Vimes lay on the hard, heaving boards of the hold, eyes tight closed. He wasn't sleeping. He couldn't sleep. That damned roll call kept running through his head: 'Death of Corporal Littlebottom...Death of Sergeant Detritus...Death of Constable Visit....Death of Constable Dorfl...Death of Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson....'
He, Vimes, had been the last to die. The very last, after watching all his men go before. He wasn't that good. Not better than a troll or a golem. Certainly not better than Carrot. But he'd died last. He knew that that meant. The bastards hadn't gotten him until there was no one left to put themselves between.
He'd watched his men die for him in that other reality. And his dwarfs, and trolls and golem too.
Why? It didn't make sense. He was no Carrot. He wasn't supernaturally likeable, he had no 'krisma'. He was a nasty, sarcastic son of a bitch and nobody knew that better than his watchmen. Nobody. But they'd fought for him. They'd defended him with their very lives.
Gods dammit why?!
Why would any sane man, or dwarf, or troll, put himself between Sam Vimes and the sharp edge of a sword or axe?
Maybe because they knew Sam Vimes would do the same for them?
He would. He knew he would. Hell, he had done, and more than once. It wasn't bravery or loyalty or any other noble sentiment. It wasn't something he chose to do, it was just the way he was. That was what Sam Vimes did. It was a copper thing....And they were all coppers weren't they?
The tightness in his chest loosened. Suddenly the world made sense again. The Watch took care of its own, because no one else would. His watchmen looked out for him as he did for them. It wasn't 'krisma' it was what coppers did.
And with that relieved thought he finally fell asleep.