A/N: Well here we have it, the final chapter! Its been a long road…much longer than I initially thought it would be. I just want to thank everyone who has stuck with the story (and my erratic updates), I never expected so many people to take an interest and it really encouraged me to keep writing. I also hope you all still like it enough to come back for the sequel which I'll start work on soon. This chapter is a first for me…not only the first I write as an 18 year old off to uni…but the first on my new laptop (woohoo!). Unfortunately, this does mean that all the Discworld spellings I added to my old spellchecker have gone, meaning once again the computer constantly tries to change Vimes into Vies and Ankh-Morpork into Ankh-Moorpark (to name but a few). Hopefully I'll catch all typos…but I ask you to be lenient! Thanks to all my reviewers, see the end for my replies…but I hope you'll take in the chapter on your way down. by the way, whereI use two line dividers together signals the start then end of the flashback sequence.
Warning: If you've read the story from chapter 1, you know there's slash in this. If you haven't…what the hell are you doing starting at chapter 12?
Disclaimer: If you said I wrote like Pterry, I'd thank you. If you said I looked like him, I'd punch you. Funny how the world works isn't it?
Vimes proceeded slowly through the Shades to his destination. For weeks he had been ignoring it but, as ever, his copper's instinct refused to let him leave well alone. Vimes wished he could hate Vetinari. That evening, and the day that followed it he was sure he did, and was also sure the feeling was permanent. Yet seeing Vetinari again, when he had come to the shack, had thrown Vimes' feelings into turmoil. In some ways, he wanted to hold on to his anger and refuse to forgive. That would certainly be easier in the long run, as neither he or Vetinari were the sort to let something so trivial as love or lust interfere with the service they owed to the city. However, things were not that simple.
Vimes couldn't deny what he felt for Vetinari, and neither did he truly want to. With more rational hindsight Vimes had seen the blood staining his clothes, and in his profession you quickly came to know that when that much blood left a body you might very well have begun a murder investigation. That knowledge was coupled with the fact that Vimes was beginning to come to terms with what he had become. He couldn't deny that there were benefits that came with being a werewolf, despite the slightly more obvious drawbacks. Vimes also was ready to admit to himself that he probably would have done the same in Vetinari's place. It was human instinct to try to preserve life whatever the cost, and this instinct was only magnified by the deeper feelings both men had for each other.
It was these feelings that had drawn Vimes to where he was currently standing, under the creaking sign of the only person there that night who could tell Vimes what he so desperately needed to know. Vimes reached out a hesitant hand and knocked on Lawn's door. The sight of Lawn opening the door and standing there, with what Vimes fervently hoped was some sort of cooking utensil, immediately brought back vivid memories of the time Vimes had spent living as a man from his past. It almost felt strange not to have the eye patch covering half of his vision anymore. Lawn looked at him with no surprise what so ever.
"I thought you would be back at some point," he said impassively. "You never struck me as a man who would live with unanswered questions."
He turned and went back into the house, a silent invitation for Vimes to follow. As he slid out of sight into the next room, he called over his shoulder.
"If you want some lunch I'm just cooking liver…lamb."
Some time later, Vimes sat in the familiar kitchen, thinking how to frame the question he wanted to ask.
"What have you been doing since…"
"Since we buried a body I thought was yours?" Lawn cut in. "Not much. The revolution spectacularly failed to change anything, but then you knew that anyway. Always work for a back-door doctor though…whoever's in charge."
Lawn fixed Vimes with a searching look.
"What are you here for?"
"Answers," Vimes said succinctly. "I need to know what happened the other night…what sort of state I was in when I ended up here."
Lawn smiled sardonically.
"Well, you had more clothes on than the first time you required my services," he began.
