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A gentle man and a gentle mate

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There was three things Samuel Vimes knew about love at age 5.
1. His mommy loved him
2. His daddy loved him
3. His soulmate loved him

His mother loved him, he knew that for a fact. She would tell him stories and mend his clothes and kiss his skinned knees when he fell and the other kids laughed at him. She worked so Sam could have food on the table and a roof over his head. His mother said his father loved him, but Sam had never seen his father. He didn’t want to press the subject because talking about his father made his mother get all watery and sad and he didn’t like it.
When Sam was born he had his soulmark, his mom said that it meant that his soulmate was older than him. Somewhere out there, his true love was already running around and being themself. His soulmark was fuzzy and half illegible, his mother said that it would become clearer in time. Most people Sam knew had soulmates, a few didn’t, a few had more than one. Jeremy Fleming used to make fun of Sam for only having one when Jeremy had three. Sam thought it was unfair, but he also thought a lot of things were unfair. His mommy having to work all the time and still be hungry wasn’t fair. His daddy not being around ever because he had other things to do wasn’t fair. Not knowing who his soulmate was was also unfair.
He knew his soulmate loved him, but he wished he could talk to them. He wanted to talk about their favorite type of game to play with bricks was, what their favorite color was, which festival day did they like best? His mother said that they would love him with all of their heart, and Sam was so excited to meet them.

----- 

There were three things that Samuel Vimes knew about love by the age of 18.
1. It could be purchased for any price, but it got better the more money you payed
2. Love was a gamble, he couldn’t trust anyone anyone bad with his heart. (He wasn’t quite sure quite yet how to figure out who was a bad person to give his heart to but he figured that he would know when he met them)
3. Every person had a soul-mate, and his was daft, at least he was pretty sure they were.

Written (Now legibly) on the inside of his left wrist was the inscription “My good man, do you know anything about mating?” In loopy and delicate script, a bold contradiction in both appearance and content. The handwriting of someone who put lots of effort into writing, and a sentence rather crude for a first introduction. Sam’s mother said it had to be a lady, with a script like that, and Sam agreed with her. He liked both boys and girls alright, had tried many things with the both of them by the time he turned 18, but he always had the feeling that his soul mate was a woman. She would be attractive, hopefully, and probably someone a lot like him. She would probably be poor like him, though hopefully not too poor. They would get married, live together in a one bedroom house, have six kids, and live paycheck to paycheck like everyone else he knew. That was the most romantic thing he could think of. He had always wondered in what sort of situation would he meet his soulmate. Maybe she was a seamstress? Maybe just a woman looking for a one night stand? Many more possibilities came to mind, but all left him blushing and introspective.

