"My Lord!" Vimes jerked awake with a scream and felt cool hands on his shoulders. Light, his dazed mind babbled, look at all the light.

"He's awake!" Sybil's tearful voice called out, "Get Carrot and Angua, he's awake."

"Vetinari," Vimes begged, "Lord Vetinari? Is he..." He could not ask the question.

"He's alive Sam, but very ill," said Sybil.

Vimes sank back on the starched white pillow case. Alive. He was alive.

The next few hours were a hubbub of voices, hugs, slaps on the back, and tears as Watchmen and Sybil received a heavily edited version of events. At last only Vimes and Sybil remained.

"No arguing Sam," Lady Sybil said in exasperation, "The doctor says you can get up in a few days. Havelock will make it through them without you."

Too tired to argue any more, Vimes smiled and gave in.


Six days later a greatly healed and totally bored Sam Vimes was still smiling. His physician, it must be said, was not. In the later's case this was quite possibly due to being coshed lightly with a bedwarmer and bundled into a closet. If he could have seen anything in his current slumbering condition, he would have been quite dismayed to see his patient legging it away through the window, over the roof, down the drainpipe, and across the fields toward the Patrician's palace.

Willikins, Lady Sybil's butler, glided silently into the nursery where Sybil sat knitting what had originally been intended as a baby bootie. In the absence of a baby 19 feet tall, it had become a blanket.

"Sir Samuel has escaped, my Lady."

Sybil smiled gently at the phrase. "Is Doctor Al-Dhalbi all right?"

"Recovering in the Nauseating Green Drawing Room, my Lady."

"Poor Sam," Sybil shook her head, "He wouldn't have enjoyed his freedom half so much if the doctor had gotten to tell him he could go."


"Sir Samuel Vimes, my Lord."

Havelock Vetinari looked up briefly from the papers spread across his bed.

"Thank you Drumknott," said Vetinari, "You may show him in."

The clerk stepped back into the hall and motioned Vimes through the door.

Vimes gasped as he saw clearly for the first time the damage done to the Patrician. The man's slender form was now gaunt, the lines of his face etched in acid. Black bruises mottled his eyes, lips, cheeks, and forehead, and bandages hid most of his hands. The corners of his mouth were stitched and swollen.

Vetinari looked at him curiously. "What ever is the matter, Sir Samuel?"

Vimes struggled to maintain his composure. "Nothing at all Sir." He noted the tremble in the Patrician's fingers as they lay on the coverlet.

"I am alive, Sir Samuel, and I must thank you for that," said Vetinari stiffly.

"Just doing my job, Sir," said Vimes with a blank expression. Inwardly, he clicked his heels and leapt for joy. The man was a raving nutter when he... touched him with his lips. He must not even remember it.

"It was touch and go for a bit there, Sir, but you pulled yourself through," said Vimes. "I was only worried for a minute, there when you were talking out of your head a bit."

Vetinari smiled slightly. "What bit was that Sir Samuel?"

"Just some fever ravings Sir," said Vimes, "Most of it wasn't understandable."

Vetinari templed his fingers beneath his chin and fixed his bright gaze on Vimes. "Did you understand the part where I kissed you?" he asked.

Vimes felt his mouth drop open and he shut it again with an audible "pop."

"I do want to apologize for that, Sir Samuel. I wouldn't have done it but I believed I was going to die."

"Sir," said Vimes.

"Oh don't look so wooden Commander," Vetinari said in annoyance, "Even I have made mistakes on occassion. You need have no fear that I will do it again."

Vimes walked to the side of the bed and peered at the man beneath the covers. "I'm not afraid you'll do it again Sir," he muttered at last, "I don't know why you did it the first time."

"You really don't do you?" said Vetinari. Vimes shook his head slowly, eying the Patritian as if he were a powder keg with only the last inch of burning fuse visible.

"Sit down, Sir Samuel," said Vetinari, gesturing to the bed.

"I'll stand Sir."

"Sit down Vimes," said Vetinari in a voice that brooked no argument.

Vimes sat cautiously on the edge of the bed and looked at the ground.

"Sir Samuel, I realize that I am alive today not because you care for me so much, but because you did your job. I am quite comfortable with that," said Vetinari firmly.

"Does anyone else know what happened to you in there?" Vimes asked quietly.