Lawn looked down at the man who had passed out just inside his door. This was Keel. The eye patch was gone, and the livid scar faded to a white seam that bisected one eye, but the rest of the face was identical. However, he also recognised the man he had only ever seen from a distance. All of Ankh-Morpork knew Vimes but Lawn thought he was probably the only one who knew that, despite the impossibility, Vimes was also Keel - a man that should be long dead. Throwing Vimes' arm over his shoulder, Lawn began to half carry, half drag Vimes into his operating room as he had done with so many clients in the past. He could see the trail of blood Vimes was leaving on the floor behind them and, from the amount of it there was, knew he would have to work fast.
Getting Vimes up on the table, he quickly removed his breastplate to allow better access to the wound. As he did so, Lawn noticed the pallor of Vimes' skin, and how cold and clammy it had become. Lawn's fears were confirmed when he felt for Vimes' pulse and found it rapid and weak. Vimes had obviously lost a dangerous amount of blood, and more was still welling from the gaping rent as Lawn carefully peeled the soaked undershirt up from it. The colour of the blood and the way it pulsed from the gash told Lawn a minor artery must have been cut. He doubted it was major, as that would have caused Vimes to bleed out long before reaching help, but it also meant the injury could not simply be stitched closed.
After slapping a rough dressing on Vimes' side to buy time, Lawn moved over to his instrument tray and chose a long flat cautery which he began to heat. As the metal began to tarnish, then glow, Lawn sized up Vimes' still form. He reckoned the man was too far under to put up any resistance, which was good as Lawn doubted there was the time needed to strap him down. Lawn advanced on Vimes and positioned the cautery, then with one smooth movement removed the dressing and pressed the heated metal to his side. Vimes' panting breaths quickened to an almost scream but, as Lawn had hoped, unconsciousness did not release its hold.
Lawn bound Vimes' side in a proper dressing. Carefully, so as not to reopen the wound it had been so vital to close, he then moved Vimes to the bed where he could be kept warm against the shock that had set in. Lawn knew all he could do now was to wait.
His tale finished, Lawn sat back to observe Vimes' reaction. Sure enough, the other man didn't hold his silence for long.
"So what were my chances?"
"By the time Vetinari arrived? To be honest, all I could do was wait to see if you were going to die that night or the morning after," Lawn said bluntly. "What saved you was that strange man of yours. If the doctors around here got to hear of him, they would probably report him to the Priest's Guild for performing unauthorised miracles."
Vimes smiled at this, then a thought struck him.
"I've got a proposition for you," he said. "Igor may be a medical genius, but he hasn't yet mastered being in two places at once."
Vimes paused for a mental shudder as he thought how Igor might try to achieve this turn of phrase literally. Wrenching his mind from that disturbing image, he continued.
"We need another doctor in the Watch, one who's idea of curing a patient isn't opening a hole in their skull to let the bad thoughts out. The money's regular, and Igor's willing to share those miracles."
Lawn sat in silence for a moment.
"Well," he said, "As much as I love not knowing where the money for my next meal is coming, I think I'll have to take you up on that offer. Give me some time to gather my instruments and I'll report to the Watch House."
Vimes left Lawn to pack and headed back to the Watch House. As he sat at his desk, Vimes' hand drifted down to the drawer…but not in search of a bottle. He opened it, and took out a small calendar which had that day and the two following it ringed heavily. It was hardly necessary however. Vimes now knew why Angua always seemed so tense around a full moon; his whole being was on edge, like the feeling he got on the streets when he knew he was being watched. Vimes cursed the fact that crime had been unusually low during the past weeks…anything would have been better than just sitting here, with the impending full moon making him even more irritable than usual. It had got so bad that people had taken to covering their necks when he was around, without quite knowing why they were doing so.
Maybe it was this urge to do something, coupled with what Lawn had told him, that helped Vimes make up his mind. Whatever it was, when Carrot knocked with his familiar question, Vimes knew what he was going to do.
"The wages chitty is here for you to sign sir. Shall I get Officer Privin to take it again?"
"No, I think since going on patrol with Angua he's realised the silver was a mistake. I'll take him out sometime soon to make sure though."
"Who do you want me to send then?"