Sargent Keel asked him about his mark one night while out on patrol, more like the man told him to keep it hidden. “Don’t go waving it around like a bloody idiot Constable. Keep is covered with a sleeve, or bit of fabric or something.” As he tried to light a cigarette without it getting wet from the rain. “It’s bloody indecency, flaunting it like that. A soulmate isn’t a thing that all people still have in a city like this, and if some of the right bastards out on the street see you with one of those they’d soon as cut it off your skin as look at you.” Vimes winced at the idea, and used an old handkerchief to tie around his wrist, similar to the little one that Keel kept around his wrist.
“Have you got a soul mate Sarge? We’ve all seen you wear that tie ‘round your wrist, only no one’s seen what’s under it.” Inquired Vimes a little warily. They were on patrol, with the rain beating down around like a bunch of thugs. Along with the smell of sewage and Keels’ cigarette smoke, the streets were not the nicest place to smell.
Keels sighed. “Back where I come from, they would call a question like that, a ‘cruising for a bruising’ sort of question.”
“So what does that mean, a yes sir?”
Keel sighed again, even louder, as if trying to turn his exasperated sigh into a whole sentence. They both walked in silence for a bit longer, right foot in front of left, left in front of right. Keel took a drag from his cigarette, “Yeah, I’ve got one.” Keel didn’t have to explain, Sam knew what he was talking about. “We got married a few years back.”
“What’re they like?” Vimes pushed “Colon ‘s met his mate apparently. They got hitched a few weeks ago. Colon says that she’s very nice.”
Keel shook his head “I wonder if he’s home often enough to say the lady ‘s very nice.” He puffed as if he already knew about the situation better than Vimes. “My Sybil is a good woman. She’s bigger than a boulder and twice as sturdy.”
“I wouldn’t want to date a lady who’s bigger than me.” Said Vimes with all the certainty of a teenage boy talking about women he didn’t find attractive.
“Well then that’s going to narrow down your options.” Responded Keel, not looking down.
“What’s that supposed to mean?!”
“Well constable, you’re certainly not the tallest fella is the watch I’ll tell you that.”
“You’re not tall either sarge, you’re barely taller than me!”
Keel stared at him “Yes, and I’m not an idiot who judges women by their height.”
That shut up Vimes for a good twenty minutes. It took him a good load of courage and a few more streets to try and talk again.
“Is your soulmate alright with your job? You should bring her by the station some time. None of the others have met her yet, and we’d all love to.”
Keel didn’t respond.
“You know Mum would definitely love to have the both of you over to our place. She told me that any woman who marries a copper is a foolish one, but what does my mum know? The both of you should come over to our house for dinner!”
If Vimes had been more attentive he would have noticed that Keel was trying to ignore him. However, he was about attentive as a pigeon in all matters that aren’t bread, and took the silence as an invitation to keep pressing the subject.
“Is she still in Psuedopolis sir? Did she not come with you to the city?” and after a tense pause “Is she… um…. Is she? Is she, you know?” she stuttered without wanting to ask it.
Keel stopped abruptly, leaving Vimes a few paces ahead. He grabbed the boy roughly by the collar of his shirt and pulled him close, Vimes flinched. “Listen kid.” Their faces were inches apart, and Vimes could smell the acrid smell of cigarette smoke. “She. Is. Not. Dead. You never ask anyone about the state of their soulmate, you got it?” Keel’s voice was steady, but underneath was the promise of a good punch to the gut.
Vimes nodded jerkily and furiously. “Yes sir! Sorry sir! Won’t happen again, sir!”
“Good.” sighed Keel, backing up. “Now constable, let’s forget this conversation ever happened.”
“Yes sir.” responded Vimes, and the pair started walking again. Right foot in front of left, left foot in front of right, the coppers’ walk.

 

-----

 

