Chapter 1: You Were There
Commander Vimes and Sergeant Angua take a patrol together on the anniversary of the Glorious 25th May. Vimes ruminates on his life, the past, and a few of his fellow officers.
Proceeding, he called it. It was like walking, but you could do it all day, perhaps longer, if you were good at it. It was a copper’s trick, one you picked up early, if you wanted to still be coppering later.
Vimes had never really tested, to see how far he could go, but secretly he fancied he could go for days, if nothing interrupted him. Maybe only some of the trolls, like Detritus, or Constable Dorfl the golem could go further, or longer.
It was strange, how fast time rolled by, and how slow, at others. But here it was, the Glorious 25th of May, once again. One year since he’d been flung back in time with that bastard, Carcer. Since he’d had to fight for a future he wasn’t sure would even exist, one he’d almost been prepared to give up, because Keel had always taught him…well…he’d always taught himself, as Keel, now…that you did the job in front of you.
He’d tried to win. He’d tried to save them, the men who’d fought and died for something they didn’t really understand, but weren’t prepared to give up. Brave lads. Good men. Not heroes. Not saviours. Not revolutionaries. Just coppers, swept up in events bigger than them.
It felt like a dream, now.
He spotted a frond of lilac, hanging over a low wall to the right and stopped. What with one thing and another, and another long night shift, he hadn’t been home yet. He’d only stopped off at Pseudopolis Yard for a couple of hours rest in his office, to ‘catch up on paperwork’, before he’d signed on for an early patrol.
The song came back, as it always did.
How do they rise up, rise up, rise up…running through his head as he reached up and plucked a sprig, twirling it in his fingers.
They rose, alright. Most of the city might not remember, but those that had been there did.
“Sir?” Sergeant Angua said, quietly.
He blinked, the clasping tendrils of memory fading away and turned to face the sergeant. He realised he had been humming the tune and staring at the lilac for several moments, and tucked the sprig under his breastplate.
“Don’t mind me, sergeant.” Vimes patted his chest, slightly, and beginning to stroll again. “I was miles away.”
Angua nodded briefly, falling easily into step beside him.
He watched her, out of the corner of his eye, and fumbled for his cigar case as the moved on.
She adjusted her helmet, her long, straight blonde hair tumbling over her shoulders with the motion as she shook her head slightly. Her cold blue eyes flitted about the street ahead, alert, watchful. She probably had her other senses at work too, listening, smelling…
Vimes wasn’t sure how she put up with the latter. All the time.
It occurred to him he didn’t often patrol with Angua. Partly this was because he often walked the city alone. It was a time when he felt truly…himself. When Vimes felt most Vimes. And partly this was because he’d never felt the need.
Angua was smart, sensible, practical, with good instincts he got the feeling she didn’t always entirely trust, which was important, and she what he considered a healthy dose of cynicism.
He trusted Angua. Trusted her like few others. Trusted her to get on, get the job done. Trusted her to have his back, and the backs of the others. Trusted her to look out for them, keep them safe, keep them alive.
Vimes largely paired his more experienced, reliable officers with a partner who needed a bit of an ‘airing’, or a ‘brush-up’. He didn’t need to babysit his best men, he trusted them to watch the others, when he couldn’t. And the Watch was so big now, he had to, because he couldn’t be everywhere at once, not anymore.
Angua von Uberwald had taken to coppering like…like a dwarf to mineral seam. She was one of the best he’d ever seen, and he knew now that one day he’d probably make her a captain. She’d certainly earned it.
He stifled a gritty chuckle, as he lit the end of his cigar, sticking it in his mouth and taking a slow draw. Vimes, who hated dwarfs, trolls, werewolves, vampires and…well…everybody, to some extent. That Vimes. He was going to make a werewolf a captain of his watch. The very thought-
“Argh.” He grunted, stopping and leaning on the wall. A twinge of pain shooting up his leg.
It had been a cool night, damp. It always played hell with the bones, now. Age. It was happening, slowly.
“Sir?” Angua hovered nearby, at what he recognised to be a calculated distance. Far enough away as to not be fussing over him, close enough for him to recognise she was offering aid, if he asked.
He wouldn’t ask, but he appreciated the gesture.
“I’m fine. I think we’ll just take a moment to…observe.” He said, glancing up and down the street and finding a gate cutting through a public garden. “Observing is important, sergeant.” He hobbled on, puffing on the cigar to mask each potential hiss of pain as he moved.
“Of course, sir.” Angua replied, dutifully, her face a mask. The copper’s mask. Give nothing away. Never tell ‘em what you’re thinking.
They made their way across the garden to a bench, which Vimes dropped into, relishing the weight being taken off his aching leg. Angua sat down beside him, once again a calculated distance away from him.
Across the path, and the lawn, another sprawling lilac bush. Vimes stared at it for a moment. He took another draw on the cigar.
“It’s today, isn’t it sir?” Angua said, glancing at him sidelong for a moment.
“Yes.” He nodded, sinking back into the bench somewhat. Various parts of his body were crying out in relief.
Angua didn’t press the matter. He knew by now she probably knew why today was significant. Carrot had probably told her once. It wasn’t as if Vimes had told Carrot, and he didn’t expect Fred or Nobby would have, Carrot just…knew things. And if he didn’t, he seemed to know how to find out.
He hadn’t been there, but he knew, and to be fair he knew well enough not to act like he had, just because he knew. Vimes recalled Carrot asking only once, the year after he first joined. Vimes hadn’t quite given up the bottle at the time, and the 25th of May had been a special drinking holiday for old Captain Vimes.
But then, every day of the year had been a special drinking holiday for old Captain Vimes.
No more though. He didn’t need the stuff, not anymore. And he told himself that every day, sometimes multiple times a day, especially when he happened to be somewhere liquor was freely available at a modest price.
He flicked away the ashy remnants of his cigar and grumbled to himself. Now he was thinking about having a drink. Think about something else.
“Are you alright, sir?” Angua asked. There was the barest hint of concern in her voice, he thought.
He removed his helmet, letting the air get to his head. It really was hot, now. The sun was high in the blue sky and his skin sticky with sweat. Beside him, he noticed Angua do the same, shaking her hair out. Unlike him, with his ruddy, marked, heat-reddened skin, she managed to stay remarkably pale.
She was quite attractive, he thought, dimly. The parts of him that weren’t absorbed by the Watch, by the madness of the city, by Vetinari, by Sybil, and young Sam, those few parts that were unoccupied enough to think about such things, recognised that.
“Warm today, isn’t it?” He said, on auto-pilot. Conversation wasn’t an art he’d perfected so much as a tool he could wield nominally well to get a job done.
Vimes vaguely remembered he’d registered she was an attractive young woman once, a few times, over the years. Possibly he could count the times on one hand, but still. He could see why Carrot liked her.
“Yes, sir.” Angua replied, calmly.
They’d been…together, he supposed, for years now. He didn’t really ask about it, it wasn’t the business of commanders to ask about the private lives and relationships of their officers. But Vimes, even with his shrivelled, cynical, anti-romantic soul, secretly hoped things were working out. Carrot…Carrot vexed him mightily, at times, but he was a good lad, and Angua certainly had enough problems of her own to deal with, every day.
She knew about the Beast. The one you kept on a chain, and always watched. Kept it till you needed it. Angua probably knew better than he did, because hers was real.
“Not like Überwald, I’d imagine.” He added, barely paying attention to the words he was actually saying.
