Disclaimer: Vimes, Vetinari, and the entire Discworld are the property of the greatest author in the multiverse, Terry Pratchett. No disrespect or copyright infringement is intended. Lord Rimwood and his son Grolen are mine.
Warnings: This is a Vimes/Vetinari slash piece, although there is only one brief explicit sex scene. Nonetheless, if you are offended or uncomfortable with stories about same gender sexual relationships, we’ll both be happier if you go read something else instead.
In This Room
“I didn’t know whether or not you would come.”
“I almost didn’t.”
Anyone else hearing the conversation would have thought it singularly strange. When the Patrician summoned the Commander of the City Watch, or anyone else in the City for that matter, declining the invitation was not an option reasonably considered by one not suicidally inclined.
But to Commander Vimes’ eyes, the summons was so worded as to indicate it was an invitation, not an order, and that the meeting would take place in a certain secluded and well-secured bedroom in the Palace rather than in the Oblong Office. Not that anyone else would have read it that way had they seen it, and of course no one else had.
Vimes stood stiffly by the door, barely-suppressed rage billowing off him like a particularly malevolent cloud. Vetinari stood near the window, alert and expectant.
Sir Samuel held his silence as long as he was able. It wasn’t very long
“That girl was only a child, Havelock!” he burst out without preamble, “She’s a child, trying to make some money so her family might have a loaf of bread once a week. But he beat her, and then he raped her. And you know it! But you let him walk out of here a free man!”
Vetinari turned away and went to the window, opening the heavy draperies just enough to look out. His body language said he had grown somewhat bored with the conversation. “I take it you’re still upset about the Rimwood trial yesterday afternoon.”
Vimes stared in outraged amazement. “Still up-...?! Hell yes, I’m still upset!”
“What did you expect, Samuel?” the Patrician asked nonchalantly.
“What I expected was justice!”
“And precisely what purpose would that have served? It would not have undone what he did to the servant girl. Samuel, even you must realize Lord Rimwood currently stands in an important and pivotal position in this city. I could not expect him to deal with me in good faith in the future had I sentenced his first-born son to hang.”
“Good faith be damned! Justice doesn’t need to serve a purpose! And it would have kept Grolen Rimwood from attacking some other poor child, that’s what purpose it would have served!”
The early morning sunlight was oozing half-heartedly through the dirty mists hanging over Ankh-Morpork. Vetinari looked out over his City and envied the multitude of souls for whom the day was just beginning. “The Rimwood boy will not be bothering any more young ladies,” he said evenly.
“Stop playing the fool,” Vimes growled. The Patrician looked over his shoulder, eyebrows raised in deceptively mild surprise, but Sir Samuel was too immersed in his anger to notice the danger. “He’s gotten away with it, and probably not the first time, at that. He’s a perverted bastard. His kind enjoys preying on helpless innocents. Mark my words, Vetinari, he’ll try it again, and I’ll bloody well be waiting. That’s my duty. But what good is it for the Watch to do it’s damn job when you bloody well won’t do yours?!”
“I’m certain you’re mistaken, Commander.” The Patrician’s tone was still matter-of-fact, yet with a subtle resonance that was colder than a glacier. “In fact, I have an appointment to meet with Lord Rimwood in just over two hours.”
“So you’re expecting the father to somehow rein in his naughty son?” Samuel sneered.
“Certainly not. No, I imagine Lord Rimwood has asked to see me in order to demand that you be stripped of your command in disgrace. I anticipate spending a dreary morning attempting to discourage him from sending an Assassin to your residence.” Vetinari paused for an instant, then added somewhat thoughtfully, “Though at the moment I cannot imagine why I should bother.”
“What? Why?” Samuel asked, his anger derailed by confusion, and too tightly wound up to consider the implications of that last remark. “He won. We all stood there in the Throne Room, I presented the charges, the godsdamned lawyer said his bit, and then you ruled it a misunderstanding and sent everyone on their way. He’s already had his hearty laugh at my expense. What nettle does he have up his arse now?”
Vetinari, a study in indifference, left the window and began absently examining the contents of a towering, dusty bookshelf. “I imagine, Sir Samuel, that he is convinced you are responsible for the visit paid last night to his son by a member of the Assassins’ Guild.”
Vimes froze, his mouth slightly open. He blinked. He started to speak, but was unsuccessful. He cleared his throat of the angry words lodged there and tried again. “Erm, what?” he managed.