“I’m calling it now boys, his soulmate is definitely dead.” announced corporal Colon as he looked up from the doodle he was drawing on his desk. (It looked roughly like a cat, if the cat had been attacked by a troll and pieced back together by an apprentice Igor) “No man gets that touchy about that kinda stuff unless he’s lost someone.”
Vimes had just told the rest of the guards about his and Keel’s conversation, they were all giving their two-cents opinions. Most of the watch was shifting in and out of the main office, hesitant to sit down for fear that Keel could barge in and lecture them all on morality. Vimes and Colon where the only ones sitting, one because he was too stupid to be afraid, and the other because he was too lazy to get up.
“Why would he lie about that?” Asked Vimes.
“You’ll understand when you’re older kid.” replied Snouty from the other side of the room, pretending to file nonexistent paperwork. “It’s not a thing people want to bring up.”
“A soulmate is a horrible thing to lose.” explained Colon, leaning in Vimes’ direction “You’re excited to meet your gal one day, right?” Vimes nodded “Well imagine that one day, your words, the first words from your love to you, just turn grey, and fade into a scar.” Everyone in the room (there were more of them as the conversation progressed) made a sympathetic wince. “It would be even worse if you already knew the gal, and knew that as the words fade, you’ll never see her again.”
“They could turn red though.” interjected Nancyball “I knew a lass who’s wife got run over by a wagon, but the stubborn gal came back as a zombie. Her words faded, but they came back red.”
“Well that’s gross.” responded Colon. (It was unclear if he was talking about the nature of the two women’s relationship, or the fact that one was undead)
“I don’t think she’s dead though.” said Vimes. He wasn’t sure why he said it, but he was positive somewhere deep down that the soulmate of Sergeant at Arms John Keel was alive. It was a weird thing to be assured of, but he knew it.
“You’re a bloody romantic, that’s why you think so.” snarked Wiglet . The other officers in the room (becoming more comfortable) laughed in unison.
“Am not!” shouted Vimes, rising from his chair.
“Are too!” responded Wiglet, as though he was starting an argument with a kid. (which he sort of was)
“Am not!” yelled Vimes, even louder “I believe that his soulmate isn’t dead! I believe in the power of love, and I’m a cold, hard realist!”
“If you’re a cold, hard, realist, then I’m the Patrician.” responded Sargeant Keel from his nonchalant slouch in the back doorway. All of the officers jumped and then pretended to be doing something that wasn’t gossiping. “I hope that you all weren’t wasting valuable time by gossiping about the love lives of your superior officers.” boomed Keel “That would certainly be a waste of time and resources, and wasting is not something that I approve of.” the officers all frantically bustled about as he talked, either trying to leave the room or make it look like they were not wasting time and resources.
Vimes blushed and tried to face the desk he was sitting in, but since he had been sitting the wrong way around in the chair so that he could rest his arms on the back (much like people trying to be cool do) he twisted the chair and fell flat on the floor, bringing the chair along with him with a loud crash.
“Seriously lance constable?” muttered Keel “If you’re going to gossip like an granny, then at least have the nerve of one.” He helped up Vimes from the floor with a steady grasp on his arm.
“Sorry sir.” muttered Vimes.
“I take it you haven’t met your special soulmate yet.” said Keel with a wry smile.
“No sir.” muttered Vimes. Despite himself he blushed and hung his head.
“It will all work out Constable, I remember how I was at your age.” Keel made a short and bright sound, that had it not been Keel, Vimes would have thought was a laugh. (It’s not that he didn’t think Keel could laugh, Keel surely had to have laughed at least once in his life. Right?) Vimes received a hard clap on the back, and the Sargent walked off in the direction of the stairs to the second floor.
“I think I just saw my life flash before my eyes.” muttered Vimes once Keel was out of earshot .
“Hell, I saw your life flash before my eyes.” responded Wiglet “I thought he was gonna box ya for sure.”
“Was that a laugh?” asked Colon, who had gone back to drawing the abomination cat.
“I think so.” Vimes stared at the stairs, and then looked down at his own wrist, wrapped in red fabric. He tightened his fist and smiled.

 

------

 

At the age of 25, Samuel Vimes knew three things about love
1. It could be purchased at any price, but if he could purchase it, that meant that other people with a whole load of strange diseases could also purchase it
2. It got a lot better when alcohol was involved
3. His soulmate was probably a lot cooler, hotter, and better at thud than he was

 