Vetinari looked at the Commander curiously. "My physician, and he has been paid enough to ensure his eternal silence. Lord Rust and the others received the recordings but stopped the imps before they could finish. It seems they were unable to stomach hearing them all the way through." Vetinari smiled, "They are now in my possession of course, their memories wiped."

"What about you, my Lord?" said Vimes.

"What about me?"

"Who will you talk to my Lord?"

Vetinari said nothing for a moment, then smiled briskly. "Thank you so much for coming Sir Samuel, I'm sure you have things to do? Crimes to investigate?" He reached for the hanging bell pull, "Drumknott will show you out."

Vimes was quicker, snatching the tassled pull to the side.

"Not this time my Lord," said Vimes angrily. "At the very least you owe me an explaination."

"I owe you?" said Vetinari slowly, trying the phrase on for size. "Have a care Sir Samuel, my patience is not eternal. Our, relationship, in that cell was based on circumstances which have happily been brought to a close. I see no reason why we should ever revisit them."

Vimes released the bell pull. "Why did you kiss me?" he demanded in furious confusion. "Why me?"

Vetinari smiled. "Because you are Samuel Vimes, Commander. And now I really believe you must be going."

Vimes stood and stalked for the door. Vetinari waited expectantly as the slab of oak swung shut, and was rewarded by a faint cloud of plaster dust as Vimes slammed his fist into the wall outside.


Days turned into months, the spring green growing on the Ankh turning to winter grey ice. Sam Vimes sat at his desk, staring through the window into the night sky. Sometimes he forgot, for hours at a time, then it sprang out at him like the smell of Foul Ole Ron.

Rumor had it the Patrician no longer slept easily; his nights were said to be broken by screaming nighmares. Vimes knew for a fact he slept with a light, had seen it shining from the window dusk to dawn.

Vimes himself slept little these days. There was Sybil, huge and aching as she neared the end of her pregnancy, and then there were the memories.

(I always wondered what it would take to bring you to my bed.)

Why me? Vimes wondered over and over again. And why can't I stop thinking about it. I love Sybil, why in the hell am I so confused?

Suddenly furious, he shoved aside the towering stacks of paper (loosely, paper. More correctly, 467 bits of paper, 229 squashed almost-but-not-quite waterproof curry bags, 112 copies of the Book of Om provided by Corporal Visit, a feather boa, three confused gnomes, two sacks of pigeon feed, and a new species of cockroach) and placed his hands flat on the desk for the first time in almost six years.

Maybe it was time to think about it. Think like a copper. Mentally he began to tally.

1) Havelock Vetinari had kissed him, and had expressed what even Vimes realized was an interest in something more than kisses.

2) He couldn't stop thinking about it.

3) The idea no longer made him feel confused and panicked and disgusted. Now it only made him feel confused.

4) He had to know.

He thought briefly of the tittering, prancing female impersonators he sometimes got in the cells (while he found it impossible to see how anyone could mistake them for women, some men swore they couldn't tell- up until a passing business associate, friend, relative, or neighbor helpfully pointed out the mistake. That was generally where the fight began). Somehow, Vetinari did not seem to fit in their company. Oh well, it didn't matter. He had to solve this, once and for all.

He stomped for the door. Outside the winter wind blew wickedly, taking his breath, but he staggered onward with the determination of the damned.

At the palace there was a brief and pointed discussion with the Palace guards.

Leaving the men wrapped in their own private worlds of hurt, Vimes jogged up the broad staircase and knocked at the door of the Patrician's office. The door opened and the suprised face of Drumknott peered out.

"Can I help you Sir Samuel?" asked the puzzled clerk.

"I need to speak with His Lordship," said Vimes. He heard the sound of a chair being pushed back, and the click of Vetinari's walking stick making slow progress across the floor.

"I'll see if he's in," said Drumknott, attempting to close the door.

"Oh I'm sure he is," said Vimes cheerfully. He shoved the door open, sending the suprised Drumknott sprawling. The man leapt up quickly and sprang for the nearest bell pull, only to be stopped by Vetinari's upraised hand.

"It's all right, Drunknott," said the Patrician, "You may leave."

The clerk looked troubled, but quickly gathered his papers and fled. Vimes turned the massive iron key in the lock.

"You wished to see me Sir Samuel?" asked Vetinari calmly, seating himself at his desk. He glanced at his watch. "It must be rather important to require your presence here at 3:00 A.M. on a winter's morning." He picked up his discarded quill and began to write.

