The first time Angua met Susan Sto Helit she was up at Mister Vimes' house and Susan was just a smell that wasn't quite right. She looked over her shoulder and saw a dark figure disappearing into the cupboard under the stairs.
"That's Susan, Young Sam's new governess," Mister Vimes said by way of an explanation, and then listened as she and Cheery delivered their report about the latest attempt to assassinate the patrician.
"I'm sorry about you and Carrot," Cheery said, once they were leaving.
"It's okay," Angua replied, "we're still going to be friends"
"Oh, yes. Carrot says so." Angua sent Cheery on ahead, as much for an excuse to stop talking about her recent breakup with Carrot as because she wanted to check on the odd smell. She waited under the stairs until the governess slipped out of the cupboard, she was dressed all in black and was, for some reason, carrying a fire poker. She didn't look at all surprised to find someone waiting in the shadows for her, both the wolf and the copper parts of Angua found that suspicious.
Angua finally managed to put her her nose to what it was about Susan's smell that was off, "You're not quite human."
"Caw," said(1) a scruffy raven carrying a bundle of black rags who had just crash landed on the windowsill.
"I'm completely human," Susan replied, "and now, if you'll excuse me, the Death of Rats is trying to get my attention."
The second time Angua met Susan she was chasing an unlicensed thief across the rooftops. The rotting wood gave way underneath her and Angua plunged through. Realising that the human form had not originally been designed for falling through the air Angua panicked and changed into a wolf(2), before she could change back she crashed through the first storey floorboards and landed on the stone floor with a painful sounding thud.
Angua looked up to see a figure wearing a long black cloak and a hood looming over her, the figure was carrying a scythe. Oh.
Wolf language was not well suited to asking the big existential questions but the shade of Sergeant Angua managed to growl something approximate to, 'Am I dead?'
The figure pushed its hood back revealing the face of Young Sam's governess, Susan, her hair still in a sensible governess-like bun(3). She lifted up a lifetimer, 'MAYBE. IT'S ALL A BIT QUANTUM THESE DAYS.'
'So. you're Death?' Angua managed to growl. Wolf speak unfortunately didn't stretch to the subtleties of 'Mister Vimes is going to go spare.'
'ONLY FOR TWO WEEKS A YEAR. PLUS UNFORSEEN EMERGENCIES.'
Angua growled something that Susan took to mean, 'Could you not use that voice, my head hurts.'
"Good news," said Susan, examining the lifetimer, "you're not dead."
In nearly all languages (including wolf) the disgruntled growl that means, 'I'm going to need a drink when all this is over' sound remarkably alike.
The next thing Angua knew Detritus was dragging her out of a pile of rubble by the collar, "Dat you, Sergeant Angua?"
The wolf for, 'Who else is it likely to be?' was also fairly obvious.
(1) In most places a talking raven would be a cause for comment, but this was Ankh-Morpork where some of the ravens living in the tower of art held advanced degrees in mathematics and philosophy.
(2) The canine form is not especially aerodynamic either, but the image of a wolf falling through the air is funnier, it's something to do with the number of legs.
(3) A sensible hairstyle will serve you well in all manner of situations.
After assuring Igor that she felt fine, really(4), Angua was leaving the station to go home when she noticed that not-quite-human smell again. She turned to find Susan leaning against the station wall, still looking annoyingly composed. At least she was no longer holding a scythe.
"I see you're okay," she said.
"Just about," replied Angua.
"Do you still need that drink?"
Susan and Angua were sitting in the Biers, drinks in front of them. Ever since Cheery had introduced Igor to the concept of cocktails all the drinks came with umbrellas in them(5).
"So..." Angua began, this time with the benefit of human vocal cords, "you're Death."
"Only for two weeks a year, and unforeseen emergencies."
"Do I want to know what Death considers an unforeseen emergency?"
"The end of the universe, usually. But this is just my annual two weeks, my grandfather-"
"Who is The Death."
"Yes. He's taken a holiday.
"Where does... You know, never mind." The drinks served in the Biers were not intended to be quaffed, but drinking with the temporary Death after a near death experience meant you could quaff almost anything.
"Does Mister Vimes know?" Angua asked instead.
Susan smirked, "Admitting that you're the granddaughter of Death doesn't really inspire people to leave you in charge of their small children."
"I suppose not. Luckily for me it turns out that werewolves are natural coppers." Angua gestured to Igor for another drink.
Death (temporary holiday cover) and a werewolf (human shaped) walked into a bar and proceeded to get quite merrily drunk(6).
"What I don't understand," Angua said, trying to get at her drink around the umbrella, "is how you manage to be Death and Young Sam's governess?"