He been on a five game losing streak and halfway through the sixth when Lance Constable Sitz proposed they could do something else if he wanted. “Look, Sam, there’s no need to keep playing if I keep beating you. I feel bad.”
“That’s Sergeant Vimes to you Sitz, and I’m not losing, this is all part of my tactics for when you slip up and fail.” Vimes had his helmet off and was scratching his stubble in thought.
Sitz sighed “We’re not technically on duty right now Sargeant so you can pull the truncheon out of your arse.”
“Bold of you to assume I’ve got one up there in the first place Filip.” Vimes moved a dwarf three spaces ahead.
“I thought we weren’t using first names Sargeant.” Sitz smiled his blinding grin, and let out a little giggle (a very manly one of course, he was a watchman).
“Oh alright, alright.” Vimes conceded “We’re not on duty you can use my first name.”
Sitz’s response was a little smile and nod while he took another sip of his beer. The two of them were sitting outside the watch house on a makeshift table and chairs constructed of overturned buckets and sheets of metal. The thud game wasn’t really complete, the board was missing two dwarves and a troll (Nobby’s fault most likely), but those pieces had been substituted with little bits of carved scrap wood that constable Warren had made. They had technically just finished duty, but neither had particularly exciting homes to go to and were just killing time before they would eventually have to sleep. Vimes liked Sitz because the man was tall, could knock out a person in one punch sometimes, and was probably the smartest man in the watch (in his opinion). Sitz liked Vimes because he spoke his mind, cared for the city like a mother cared for her unruly child, and was probably the smartest man in the watch (in his opinion). Both were drinking cheap beer from a brewery down the road, and both were enjoying the early morning fog.
“So Sam, what do you think about that new Ventinari guy who people are talking about who’s thinking of becoming Patrician?” Sitz took another sip from his beer and motioned Vimes to make his next move.
“Dunno,” Vimes shrugged “heard the latest rumors and sorts but nothing out of the ordinary.” he pretended to look like he knew what he was doing and moved a dwarf ahead seven spaces.
“Do you think he’s really going to do that whole thing with the guilds that he’s claiming he’ll do?”
Vimes waved his hand dismissively “Naw, he’d have to be a madman, no one’s gonna stand for legal crime.”
Sitz shrugged and took another drink. It wasn’t that the beer tasted good, it was that there was a lot of free beer, considering the brewery was smuggling contraband magical items into the city and paid for the watch’s silence in free beer.
“What rumors did you hear?” Sitz moved a troll to the left one space.
“Oh, the usual stuff,” Vimes shrugged and moved another dwarf. “He’s married to a vampire princess from Uberwald, he’s not actually human, he’s got no soulmate, he’s actually a spy from Quirm sent to destroy us all.”
“Oh, the vampire one is actually false.” declared Stiz. Vimes quirked an eyebrow from behind his bottle and Stiz continued. “I know a guy whose girlfriend has got a cousin who knows a guy who lives in Uberwald and who works for the so called ‘vampire princess’ as a gardener and it turns out she’s very much not into men.”
Vimes chuckled “Okay, so what about the other ones mister ‘know a guy.”
Sitz gasped in mock offensive “I don’t know what that name could have meant Sam, but I’ll continue giving you the real truth.”
“You wouldn’t know a real truth if it bit you on the arse.”
“Rude! Insulting a fellow watch officer, I’m offended.” Sitz moved his troll forward a space and took one of Vimes’ dwarves. “Now I also know that the soulmate one is also false because I heard that he’s got one on his neck, real big and uses a name, that’s why he’s always covered in head to toe with that grey fabric.”
Vimes nodded “Would make sense to hide it if he’s wanting to be the Patrician. Wouldn’t want an assassin finding the person and gutting them in the street on account of them being linked to a rival of his.”
Sitz nodded as well “I wouldn’t put it past Snapcase to put a hit out on someone’s soulmate like that, man ‘ll do anything to stay in power.”
The pair moved a few pieces in silence. Vimes took one troll, and Sitz took seven dwarves. A stray dog passed by and tried to sit next to the pair, Vimes shooed it away. A golem lumbered past carrying a huge stack of wood, neither paid it any attention. Eventually bottles were finished and Sitz went back inside the office to get more. Vimes barely managed to resist the urge to move the thud pieces so it would look like he was winning.
“Okay I’ve got four more of the so called beers,” called Sitz “we seem to be going through these guys like a house fire.”
Vimes laughed. (He didn’t consider himself a full blown drunk quite yet and so drinking was a casual and fun thing). They both settled back and continued with the game.
“So,” Vimes ventured after losing another three dwarves “Have you got a soulmate or two Filip?”
“No actually.” Stiz said, while moving one of his trolls “Used to have one when I was young, it disappeared around my ninth birthday. I remember the original thing said something like ‘That’s a mighty fine truncheon ye got there.’ so I can only assume we’d of met sometime while I was in the watch.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear about it.” responded Vimes with a sympathetic wince.
Stiz shook his head “No no, I’m not upset about it at all. I don’t really think about it all that much. I mean, I miss the assurance that I’d find someone is all, but I’m not worried about dying alone, there’s lots of other folks missing or without a mark.”
“Okay then.” Vimes moved one of his dwarves, and shrugged in what he hoped was a noncommittal way.
“Have you got one?” Sitz asked, partly just to fill the silence.
“Uh yeah,” Vimes took a swig of beer “the mark asks me if I want to have sex.”
“Cool, at least they’re forward.” Sitz took Vimes’ second to last dwarf, much to the victim’s surprise.
“How did you do that?” Vimes said, hiding his disbelief by taking another drink.
“You rush in too much, you leave your sides open and it’s easy to get you when you’re too focused on winning to actually win.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.” snapped Vimes as he attempted an evasive maneuver with his last remaining dwarf.
Sitz shrugged “Maybe that’s why you keep losing.”
It took four more moves for Sitz to capture the last dwarf, and a whole two hours for Vimes to get over the fact that Sitz hadn’t cheated, and even then he hadn’t been totally convinced. Vimes had only really gotten over it because Sitz had pulled him in for a sloppy and inexperienced kiss to shut up his complaining, and Vimes wasn’t one to pass over a good request for silence by kissing.