It was a dumb thing to say, of course it was bloody cold in Überwald. That was what Überwald was all about. But that was one of the things he liked about Angua. They didn’t talk often, about things unrelated to the job, but when they did, the words were just there to fill time. They had an understanding. She understood what it was, to be a copper. She understood sometimes when you knew someone, you didn’t really have to say anything.
“No sir. Überwald is generally cold all year around, apart from some of the southern regions in summer.” She glanced over at him, her eyes meeting his for a moment.
Vimes didn’t know anything about ‘love’, as an idea. When he heard people talk about it, he was generally dubious, and mostly considered them to be in an untrustworthy frame of mind. And he’d be the first to admit, only to himself, that he didn’t really know anything about women.
He loved Sybil, in a way, he supposed. In the same sort of way she loved him. They’d found each other, both of them missing something the other could provide in their lives. Vimes needed stability, solid ground, and Sybil was as sturdy as they came. She’d saved him, he knew that, and she’d practically given him the Watch.
Sybil needed company, a family to dedicate herself to. Vimes had been able to provide that, in his own limited way. He tried to be what he thought a good husband should be, and they had a son. Bigods, he, Sam Vimes, had a son.
He loved his son. If there was one thing he never doubted, never questioned, never stumbled on. He loved his son. Young Sam. The blinding, fuzzy light at the centre of his sometimes dark, often confusing universe.
“How are things back home?” Vimes asked, before he could stop himself, while the majority of his thought processes were still tangled up in the warm, fuzzy, pink cloud that swirled around his son.
Angua flinched, only slightly. She turned her helmet over and over in her hands. He thought she wasn’t going to reply at all, and he didn’t blame her. He’d unintentionally breached their…what…unspoken deal? You don’t ask me and I won’t ask you? Vimes wasn’t equipped to deal with this, this was a Carrot problem, this was-
“The last letter I had from my mother said father changed into a wolf and wandered off.” Angua said, suddenly. “And didn’t come back.”
Vimes didn’t say anything, that was probably the smart thing. He fumbled for his cigar case again.
“…and mother’s last letter was about a year after we got back from Überwald.” She added, unsettlingly calm.
That was a long time ago, Vimes, master of acknowledging the obvious, affirmed to himself.
Vimes lit the cigar, eyes wandering over the young woman warily. She was upset, he suspected that was a reasonable assumption, and it sounded reasonable that she would be. But outwardly, he couldn’t really tell. She didn’t sound upset, or look upset, or…
…but women were…um…
How many times back at the Ramkin Estate, had the words “I’m Fine.” been followed by a withering, crushing glare from Sybil, when he’d said the wrong thing?
He finally noticed her hands. They were clutching her helmet so tightly they’d have been pale if her skin wasn’t always near-white, and they were shaking.
Vimes had to say something, or do something. But what could he do? Putting a hand to her shoulder and offering some sort of tired platitude seemed like exactly the wrong sort of thing to do. Angua wasn’t like that.
He pinched the cigar in his mouth, and pulled out the sprig of lilac he’d taken earlier. He twirled it in his fingers again, thoughtfully.
Vimes had never told anyone what happened. It wasn’t something you explained, it wasn’t a story. It all happened, it was history. Brave men died. Bad men died. And nothing changed, not for a long time afterwards. And she hadn’t been there. You had to be there, it was the thing. It was what he’d told himself for years.
He glanced at Angua beside him, staring fixedly at her knees and still gripping her helmet.
But she had been there in a lot of other ways. She was a good officer. Reliable. Smart. Brave. And he trusted her. For years she’d been one of the most solid, dependable members of the Watch, in the face of crisis after crisis.
So…maybe she’d earned it. In the same way Fred had earned the right to call him ‘Sam”. Why not? He could make that choice. Who said he couldn’t!
“Did I ever tell you about what happened on the Glorious 25th May?” Vimes said, puffing out a mouthful of smoke, and half-turning to Angua, conversationally.
“No sir.” Angua replied, looking up. “Carrot told me you and Sergeant Colon, and Corporal Nobbs didn’t like to talk about it, not long after the golem incident.”
“True enough.” Nodded Vimes, staring ahead at the lilac bush now. He held the sprig out to her, without looking. “But as your commanding officer, I’m allowed to change my mind, sergeant.”
“Yes sir.” Angua replied. He felt her take the sprig carefully. “Thank you, sir.”
Vimes leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, and took a slow draw on the cigar. He felt Angua settle next to him. Angua listened. She always listened.
“Ankh Morpork was in a sorry state, in those days.” He began, finding it easier than he ever thought he would. “Old Lord Winder was completely mad, and a very young Sam Vimes had just signed up to the Night Watch…”
Chapter 2: Cabbages and Coffee
Angua and Cheery seek solace from the cabbage-based economy of Ankh-Morpork with a coffee break.
Drawing gate-guarding duty was always generally regarded as a short straw. There wasn’t really much to guard. No roving bands of raiding barbarians or enemy armies on the horizon, pouring over the hills toward the city, these days.
Just cabbages, mused Angua, wryly.
…and an endless stream of carts pushing and shoving their way in and out of the city, and a truly monstrous amount of conflicting smells and sounds. Normally at a snail’s pace. It was a wonder, to her, that anybody managed to get anything in or out of the city, like this. Had it always been this way? How had Ankh-Morpork managed to survive at all?
Traffic Division were doing their best, but since Traffic Division mostly consisted of Nobby in drag, trapping unsuspecting drivers, a couple of trolls clamping carts backed up in traffic, and several gargoyles watching out for…for what? Speeding? Not much chance of that, Angua scoffed.
Even Sergeant Colon was mostly on desk duty, now.
Yeah, there were worse jobs than gate-guarding, Angua thought. And right now, she needed the endless monotony. There were things she didn’t want to think about that only the mindless busywork this job provided could offer.
“Anything else back there, corporal?” Angua finished scribbling a few notes on the sheet of paper currently occupying her clipboard.
“No, sergeant.” Cheery called back, prodding the stack of cabbages with her truncheon cautiously, as if expecting…something uncharacteristic of cabbages to happen.
“Move it on then, sir.” Angua waved on the driver, stepping back with Cheery hurrying along to catch up.
There was that, too. If she was stuck here, at least she’d wound up stuck here with Cheery.
Behind the cabbage cart, she saw another…another cabbage cart trundling forward. Oh gods…
“Constable Axegrinder! Chipontheshoulder!” Angua barked, sharply.
The two dwarf constables bustled into view, hastily, from the gatehouse, with the expression of forced keenness one always has in the face of their shouting boss.
Well, perhaps it was an abuse of power, but Angua needed a break. One more cart of bloody cabbages and…
“Constables, take over.” She passed over the clipboard. “The corporal and I have something to attend to. Come on, Cheery.” And she marched past, Cheery in tow.
On the edge of her hearing, she heard one of the constables mutter something to the other. She stopped, causing Cheery to bump into her back. Angua turned around, and the constables glanced worriedly at one another, over their bushy beards.
“I shouldn’t think you’d have found that one very funny,” She sniffed the air, slightly. There was a barely noticeably layer of perfume, detectable through the stench of the carts beyond, and it wasn’t Cheery. “, Miss Axegrinder.” Angua cut back. Now get to work.” She snapped.
