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Bits & Pieces

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Picture: The corners were worn from handling, and they were only standing next to each other, but it contented Thomas every time to see them together.

Victory: Absurdly, when Jimmy’s lips seal over his own, all he can think is I was right.

Defeat: Sure, Thomas knew he’d let himself be goaded into it, but that fact made Jimmy’s squirming discomfort at breakfast no less satisfying.

Neutral: “I suppose you… can’t help what you like,” Jimmy offered cautiously.

Bias: He much preferred bias when it went in his own favor, Jimmy thought, polishing silver under Mr. Carson’s watchful eye.

Balcony: “Please, I just don’t care for heights,” Jimmy begs, beckoning him away from the edge.

Formal: Thomas wears a crisp, perfect uniform every day; seeing him with his tie loosened and hair disheveled turns Jimmy’s knees to jelly.

Death: Jimmy shouldn’t think ill of a dead man, but to hell with it, Edward Courtenay broke Thomas just a little.

God: Thomas drew a fifth orgasm from his poor wrecked boyfriend and thanked God for hair-trigger prostates.

Life: Jimmy makes him feel alive in ways he’d forgotten after years of service and monotony.

Gentle: “Nice and slow, that’s right,” Thomas croons into his ear as Jimmy eases into him.

Fever: “It’s usually you taking care of me, isn’t it?” Jimmy said, placing a blessedly cool hand on his forehead.

Hell: Occasionally, as now, Jimmy is plagued by the thought, but he pushes it aside and rolls over to respond to Thomas’s wandering hands.

Coffee: “Double espresso for Thomas?” called the most beautiful barista he’d ever seen.

Book: “‘…seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of lute,’” Thomas read aloud, though Jimmy had drifted off some time ago.

Question: Jennie screwed up her face at Theresa and demanded, “But what would two women even do?”

Market: “And what a shock, the man you tried to buy black market goods from cheated you,” he laughed, much to Thomas’s displeasure.

Head: The train rolled along, and Jimmy’s head drooped lower and lower before finally coming to rest on Thomas’s shoulder.

Blood: Thomas applies pressure to the drenched towels against Jimmy’s wrists and says see, there, you’ll be all right in his most soothing tone, but they both know better.

Breaking: “Breaking news out of Italy this morning,” Thomas begins in that smarmy camera voice Jimmy hates, so he puts his boyfriend on mute as usual.

Comfort: Thomas didn’t answer but curled up behind Jimmy, an arm around his waist and chin on his shoulder.

Hair: Jimmy made an aborted motion toward Thomas’s tidy black hair but at the last moment wisely grabbed at the grass beneath them instead.

Birthday: The minute hand finally ticks over to midnight and Thomas murmurs sleepily in his ear, “Happy birthday, my love.”

Blessing: Mrs. Hughes immediately turned on her heel and walked out, calling over her shoulder, “My goodness, I have suddenly gone blind.”

Sarcasm: Jimmy had noticed that he used it to hurt other people and to make Jimmy laugh.

Balloon: “Do you think I’m ten years old?” he asks, but he clutches the red balloon Thomas bought him for the rest of the day.

Fire: Thomas left his tent for the night, pulling off his turban and rubbing kohl from his eyes, and he hurried over to the fire-eaters’ stage to see this new boy that the kootchie-show girls had been squealing about.

Stupidity: “That’s just about the only part of this that isn’t illegal,” Jimmy says, but he allows Thomas to coax him into another kiss anyway.

Lies: “I’m not sure I remember how to wind the clocks properly, Mr. Barrow, could you show me again?”

Foot: “You hurt yourself in the strangest ways,” Thomas chided as he wrapped the bandage around the arch of Jimmy’s foot.

Blur: One last look at Jimmy blurred his eyes with tears, so Thomas allowed them to close as the car pulled away.

Potatoes: Thomas poked doubtfully at the oddly lumpy mash Jimmy had produced and forced a smile of encouragement.

Innocence: “My mother was a midwife,” Jimmy grumbled, “and let me tell you, not a damned stork in sight.”

History: Professor Barrow shook his head, exhaling another stream of smoke, and responded almost pityingly, “Jimmy, there is more to queer history than people being beaten up and killed.”

