”
Alison chuckled. Thomas had taken it upon himself recently to rewatch the entirety of Friends by himself. He managed it in a week and fell more in love with Rachel than he already was. Many a terrible poem had been dedicated to her since.
“She was one of my awakenings, but I’m a Monica girl mostly.”
“Ah yes, Lady Monica, she is very fine also,” Thomas said with a nod of understanding. He fell silent for a moment, his eyes trained towards the ground, but his thoughts were clearly far away.
Alison glanced sideways at him, “Are you okay?”
Thomas cleared his throat and turned to her, “Say if I were…”
“Yes,” He paused, studying Alison for a moment, “Would that be… okay?”
“Oh, Thomas. Yeah, of course. I mean, you saw Sam and Clare, right?”
“Well, yes, but women were always- It’s just not something men were allowed to be in my day. I was rather under the impression that was still the case.” His gaze returned to the ground.
Alison nudged her shoulder against his, remembering too late that he was, in fact, a ghost. He retched at the contact and she knew she’d never get used to not being able to touch them.
“Sorry,” Alison said with a wince, “Anyway, it’s legal now, and most people accept it. I do, obviously. Bit hypocritical if I didn’t.”
Thomas looked up at her. The smile on his face was warm and genuine.
A comfortable silence fell over the garden. Both of them felt relaxed in the heat of the sun, the vibrant colour of the day and the air of acceptance that arched between them.
“So… men, huh?”
Thomas chuckled, “Men, indeed. Joey in particular is very handsome.”
“Joey? Tribbiani?” Alison asked, an amused smile playing on her lips. She would not have thought he’d be Thomas’s type if asked to guess.
Thomas glanced at her, “Do you… mock me, Lady Alison?” He pressed a hand to his heart with a theatrical gasp, before they both collapsed into giggles.
“No, I’m only teasing. I had a big, and I mean big, thing for him too. Anyone else taken your fancy?”
Thomas fell pensive for a moment, leaving Alison wondering if she’d overstepped the line.
“Not as of late, but there was… someone when I was alive. I met him at a party. He was a true Adonis; Michelangelo could not have painted someone finer,” He sighed wistfully and shifted in his seat so that he was almost facing Alison head-on, “From that moment, I’d always known I was, well, different.”
“Did it go anywhere?” Alison asked tentatively.
“Alas, no. He was married, you see. It was a passionate affair whilst it lasted, on my part at least. I never allowed him to be privy to my feelings. It was a shame, really. He… he went on to marry again, and died far too young,” Thomas cleared his throat and Alison wished she could put her arm around him. For a moment, he looked so small in the blanket of his memories. It was a look she had seen far too often from her housemates and she wished she could comfort them in some way.
“He became rather famous after that, actually, so perhaps the tragedy was a good thing.” He flashed Alison a weak smile. She knew he was trying to be brave.
“I tell you what,” She said, thinking on her feet, “I’ve pretty much finished out here for the day, so why don’t we go watch something while the others are busy? Your choice, of course.”
Thomas perked up instantly, “Pride and Prejudice?”
“I knew you had a thing for Colin Firth.”
“Nonsense, I can appreciate a fine man’s figure, Alison,” Thomas said, but his grin was wide.
Alison rolled her eyes, “Come on then, if we’re quiet, we might not have Kitty following us.”