Well, i have come to the end of the road. this was my first fanfic and i actually feel quite sad that its finished! but finished it is. I won't spoil the ending, so pls read on and pls pls pls review and tell me what you think.
to my reviewers-
Enelya- what a lovely long one! ugh ur mind is so dirty, i was talking about reviews. I hope you like the ending, and now you may have ur AU back and all to urself again, unless i decide to do a sequel. Now, dont scroll down to the bottom again, u'll ruin the surprise that vetinari is actually a woman...oh damn.
fluffywombat- sorry bout 'vimes face'- one day when i can be bothered i will correct that. Im SO glad u liked my ending, i've had the idea that Ahmed will be maried for EVER and spent soooo long trying to make revealing that info dramatic. i've left you some nice twisty plot turns in this chapter too. pls review!
watchman- thanks for reading chap 1. i hope u get around to the other chapters, im aware that they r rather long. and this one is the worst of the bunch!
nyx-lily- cheers! i love nice reviewers. so glad u caved, pls cave again and read some more of my stuff. strictly speaking, im not a slash fan either but i did this on a kinda dare and it just ran away with me...i love vimes too. actually love him. i may write a het fic for him so if u'v got any ideas email them to me!
Not Your Average loves all reviewers! (its pathetic, really, how easily my love can be bought...)
In the words of the great Terry Pratchett.....NOW READ ON...............
Chapter Six - Choices.
Vimes ran into the pouring rain, his cloak hanging haphazardly from his shoulder, his helmet once again forgotten. Soon the water had soaked his hair and skin but he ran on blindly, not caring where he went yet feeling the shape of the cobbles through his cardboard soles. And all the while his brain was feverishly repeating the same words over and over.
Ahmed has a wife.
He splashed through the puddles around the gates of Pseudopolis yard.
Ahmed has a wife.
He cleared the fence between Nine Oaks road and the Brass Bridge with one leap.
Ahmed has a wife!
But Vimes was not as young as he once was. Wheezing, he staggered to a halt on the bridge and flung a hand out to steady himself. He caught one of the massive feet of the wooden hippos and clung to it, blinking rain out of his eyes and waiting for the blue and purple spots to stop flashing in front of his eyes. If you looked closely, there might have been some tears mingling with the rainwater on his face.
He turned to look out over the usually glutinous river. Even as he watched, the Ankh was swelling, the banks receding under the furious onslaught of raindrop after raindrop. Some people were out for a wet night tonight. He looked down at himself. Come to think of it, he was one of them.
Vimes knew he had to calm down. Running out like that…it had been stupid. The plot to kill him aside (which took some doing), he should have suspected something like this. After all, Klatchians were famed for having multiple wives, weren't they? There was no reason why Ahmed shouldn't have at least one. He'd had a life before Vimes, and Vimes himself had been with Sybil for several years. It hadn't worked out but it had happened. And he'd loved her. Hadn't he? It was getting hard to remember. Vimes felt as though someone had hit him very hard with a hammer and then demanded to hear his times tables. He pinched his brow, trying to think clearly. A damp neurone gave a fizzle. Had Ahmed said his wife was Morporkian?
He looked up at the dark brooding shape of the palace, blurred by the rain. If he squinted, he could make out the dim, eternally present light of Vetinari's office. Did the man never sleep, he wondered, and then blushed in the darkness.
Vimes wanted answers. His pride wouldn't let him go back to Ahmed. But the only other person he could ask was…well. His feet began to take him to the palace anyway, reasoning with his brain that they didn't have to go in. Vimes snorted to himself, picturing the scene. He'd walk in, soaking wet, saunter up to Vetinari and say 'Havelock, old chap! I know you seem to be in love with me but I was wondering if you could get me some information about my boyfriend's wife because I'm rather jealous, you see.'
'Certainly, Sammy!' Vetinari would exclaim, then a variety of villagers and people dressed like animals would trot on and they would all sing a song about how nice it is to be friends, with Vetinari playing a banjo. Because it would only be that easy in some kind of ridiculous pantomime.
He reached the palace. Vetinari must have known about this. Ahmed had been attacked by members of his guard. But if he'd known, why hadn't he warned Vimes? It didn't make any sense.
