++Was in a silly mood yesterday, so I started putting together a few little fics about one of my favorite activities. I've got three here to start with, but some others are in the pipeline…I won't say whose baths they are. J Enjoy! ++
"There's a time in every man's life when he's got to face facts."
A wrinkle of deep distaste curled itself on the unshaven face of His Grace Sir Samuel Vimes as he held up a sagging bundle of formally white linen and transferred it to a wicker basket in a corner of the master washroom at the Ramkin-Vimes house. He wiped his hands on one of the towels hanging on a brass rack until he felt them clean enough to point an accusing finger at the recipient of his wisdom, who was listening with wide, patient eyes.
"The fact you have to face is this: You stink."
There was a gurgle of agreement.
"This isn't an ordinary stink, mind you," said Vimes, dunking a sun-browned hand into the half foot of water in the copper tub. "I been near the Ankh, no, in the Ankh in high summer down river from the tannery district. As bad as I stunk when I came out, I didn't stink half as bad as you do on a normal day. Now, I think you're old enough to take the consequences like a man. Am I right?"
In answer, a bubble of drool slid down a hearty, pink chin.
"You bet I'm right. I wasn't born yesterday, boy. Look at this." Vimes pointed to the permanent tan line that separated the burnt weathered brown of his face and neck from the paler skin of his chest. "This isn't just a tan line, boy. This is the same thing as a canary in a mine. In the old days, when I was too filthy to see this line here, it meant –" He flicked a dirty thumb toward the tub. "Wash time. If I'd paid attention to that stuff more, maybe I'd of had better luck with the women. You remember that for the future, eh?"
A voice carried from the other side of the washroom door. "What was that Sam?"
"Just tellin' the boy what's what, Sibyl," Vimes called back.
He lifted his son out of the bassinet, holding him at arm's length like the infant was a bomb about to go off. His bare feet slapped against the floor tiles as he walked carefully to the tub.
"I don't want to hear any fuss from you, you got that?"
Little Sam smiled at his father, a wet, loose-lipped grin that showed where here and there, milk teeth were beginning to show through the gums.
Vimes eased them both over the lip of the tub. The water reached to just above his ankle. When he managed to squat down without dropping his son, Vimes had displaced enough water for it to reach halfway up his thigh. He set little Sam between his legs.
"Now don't act like you can't sit up by yourself, boy. I've seen you."
"That's no excuse. You have to show some backbone in everything you do. Next you'll be telling me you can't walk."
Vimes wrung out a washcloth in the lukewarm water, rubbed some soap in and began gently scrubbing his son's back.
"You smell that? That is the smell of hygiene, boy. If you're going to be a lord and a duke and gods only knows what else, you have to learn to love that smell. Hardest part about being noble is staying clean. And the tights. Sometimes you have to walk around dressed like a daft peacock."
Little Sam gasped and kicked his legs and squirmed, slipping out of his father's grip. Vimes scooped him up one-handed and set him on his thigh. He started wiping the cloth over the baby's bulbous stomach.
"I feel the same way, boy. Men aren't meant to wear tights." He lowered his voice. "I cut holes in the blasted things on purpose, when no one's looking. Got me out of wearing them twice. Good, eh?"
"What was that, Sam?" came the faint voice of Sibyl from the other side of the door again.
"Just showing the boy how to wash behind the ears," Vimes called. He began washing little Sam behind the ears.
The baby caught a hold of the washcloth and held it in the iron grip of infants everywhere. Vimes tugged. The baby tugged back.
"True enough. There are some parts a man's got to wash for himself." Vimes cleared his throat and cocked an eye at his son. "Parts. You prepared to do that on your own?"
Little Sam grinned again. "Slrgirrlb?"
"Shy one, are you? I'll turn my eyes away, then, but I won't --and I'm being very clear, here -- tolerate any 'accidents' in the tub. Understood? Right."
Vimes turned toward the door, which at that moment opened, revealing the round, smiling face of his wife Sibyl.
"All done in there?"
With a growing feeling of dread at the warm wetness spreading in slow increments over his thigh, Vimes turned back to his son. Little Sam still clutched the washcloth. He smiled with a look of contented relief.
Vimes gave the baby a final cleansing dip in the bath water before lifting him into Sibyl's outstretched arms.
"Have to teach that boy some restraint," he grumbled. He reached for a pitcher and rinsed away the "accident" with a torrent of hot water that wasn't, in Vimes' opinion, cleansing enough to wash away the less pleasant joys of fatherhood.