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chapters 1 2

Disclaimer:  Discworld belongs to Terry Pratchett.

A/N:  As always Jinxster gets lots of credit for not only beta-ing this piece of my imagination, but also for listening to me babble about it as I wrote it.  Thank you my friend.  This was inspired by the full moon.  Silly moon, giving me ideas like these.

~

A Changing Moon
by J.D.

Chapter 1

Samuel Vimes, Duke of Ankh-Morpork, Commander of the City Watch, sat behind his desk working on reducing the mountains of paper on it. There was a full moon out tonight and ever since the rumors of a werewolf in the Watch had begun to circulate, the crime rate on these nights had miraculously dropped, but illogically the paperwork had increased.

Sam Vimes grabbed the next paper and read it fervently. For some reason he felt very uneasy tonight. It seemed like ants were crawling under his skin and each of the little buggers was poking him with a tiny ant-sized stick.

He signed the request form from Captain Carrot asking for additional funds to improve the armour of the Watchmen. Apparently some bright dwarf lad, fresh from the mountains, had designed a new type of chain-mail that was light and strong enough to be worn under the armour without restricting movement.

Carrot also thought getting the Watchmen to wear it would show the criminals they were modern and ready for anything. It helped convince the Commander that the chain-mail was stronger than any protection they used before. It was tough enough to prevent a close range crossbow shot from penetrating into a Watchman's flesh.

Vimes sighed, set aside the newly finished paper into the Out Box and reached for the next sheet on the towering stack of paper. He just knew tonight was going to be a long night.  All the paperwork made it nearly unbearable.

-----------

Outside, the last slow golden light of the sun finally spilled over the Disc and let the darkness settle on its throne to reign. The moon was bright, and glowing. With deceptive benevolence it shined its silvered light onto Ankh-Morpork and through the office window of a certain Commander of the Watch.

-----------

Captain Carrot stood up from his own desk and walked upstairs towards the office of the Commander. His report for the activities of the day patrol was finished. All that he needed to finish the day were a few signatures from Mister Vimes and he could go back to his room for the night.

He was just about to knock on the Commander's door when he heard the dull thud of a falling body, a short sharp yelp and the final sound of a low, menacing growl.

"Mister Vimes!" He called out.

He rushed and opened the door. It was dark inside. The only light came from the full moon. The concern Carrot felt for Mister Vimes drove him inside. As he stepped in he was unaware of the danger that lurked in the room.

-----------

Bright light! Fear! Destroy light.

Satisfaction.

Hunger. Deep feeling. Empty belly.

Tear leafy white things! Leafy white things bad!

Must hunt.

Was confined! Anger.

Leave!

Get free.

Noise!

"Mister Vimes!"

Smelling. Scenting. Purple and orange with brown and silver. 

Pack member?

Enemy, not-enemy?

Other! Not pack! Enemy!

Kill. Must destroy.

Snarl at other. Scents of Not-pack!

Attack!

Kill! Eat!

-----------

Carrot caught a glimpse of a fast liquid movement leaping towards him and reacted immediately by ducking.

A dark figure went crashing into the wall behind him and softly yipped in pain.

Pulling out his sword, Carrot cautiously advanced.

The figure turned and the light from the window caught it just right to illuminate its face.

The sight made Carrot jerk back in shock and cry out. "Mister Vimes!"

The only answer he received was a loud snarl, a white flash of razor-sharp teeth and another furious attack.

Carrot hurled himself to the side. Wickedly sharp claws swept right past the area where his torso had just been. Rolling swiftly onto his feet Carrot, kicked out instantly. His thick leather boot cracked against Vimes' jaw and its force sent him slamming high onto the far wall.

Such a powerful blow would have knocked out even a troll and would have relaxed any other man into dropping his guard. But this was Carrot Ironfoundersson, who was dating a werewolf and knew better.

He was out of the door and slamming it closed just as Vimes hit it hard enough to buckle the thick wood.

A howl of frustration rose from the other side.

Carrot was lucky that Vimes was not at full strength yet. Had he been he would have torn the door clear off its hinges to get at Carrot or just ripped straight through the door. Carrot held his sword in his hand. If he were forced to, he would use it on the Commander.

The scramble of claws on the far side lessened and then stopped completely.

Carrot began cautiously backing away from the door. When it didn't fly open he walked quickly down the stairs and yelled for Dorfl and Detritus. He needed them now!