Constable Axegrinder looked mortified and Constable Chipontheshoulder looked surprised. Without waiting to see if they’d jumped to it, Angua marched on into the gatehouse. It was an old stone building, part of the old, crumbling city walls. The Watch used it as a small station for officers posted on the gate.
“Sergeant.” Cheery said, once they were inside. “…Angua?” She tried again, when Angua didn’t immediately reply.
Angua set a pot of coffee on the boil, automatically, and strolled back toward the windows, from where she could see the gate. The constables had started checking the carts, at least. She sighed, biting back the growl that threatened to rumble out.
“I know, Cheery.” Angua tipped back her helmet, rubbing her brow with her arm. “I shouldn’t have done that.” She turned back, unclipping her sword belt and dropping into a chair at the small, ancient wooden table in the middle of the small room.
Cheery climbed into one nearby, setting her axe against the side.
“…um…I can’t help but notice you’ve been…tense all day.” Cheery ventured, diplomatically.
Angua glanced at the dwarf briefly, before returning her blank stare to the surface of the table.
“That is…I feel like something is wrong. Is…something wrong?” Cheery tried again, when she didn’t get a response.
Angua’s fingers drummed on the table. She’d known this was coming eventually. She’d hoped somehow she might…magically get through the day without talking about it. She was aware she wasn’t being entirely fair to Cheery, either.
“It’s…uh…it’s not a full moon, or anything, so I was wondering if…er…” Cheery fumbled, desperately. “…as a friend, sergeant…we are friends, aren’t we? I was wondering, if you wanted, you could…um…talk to me, if you…”
“We’re friends, Cheery.” Angua replied.
And you’re being diplomatic as hell about this, she thought, and that’s more than I ever was. But in a minute you’re going to ask directly, because I’ve left you no choice…
She took her helmet off, setting it on the table and ran a hand through her hair, lazily.
“Just…just ask.” She sighed, closing her eyes and leaning back in the chair.
“Did you and Car-…Captain Carrot have a fight this morning, outside the Yard?” Cheery blurted, finally.
Angua gave this some thought.
“No.” She replied, eventually.
“I…uh…sorry, Angua, but we could hear you yelling from inside.” Cheery winced.
“Did you hear Carrot yelling, Cheery?” Angua asked, wearily, staring at the ceiling.
“…no?” Cheery replied, puzzled.
“No. Because he didn’t. I did.” Angua shifted forward, leaning her arms on the table and fiddling with her badge, on its collar around her neck. “A fight usually takes two people. And Carrot wouldn’t do that. He wouldn’t get into a fight, would he?” She added, bitterly.
“I’m sorry.” Cheery squeaked.
“Do you have any idea what it’s like trying to be in a relationship with some who is…is perfect? Broadly speaking?” Angua went on, picking up steam now.
“I…don’t think I-”
“He’s a good person, a great person. He is kind, and brave, and…and wonderful! He has time for everyone, and everything. He takes the time to know people, and learns all he can so he can be informed about…anything that might come his way. He doesn’t have any secrets, not really. He is so understanding, he understands. It’s what he does. He’s completely unselfish, and me? I’m very selfish, because all I want is some of him to myself. And that’s unreasonable, isn’t it? It’s unfair of me, I’m in the wrong, here, aren’t I?” Angua was aware she was practically ranting now.
“But I’m not perfect, am I? I’m not as kind, I’m not as good a person, I’m not as understanding. I’m flawed, and a werewolf on top of that. Sometimes I feel the need to grow hair in all the wrong places and crawl around the city, eating chickens! Sometimes I don’t even have any choice! I pay for them, but do you know how frustrating it is? I’m a vegetarian!”
“I’ll just get the coffee, shall I?” Cheery dropped off her chair and rushed to the boiling pot.
“He loves me, I know that. I…think.” Angua said, though she felt less certain, each time she had to say it, or tell herself, recently. “But he likes everyone, he loves everyone. All equally. And that’s…good…I suppose. But y’know what? I’m not Carrot, and love is selfish, isn’t it? I want him to myself, or at least one bit of him, but he gives everything to everybody.”
Cheery set a mug down in front of her, before hopping back into her chair with a mug of her own.
Angua fixed her attention on the steaming coffee. She trailed a finger around the rim, idly.
“How are you supposed to be with someone like that?” Angua asked, half to herself. “I can’t measure up to an entire city.”
Not for the first time, she found herself wondering whether it was over. Not for the first time, she found herself wondering why she was with him, and if she really was with him at all.
She’d had these thoughts before, over the years, but in the past months they’d come more frequently. As had the not-fights, where she shouted at him and he calmly fended her off.
Eventually he’d placate her in some way. Some gesture, or words, and on they’d go for a bit, and then it’d all happen again…
It was like she couldn’t help herself. He’d call her name, and she’d come running. What did you call an animal that jumped at the sound of its name?
“You seem so unhappy.” Cheery said, finally, when she was sure Angua was finished. “I wish I could help.”
“Forget it.” She took a sip of the coffee, surprised for a moment that it was good, then remembered that officers outside of the Watch Houses generally kept better care of their belongings, for some reason. “How about you moving up to sergeant, then?” She felt herself smile involuntarily as Cheery quickly became flustered and embarrassed.
“Well I didn’t ask or anything but Commander Vimes said-” Cheery stared deeply into her coffee, words flying out of her mouth in a rapid mumble.
“You deserve it, Cheery.” Angua interrupted her, chuckling slightly.
There was a light knock on the door to the gatehouse, behind Angua. The sort of knock that was at the same time insistent, demanding to be heard, and attempting to be politely unobtrusive. Cheery’s eyes widened slightly, but Angua already knew who it was. She’d smelled the permeating odour of his armour polish a couple of minutes ago.
Carrot was many things, but subtle could never be one of them.
“…er..come in, captain?” Cheery called, her gaze drifting to Angua briefly.
“Hello, ladies.” Carrot poked his head in. “Taking a break?”
“The constables have it under control, sir.” Cheery replied. “…I suggested we stop for a coffee.” The dwarf added, hurriedly.
Thanks, Cheery, Angua mused, thumbing her now-warm mug.
Angua suddenly picked up the scent of something else, over the coffee, the wafting smell of cabbage and smelly animals, and Carrot’s armour polish. Was that…
She half-turned in her chair, resting her arm over the back, and looked up at Carrot. He had to stoop to get through the door, and he had his helmet under one arm. He also had a bouquet of flowers in his hand.
There it was then. He was apologising, sort of. Even though it wasn’t really his fault.
Carrot saw her eyes go to the flowers and he moved further in to the room, and held them out.
“I got these for you.” He beamed, the picture of honesty.
Angua glanced back at Cheery, who was smiling desperately. She felt sorry for her, Angua hadn’t meant to drag her into her own domestic problems.
“Thanks.” She took the flowers, forcing something like a smile.
Angua looked at the flowers. They were pretty, and held together by a red bow. Carrot must have spent something on them, and he was usually quite frugal. But at that moment, her mind went somewhere completely different, unbidden.
It went back to a day when she’d been on patrol with Commander Vimes, a few months ago, and he’d given her that tiny sprig of lilac, and told her about the Glorious Revolution. Funny that she should remember that, now.
Suddenly, Carrot’s gesture seemed so…hollow.
“Will I see you later, when you’re off-duty?” Carrot asked, hopefully.
“I expect so.” Angua replied, plainly.
This seemed to appease Carrot though. He doffed his helmet, smiling broadly, and tipped it as he made to leave.
