Samuel Vimes yawned, stretched, and snuggled back into the bed-clothes, clinging to the last vestiges of sleep. He was exceedingly unaccustomed to this feeling of waking because he'd slept long enough. Generally he was awaken by nightmares, an urgent banging on the front door, or the disgustingly cheerful voice of an imp alerting him to an upcoming appointment at some absurd hour of the day or night. Or, in the old days, by an excruciating headache and the immediate need to vomit. A good night's sleep was something that happened to other people.
This morning he actually felt good. And hungry, which was also unusual. Hopefully Sybil, if she was not already at the Sanctuary, could be cajoled into making him a plate of bacon, eggs and bread, all well fried in a good amount of grease. If not, there was always Harga's.
He did seem to have a few unusually sore muscles. And his privates were smarting. But at least, for the first time in too many days, he wasn't waking up hard as stone...
No, he couldn't have. They could not possibly have. He'd just had a particularly odd... and vivid... dream.
Except this was not his bed. He'd become accustomed to the lumps and hollows that had developed in the bed where Sybil's impressive mass had slept nearly every night for many years, and this was most definitely not his bed.
Reluctantly, he opened his eyes just enough to see his surroundings. Vetinari's bedroom. No denying it.
He squeezed his eyes shut.
Okay, calm down and think. Had Vetinari really...? And then had he actually said that...? And then had Vimes himself actually...?
Yes, he really had. They really had.
Surely not that part when he'd... and then they'd...
Yes, that part too. He'd seen the empty water glass still sitting by the bed. Not to mention various damp spots on the bed sheets which his mind had been desperately trying not to register. No, definitely don't mention those.
Oh gods, gods, gods!
"Uh, Lord Vetinari?" he ventured quietly, still not opening his eyes.
No answer. Okay, good, he was alone. Now what? Besides total, blind panic?
Fearfully, not feeling he had a choice, he opened his eyes fully and sat up in the bed. There was a sheet of paper featuring the Patrician's flowing script on the pillow next to him. Cautiously, he picked it up by the edge.
“I sent word late yesterday evening to your wife that you were at work on a case of utmost urgency and might not return home before the night was out.
Please make thorough use of the tub in the bathroom. This is extremely important. Consider the extraordinary senses of a certain member of your staff.
When you leave, take care not to be seen on the upper floors. If you depart through the kitchens, no one is likely to find your presence here noteworthy.
Take the jar in the drawer with you.
The ink I have used to write this will fade by mid-afternoon. Nonetheless, I would prefer you burn this missive in the fireplace immediately.”
'...late yesterday evening...' Gods, he'd been asleep... when he hadn't been doing other things... for at least 24 hours. Maybe more.
'...sent word to your wife...'
Oh shit! Oh shit, shit, shit!!
'...thorough use of the tub...' Oh, gods, gods, Angua! If he ran into Angua, her nose would tell her whom he'd been with, what they'd been doing, and probably how many times they'd done it! He sniffed reflexively, and his body responded immediately with a flush of warmth through his lower parts. No, this was not the time to think about that!
'...the jar in the drawer...' Damn it, stop thinking about it!
Vimes quickly got out of the bed and tied the much wrinkled robe tightly around his waist. At least it had apparently miraculously avoided getting soiled. He worried briefly about Lord Vetinari's arrangements for the laundering of bed linens.
Padding to the window but keeping well to the side, Samuel lifted the edge of the drapery enough to see the grey, bilious sky. It looked to be late morning already. Damn!
Gods, what he would do for just one drink! One, or maybe three... No, that was a dead end street not worth considering. Not ever, but especially not now. He had to keep a clear head.
But he couldn't help wondering if Hav...if Vetinari kept whiskey stashed someplace here in the bedroom.
No! Stop thinking, stop thinking, stop thinking!!
Vimes shivered in the icy cold of the room. There was no fire burning in the fireplace. No, there wouldn't be, would there? It would have been rather awkward for Lord Vetinari to order a fire be laid last night.
Vimes found his clothes still lying in the changing area. A quick check produced not only a few matches but a cigar, which seemed like a tremendously good idea. He lit the cigar, somewhat calmed by the familiar ritual. Then he walked to the fireplace and held the Patrician's note to the glowing end. He watched it burn until there was nothing left but ash, then used the poker to stir the ashes. Next he went to draw a bath.
