A quick little Thommy ficlet to explain what was really (hopefully) going on in 4x02

A Morning Interlude

"Sorry", says Edna as she narrowly avoids a collision with Thomas in the corridor. She steps around him, holding up a blouse belonging to Lady Grantham by way of explanation. "Nearly forgot this".

"No harm done", he replies – and then, having sensed an opportunity to talk, adds "How you finding it?", as she begins to walk away.

Edna stops in her tracks and turns back around as Thomas continues speaking, walking closer to her. "Have that lot got used to your promotion yet?"

"Some of them."

"But not all, eh?" Out of the corner of his eye Thomas sees Jimmy approaching, his usually expressive face wearing the passive stare of a well-trained servant.

Edna pulls a face. "I'll be fine. I don't need to have everyone love me."

"Nor me". As Jimmy passes Edna his eyes briefly meet Thomas', and his mask slips for a fraction of a second, a small, inviting smile pulling at the corners of a his mouth. "Which is just as well", he concludes, feeling a similar smile tugging at his own lips as he turns to follow Jimmy.

Before they reach the blue door Jimmy veers left and Thomas follows suit, into a small utility room. He's barely closed the door behind them when he feels arms circling his waist, turning him around before Jimmy's soft lips meet his own – gently at first, but then Jimmy deepens the kiss, his hands travelling down from Thomas' middle to his arse, giving it a squeeze. Thomas's slides his own arms under Jimmy's already unbuttoned vest - tugging his shirt out of his trousers, hands caressing bare skin. Thomas feels himself begin to stir - but, knowing that now is not the time, however much he wishes it was, he pulls away.

Jimmy regards him with a smirk, then leans closer to whisper in Thomas' ear. "I've been wanting to do that all morning."

Thomas raises an eyebrow. "All morning? It's only half eight. Anddddd-", he drawls, pausing to run a finger down Jimmy's soft cheek – "It's only been – what? – six hours since the last time – which also counts as this morning, technically, so really you haven't been waiting at all-".

"Shove off", says Jimmy, giving Thomas' shoulder a light push, grinning widely. He tilts his chin up and fixes Thomas with a haughty look. "It's not my fault I'm insatiable."

"That's one word for it."

"Oi!"

He gives Thomas another push, and then another kiss, then drops his gaze. He's silent for a few seconds, fiddling with the buttons on Thomas' vest, before he says – in a quiet voice that Thomas has to strain his ears to hear, even in the still room – "I do, you know. Love you." He looks up at Thomas and grins again. "Even if nobody else does."

"Charming", Thomas says dryly - and then after being prompted by another shove – "I love you too."

Jimmy ducks his head again. "So I was thinking-"

"There's a surprise" says Thomas, earning him another shove and a glare.

"I was thinking – before I was so rudely interrupted - about asking out Ivy again."

"Right." says Thomas. "One for mixed signals, aren't you?"

Another push. Jimmy rolls his eyes. "It's just to cover us, you know that." He takes a deep breath, looking a little worried. "I think people are starting to suspect us. One of the hallboys was giving me a funny look the other day - you know, the short one with the fringe."

"He got a lazy eye."

"That's not the point."

"Then what is?"

Jimmy resumes picking at Thomas' buttons. After a few moments, he says "I just want us to be safe, that's all."

"And stepping out with Ivy is the way to do that, is it?"

Jimmy gives him a look. "It's a way. And it's not like we're goin' to do owt – I'll just take her to the theatre or summat, nowt serious – just enough to stop people getting suspicious – no need to get jealous." His hands move lower and he hooks his thumbs in the waistband of Thomas' trousers, pulling him in for another kiss. "And anyway", he says, quirking an accusing eyebrow. "You were talking to that Edna just now in the corridor, looking all cosy-".

This time he's Thomas' turn to roll his eyes. "That's hardly the same. Just think she might be... useful, that's all."

"Useful for what?"

"Now who's jealous?"

Jimmy scowls, but gives him another lingering kiss all the same, before pulling away and tucking his shirt back in to his trousers. Thomas straightens his vest, before leaning in for another quick peck on the lips.

"Later."

Jimmy smirks – "Of course."

Just as they are about to head out, Thomas pauses. The room they are in is occasionally used by scullery maids to store parcels and letters delivered on the early post before the rest of the staff are awake to collect them. There is one such package there that day – a largish cardboard box – that Thomas picks up and hands to Jimmy.

"Here."

Jimmy wrinkles his brow in confusion.

"You can take it into the servant's hall and say you've just collected it, so no-one will wonder what you've been up to for the last five minutes. Wouldn't want anyone getting suspicious now, would we?"

"Right", says Jimmy, with another small smile. "Thank you, Mr Barrow."

"Not a problem, James."