sam_storyteller: (Discworld: Watch)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-09 09:00 am
Entry tags:

Some Buggers; PG, Gen.

Note: This fanfiction is moderately AU to the canonical series and does not fit within my Discworld timeline of fanfics. It takes place at some point far after Night Watch.
Summary: Some buggers just won't stay down.
Warnings: Character death (temporary).

Also available at AO3.


...are you just afraid of becoming some old man dying in the groove of his life and buried out of pity by a bunch of youngsters who never knew you as anything other than some old fart who always seemed to be around the place and got sent out to bring back the coffee and hot figgins and was laughed at behind his back?
He'd wanted to avoid that.
-- Men At Arms

His Grace the Duke of Ankh, Sir Samuel Vimes, stood on the hill of Small Gods Cemetery, in the rain and freezing wind, and thought...

Yes. This is perfect.

This is how Watchmen were buried. Almost how they wanted it. With the muddy ground and the pounding rain and only Watchmen. Sometimes a few family.

The funeral was huge, of course. The service up at the University's Great Hall had been massive. Every nob in the city, every Watchman and most of their kids, too, because every Watchman wanted their kids to remember...half the Assassins' Guild and the Thieves' Guild had shown up, and most of the Guild of Seamstresses, and Dibbler had been there (vending pies outside afterwards, because this was Dibbler, after all).

But up here, on the hill, in the rain and was just him, and Lady Sybil, and a couple of the more senior Watchmen. Commander Carrot, Sergeant Angua, Sergeant Detritus. Nobby Nobbs couldn't get the wheelchair up the hill, but Detritus had hauled it up for him.

He could've been buried up in the big Ankh cemetery, where the nobs generally were, but Lady Sybil'd said no. Small Gods was what he wanted.

Damn dad and his stupid terrier instincts! He could've retired (but Sam Vimes would never retire, he'd tried it and hadn't liked it), he could've at the very least stopped patrolling (but the whole reason he put up with managing and paperwork was patrolling). Oh, he was cagey and fast, Sam'd had plenty opportunity to learn that. But cagey and fast only got you so far, when you were seventy and your heart was giving out.

At least nobody'd got the better of him. At least there was that. It wasn't as though he'd lost in a street brawl. And he hadn't died in bed, which, he'd once confided to Sam, would be even worse.

Sam Vimes the second was twenty-four years old, and (now) a Knight and a Duke, and nominally head of the Vimes-Ramkin family estate. He was also a Corporal in the Watch, not three months back from the job he'd taken briefly in Pseudopolis, to get a little rank without being his father's son the whole time.

He wasn't sure what responsibility laid heaviest on his mind.

His first real memory of his father, other than as a man whose almost always made it through the second course of dinner before being called away, was being held up to a high dormer window in the attic of their home on Scoone Avenue.

"That's Ankh-Morpork," his father had said, pointing at the city laid out below. "It's not very nice, or very clean, or even very law-abiding, but it's ours."

"It is?" Sam had marveled. "All of it?"

"All of it. But you have to be careful, Sam. You have to protect it."


"Because it's ours."

"Why's it ours?"

"Because we protect it."

Circular logic of this kind makes perfect sense to a five-year-old.

"And if we stop protecting it...we lose it," his father had said. "That's our job."

"You an' me an' mum?"

"Well, yes. It's the job of the Watch."

"Oh." Sam had looked thoughtfully out at the Ankh river, which was a muddy golden color. He looked as long as his father's arms could hold him.

His father had given him the city for his fifth birthday (as well as a real wooden sword and a stuffed dragon, but those didn't last as long).

You protect the city because you love it. You love the city because it's yours. It's yours because you protect it. You protect the city because you love it...

Sometimes Sam wished he hadn't bothered, true, because loving Ankh-Morpork was loving a very dirty and ungrateful thing. But he did. It was in the blood.

Dad had loved Ankh-Morpork. He'd been out patrolling its streets when an unlicensed thief made things difficult on himself by robbing a shop right in front of two Watchmen, and leaving bodies behind. Dad took off like a shot after him, and Sergeant Ping was on his heels and looking to outdistance the Commander, but then...

Ping had explained it, very carefully, to a stunned Sam. He just seemed to slow down, like, and he grabbed at his chest and screamed "I'll catch you, you son of a bitch!" and that was that.

Sam thought they were quite appropriate last words for a Watch Commander.

