And they thought it couldn't get any worse.
The short straw had been drawn, and Angua was the unfortunate one.
It really couldn't go on, the Watchmen had decided. How were they supposed to go on with a commander who they never saw or heard from? Carrot had taken over for the time being, but the fleas were really becoming a problem for him. To her they'd never become anything much more than a mild annoyance, but for someone who had spent the majority of their time as a human/dwarf she could understand the shock to the system.
Very quietly, partially hoping she wouldn't be heard, she knocked on the door.
"Sir, this has to stop. You've been in there for three days now."
There was a silence. "Alright then. You can come in, but make sure you shut the door behind you."
Following his request, she only opened the door enough to let herself slide in, and shut it firmly.
The first impression she received was darkness. The windows had been blocked up completely. As her eyes adjusted she finally saw Vimes sat at his desk with his head back and his feet up. The only source of light was his cigar, which cast sinister shadows over his face. "It's not fair, Angua," he finally said, removing it from his mouth.
Angua squirmed a little, as she knew that some of his predicament was partially her fault. "I'm sorry."
"Tell me, how exactly can a single man be a werewolf, a vampire, and homosexual?"
"Speaking of which, another summon from Vetinari came today-"
"Ugh." She heard a thud as his head slammed against the table. "That's it! Angua!"
"I need a black coat, some black trousers, a black hat, and some black glasses."
"That nasty old sunlight still affecting you?"
"What do you think. And just because I've become reclusive and undead that doesn't mean I need patronising, sergeant."
The University was in an uproar. Of course, it was always in an uproar, as any one building with a concentrated level of wizard in it cannot help but be. However, recently it was even more so. In the last few weeks more than ever the thin veil protecting the Discworld from the Dungeon Dimensions had been torn, but the more incredible thing perhaps were the other dimensions which had made contact. Dimensions which contained people, who for some reason hadn't wanted to leave.
"Of course I know what you've been talking about," said Ponder, to Vimes. "It's not just happening to you and your little cadre."
"Trust me. Whatever problems you've got I don't think they're anything compared to mine. Not now," he groaned. Vetinari leaned away again, looking slightly put out.
"You haven't met boy wonder yet," answered Ponder, gloomily as he pushed the Library door open. Waiting on the other side was a young boy with black hair and green eyes.
"Ponder! Ponder! I've found a new use for the Bezoar-"
"I don't care," Ponder exclaimed, causing the youth to scurry away. "You see what I mean? They made me official keeper of him because I look like him the most, apparently."
He truly looked a wreck, but Vimes had no time to be giving him too much pity. Vetinari was running his finger affectionately up and down his arm now. For Gods sake, didn't the man care anymore? At first it had been a secret (Vimes hadn't allowed it to be anything else) but things had drastically changed over a matter of days. Now there were poems in the newspaper waiting for him every morning, and a horde of de Worde's reporters waiting for his reply with it.
"I don't know if we can help over here, but I really hope we can," said Ponder as the black haired boy started tugging on his sleeve again. "But why did you have to bring all of them with you?"
"We've got troubles too," said Angua. "Carrot's still not used to his condition. He's been stuck in 'wolf' form for six hours now."
The ginger wolf by her heels barked in agreement.
"As for him," said Vimes, gesturing over his shoulder to Vetinari, who had started singing 'I don't know how to love him' softly to himself, "I can't seem to get rid of him. And he's a vampire. And so am I. And I'm a werewolf."
"Oh dear. I'm not going to get out of this place alive, am I," laughed Ponder halfheartedly. The others did not seem to share his joke. "We've tried already, though. I don't see what else can be done-"
"Ponder, I have an idea," piped in Harry. "How about if we make a reverse potion, and we feed it to a Basilisk-"
"We haven't got a Basilisk! Look, I've got an idea, how about you get lost and go back to your own world? Your meant to be the messiah or something, aren't you?"
At this point the boys green eyes started to fill with tears. "There's no one back there for me anymore. Sirius was like a father to me but he's dead, and now even Dumbledore's popped his clogs..." He fell to the ground in a heap of tears, somehow attaching himself to Ponder's leg as he did so.
"Don't worry," said Vimes, "I'm getting help from my most magically experienced Watch member."
"Oh, good," said Ponder, as they walked past him into the Library. He attempted to follow them, but Harry was still stuck to his leg like a limpet. "I'll... I'll just stay here, shall I?"
The Librarian looked up as the undead gang entered his lair of stacked books, and removed his reading glasses.
"Evening," said Vimes. "How's life treating you?"
The Librarian gave a grunt in reply.
"It is still life for you, isn't it?"