-----

They’d got along in a close way after that night. In stolen kisses during patrols and quick fumbles behind buildings (not on duty though, Vimes was too proper for that). Sitz was kind and silly and told Vimes that he was very pretty as often as he could.
For a while Samuel Vimes didn’t worry about the future, he didn’t worry about how good he was at being a perfect soulmate. Sitz snuck into rich people’s yards to pick Vimes beautiful flowers, and Vimes saved up money and bought him a fancy blue silk scarf from across seas. Sam wore the flowers behind his ears and in his lapels, and Filip tied the blue scarf around his neck on special occasions. For little bits of time they could become Filip and Sam instead of Sitz and Vimes, and that’s all that really mattered to the both of them.
It had changed when Ventinari had become Patrician however. Governments changed, streets changed, people changed (only sometimes for the better). Many other young men besides Vimes and Sitz had been asked if they wanted to join the palace guard, but both both felt as though this was an opportunity for the both of them to get a better life.
Sitz had been accepted, with his silly little mustache he’d been growing to look more adult, sunny smiles, and steady hands. He’d been accepted easily, he fit right into the marble walls and glit facades like he’d always been meant to stand in a place and protect people from harm.
Vimes however had been banished within the first week. That was just his luck, he just couldn’t keep his mouth shut, he just had to argue with captain Putnam on the proper treatment of apprehended prisoners. He just had to respond to insults from officer Quirk with wisecracks of his own (that were probably better insults anyway, not that it counted or anything).
Sam and Filip couldn’t sustain themselves after that of course. Sitz had a job to worry about and Vimes had a dwindling night watch to take care of. They’re really hadn’t been a harsh breakup, there was just a slow and painful stretch like melted cheese that lost itself to a thin connection.
Vimes still saw Sitz sometimes of course. They passed each other in the halls of the castle when Vimes had to report to the Patrician for something or other. It was probably better, Sitz had always said that Vimes had a bright future that didn't involve him. It was probably the other way around.

-----

At the age of 35, Samuel Vimes knew three things about love
1. The best kind happened to other people, everyone else had to hope and pray it wasn’t a limited recourse
2. The “real” kind of love didn’t exist. Some might say that it was a ridiculous thing to say in a world where most humans and humanoids had the first words of their soulmate emblazoned in magic black ink (or other colors depending on the tone of skin) on their body, but Vimes stood by his statement
3. His soulmate would be ashamed to meet him, if he didn’t die of alcohol poisoning first that is