“Good day sergeant, corporal.” He said. “I’ll let the constables know you’re heading back out shortly.” He called as he left.
“…you do that.” Angua sighed, turning back in her seat and facing Cheery.
Cheery had a fixed, slightly strained, smile on her face.
“It’s okay, Cheery.” She said, finishing off her coffee. “He’s gone.”
“How…does he do that?” The corporal asked, bemused. “Are you okay?”
Angua shrugged, picking up her helmet and getting to her feet.
“Let’s just get back to work.” Angua muttered, fastening on her sword belt again. Cheery grabbed her axe and followed her to the door. “Someone has to make sure no weapons-grade vegetables make it into the city.”
Chapter 3: Get A Clue
Vimes didn't get involved in the personal lives of his officers. It was a rule. You just didn't. Even if two of your best officers were ...going through a rough patch.
He wasn't doing it today, either. He was just sitting in on training. Sergeant Angua just happened to be on training duty.
“Alright, rookies, this is your crime scene. What can you tell me?” Sergeant Angua waved a hand over the corner of the courtyard of the Old Lemonade Factory.
Now technically the Ankh Morpork City Watch Training School, most still thought of it as the Old Lemonade Factory, and probably always would, and Vimes had come to accept that.
He lingered, watching the training exercise from under the old, metal stairwell leading up to Colon’s new office, befitting his new dual roles as Custody Officer and Watch Liaison Officer.
Of course, nobody, least of all Fred, knew what those titles meant. And that had been the point.
The corner of the courtyard in question had been dressed up as a staged murder scene. Half a dozen recruits were fanned out around her, along with the looming presence of Sergeant Detritus.
Vimes leaned back, into the stack of crates, shadowed by the building and stairwell above, and watched. He pulled a cigar out of his case and lit it. He liked to watch, it came with the job. But he often found he saw more when they didn’t know he was around.
It wasn’t spying, though. Vimes was dead set against officers doing that sort of thing, trying to trip up their men, but he wasn’t actually hiding. Was it his fault they just hadn’t seen him?
“Well…there’s where the victim fell.” A worrisome-looking young man said, pointing to the rather obvious chalk outline on the floor.
“How can you tell?” Angua asked, tersely.
Sergeant Angua was a hard taskmaster for new recruits. And Detritus too. Vimes chuckled to himself. This new batch had been unlucky enough to end up with both.
“Well…er…there’s a load of chalk drawn in the shape of a body?” The youth replied, shakily.
Angua stared at the recruit, her calm expression slipping for a second, as if she couldn’t believe what she’d just heard.
“Ficker den two…er…two…” Detritus scratched his head.
“Two trolls?” One of the recruits, a younger troll suggested.
Oh dear, Vimes though. This was not the correct answer, as the youth soon discovered when Detritus thumped him on the back of the head. A blow that would have concussed anyone else, but only mildly inconvenienced the young troll.
“Thank you, sergeant.” Angua crossed her arms, tapping her foot impatiently, sweeping the recruits with a withering glare.
The line took an involuntary step back, and looked suitably attentive. Angua had that effect on people. Useful skill, in an officer, Vimes conceded.
“Dat not a problem.” Detritus rumbled, pounding one of his rocky fists into the ground.
The line of recruits huddled closer together, unable to decide whether to shuffle away from Detritus and toward Angua again.
Most in Ankh Morpork by now knew the Watch had a werewolf, though that same majority didn’t actually know who it was. There were rumours, of course, that one of the sergeants, the woman from Überwald might have been the one, though. Angua herself never actively encouraged the rumours, but Vimes had noticed she wasn’t averse to using them a little, from time to time.
It was a level of creativity he appreciated in his sergeants.
“Try again.” She said, gesturing to the staged crime scene.
Sometimes there was nothing quite like sticking the boot up the latest batch of rookies. It was hard on the new ones, but in time, the experience might save their lives. They were turning out good watchmen, these days. Reliable, well-trained ones. The now famous ‘Sammies’, as they’d come to be known around the cities of the Sto Plains.
A few of the braver recruits stepped forward to poke over the crime scene. Vimes tried not to laugh as Angua calmly watched them do everything wrong.
“I found some footprints, sergeant!” One of the recruits, a dwarf, said brightly. “And lightly-coloured dirt scattered around.”
“And how does that help us?” She asked, fixing her eyes on the dwarf who by now was probably wishing they just hadn’t said anything.
“…er…well…it’s…” He stammered, glancing around at his peers and finding no help. “…a…clue?”
Angua sighed, irritably, shaking her head. Even Detritus looked disappointed.
“This are not bein’ your day.” The troll scowled at the petrified recruit.
Vimes stepped out of the shadows. He’d told himself he wasn’t going to interfere, but…
“And what do we say about Clues, Sergeant Angua?” He called, now in the open.
Angua glanced at him, as he strolled over, puffing on his cigar calmly. She didn’t miss a beat, she’d probably known he was there, all along. You couldn’t sneak up on a werewolf. Especially not when she could probably smell what you were smoking about three streets away.
“Clues are an insult to the rich and chaotic variety of the human experience, sir.” Angua said,
“Correct, sergeant.” Vimes stopped short of the gathered recruits. “I tend to distrust anyone who can look at a footprint and a bit of dirt and say ‘Well, gentlemen, I surmise that our fellow here was a one-handed engineer who was down on his luck, financially, because these boot treads are rather worn, and this dirt is strictly localised to the cabbage fields of Quirm, currently facing a bit of an economic downturn’, right sergeant?”
“Right, sir.” Angua nodded.
Vimes dimly remembered he had actually come out here for a reason, today, and it hadn’t been to interrupt his sergeants training the recruits, although it did involve…
He glanced at Angua for a second, then turned sharply to Detritus.
“Sergeant Detritus, I think these rookies could stand to be put through their paces. Take them on a few laps.”
“Dat would be my pleasure, sir.” The troll saluted smartly, followed by a loud clang. “ALRIGHT YOU LOT. ‘OP TO IT.”
The recruits ran out, shepherded by Detritus. Soon the singing would start. But for now…
“Not you, sergeant.” Vimes held up a hand.
“Sir?” Angua stopped in her tracks, frowning lightly.
“I make it a point not to get involved in the personal lives of my officers, sergeant. Generally not interested, and wouldn’t know what to do if I did anyway.” Vimes said, with a shrug.
He hadn’t the first idea how to deal with this, but he felt he had to try. Gods knew, Carrot and Angua were some of his best officers, and he’d been hearing through the grapevine, a la Nobby mostly, that…that problems were…getting problematic.
“There’s a ‘but’, coming somewhere, isn’t there, sir?” Angua said, pointedly. “This is about me and…” She trailed off.
“Unfortunately, sergeant.” He plucked the cigar from his mouth, scattering ashes on the floor. “Let’s take a walk.” He gestured to the gate out of the factory courtyard.
“Is that an order, sir?” Angua asked, insistently, not moving.
Vimes paused, giving her a brief look. Her expression was masked, composed. She was stood to attention, hands clasped behind her back. Outwardly, she seemed to be as fit…er…in good shape. In her normal, rational, Angua shape.
