Close Enough

I always thought the (imagined?) relationship/similarity between Heretofore and Drumknott was very interesting (in Making Money), and worth being explored, but no one had written any fic! I was a little shocked, and so... here is my attempt to mend that situation.

This is one of my few fics without any slash (actually, I think the only one), though, as always, if you have your goggles on, there could be some very subtle hints. Sorry for the huge walls of text, I might have to break this up into chapters.

And, as always, I feed off of reviews.

Everyone knew like minds recognized each other, even if they didn't necessarily get along. That was just how the world worked. Thieves nodded to each others as they passed, just as policemen exchanged tips when they took shelter from the wind. To not do so was to deny the order of the world, and that was almost always met with dire consequences.

But, sometimes, if you were clever enough and quick enough and good enough, you could fool the universe, and thus, everyone else. And that was what happened to Heretofore. He had been a clerk, yes, and he had been a gardener at the palace, but he had managed to convince even himself that he had been a palace clerk. So much so that when he ventured into the palace to sniff out Vetinari's personal effects, the other clerks nodded to him and held open doors. And he had wondered...

Of course, he wasn't actually stupid enough to try and meet Drumknott, no. He was here to make his money and get out quickly, hopefully with all of his limbs attached. So what is Cosmo called his Drumknott? Cosmo Lavish was insane, and Heretofore certainly was not going to fall into an insane man's delusion. That way, heh, madness lay. He thought, smiling to himself. "Why are you laughing, Drumknott?" Asked Cosmo dreamily.

Heretofore cleared his throat. Ever since Cosmo's finger had turned that unnatural blue color and those red streaks had progressed even further up his arm, his grip on reality had become even more tumultuous. "I was just going over my plan, sir, and I am confident that it will, in fact, succeed." He said busily. It was never a good idea to stay still for very long around Cosmo; he had a disconcerting way of pulling you into his orbit and refusing to release you until you were as upside-down and disoriented as he was.

"Good, good..." Cosmos cooed. "Will you be able to act tonight?" He asked softly, turning his head to stare at Heretofore.

The secretary froze. Tonight? That was so... soon! But Cosmo was looking at him, through him, in one of his few lucid moments, and it would not do to find himself off-balance in this man's presence. "Yes sir, tonight would be ideal. Of course, there is the matter of expenses..." He left the sentence to trail delicately. Cosmos merely waved a hand (though, thankfully, not the one with the ring. That would be too much).

And that was how Heretofore found himself in that palace, when he would much rather be in his room, packing and leaving. But he was sure Cranberry was following him, and it was best to keep up appearances, surely, because that meant that Cosmo wouldn't be suspicious, and a happy Cosmo wouldn't think to look for him until he was at least in Genua, surely...

"Sir," A clerk murmured and opened the door. "He's been waiting for almost five minutes," He whispered, adding a slight glare meaningfully. Heretofore only had time to look at the clerk, aghast, before the door shut and he heard a gentle throat clearing.

"Of course, normally I would not tolerate lateness, but I can see that you're new and we have quite a lot of work to complete before midnight, so I'll save the discipline for later, all right? Let's get started." Drumknott stated, sitting at a desk covered in paperwork. "You'll sort and transcribe, while I'll file and make any corrections necessary." He was bent over a fairly thick file, already intent on correcting the information within.

Heretofore gaped. Of course, of course, he had thought about meeting the man (everyone who didn't know Lord Vetinari knew Drumknott was the real power behind the city!), but he had never actually gone beyond the what if... stage. And here he was, in the same room! Expected to sort papers! And... transcribe, whatever that was!

Drumknott looked up, frowning slightly. "Why are you standing there? Did I not make myself clear?"

This was not how his what if situations had gone, not at all, Heretofore thought as he floated over to the desk. He had always imagined running into the other clerk in a pub, maybe, and romancing him with tales of life on the run and confidence tricks, maybe convincing the other man to give him a personal item of Lord Vetinari's and run off with him. Two clerks were better than one, and Heretofore really wasn't a clerk at all. He was just very good at fooling insane, slightly sad, very rich men. And, apparently, everyone else.

He picked up a file and looked at it blankly, unsure what to do with it. "Have you ever thought about.. oh, I don't know, just packing up and leaving?" He asked wistfully, trying to salvage this meeting.

Drumknott's quill stopped for a moment, then returned to its scritch, scritch sound. "Even if I did, I could never do that to the Patrician. He would be sure to replace me with some incompetent clerk who would make a mess of my filing system." He replied. Again, he paused. "Though, yes, those thoughts have crossed my mind. I hear there are traveling accountants..." He coughed, then looked sharply at Heretofore. "But I must say, if you're already fantasizing about leaving, then this is not the job for you."

Heretofore smiled, briefly. "No, it's probably not." He said to himself, wishing, maybe, if things had been different... he could see himself as a palace clerk, working alongside Drumknott in the early morning hours, buried in paper and files, settling down... He blinked, forcing himself to remembers that he had Cosmo Lavish on his tail, an crazy, smart man who would not stop until someone was dead.

"But you have to know that there's more out there!" He hissed, sweeping in closer to Drumknott. "You must know that there are people out there who could appreciate you for what you are, and you could be whatever you wanted, and when people began to judge, you could just... leave! And start over somewhere new! And, every day, there's a different issue to deal with, some new kind of adventure!" He stopped his mouth from speaking any more words, realizing that he was beginning to sound manic (too much time around Cosmo, most likely. The sooner he left, the better). He felt the silence rather than heard it, and looked down to realize his nose was almost touching Drumknott's.

Drumknott glared into Heretofore's eyes for what seemed entirely too long. "I'm very happy where I am, thank you, clerk. And I am not referring to our unusual proximity." Heretofore blushed and backed off. "I believe in would be in your best interest to leave and seek more suitable employment...?" Drumknott said, leaving a space for the other man to supply his name.

Heretofore heard the hesitation, thought about, and decided it was too risky to give the Patrician's personal clerk his name. "Yes, that very good advice, sir, thank you, I think I should take it right now, actually, it's been a pleasure, good-bye!" He said in a rush, peering out of the window and making sure Cranberry was nowhere to be seen, and almost running out of the room.

Drumknott blinked. He put his hand on the bell, thinking to ring for another clerk, but didn't touch it. That unusual man had brought with him latent dreams of adventure that seemed to hover in the room, just an eye blink away... What are you doing? Drumknott scolded himself. He wasn't the kind of man who lost himself in dreams when there was filing to do.

Still, he could do the work himself. It didn't hurt to be surrounded by dreams, after all, as long as they didn't interfere.

I really do like Heretofore, and I feel that he could be the Drumknott to Moist's Vetinari (if that makes any sense). I hope he makes an appearance in Raising Taxes as his assistant (which WILL get written! It will!).