-----------

Sergeant Detritus caught Vimes in mid-air as the Commander leapt towards Carrot. He gripped onto the Commander's arm and legs. He wasn't able to hold onto one of the arms and it slammed viciously against his ear.

Detritus winced and quickly dropped the Commander. He clamped his hands to his head. There was an odd bonging sound ringing through his skull.

The Commander howled loud in victory.

Dorfl tackled Vimes to the floor before he had a chance to get up from the fall. Vimes let loose a growl of rage and began to fight off the golem. Detritus was finally able to clear his head and joined Dorfl, trying to help him control the Commander.

Carrot watched worriedly, as Detritus and Dorfl managed to get the Commander pinned to the floor.  Once they had him still Dorfl, who was stronger than any troll, was able to find a grip to hold onto the Commander.

-----------

Below most of the Watchmen were staring up towards the ceiling. The thumps, growls and the yells had at first not been loud enough to capture their attention over the normal complains and noises that filled the room. Then a loud inhuman howl had ripped through the ceiling. That most definitely had captured their attention. They didn't know what to do. Captain Carrot and Mister Vimes were both up there but neither had called for help. Plus Detritus and Dorfl had joined them and if there was something up there that those two could not handle than having a few more Watchmen up there wasn't going to make much of a difference.

They watched silently as Sergeant Detritus came down the stairs. He was rubbing his head and limping. The closest watchmen could actually see small fissures in Detritus' rock-like skin.

Their eyes followed him as Detritus went to his desk and sat down to work. All the Watchmen exchanged glances, which took a while due to some glances being handed around more than once, before they all converged on the sergeant.

-----------

Carrot brought in a few more oil lamps to light up the room.  With the light he was finally able to get a clear view of Mister Vimes.

The warm illumination showed that the Commander was no longer his usual self.

It showed exactly what had happened to Mister Vimes.

Carrot carefully set down the lamps on the floor and walked out. He was going to need some help.

-----------

When Carrot re-entered the room Dorfl had barely managed to hold onto Vimes. Not because he lacked strength but because he didn't want to hurt a man he deeply respected and Vimes was fighting like hell to try to get away from him.

Dorfl was glad he was a golem at the moment. Considering how dirty the Commander was fighting and the might of the kicks and blows he was delivering even a troll would be doubled over in pain after being kicked.  Repeatedly.  In the rocks.

-----------

Carrot stood frozen just outside the Commander's office and thought furiously. Tonight was Angua's night off. And with the full moon outside it wasn't likely that they would be able to find her until late tomorrow morning. 'D*mn! Mister Vimes needs help now!' Carrot chewed his lower lip and gazed up at the cracked ceiling. He would have to call in more powerful help. He looked back once more towards the Commander before nodding to himself. Mister Vimes would not have liked this but he was in no position to offer his opinion.

Carrot closed the door firmly behind him, ignoring the mob of Watchmen that were gathering around the stairs shouting to know what the hell was going on. They hadn't been able to get so much as a grunt from Sergeant Detritus. As Carrot started forward they parted and let him by. The grim expression on the normally cheerful captain silenced and worried them.

"Send a pigeon to the Palace." Carrot ordered Corporal Visit-the-Infidels-with-Explanatory-Pamphlets. "Inform the Patrician that there is an emergency. He needs to see the Commander right away."

Visit saluted and hurried out to get the pigeon.

-----------

Drumknott knocked on the door and walked in.

He set down the message onto the desk in front the Patrician's frosty blue eyes.

He was treated to the rare sight of surprise flicker across Lord Vetinari's face. As well as the rarer experience of hearing him curse.

"Get my carriage ready." Vetinari demanded. "I'm going to see the Commander."

-----------

Lord Havelock Vetinari, the Patrician to the City of Ankh-Morpork stepped into the Watch-House. Deafening silence and terror filled the room. Most of the Watchmen there were lucky to never have come under the personal attention of the Patrician and now they were under his direct cool gaze. All of them had a sudden fervent wish to be anywhere else. Even the middle of the Shades alone, unarmed, painted a vivid bright pink and possibly holding a target would be safer than being here.

Even the 'casual' way the man swung his black wooden cane chilled their bones.

Carrot looked up from some reports with relief. "Sir! Thank you for coming."

"What is the emergency, Captain?" Vetinari asked, a slight frown tugging at the tips of his mouth. "And where is the Commander?"

"Follow me please, sir. And I will be able to explain."