He thought over her question for a moment. Ordering his subordinates to talk to him about things…of…this nature, that was a road he didn’t really want to go down. He was a commander, not a…mother hen. Of course he was concerned about the wellbeing of his officers, but…
…he wasn’t really sure how to approach this. Fred, Nobby…even Carrot to an extent, he could just talk to them. Ask a direct question, and maybe he’d get an answer, maybe he wouldn’t. But Angua was…a woman, he conceded, eventually. A young woman, younger than him anyway. She’d been with Carrot for some years, now, he thought things had been going…well…er…well! Hadn’t he?
Not that he’d thought about it much at all. It wasn’t his business. He trusted his officers to manage their lives on their own, as he struggled to with his. No…he’d started this all wrong, this wasn’t the way.
“No, sergeant. It’s not an order.” Vimes shook his head. “I’m…offering an ear, let’s say.”
Angua got a look on her face for a moment he couldn’t identify, was it surprise? But it was soon gone again, and the calm, rational mask was back.
“I…appreciate that, sir.” She said, eventually. “But we’re fine. Just a difference of opinion.”
“Sergeant,” Vimes said, suspiciously. “We both know that Captain Carrot isn’t capable of taking one side of an argument to save his life.”
“I know sir.” Angua replied, stoic as ever. “That’s why I’m doing most of the disagreeing for the both of us.”
Vimes felt a pang of sympathy for the young woman.
Carrot was…well…he was Carrot. As their commanding officer, he’d pretended not to notice certain things, because it wasn’t his business. But Carrot was…well…
The captain was a good lad, for the most part, but he could see how over time that sort of thing could really wear someone down.
“I see.” Vimes nodded, puffing on his cigar distractedly, trying to disguise just how much he could understand Angua’s problem.
Carrot never really asked for anything. People didn’t understand how demanding that could be.
Somehow, they’d wandered to one side of the yard. Vimes sat down on an old crate. Angua did the same, beside him. They fell into an easy silence, for a few minutes. Vimes finished off his cigar, flicking the stub away.
“Thank you for asking, sir.” Angua said, suddenly.
“Don’t mention it, sergeant.” He felt half a smile creep onto his face as he glanced sidelong at her. “Seriously. The last thing I need is every one of my officers thinking I’m some kind of…counsellor.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it, sir.” She half-smiled back.
He was surprised how good that made him feel. It was unfamiliar. Different. It wasn’t bad, should that be a concern?
“Right, time I did some coppering.” Vimes got up, quickly. “Detritus can probably handle the recruits for the rest of the day, why don’t you take the afternoon off, I-”
There was the clatter and screech of a coach pulling up outside the gates. Willkins appeared, smartly as ever.
“Her ladyship sent me along, your grace.” The butler nodded stiffly. “She says ‘Tell Sam to drop whatever he’s doing and get home. It’s nearly six o’clock.’, sir.”
Young Sam! Vimes brain was suddenly dominated by a need to get home and read to his son, as he did every day, without fail, at six o’clock.
There were some things you just had to do. And the nightly retelling of Where’s My Cow in Young Sam’s nursery, with all the animal noises, was one of them.
“It is?” Vimes stiffened. “Were those her exact words?” He added, worriedly.
“No sir.” Willkins replied. “I deleted some of her ladyship’s more colourful prose in the interest of expediency.”
“Damn! Sergeant-” He turned, quickly, to find Angua already on her feet.
“I’ll hold the fort, sir.” She said, calmly.
“Right.” Vimes managed, a touch deflated. “…er…sorry.” He added.
“Don’t worry, sir.” Angua saluted. “It’s under control.”
He didn’t need to ask what ‘it’ was, in this case. Secretly, his instincts told him they weren’t, but he didn’t have time-
“Your grace?” Willkins called, dragging him away.
It would have to wait.
“Carry on, sergeant.” He nodded, and then bolted out of the yard, leaping into the carriage. “Come on, Willikins!”
“Relax, sir.” The butler hopped up beside him, grabbing the reins. “It’s all in hand.” Willikins whipped the reins, and the coach jumped forward, rattling over the cobbled roads.
Vimes threw a last glance back toward the Old Lemonade Factory, seeing Angua stroll slowly out of the gate into the street, alone. She was watching the coach go, unmoving.
Something was happening, Vimes could feel it. He wasn’t sure what yet, and he wasn’t sure what it meant, but he trusted Angua and Carrot to sort it out, whatever it was. For a moment, he recalled the crooked half-smile she’d given him, and it made him feel unusual.
Vimes fumbled for his cigar case. It was all in hand, like Willikins said. Nothing had just happened, really. He was sure of that. Very sure.
Chapter 4: When It Rains...
Angua pulls the night shift from hell, and things are only getting worse as tensions between dwarfs and trolls flare in the lead up to the anniversary of the Battle of Koom Valley.
Carrot was snoring peacefully in their room. He’d climbed into bed and fallen asleep almost instantly, after arriving home.
Well, after checking on her and kissing her on the cheek while she pretended to be asleep.
Now Angua was out of bed, getting dressed for work. She had the night shift. Carrot had pulled the day one. It had been that way for some months, now. Never seeing much of each other except on duty, or shift changeovers. Occasionally, they had time off together, but it wasn’t often.
As Angua pulled her shirt over her head, tucking it into her trousers, she mulled over the fact that this had actually done wonders for their relationship. What there was of it, from her perspective, at least.
At first, it had seemed like coincidence. The rotas and duty shifts just turning out like that, but it had been working out like that for quite a while now. Not for the first time, she wondered whether someone was doing in on purpose. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that. It was definitely breach into her personal life.
Maybe Cheery was trying to help out, in some sort of way. Or maybe…would…would Mister Vimes do something like that? She didn’t think so. It seemed stupid, the moment she thought about it. He wouldn’t have ordered something like that. She felt very foolish.
Carrot was…well…he hadn’t said anything. Personal wasn’t the same as important, to him. What that meant for them she didn’t know.
Angua buckled on her breastplate. Once again, she was left contemplating the notion that only someone very complicated, could be as simple as he appeared to be.
She tugged on her boots, and polished off the last of her coffee where she’d left it on the kitchen table. Carrot’s snoring changed tone for a moment, and she glanced back toward their room. Angua wasn’t too worried about waking him. Once Carrot decided to sleep, he would stay asleep until he decided it was time to wake up.
Completely unlike the nocturnal patterns of every other copper, as far as she could tell. Definitely hers.
Angua stopped by the door, pulling on her greatcoat. Outside, through the window by the door, she could hear rain lashing down heavily against the pane.
She grumbled, at the back of her throat, as she buttoned up the heavy coat and pulled up the collar. Angua hated rain. It was always so…wet.
Her helmet was last, strapped under chin and secured on her head. With one last look back toward the bedroom, she stepped out into the cold night downpour.
When she arrived at Pseudopolis Yard, there was a crowd outside. More coppers than she’d expected to see, for the night shift. At first, she thought maybe it was just the change-over, maybe a group was heading for the Bucket.
But no…something was wrong. She could smell it, in the air. Even through the heavy rain, falling in sheets over the darkened city, clattering off the brim of her helmet. The watchmen were standing around, not really waiting, or leaving, just…stuck.
Something had happened.
“What’s going on?” Angua demanded, pushing her way through the clustered doorway and into the station. Constables moved aside, some worriedly, on seeing her, soaked and angry, stalking out of the rain.
Eventually she made it inside. The tension was much thicker, here. Sharper. It was crowded inside, too and…oh damn…
She was hit by it as soon as she got through the door. The smell of blood, tangy, metallic, permeating. Someone had been injured.
