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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-09 08:15 am
Entry tags:

Maybe It's The Uniform; PG.

Note: This fanfic falls after Night Watch in the books and Owed in my fanfiction timeline. The first time I read Night Watch, I was intrigued by the quote which eventually inspired this fanfic; the first time it was suggested to me in a review, I laughed and shrugged it off, but the seed was planted.
Summary: Vimes isn't really sure why he's suddenly so desirable.
Warnings: None.

Also available at AO3.

Oh dear, here we go again, thought Vimes. Why did I wait until I was married to become strangely attractive to powerful women? Why didn't it happen to me when I was sixteen? I could have done with it then.
--Night Watch

Consider, if you will, the wedding ring.

Weight, perhaps an ounce. As with most, this one is made of gold, which appeals to humans and dwarves alike, is inoffensive to the undead, and which trolls find quite tasty.

Wedding rings aren't, by and large, very fancy; they have less to prove than engagement rings. Just a subtle notice, or if you're that kind of spouse, a reminder, that I Have Someone. Perhaps an engraving on the inside. "All I Refuse and Thee I Chuse"; "My Love Forever"; and on one memorable occasion, "I'm Glad I Knocked You Up".

This one, however, simply reads "S.V. - S.R." and a date. Perhaps it is telling that nothing more needs to be said.

It should fit snugly on the fourth finger of the left hand, and be just a little difficult to take off. In the summertime, if removed, it shows a tan-line on the sort of man who spends his time outside. The sort of man tanned below the knees.

It is, also, and unbeknownst to many, a glamour of sorts. The thrill of the forbidden. The temptation to see how far one can get before the ring-wearer pulls back...or doesn't pull back.

For Sam Vimes, who sets great store by symbols of office, it comes in a close second to his badge and his cigar case.

Vimes sat on the comfortably warm stone of an ornamental bench in Sator Square, back propped against the arm, knees drawn up, and considered the small gold ring held between thumb and forefinger. Carrot, taking up the rest of the bench and tidily eating a lunchtime curry, turned to look at him.

"Everything all right, sir?" he asked, somewhat anxiously. Like Vetinari, Sam Vimes was a little bit dangerous when he got thoughtful. Vimes, face upturned to the pleasant sun of late Grune, didn't answer.


"Hm?" Vimes asked, looking over the ring, into Carrot's broad, slightly sunburnt face.

"All right, sir?"

"Oh? Yes. All right, Carrot," he replied, with a reassuring look. He let the ring fall into his palm, and slid it back over his finger, covering the tan-line deftly. He was always proud that his hands were Watchmen's hands, calloused across the palms, browned in the summertime. The gold sank into the tan of his skin, gleaming a little. He picked up the curry he'd left to cool for a minute, and began to eat with the singleminded intensity of a man for whom thinking and eating in unison is difficult.

"Carrot..." he said, after a minute.

"Yes?" Carrot asked, around a mouthful of pan-bread.

"You and Angua."

"Everything's fine, sir," Carrot answered automatically.

"No, but...d'you ever think about marrying?" Vimes asked. He nudged aside a mysterious chunk of something with his bread, and scooped up another mouthful.

"Not really. Maybe one day. Any particular reason, Commander?"

"Oh...just wondering things."

Carrot reflected that it was a quiet day, crimewise, and began quite suddenly to wish that someone would commit a crime. With nothing to do, the Commander's mind roamed in ways that could seriously depress him, or everyone around him. Nothing big; an unlicenced mugging, or maybe a speeding violation*...

* The Commander liked speeding violations; they brought in money for the city, and he got to do a bit of running.

"Lady Selachii keeps reporting garden gnome thefts," Vimes continued.

"She's a great one for decorative gardening, her ladyship," Carrot agreed.

"Mmh. According to her scullery boy, that's not all she's keen on."

Carrot considered this. Finally he decided on a suitable reply.

"Huh?" he said.

"I tried sending Ping and Visit, but she said she wants the Commander personally involved. Ping won't be able to look anyone in the eye for a week, poor lad. So I went up yesterday and spoke to the staff."

Carrot waited patiently. He found that his Commander almost always came to a point, if given enough time.

"Scullery lad showed me a broom closet in the basement. Funny thing, big pile of uprooted garden gnomes in it."

"Well, then the crime's solved!"

"There never was a crime, Carrot. Lady Selachii is hiding her own gnomes," Vimes said patiently.

"Perhaps we ought to get her some help," said Carrot. "You know there's an Uberwaldean doctor in the city, he claims people can sometimes get better just by talking."


"No, his name is Dr. Freid...."