"Oh, I can exist outside time. Like this.." Susan took Angua's hands. Angua looked around the Biers, behind the bar Igor had just stopped while polishing a dirty mug with a dirtier rag, a zombie had frozen in the act of retrieving his arm from the floor and old Mrs Gammage had paused with a glass of crème de menthe halfway to her lips.
Angua pulled her hands away and everything snapped back into motion. "And the Death of Rats helps out," Susan finished.
The small bundle of rags which had appeared on the table two drinks ago, and which, when Angua squinted, seemed to contain a skeletal rodent said, SQUEAK.
"He says to say that he moonlights as the Death of Chickens," said Susan. Angua blushed, remembering the carry on at those chicken coops during the last full moon.
(4) The sight of an oncoming Igor had hastened many a persons return to health.
(5) Golfing umbrellas, usually.
(6) Punchlines on a postcard.
The Death of Rats was sitting inside an empty glass while Susan and Angua were arguing about which was worse, being Death's granddaughter or being a werewolf.
"My only living family member is Death."
"My brother is a sheepdog."
"Two weeks every year he just leaves, I never know when, he only tells me the day before when he drops off Binky and the scythe."
"At least you're only Death two weeks a year, I'm a wolf..." thanks to the amount of alcohol it was swimming in Angua's brain failed at elementary mathematics. "A lot more weeks than that. This is why things didn't work out with Carrot."
"Did he have a problem with you being a werewolf?"
"I had a problem with it. I mean I wear a collar-"
"It's a nice collar," Susan said, sincerely.
"And I sleep in a basket one week of every month."
Susan shrugged, "I don't really sleep, part of the Death thing. And at least you don't have to worry about telling young men that if you see each other again in the afterlife you'll be the one holding the scythe."
"What you should do," Susan said, in the tone of voice of someone who was used to having marvellous ideas and didn't expect vast quantities of alcohol to have changed this. "What we should both do, is find somebody else who's not quite human."
Both Susan and Angua looked around at the depressing prospects occupying the Biers.
"I think it's time to call it a night."
"I'm a watchman," Angua said.
"Yes, Sergeant," Susan agreed, "I know."
"And I'm a werewolf."
"I know that too," although given how poorly Angua was managing to coordinate two legs Susan couldn't imagine how she'd manage with four.
"My point," Angua said, "is that you don't need to walk me home."
"I'm not. I think I left Binky around here somewhere."
"The white horse of Death."
Drinking dulled Angua's werewolf senses, which was why she didn't notice the thieves until they were almost on top of them. "Give us your money, now."
Angua was already beginning to transform when Susan said, 'GO AWAY.'
The five thieves and all their assorted weaponry turned and fled. Angua felt the wolf sit up and wag its tail.
Two members of the thieves guild stood and smoked in the shelter of an alleyway. Across the street they watched two young woman kiss against a wall.
"Is that Sergeant Angua?" asked Fingers.
"It is," Thumbs confirmed(7). "You know, I thought about letting my membership in the guild lapse just so she'd arrest me. Do you know who the other woman is?"
"I think I've seen her before."
"When I fell off the roof of the Temple of Small Gods and hit my head."
"Was she kissing Sergeant Angua then?"
"No, she was carrying a scythe."
"I see," said Thumbs, who didn't.
"You know," said Fingers, a thought trickling into his brain, "we are thieves."
"Yes," said Thumbs, not seeing how this was relevant.
"So, we should steal from them."
"Yeah, uh," both thieves creaked their necks trying to follow something fascinating Angua was doing with her hands. "Maybe in a minute."
Angua's door was paw operated, but tonight it didn't seem to be hand operated. "I'll get it," Susan said and walked straight through the wood. Angua heard the lock click, and the door was pulled open.
"You're a useful woman to have-" was all Angua managed to get out before Susan grabbed her by the front of her armour and pulled her inside.
Angua was patrolling Broad Way with Carrot. The first time they'd been on patrol together since, well. They fell easily into the policeman's stroll.
"I hear you've been spending time a lot of time with the Duchess of Sto Helit," Carrot observed.
"Who? Oh, you mean Susan, yes." Once you knew someone was the part-time Death the fact that they were a duchess seamed rather beside point(8).
"She seems nice."
"Hmm," Angua agreed.
"Teaching's a good job," said Carrot. "And she's got a share in a family business, that's important."
Angua looked sharply at Carrot, it never paid to forget that Carrot knew everyone; alive, undead and Death.
"Does she make you happy?" Carrot asked, without breaking stride.
Angua thought for a moment, every full moon she turned into a wolf, and at slightly less regular intervals Susan was called upon to become the anthropomorphic personification of death, but somehow it was working.
"Yes, she does."
Carrot smiled broadly and went back to greeting everyone they passed.
(7) They were called Fingers and and Thumbs because together they made one totally useless thief.
(8) Plus one day Angua would be the Baroness Von Uberwald, that was something depressing to look forward to.