Drumknott glanced again at Vetinari's closed office door. The tension in the atmosphere had grown worse during the passing days, which did have some advantages. The usual stream of aggrieved nobles had dried to a mere trickle and the guild leaders seemed suddenly willing to overlook perceived slights to their dignity which previously would have had them rushing to complain, in aggrieved tones saved and polished specially for the occasion. Drumknott did miss the sight of them sitting nervously in the waiting room before hand, almost as much as he missed their smug expressions fading on the way out as their brains finally caught up to translating what Vetinari had actually said, rather than what they first assumed he had meant.
However, what he missed more was the sense that everything was as it should be. Vetinari was ostensibly running the city in the way he always had, but Drumknott, who spent virtually every waking moment in the man's presence, knew something was subtly different. Vetinari had lost the amusement he had always taken in maintaining the city, balancing the myriad power struggles and trapping the participants in a web of their own making until they were working for the city, rather than against it. Without this single element, the web was beginning to fray.
Drumknott was returned from his dark thoughts by the sound of footsteps in the passage outside, and of the door opening. Seeing who it was, he smiled. It looked like Ankh-Morpork would be pulled from the brink of disaster yet again.
As Vimes entered the waiting room, he was surprised to see a smile flash across the normally inexpressive secretary's face as the man looked up. Vimes was also surprised when, instead of being motioned to sit as he usually was, Drumknott immediately stood and knocked on the door leading to Vetinari's office.
"A Watchman is here with the chitty sir."
"Send him in then," came the terse reply.
As Vimes entered, wondering with a growing suspicion why Drumknott had not announced him by name, a flash of movement caught his eye as he turned to close the door. As Drumknott had turned to return to his desk, Vimes had been almost sure he saw the other man wink.
Vimes walked to the desk, watching Vetinari's bent form as the man read one of the myriad reports Vimes knew crossed his desk every day. Vetinari did not look up, even when Vimes placed the small piece of paper on the desk in front of him. He simply reached out a hand to take the chitty, then glanced down to affirm it had the requisite signature on it. Seeing that it had, Vetinari added his neat signature next to Vimes' scrawl, then pushed the paper back.
"There. Take that down to the treasury and they'll give out the week's wages."
"Thank you sir," Vimes replied, a grin tugging at the corners of his mouth.
At the sound of Vimes' voice, the man at the desk stiffened. As Vetinari slowly raised his head, Vimes was treated to a sight that he had never before seen, and probably never would again. The glimpse was brief, as Vetinari quickly returned his face to its usual expressionless state, but Vimes would never forget seeing a look of surprise on Vetinari's face.
Vetinari rose from behind the desk and moved so he was facing Vimes. The two men stared at one another, each drinking in his first sight of the other for over a week. The silence stretched out then suddenly, as if an inaudible signal had been given, both men reached for each other. Vimes felt Vetinari's lips on his in a passionate kiss that both amazed and thrilled him, and he willingly parted his lips to allow the other man access. Vimes could feel Vetinari's hands tangled through his hair, as Vimes ran his own hands over the lithe back and shoulders that flexed and arched at his touch. The men pressed close, as if to deny the distance that had previously separated them.
Vetinari felt Vimes' lips twist into a smile under his, a smile he knew he was echoing. The kisses lost their initial frenzy, becoming languid and gentle, until the two men simple stood holding each other. Outside, at his desk, Drumknott let out a relieved sigh.
"Thank you," he whispered to no one in particular, little realising someone was listening, and appreciated the thanks.
Vimes sat on the lawn to the back of the house he and Sybil shared. After his reconciliation with Vetinari, he had returned here to wait for the night, and the transformation it would bring. Now he sat, looking at the city sprawled out below, watching the sun dip below the horizon. As the last oozing red rays departed, Vimes lay back to watch the stars begin to appear. As the darkness deepened, moonlight began to bleach the landscape.
To Vimes, it felt as though the light did not just shine on his skin but through it. He could feel the silvery rays penetrating his body and bathing his brain, invoking the creature that slept behind his thoughts. His mind seemed to flex, and he could feel the changes begin once more as the beast awoke. It was a different feeling to his first, cautious change. This time it was an irresistible force which swept through him, as if the moon was a fire burning away his human form, distilling him into the essence of the feral life that most bound in shackles of civilisation.