Lady Sybil was crying, in a genteel sort of way. Sam had on his Watch uniform, with a black band on his arm and one over his badge. Captain...Commander Carrot's face looked strangely crumpled. He kept turning his helmet in his hands. Sergeant Angua stood next to him, a hand on his arm, and stared at the ground strangely. Detritus, with all the subtlety of a brick to the head, was murmuring an old Trollish prayer of some kind. Nobby, almost completely deaf and certainly not as lively as he'd once been, kept smoothing his lap blanket.

His dad wasn't a religious man, so Sybil'd asked the Patrician to say a few words. Sam rather liked the Patrician. He'd said something quite nice, about Watchmen and duty to the city and Sam Vimes' legacy, which it was important to continue.

Sam Vimes' legacy, his son thought, probably consisted of the attempt to find a nice quiet place out of the wind to have a smoke.

"Are you coming, Sam?" his mother asked, and he realized that Angua and Carrot and Detritus (carrying a nodding Nobby in his wheelchair) were all turning to follow the path back down to the street. He shook his head.

"I'd like to stay a little while, mum," he said. His mother nodded. "Don't wait on me. Go on. I'll get a carriage, I promise."

He put his helmet on so that the rain could run off it, rather than off his ears. After a few minutes of staring at the pile of dirt where his dad ought to be, he sat on the pleasantly colored marble headstone, and smoked thoughtfully.

It was about two hours later, and the rain had stopped, when the earth first started to move. For a good five minutes, it just sort of bumped up and down, as if a mole was digging towards the surface. A head finally poked its way out, follow by a shoulder and the right arm.

"Hi, dad," Sam sighed. He took his father's hand gingerly, and helped pull him up out of the ground.

"What in the name of the holy hells is this all about?" his father panted, brushing dirt from his arms. "Where'd that sod Biffer get to? Did Ping get him?"

"No, dad," said Sam patiently.

"Well, then why are we standing about?"

"Biffer fell in the Ankh. Concussion killed him."

His father grinned. "Too good a death for a thief," he said. "So why're we up at Small Gods? Someone die? Other than him?"

"You, dad."

His father turned to look at the headstone, which was carved with a stylized copper's badge and his name. "I never did."

"Yes you did. Igor said heart attack. I saw you."

"Sam, I am obviously not dead. Take that stupid black thing off your arm."

"You are dead, dad. I had a word with Reg Shoe. He said it might happen. Said to give you his regards if it did, and ask if you wanted to come round to the office of Undead Rights sometime."

His father looked furious. "Undead!"

"Yeah. You're a zombie, like." Sam lit another cigarette, then a cigar, which he'd taken from a box in his pocket.

"A damn zombie!"

"Could be worse."


"Could be a vampire."

His dad scowled. "I need a drink."

Sam sighed. "Yes, dad. Here." He handed him the lit cigar. His father chomped on it, then noticed what he was wearing.

"They buried me in this?" he roared.

Sam grinned. The gold-and-silver dress armour -- with the formal dress trousers and thick shiny boots -- were a much-hated part of the life of Sam Vimes senior.

"Mum thought it'd be nice. Can't have all the nobs at the funeral sniffing at his regular tatty old armour, she said."

"I'll have a few words with your mum when we get back home." His father glared at him. "You didn't do this, did you, Sam?"

"Me? Nah. Happened naturally. Like with Reg. Some buggers are just too determined to let death stop them, Reg said."

His father stared. Finally, his face resolved itself into an amused grin.

"All right then, lad. Come on. There's lots to do." His father clapped him on the back, and began walking towards the gates of the cemetery. "Was it a nice funeral?"

"Nicest I ever saw," said Sam, loyally.


Carrot stood in the office, Mister Vimes' office, and hesitated.

"It's all right, Carrot," Angua said. "It's your job. Go on."

"It's not right," Carrot insisted.

"It is. It's your job now. It's going to be very difficult if you can't ever sit down to do it." Angua steered him towards the desk.

"That's Mister Vimes' desk," Carrot said reproachfully. "It's his chair, it is."

"No, it's Mister Ironfoundersson's desk and chair. Listen, I'm not any happier than you are that he died, but the Watch needs a good leader. Especially right now."

"It's still got his nameplate and mug on it!"

Angua rolled her eyes. Gods give me strength.

"It also has a half-eaten curry and five years of complaint letters. You're good at organising, Carrot. Go on."

There was a slam downstairs, and confused shouting. Both officers looked out the door. Carrot's face spread in a wide grin as he saw someone coming up the stairs.

