Title: Fade to Black (working title)
Characters: Vetinari, plus Leonard, Drumknott, Vimes, others
Warnings: As usual, I don't bother to factor "common sense" into the fic. Slash? Will there be slash? I dunno. We'll see.
Chapter 1: Golden
The day Vetinari went blind was a lovely one, an orchestra of sunlight, scored with waving branches and flitting butterflies in mind. If he had seen the plays of the Roundworld, he might've compared the way the flowers came alive under the sun to the way actors, standing patiently immobile in the dark corners of the stage, faces cast down, suddenly sprang into motion at the touch of a spotlight.
However, Vetinari wasn't exactly one to be called poetic, not in any known sense of the word, and he had never seen a Roundworld play. There was no denying, however, that the day was fair. The sun's rays fell to the Disc, reaching through the windowpane to warm the pale face, the shut eyelids. There were birds chirping.
All in all, not the ideal day on which to fall blind. Or the perfect day, depending on how you looked at it.
As Vetinari stood facing the window, one must wonder what he was feeling, if so strong a word could ever be applied to him. Vetinari had gotten where he was through the facilities of a quick mind and sharp senses, and now one of those senses was lost to him. Now how would he intimidate people with his uncanny ability to notice little details?
The first person Vetinari had thought to inform of this occurrence was Leonard, who could provide sympathy, if not a solution. Unfortunately, the very brilliance that made Leonard one worth consulting was also what made it vital that he be kept inaccessible, because in the wrong hands, all sorts of terrible things might happen.
And there, in essence, was the problem.
If a newly blind man with a game leg could reach Leonard's workshop, well, Vetinari might as well put on his agenda, "4:00—Expect All Sorts of Terrible Things. Offer tea." Vetinari thought about asking Drumknott for help, but today was Wednesday, and Vetinari had only showed Drumknott how to get through the traps on intermittent Mondays, and had advised him never to attempt it while it was snowing. All of Leonard's supplies went through what resembled a one-way dumbwaiter, so Drumknott didn't really need to reach Leonard anyway.
Holding his hands surreptitiously in front of him, Vetinari tried to picture his office as he walked across it. His desk would be coming up, right… about… Where was the darn thing, anyway? Vetinari swallowed. This was harder than he thought it would be. Maybe he really shouldn't attempt—
Ah, there was the desk. Vetinari patted its surface as if it were a beloved pet. He felt for the secret compartment and found that at least where he expected it to be. He was getting the hang of this. Out came a sharp, cold piece of metal. Next, he closed the compartment, checked its surface with his fingertips, and walked slowly onward. He'd just walk back and forth across his office a few times. Not so hard, really, when he was very familiar with his surroundings.
He had a few mishaps with his chair, but soon he was striding about with great confidence, belied only by his hands, which were not at his sides, but stretched slightly forward into the classic I-can't-see-where-I'm-going-and-I-don't-want-to-run-into-things position.
Next he proceeded to the wall. Yes, exactly where I thought it would be, it hasn't run away, exquisite, he thought distractedly, as he applied pressure. The wall swung away from him, and he went in.
A few moments later, he stopped. He had made it past the Pit of Death, which was good. He was quite proud of himself because he was pretty sure he'd accomplished the series of quick jumps, judging by the arrows that completely failed to fly out of the air and skewer him. On the other hand, there was a beam of light at about knee level up ahead which, if broken, would release a large, swinging blade, which Vetinari did not particularly want to meet at the moment. Unfortunately, without his sense of vision, he didn't know how far away it was, exactly. Perhaps the beam of light was here… or maybe it was here, or maybe he had passed it already, or…
Or not, Vetinari thought dryly, as a sudden shift in air currents told him that his continued possession of head and shoulders was being called into serious doubt. He ducked.
Five minutes later, when Vetinari was pretty sure the blade had stopped swinging, he continued on his way. Well, that wasn't so bad, considering. And as long as he made sure to touch the hidden panel at the end of the tunnel, he'd be fine.
"Leonard?" he called, rapping on the door before ducking to the side.
The door opened. "My Lord?" said Leonard's familiar voice. "Why are you pressed up against the wall like that?"
"Just in case you had anything dangerous going on," said Vetinari weakly.
"The coast is clear," said Leonard happily. "In fact, I've set up nets so the incident with the model flying machine won't happen again, as you can see…"
"Actually, Leonard," said Vetinari, "I can't."
"Hm?" said Leonard. "Why not? Oh, do come in. Would you like some tea?"
"Yes, thank you," said Vetinari. "Although I'll need you to help me to my seat." Leonard made a puzzled noise, and Vetinari realized that subtlety was not going to work in this case. "I can't see, Leonard. I'm blind."
"Oh," said Leonard. There was stunned silence. Then: "Please come in, my Lord."
"Thank you," said Vetinari, and allowed Leonard to lead him into the workshop.
"Mind your step, oops," said Leonard, as Vetinari picked carefully across the floor and nearly tripped over the easel. "I'm sorry, I had thought to put it there to take advantage of the light…"
Vetinari waved it off and sat on the chair that was offered, gingerly, in case there was anything on it.
"How do my eyes look?"
He felt Leonard lean closer. "Pretty much the same as they always have. They're a bit red." He felt Leonard lean back. "Would you like some more Clears Eyes and Relieves Itching solution? I'm sure I had a dropper somewhere…"
Vetinari thought carefully. "Is there any chance you could make a solution that colors eyes?"
"Like green? I've always thought you'd look nice with golden irises, in particular. In fact I had some small lenses…"
"Not irises, Leonard. The entire eye. Could you make my eyes look… milky, perhaps?"
"Milky, my Lord?"
"Like an extremely bad case of cataracts," Vetinari suggested.
"I could do that. I'd just need to modify the solution a bit…"
"That would be wonderful. And my eyes are completely normal, you say?"
"They're focused a bit high," said Leonard, after some consideration.
"I was hoping to compensate for the distance between your mouth and your eyes. If I had just directed my eyes towards the source of your voice, I would have appeared to be staring at your lips, which would not have been quite normal. How's this?"
"Perfect. Although right now your eyes are moving a bit too fast."
"You are leaning in, then?" said Vetinari.
"Yes, but when I lean in, my face goes quite a lot farther forward than it goes down. Right now your eyes have moved too far down. You seem to be looking at my nose…"
"I can see I'll need a lot more practice," sighed Vetinari. "Would you mind leaning in and out some more, so I can get used to it?"
"Commander Vimes to see you, sir," said Drumknott, barely minutes after Vetinari had settled himself back into his desk.
"Capital." Vetinari looked up suddenly. Drumknott had the unsettling feeling that Vetinari's gaze was piercing through him and focusing several inches behind his head. "By the way, Drumknott, did you say that you had an uncle? An optometrist, I believe?"
"Er, yes," said Drumknott, who couldn't remember mentioning such a thing.
"Is he good at what he does?" Vetinari asked.
"Yes," Drumknott said cautiously. "The best, even, it's been said."
"Ah," said Vetinari. "In that case, would you ask him to come pay me a visit? As soon as possible."
"Certainly, my Lord." Drumknott paused. "There isn't, ah, anything wrong with your eyes, is there?"
The moments passed in silence, dragging their feet as they went, as Vetinari looked perfectly blank. "Not at all, Drumknott," he said finally. "You said the Commander was waiting?"