sam_storyteller: (Discworld: Watch)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-09 09:20 am

Changes; G.

Note: This takes place in an alternate universe, a few years after the events of Night Watch.
Summary: Things have changed for Sam Vimes, but perhaps that's not a bad thing.
Warnings: None.

Also available at AO3.


History, contrary to popular theories, is kings and dates and battles. -- Small Gods

The house was large. Bigger than large. It was a house on a grand scale, with turrets and alleys, hidden nooks in the outer architecture, sweeping halls and airy rooms on the inside. The grounds sprawled over a good portion of the block, and included several ornamental ponds, a few fountains, lots of shrubbery, and the Dragon House.

Carrot had been to the mansion on Scoone Avenue many times, but it always put him slightly in awe. That people lived here was amazing. That Mister Vimes lived here -- Mister Vimes, who had lived happily in a room with no furniture other than a bed and chair -- was fascinating.

Carrot always came to the back entrance. He didn't feel right going to the front door. He didn't go to the front door anywhere else, after all.

The kitchen staff, well-used to Carrot's ways, let him in and sent him up through the kitchens to the library. He could hear voices; Mister Vimes and young Sam. Mostly young Sam.

"Where...up...on...the Watch arr...ived, and the meeting was broken up."

"Very good. Do you know what 'whereupon' means?"

"Yep. It means 'at that time'."

"That's right. Now try this one. See, it's about the picture."

"The picture of the man in his underwear?"

"It's called a loincloth. It's what barbarian adventurers wear."

"Don't they get cold?"

There was a laugh. "I don't know, Sam. Here."

"Eight injured in brawl at Brew Rat tavern."

"Blue rat."

"It says Brew."

"It's a typo."

"What's that?"

"A mistake."

"How do you know?"

Silence for a moment. "Well, I know the name of the tavern, and if you look down in the article -- see there? -- it says Blue."


Carrot knocked on the door, and Mister Vimes' voice echoed back. "Come in!"

"Morning, sir," Carrot said, stepping inside. Vimes folded the newspaper he was holding and laid it on the table. Young Sam, in his lap, turned wide six-year-old eyes to the Captain.

"Good morning, Carrot," Vimes said with a smile. "Say hallo to Carrot, Sam."

"Hallo Carrot," Sam said obediently. "We were reading about you."

"Oh?" Carrot asked. "In the newspaper?"

"I read the whole article. It said you apprehended a man in Short Street with a knife."

"The man had the knife, not Carrot," Vimes added.

"That's right, papa," Sam said seriously. "Is it true, Carrot?"

"Yes, lad," Carrot said. "Come to bring you the shift reports, sir."

"Monday again, is it?" Vimes asked. He accepted the files, paging through them. "New shift schedules, how're they working?"

"Ticking over fine, sir, once we got everyone to set their clocks right," said Carrot. "There's incident reports too. Strange murder up in Five-and-Seven yard. Angua's handling it."

"I'll look it over first thing," said the Commander, reaching into his breast pocket. He pulled out a pair of wire-rimmed glasses, and gave Carrot an embarrassed look. "Only for reading," he murmured.

"Not surprised, sir, all the reading you have to do," Carrot said. He was sorry as soon as he'd said it, but Vimes waved a hand.

"You're right, of course. Hm. Cheery had a look at this?"

"Not yet, sir. Just happened last night. She's down there now, taking iconographs."

"Good. Good. Have her send up the results, when she gets them. I may take an interest in this," he added. Sam, bored, began to fidget, and Vimes put him carefully on the floor. "Run on to your mum, Sam, she's down in the dragon house."

"Bye, Carrot!" Sam called, from the hallway.

"Well-mannered little lad, sir," Carrot said.

"Yes, he's a good boy. All right, Carrot, these look in order. Have them back to you by end of week. If I get a chance, I'd like to see more on the murder. I'll be down later today, if I get Cheery's iconographs soon enough."

"Be good to see you out on a case, sir."

"Yes, I'm sure it would," Vimes said grimly. "That's all, Carrot. Thank you."

"Sir..." Carrot said. Vimes looked up at him, and noticed his uneasy look.

"I think I know what this is about, Carrot. Have a seat."

Carrot remained standing. It was a point of pride among Watchmen.

"Sit down, for the gods' sake, Carrot. If it helps, I know you're asking as a friend, not a watchman."

It was a good point. Carrot sat. Vimes rubbed his jaw, thoughtfully.

"Sybil's asked you to have a word with me, is that it?" he said. Carrot nodded, slightly shamefaced. "Let me see...she says I've been preoccupied, that I spend too much time in the library, and she's concerned that I've become depressed."

"Well, sir, not in so many words..."

"I thought she might be worried. I meant to have a word with her before she spoke to anyone about it, but time moves quickly, these days," Vimes said. He picked up a notebook and passed it to Carrot, silently. "I've been working on something. A...side project. I'd like you to have a look at it, actually, when you get the chance. I'm afraid these past few weeks, I've been neglecting things. I'm almost finished, now."