The watchmen looked on in horror as the Captain led the Patrician to Mister Vimes' office. Whatever had happened had to be horrible. The Patrician never visited the Commander for anything.

A few second ticked by as that terrible thought percolated through the collective terror-stricken mind of the Watch. Slowly they shuffled closer to the stairs. Well, except for the two young corporals that had collapsed with fear.

Sergeant Detritus stood up and calmly pulled out his siege weapon, the Piecemaker. It was loaded with its deadly bundles o' death. Suddenly thoughts of what the Patrician could possibly be doing at the Watch-house shifted to the more pressing concern of how steady the trigger finger of the sergeant was.

"Go back to work." Detritus ordered as the weapon creaked and trembled under the enormous strain.

So all the Watch went back to work, slowly and taking great care not to breathe too quickly or too much. 

-----------

Carrot paused outside the door of the Commander and looked at Vetinari anxiously.  Vetinari raised his brows in a silent question.

Carrot sighed, then opened the door and led the Patrician inside.

"Mister Vimes is a werewolf, sir." Carrot stated.

Vetinari blinked twice; startled. "How could he be a werewolf?"

"I think he was bitten in Uberwald, sir." Carrot shook his head in puzzlement. "Only he was there a couple of months ago and he's been fine for all this time. I don't know why it would affect him now. The problem is that he can't control himself, sir. I'm pretty certain he doesn't even know he is a werewolf. He is acting utterly like a wild and cornered animal."

Vetinari stared at the growling and biting figure in Dorfl's arms. "Most werewolves are born werewolves, Captain. Almost never does a werewolf actually bite a human hard enough to transfer the 'Curse' and still leave the human alive. Also the born werewolves have a nasty habit of hunting down any human that is turned. To keep the food from trying to elevate itself I believe is the primary motivation. The secondary being that they enjoy it."

Carrot looked pale. "They would kill Mister Vimes?"

"Oh most assuredly." Vetinari looked briefly at Carrot before gazing back at Samuel Vimes. "This must be kept a secret at all costs."

"Angua will be able to smell the difference, sir."

"She can be trusted, correct?"

"Of course, sir! She respects and admires Mister Vimes just as much as I do!"

"Then she may be able to help him learn to control his werewolf instincts." Vetinari narrowed his eyes in thought. 'If Vimes can control the beast then his being a werewolf could actually be of some benefit.'

Vimes looked mostly human. His hair was a couple of centimeters longer, and bushier.  His claws bore a resemblance to human nails and his teeth were noticeably pointier. Even his ears had developed little upturned tips. His armour had been torn off and scattered around the carpeted office floor. What looked like the helmet had ended up in the fireplace caved inward. What was left of his clothes was mostly his trousers and even those were beginning to fray as the leg muscles clenched and flexed in effort to escape.  Vetinari found himself watching those muscles, intrigued by how much longer the poor fabric could last against werewolf strength and Vimes stubbornness. Had he been a betting man he would not have given the trousers good odds.

He shook that thought away and continued his inventory of the room.  

Most of the paperwork that had reigned supreme on the desk had been torn to shreds. It seemed even while in a werewolf state of mind Vimes retained his aversion to paperwork. And had taken the necessary actions to get rid of it.

Vetinari frowned and thought, 'There had to be some sort of way to get the Commander to snap out of the wolf mind and back to the man.'

"My lord."

The Patrician turned back to Carrot's worried face. "Can you help him, sir?"

"I may be able to." Vetinari sighed. "Unfortunately, I need some way to contain him. Considering the state he is in now he will not be able, nor willing, to listen to any form of reasoning."

Carrot's eyes lit up with an idea. "I'll be right back, sir."

Vetinari nodded and went back to gazing at Vimes. He noticed that his savage struggles to escape the grip of the golem lessened mildly. It seemed something about Carrot was agitating the werewolf within the Commander. Considering how much Vimes liked Carrot it wasn't likely to be the captain that was causing the problem. Vimes hadn't changed much. He looked mostly human and once he learned to control himself he would pass as one even in the direct light of the full moon. If he kept him hands gloved, his mouth close and those slightly pointed ears under a hat.

So it had to be something else.

His nose was utterly human. How strong was his sense of smell?

Werewolves were very territorial. It was likely that the Commander could smell Sergeant Angua's scent all over Captain Carrot. An unfamiliar werewolf would indubitably cause problems with the animal within Samuel Vimes.

Vetinari watched interested as Vimes ceased struggling completely and began sniffing the air.