There was nothing else for it. He had to know. As he walked past the palace guard a young man ripped off a salute.
'Dreadful night, your Lordship!'
If only you knew, thought Vimes grimly.
Lord Vetinari paced the floor of the oblong office in agitation. He was worried. And so he was angry.
He had sent them hours ago. They should have been back by now. Something must have happened. Somewhere in the perfectly oiled and polished cogwheels of Vetinari's mind, someone had put a spanner. And it had Ahmed's face on it.
Again and again he wondered whether he should have gone himself. But he knew Sam would never forgive him that. He would understand, of course, in time. It was a necessary deed. After what he had found out today, Ahmed had to be stopped. He just hoped that Sam wouldn't be too upset. He was doing it for him, after all.
There was a knock at the door. Vetinari let out the breath he didn't realise he had been holding.
'Enter' he snapped, returning to his desk and bending over some paperwork. The door opened and shut. 'What took you so long?' said the Patrician calmly, never once looking up from the desk.
Sir Samuel Vimes, his Grace, his Excellency, the Duke of Ankh- Morpork, pulled up a chair and shook his sopping hair out of his face.
'I was coming to ask you the same thing' he said, and was gratified to see the shock in Vetinari's eyes.
'Vimes-' Vetinari began, but Vimes was suddenly livid, shouting over him.
'You knew, you bastard! You knew why he was here and you didn't tell me. Just sent your little guards to finish him off, stupid Vimes, none the wiser.'
'Do you think, after the events of two weeks ago, that I would want to do anything to hurt or humiliate you?' said Vetinari quietly. Vimes suddenly felt like a deflated balloon. 'I assure you, I only discovered that Ahmed was commissioned to kill you today. I am ashamed to admit that I have had agents researching him since his arrival. And today I received this.' He waved a document at Vimes. 'One of my agents in Klatch had bribed a servant to talk. My initial reaction, in fearing for your safety, was to despatch two guards to arrest Ahmed, Vimes, not kill him. I had written a letter informing you as to why. But since you are here, and you apparently know everything, that is no longer necessary.'
Vimes' head was spinning.
'He couldn't do it, you know' he said thickly. 'He never even tried, in all the time he's been here. He told me the truth today.'
'How admirable,' said Vetinari coolly.
'If you knew why he was here then you know who sent him.' It wasn't a question. Vetinari met Vimes' angry stare with his icy blue eyes.
'Was it his wife?' An expression moved fleetingly over Vetinari's face. Vimes couldn't tell what it was. Hope? Anger?
'Yes,' said Vetinari again.
'And who is that?' Vetinari sighed.
'Do you know, Vimes, if you continue questioning me in the impertinent manner of a jumped-up policeman, I shall endeavour to have you placed in the scorpion pit.'
They glared at each other for a while. Hating himself for being so manipulative, Vimes reached over the desk and grasped Vetinari's hand. The other man flinched.
'Please' said Vimes. For a moment Vetinari said nothing. Then he withdrew his hand and steepled his fingers, regarding Vimes thoughtfully over the top of them.
'Ahmed's wife was born Lady Judith Ramkin.' Vimes began to laugh, but it had a manic edge to it. Fate just kept piling the surprises on him tonight.
'Judith? Lady Sybil's sister? You must be joking. Why on earth would she want to kill me? And what on the disc is she doing in Klatch?'
'She and Lady Sybil are second cousins of prince Khufurah on their mother's side. Sybil never told you?'
Vimes stopped laughing. Vetinari appeared to be serious.
'No, she didn't. She never talked about Judith much. I got the impression that they didn't really get on.'
'They did not. And you were the reason. Sybil came to me just before you got married, in tears. Judith had said that if Sybil insisted on 'marrying beneath her' then they would not speak again. I told Sybil to follow her heart. So Judith left for Klatch on your wedding day, I believe. Of course, had I known that your marriage wouldn't last, I may have advised Sybil differently. Then this whole mess might have been avoided.'
Vimes ignored the last comment.
'So she blamed me for her estrangement to Sybil…'
'Yes, and then after the divorce her bitterness grew because Sybil insisted on giving you a large amount of money and property. I think Ahmed was the final straw. Apparently they were newly wed when you met him. When she realised that he loved you, her jealousy consumed her. She ordered Ahmed to kill you.'
