'I think I should demand handcuffs.'
'All right, if you insist.'
– Vetinari and Vimes, Jingo.
"Are you sure," said Vimes suspiciously, "that you can't get out of these?"
He carefully laid the lit cigar on a nearby desk, and looked the Patrician's naked body up and down and up again, slowly: long, thin legs, crossed at the ankles, slight arousal, pale skin of someone who, when he leaves the house by day, does so under the forever covered sky of Ankh-Morpork, head comfortably resting on a cushion, clear eyes looking at him unblinkingly, arms raised.
"Quite sure. But if it puts your mind at ease, I can try again."
Vetinari rattled, briefly and firmly, at the cuffs that chained his wrists to the bed rather closely.
"That's not what I meant," said Vimes, even as he critically observed the headboard for possible detachability.
"I don't know where you imagine I might have hidden a lock-pick, Vimes."
"And these are your handcuffs. Unless you suspect me of having made sure all handcuffs employed by the City Watch have a secret mechanism to open in case I ever get arrested?"
Vimes hadn't, until now.
"It was a joke, Vimes. But if you really think none of your people would ever notice such a defect, then I do wonder what the city is paying them for..."
Vimes didn't rise to it. Instead, after taking another drag of his cigar and putting it down again, he climbed onto the bed, bent over the Patrician, and trailed a finger, carefully, over one of the chains. Looked solid enough. He was pretty sure the cuffs were more ancient than Vetinari's patricianship anyway, since he never provided the Watch with new equipment*, so it wasn't likely, but this was Vetinari. He would check on the next occasion.
*Except for special occasions, and even then, only when captain Carrot asked for it.
"And there's no-one within ear-shot? Rats that'll nibble on the headboard?"
"No, Vimes. I have utmost trust in you."
Vimes winced at that.
"Right..." he said, slowly; the maniac grin, accompanied by the feeling that usually only surfaced when he was confronted to deadly danger and too little sleep tugged at his lips. "So – hypothetically speaking – I could leave you here like that and you couldn't do anything about it?"
Vetinari raised an eyebrow; Vimes was pleased to notice that, against all expectations, his current position did make mannerism look marginally less frightening.
"Because, you know – " Vimes crawled back, not quite standing up yet – "I've been away for a while and we're the ones who get to clean up the mess this whole thing left, so maybe I should..." Vimes paused and thought for a moment. "Have you ever been under the island of Leshep, sir?"
Vetinari looked at him with the slightest hint of confusion.
"Under the island? How, exactly, is that supposed to work?" Vimes glared. Figured. So much for trust, then. "Would you mind going on with it? I do have other things to do today. As do you, I understood."
"This was your idea in the first place, you know!"
"Yes, I am aware. I do apologize if I made you uncomfortable."
Vetinari smiled at him. Vimes narrowed his eyes, and looked around the room. There was something infuriating about its overall neatness, because it looked so... normal, as if some regular rather tidy individual lived there.
"Can I gag you?"
"If you wish to."
Vimes glared down at the Patrician, who continued to look at him with that infuriating air of pointed patience. Now, that would doubtlessly be satisfying. Not necessarily sexually stimulating, though. And he couldn't stop thinking that Vetinari was playing same kind of joke on him.
"Just... forget about it," he finally said, and stood up; he grabbed a key from were it was lying on the floor, and tossed it at the Patrician without looking.
When he turned back round, Vetinari was hanging on the bed by one wrist, and the key was nowhere in sight. If he was upset or surprised, he didn't show it.
"Very well. The other key, if you please?"
Vimes tossed him that one as well; Vetinari caught it, but made no motion to unchain his right hand, or to return to a state of relative decency *. He was still aroused too, Vimes couldn't help noting.
* As far as clothes were concerned.
"I'll want these back," Vimes remarked gruffly, looking away. Bit late to change his mind now.
"Yes, I imagine you will," Vetinari agreed smilingly. "Are you leaving?"
"Yes." He took back his cigar, gave it a brief, vaguely longing look, and put it out. "Work. I have to add guards around the Klatchian embassy. Discreetly," he added, angrily. In the old days before Carrot's arrival, the Watch had been all about being discreet – mostly by really not being anywhere near when a crime was being committed. Nowadays, however, safety required them to be seen as much as possible, in the hope of distracting people from the fact that, in truth, they still weren't that much stronger than back then.
"There is no hurry, I think," Vetinari said; he moved to sit on the edge of the bed, his back to him, and grabbed a discarded robe from the floor.
"How much or what are you giving the prince if you need the Watch to guard it?" Vimes demanded.
Vetinari turned to him at that.
"Am I to understand by your question that the informal part of this meeting is over?"
"Why?" Vimes asked innocently. There was something to be said for formal situations and the safety of meaningless phrases like "inquires are proceeding" or "yes sir", but he knew that if he said yes now, Vetinari would simply switch him off. "I thought it was a private gift."
"No, Commander," said Vetinari seriously, while giving him a sharp look. "There is no gift at all."
Just like there had been no war. He wasn't complaining: bribing the enemy was in the best Morporkian tradition; he just couldn't shake off the feeling that Vetinari was involving him just to tick him off. But he didn't feel he could bear a long argument right now.
"Then I guess I'll just send a few watchmen to walk around the embassy because of the nice weather," he snapped sarcastically.
He received no answer. Vetinari was still chained to the bed by one wrist when he left.