“Your passionate speeches against what you considered an injustice do seem to provide motive, Commander. And backed by the Ramkin Estate you certainly have means. I am aware, of course, that you would bloody your own hands before you would deign to associate with the Assassins, but Lord Rimwood is not so well acquainted with your predilections.”
Vimes blinked again, still catching up with the conversation, and occasionally wincing as he replayed it. “Grolen Rimwood is dead?” he finally asked hoarsely.
“Killed by an Assassin?”
“Yes. Really, Commander, could you keep your attention on our discussion? I do so dislike repeating myself.”
Vimes’ mouth was still open. He blinked again. His world view had just jumped the track in the middle of a bridge and he was still waiting for it to hit the ground. “You? You hired an assassin...?”
Vetinari’s gaze snapped up from the book he had been absently perusing, and he straightened abruptly. “Sir Samuel, really! The dealings of the Assassin’s Guild are a matter of sacrosanct confidentiality,” he said sharply, “And do you honestly expect to hear me say I arranged the death of a Lord’s son and heir?”
“Good grief. You... you did. You unscrupulous, scheming, conniving... You weren’t willing to cross Lord Rimwood directly, so you... you arranged Grolen’s... discreet execution.”
“Dear gods, Commander, you have a vivid imagination, and are a difficult man to dissuade.” Vetinari turned back to the books.
Anger drained out of Vimes like water through a pinpoint hole in a dam. He swallowed hard. He closed his eyes and then covered them with one hand, head bowed. He shook his head slowly in vain denial. “Oh, gods...” he finally whispered.
“Sir Samuel?” the Patrician inquired politely.
“I’ve... Oh gods, I’ve been acting the bloody fool...”
“I thought... I never even considered...”
“Obviously.” The cool temperature of Vetinari’s voice had insidiously dropped to stone cold.
“I didn’t... I should never have... “
“I don’t bespeak respect from you, Commander,” Vetinari said, putting down another book he had chosen, “I don’t expect you to accept my decisions without question.” And then his tone changed, his very demeanor morphed, and affronted, injured anger crept into his voice. “But I did not expect you to ever bring our differences regarding matters of State into this room. Not. Here.”
Involuntarily, Vimes miserably took in the room and its inhabitant. The heavy draperies. The locked door. The bed table with a pitcher of water, two glasses, and a small, familiar jar. The bed. The extra dressing robe draped over the chair. The Patrician, in his identical black robe, very probably wearing nothing beneath. Vimes bowed his head again and scrubbed at his forehead with one hand. He took several deep breaths. This wasn’t going to be easy. He was going to have to do something entirely against his nature, say something he generally managed to avoid at all costs. He steeled himself and at last managed to mutter, “I’m sorry. Havelock, I let things get to me and the next thing I know I’m being a total idiot and... I am sorry.”
Vetinari didn’t answer. He turned away, walking back to the window, struggling to regain his usual cool, detached deportment.
Vimes switched his weight from one foot to the other and back again. He examined his fingernails. He rubbed the back of his neck. He cleared his throat. “For gods’ sakes, Havelock,” he finally said, “Do you want me here or do you want me to go?”
Vetinari did not turn from watching his City prepare for a new day. “Leaving, I think, would be the wisest course of action.”
Vimes sighed, continuing to fidget. “Havelock, I doubt that you care one way or another, but I want... I’d really prefer to stay.”
The Patrician continued to stand with his back to the Commander, his eyes closed and his breathing rapid. He’d let this go on too long, too far, already. Now it had come to this, to dark, dangerous accusations and admissions, even here in this very room. Vimes, damn him, in all his passion, had brought it to this, had refused to obey the absolute edict that this part of their lives be held separate from all else. Vetinari’s political instincts insisted that the time had come to end it.
He turned to look over his shoulder at his Commander of the City Watch, his ‘terrier’, and with that one glance all instincts were ruled out of order and removed from the courtroom.
So this was the price demanded of him as Patrician? That every element, every trace of humanity was too great a luxury?
No, that was a price even he was unwilling to pay.
Not, at least, today.
He settled on compromise, and something like honesty.
“If you stay here,” he said softly, his typically fluid voice now rough, “If I take you to my bed now, take what I want from you while my frame of mind is this... unsettled... Samuel, you are best advised to leave.”