Fully transformed, Vimes stepped purposefully free of the clothes he had been wearing and headed down into the city. The night air wafting in from the plains enticed him with the promise of the hunt, but Vimes resisted its urgings. This night, at least, he had a more pressing task to undertake.
Vetinari stood alone in the darkness of the palace garden. He often enjoyed coming out here at night, when the bustle of the city was mostly still and familiar shapes took on new form in the moonlit shadows. Tonight was different however. His honed senses had picked up the fact that he was no longer alone, and Vetinari calmly waited for whoever it was to make themselves known, however inadvertently they might do it.
He saw a shadow detach itself from the deep blackness by the garden wall and slink rapidly across the lawn. As the shape fluidly leapt over the ho-ho, Vetinari realised who it was. He stood and watched as the black wolf made its way towards him and sat calmly by his side. Vetinari realised the meaning of the gesture. That Vimes would come to him in wolf form let Vetinari know he was truly forgiven.
Far away from the city, on the heights of Dunmanifestin, a woman gazed at the pieces in her hand. Her green eyes shone as she smiled down on them. The Lady sighed as she replaced them in her box of pieces, where they would be ready for the coming game. She had done all in her power to prepare them for the moves of Fate, helped by the fact that neither man called on her. Now all that remained was to see how the dice would fall.
And there we have it, the end of Cities Apart! I could possibly have stretched this into two chapters, but I thought I'd give you a longer one instead. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did, and that you will rejoin me soon for the sequel. Until then, thanks again to all who have or will review:
FireOpal: Thanks for all the praise, it was most appreciated! The results were great thanks, and now I officially don't have to worry I can spend more time writing…which is all to the good.
Rowana S: Here's another update, so the jig can continue! Hope this chapter makes up for the length of the last one, and you actually get to find out that poor recruit's name now. Good luck with your GCSE results…I'm sure you don't need it though.
Phoebe Telumetar: I'm so flattered by this review, and really grateful you took the time to read even though you weren't sure you'd like it. Also, its great to hear I'm not writing too OOC, as that's always a major worry for me.
Not Your Average: Ah the humour…so very hard to shoehorn in! Hopefully a little more in this chappie, no small thanks to your help. You were right about 'New Boy'…see, he now has a name rather than just a plot forwarding function, lucky chap. I will find that Vimes exclaimed…or get it written in a new book, so don't be surprised when PTerry is kidnapped and held to ransom. Glad you liked most of it, and I'm looking forward to your reaction to this last bit…especially the boy's scene together. There is no deepening!
Deathwisher: After reading your new bio, I am doubly happy that you're here on at all, let alone still reviewing. I also can't believe there were no plot holes, it's a miracle. The senior watchmen I referred to are only Carrot, Colon and Nobby, as well as Angua and Igor, as that's how I always think of them…sorry if that was unclear. Hope this final instalment lives up to your expectations.
L'esthete: I can see why there would be cause for confusion. The stabbing and transfusion were originally going to be the climax of the story, but then the idea I got whilst writing that chapter was what lead to the werewolf plotline coming about. This interfered slightly with the overall shape of the story. However, the sequel I am planning will continue the werewolf storyline in greater detail and allow that too to reach resolution. Always glad my work is appreciated.
Simone93: Why? Short answer: because I wanted to. Long answer: because I had an idea that bounced around my brain screaming until I let it out! I could ask why you started to read this story when it clearly warned you that Vimes and Vetinari would be paired together.
Alguilac: I love the pen-name. I also love that you love my story…so everyone's happy!
The Purple Emperor: I'm glad I can appeal to such a big fan. I also fell in love with the Discworld universe, which is what inspired me to write this, so its always good to know that you're doing a good job. I only hope I can continue to be worth your praise.
Thank you again everyone, and you'll hear from me soon. Byeeee!