Thomas is very excited. He has arranged his half-day for today for over a month. He can't wait for the afternoon.
Richard is giving a demonstration in London today, and invited Thomas to come and watch. During the war, while Thomas had been in the Medical Corps, Richard was in the Navy.
One of the battleships is being opened up today for visitors in London. Former Navy members were requested to come and give demonstrations of their tasks onboard the ship. Richard decided that he would demonstrate, since the opening fell on his half-day.
Although Richard has not explicitly said so, Thomas suspects that Richard has accepted this opportunity because it gives both Richard and Thomas a chance to spend time together in public. As friends, of course.
Richard has requested Thomas to wear his Medical Corps Army uniform, so Thomas has dutifully ironed it and put it on. The crisp cloth is so unlike how it felt to wear the uniform during his military service that it throws Thomas off-balance. He would not normally have worn this to such an event, he wants to forget his service and especially because it is an Army uniform and therefore not the same branch of the military, but he complies because Richard has asked him to.
Richard straightens his tie. It has been such a long time since he wore this uniform. Sometimes he wishes he could just forget about it completely, but it will always be a part of his past.
The opening of the ship fell very conveniently on Richard's half-day, and just a few of the original sailors are still alive. Richard feels that he can give a more accurate representation of life onboard the ship than some child who has been taught the information from books and papers, so he accepts the invitation.
Although he will not tell anyone this, he did accept in part because it allows him to spend time with Thomas, who he has not seen in a while.
Sighing, he opens the drawer of his nightstand and removes the many medals that he earned during battle. He begins to clip them on one by one, feeling strongly that there are certainly too many of them.
Once he is completely dressed in his Navy uniform, Richard exits the room and walks briskly out of the place, in a slight hurry to buy a few items before heading to the ship.
Having purchased the items that he knows Thomas likes, Richard enters the ship's galley and puts a bottle into one cabinet and the lemons into another.
Feeling pleased with himself, Richard brushes his uniform with his arms before stepping outside to greet the first group of visitors.
Thomas has said that he will be coming up shortly, so Richard expects him after lunch. For now, Richard focuses his attention on the tour, leading the group around and explaining each compartment's function and how the ship operated during the war.
Thomas has not entirely told Richard when he is arriving, wanting to surprise him. He caught the milk train this morning and has arrived at the address that Richard provided, and it is only 10 AM.
He walks up the gangway to the ship. He intends his early arrival to be a surprise, and judging by the look on Richard's face when he comes out to greet the group of guests that Thomas has joined, it evidently is.
Richard goes through the first few tours without any problem, improving the tour each time as he becomes more comfortable in his surroundings and with each instrument or element that he had previously used.
He is confident that this next tour will be the best tour yet, so he goes out to greet the group and bring them inside in the same way that he has done for each group this morning.
To his surprise, he immediately spots Thomas in the group, dressed in a pressed Army uniform. Richard is taken aback by how stunning Thomas looks. Richard had not expected Thomas so early. Thomas winks discreetly at him, and Richard feels a burst of energy fill his body.
Clapping excitedly, Richard takes each ticket as the guests enter, making sure to brush his fingers against Thomas's fingers as he takes his ticket. Thomas smiles at this as he proceeds inside the ship.
Mustering his deepest energy, Richard explains each part of the ship in great detail.
"This is the bridge, where the ship was navigated from and where messages were received."
"This is the hospital wing, where soldiers wounded in battle were treated until they could return to Allied hospitals on land."
After going through most of the ship, the tour ends in the galley, which is Richard's personal favorite part of the ship.
"This is the galley, responsible for drinks and meals onboard the ship. And yes, men did cook onboard, myself included." Richard winks at a couple of ladies who are standing in the corner and giggling nervously and flirtatiously at the information and the wink.
He looks up to see Thomas smiling as well, which only widens his grin even more.
Once the tour is complete, Richard leads the group to the dock again, where they exit.
As Thomas moves to leave the ship, Richard grabs his wrist lightly, holding him back. Richard then tugs Thomas back into the galley and then into the back rooms before kissing Thomas deeply.
"Thomas! I did not know that you would be so early! Why didn't you say?" Richard asks after they pull apart.
"I wanted to surprise you. Did I?" Thomas says cheekily.
"Absolutely." Richard pulls Thomas into another kiss.
When they finally step back to breathe, Richard poses a question to Thomas.
"Do you have any other London engagements today?"
Thomas looks confused. "No, why?"
"Well, now that you know how the ship functions, you can help me to explain and display it. And besides, you're dressed the part anyway."
"Are you sure this isn't just an excuse to get me to stay?"
"It may be." Richard replies, smiling at Thomas.
"Then I accept." Thomas answers, smiling widely as well.
"Should be getting back. Don't want them to organize a search party." Richard says, straightening his clothing, which is only slightly askew, and encouraging Thomas to do the same.
In each of the rooms, Richard directs Thomas to the positions that he wants him to demonstrate, and they get better with each tour.
By the end of the day, Thomas feels like he was in the Navy rather than the Medical Corps during the war. He knows practically everything that there is to know about the ship.
A few times during the tours, Thomas starts to get distracted by Richard's perfect posture, explanations, and cologne, much like he did at Andy and Daisy's wedding.
However, this time he brings himself back to the moment because he does not want to ruin Richard's presentations.
The last presentation calls all of Richard and Thomas's remaining energy, but it feels like the best of one of all the tours performed that day.