Vimes knelt beside the black-clad man and seized his writing hand. For a moment they formed a frozen tableau and Vimes wondered if he were about to die.

Vetinari moved first, deliberately pulling the quill from beneath their hands and capping the ink bottle. Vimes found himself fascinated by the pattern of scars on the man's hand as it moved to place the bottle aside.

The Patritician turned in his chair to face the kneeling copper.

"What do you want from me Sir Samuel?" he asked quietly.

"Why me?" said Vimes, in a snarling growl. "No more of your twisty politician's excuses."

"Because you were never afraid of me," said Vetinari, "Because you do what is right. Because you're an honest man in a city of thieves and liars. Because you would arrest the gods if they annoyed you."

Vimes chuckled softly.

"Because you're one of the most attractive men I have ever met," finished Vetinari firmly.

Vimes felt the blush burning its way up his throat and across his face. "Pull the other one, it's got bells on," he said miserably.

Vetinari slid his scarred left hand across Vimes' cheek and throat to rest on his shoulder.

"Why are you here Samuel? What is it that you want?"

"I don't know anymore," said Vimes desperately. "Do you still want to know what it would take to bring me to your bed?"

"I would be most curious," said Vetinari, "Academically, of course." He cocked a curious eyebrow at the kneeling policeman.

Academically. Oh gods. "Ask me," croaked Vimes. He felt as if he were drowning.

Vetinari's reaction would have delighted Vimes at any other time. The Patrician paled, and his fingers trembled for a long moment.

"Do you mean it?" whispered Vetinari. "Do you know what you are doing?"

"Hell no, I don't know what I'm doing. I'm more confused right now than I ever have been in my life," said Vimes furiously. "But I have to know. I have to know why the thought of your death makes me feel like the bloody Disc is collapsing. Damn you man, ask me or tell me to go to hell, but do it now."

Vetinari rose, and Vimes rose with him. They stood staring at one another for a long moment.

"Come to bed Sam," said Vetinari.

Vimes nodded once, and followed the limping man to the bedchamber next door. He stood silently as Vetinari bolted the door, and turned down the covers on the massive oaken bed.

"I don't know what to do," said Vimes bluntly. He stood in frozen confusion at the head of the bed.

"You can begin by taking your boots off and laying down," said Vetinari. The tall man kicked away his own thin slippers and slid into the bed.

Vimes sat stiffly on the quilted coverlet, trying not to think. Mechanically he removed first one boot, then the other, and gingerly swung his legs beneath the covers. He lay back.

Vetinari leaned back on an elbow and allowed his right hand to trail across Vimes forehead and ear. Sam shivered.

"Why were you so afraid of my death in that cell?" asked Vetinari gently. His hand made hypnotic passes along Vimes chest and arms.

Sam took a deep breath, "Then, because it bloody well wasn't right. Now, I don't know anymore."

"You have seen me close to death several times Sam," Vetinari reminded him, "The arsenic, the gonne?" His nimble fingers began to unbutton Vimes shirt. "I'm sure there have been times you would have happily given me over to the torturer yourself."

Vimes gasped as Vetinari's cool hand slid beneath his shirt and stroked the warm flesh directly. "Because it was more than pain," he managed.

"Do go on," said Vetinari with interest. His fingers slid across a rough nipple, and tugged gently.

"You always seemed to be, I don't know, above pain somehow. In that cell, it wasn't about pain anymore." Sam twisted slightly as Vetinari began to stroke and tug at his other nipple. Gods that felt good! He cleared his throat. "What they did to you, wasn't right. No one could stand up to that. Not even you."

Vetinari smiled and sat up. "Do you know the key to successful torture, Sam?" Vimes arched his back as Vetinari began to slide the flats of his hands back and forth across his chest.

"No," said Vimes breathlessly. He suddenly felt unreal, displaced somehow. Here I am, he thought, in my leather breeches and my rumpled Watchman's shirt (complete with ground in cigar ash and a suspiciously curry-like stain directly above the right elbow), here I am lying in the Patrician's bed, with the Patrician, chatting about torture as if this were an everyday occurance. Not to mention letting him, letting him...oh gods, letting him....

Sam's breath came more quickly as Vetinari slowly stroked the skin of his stomach.