"Mister Vimes, sir!" he said, saluting. "Good to see you up and about again, sir!"

Angua gawped. There was no other word for it.

"What's the matter, Sergeant?" Vimes asked, with a smile. "Never seen a zombie before? Come on, someone find me some decent armour. Is there any food around? I'm dead hungry..."


Sam Vimes, both senior and junior, sat at the table in the canteen, smoking thoughtfully. Finally, the Commander drew a breath (out of habit) and spoke.

"It worries me."

"Oh, does it? I thought it infuriated you," Sam the second answered.

"Don't be cheeky. It's not natural, you know."

"Course it's natural. I didn't do anything. I just waited. You're the one who popped up out of the ground."

"Well I didn't choose it, did I?"

"I'm sure you didn't have to."

"But listen, I know from zombies," his father said. "Bits falling off and all."

"Oh aye? Reg Shoe, you mean?"

"Poor man has to reinforce his seams every day off. It isn't right."

"Well, I don't see why that'd happen to you. The Watch buried Reg Shoe the first time, yes?"


"Cheap job?" Sam Junior asked, grinning.

"We had seven men to bury, Sam, of course we couldn't afford -- "

"But you had the best burial money could buy."

"Don't remind me."

"Tip top enbalming and the rest. Wouldn't be surprised if you're better off now than before. Like what's his name, the lawyer fellow."

"Slant. Good gods, Sam, don't compare me to him."

"No, dad, just'll be a bit more durable, now. Hard-wearing. You've been pickled."

"This isn't funny."

"Yes it is."

"You're not supposed to speak ill of the dead."

"The dead aren't supposed to up and walk around, are they?"


The mansion on Scoone Avenue was unusually quiet. Out in the dragon house, the hatchlings yammered occasionally, and once in a while there was a lick of flame or two, but that was all.

The staff were subdued. Nobody had exactly been close to the Duke, no servant would ever be anything more than warily polite to him, but he had been their employer, and he had been a good one. He never stinted on Hogswatch bonuses, and always gave them two grannies' funerals off per year. He wasn't a cruel man. He just wasn't a very pleasant one.

And, thought Yana the cook, treacherously, now he wasn't a very alive one.

Oh, she was sad to see him go, but life did go on. There was Lady Sybil to cook for, and Master Sam, and the other servants, and someone had to make sure there was food at the funeral, didn't they? Yana had survived the deaths of people she loved more, and would again. Now, if young Master Sam had died, she might not be so calm, but he hadn't, and she was glad of that.

So she was kneading the bread, and keeping an eye on one of the under-housemaids who was crying quietly in a corner, and making sure that the roast would be all right, since roasts still burned though Sam Vimes was dead.

There was a bump against the kitchen door, and Master Sam put his head in, giving her a tired smile. "Hallo, Yana. How's everyone holding up?"

"Terrible, Master Sam," Yana said complacently. "We're all very sorry to see your dad go."

Master Sam looked more cheerful than he ought, somehow; even Yana knew that. "Thank you, Yana. I'm sure he'll be missed."

"You head of the house, now?"

"Well, I don't know, really," Sam said, stepping inside. "I suppose I've got to sign the wages and such. Never really knew how that worked. Mum probably does."

"You let your mum alone till she's had her mourn," Yana said sharply. It was all very well for a cook to be off-handed about her employer's death, but his wife ought to be treated with some respect. "Or you're a cold-hearted boy that doesn't deserve the parents he's had."

"Desist, Yana! I wouldn't do anything to upset mum, you know me better than that."

"Already have, staying out all hours like a bloody fool on the very night your father's buried," Yana muttered.

"I was at the graveyard, I was," Sam said reproachfully.

"Oo, you do sound like yer father when you take that tone," Yana answered. "Spit and image of him as you are."

Sam smiled shyly, and ran a hand over his cheeks, rubbing his jaw. He was aware he looked like his father, skinny and tough, but there was something of the Ramkin line in him too, in the eyes, and the born-in charming arrogance of a lord. Yana had known Lord Ramkin; she'd started as a scullery maid, and had been with the household for forty years.

"Listen, I'll just take some tea up to mum, shall I? How's she holding up?"

"There's a good lad. She's in her room, so far as I know. Here you are," Yana said, quickly assembling a tea service with the skill of a thirty-years servant. "Don't tip it now."

"I haven't tipped it since I was seven, Yana."