"Lady Selachii doesn't need a doctor," Vimes said. "Not unless he makes housecalls."

"Was that innuendo, sir?"

"Carrot, we're going to make a normal human out of you yet."

"I hope not!"

"Lady Selachii is, to quote the lovely ladies of negotiable affection, on the prowl," Vimes continued. "And I think I'm the prowlee."

"Well, Mister Vimes -- "

"If you say I'm an attractive and powerful man, Carrot, I will hurt you."

Carrot had the grace to look embarrassed. "Lord Selachii's not around much, sir, is my point."

"You see this, Carrot? This is not a lucky charm," Vimes said, pointing to the ring on his finger.

"Well, you never know, sir. It could be. Did you get it off of an old man in a mysterious shop you'd never seen befo -- "

"My point, Carrot, is that Lady Selachii is the third woman in six months to try this. Remember the Duchess of Pseudopolis?"

"That nice lady who rented a house here for the winter?"

"One of Sybil's houses."

"She did chase after you rather shamelessly at the Winter Waltz at Lord Rust's," Carrot said, but in the dubious voice of someone who isn't entirely comfortable saying something unkind about a woman old enough to be his mother.

"Chase? I had a time explaining to Sybil what I was doing hiding in the kitchen, I can tell you! And the reception for the Genuan ambassador..."

"The Duchess wasn't at that reception, was she?"

"No, but the ambassador was," Vimes said darkly.

"Not Her Honourable Ladyship?"

"She asked me to call her Flo. Nothing good ever comes of calling a woman Flo, Carrot. Remember that."

Vimes recalled, too late, that Carrot was a very literal, and still very impressionable, young man. He could see that his words were being recorded on a little filing card, and placed safely away behind Carrot's guileless blue eyes for safekeeping.

"At least they went away, after a while. Lady Selachii's probably not going to," Vimes mused.

"Her family's lived in Ankh-Morpork for generations."

"Hah, yes, and probably employed some of mine." Vimes finished his curry, and licked his fingertips. Carrot looked mildly disapproving. "You see? I have absolutely nothing to recommend me. I am common as muck and rude a very rude thing. And the half of the upper class that doesn't want me in bed wants me in an early grave."

"Maybe it's the uniform, sir," Carrot ventured.

"Maybe," the Commander muttered. His hand drifted up to rub the tip of the scar that crossed his face from brow to cheekbone, slanting over his eye. It had become a distressing habit of his; Carrot couldn't fathom why he did it.

"Why don't you ask Lady Selachii?" said the Captain. Vimes looked at him, squinting. Another Watchman might have flinched, but Carrot was used to his Commander's expressions, and this was 3a: Thoughtful And Suspicious*. He waited for whatever gear was turning in his Commander's head to finish its rotation.

* Carrot had never been unlucky enough to be on the end of numbers 2** or 4b***, but he had every sympathy for those who had.
** Homicidally furious
*** Blandly inquiring (this is never a good thing, in a superior officer).

"Just out and ask her?" Vimes said finally. "Sounds like something you'd do, Carrot."

Carrot nodded over the remains of his curry.

"But you'd get away with it," Vimes sighed.

"Well, sir..."


"You are a copper, sir," Carrot spoke slowly, as if waiting for his thoughts to get a little ahead of his words. "I mean, when it comes to policing, you're it. Us. You wrote the book on how to be a copper, sir."

"Very big print," Vimes murmured to himself. "Lots of brightly coloured pictures."

"I'm sure you don't mean that," Carrot said severely.

"What are you saying, Carrot?"

"Well...getting away with it,'s really just a matter of believing what you say."

Another long pause. Finally, a terribly wicked smile crept over Vimes' face. It was the sort of smile that is the last thing a robbery victim sees before waking up in the hospital.

"As usual, Carrot," he said, swinging his legs down and standing to stretch, "you have an answer for everything."

"We're due at the Palace in ten minutes, Commander," was Carrot's only reply.


When he was home in time for dinner -- which was rare -- and when he didn't have business after dinner -- which was also rare but becoming less so -- Vimes usually found an excuse to sit with his wife and child and quite It was enough of a departure from his normal business, these days, just to not think for a while. Sybil liked to sit on the rather battered couch near the fire in the library, her husband next to her and her son in a bassinet nearby; Vimes liked it too. He liked it when he had a book in front of him, and his wife's head on his shoulder, and his son within reaching distance.

But the conversation with Carrot had bothered him all day, and he found he couldn't concentrate on the book in the slightest. After a few minutes' trying, he closed it.

"Sybil..." he said. She shifted slightly so that she could look up at him.

"Yes, Sam?"

