"I think I shall have a Klatchian pizza," the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork declared.
Anyone who knew him would be highly surprised to hear this; it was widely suspected that Lord Vetinari didn't eat, and anyway, pizza didn't seem like his kind of food. The hypothetical listener would, however, not have much time to wonder about this declaration, as it was followed by an even more surprising one, in occurrence a loud and definite "NO!"
It was not a "no!" of surprise either, but most definitely one that meant: "You think you will have a Klatchian pizza, but I shall prevent it!" And that just wasn't the kind of thing one said to Havelock Vetinari, even though the fact the person who had just done so was Samuel Vimes made it marginally less strange.
Vetinari, who had been standing near the window of his office turned round slowly, to face the Commander of the Watch.
"I beg your pardon, Commander?" he said.
"I am not letting any more food from this place get into the palace," Vimes hissed through grit teeth; the three aborted murder attempts on the Patrician for which they still had no lead were grating on his nerves, mostly because they meant he spent a considerable amount of time with the potential victim, who was no help whatsoever; he breathed in deeply to calm himself. "Sir."
"I don't think your duties include controlling what I eat, Commander."
"They include making sure you don't eat anything poisoned, sir."
"Ah, I see. I believe it was you, Vimes, who once mentioned that one wouldn't be able to poison the whole city...?" *
* Really. Someone had tried, once, by putting poison into the groundwater. Rumour had it that it was the barely emerging guild of doctors that had commissioned his inhumation: a few of the Morporkian bacteria hadn't survived, and the series of miraculous healings was bad for business.
"That was before you started ordering from them every other day! They've advertised in the Times about it!"
"Ah, indeed." Vetinari smiled briefly. "However – "
"And we never know which part they'll poison," Vimes, made fearless by annoyance, interrupted. "After the article we found Quirmian fly poison in the olives. Nowhere else."
"I believe I already told you – "
" – that you're immunised against that poison. That's not – "
" – that I never order pizza with olives. That being said, while I am obviously an amateur when it comes to security, Commander, I do rather believe that you screaming about what substances I am immune against isn't a particularly smart move. You will of course correct me if I happen to be mistaken."
"Sir," said Vimes, stiffly. The only indication that the situation was having any effect on him was that Vetinari seemed to have permanently moved from subtle irony to heavy sarcasm.
"Yes, I expected you'd say that." Vetinari gave him a cold look. "May I repeat, Commander, that if you feel unable to perform said duty without disturbing the usual functioning of the City, you and your men are free to leave?"
"Yes, sir." If the wall behind the Patrician's desk had been sentient, it would wither under the heat of the Commander's glare. "Thank you, sir. But the fonct – "
"Good," Vetinari interrupted. "Now, Drumknott – "The clerk appeared by his side as if by magic." – if you would be so kind to – "
"No." Vimes interrupted a second time, and, as Vetinari turned to look at him again, added, in a defeated tone of voice. "I'll take care of it."
There was a pause; Vetinari gave him a long look.
"Well, if you think so, Commander," he eventually said. "I wouldn't dream of interfering with the Watch's way of running security here, of course."
Vimes opened his mouth, and then stormed out of the room without another word. Getting rid of the whole problem by just killing Vetinari himself was looking like a more attractive option with every minute, but he'd hate to think he went through the last few days for nothing.
A few minutes later, Vetinari looked up from the note he was reading, when Drumknott, who'd followed the Commander of the Watch outside, silently entered the room again.
"'Algorithm's Happy Pizza Place'*, I think," the clerk said. "I could send a clacks message with an order...?"
* The owner was a native Morporkian who thought that his restaurant would be more successful if it sounded Klatchian, and had chosen the first word beginning with "al" that appealed to him.
(Security aside, leaving it to Vimes didn't seem like a good idea: the last pizza brought by the watch had had an unusual amount of chilli.)
"No. I don't think it is necessary to upset the Commander any further right now." The Patrician put the note down on his desk. "Did he go himself this time?"
"Yes, my lord. Shall I inform Mr. Towp and associates that you will see them now?"
"No, thank you. I shall inform them myself." He pushed up a concealed lever by the wall, which opened a passage that led downwards.* "They are still in the cells?"
* Vimes, had he been present, would have had a lot to say about this; he had demanded that the Watch be told about the secret passages so they could be guarded, to which Vetinari had responded by giving the sword Vimes had unfortunately been waving around manically at the time a pointed look, and politely asking whether he had some difficulties with the meaning of the word "secret". It had been one of the better days.
"Yes sir. They have withdrawn their complaints about the accommodation once they were informed that if they so wished, the meeting could be hold in the presence of Commander Vimes instead."
Vetinari smiled, and disappeared inside the passage.