"The key to successful torture is that the victim must be able to personally provide what you desire," said Vetinari. "Anyone can handle enormous amouts of pain and humiliation, provided they are happening at a comfortable distance. My tormentors were lost from the beginning, because I did not have the ability to give them what they wanted."

Vetinari grasped the loose material of Vimes' shirt, and slid the cloth slowly, sensually down the man's arms and off. Sam raised himself slightly to allow this, marveling at the electric sensations as the garment fell away. The air on his bare chest and back felt alive, charged somehow. Every hair seemed to be standing on end, waiting for those cool hands.

Vimes felt his erection growing as Vetinari massaged the skin of his shoulders and arms. "They knew they had made a mistake didn't they, that first day," he said, "You're not afraid of pain, and everyone knows it. Rust would let you be tortured, counting on the Watch to save you before you were killed."

"But I said they were clever," said Vetinari, "they were unafraid to try a combination of agony and humiliation which might persuade me to be a little more, vigorous, with my screams."

Sam raised his hands to Vetinari's flowing black shirt and tugged it gracelessly over the man's head. Tentatively, he placed his fingers on the white shoulders and closed his eyes. It was so much easier in the dark. He allowed himself a careful exploration of the unfamiliar musculature, suprised at the hardness and wiry strength beneath the skin.

"What did they do to you?" whispered Vimes, "Can you do, this, without hurting yourself more?"

Vetinari's hands stopped moving, then clasped Sam's arms. "Do you need to know?" he asked tightly.

Vimes opened his eyes. "You need me to," he said. He paused, trying to find the right words, "I wouldn't know what I was doing if none of this had happened. With chases and fights I know where I stand, here I'm..." He gestured hopelessly.

Vetinari stared into the policeman's eyes. "They used a troll, Sam," said the Patrician at last, "and when he didn't fit he simply pushed a little harder. Of course, he did make his way easier by covering himself with a mixture of turpentine and red pepper. The same mixture, I might add, which they used to clean me out before and afterward."

Vimes felt his erection quiver and die as the horror of the man's words sank in. The bastards, the bloody, bloody bastards, he thought. When I find them there won't be enough to make cat's meat.

"Is the damage healed?" asked Vimes cautiously, trying to contain his raging fury.

Vetinari laughed coldly. "The physical damage has healed and I am happy to say I can once again attend to the chamber pot without screaming."

Sam had been a copper too long to miss the words unsaid. "And the other damage?"

"I'm sure you've seen my lights," said Vetinari calmly.

Vimes lay back and covered his face with an arm. The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, a man whom even the Assassin's Guild feared, had just admitted to him, Sam Vimes, that he was afraid. Why tell him? Why was he here? When had he become so afraid of losing...

The silence streched out sharp as a knife.

The bed creaked as Vetinari sat back at last and retrieved his shirt. "It's all right Sir Samuel," he said, "I quite understand. Have no fear that I will remind you of this evening in the future." He slid his legs from under the covers and began to feel for his slippers.

"What are you doing?" asked Vimes without moving his arm.

"I am going to finish the monograph I was preparing," said Vetinari smoothly. "You have the information you came here to get, when you are ready I'm sure you know the way out."

"No," said Vimes.

"No?" echoed Vetinari curiously.

"No," said Vimes. Sam sat up and laid a hand on the Patrician's sleeve. "I'm not here bacause I'm your policeman. If I was here as a copper I'd have no say in what you did, and you could show me the door."

"What are you here as, Sir Samuel?" asked Vetinari.

"I don't know," admitted Vimes, "but you can't just walk away. You don't want to walk away."

"I don't?" said Vetinari flatly.

"No," said Vimes angrily, sitting up. It was to to not only go out on a limb but to saw the bloody thing off behind him. He was furious, and it felt good. With rage he knew what to do. "You're scared, because I know what hurt you. Well gods dammit I'm scared too. I'm confused and I want to make those bastards eat their own noses. I look at you and I want to punch you, but then I... I...." He ran out of words and sat staring angrily at the Patrician.

Vetinari chuckled. A real laugh this time. "May you never cease to amaze me Sam." He pulled his shirt back over his head and kicked away his slippers.

Vimes rested his head on the pillow as Vetinari slid to lay full length against him. He blinked as the Patrician stared full into his face with a look Sam had never seen before. Uncetainty? Even fear? Surely not, he thought, what would he have to fear from me?

"You do want this, Sam?" asked Vetinari again, "You're not here out of some misplaced sense of duty?"