-----------

Enemy gone. Good?

No Not-Pack.

New scent.

Curious.

Strong-scent.

Not-Food? Of Pack?

Good scent. Bright gold, green, blue-violet. Black!

Happiness.

Darkness. Wooded darkness. Home? Pack.

Need. Want. Hunger? Not-Food hunger.

Is Pack! Mate?

Take! Now!

-----------

Vetinari wondered why Vimes suddenly started fighting with even greater fury than before. It did not fit his Angua-Scent Theory.

Vetinari sighed. 'It would be just like Vimes to not let himself be easily examined and determined. Frustrating man and wolf.'

Vetinari continued to analyze the changed man.

Through the shredded shirt that Vimes was wearing Vetinari could see the muscles underneath looked different. They were bigger, more pronounced and had a very solid look to them. Like steel was hidden underneath. His eyes had a golden glow and very little of the white of the eyes could actually be seen. 

'His vision must not be fully wolf yet. They look like human eyes, just on the large side. The rest of his werewolf abilities may be as limited. Such information will be vital in figuring out what to do with the Commander. And how to control him.'

-----------

Carrot finally returned and handed the Patrician a collar; made of silver. He also held a strong thick iron chain in his hands. The chain links were almost as thick as his thumbs.

The Patrician raised a brow, "I don't want to inquire as to why you own such an object Captain but it is very fortunate for the Commander that you do." He gave Carrot a small smile and Carrot learned to achieve new state of redness.

"Dorfl," Vetinari commanded. "Set him down but hold on to him."

Vetinari closed the silver collar around Vimes' neck.

Vimes let loose a scream that was entirely too human. It caused Carrot to flinch and even Dorfl's still form radiated unhappiness.

Silently Vetinari grabbed the heavy chain from Carrot's immobile hands and tied it to the iron ring on the fireplace. He clicked the other end onto the collar and told Dorfl to set the Commander down.

Carrot and Vetinari backed away. They watched intently as Dorfl let Vimes go.

Dorfl barely had time to back away when a furious swipe of claws rasped against his baked clay legs. Had Dorfl been human, his legs would have been in multiple pieces on the floor.

Neat bite sized pieces. 

-----------

'Get it off me!'

Pain.

Biting cold.

Destroy!

Hurtshurtshurtshurts!

Attack!

Enemies!

Hurting. Weakness.

Pain. Anguish.

Cold.

Get out!

Escape. Hurts.

Fury.

Fight!

-----------

"Both of you need to leave now." Vetinari ordered Carrot and Dorfl.

Stubbornly Carrot remained behind after Dorfl left.

Vimes was left growling and clawing at the silvered collar and chain trapping him in place.

Carrot asked, "What are you planning to do, sir?"

Vetinari tore his gaze off Vimes and raised a brow at Carrot. "You called for my help Captain. I do not need to explain myself. Now leave."

With a curt nod and a perfect salute, Captain Carrot spun around and left the room in a march.

Vetinari turned back to Vimes. He was glaring and growling.

"Sir Samuel," Vetinari's tone was amused. "You do have the habit of getting yourself into the worst situations."

Vetinari pulled one of his knives out of its hidden sheath. It was specially made with a fine blend of silver that was just enough to incapacitate a werewolf but not weaken the steel.

Vimes was still clawing at the silver collar but his movements were weaker than before.

Vetinari frowned. 'The silver should be reducing the power of his werewolf physiology down to more human levels. If his strength doesn't decrease further then he will be able to escape that chain.'

Vetinari stood just outside of clawing range trying to consider the best way to get through to the man inside the wolf.

He finally decided to try the direct approach.

"You have to concentrate Sir Samuel," he said. "I know you. You would never let a wolf control you forever."

Vetinari walked a semicircle around Vimes. "This isn't you. The Commander Vimes I know would be fighting to regain self-control every second. He'd never give up."

Vetinari stopped and knelt next to Vimes' eye level. The bloodthirsty fury in Vimes eyes would have sent any other man screaming for the hills but the Patrician knew of more horrible things that existed in the world. It was the lack of humanity, of Samuel Vimes, in those golden eyes that worried him the most. If there wasn't a Commander to reach than this exercise would be a waste of time and effort.

"Commander!" Vetinari snapped.

Within the far recesses of Vimes' mind the Watchman inside snapped to attention and was very confused as to why someone had turned off the lights.

