Thomas feels a nervous excitement in his body. Today is the annual cricket match, and Richard has come to visit and join the team.

When the time finally comes to head down to the pitch, Thomas, Richard, and the other men hang back to get ready.

Once everyone is settled, they prepare to walk down to the pitch. Richard and Thomas walk together, discussing various trivial subjects but obtaining enormous pleasure nonetheless.

Thomas is concerned about Mr. Carson's presence, but he is anticipating witnessing Richard's cricket skills in action. Richard tells Thomas that he is not a very good cricket player, but with Richard's modesty about everything, Thomas is certain that is not the case.

And, of course, Thomas is right. The game gets underway, and Richard plays brilliantly. No one was able to come up to Thomas's run record before, but Richard now comes very close, surprising everyone.

When Richard comes to the sideline for a break, Thomas corners him.

"You said you weren't a good cricket player." Thomas accuses mockingly.

"No, I said I wasn't a very good cricket player." Richard corrects, smiling broadly.

"Such precise cheek." Thomas teases, taking Richard's hand under the pretense of picking up the bat.

"Oh, that reminds me. I have someone I want you to meet officially." Thomas tells Richard.

"Lead the way." Richard replies.

Thomas leads Richard over to Mr. Carson, who is momentarily sitting alone while his wife has gone to clarify some details.

"Mr. Carson! What a pleasure to see you! I hope you are in good health." Thomas greets Mr. Carson enthusiastically.

Mr. Carson looks very skeptical at Thomas's concern for Mr. Carson's health and Thomas's rather over-the-top enthusiasm. Mr. Carson knows that Thomas is excellent at cricket, but something seems rather odd today.

Mr. Carson's eyes land on Richard, who is standing politely beside Thomas. The man looks rather familiar, but Mr. Carson cannot quite place why.

"Yes, I am. Thank you. Who are you?" Mr. Carson asks Richard without a semblance of tact.

"Richard Ellis, sir. We met during the royal visit. I am one of two valets to the King." Richard answers respectfully.

"He is my friend, and he has come to visit." Thomas adds.

Mr. Carson raises his eyebrows. Doubtless he has the worst thoughts about Richard now, assuming all kinds of things. Sometimes it seems he simply wants to make Thomas miserable.

"Why didn't I see you? We saw the majority of the royal staff when Their Majesties were here." Mr. Carson asks.

"The King did not need me for that night, as I had completed all necessary tasks beforehand. My parents live in York, so His Majesty gave me leave to visit them on the night that the royals were here." Richard explains.

"I was also surplus to requirement, according to Lady Mary." Thomas looks pointedly at Carson. "So I decided to join Mr. Ellis in York for a drink. I might add that Richard made the phone call by which the footmen were called away in York, so you might thank him for that."

"Ah, yes. Thank you for that. Despite being treasonous, it was an honor to serve Their Majesties." Carson seems to soften just slightly.

"The royal household, servants especially, tend to stage a bit of an invasion. It was a pleasure to give you that opportunity. And jolly good fun, I might add." Richard smiles at Thomas.

Mr. Carson glances between the two men. He has heard quite glowing reports about Mr. Barrow since the royal visit; he supposes he now knows why.

"Well, Mr. Ellis, you are an excellent cricket player. You might beat Mr. Barrow's run record. He well needs it, else the talent will go to his head." Carson says with an almost imperceptible amount of teasing in his voice.

"I will certainly try. We can't have that now, Mr. Carson." Richard smiles, turning slightly toward Thomas as he teases.

"Oh, come on, you insufferable man!" Thomas jokes as he pulls Richard by the hand back to the game.

Richard casts a smile back to Mr. Carson as he is dragged away. Mr. Carson feels himself smiling back. He can't ever really approve of how Thomas is, but at least he has made a good selection in a companion, one who will keep him light on his feet.

Mr. Carson is surprised to find that any concern he had about Thomas has been eradicated. He's more surprised that he had any concern at all, but after Thomas's attempt, Mr. Carson did feel mildly guilty about him. He takes comfort in the idea that the concern stems from nowhere but guilt, especially not genuine approval.

Mrs. Carson comes back over to sit next to him. "You look like the cat that got the cream." She remarks teasingly. Mr. Carson doesn't respond, just smiles in Thomas and Richard's general direction for the rest of the match, admiring when Thomas claps Richard on the back for being the first person to break his run record.

A/N: Another weird one-shot. Sorry it started to focus on Carson toward the end rather than Thomas. Suggestions for future stories are welcome!

Please stay safe! I don't own anything except any grammar or spelling mistakes that you find. Please let me know if you find any, I'll be happy to correct them. Reviews are appreciated!