The Librarian waddled up to his desk, and pulled up a chair for Vimes before seating himself at the other side. Vimes sat down and removed his sunglasses, blinking rapidly for a few seconds. The others stood behind.
The Librarian clasped his hands and placed them before him.
"Now. I know that you're a busy ape, but we've got a pretty big problem here."
"I can't help biting people," said Angua.
"I need somebody to love," said Vetinari.
"SOMEBODY GET HIM OFF ME!" They heard from the corridor.
"Ook..." the Librarian replied softly, nodding his head causing his chins to ripple.
"You probably don't need telling this, but this isn't our normal behaviour," explained Vimes. "A couple of years ago I would have died before I kissed a man."
"Don't think you're alone on that, Commander," reminded Vetinari, but Vimes couldn't shake off the feeling that the man hadn't attempted to resist the urges quite as much as he had.
Another sagely nod.
"From my experience, whenever something weird like this is going on, this place tends to be the base of operation. No offence," he added.
"So... what is it we're looking at here? Mind control? Hypnotism or something?"
The Librarian shook his head. He dropped from his chair and took Vimes' gloved hand to lead him through the bookcases. They stopped at Rincewind, who was busy placing books on a shelf. "Ook."
"Oh, right." He slowly and carefully stepped down the ladder. "Do you want me to wait here with them or come with you?"
"Alright. Be careful darling."
"Ook." He ventured off through the books alone.
Vetinari sighed. "See, Sam? Why can't our relationship be more like that? You hardly ever call me darling anymore."
"Oh shut up you."
"I, er, I was just wondering..." said Rincewind. "He said he's going to look through the L-Space. What's going on? Nothing... dangerous is it?"
"In a sense," said Vimes. "It is to some of us."
"Um... Why is she... looking at me like that?" asked Rincewind, pointing at Angua who had started staring at him intently.
"Her? Oh, yes, she just wants to turn you into a werewolf," he explained, casually. "I guess that could be considered pretty dangerous. I'd climb back up that ladder if I were you."
Rincewind sighed. "Ah well," he said, taking out a notebook and putting a line on his chart. "Just another adventure, I suppose. There's many they're all beginning to merge into one, big, never ending one."
At this point the Librarian returned, relatively quickly considering where he'd been. However, he wasn't carrying a book. Instead he was carrying a large stack of papers. "Ook ook ook ook?"
"He says: Do you know about the L-space?"
"Not really, no."
"The L-space," said Rincewind, "Bluntly, is kind of a place between dimensions. See?" When this statement didn't seem to spark any sudden understanding he decided to push his explanation further. "Right. You know about the trousers of time?"
"I recall it, briefly."
"Well, the L-space contains every book which has been written, might have been written if the weather had been different, or the writer hadn't run out of ink... you get the idea. It even has the ones which are going to be written, or could very well be written."
"So it contains every type of book imaginable."
"Pretty much, yes." The wizard gave a weary smile.
"Ook ook ook. Ook ook."
"Okay. He says: You know how some books are magical?"
Vimes look around. It seemed to be a pretty pointless question considering the location.
"Well, he says that the power of some books are so strong that they have the power to influence... Well, just take a look."
Vimes took the proffered papers from the Librarian, and looked at a random one. His brows knitted together as he stared. "...He wandered down the streets, the weight of the secret on his shoulders. He wondered how he could possibly continue his marriage while still allowing his desire to run free...?" He looked up. "What the hell is this?"
"It's very complicated, he says," said Rincewind. "Apparently, strange people in this other universe write stories. 'Fanfics', I think they're called."
"And they affect us? How?"
"I'm not sure. It's something special about their dimension, I think."
"Then why do they continue to write them if it makes us do all these things?" cried Vimes, steadily becoming angrier.
"Apparently they don't care," Rincewind muttered grimly.
He looked back down. "'... Afternoon, Older Sibling,' he said, sitting down on the cushions with his arms folded. 'You seem to be stressed, Sam.' 'Vimes. Yes, I am stressed.' 'He leant forwards at the Eye. 'I swear this is unhealthy for people. They're all going stir-crazy in there. I know, I've seen it before.' 'The contestants knew the rules and what was going to happen before they entered for the show'..."
A look of disgust crossed over Vimes' face as he read. He hastily handed the papers back to the Librarian while he could still resist the urge to throw them across the room in fury.
"This is terrible," said Angua. "They could do anything to us. Anything they liked. What if one of those 'fanfics' said that we died?"
"Er, he said : Then you'd die."
"It's not even a book," said Vimes. "They're just sheets of paper."
"That's another thing. To them its not paper- it seems that there are a lot of machines similar to Hex which are all connected-"
"Alright, alright," Vimes hastily interrupted. "You've lost me already, let's leave it at that."