"And I remember it, don't I? So until I forget you did once tip, you shan't tip again."

"Yes, Yana." Sam accepted the tray, hooked the door with his foot, and vanished into the hall.

Yana sighed. Such a good lad, to be suddenly fatherless.


Sybil had, in the best tradition of the Ramkins -- and the Vimeses, too, when you got down to it -- kept a stiff upper lip through the funeral arrangements and the service and even through most of the actual burial, except towards the end. She was quite proud of that, at all events. Now she was alone, in the room she'd shared with Sam for more years than she cared to think about, and now that she could cry, the tears wouldn't come.

She just sat at her writing desk, and sometimes looked up and out the window towards the city, and tried not to think about anything.

She had her boy. That was something. He'd been a great help, was far too grown up for his age. There was so much of Sam in him. He was a man, with a man's responsibilities, when most of the other peers' children were still getting parlour maids into trouble and starting scandals. He'd gone off to Pseudopolis, even, and she'd hardly known him when he came back, tall and proud with his corporal's stripes.

There was a knock at the door, and young Sam's voice. "Mum, I brought up some tea, if you'd like."

"Thank you, Sam," she called. "Come in."

She looked back down at the desk; heard the door open and shut, and the tray being set down on the table near the window.

"I'm sorry to be useless, Sam. It's all been so very tiring," she said. "I'm sure in the morning I'll be better. I'm just not sure what to do with myself right now."

"Here we are. Lemon and just a little milk."

Sybil looked up, sharply. That was her husband's voice --

The figure, outlined against the sunset over the city, could be her son or her husband; they were so alike sometimes.

"I'm afraid the lemons aren't very fresh," he said. She didn't move. "It's all right, Sybil. Oh, blast." He set the teacup down. "It was the boy's idea, I said you wouldn't take it well -- "

"Sam?" she asked, her voice faltering. He smiled, and now she could see him in the light from the lamps; it was her Sam, her husband.

"It's me, Sybil," he said quietly.

"What are you doing here?" she asked, realizing it was the stupidest thing she'd ever said to him in their entire life together.

"Tea," he said, indicating the tray. "I...erm...listen..." he sighed. "I'm a zombie, Sybil."

Sybil burst into tears.

"Here, now, there's no need for all that." He reached into his pocket for a handkerchief, and then remembered that the dead don't often need to blow their nose. "Damn" He walked to his dresser -- she hadn't even cleaned it out yet -- and got her a new one. A fresh stream of tears greeted this gesture.

"Now then. It's nothing to cry about," he said, as she took the handkerchief and sniffled into it. "Sam thinks I'm probably pretty durable, you know -- and all the bits seem to work still," he added, showing her his fingers as he flexed them.

Sybil, through the sobs, smiled at him. Then she laughed, damply, and stood, and embraced him. He held her head against his shoulder.

"It's all right," he said, because -- although it probably wasn't, although being a zombie probably did have drawbacks in the arena of married life -- there didn't seem to be anything else to say. "The Yard was on the way home, so I've already told Carrot and the rest...I hope you don't mind..."

She looked up at him again, and laughed, less tearily this time. "Ten minutes ago you were gone forever," she said quietly. "I shouldn't think I'd mind having you back, whether you stopped at the Yard or not."


"Sam knows."

"Oh yes. He waited up for me. Bright lad."

"Can't think where he gets it from."

"Not my side."

Sybil put her head back on his shoulder. "I missed you so much."

"Well, I got here as soon as I could. If you'd opted for a cheaper coffin, it might've been a bit sooner, you know," he said. "We're going to have words on that subject in the morning."

"All the words you want," she said with a smile. There was a knock on the door, and Sam put his head in.

"I'm going out with the lads," he said. "Down the Bucket, Carrot's buying rounds. Toasting to the Commander and all. Don't do anything I wouldn't do," he added. His father shook a finger at him.

"Strong drink's a mocker, Sam!" he called, as the door swung shut.

"So Carrot tells me!" Sam called back, down the hallway.

When he was gone, Sybil finally let go of him, and stepped back to give him a good look, as if he'd just come home from a long day at the Yard.

"I'm afraid I'm a bit grey," he said sadly. "Don't know that I'd have picked this, but -- "

"Don't you dare say that, Sam Vimes!" Sybil said sharply. "I don't care what colour you are."