“Angua!” Cheery waved frantically from the front desk, over the mass of muttering, clustered officers.
The muttering was getting louder. Soon it would be shouting. She noticed the groups more now. Dwarfs with dwarfs. Trolls with trolls.
Koom Valley. It was coming. Mister Vimes was going to go spare.
She didn’t need her werewolf senses to tell her that the something which had happened was probably connected to Koom Valley. Everything was, lately. Another skirmish in the streets, another gang clash…
“Alright, that’s enough!” Angua snapped, her temper fraying. “Don’t you lot have places to be? If you’re on duty, get out there! If you aren’t, get out there!” She hollered, pointing to the door, devolving into a growl as she cast her eyes around the room.
The noise stopped and the watchmen cringed, warily, now sullen. Most shuffled out, accompanied by a low chorus of ‘Yes sir.’ Out of the corner of her hearing, she heard something else, two other voices hissing at one another.
“Hold it! Constable Ironfile, Lance-Constable Slate!” She snapped again, turning sharply on two of the constables, a dwarf and a troll. “I swear, if I catch you two, or any of you with that kind of talk again, I will be the least…of…your…worries.” She snarled.
“Sir!” The two officers saluted, terrified.
“We are on the same team, understand? Aren’t you glad we’re on the same team?” She leaned closer to the two, glaring from one to the other. “Whatever is going on out there, we can count on one another. Don’t you want to keep me on your team?” Angua added, through gritted teeth.
“Yes sir!” Both replied, hurriedly.
“Now, does someone want to tell me what happened before I get upset?” Angua turned back to the room at large, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, in an effort to calm down. “Cheery?”
When she opened her eyes most of the room was empty. There was that, at least. She walked toward Cheery, at the desk, and noticed for the first time Reg clinging to the desk too. He was clinging to it because one of his legs had come off.
“Gods, Reg.” Angua muttered, as she approached.
“There was trouble at Hamcrusher’s last meeting.” Cheery said, worriedly. “Lance-Constable Hitherto was wounded.”
“Hamcrusher stirred up the crowd. A lot of trolls there too, obviously. Turned into a bit of a brawl, we got caught in the middle.” Reg explained. “Hitherto took a stone to the head. It looked bad.”
“I smelled blood.” Angua managed, forcing down that particular longing.
“They brought him here, I told them to take him to the Free Hospital as fast as possible.” Cheery explained.
“Has anyone told Mister Vimes?” She asked.
“No, the commander went home after the…uh…other disturbance earlier on. Captain Carrot said not to tell him until the morn-” Cheery started, then stopped as if she realised she’d said something she shouldn’t have.
Or maybe she’d just seen the expression on Angua’s face.
“Carrot knew?” She muttered, under her breath.
He came home, said nothing, and went to sleep. Admittedly, she’d been pretending to be asleep so she wouldn’t have to talk to him, but that wasn’t the point! This was important!
Reg cleared his gravelly throat, politely.
“I hate to interrupt, sergeants.” Reg managed, holding up his leg in his hand. “But I do appear to need some assistance.”
It wasn’t her fault. Cheery was just following orders. And Carrot had that way with people, she told herself that, quickly. Breathe, Angua. Don’t get angry, just get something done.
“Cheery, help Reg get to Igor and get him sorted out.” Angua turned on her heel and marched back toward the door.
“Where are you going?” Cheery called after her.
“Someone has to tell the commander.” She replied, pausing at the door.
The rain hadn’t let up at all. She turned up her nose, cringing.
“Send a runner to Sergeant Colon, and Detritus. I want them putting out more patrols tonight. Mister Vimes is going to go spare.” She muttered, at the end, and stepped out into the rain once again.
She came up on Scoone Avenue, soaked through and miserable. The wide open, sloping roads of cutting through the large estates was practically running with water, like a stream. Angua trudged on, barely able to see where she was going, but knowing the route by memory. The dim glow of various lights could be seen in some windows of the mansions she passed.
She stopped at the gate of the Ramkin Estate, and stepped through, at once surprised and unsurprised to see Carrot waiting out of the rain, just under it.
It hadn’t been his smell that had given him away this time, not in this downpour. Just instinct. A guess.
“I thought you might come here.” Carrot said, over the din of the rain.
Carrot was wrapped in his own giant greatcoat, his face half-obscured as water ran off the rim of his helmet in large droplets.
“What are you doi-” She started, then shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. The commander needs to be told.”
“Commander Vimes has enough to worry about with all this, he doesn’t have to know now.” Carrot replied, calmly.
“He’s our commander, Carrot!” Angua argued. “Mister Vimes will-”
“Mister Vimes?” Carrot interrupted, his usually calm expression wavering for a moment.
At first, she couldn’t work out what had bothered him, then she realised that he didn’t know. Carrot didn’t know that Commander Vimes had told her she could call him ‘Mister’.
She barely remembered the conversation itself, where it had come up. To hear Colon tell it, when she’d asked afterward, it was a privilege afforded only to a few the commander trusted, or had known for a long time.
Angua had tried not to think too much of it, with varying success.
Did Carrot really not know? How long had it been since they’d actually…talked?
“You know it’s pissing it down out here don’t you? And I’m a werewolf?” Angua snapped, changing the subject, half drowned out by the rain.
Drowned out. Ha.
“I would have told him myself in the morning.” Carrot repeated, earnestly.
“Would you have told me?” She cut back, pushing past him and walking up the garden path, toward the door.
“What?” Carrot asked, following behind her.
“You came in without a damn word! Not one!” Angua retorted. “I was about to go on duty, Cheery was swamped by confused and frightened watchmen, trolls and dwarfs almost at each other’s throats! I could have used some warning, Carrot!” She was yelling now, but she didn’t care.
“I didn’t want to wake you!” Carrot put a hand on her shoulder, stopping her. They were facing each other now, in front of the door to the mansion. “We hardly even see each other, lately.”
“What the hell does that have to do with it?” She demanded.
“You were the one always annoyed at me for not understanding that personal isn’t the same as important.” Carrot explained, patiently.
He wasn’t arguing. He still wasn’t arguing. They were having an argument, but she was doing all the arguing, again.
“Well you picked a fine time to start listening to me!” She snapped, poking him in the chest, hard.
Rationality was thrown to the wind, or the bloody rain, as the case seemed to be. Angua was sailing free.
“I’m trying to give you space, I don’t understand why you’re always so angry with me.” Carrot replied, sounding upset.
“I don’t understand either!” Angua yelled.
And there it was. The truth of it. Right out in the open. That left them cold, wet, and staring at one another, in the cold night rain.
Angua wasn’t sure what would have happened next if the door didn’t open, revealing a very angry, very impatient-looking Mister Vimes. He was wrapped in a big, fuzzy blue blanket with animals on it, and was tapping his foot irritably. His expression could best be described as ‘pre-spare’.
It looked like the slightest excuse was all he was looking for to move into ‘totally spare’ territory.
“By the gods, you two had better have a good reason for bringing your spat onto my front door.” Vimes growled.
Before Carrot even opened his mouth, Angua just knew he was about to ask if they could come in. She elbowed him in the side, sharply.
“Lance-Constable Hitherto was injured in a riot earlier, sir. Another one.” Angua reported, ignoring the look Carrot gave her. “Hamcrusher was stirring the crowds again, sir.”