Vimes nodded slowly.

He closed his eyes as a pair of warm, firm lips met his own.

Sam lay absorbing the sensations for a moment, then, carefully, fearfully, allowed himself to return the gentle pressure. His eyes flew open in suprise as he heard Vetinari's breathing shudder in response.

I'm making him feel this way, Vimes realized in shock, me, Sam Vimes. He brought his lips to Vetinari's with more force this time, and felt the man's mouth open slightly. Abruptly his ability to analize the situation disappeared as Vetinari deepened the kiss into something unexpectedly hot and skin tight. Vimes heard himself moan softly.

"Sam," Vetinari sighed gently. His mouth moved to Vimes neck, licking and sucking at the delicate flesh behind his ear, then returned to tug at his lower lip.

Vimes felt his erection return in force as Vetinari's hand rubbed maddeningly across his nipples and belly. A hot tongue licked delicately across his upper lip, then thrust tantilizingly to explore his teeth and gums.

"Havelock, please..." Vimes begged, unsure of what he was begging for.

Vetinari lowered his head and lashed his tongue roughly over Vimes marble-tight nipples. He was rewarded with a deep moan. Moving deliberately, he threw his leg over the man's panting body and slid to straddle his hips. "Say my name again Sam," said Vetinari tightly, "Let me hear you say my name."

Vimes opened his eyes at the feel of the warm weight on top of him. "Havelock," he hissed, arching his back. Uncertainly he reached up and wrapped his hands around Vetinari's narrow waist. The Patrician returned his attention to Vimes' chest, now sucking, now carefully nipping at the deep rose nubs. Sam groaned as a hand slid across the front of his trousers and began to massage his aching cock.

This was incredible, Sam thought, oh gods so incredible. He realized with a start that he could feel Vetinari's erection against his stomach. Was this why he had been afraid?

"Do you like this Sam?" asked Vetinari.

"Yes," gasped Vimes, "Damn you, yes."

"I want more of you," said Vetinari. He rolled himself to the right so that they lay side by side with legs intwined. He slid one arm around Vimes' back, and with the other hand unbuttoned Sam's breeches.

Vimes pulled himself closer, almost growling as Vetinari's hardness pressed against his stomach, moaning in pleasure as the Patrician's hand entered his trousers and wrapped around his shaft.

"I want to see you naked Sam," said Vetinari. He began to pump his fist slowly, making Vimes writhe. "Help me get your trousers off," he added softly.

Vimes felt his erection pound at the Patrician's words, and raised his hips so that Vetinari could slide down the clinging leather and the linen underdrawers. He gasped in suprise as Vetinari took him in his mouth.

There were no words to describe the sensation, hard and then soft, almost too fast, and then achingly slow. Vimes felt himself clawing at the man's shoulders and knew that he did not want to stop. As a copper in daily contact with various members of the Seamstresse's Guild (even if the contact did only involve escorting them to the cells, one found himself learning ever so much) he had of course been aware that alternate forms of love making existed, but they had never before formed any portion of his day to day existance. Not that Sybil hadn't thought about it, but after one brief attempt (with the help of a Klatchian tome called The Perfumed Allotment), which resulted in a serious bite wound and a sustained bout of gagging, they had both decided that improvisation was not required.

This was to improvisation what a folk tune was to a symphony.

As Vetinari's hands clenched and molded his buttocks Vimes felt himself tightening for release. Instintively his thrusts deepened and his hands sought purchase in the Patrician's hair.

"Havelock," he gasped as the explosion roared through his veins.

Vetinari thrust himself toward Vimes once, then twice more; enjoying every moan and spasm as the policeman twitched beneath him.

Vimes lay panting as Vetinari pulled himself upward to lay beside him once again. He noticed immediately that the Patrician was still hard.

"Do you... do you want me to...?" He did not know the words, so he contented himself with resting his fingertips on Vetinari's hip.

Vetinari stared at him, an untranslatable expression on his face. "What do you want to do Sam?" he asked in a neutral tone.

"I want to touch you," snarled Vimes. "I have to touch you; I don't know why." Some of the anger seeped from his voice. "I'm not sure how to go about it," he admitted.

"Let me show you," said Vetinari in a gentle voice that Sam had never heard before. Slowly he slid out of his trousers and tossed them to the floor.