He tried to think how to ask the next question without causing a row. "If I were...if I were someone else, I mean...and you and I knew each other..."

Sybil raised one eyebrow. Sam Vimes was not a man for hypothetical situations. He had enough real problems to deal with.

"Are you planning on marrying someone else?" she asked, with a yawn.

"No! No. Of course not."

"So if you were married to someone else..."

"But everything else was the same -- I was still Commander and the Duke and the rest of it..."

"Rum luck for you, change wives and you're still stuck with the title -- "

"Sybil, do be serious."

"Sam, whatever is on your mind is far too serious for me to be serious as well," she said, and took the opportunity to kiss him before he could react. Sam was not a kissing man, by and large. "Is this about Lady Selachii?" she asked.

"Should've known you'd know about that," he said, somewhat ruefully.

"Do you want to know what to do about it, or what I think about it?"

"I think I know what to do about it. I just..."

"Do spit it out, Sam."

"Why me, of all people?" he asked. "There's a hundred men in the city who'd give their left arm to...entertain her Ladyship in the absence of his Lordship. Why'd she single me out? Why do they always single me out?"

Sybil rubbed his arm. "Because you're different, Sam. Yes, you're in her social class -- "

" -- I am not -- "

" -- yes you are," she said, without missing a beat. "And you're rich and powerful. All the men we know have that. You're handsome -- "


"Sam, stop interrupting," she scolded. He rubbed the tip of his scar, sullenly. She took his hand and pulled it away.

"You are," she said softly. "You wear everything you're feeling on your face. That's about as handsome as a man gets, I reckon."

"Yes, well, rugged good looks aside -- "

She smiled. "You don't play the game, Sam. It's the same reason Havelock made you an ambassador. You're a new sort of toy -- you're uncomplicated, and blunt, and people aren't used to that. It makes them interested." She twined her fingers in his. "Lady Selachii wants to add you to her collection of unusual men, that's all. Once she sees you're not interested, she'll lose interest too. You...aren't interested, are you?"


"Only teasing, Sam."

Young Sam began to cry, then, and Sybil took him out of his basket, hushing him gently.

"There, Sam," she said, smiling. Sam Vimes senior, unaccustomed to the emotions he often felt when he saw Sybil holding his child, watched in dark-eyed silence as she hummed to the baby.


The grounds of the Selachii estate were damp and misty in the early morning, before the fog of the nighttime really burned off into the bright, merciless sun of summer in Ankh-Morpork. Vimes trudged up the gravel pathway, feeling rather like an actor who's had two hours to memorise his part.

He wanted it to be early in the day, to get it over with, and Lady Selachii had no objection to the hour; she was probably, he thought glumly, going to be in a dressing gown.

Unlike Carrot, Vimes went to front doors, these days; it was a point of pride that Watchmen were more than delivery boys. A servant let him in, with a mixture of sympathy and sullen suspicion, and led him up the stairs.

Lady Selachii was seated before a mirror, brushing her hair. There was the requisite dressing gown, and the shiny, lacy nightgown, of the sort nobody actually wore to sleep in*. She flashed him a brilliant smile when he took off his helmet and returned her greeting.

* This was an assumption on his part, not having had extensive experience with what women slept in, but Vimes could hardly imagine that their prime purpose was for comfort while snoozing.

"My but it's early still," she said, stretching lazily. "Always on the job, are we, Commander?"

"Crime doesn't sleep," he replied. "Even garden-gnome theft."

"Ah, yes. My poor little gnomes," Lady Selachii smiled brilliantly again. "And besides, why sleep when there are so many more entertaining things one could be doing?"

"Couldn't speak to that. I like a good night's sleep, myself," he replied. "Shall I take your report?"

"My what?"

"Well, I'll need descriptions of the gnomes, and any possible troublemakers in the household..." he reached for his notebook, but she laughed and shook her head.

"Surely you don't think I called the Commander of the Watch to the estate to chase down gnome thieves?" she asked.

"Especially since they're all stowed in a broom closet in the cellar," Vimes agreed. Her eyes narrowed slightly. He could see her trying to decide which game he was playing.

"So why do you think...I asked you to come here?" asked Lady Selachii. One of the straps of her nightdress slid off her shoulder, and suddenly he was getting a very close look indeed at her Ladyship.

But he'd been waiting for this. Well. Sort of. Not in that way. But yes, waiting...

Not taking his eyes from Lady Selachii's face, he reached into his breastplate and took out his notebook. He licked the tip of his pencil.

"Lady Selachii, would you like to explain why you are in a state of undress in front of the Commander of the Watch?" he asked. Several small inner Vimeses were going poker-faced.