“He was taken to the Free Hospital, sir.” Carrot added. “I saw to it before I came off duty. I intended to inform you in the morning, sir, since I thought-”
“I know.” Vimes interrupted.
“You do?” Carrot asked, surprised.
Angua bit her tongue. Oh.
“Give me some credit, captain. I’m not clueless, I have my own ways of finding out what I need to know.” Vimes shot him a weary look.
Nobby then, thought Angua.
“What I don’t know, is why two of my best officers are on my damn doorstep at this time of night, arguing again.” Vimes added, sharply.
“Angua-” They both started.
This was evidently the wrong thing to say, if the look on Vimes’ face was anything to go by. Angua considered this for a moment, and on reflection, nothing was probably the correct thing to say.
“Enough.” He said, silencing them both. Ye gods, I arranged it so you two wouldn’t be on shift together for a while to try and give you time to sort this out, but apparently, that’s not helped, has it?”
“Sir?” Carrot gasped, sounding genuinely surprised. “You-”
Angua was just as surprised. The commander had been separating them, then? Maybe she shouldn’t have been, given their conduct, but…
“Yes, I ordered Cheery and Fred to handle it.” Vimes said, leaning against the doorframe.
“But sir, you’ve always said you didn’t believe in special treatment!” Carrot exclaimed.
“I still don’t, captain.” Vimes shot him a glare. “But what am I to do when the famous Captain Carrot and Sergeant Angua are arguing in the streets, in the Watch-Houses, in public, in front of their fellow officers and other watchmen?”
A knot of guilt tightened in Angua’s gut.
“Sir-” She tried.
Vimes’ glare turned on her.
“You left me few choices.” The older man snapped. “When my best officers act like this, it undermines their authority, it undermines my authority, and it undermines the authority of the Watch as a whole.”
Angua tried to feel good about the fact Mister Vimes kept calling her one of his best officers, but right now the werewolf in her, the part not quite human, and not quite wolf, was feeling very, very much like a bad girl.
Commander Vimes was disappointed in them. In her. That was almost worse than the anger.
Bad girl. Bad…dog. Sit. Roll-over.
Oh gods, not now, Angua thought, frantically. She could feel her cheeks flushing. At least the dark and the rain obscured pretty much everything.
“No more.” Vimes said, arms crossed. “Understood? I won’t keep you apart, anymore. I broke my own rules once, I’ll not do it again. But this is finished, whatever it is.”
“Good. Captain. I don’t expect you to decide what I do and don’t need to know, sound fair?” He asked.
“Of course, sir.” Carrot nodded.
“Sergeant. I am not completely ignorant of what happens in this city. Clear?”
“Yes, sir.” Angua nodded.
“Right. Now, its bloody late, and we’re going to have our work cut out for us, from the looks of things.” Vimes pushed off the doorframe, glancing to and from the both of them. “Go home, that’s an order. Rest. While you have the chance.”
“Sir.” Carrot snapped off a salute, turned, and marched back down the garden path.
Angua lingered for a moment. She was tired, wet and miserable. And she’d disappointed him. Commander Vimes.
She was surprised by how much that bothered her.
“Anything else, sergeant?” Vimes asked, noting she hadn’t moved.
She opened her mouth, wondering if she should…apologise, or something. Then she decided against it. Angua had messed up, but she wasn’t going to cringe and toady up to try and fix it. It wasn’t really her style.
“No sir.” Angua saluted, slowly. “Good night, sir.” She turned and walked down the path, out onto the street.
The rain was slowing, finally, at least. She glanced down the way Carrot had gone, but she wasn’t going home. Not now. She was still on duty, and that was easier to deal with than other things.
Angua turned and headed back for Pseudopolis Yard.
Chapter 5: ...It Pours
In the aftermath of the murder of Hamcrusher and the not-battle of Koom Valley, Angua and Vimes settle into life back home, and find some things weren't quite as they left them.
The anniversary of Koom Valley came and went. News of the battle that didn’t happen spread across the land, certainly anywhere there were trolls or dwarfs. And that included Ankh-Morpork.
At least things had calmed down, once they got back from Koom Valley. And they stayed calm, in the following weeks. No more clashes in the streets, no riots, no roving gangs…
…well, besides the normal range of the Ankh-Morpork criminal element, anyway.
Yes, things were getting back to normal. A lot of officers who’d left during the crisis had reenlisted, and nobody had been more surprised than Vimes to discover that Vetinari had approved the recruitment and training of another sixty watchmen, to ‘deal with the ever-changing criminal landscape of the city’, as Carrot had put it.
Commander Vimes had laughed, not really believing it, but he hadn’t refused the offer.
Things were changing, too. Commander Vimes had talked about promoting another captain to help him deal with the growing Watch, and its vastly ballooning amounts of paperwork. Entire forests were being sacrificed to the AMCW’s insatiable need to generate large amounts of documentation.
And there were their newer recruits, tried and tested in the Koom Valley riots. A.E. Pessimal, formerly a government inspector answering to Lord Vetinari, now a full-fledged constable, bravely tackling the mountains of reports, complaints, appeals, requests, invitations, notifications, summons and other ‘wastes of my time’ choking Commander Vimes’ office.
Brick, the troll witness to Ardent’s murder of Hamcrusher, now taken under Sergeant Detritus’ wing, and brought into the Watch as well. Cleaned up, Detritus was convinced he could make something of the young troll. Mister Shine had thought the same, Commander Vimes had said.
The vampire, Sally von Humpeding, too, despite her offer of resignation, remained with the Watch. Vimes and Angua both had been begrudgingly forced to admit that she had acquitted herself fairly, despite technically being a spy for the Low King.
She still rubbed Angua the wrong way, but that was what you got with vampires and werewolves. Cheery seemed to get on with her, so she made the effort.
Some things different. Some stayed the same. Angua had come back from Koom Valley changed. They all had. How could they not have, after what they’d seen?
And that was why, now, she was sitting on the side of their bed, with Carrot, and breaking up with him.
Angua glanced sidelong at Carrot. She kicked her legs, idly, over the side. She wasn’t even dressed, only in a long shirt. She’d been thinking about this since she got back, a month ago, and finally decided to just…get it over with, this morning, before she let herself put it off again.
“I don’t understand.” Carrot said, hurt plain in his voice.
It was harder than she’d thought it would be. And she hadn’t thought it was going to be easy at all.
“I know.” Angua replied, slowly. “And I don’t think that’s your fault, anymore.”
She didn’t. Carrot was what he was, and so was she. They’d reached a point, for her, where she just couldn’t make it work.
“But…why?” Carrot pressed. “Can’t we…is there anything I can do?”
“No.” Angua shook her head. “Don’t change, Carrot. Not for me. I’m not worth it.”
“I think you are.” He said, his expression naked with honesty. “I love you.”
“I think you do, but it’s…not the way I want you to. You love everyone, you care about everyone.” Angua said. She reached out, putting her hand over his. “You’re a good person, and I’m not. I want you to be selfish, and you can’t. Am I making any sense?”
She held Carrot’s gaze, willing him to somehow try and understand.
“No.” He replied, eventually, brow furrowed in confusion.
Angua sighed, letting go of his hand.
“I think we’re done, Carrot.” She got up, pacing across their…his room, she mentally corrected, and started throwing together her things.