Vimes shivered as Vetinari began to stroke himself. This wasn't happening, was it? After a moment of indecision he placed his hand below Vetinari's and began to move it up and down, copying the pace the man had set.

"So good Sam," Vetinari moaned. He released himself and wrapped his hands gently around Vimes' shoulders.

Sam felt himself twitching as the Patrician's shaft grew moist and the man's breath began to catch.

I'm making him come, Vimes thought in wonderment, I'm actually making Vetinari lose control. Emboldened by this though, he began to squeeze more firmly, pausing now and again to slide his fingers across the tip's narrow slit. As the Patrician's muscles tightened Vimes pumped his left hand vigorously along the straining shaft, and used the fingers of his right hand to swirl and tease the narrow ridge beneath the crown.

Vetinari erupted in a frenzy of white.

A moment later the Patrician lay absolutely still as Vimes carefully removed his hand and wiped it deliberately on the sheet. He would not allow himself to tremble.

Sam untangled his legs and streached himself facedown on the bed with his face nestled into his crossed arms. "I love Sybil," he said at last, in a flat, muffled voice.

"I am well aware of that fact Sir Samuel," said Vetinari in a suspiciously normal voice. Perhaps only one of the Listening Monks might have heard the tiny tremour, like the sound of a sparrow's sigh. "You do underestimate me. I am under no misapprehension that you..."

"Stop," said Vimes without looking up.

"I love my wife," he repeated, "but if she should die, I would go on."

A dangerous, watchful silence filled the room, but Sam continued. He was afraid to see Vetinari's face, afraid that he was making a botch of the whole thing. Damn it why did the man have to be so imperterbable!

"I spend half my time wanting to kill you, and the other half hoping someone else does it for me," he muttered, "but if you really died I... I... I don't know what I would do."

The watchful silence lifted. Vetinari trailed his fingers through Vimes' greying hair, and began to stroke the clenched muscles of his back.

"I'm laying here," said Vimes, "after what we just did, and I'm getting hard again. Me, at my age." He snorted. "Usually I just go to sleep, but all I can think about right now is having you shove a bloody pillow under my hips so that you can do something that I have always found it hard to believe anyone actually enjoys."

Vetinari slid his hands to Vimes' buttocks and legs, caressing and fondling.

"I want to get on my knees in front of you," said Vimes desperately, "and I want to make you scream my name, MY name. And then I want to follow you like a dog on a lead. What the hell have you done to me?" He rolled to face Vetinari and seized his arm in a painful clench.

"What have you done?" he almost screamed.

"I have fallen in love with you," said Vetinari calmly, "And I really cannot see how breaking my arm will make it any better."

There was a moment of stunned silence.

"Do you mean that?" rasped Vimes.

"Have you found me to be in the habit of gratuitous falsehood?" asked Vetinari curiously.

Vimes hand dropped limply to the bed. "You love me? he said quietly.

"I have tried to get over it," said Vetinari, "However in the absence of programs where one stands up and says "Hello, my name is Havelock, and I'm in love with a surly, suspicious bastard named Sam" I have found it too trying for my meager resources." Vetinari paused, and considered the sight of Vimes' downcast head. "Your sword is over there by your pants Sam, if you want to try for it. I do realize that this is perhaps rather more unacceptable to you than a simple need for a few moments of physical release."

Vetinari smiled sadly, "I feel I must warn you however that in the event you are not, shall we say, determined, enough to reach it before I reach you, the rest of your life shall be excitingly event-filled, if rather brief."

Vimes reached out slowly and allowed his shaking fingers to explore the side of the Patrician's face, and feel the silken texture of his hair.

"I'm going to say this," said Vimes, "and if you look at me in that supercilious way I bloody well will go for my sword." He took a deep breath. "If you love me, then I want you to make love to me, properly." He stumbled over the words, swallowed and went on, "They all treat you like the boogeymen's boogeyman; you even scare the undead. I always thought I was above that, that I treated you like anybody else because you were like everyone else. Now I wonder if I ever really believed that, or if I was only proud of ignoring the fact that you scared me too." He stared at the Patrician in desperation. "I have to know you're just a man, like me," said Vimes. "That I can hurt you, or.. or love you. That it's not just another game; you're not untouchable."

"If I could own you Sam, I never would have been able to love you," said Vetinari. "And whatever games I may play as the ruler of Ankh-Morpork do not, I believe, extend to my existence as a man."