The werewolf outside just paused and sniffed the air. The silver around his neck was steadily sapping away his strength but for every such second his powers as a werewolf grew stronger. So far they were at a draw.

The werewolf focused on Vetinari's scent and began to growl. He threw himself with all his strength towards Vetinari but was stopped. The chain held but it creaked dangerously. If the werewolf kept up attacks of such force it would snap within moments.

-----------

Danger!

Hurts.

Weakness.

Cold.

Need to leave!

Held down.

Escape.

Anger. Rage. Hunger.

Scent of Not-Food!

Attack!

Destroy!

-----------

The Patrician managed to dodge a vicious claw swipe at this stomach that ended up destroying part of the black robe but left the flesh beneath unmarked. Had he been slower Vimes would have ripped out his intestines. Vetinari frowned and began actively defending himself

His sudden knife thrust drew a shallow red line on Vimes' forearm. It made the werewolf yelp and shuffle back. The silver in the knife affected Vimes' changed physiology so it did not heal.

"Now listen to me Samuel Vimes. I know that you're in there.  You have to regain control. Those are orders."

The only reply Vetinari received was a low steady growl.

His own response was to mercilessly shove the end of his cane into Vimes' stomach. The pure silver knob on its end had Vimes whining and curling into himself on the floor.

He had to change tactics. It was obvious that Vimes wasn't aware enough to obey the order. He would need to get through the wolf before he got to the man. He hated to think that he would lose Sir Samuel this way.

Snarling, Vimes picked himself up off the floor and launched another attack on Vetinari.

The Patrician was a man who frightened all of Ankh-Morpork's citizens, among them dwarfs, trolls, the undead, the unliving, wizards, priests and the Guild of Assassins.

So Vetinari calmly stood facing the danger and stopped holding back.

-----------

"You are mine Samuel Vimes," Havelock Vetinari whispered to the panting form on the floor. "I am your pack leader. You will submit to me."

Vetinari pressed the end of his knife into Vimes' neck. Another smaller, slender knife hovered above an eye. The wolf whined once and then relaxed. Vetinari was no fool. He watched the way the wolf submitted and lowered the knife aimed at the eyes but left the first knife at Vimes' throat.

He had won. The wolf was his. Now to get the man back.

"I want you to snap out of this stage. Now, Samuel!"

The copper inside finally understood what he had to do and regained charge of the body.

Vetinari stared into Vimes' clouded eyes and watched the humanity wrestle control from the monster.

"Sirrrr," Vimes blinked and growled with confusion. "Whaat arrre youu dooiing herrrre?"

"Sir Samuel," Vetinari slowly smiled. "Welcome back."

Vimes blinked in bafflement and then furrowed his brow. "Why arrre youuu sitting on meee, sirrr? Anndd is thaaatt a kniiffee?"

Vetinari stood up and carefully watched Vimes follow his example. It didn't seem like the wolf would be resurfacing at moment. Now for the really difficult part; to let the Duke of Ankh-Morpork know he was no longer a human being but rather a werewolf.

Vetinari considered how best to break the news then decided that there was no way to soften the blow brought on by that information.

"You're a werewolf, Sir Samuel," said Vetinari.

A werewolf.

Vimes stared blankly at Vetinari.

This had to be some twisted joke. He wasn't a werewolf. 'What the hell was that bastard trying to pull.'

Angrily Sam Vimes tightened his hands into fists. He cried out as pain lashed his hands.

He looked down and was utterly horrified. His hands were bleeding. His fingers were claws that had torn into his palms as easily as a hot knife through butter. Yet the most horrible thing to Vimes' eyes wasn't the deepness of the ragged wounds but the rapid way that they immediately began to heal.

The inhumanly quick way that they disappeared without so much as a faint scar left behind.

'No.' Vimes screamed mentally. 'I'm not a werewolf! No! I'm not one of the monsters. I'm just a man. A human man! No, gods, please. Let this all be a nightmare.'

Vimes began shaking.

"No. no.no.no.nonononoonono," he whispered frantically.

-----------

Vetinari watched the realization strike Vimes and sympathy awoke within him. The Commander would not be able to handle such news very well it seemed. If needed he would intervene.

-----------

Vimes was panting in shock. It wasn't possible but it was. There was no denying it. He shivered suddenly feeling very cold. Everything was ruined; his life was over. He had to leave. He had to get as far away from people as possible. If he stayed he would end up hurting someone. He may even end up eating them. Vimes' stomach churned at the thought. He felt the gorge rise within him but he could also feel a small dark part of him salivate in hunger.