"Well, I..." she blustered, looking embarrassed. "My strap must have just come undone -- "

"I'm fairly sure I saw your hand unbuckle it," Vimes said, making a few short notations in his book. "Go on, do it up, I'll look away."

Lady Selachii apparently thought this was a flirtation of some kind. She swiftly shifted gears.

"Or you'll do what?" she asked, walking past him. One finger trailed along the edge of his chain-mail.

It was an enormous irony that yes, he was indeed completely untouched by this. Lady Selachii...who was objectively a good deal more physically attractive than Sybil, not that he'd admit it in a million years...had no attraction for him at all. Not a flicker of desire.

And even if there had been, he thought, I'm a copper. That's all I'm good at being, and I'm very good at being it. I'm a copper on a case. And she wouldn't even half-distract me. That de Worde boy is more distracting than her.

Hells. Ten years ago I would have --

-- been sent to the kitchen entrance and told to wipe my boots.

"Ma'am, there are laws about public decency in this town," he said, keeping a straight face. Fred Colon had looked them up once, in Carrot's copy of Laws and Ordinanfes; they'd laughed for hours over some of the laws they were still supposed to enforce. Public Decency was something that happened to other cities.

"Oh?" she said. She pressed against his hip. A foot slid up his leg. He looked down at it, perplexed, in his best "is this a clue?" attitude.

"There are also laws about assault," he said.

"Arrest me," she replied.

"I'd really rather not, Lady Selachii. If you pull your strap up I'll be on my way and we'll say no more about this. A warning's more than most get," he added, quite seriously.

Gods. Carrot must feel like this all the time. The power that came with willfully and aggressively Doing Your Duty. No wonder the poor lad was a bit mental.

Lady Selachii looked confused. Vimes turned his head to look her in the eye. He saw the shock; the nobility rarely met each other's eyes at all, and never while doing this sort of thing.

"Are you attempting to seduce an officer of the Watch?" he asked, curiously.

"Yes," she answered, batting her eyes.

Vimes took a second for self-examination.

Nothing. He was a copper on a case, and she was a misleading clue.

"Madam, in accordance with section three, paragraph eight of the city Watch code of conduct, I am forbidden to become intoxicated, commit crime, or indulge in personal licence while on duty, on pain of severance*," he recited. "I'm fairly certain seduction comes under personal licence. However, my shift ends at six thirty this evening, and if you come up to the house on Scoone Avenue, I'm sure we can discuss this with Sybil."

* Vimes especially liked that section, because 'severance' was never clearly defined. Whatever it was, it terrified the new recruits.

The name was like a slap in the face.

"That fool doesn't know what she's got," she snapped, stepping back.

"Can't speak to that," he said, savouring every word of his reply. "But she knows what you haven't got."

Lady Selachii's jaw dropped open.

"I recommend you get that strap fixed," he said. He put on his helmet -- touching it respectfully -- and left.

Behind him, he heard the faint sounds of a woman going ino angry fits.

He chuckled.


[identity profile] 2005-09-22 01:09 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, Sam.

Sam, I do love these.

Just reading over them makes me grin.

Gods. Carrot must feel like this all the time.


[identity profile] 2005-09-28 01:22 pm (UTC)(link)
Ah, how on Earth would I distract myself from Exams of Vital Importance to Determine My Future (MacDonald's chick or billionaire) without you, Sam. I remember reading this one months ago, but still giggle-inducing. I've always been tempted to act like Carrot too.

Co-President of the Sam Storyteller Appreciation Consortium,
Co-Chair of Vimes Anonymous (We Choose to Sam! Come along for a sing-song and get your own Copperbadge Ribbon!),
Generally unhealthily obsessed with everything you write and likely to get my Co-Present and Co-Chair, The Toaster, to make icons about it.

*goes off to quietly fangirl in a corner*
*clicks another link*

~ Yeti

(Anonymous) 2006-09-04 01:39 am (UTC)(link)
ROTFLMAO! Brilliant!

(Anonymous) 2008-01-30 10:38 pm (UTC)(link)
Beautifully brilliant. I LOVE the scenes you write for the AMCW! Its like reading Prachett while waiting for him to write another novel.

[identity profile] 2009-11-20 11:04 pm (UTC)(link)

Ah, Sam. I think he is the best character in the Discworld, some times.
shadowclub: (Default)

[personal profile] shadowclub 2011-05-26 02:55 am (UTC)(link)
Wonderful! I do so love Discworld and in particular the Night Watch:) This fic had a great insight on Vimes... and I could totally see this happening!

[personal profile] chironsgirl 2011-11-23 08:23 pm (UTC)(link)
I do love a man in fusty chain mail.