'But why didn't he just refuse to do it…'
'Use your head, Vimes. She's the cousin of the King; she has a lot of power. And you aren't very popular over there. Neither of us are, as part of the whole embarrassing Leshp debacle. All she had to do was convince some rich Klatchians that you knew too much and they'd all be chomping at the bit to have you killed. It's Only Ahmed who knew the truth, and how would it look, if he refused to defend his country? He would have been killed.' Vimes was surprised at the level of compassion Vetinari was showing.
'But he hasn't done it.'
'No.' Vimes looked at Vetinari's face. 'He loves you, it seems. We both know it isn't cowardice. Cowardice would have had him kill you.'
There was silence for a while. Candlelight played across Vetinari's thin features, the shadows making him gaunt yet at the same time curiously ageless. His pale hands twisted a scrap of paper between them, and the rustling noises blended with the insistent drumming of the rain on the windowpane.
Confused thoughts danced in Vimes' head. Foremost was the joy of knowing that Ahmed loved him, that the emotions he had struggled with since they met were reciprocated. But there was a sadness, too. A part of him that had awoken with Vetinari's kiss was whispering in his ear; 'what if…what if…' and was joined by the dark, ugly feelings of betrayal that surfaced whenever he thought of Ahmed's lies. Had he harboured, even for a second, the desire to kill Vimes? He knew he would never know for sure.
'Havelock. Are you in love with me?' Vimes barely whispered it but Vetinari heard. He did not meet Vimes' gaze but he nodded his head, the slightest, most imperceptible movement possible. Inside he screamed the answer yes! YES! Always!
But Havelock Vetinari was a proud man, and he had not achieved all he had achieved by showing his emotions.
Vimes stood up, crossed the floor, faced Vetinari. His blood began to pound in his ears as he drew him upright, cupped his face in his hands. When their lips met it was as softly as butterflies kissing. Vetinari was still for a moment, then his hands found Vimes' waist and he pulled him closer, kissed him with more passion. Vimes felt his cheeks flare red.
Eventually they broke away, panting. Vetinari's pallid skin was flushed. His eyes were bright, excited. But his smile died when he saw the look on the other man's face.
'I want you to know' Vimes said softly, 'that if things were different…I think I could love you too. But I have to be true to my heart. And I love Ahmed.'
He looked down, briefly, and when he looked back a shutter had fallen once more over Vetinari. The patrician was calm and composed. His cheeks were a little pinker than normal, but that was all. Vimes, on the other hand, burnt with shame like a heretic of old. Vetinari crossed to the window and looked out, through the driving rain, to the little twinkling lights of the city.
'What do you see, Vimes, when you look out at it all?' Vimes smiled to himself. They had played this game before.
'Well, sir, I see a lot of water, at the moment, and probably a lot of mud when daybreak comes-'
'I see thousands and thousands of souls, all making the best of what they have.' Vetinari turned and smiled sadly at Vimes. He held out a hand, and Vimes shook it, and knew it was a gesture of forgiveness, of acknowledgement, perhaps even of friendship.
'Goodbye, Sir Samuel.'
When Vimes had drawn the doors shut behind him he saw Drumknott sitting at the outer desk, smoking.
'Are you happy now?' he said coldly. 'You've broken his heart. How can you be so cruel?'
Vimes' fist shot out and Drumknott crumpled around it. He stepped over the clerk's groaning body and took one of his cigars.
'Let me give you some advice' he said pleasantly. 'Firstly, don't talk about things you don't understand. And secondly, look after his Lordship. You never know, Drumknott, you may just catch him on the rebound.'
The rain fell, and fell, and fell. Rivulets of water cascaded off the roofs of the Unseen University, where the gargoyles sat, sieving edible matter out with their ears. Raindrops splashed into huge puddles on Treacle Mine road, and came through the roof of the Mended Drum. The water flowed down gutters past drunkards and swirled into drains. It fell, too, on the embrace of 71-Hour Ahmed and Sir Samuel Vimes, who didn't care. And lastly, as it flashed past the window, it was witness to the bizarre sight of a young man, a fresh black eye blooming on his nervous face, with his arms around the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, holding him while he sobbed.