"Show me," said Vimes. "Make love to me. After that cell, only a monster would betray the trust I showed by allowing you that. If you are a monster, well, my sword is never too far away and my pride will heal."

"And if I am not?"

"If you are not, and this is some bit of politician's foolishness, you'll tell me no, now."

"And if I don't?"

Vimes looked at him, his face carefully blank. "Then I am your dog, my Lord."

Vetinari quirked his lip. "The very idea brings a new terror to pet ownership Sam."

Vimes snorted, "I never said I wouldn't eat my leash." He lounged back on an elbow, "The choice is yours my Lord."

Vetinari ran a slow hand across Sam's leg to his groin, weighing the heaviness he found there. "You may roll over Sam, but I most emphatically do not wish you to play dead."

Vimes rolled slowly back onto his stomach, and allowed himself to be arranged to the Patrician's satisfaction. He was trembling slightly as Vetinari's hands moved here... and, oh gods, there... A pillow slid beneath him, and the press of the cloth against his throbbing cock was almost more than he could bear.

He gasped as fingers slicked with cream spread his cheeks and circled the tight opening. He could feel Vetinari's erection sliding between his legs and along his own. Sam moaned aloud as the probing tip of a thumb forced its careful way through the tight ring of muscle.

Vetinari leaned against him more firmly, moving his hand in tiny orbits, streching, feeling... The Patrician's breath came in harsh gasps.

Vimes suddenly found it hard to breath as the invading digit pressed further in and then retreated. Waves of terror fought with arousal as the thumb was withdrawn and replaced by two fingers.

He's inside me, thought Vimes in panic. The feeling of fullness, of invasion, threatened to overwhelm the blasts of pleasure radiating from his roaring prostate. He's inside me, and I'm spread out like a banquet, thought Vimes. He could do anything, anything at all.

Defenseless. The word screamed through his head as Vetinari added a third finger and began to thrust lightly. Is this what Sybil feels like when I'm on top of her, wondered Vimes. A darker thought entered his mind- What did he feel like, when they had that bloody troll...? What did he feel like now, naked and exposed, with a man who's family had a history of rather terminal anti-authoritarian streak? I could destroy him, realized Sam, just by going out in the morning and saying he attacked me. A doctor could verify my claim and no one would ever suspect...

"Are you all right Sam?" gasped Vetinari.

Vimes hesitated for only a second, "I want you inside me," he moaned, "Now, before I lose my nerve." He felt the pressure pull back as the Patrician withdrew his fingers, and then jerked as something larger and harder replaced them.

There was some pain, but nowhere near as much as he had feared. Then it was gone, replaced with flowing waves of pleasure as Vetinari began to stroke his cock in time to the slow, deep thrusts.

Time stood still as Vimes threw his head back in extasy. He heard himself whispering, "Havelock, oh gods, Havelock."

Vetinari increased the pace as he felt himself nearing completion with Vimes' words. He had wanted this for so long that it almost seemed unreal. Vimes beneath him, calling his name... The thought jolted him over the edge.

Sam groaned and came as he felt Vetinari's heat erupt deep inside him. There was an inexplicable feeling of loss as the Patrician withdrew himself and fell onto the bed.

Vimes rolled over carefully, not wanting to loose the sensation quite yet. He stared at the slender man beside him. Vetinari stared back, his face carefully composed.

I could hurt him, thought Vimes, he's given me the ability to hurt him. The thought was comforting and terrifying in the same breath.

"We'll have to be carefull," said Vimes gruffly. "No one's to find out about us, especially not Sybil. She doesn't deserve that."

Vetinari's eyes were fathoms deep and unreadable. "I think that you will find I am an expert at taking care Sam." He cleared his throat. "Does this mean that you will allow this relationship to continue?"

"For as long as you want me," muttered Vimes. Clumsily he reached out and patted Vetinari on the shoulder, then shook his head and pulled the man to him.

"I'll always be a copper," said Vimes after a moment. "Don't ever think that I'll be happy passing out those fiddly little sandwiches and prancing about in tights."

"I wouldn't dream of asking it, Sam," said Vetinari smoothly. He smiled at Vimes disbelieving expression. "If I wish you to wear tights I'll make it an order."

Vimes roared with laughter and engulfed the Patrician in an enormous bear hug. The two men looked at each other, and chorused, "Which will be disobeyed."

After that, there was nothing more to be said.