Carrot looked relieved. He picked up the notebook and opened it. After a few lines, his expression changed to one of intense interest. It was the expression Carrot usually wore when he was reading; words had never come easily to him, but he was a very thorough reader. When he reached the end of the page, he looked up.

"A history of Ankh-Morpork?" he asked.

"Not just a history, Carrot. A history from our point of view."

"The Watch?"

"The regular people. It's not just about battles and dates and kings, though there's that, too. It's a history of what happened to the ordinary people while all those things were going on. I got the idea when I...right after Sam was born. Just now getting around to working on it."

"I hadn't thought of you as a historian, sir."

"Well, I'm not. But Sybil said I needed a hobby, and you're managing the Watch rather well without me -- no, Carrot, I know you're doing fine," he added, with no more than a trace of bitterness in his voice. "I'm really a Commander now. I read reports and give commands, just like Vetinari, and then you get to go and do it. And I get to go back to reading the paper with Sam. It's all right, Carrot. I don't mind. Much," he added.

His hands went to the sides of his chair, and he moved deftly around the table, the well-oiled wheels making barely a sound on the carpeted floor. Carrot, as always when he saw his Commander operating the wheelchair, looked sad.

"Sooner or later I knew it would come down to it," he said quietly. "It was only a matter of time before all I did was sit in an office anyhow. Besides, someone's got to teach Sam about the world. Might as well be his father."

Carrot gave an uncharacteristic scowl. "It isn't right, sir."

"No, Carrot, it's not. But it's what is," Vimes said with a sigh. "There was always going to be a day I had to stop running. Now," he added, rolling back smoothly, "You've got a murder to solve, unless you want me wheeling around Five-and-Seven yard, and a Watch to run. Off you go. I'll be expecting those iconographs," he added, as Carrot saluted and turned to leave.

When the Captain was gone, Vimes smiled and shook his head. The wheelchair wasn't the prison Carrot always made it out to be. It had taught him patience, which most men, if they hadn't learned it by the age of fifty, wouldn't learn at all. At first, it had kept him at home, and that was perhaps best, especially for young Sam, who otherwise would only know his father as a man who was occasionally around at mealtimes.

Young Sam banged on the door, and didn't wait to be invited to charge inside; he carried a small hatchling dragon with him, and Vimes sighed. His son, who had inherited his eyes and jawline, had also inherited Sybil's madness for dragons.

"Look, papa!" Sam cried, holding the hatchling up for his father to see. Vimes looked down interestedly. There was no doubt about it; Sybil's breeding programme was definitely inching the bloodline back towards Errol, the old Watch mascot who'd rearranged his internal digestion to produce a rather...different sort of flame.

"Look at that nose," Sybil said, from the doorway. "We're getting closer."

"Aye, I can see that," Vimes said, pulling Sam back onto his lap, and stroking the little hatchling's head. It dribbled something corrosive on the table. Sybil crossed the floor, scooping it up before it damaged anything more.

"Carrot met us on the way from the dragon house," she said. "He explained things. If I'd known -- "

"I meant to tell you."

"Well, I should have asked."

"All right. It's your fault," he said, good-naturedly. She smiled, and stroked his hair out of his eyes.

"I'd like to read it sometime," she said.

"When it's done."

"I'm sure it's marvelous."

He kept silent, out of mild embarrassment. The hatchling burped, excitedly.

"I still don't see why you want to breed Errol's genes back into the line. Ugliest little whittle I ever saw," Vimes said finally.

"Well, I suppose. But you know, sometimes the whittles are the most worthwhile," she said. He glanced up at her. It was their little joke; Vimes, like Errol, had been nothing much more than a runt and a whittle before Sybil. But she'd seen something in him that was worthwhile, and occasionally she liked to remind him of that fact.

Sam, who was still young enough to believe that he should always be the centre of attention, stood on his father's lap and tugged at his mother's hand, peering over her fingers at the hatchling, who peered back.

"Would you change that? If you could?" Sybil asked.

His left hand strayed down to the thin metal rim on one of the chair's wheels, rubbing it thoughtfully.

"No," he said, finally, with a smile. He raised his hand to steady Sam, touching the small of his back. "I wouldn't change a thing."


[identity profile] 2005-09-26 04:35 am (UTC)(link)
This caught my eye "All right. It's you're fault,"

Otherwise, yay! More Samfic!

[identity profile] 2007-06-19 01:31 pm (UTC)(link)
Ooh that's lovely.Though I dread old/infirm Vimes, this version is comforting.

[personal profile] chironsgirl 2011-11-22 08:29 pm (UTC)(link)
I can see Sam spending all that furious concentration on creating a VERY accurate version of "common" folk history. Being trapped in a chair, not being able to give chase physically, would just give his mind more energy and focus. The gods themselves should tremble in their boots....