Sam hissed in pain when the hot water first touched his crotch, but once he was settled, soaking in the tub felt absolutely wonderful. Sighing, he immersed himself until only his nose and the stub of the cigar remained dry. It's hard to remain panic-stricken when you're steeping in a hot tub. Only after the warmth had soaked into every muscle and nerve did he give in to the internal voice that clamored for him to hurry home before matters got any worse... if they could get any worse. He scrubbed from head to foot with soap and sponge. Then he went back and scrubbed certain parts again, in spite of the discomfort. He considered shaving, but after giving some thought to the possible repercussions of borrowing the Patrician's razor, decided that could wait until he got home. If Sybil believed he had been working all night, she wouldn't expect him to come home shiny and shaved. That is, if she'd even let him in the door.
He dried himself and dressed quickly, in deference to the room's chill. He started for the door, then reconsidered, retrieved the jar from the bedstand drawer, and slipped it into a pocket. After listening at the door to make sure no servants were in the corridor, Samuel Vimes quickly and silently snuck out of the bedroom of the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork.
Harga's wasn't worth the considerable trip out of his way, but Sam was damned if he was going to face Lady Ramkin with his stomach rumbling. He therefore settled on another establishment, which charged him significantly more for undercooked (in Vimes' opinion, meaning there were no black crunchy bits) eggs and bacon that was less than 80% fat. He probably could have gotten something to eat at The Mended Drum, which was on the way, but food was not the primary item on the menu there, and Vimes' wasn't quite ready for that temptation.
Heading to what he still thought of as Sybil's house, he made himself stop at an uppity little antique shop which he normally would not have considered entering on a dare, except possibly on Watch business. There he paid what he regarded to be an outrageous price for a vase quite similar to the one he had broken. He hadn't ever liked the damn thing, and doubted that Sybil was all that fond of it herself, but a promise was a promise.
It had been a passably good day. In fact, Vimes had to admit, it had been a passably good week. A cold rain, the type that penetrates straight to the bones, had settled over the city, which tended to keep street crime down simply because people didn't venture outside any more than necessary. And what crime there had been was the everyday Ankh-Morpork variety... breaking up skirmishes, unintentional suicides, the occasional foot chase... the sort of thing Sir Samuel was comfortable with. And he was, for the most part, comfortable. Except for the worst of the bruising, the injuries that had been such a bother were nearly healed. He'd run a good mile before tackling a renegade pickpocket yesterday, and not given a thought to any pain except the one in his chest, which he expected from overworked lungs.
Things were pretty much back to normal at the Watch House. The men weren't slinking about, hiding, or running away when they saw him anymore, since they'd figured out he was no longer likely to yell, 'Get the hell outta my sight!' at them. It was no longer necessary for him to avoid Angua at all costs, and after a couple days she had stopped avoiding him as well. There had been three or four matters that required reporting directly to the Patrician, but Vimes had sent Carrot to handle those. And Vetinari had not summoned him personally... Vimes derailed that train of thought.
Willikins was staying out of Sam's way, as always, but he wasn't racing out of the room every time Vimes walked in. Sybil was still having horrendous mood swings, of course, but she seemed much more reasonable these days. (Sam was only peripherally aware that this may have stemmed from the fact that he had stopped avoiding her whenever it was possible and screaming at her when it wasn't.) He had been home for dinner no less than four times this past week, and twice they had even managed to get through the entire meal uninterrupted. Most other nights he had been home before she was ready for bed, or at least, as tonight, before she had fallen asleep.
Vimes was bone tired, but it was the good kind of tired, the sort that came from a long day's hard work. He shucked the last of his clothing, stretching until his joints cracked, then sat on the edge of the bed, scratching distractedly at the various little itches that had to be ignored when one wore leather, chain metal and a breast plate all day. He all but melted into a puddle when Sybil reached over and began scratching all the really hard to reach places on his back. When he'd finally had enough he slid under the covers and gave his wife a quick goodnight kiss on the cheek.
She responded by kissing him on the mouth, first quickly, then a second time, lingering.
Sam lifted one eyebrow, smiling slightly. "What was that for? I didn't even get home in time for dinner."
"Oh, I was just thinking that... it's been a rather long time... oh, never mind. It's silly for me to think I could be attractive to you when I'm all fat and bloated up like a sow."
Sam blinked. He hardly ever thought about Sybil in terms of being attractive. She was his wife, for gods' sake!