He was regaling this important observations to Nobby from the bottom of a gutter when it started to lightly rain. Nobby, who had been respectfully listening occasionally nodding along to the parts he agreed in, looked up at the sky and grumbled “Of course it always rains when we’re doing the rounds.”
“My soulmate would be appalled to meet me Nobbs. She would swoon in her shoes if she found out her good man was this drunken bugger.” Vimes gestured with his almost empty bottle of cheap beer, narrowly missing his fellow officer’s head.
“How do you know they’re a woman cap’? I just saw you flirtin' up Mr. Nunes not twenty minutes ago at the bar.”
Vimes sat up straight very fast, and then proceeded to wobble as he addressed Nobby “I know what I’m talkin’ about you... undergrown troglodyte. Just because I’m snoggin’ men doesn’t mean I’m their mate.”
“I don’t need to know about anythin’ like that Captain. Don’t need to know anythin’ about the mating habits of my friends.” moaned Colon from his resting place about two paces away in another gutter.
“That’s not what I meant!” shouted Vimes “I meant that I’m matin’ ‘em, not matin’ ‘em!” which received a few shushing sounds from windows above from people who also didn’t want to know about the mating habits of the Night Watch.
“I don’t quite know what you meant by that sir.” sighed Nobby as he reached out a hand in the effort to help Vimes up.
Vimes burped and didn’t notice the hand, instead taking another swig of his beer “You’ll get it when you’re older, give it a few years.”
“Sir, you know I’m a man, same as you, right?”
“Oh sorry Nobby, forgot. You’re a good copper Nobbs”
“It’s alright sir, thank you sir.” sighed Nobby and he pulled Vimes up to a vaguely standing position (if one could count being propped up against the side of a building standing)
Colon got up a bit easier, considering he was not the drunkest out of the trio (in least to most order; Nobbs, Colon, Vimes) And gripping each other the three began to slowly wobble back to the watch house.

“What was I talking about again before all of you’s distracted me?” mused Vimes, scratching his head.
“I think it was your soulmate sir.” supplied Nobby at the same time that Colon supplied “about how yer gonna give us all a raise?”
“Ah yes, the poor old bugger!” exclaimed the captain, ignoring the second comment. “That poor woman ‘s gonna be in for a nasty shock when she’s been lookin’ for a good man her whole life and sees this marinated specimen.” He gestured once again with the beer bottle, this time to himself.
“What do you mean a good man, sir?”
The capitan stopped walking, almost upsetting the delicate balance of the whole trio. He clumsily pulled at the knotted fabric wrapped around his left wrist. After a few seconds of fumbling exposed the untanned skin and soul mark with a flourish. “See right here? Calls me a good man she does, only I’m not a good man, and it’s gonna be a shock for her.” Nobby took a studious look, and Colon stared up at the gently raining sky, as if considering his place in the universe.
“Aw sir, don’t be harsh, you’ve got plenty of positive attributes.” chided Nobby, making a desperate attempt to salvage the conversation before someone started crying.
“Name one Nobbs.”
“Well,” floundered the corporal “You’re quite dashing sir.”
“More like dashing away from a fight!” countered Colon.
“You’ve got good,” a long pause “um, good,” another pause and a wobble as the trio started shuffling again “you’ve got good personable skills!”
“I’ve got about as much personable skills as a goat Nobby, don’t you pull that with me.” Vimes made an attempt to drink more from his bottle, and instead splashed its contents all over his and Colon’s face (Nobby was short enough to miss the splash). Some wobbling and sputtering ensued and two out of the three dealt with the attack of cheap beer that was barely good to drink by itself let alone to get in one’s eyes.

