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When Vimes gets back to his room, all he wants to do is sleep. But then the man steps out of the shadows, and suddenly sleep is out of the question.

Vimes very nearly decks him. It's not that he doesn't try, but after the day he's had--the days he's had--he's exhausted, and his slowness on the uptake allows the man to neatly sidestep his swing. The punch's momentum takes Vimes forward, almost into the wall, and he spins with his fists up to face the man. It won't stop the man if he's got one of those little crossbows the Unmentionables carry or, hell, even if he's quick with a knife, but it's the best that Vimes can do.

The man can't be with the Unmentionables; Vimes would be dead already if that was the case. And he can't be from the Assassins' Guild; an Assassin wouldn't be caught dead in the soft greys and dark greens that the man is wearing. So who--

Vimes looks up at the man's face and stops dead in his tracks.

"Sergeant Keel," the man says, and it's all Vimes can do not to respond in kind. There's no reason why John Keel should know this man's name, but Vimes...well.

Vimes nods. Then, because he has to, he asks, "And you are?"

The man hesitates for a moment--clever man, very good at remembering his own name, definitely not coming up with a false one--before answering, "Downey."

Vimes snorts. "Pull the other one, it's got bells on."

The man's lips twitch, and Vimes catches what might be the hint of an actual smile.

"You break into my room, scare me half to death, the least you can do is tell me the truth."

"I didn't break in," the man says, like that's the important part. "I'm...an admirer. A friend, perhaps."

"Well, friend, I've had a terrible, very long day. I'm exhausted. I was looking forward to having a lie-down, maybe closing my eyes for an hour or two. So, ignoring the question of whether or not you broke in, I'd very much like to know what you're doing here."

"Your long day, it involved a man with a crossbow falling off a roof, yes?"

Vimes really shouldn't be as surprised as he is. To his credit, he is pretty sure that he only lets a normal amount of the surprise show on his face. "Fell right in front of me," he says, sounding suspicious. "That can't have been you, though, because you're alive, and that man is dead. Got a note from the doctor and everything."

"Didn't you wonder what caused him to fall?"

"Seems to me the crossbow bolt in his brain did that."

"You're welcome." The man steps forward, hand extended, and finally introduces himself. "I'm Havelock."

Vimes takes his hand and shakes it, even while his mind is still reeling. It's been reeling since he first recognized Lord Vetinari. He'd been so caught up in his own past that he'd somehow forgotten that of course Vetinari would be here somewhere, and of course that 'somewhere' would be right in the middle of things.

He wonders how involved Vetinari had been, the first time around, when John Keel was still John Keel. Where had he been and what had he done, before Carcer and this time travel business? He almost certainly wouldn't have been here, in Mossy Lawn's house, but he might have been wrapped up in this whole business in ways that Young Sam wouldn't ever have known about.

Now that he thinks about it, the Patrician had always worn the lilac on the Twenty-Fifth of May. Vimes had never asked why; he knew everybody who'd been there that day and knew that Vetinari wasn't one of them, but self-preservation had prevented him from calling the Patrician out on it. He must have been there--he's going to be there.

"Well then, thank you, Havelock," Vimes says. He doesn't trip over Vetinari's first name, and he's proud of himself for it. "You made my terrible day a little bit less terrible."

"And a little longer, I expect." Havelock smiles.

"Just means I need more sleep," Vimes says. "And here you are, keeping me from it. You still haven't told me what you're doing here." As intrigued as he is by all of this, well, intrigue, he hadn't been lying when he'd said he was exhausted. Unless Havelock can produce a very compelling reason for him not to pass out face-down on his bed, Vimes intends to do just that.

Well. A more compelling reason, Vimes reflects, than how close Havelock is still standing in his personal space. As far as reasons go, it's a pretty compelling one. If Vimes was less tired, it would be the only reason he needed.

"I told you," Havelock repeats, "I'm an admirer."

Vimes snorts. "You're in my bedroom, Mr. Admirer. As an officer of the law, I have to tell you that unknown admirers showing up unexpected in people's bedrooms often doesn't end well for those admirers. Often the law gets involved."