The seldom used part of his brain that processed such things as subtle messages awoke long enough to pound at the door of his forebrain and kick his id.
"Uh. You're not fat, you're pregnant. I may be ignorant about these things, but I do believe there's a significant difference." He kissed her softly, then again, and yet again.
"Are you sure you want to, dear?" he asked her gently, "I know we can't do this the usual way. I don't want to hurt you."
"Oh, quite sure. More than sure. But what about you? Are you... okay...?"
"Oh, I think so. Hm. Wait just a minute, I know something that might help." He padded to the lavatory and found the jar the Patrician had given him. Since moving into the Ramkin house, Vimes kept nearly everything he might not want seen by Sybil at his office. It seemed to him as though marriage meant, from the male's point of view, being always subject to random searches. Shirt pockets had to be emptied prior to laundering, underwear drawers were opened to put clean laundry away, and absolutely anyplace was subject to cleaning. He'd left the jar in plain sight, in hopes it would be dismissed as part of his shaving supplies.
When Sybil asked the predictable 'What's that?' question, Vimes demonstrated, scooping a small amount onto her fingers and guiding them over himself. The combination of the lubricant and Sybil's strong, capable hands very quickly solved all embarrassing problems of Vimes not being in the required mood. Fortunately for him, she did not ask the equally predictable 'Where did you get it?' question.
Matters were, as Sam had feared, complicated, and somewhat time consuming. First finding a position that didn't hurt Sybil, that couldn't injure the baby, and that Sam could maintain for longer than a few seconds. Then work in an angle that was comfortable for both man and wife. And still have all of it be physically possible.
Nonetheless, finally sheathed within Sybil's tight, slippery warmth, the obstacles paled to insignificance. Holding himself back while Sybil moved ever more quickly against him, nuzzling her ample breasts and feeling her hands clutch and squeeze his ass, there was more than physical pleasure (although that was sizeable, and becoming more important by the second). There was also a sense that his world had now fully returned to routine and normal. And that was how he was most comfortable. Sir Samuel strongly objected to surprises and change.
And then he couldn't think of anything. As Sybil pulled him closer, impaling herself completely and grinding against him, Vimes could only struggle for self-control. She suddenly froze, then exhaled with a series of delighted moans.
"Gods!" Sam gasped as her muscles spasmed around him, blowing to bits the last of his restraint. He began thrusting into her in earnest, every wave of pleasure spurring him on to the next.
"Sam! Oh, Sam, what you're doing! Don't stop, don't stop!"
He was almost beyond understanding, and oddly not altogether pleased at Sybil's begging. Her words did do wonders for his ego, and he certainly had no intentions of stopping, but the process was going to culminate damn soon if he kept up like this.
Sybil's fingers dug into the muscles of his buttocks, pulling their bodies tightly together. That served to break Vimes' rhythm, something he had nearly lost the ability to do on his own. But now she was writhing against him in tight circular thrusts that sent unbearably intense jolts of pleasure through his entire body. With a low, guttural groan he threw his head back, sweat stinging his eyes. Biting hard on his lower lip, he tried desperately to think of something that would help him control his body's response long enough for Sybil to finish, but the rhythmic friction was too much for him, and he felt himself begin to tighten.
"Sybil, I can't!" he moaned, trying to warn her.
"Tell me, Sam! Say it!"
"I can't hold back. I can't... I've got to... Gods, I'm going to come!"
Hearing the words, in Sam's gasping, desperate voice, was an efficient trigger, and Sybil at last cried out in triumph. The pulsing of her muscles pushed Vimes over the edge and the tsunami crashed over him.
Twenty minutes later, Sybil was snoring contentedly, a faint smile still lingering on her face. Usually Samuel would have been sound asleep as well at a time like this, but tonight he lay on his side, facing away from his wife, his eyes wide open and staring into the darkness. The prospect of sleep was far on the distant horizon, where it was joined by ominous clouds of dreams. His mind raced frantically through his head, looking for dark corners where it could hide from The Thoughts. Vimes was not comfortable with deep thinking. He liked things to be straightforward and logical. On this night, he found it highly disturbing living in his own head.
He'd felt the climax beginning, realized that Sybil was at last satiated, and given himself over completely to the exquisite, throbbing release.
And as it burst through him, he had suddenly remembered with crystal clarity the taste of Vetinari's mouth sealed to his own, the feel of Vetinari's hand stroking his erection, and the sound of Vetinari's voice moaning his name.