 

-----

 

“I really should just die before I meet her is what I should do.” lamented Vimes, once the whole trio had successfully (more or less) gotten back to the watchhouse. They had all sprawled out on the floor of the main room, in a sad, stinky, drunken, dogpile.
“Nonsense nonsense.” muttered Colon
“Plenty of sense.” countered Vimes (in what he believed to be a sufficient come back)
“We would miss you though Cap’n.” muttered Nobby, slapping his hand about on the floor in an effort to find one of Vimes’ own. When he found one of the captain's sweaty hands Nobby gave it a soft squeeze. “We would miss you.”
“That’s my hand.” muttered Colon.
“Bugger.” and Nobby put his hand on top of Vimes’ head and ruffled his hair a bit. (In a way that only friends can because if anyone else ruffled your hair you’d destroy them)
“Thanks Nobbs.” sighed Vimes. “I’m just sad is all. Thinkin’ ‘bout a perfectly good woman whose only fault is being connected to me.”
“Now now,” chided Colon “That’s no way to think about it.” he summoned up the sobriety he’d be feeling in about six hours or so “Being a soulmate means she’s lovin’ you too! No person is perfect! You’ve got faults and she’s probably got ‘em too!”
“Yeah!” added Nobbs “I’ve got a soulmate out there and they’ve probably got loads of problems just like me!”
The two other men sat in shock for a few seconds. “You’ve got a soulmate Nobby?” asked Vimes.
“How come we’d never seen the mark?” Colon added.
“It’s on me arse.” supplied Nobby “Plus it’s not in any language I can read. I’ve tried to take it to a linguist, only no one ‘ll decode it because they won’t let me show them my arse.”
There was a quiet and tense silence as two men considered a being who would be romantically interested in Corporal Nobbs. They then nodded in solemn solidarity at the unnamed linguists who missed a metaphorical crossbow bolt (which is a metaphor for Nobby’s butt).
“Mine ‘s on me leg!” supplied Colon, kicking his right leg up into the air, narrowly missing Vimes’ head. “It says ‘Watch where you’re going you brute, you almost made me drop this here basket of lemons!”
“We all know.” replied the two other men in unison.
“You met Mrs. Colon when she was out selling fruit and you weren’t lookin’ where you was going and you almost knocked over her lemon basket.” continued Vimes. (Sadly the discworld does not have any expressions about life giving people lemons, because if it had, then that would have been a quite funny joke). “You’ve told the story a hundred times.”
Nobby grunted in approval.
“On that note, I’m gonna grab a glass of coffee.” sighed Colon as he rose like an ancient landmass. “Do any of you boys want something to drink?” he wandered in the direction of the machine that occasionally chose to make coffee (and we use coffee as a loose description for the liquid that commonly emerged) .
“Don’t want to drink nothing that’s not fermented!” Vimes punched a fist in the air.
“Yeah!” Nobby seconded with a fist pump as well. Colon shook his head and smiled as he made half hearted attempts to resuscitate the coffee machine.
“Don’t wanna worry about my soulmate, and what she’s a’doing, and what she’s being!” continued Vimes, now sitting up.
“Yeah!” Nobby remained on the ground.
“Don’t want to care about anything but booze and being sad!” Vimes shakily stood up.
Nobby scratched his head “Ah, I’m not gonna yeah to that.”
“I’m not gonna care about anything.” repeated Vimes, in a more somber voice. “I’m just going to survive, I’m not gonna care.”
Nobby and Colon stared in mute discomfort (the kind of discomfort of someone who’s a friend to someone who’s suffering).
“You alright Cap’n?” Nobby sat up just a little bit.
There was a very quiet silence, for the city of course. There was a dog barked in the distance and another that responded. A wagon rattled by on the street, and the sounds of someone getting mugged three streets over. The rain didn’t make any attempt to be quieter for the sake of the thematic silence.
Vimes sighed “I’m fine, I’m fine.” he shook out his body like someone who wanted to be free of a thought. “Going back out on duty, okay? You men stay here.” He grabbed his helmet and shambled towards the door.
“You sure you don’t want some company?” called Nobby.
“It’s raining nails and screws out there.” added Colon as if to discourage any exercise.
“I just need to think is all, I’ll be back.” called Vimes as he pushed open the doors and secured his helmet on his head.
It was raining, but Vimes didn’t really care. He wasn’t going to care about rain or cold or soulmates or sadness. From then on the focus would be survival and probably more alcohol.