Vimes repeated the words silently, his lips moving slightly. “You’re saying you’re mad as hell at me, mad enough that you’re afraid of what you might do.”
“Havelock, I’d be lying through my teeth if I said I’m not afraid of you.” Vimes grinned mirthlessly. “Out there, you’re the bloody Patrician, and there are times I’m scared shitless of you. But here, in this room, in that bed... you don’t scare me, Lord Havelock Vetinari.”
Vetinari considered this, a ghost of a smile lightening his previously grim visage. “We shall see,” he replied lightly, and in the blink of an eye he had somehow not only crossed the room but shoved Sir Samuel roughly onto the bed.
The Patrician thrust forward once, and there was pain, but not severe enough to distract Samuel in his current state of exquisite urgency. It registered as no more than background noise, whereas the blinding flash of sensation as Vetinari pushed past his prostate nearly drove him beyond the point of no return. When the Patrician pulled back slightly, holding Vimes’ buttocks against him in an effort to restrict his movements, it was Samuel who pleaded, “Again!”
“Wait... still... a minute... give me one moment...” Vetinari ground out the words through clenched teeth, his breathing loud and fast in Vimes’ ear.
“Just... don’t... don’t move... I’ll lose... I won’t be able to...”
The words, the realization that, even in the midst of this act of submission, he could break Vetinari’s iron-cold control, were too much. “The hell with that,” Vimes hissed. He put his hand over Vetinari’s, squeezing the grip of his fingers, and thrust himself into their joint grasps, then pushed back hard.
“No! Damn you... Samuel... Gods! Oh gods, yes, Samuel... Oh gods-gods-gods yes...”
The words lost coherence, and Vimes was beyond hearing them. Pleasure stabbed as sharp as a knife, inundated by waves of release. Sam’s involuntary shout mingled with the Patrician’s hoarse cry.
“Are you... all right, Samuel?”
“Mhm. I’m guessing I’ll be sore later, but at the moment ‘all right’ doesn’t begin to cover it.” He gazed through nearly closed eyes at the water pitcher. His mouth and throat were dry, but the pitcher was at least three feet away, and Vimes wasn’t certain he had enough energy to lift it, anyway. He yawned and let his eyes close.
“That was predictable,” Vetinari observed, when a moment later Vimes began to snore, “I sometimes wonder how else the man ever gets to sleep. It must have something to do with the release of all that pent-up anger. Which is not all that effectively pent-up to begin with.” The Patrician closed his eyes, enjoying his own moment of relaxation.
Vetinari could hardly remember the last time he had chosen such a personally dangerous course of action as this involvement. Vimes could unwittingly force to the surface emotions he had believed long dead. It was almost a hunger: to claim, to do battle with, to provide for, to control, to protect and be protected by this man he could not own. Had he let Sir Samuel, with his dogged determination and passionate dedication to protecting the people, become an addiction, an obsession?
Would he even have handled the Rimwood matter in the same manner had it not been for Commander Sir Samuel Vimes, outraged and horrified, demanding justice for the poor and powerless? Yes, he thought he would have. Beginning with the funding of one of the first semaphore companies, Lord Rimwood had now become a powerful force in the Merchants’ Guild, with numerous shipping connections as well. Finding his son guilty of rape would have made manipulating the man unnecessarily difficult. But young Grolen had been a loose canon, a distraction to his father. And he had been far too undisciplined and lacking in wit and judgment to be heir to Lord Rimwood’s domain.
Still, could the Patrician be certain that this arrangement with Vimes was not affecting his judgment? He should have let Samuel learn of the assassination through the normal channels, should not even have asked him to come here this morning. He had lost his composure during their talk, which even in this room was unforgivable. But gods, there was such glorious release to occasionally have self-restraint ripped from his grasp! To be driven in spite of all his efforts to a moment when his reserve shattered and the affairs of state that were his life ceased to exist...
Vetinari involuntarily twitched with the intensity of the shiver that cut through him. No, he would have to turn his thoughts elsewhere. The day beckoned, beginning with the impending, unpleasant meeting with Lord Rimwood.
As though in reaction to his thoughts, Vimes rolled in his sleep to face him, his arm falling possessively over the Patrician’s middle.
Then again, the meeting required no prerequisite preparation. If he woke Samuel within the hour, there would still be time afterward to expeditiously bathe and dress...
Lord Vetinari, with a trace of a smile, settled himself for a brief nap. He would need the energy.