He shuddered. No! He couldn't, he wouldn't let that happen.

Then Vimes came to a decision he never thought he would ever make. It was an action he never thought he would voluntarily undertake.

He held himself stiffly at attention. "I tenderrr my rrresignation, my lorrrd."

"What!" Vetinari asked sharply. "You will do no such thing."

The despair on Vimes' face twisted Vetinari's stomach. "I can't be the Commanderrr of the Watch as a werrrewolf, sirrr. The men have a harrrd enough time accepting Angua. They would neverrr be able to handle having a werrrewolf as their commanderrr."

"Then they will never know."

Vimes closed his eyes tightly before opening them again. The Patrician just didn't understand. "I can't lie to them like that, sirrr. They depend and trrrust me to give them the rrright orrrderrrs and they trrrust me with theirrrr lives. I can't repay that trrrust by betrrraying it."

"Then I'm ordering you not to tell them."

Vimes mutely shook his head in denial.

Vetinari glared. "What. Else."

Vimes looked down to his paw-hands. He clenched them closed making the sharp claws tear into the palm of his hands and opened them again. He was nauseated by how quickly the wounds healed. He whispered dully. "I love being a Watchman, sirrr. I can help people that nnoo one carrres about and nooo oonnee considerrrs imporrrtant. I can find the killerrrs and thieves that plague the life of the harrrd worrrking citizens and I can look myself in the face in the mirrrrorrr and be satisfied that I'm doing all I can to imprrrrove life. I find the monsterrrs that prey on the

defenseless and I defend the law. And now." Vimes laughed hollowly, "Now, I'm one of the monsterrrrs, sirrr."

Vimes shook. Then he collapsed onto his knees. "I'm one of the bloody monsters!"

Vetinari watched in hard silence.

Vimes mumbled something under his breath.

"What did you say?" Vetinari sat next to Vimes on the paper-covered floor.

"Silverrrr and firrre." Vimes smiled hopefully. "They destrrroy werrrewolves."

Pure rage. Deep black rage swamped Vetinari's mind.

"NO!" He grabbed Vimes shoulders and yanked him close to his own face. "You will not kill yourself Samuel."

Vimes laughed bitterly. "I have nothing left to live for, sirrr."

"You will not kill yourself." Vetinari warned.

Vimes looked surprised at the continued insistence that he should survive. "Why would you carrre? I would be betterrr off dead. And not causing you any prrrroblems."

"I did not just spend the night locked in with an out of control werewolf just to have him kill himself."

Vimes pulled away slowly. "You will neverrr have that prrroblem again, sirrr. I prrromise."

Vetinari abruptly jerked Vimes back. "Now listen to me Samuel and listen closely because you don't want me to have to repeat myself. You will not kill yourself. Ever."

The Commander avoided Vetinari's razor gaze. He wasn't listening to a word the Patrician was saying. His feelings and mind were so twisted and lost over the revelation of being a werewolf that nothing else existed in the world. But the world wasn't going to forget him.

Vetinari sighed with impatience, and hauled Vimes up by the iron chain.

It shook Vimes out of his mental hell. He gasped and clutched his neck. He started glaring at Vetinari. "A collarrr! You put a damned SILVERRR collarrr on me?"

He hadn't even noticed it. He had been wrapped up in his anguish over discovering his new condition.

"You weren't exactly in the best frame of mind to put it on yourself."

Vimes sputtered.

Vetinari's voice became frosty. "It was the only way to weaken you and make sure that you didn't turn me and everyone else in the Watch-House into a werewolf entree."

Vimes flinched and hunched inward. "Did-Did I hurrrt anyone?"

The Patrician watched the agony on Vimes face. "No."

Vimes' body slumped with relief and he said fervently, "Thank the gods."

He moved away from Vetinari. "I don't deserrrve to live."

The Patrician sighed in annoyance. "Do you think that Angua doesn't deserve to live?  She's a werewolf as well."

Vimes shook his head, "That's differrrrent. Angua can contrrrol herrrself. I can't."

"You just need prrractice." Vetinari said reasonably.

"NO! The chance that I could hurrrt someone it too high!"

Vetinari changed tactics. He asked in a deceptively mild tone, "I gave you a command to not kill yourself. Are you planning on disobeying a direct order Commander?"