Child: Thomas squeezed the baby’s chubby little palm and felt horribly, miserably cheated.

Cover: They squash in together for a smoke break, hiding from the bite of tiny hailstones under the dubious shelter of the overhang.

Hero: Thomas doesn’t have the heart to tell him that he finds Rudolph Valentino entirely too effeminate.

Hurricane: The upside was that howling wind and lashing rain provided excellent cover noise.

Wood: Thomas adjusted himself brazenly, meeting Jimmy’s eyes and making heat rise in his cheeks.

Wings: “I’m not an angel, I mean, I don’t think…” Jimmy trailed off, retracting his massive wingspan anxiously.

Sex: Thomas grinned back at Jimmy from across the room and tried not to think how long it had been.

Command: Both Jimmy and Jimmy’s penis jumped to attention.

Precious: Thomas has long since come to terms with that nasty episode with the Duke, but Jimmy’s outrage is nonetheless very dear to him.

Flying: A powerful gust of wind threatened to knock him from his seat, so Jimmy locked his knees around the broom and his arms around Thomas.

Chocolate: Thomas gives Jimmy’s finger another lick, though by now any trace is certainly gone.

Gift: “No, no, they’re beautiful,” he whispers reverently, fingers tracing over meticulously drawn sketches.

Breathing: Thomas’s hand closed around his cock, and Jimmy’s breath went ragged against his shoulder.

Cold: “Keep complaining and at least your backside will be plenty warm,” Thomas retorted.

Ring: Thomas scrolls through the story of something or other terrible happening in Syria, and his free hand idly toys with Jimmy’s nipple ring.

Pretty: Jennie was less of a ball-buster than O’Brien had been, and far prettier, and she obviously fancied him to boot, and sometimes Thomas wondered if perhaps he should just have done with it and take the nearest thing to love he was likely to get.

Drive: “Wherever you’d like to go,” Thomas agreed, easing back against the shining black Bentley.

War (1): The white-faced medic packs Jimmy’s head wound with gauze and looks every bit as frightened as Jimmy feels.

Confusion: “But it’s not just men, I’ve never felt that way about anyone,” Jimmy confessed.

Soliloquy: It was rude of Thomas to pay more attention to Shylock’s yammering than Jimmy’s hand on his thigh; he would have to try somewhere a little more stimulating.

Dance: “So,” Jimmy said slyly, “I’ve been told you know the Grizzly Bear.”

Wall: To put it plainly, the walls just weren’t that thick, and it was only so long that the staff could be expected to overlook the frequent sessions of rhythmic thumping and badly-stifled moans before something had to be done.

Body: He watches the golden stretch of Jimmy’s body as he dresses.

Earth: A lot of people thought pilots were all careless, sloppy drunks, but Barrow was a true professional; he waited not just until the plane had touched down but all the way back to his flat before clearing the coffee table with a sweep of his arm and bending his flight attendant over it.

Drink: “Not a drop this time,” Jimmy is hasty to assure him as they near the fairgrounds.

Strength: “Well, at least this time it’s not Molesley outdoing me,” Jimmy groused.

Duty: Thomas dragged himself out of bed to shovel the path to the cottage, having ordered Jimmy to perform the equally important duty of making sure the bed stayed warm.

Grave: “That’s because I’ve nothing to say about him,” Jimmy growled, glaring down at the headstone.

War (2): “I’m glad you did it,” Jimmy said fiercely, pressing a kiss to Thomas’s left hand.

Hollow: Thomas goes to the wedding and smiles in the right places and makes polite conversation with the new bride and feels himself curdling inside.

Lightning: “Did you see that last one?” he crowed, delighted, and Thomas nodded and grinned back, though he’d never taken his eyes off Jimmy’s face.

New: Thomas scrutinizes the new bed-slave, sparing a lingering look for the “C” freshly branded on the boy’s shoulder blade.

Wind: Jimmy is running toward him, screaming something at the top of his lungs, but the sound is carried away on the screeching, tearing winds.

Forever: Thomas may have been planning out the rest of their lives together, but Jimmy had already started feeling a little itchy at Downton.

Hunger: Thomas pushed the last of his rations toward Jimmy and lied, “I’m not hungry.”