"Good, because I don't really get it either."
"I wonder..." said Vetinari quietly.
"What?" asked Vimes, throroughly hoping that it didn't involve him taking his clothes off again, as this was all the Patrician ever seemed to wonder about nowadays.
"I was wondering. Perhaps it works in reverse."
There was a buzzing in the air for a few seconds as the thought was digested in their minds. "It... might..." said Rincewind.
"Right." Vimes walked back over to the desk again, and snatched up a pen and paper. He rested the pen against his lips as he thought. "Right... Right... Pass me that one which had me put in that bloody Older Sibling House, will you, Angua?" The memory of that one still pained him.
She did so. "Hah! Would you look at this!" he exclaimed as he saw the writers profile. "The person who wrote this nightmare is a teenage girl who actually has the nerve to call herself 'Watchman'." He rolled his eyes. Apparently the fact that the culprits for their misfortune were mostly teenagers made a lot of sense to him. He tutted. "'Watchman...'" He put the pen to paper. "...One... day... 'Watchman' was sat at her... Hex thingy... when from a strange sudden urge... she jumped into a lake and died. The end." He smiled proudly at his work.
"Will that do the trick?" Angua asked.
"I don't know, but it certainly made me feel better."
"Let me pick one." After flicking through the pages for a while she found what she was looking for. "Do this one next please, sir."
He quickly skimmed it. "This is the one which made you bite Carrot?"
"Just one of them, but certainly the most prominent in my mind."
"'Kay then. ...'Frosteh' decided that life was not worth living anymore... and hastily decided to commit suicide... via a knife-"
"-After writing another fanfic where Carrot turned back into a human," she injected.
"Good idea. There... we go. Next?"
Carrot help one up to him in his jaw, which Vimes took. He frowned as the memory of this one hit him. "Definitely. I couldn't forget about this one. ...One day, 'Badge 177' was walking down the street, but never made it as a crazed axeman suddenly jumped out and slaughtered everyone in the vicinity. That good?"
Carrot gave a wolfy grin. Normally the thought of a crazed axeman would have mortified him, but after experiencing being kidnapped for cash from his lover, Vimes, even he could not help but smile.
"You're writing skills are impeccable, Commander," Vetinari commented.
"Was there a particular one that you wanted me to do, sir?" asked Vimes, who was now thoroughly enjoying himself. "How about burning alive this 'Not Your Average' person who made a love triangle between me, you and Ahmed? Or this 'Deadwish person who made de Worde hear us..." He floundered for the correct word. "...Canoodling?"
"I am fine, thank you, Commander."
Vimes stared at him for a few confused seconds, before shaking his head.
"There're still loads you haven't done here," said Rincewind. He gave a small shriek. "Look! Look at this! Dozens of them where I get chased by dragons and griffins and hinkypunks-"
"Trust me, there's much worse to be chased by," Vimes assured him. Men, for example. "Here," he said, now to the Librarian. "Can I take these home with me?"
It was the next morning.
After a serious night of writing, Vimes woke up in his own bed next to his sleeping wife, instead of next to some random male.
The sun shone through the window, from which he had last night daringly removed a heavy black curtain. The light fell onto his skin, but it didn't burn at all.
Later, Carrot arrived, standing on two legs again. He had a summoning for him.
It was the ultimate test.
"...But before you continue with the mystery concerning the ruby red nose theft from the guild of thieves," the Patrician was saying, "I think it would be wise to first concentrate on the mystery of where all the Watch helmets are going too. You've gone through three hundred and sixty in a week."
"If the problem is not soon resolved the money for new ones is going to have to be taken out of everyone's pay."
The Patrician leant back. "Thank you, Commander. That is all."
Vimes paused, uncomfortably. This was always the point in the conversation where 'It' would happen. He certainly wasn't feeling any passionate urges, but he couldn't necessarily say it was the same for both of them. He waited for a few second before thankfully deeming that it was safe, and he began to leave.
"Oh, and Vimes?"
Damn it. There it was. That was the line. He turned around slowly and hesitantly, ready to start unbuttoning his shirt if he needed to. "...Yes... sir...?"
"Don't stand waiting there so long next time waiting for sex. It's over between us."
Vimes mouth dropped open. Him hoping for sex? What? Huh?
"Thankyou Vimes. That it all."
I'll say this first. Despite having written a few violent murders, I've only written them about a few of my favourite fanfics and their writers. If you haven't read them already I urge you to. If your penname is up there and you don't want it to be for any reason, I'll gladly take it down.
Now if you don't mind, I'm off to find a lake.