The Attraction of Opposites


Sam Vimes was tired. He often was. Duking was tough work, what with the ermine and the annoyance. And the Patrician. Plus the Watch duties, which were actually hard work, Proper Work, satisfying work. Tiring, in the way that worthwhile things tended to be. He wanted to sleep.

But now was not the time, and that was not the issue at hand. The issue at hand was watching him, one brow raised. She appeared to be a human – small, blonde, pleasantly athletic. But the dent she'd put into Detritus suggested otherwise. She had to be undead, surely? Or magic. Vimes hated magic. It made life so complex. Reports always looked so very unlikely when you added in, "Then the accused clicked her fingers and became a supercharged vole in a fetching shade of mauve." Unauthorised magic meant dealing with the wizards too. Urgh.

This was a particularly complex situation, on account of the accused not actually being under arrest, on account of none of his men (including the women, the werewolf, the trolls, and even Captain Carrot) having got close enough to make an arrest. She had eventually said, according to the report, "Guys, this is getting tedious. I get that you're mad for some reason. Wanna take me to your leader so we can fix this?" When this happened, and especially when the person in question was a small skinny girl in very tight trousers, Vimes tended to be cautious.

Still, duty called. "Right miss. Where were we? You say you're a salaried Assassin-"

"I said Slayer. I meant Slayer. It's a totally different vibe. And outfits."

"You kill on command. Like an assassin."

"I kill the bad guys. Non-human bad guys. It's a whole destiny thing."

"And you're from another world. Allegedly."

"Yeah. There was a thing with a wish and a portal and a comment about Flat Earth and… yeah. I'm pretty sure the guys are working on getting me back any day now…" For the first time, she looked a little forlorn. "But it's been two weeks, and I thought I could do some good while I was here."

"Well, Miss-" Vimes was refusing to use the absurd alias she was using. (Buffy indeed. She must think they were fools.). "Here in Ankh-Morpork, we try to live in harmony with the non-human races. We welcome them in the Watch, among other things. We have dwarves. Werewolves. Trolls. Vamp-"

"Yeah," said the girl. "About that vampire thing. I think I mentioned the name's Buffy. The Vampire Slayer."

"And I mentioned that here we have vampires who don't drink blood."

The girl's eyes narrowed. "Do they have souls?"

"That's a question I try not to ask anyone." (Vimes wasn't entirely sure he believed in souls. You couldn't eat one or arrest one, so what were they for?)

The girl looked incredulous. "So, you're happy living amid a bunch of soulless bloodsucking fiends? Seriously? This dimension is crazy."

Vimes swallowed down his immediate agreement. Happy was not the word for his feelings on the subject. However, "If they'll play our game, we'll play theirs. And this man was playing the game all right. Do you know who it was that you killed?"

She shrugged. "Didn't have a chance to get acquainted."

Vimes tipped a bag of dust onto the floor of the cell. "Would you like to contribute to resuscitating him, or shall I get some steak from the kitchens?"

He'd finally managed to surprise the girl. "You want him to live? You can make him live again?"

"His name was Otto Ladislaz Edwigus Alfredus Ernst Leopold Frederick Casimir von Chriek. He's an iconographer on the Ankh-Morpork Times. I don't love the press, but he's a decent sort, only wants to make beautiful pictures. Very much a Black Ribboner, too."

It took a long explanation, but to do the girl justice she did listen as Vimes explained. And she asked for a needle and revived Otto herself, though she kept him at stake-point till she was satisfied he wasn't dangerous. Luckily, Otto's non-blood obsessions were transparently genuine.

Eventually, the girl sighed, and turned back to Vimes. "Okay, I get it. Different strokes for dimensionally-different folks. I promise I won't try to kill vampires who wear black ribbons and don’t try to eat people. But if I'm gonna be stuck here for a while, d'you think you might be able to work with me?"

"Um," said Vimes, who had not been expecting this. She was super strong, which would be useful. On the other hand, he'd thought she was mad. But he wasn't too sure about that now. She might be telling the truth, in fact, and she'd certainly be safer to have on his side.

Which is how Buffy Summers came to serve eight months in the Ankh-Morpork Watch, and how the flying kick came to be one of the preferred manoeuvres among the younger, bendier Watchmen. (Until the unfortunate accident, of course.) Vimes was almost sorry when she left.

The End