"I don't intend to do you any harm, Sergeant."

"And I'm supposed to take you at your word on that one, am I?" Vimes hides a yawn with the back of his hand. "I'm just saying, a man could get the wrong impression."

Havelock is already close in Vimes's space, but he steps a half-step closer. "Oh, we wouldn't want that."

Well, Vimes hadn't expected this.

To be fair, he hadn't expected it back in his own time either, the first time Vetinari had approached him about their unusual arrangement. Vetinari had blindsided him with the suggestion, proposing that they add an additional complicated component to their already complicated working and personal relationship, making it a bit more personal. He'd had to shift his worldview a little bit, and Sybil had needed to talk him down at one point--apparently the whole thing was partly her idea, and gods, she's the best thing to ever happen to him and that's a fact--but once he'd come around to the idea, it had been... good.

It is good.

So when he'd teased Havelock, there'd been a grain of truth to it. But he really hadn't expected that anything would happen. Part of the appeal of their arrangement, when it eventually comes to pass, is their shared history and the ways they've grown together over the years. There's no reason why, right now, Vimes at his age should interest Havelock at his.

Vimes becomes aware that Havelock is still far too close in his space, just waiting. Vimes should've said something, pushed him away or defused the situation with a joke or an insult.

He hasn't. He doesn't want to push Havelock away.

He should, though.

Emboldened by Vimes's silence, Havelock raises a hand, gently, towards Vimes's face. On reflex, Vimes grabs Havelock's wrist. Something like fear flashes in Havelock's eyes--and gods, that's a heady feeling--and then Vimes turns his head ever-so-slightly and presses a kiss to the palm of Havelock's hand.

Havelock lights up. His eyes search Vimes's face, for a sign, or perhaps for permission. He must find what he's looking for, because he reaches up with his other hand and pulls Vimes's face close to his.

It's strange, Vimes reflects with the few cynical brain cells that refuse to engage with the way Havelock is eagerly kissing him, pushing him onto the bed, straddling his lap. It's strange, to kiss somebody that you've kissed a thousand times but simultaneously have never kissed before. So much of Havelock is familiar in ways that Vimes would never have expected, familiar in ways that shouldn't, can't be familiar to Sergeant Keel. It's perilous. It's powerful. It's a very bad idea, Vimes knows, but then Havelock pushes him onto his back, hovering over him, whispering into his ear--the right words, somehow, even here and now--as his deft fingers make short work of what's left of Vimes's will to resist.

"John," Havelock breathes against his neck.

Vimes corrects him without thinking about it. "Sam. Please."

There's the briefest of pauses, and Vimes can hear the wheels spinning in Havelock's brain as he files that away, one more dagger in his no doubt sizeable arsenal. Then he says Sam and kisses him again, and Vimes hushes those last few brain cells and gives in.

Vimes sleeps soundly, after, and Havelock is gone when he wakes.


Vimes drags Carcer to justice without interruption, and then comes back to the cemetery.

"So, Your Grace," Vetinari says, stepping out of the shadows, looking down at Vimes where he's sitting on what both is and isn't his own headstone. "I take it we are finally caught up to one another?"

Vimes eyes Vetinari for a long, long moment before he barks an astonished laugh. "You knew? How long have you known?"

"I never knew. I suspected, but what I knew was that it was impossible. It couldn't have been you. That was the past, Sam." He stresses the name, the corner of his mouth quirking up. Just that quickly, though, the smile is gone. "Besides, I watched John Keel die. There was a body, a funeral. It couldn't have been you."

"Absolutely can't have been me. We are certainly caught up to one another, sir," Vimes agrees.

"If it had been you, I'd have to tell you why I went to Doctor Lawn's house that night," Vetinari continues, "And what that night meant to me."

Vimes hears the hesitance in Vetinari's voice. He makes a thoughtful face. "Good thing it wasn't me, then."

The smile comes back to Vetinari's face, and this time it stays there. He reaches out and takes Vimes's hand. Vimes closes his eyes and takes a breath as Vetinari lifts Vimes's hand to his face and gently, gently, kisses his palm.