Kiss: Sweating and panting, Jimmy turned around to see Thomas watching him with a furrowed brow, but before Jimmy could voice the what…? on his lips, Thomas surged forward to kiss him.

Green: Thomas starts when he enters his room to find Jimmy curled on the floor, distraught and sobbing out, “Please, I need your help, I didn’t know where else to go.”

Smirk: Jimmy believes that beating your lover is wrong, so he settles for wiping the smug smirk off Thomas’s face by other means.

Completion: Jimmy beams up at him, wiping his chin eagerly, and says, “I’ll bet I can get it all next time!”

Jousting: He stops pretending to charge Thomas down with a baguette as soon as Mr. Carson steps into the hall, but at that point, the damage has been done.

Jewel: “No, not for all the jewels in the crown,” Thomas said, kissing Jimmy on the forehead.

Ice: The rent boy had refused to give his name or take any food, but he did allow Thomas to ice his painfully swollen eye.

Jealousy: Thomas, she’s a cat, you’re being ridiculous, Jimmy had told him, but oh, Thomas knew that nasty little creature was having the last laugh, purring on Jimmy’s lap, kneading his leg with her claws, her smug, evil eyes blinking slowly up at Thomas.

Secret: Jimmy clutches his daughter to his chest and stammers out, “I wasn’t truthful with you; I’m not really on my own.”

Name: “As you like, Mr. Barrow,” he murmured into his ear, and Thomas shivered.

Hide: Jimmy made a noise which might have been mfargl and pulled the covers up over his head.

Music: It had been only four minutes after flashing his backstage pass that he’d dumped Sarah on the dickhead frontman, Bates, and less than an hour afterwards he had Jimmy goddamn Kent, keyboardist and his personal fucking fetish object, bouncing on his cock like he was born for it.

Snow: Thomas looked up at the sound of his name and received a snowball in the face for his trouble.

Technology: When Dorothy opens her door and steps into Oz, Jimmy’s face lights up as wonderfully as anything on the screen.

Motion: T-H-O-M-A-S, Jimmy fingerspells, moving slowly enough for Thomas to follow.

Speed: They kissed frantically, Jimmy’s neck craned backwards to meet him, Thomas’s hand moving around Jimmy’s cock in rapid strokes, and when he couldn’t wait any longer Thomas shoved Jimmy’s legs together to fuck his thighs.

Midnight: Alfred had grown accustomed to Jimmy slipping out late at night, only to return an hour or two later, and he’d decided that, really, he did not want to know.

Taste: Of course, it was really the texture and not the taste that Jimmy objected to, and it was true that the tie was useful for muffling his moans.

Wasteland: Thomas looks out at the bleak landscape visible from Downton and pulls Jimmy more tightly against him.

Touch: She was a bit too old for him to consider seriously, but that never stopped him from touching himself and thinking about Miss Barrow’s long fingers and lovely mouth.

Vision: Jimmy cradled Thomas’s head in his hand, ready to listen to whatever nightmare was tormenting him tonight, whenever Thomas was ready to tell it.

Tears: “You’re overwhelmed, it’s normal,” Thomas whispered, wiping his knuckles across Jimmy’s red cheeks.

Silence: Thomas has been nearly catatonic for weeks, and Jimmy has taken to chattering nonstop to fill the horrible silence.

Snakes: Jimmy’s fingers hovered nervously over the ouroboros tattooed at his hip.

Bonds: Thomas shook his head slowly, and Jimmy snapped, “So what exactly is keeping us here?”

Whiskey and Rum: It takes less than he would have thought before Jimmy is hauling him roughly into the hall closet and undoing his trousers.

Weddings: Thomas’s voice wavers just slightly, “I know it wouldn’t be legal, but it would mean something to me.”

Water: The bathwater sloshed as Jimmy moved to lean on the lip of tub, watching Thomas peel off his uniform.

Telephone: Jimmy shot a suspicious glance up and down the hallway before hissing, “It’s been dreadful here without you, you know.”

Waltz: Jimmy winks at him over Lady Mary’s shoulder, and Thomas feels, for a brief, warm moment, like he is dancing with Jimmy in her place.

Peace: Anna wasn’t sure she entirely approved, but you couldn’t deny that things were much more peaceful in the house when Thomas was happy.