Vimes gulped. Even having the strength, the speed and above all the opportunity to rip the Patrician to shreds of meat Vimes didn't doubt that Lord Vetinari could hurt him, intensely, before he finished disagreeing. Yet he was more scared of himself than Vetinari at the moment. He reverted to his habit of staring at a fixed point on the wall. "I've tenderrred my rrresignation.  Sirrr."

Vetinari watched him for a moment. He asked, "What would it take to make you reconsider, Commander?"

"Sirrr?"

"What would it take from me to get you to reconsider resigning? What do you want in exchange for staying at your job?" Vetinari watched Vimes' face as surprise chased suspicion and bafflement.

"Sirrr?"

"You heard me Sir Samuel."

Vimes thought. 'Above all I want to be human again. But that's not something the Patrician has the power to give me. Does he?'

"I want to be human again."

Vetinari shook his head. He didn't even know if reversing the werewolf change was possible. He knew that born werewolves were permanently werewolves but those that had started off as human had always called it a curse. And curses could be broken. He just didn't have the information necessary to give the Commander any sort of hope.

"I don't know if that is even possible."

"Then therrre is nothing you can give me."

Vetinari grew cold again. "I didn't say that there was no possibility. Just that I, personably, do not know of a solution. It is quite possible that a cure exists."

Vimes felt hope flare then die. "No, if such a cure existed it would take too long to find. During such a time I could end up killing someone."

"That can be handled." Vetinari continued, "Would you accept just feeling human again?"

"What?" Vimes blinked, "How could you do that?" He laughed bitterly and held up his clawed hands. "I don't even look human at the moment."

Vetinari had a course of action in mind. There was a great chance that Vimes would reject it but it was the only available option he could currently think up. He acknowledged the fact and that he had a selfish motivation that he had wanted to do it for a very long time, the opportunity had never presented itself. Admittedly he had never considered that Vimes would be turned into a werewolf when he had decided to send him to Uberwald. Now though, circumstances had changed and Sir Samuel was so emotionally wrought over his change that there was a higher possibility than before that Samuel would accept his proposal. He would have to proceed carefully.

"I believe it is a common fact that people who face stressful situations 'feel' better after they bed someone."

"What?" Vimes flushed with embarrassment and waved his paws in the air. "Look at me!  I'm a werewolf. Have you lost your mind?"

Vetinari raised an eyebrow. And Vimes' mouth snapped shut. He remembered that this was the man who had single-handedly taken on a mindless werewolf and had not been killed.  Making Vetinari mad would not be good for his health.

"I-I-ah-" Vimes stuttered.

"Considering your aversion to having any one discover your condition-"

'He makes it sound like I've caught a cold.'

"-I would be the most logical choice."

'............' Vimes thought.

Giving him no time to think Lord Havelock Vetinari pulled Sir Samuel Vimes close and kissed him.

Vimes went mentally blank. He couldn't dredge up a hint of protest. It just wasn't possible that the Patrician of the city of Ankh-Morpork would be kissing him right now. Now even his craziest of fantasies, deep in the blackness of the night had ever created such a situation just to get a kiss.

As Vetinari licked at Vimes mouth it struck him that this was really happening. Veti- Havelock was actually kissing him.

He trembled as the Patrician's arms wrapped around his body. The strong slender arms felt strange and good on his skin.

Vimes should have pulled away then but it felt so right. He needed this. He had to reaffirm his sense of humanity. At the moment all he could think about was Vetinari. His inner wolf was agreeing that this was right and the man was in no state of mind to think rationally about it. But even had he possessed the ability to think clearly it was likely that he still would have done it. After all, affairs of the heart are notoriously messy and illogical in comparison to the mind and most thoughts that the Commander of Ankh-Morpork held for his leader were even more confused and emotional than normal.

So Sam opened his mouth and kissed Havelock back.

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Havelock gently pulled Sam down onto the pile of paper confetti on the floor. The scraps made a handy cushion considering the amount of it scattered around the room.

He increased the pressure of the kiss to Sam's mouth.

Moaning Vimes pulled him closer and devoured the taste of the Patrician.

Vimes tightened his grip on Havelock's body but was careful with his claws. One of them being a werewolf was one too many. He hated to think what would happen if they were both changed.

Vimes forced himself to ignore his werewolf worries and focus on his current, much more interesting actions.

Heat and sparks was spreading throughout his body. Touching Havelock like this felt oddly good. It seemed to complete something within himself. Right now he trusted Havelock more than he trusted himself.