He didn’t get up, staying on the bed and watching quietly as she got dressed and packed her things. She didn’t have much, really. Werewolves didn’t. You never knew when you were going to have to suddenly drop everything and get out of town. Some clothes, a few baubles, the practically obsolete, if thoughtful watch Carrot had ordered which tracked the progress of the moon, other small gifts, her badge, her spare badge…
Her basket, along with a few assorted…knick knacks for when she was in her other shape lay in the corner. Carrot had been kind, and good to her, really. Better than she deserved, in most ways. So why did it still not feel like enough?
“I think that’s everything.” She said, slinging the pack with all she considered worth owning over her back.
Carrot was still sat on the bed, watching.
Part of her wished he’d say something. Anything. Try to convince her to stay. Fight her on this. Tell her she was wrong, that she was worth it, that he could-
“Okay.” Carrot said, interrupting her thoughts.
Angua stared for a moment. Looking for any sign all this had upset him, or bothered him, any slight inclination that he wasn’t okay with this.
“Okay.” Angua repeated, eventually, when it became apparent that Carrot was done.
And this was why she was leaving. Partly, anyway. She went for the door. The air was getting thick, stifling, and she needed to be outside.
“You’re not leaving the city, are you?” Carrot asked suddenly, a tinge of alarm in his voice.
Angua thought about this. It had crossed her mind, as it often did. That was part of being a werewolf, living anywhere, but…she thought about it less these days, than she used to.
She had friends, of a sort, in Ankh Morpork. A kind of life. And a job, one she was damn good at. She’d earned her place, here, and she was reluctant to throw it away and start again. There were people who knew what she was and trusted her, like Carrot, still, and Cheery, and Comman-…Mister Vimes even…
“No.” She said. “I’ll probably see you at the Yard, later. Bye, Carrot.”
Where was she even going to go, she thought briefly, as she opened the door and stepped out. Maybe Mrs Cake would have her back…
And like that, it was over.
“Where’s my cow? Is that my cow? It goes ‘Hruuuuggh!’”
Young Sam laughed, happily, reaching up and poking his bulging cheek as he approximated the hippopotamus.
“It is a hippopotamus! That’s not my cow!” Vimes continued, entirely unsurprised at this discovery, but swept on in his son’s enthusiasm.
Once again, briefly, he considered the practical benefits of this sort of education. This was no way to find a cow, and certainly Young Sam wasn’t likely to see many of these animals wandering Ankh-Morpork, unless they werein various sandwiches. But Sybil had adamantly not spoken to him about the unauthorised ‘Street Version’, and so he continued.
Young Sam’s gleeful, bubbling gurgle made it all worthwhile.
Later, when Young Sam was finally asleep, Vimes was slouched back in the softest, plushest seat in the drawing room, a book he wasn’t going to read resting on the arm, the fire crackling away nearby and a sandwich that did, fortunately, include bacon, but with a regrettable amount of lettuce and tomato, as a trade-off.
He had a large bundle of paperwork in one hand. Assorted reports, letters, recommendations, and complaints to be ignored…
Sybil was in a seat across from him, badly knitting a miniature thick, wooly jumper for Young Sam. In the middle of summer.
Vimes suspected pointing this out would not be in his best interest. Besides, if it made Sybil happy…
“Anything interesting, Sam?” Sybil said, making him jump.
“Yes, dear. I think you accidentally left some bacon in this sandwich.” He replied, peering at the item, dubiously.
Sybil detected the sarcasm, cocking an eyebrow at him, and he inwardly balked. Sometimes he forgot he wasn’t talking to Carrot.
“Did I? I must talk to Willkins, then.” She smirked, over her knitting. “I must have been distracted, when I was preparing dinner earlier.”
“…it’s perfect, dear.” He smiled back, enthusiastically. “I especially like the…the tomato.” He took a mouthful.
Think of the bacon. Crunchy, practically burnt. Sybil might be thinking of your health, now, but she knows what you really like.
“Well recovered, Sam.” Sybil smiled. “You’ve been engrossed in that stack of paper for some time though, as I was saying. Anything new?”
“I think I’m going to need another captain, dear.” Vimes replied, brain on automatic as he flipped through the pages. “Sixty new officers. Sixty! I don’t want to know how Carrot did it, but ye gods, we needed them after this Koom Valley business. But it means I need to make a few changes. More corporals, more sergeants, and a new captain, I think.”
“It could certainly help lessen your workload, Sam.” Sybil put in.
There was the unspoken request, again. Sam tried not to wince, guilt squirming in his chest.
Sybil had never asked much of him, really. Not like he’d practically demanded of her. But the one thing she did want was more of him, and…and it wasn’t really much to ask…but he found it increasingly difficult to give her even that. The Watch consumed him, it was his life, he didn’t know what to do without it.
“Any candidates in mind?” Sybil asked, suddenly, pulling him from his musings again.
“I’m not sure dear.” He replied.
Not entirely true. He’d been contemplating it for some time, even before Vetinari approved the expansion of the Watch and the Koom Valley crisis. Angua had always been at the back of his mind, at first. Now Angua was at the front of his mind. Angua always floated to the top, when he thought about it.
Detritus was a natural-born sergeant. Fred…Fred was happier a sergeant, and likely always would be. Cheery had only just been made sergeant, and Vimes thought she needed time to come into the role.
No, Angua was the one. The only one who made sense, and the only one he was sure he could trust to-
“I thought Sergeant Angua would have made a fine choice.” Sybil chimed, innocently. “If you don’t mind my saying.”
Vimes glanced at her sharply, and for a moment felt a pang of guilt. But why? It was gone just as soon as it came.
“I had been considering her.” Vimes admitted, like it was nothing.
And it was nothing. So why did he feel the need to prove that?
“Of course you had, Sam. You’re quite fond of her, really, aren’t you?” She added, knowingly.
What she knew, Vimes couldn’t begin to guess. But Sybil projected a kind of unshakeable confidence that whatever she thought she knew, she certainly knew it.
“I hate werewolves, Sybil!” Vimes tried. “You know that, everyone knows that!”
“But Sergeant Angua isn’t just a werewolf, is she? She’s one of your men, and you trust her. As much as your old friend Fred, and that colourful chap Nobby? Maybe even Captain Carrot?” Sybil went on, seemingly unfazed by his argument.
“Well…” Vimes replied, finally, frantically trying to claw back some degree of control of the conversation. “…she’s a good officer, and she’s proved herself reliable and useful a lot, over the years, dear.” He conceded.
Sybil only smiled, slightly.
“She’ll make a fine captain, Sam.” His wife chuckled, quietly, eyes never leaving her knitting. “Jolly good idea.”
“I hadn’t said I-”
“Would you deprive that poor young woman of the chance to make her mark?” Sybil said, calmly. “She’ll make a good balance with Captain Carrot, I think. She, works like you, thinks like you, and she looks up to you, if you hadn’t noticed.”
“I can’t say I had, ac-” Vimes replied, desperately trying to steer this conversation in…any other direction.
Sybil sighed, shaking her head, with a patient, soft smile that one might give to a child.
“Oh, Sam.” She glanced across at him again. “You know I love you, but sometimes you really aren’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.”
Vimes blinked. Why did everybody keep saying that? But he bit his tongue and went back to his reports. At least that seemed to be the end of it.
“You must invite the newly Captained Angua over for dinner some time, Sam.” Sybil said, causing him to choke on his last bite of the sandwich. “…and Captain Carrot, of course.” She added, almost as an afterthought.
“Sybil!” Vimes coughed.
Sybil chuckled, mischievously, busy with her knitting.