'What!?' said Angua for the third time.
The stage manager, a solid enough man, grinned sheepishly. 'It's innocent fun, really, it's not meant to...'
Angua took a step forward and growled into the man's face. 'Not meant to what, exactly? Undermine the authority of the watch? Line your pockets? Offend me?'
'Angua!' piped Tawneee, all blue eyes and sweet melting anxiousness. 'Please don't be offended! I feel terrible!'
Angua mellowed somewhat. Being angry at Tawneee was like raging at a wet sponge. 'All right. But I want that show OFF!' The last word was barked at the stage manager.
They were all standing in the dressing room at the Pink PussyCat Club, amidst sparkling (if tiny) outfits and bright make-up lights. Tawnee was already taking off her watch uniform – or rather the club's version, which was a great deal smaller. The other dancer, Marakeeta, was pulling off a short dark wig, looking slightly embarrassed. That was something remarkable, Angua thought, in a woman who danced in front of a room full of men wearing nothing but two rings and a stamp.
'You can't really tell us how to run a legitimate business, you know,' the stage manager said. He had been thinking of money, about the crowds outside, and decided he should buck up his courage once more. Also, he had just remembered that one of the rings in his fingers was silver. 'It's not Watch jurisdiction. Er.'
'Fine, fine,' growled Angua. 'Use the uniforms. But my likeness is off limits, do you understand? None of this "horny werewolf officer mooning the city" business. Vampire and werewolf lesbian officers? Werewolves hate vampires!'
'It's a very popular show, you know,' offered Tawneee. Angua shot her a look. 'Was,' she added in a more subdued tone.
'Make sure it stays as a was.'
Angua walked back towards Pseudopolis Yard under a black sky – stars, if there were any, were obscured by the city's smoke. At every step she grew more uncertain. She wouldn't be able to control that sort of thing. Somehow knowing that she was part of a fantasy of a room full of men wasn't the sort of thrill it might have been. She shuddered violently, and it had nothing to do with the cold.
It stood as a testament to her preoccupation that she didn't smell Sally until she was within calling distance, and hailed her from somewhere on the level of the rooftops. (Sally's own smell had become familiar to Angua now – the overpowering scent of vampire had nuances of a dusky perfume, leather and metal, and a whiff of rosin and polish.) Angua looked up to see the vampire gliding down from the sky, dressed in a dark blue cloak, perfectly camouflaged and revealed only by the cloak's billowing movement.
'Saw you come out of the Pink PussyCat Club,' Sally remarked as her feet touched ground, and she fell easily in step with her fellow officer.
Angua stopped. Sally did too, after a step, and turned to look at her inquiringly. 'You knew, didn't you?' asked Angua.
Sally laughed. 'The undead lesbian officers act? Oh yes. You should see the one they have with the golem and Miss, ahem, Anna Bertha Sweetie.'
Angua opened her mouth, then closed it. It would probably be better to ask. She felt some regret that Miss Dearheart, who she'd met on occasion, hadn't apparently found out yet. 'They do like to live dangerously, don't they?' she remarked weakly, and fell back to proceeding down the street.
'I think it's funny.'
'Vampires!' Angua growled under her breath.
Sally laughed again. 'Werewolves! Always taking everything so seriously – well, not your brother Wolfgang, of course. I remember he liked a good laugh.'
'He was insane!'
It didn't surprise Angua that Sally would know Wolfgang, or at least know about him. Of course she would, even if she and Angua had never met before Ankh-Morpork. Sally was a young vampire, and Angua had never been a social creature.
'How do they come up with that stuff?' Angua howled. 'I don't think a werewolf could make love to a vampire. She'd sooner tear her throat out.'
'Try, anyway.' Sally wrinkled her nose. 'I've seen the show. I can't say it was realistic.'
'You're a regular at that club, are you?'
Sally flashed her a grin. 'I go sometimes. I told you, I think it's funny.'
Angua thought about questioning this stance, but decided against it as a useless exercise. Sally was Sally.
'Can you even make love to someone who isn't a vampire?' The question fell out of Angua before she could stop it. A speciesist comment, she was sure, but when it came to vampires and werewolves speciesism was only to be expected.
Sally gave her a lopsided grin. 'Yes, that was a speciesist question.'
'You enjoy annoying me,' Angua said angrily. But the anger drained out soon after on the all-encompassing futility of it.
'Perhaps.' And yes, Sally was still smiling in the same infuriating way. Then she looked around, as if listening, and took hold of Angua's wrist. 'Come here.' She pulled her down a shadowy back alley.
'What--?' It was the kind of an alley usually filled to bursting point with muggers, but now uncharacteristically quiet, thanks to the Thieves' Guild Midsummer Ball. They always held it a month early, so the members would be free on Midsummer to better, er, serve the wined-up revelers of actual Midsummer. Angua sniffed the air. They were alone.
She was suddenly tripped, turned, and pushed against the wall. Sally's eyes shone with the slightest tinge of red, only inches from hers. 'I'd like to answer your question,' she murmured, 'and test something. All in one go.'
It wasn't the rude sort of kiss that drunken Romeos attempt on sweaty bar nights. It wasn't a fairytale kiss either, where a maid is swept of her feet and bent half to the ground. Nor was it anything like Carrot's kisses, which were like him, sweet and frank and overwhelming. It was a woman's kiss – soft as silk, tentative and light, and it ended in the slightest flicker of tongue, just a breath of moisture, endlessly intimate.
Angua's stomach lurched. 'Uh,' she managed.
'No good?' Sally asked.
Angua blinked, and scrutinised herself. Instinct to bolt: check. Unsettled stomach: check. That usual mix of anger, confusion and anxiety that she'd come to associate with Sally: check. Any form or trace of arousal...
...better not go there.
'No good,' Angua confirmed.
Sally's teeth flashed in the dark. Unshakeable, untouchable, infuriating Sally. 'At least now we know.'
Angua's knees felt slightly weak as they returned to the weak light of the wider street. Sally was pulling her cloak's hood back over her head. 'I need to continue the search,' she said. 'We're looking for Dunnit Duncan – apparently he did do it this time...'
As soon as Sally was gone, her scent carried off by a bitter night breeze, Angua began to feel a little better. She took as deep a breath as anybody dared in Ankh-Morpork, and continued the way to headquarters. Her arms missed Carrot. Her skin missed Carrot. If there was one good thing about having to deal with Sally every day, it was that in comparison, what she had with Carrot was simplicity itself.
Back in the PussyCat Club, Tawneee and Marakeeta were well into their act, which, in deference to Angua's feelings, they'd changed into the one about the crossdressing lesbian soldiers.