Once all the guests have departed, Thomas turns to Richard.
"So what would you like to do now?"
"I have a surprise for you." Richard announces.
"Oh?" Thomas asks, smiling appreciatively and somewhat confusedly.
Richard leads Thomas back to the galley and urges him to take a seat. Thomas obliges.
"I have, on my many visits to Downton, realized that you have a very refined taste in wines." Richard begins.
Color rushes quickly to Thomas's cheeks, but he says nothing.
"But I have been told by the Downton staff that every now and then you prefer something...stronger." Richard continues. "So I have decided to treat you today. You are a corporal, and will be treated as such in the Navy galley. What can I get for you, sir?" He asks politely.
Thomas smiles, mildly confused about how Richard knows about his military rank, since they've never discussed the subject beyond the fact that each was in the military during the war. Then he chooses a bracing drink.
"A White Russian on the rocks, please."
"As you wish, sir."
Richard goes about the galley and pulls bottles out of the cupboards, much to Thomas's surprise. It becomes evident that Richard has purchased these bottles especially for Thomas, and Thomas marvels, not for the first time, at how he managed to get such a thoughtful boyfriend after all his struggles in the past.
As Richard selects bottles and pours them into the shaker with a practiced hand, Thomas watches him appreciatively from behind.
Richard's uniform fits him perfectly and each of the medals and pins is displayed across it. Richard looks extremely dashing dressed like this, not that he ever doesn't look that way, at least according to Thomas.
Richard is aware that Thomas is watching him, and decides to flirt a bit with Thomas over his admiration of Richard's backside.
"Quite a view, Mr Barrow."
Thomas seems to startle out of a stupor and looks out of the window, assuming that is the view Richard is talking about.
Richard laughs and walks up to Thomas. "Not there, silly. Here."
Richard flexes his bicep, revealing extremely toned muscles as he shakes Thomas's drink up in a very handsome way. Thomas agrees, and Richard pours his drink into a beautiful glass before decorating the edge of the glass with lemon and mint. Then Richard sits down next to Thomas on a stool to watch him drink.
It is a delicious drink, and it leaves Thomas feeling refreshed and at ease.
With his tongue slightly loosened by the liquor, Thomas starts mumbling.
"Oh, I do not want to go back to Downton. I want to be with you." Thomas says, running his hand through Richard's hair before kissing him. A fuzzy memory of the exact same situation rises in his head from several years prior with the Duke of Crowborough, but Thomas shoves the memory down, wanting to enjoy this moment.
"Me too, love." Richard says, collecting the bottles and informing the clerk of his departure before leaving with Thomas.
They have walked a short distance when Richard suddenly brightens. "You can stay the night if you want. If it's not too inconvenient, you can catch the milk train back to Downton."
"Anything to spend more time with you." Thomas says happily, stumbling slightly into Richard as they walk. "But where would we go?"
"Not at the palace, as that would put us in danger. But I have a special guesthouse that I know…."
Thomas accepts immediately, eager to spend more time with Richard.
Thomas checks into a room at the guest house that Richard suggests with a very elderly and slightly deaf lady.
Richard makes some excuse about helping his friend settle in before following Thomas down the hall and to his guest room.
The room is nothing fancy, but it is clean, and Thomas collapses onto the soft bed. Well, softer than he is used to, at any rate.
Richard does the same, and he thinks that he and Thomas are going to sleep soundly since they are exhausted.
But apparently, Thomas has other ideas. He stands up after a few minutes and pulls Richard up with him.
As a test of his skill as a valet, Thomas closes his eyes and begins to slowly undress Richard, which is more difficult than usual given that Richard is wearing a Navy uniform rather than the usual clothing for a valet. Richard, picking up on what is going on, does the same. Within minutes, they have fallen back onto the bed.
Soon enough, they are both exhausted and asleep, cuddled up together.
Back at Downton, Miss Baxter wanders into the Servants' Hall with one of Her Ladyship's dresses in hand.
"Have you seen Mr Barrow, Mrs Bates?" She asks the other lady's maid, who is seated in a rocking chair in the corner.
"No, I haven't. But it is his day off, isn't it?" Mrs Bates replies.
"Yes. He mentioned that he was going down to London for an exhibition and said he would be back by nightfall. Do you think something has gone wrong? He is still not back."
"Well, I'm sure he made time to see Mr Ellis while he is there. Maybe he got carried away. He'll be back by morning; I'm sure."
"Mr Barrow has certainly become much nicer since he met Mr Ellis. I'm glad he has finally found someone; I know there wasn't anyone since his father caught him with a stablehand when we were growing up and he disowned him."
"Yes, he certainly has. But it won't do them any good to have it talked about, so we had best keep this to ourselves."
"Indeed, Mrs Bates. Indeed." Miss Baxter concludes thoughtfully, feeling contented that all is finally right in the world.
A/N: This is fairly random; I wanted Richard to pour Thomas a drink for whatever reason and include their military careers somehow. I have another idea coming up very soon, and I can't wait to share it with you all. Suggestions for future one-shots are welcome!
The details about the wedding are based in 51stcenturygirl's story "What We Dream Of," which is incredible, by the way. I hope you are all safe. I own nothing but the grammar and spelling. Reviews are appreciated!
Also, two more things: Is Mr Ellis's name really Richard? I do not remember hearing his full name in the film. And the second, if we were to give this ship a name, what would it be? I suggest "Richmas," like Baxley or Cobert, but everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed! Please review!