He licked the other man's neck.

A sudden knock at the door pulled them apart.

"My Lord?" Carrot yelled. "Are you all right?"

Vetinari sighed. Of all the times to decide to knock. "Yes Captain. I'm fine."

Vetinari stood and moved toward the door. Behind him he could hear Vimes mutter under his breath. Something about timing and docking pay as punishment.

The Patrician opened the door and let Carrot in. He had forgotten about his appearance until the shocked look on Carrot's face reminded him of the sad state of his clothes.

"My Lord! Are you sure you're all right?"

Vetinari smoothed the black robe and fingered the ripped ends. He nodded. "I said I was fine. He only got the clothes."

"Should have aimed betterrrr," Vimes muttered to himself.

"Commander!" Carrot step forward. "You're back to normal!"

Vetinari's mind began planning fervently. He wanted to finish what he had started with Samuel and he intended to let nothing get in the way. If he gave the Commander too much time to think he would indubitably talk himself out of it.

"Captain. I want you to get my carriage ready to go." Vetinari eyed Vimes' very disheveled and torn clothes. He smiled slightly. "Also get the Commander some clothes. And a hat."

"Why?" Vimes asked.

"You don't want your men to know that you are a werewolf and we will need to hid those ears as we leave."

Vimes' hands reached up and felt the tips of his ears. He frowned. "I'm fine herrrre."

"Think Sir Samuel, please. The full moon is still out and your office is the last place you want to be at the moment. Someone could walk in here at any time." Vetinari tone was rather dry.

Vimes looked at Carrot, then back to Vetinari and nodded.

"Well Captain," Vimes said. "You hearrrd the Patrrricain."

"Yes, sir!" Carrot saluted.

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The carriage ride was silent and the air virtually crackled with the strength of their emotions. Vimes was staring out the window at Ankh-Morpork. The overwhelming sense of loneliness was returning. Being kicked out of the human race, without so much as a weekly notice, was affecting his sense of self. And his self-worth.

He had just become one of the most feared and hated creatures in the world.

That was bound to make the most self-assured man lose his confidence.

"What are you thinking?" Vetinari's voice was loud in the dark carriage. "You are being most unlike yourself."

Vimes glared across the carriage at the dark shadow that had to be the Patrician. "I'm not like myself in a lot of ways tonight."

The touch of a cool hand at his neck made Vimes yelp in surprise. Vetinari hadn't made a sound when he had moved. Vimes blinked and thought, 'How did he do that?'

Vetinari amused voice continued, "Really? I never would have guessed."

Sam Vimes shivered as Vetinari's hand moved up his neck, then to his cheek and caressed the cheekbones.

"Why arrre you doing this?"

"I believe that I've explained myself sufficiently."

"I can't believe that you arrre doing this without getting something out of it."

"You are correct, Sir Samuel. I am getting something out of it. I save myself the effort of having to find another Commander of the Watch whose actions I can predict and manage with such control."

Vimes growled and looked away towards the passing streets of Ankh-Morpork. Why was he hoping for anything else from the Patrician? The man never did anything without some sort of political reason. He swallowed down his feelings of hurt and anger. 'Why was I expecting something more? I really should have known better.'

Vimes pulled himself away from Vetinari's touch and the Patrician let him go.

At least until they arrived at the Palace. Once there, Lord Vetinari pulled him close and wrapped his arms around Vimes. The Commander had no time to think when Vetinari's hands tightened on his buttocks. He pulled Sam's body closer and rubbed himself against the length of his body.

He was crushing his mouth against Sam's, before the Commander could even assimilate his actions, then pulled away just as quickly.

Sam mentally reeled. He looked at Vetinari, his eyes wide with shock.

"Well," The Patrician asked, as he stepped out of the carriage and onto the Palace grounds. "Are you coming or not?"

Vimes dazedly followed Lord Vetinari through the halls of the Palace.

If he had been paying closer attention he would have noticed that they were entering unfamiliar doors at a breath-taking pace. And that within moments he would be thoroughly lost with no knowledge of how to leave.

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They walked into a room, somewhat on the small side with a bed, a wardrobe and a desk with a chair; as the only furniture. No pictures, paintings or any type of wall hangings decorated the blank walls. There wasn't even the green wallpaper that afflicted the rest of the Palace. There were no windows, and the only light came from a few candles placed around the room. There was another door that led into a room nearly hidden by the wardrobe.

This was the personal bedroom of the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork.

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