"Yes but -- "

"And you're going to retire," said Sybil firmly. "You always said there was time to sleep when you were dead, and now you are. So we're going to take a holiday, and then you're going to have some words with your son about that girl he's seeing up in Heroes street, and after that, if you promise not to spend more than four hours a day at it, you may supervise Commander Carrot in his duties."

"All right, but I -- Heroes street?" he asked, his forehead suddenly wrinkling. "What girl in Heroes street?"

Sybil smiled.

Her Sam was back.


[identity profile] 2005-09-25 08:44 am (UTC)(link)
This is my favourite of all your DW stories ever. I was sad when I couldn't read it. And now I can!

[identity profile] 2005-09-25 07:46 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you! I'm glad you like it and that I have a place to put it again :)

[identity profile] 2005-09-28 03:55 pm (UTC)(link)
2am is not a good time to be stiffling laughter in a house with my step-mum, but, oh, it was such brilliance! Such a wonderful progression! And I can just *see* Reg chucking as many pamphlets at Vimes as Visit does.

*adds to favourites*

[identity profile] 2006-01-24 05:12 am (UTC)(link)
...I could totally see Sam Vimes coming back as a Zombie - and this is a hilarious take on it =)

[identity profile] 2007-09-25 07:51 am (UTC)(link)
I just wanted to pop by, again, and leave a comment on this fic. Zombie!Vimes has become my own personal canon. I was rereading Thud!, with Death and his Near Vimes experience and ...there is no possible way that I can think of Vimes dying and not being such a stubborn bastard as to not get back up again. Does make me wonder what made Slant get up in the graveyard, though.

Fantastic fic, and I love it to bits.

[identity profile] 2008-06-22 01:46 pm (UTC)(link)
Totally randomly - Slant refused to die after being beheaded until he was paid appropriately for his work as his own defense lawyer, if I remember correctly. I gather the years since then have improved his legal technique somewhat, since he must not have done a very good job in his own case :D

[identity profile] 2008-12-19 06:29 pm (UTC)(link)
Zombie!Vimes is perfect. And so are his last words. And you've got all the characters' voices spot on, and... *squee* (I really need to get me a Discworld icon.)

I do have one nitpick, though: Nobby's younger than Vimes. I can totally see him as a decrepit old man, but he'd only be, like, fifty- or sixtyish at this point on the timeline, judging by him being a street urchin at the time of Night Watch; I didn't think decrepitude generally set in before around eighty or so, although you never really know with Nobby.

[identity profile] 2008-12-23 03:18 pm (UTC)(link)
See, I totally think Nobby got decrepit early :D But you make a good point. And glad you liked the fic!

[identity profile] 2009-11-20 10:58 pm (UTC)(link)
Blame it on wear and tear. I've always assumed Nobby got up to some INTERESTING stuff over the years....

[identity profile] 2009-02-14 10:36 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm re-reading a lot of my Discworld books, and of course this means revisiting your fanfic! I love this, I can just see zombie!Vimes! One tiny spelling nitpick - it's embalming, not enbalming :-) xxx

[identity profile] 2009-07-16 05:13 am (UTC)(link)
This was just ADORABLE.

And Sam JR is perfect.

[identity profile] 2009-12-31 01:12 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm not surprised. I mean, I was but Sam Vimes, rising from the dead? I'm not surprised. I'm sure he and Death drank a round while discussing what's going to happen.

I really liked this.


(Anonymous) 2011-10-29 06:28 pm (UTC)(link)
This was a wonderful, funny, charming fic. Very well done!

[personal profile] chironsgirl 2011-11-23 12:27 am (UTC)(link)
If anyone is too hard headed to stay dead, it's Old Stoneface!

(Anonymous) 2011-11-26 08:49 am (UTC)(link)
Brilliant! Charming and interesting and very, very Pratchett-y. I love all your characterizations - for some reason the image of Detritus mumbling a Trollish prayer stuck, and also Carrot saying: "Good to see you up and about again, sir!"

I think my favourite line was:
His father had given him the city for his fifth birthday (as well as a real wooden sword and a stuffed dragon, but those didn't last as long). Excellent.

Thank you very much for sharing :-)
true_masquerade: (Default)

[personal profile] true_masquerade 2012-03-31 07:26 am (UTC)(link)
I love reading your Discworld characters - you understand them better than anyone I've read. I wouldn't have thought of it without this amazing story, but Sam Vimes as a zombie makes much sense. I adored Young (now not so young) Sam. The whole thing was lovely. Sweet and sad and happy :-)