This story is really really short, but I think about three people asked for it, so what the hell.

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Curtain Call: Commentary
by afrai

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Curtain Call is all Bjorn's fault. Truth. I know I say things like that all the time ("Methos/Aziraphale: all Yonmei's fault! I'd never of wrote bitchy!Elrond fic if it weren't for Nisshoku's EVIL!"), but in this case it's even truer than it usually is. We were talking, yeah, and Bjorn started pulling out all sorts of insane Discworld pairings: Om/Brutha was one of the milder ones. (God!Om. -- At least, I hope so.) So we got around to slashing Death, and Death/Vetinari was one of the options, and I was charmed and thought they could go shopping for curtains.

Bjorn said, No, They Could Not.

I said, They Could Too.

Bjorn said, No, They Couldn't.

And I could just feel it in my head: Death and Vetinari standing in a shop surrounded by terrified attendants, picking out curtains. The cheerful incongruity of it all would be so Death, and I thought how Vetinari would take it in his stride in his Vetinari way, and how Susan would be indignant as a child with a new step-parent and disapproving as a Wodehousian aunt, and it all fit so beautifully, and Bjorn kept goading me . . .

So you see it's all her fault.

HOW ABOUT THIS ONE? said Death. He held up a swathe of black cloth dotted with cheerful white bunnies.

Correction: cheerful white bunny skulls.

It wasn't till I started writing that I knew what sort of curtains Death and Vetinari would be buying, but of course it would be curtains with skulls on. It wouldn't be Vetinari's taste in curtains that was important, 'cos if Death and Vetinari did go curtain-shopping, it would be because Death was approaching his love affair the same way he approached interior decorating. He'd do everything humans seemed to do, and do it just a little wrong, and Vetinari would just stand by and nod when he was required to and let Death have a good time.

They're so cute.

Vetinari doubted the fabric had existed before Death had walked into the shop, but Death had a way of changing reality around him without even noticing it. It came with the job. Life was strange when you were an anthropomorphic personification.

It was even stranger when you were conducting a relationship with one.

I went back and forth on how to phrase Vetinari and Death's love affair the way Vetinari would. I think I got it. "Conducting" is just the word. (Theirloveissotallandpolite!)

"It's . . . unusual," he said carefully. "Where do you plan to hang it?"


"Oblong," said Vetinari.


I just bunged this in for the hell of it. It could be used as a bridge to a West Wing crossover. My motto when writing fic is: bunging in bridges to weird crossovers always makes stories better.

"Indeed?" said Vetinari.

He wondered if all skulls looked this appeasing. It could just be the immovable grin, he supposed, but somehow he doubted it. He'd seen plenty of skulls in his life, but none of them were like Death, although presumably they had encountered him.

I wanted Vetinari to be fluffy and creepy. -- Well, actually I just wanted him to be fluffy, but he wouldn't be Vetinari if he weren't creepy, so I had to put that in too. I like Vetinari in this story: his detachment when thinking about all them dead people, his calm acceptance of the weirdness of the situation, his courtesy. The characterisation works.

That's one of the best things about writing weirdass pairings, really -- working to keep the characters in character, and finding it remarkably easy, because the bizarrity of it all seems to bring out the themness of them. Fun!

"Let's keep looking," he said diplomatically. "These matters require careful consideration."

Death turned back to the fabrics, which suddenly looked very black and very dotted with skulls. He would probably have to contract a new housekeeper again, Vetinari thought. As if the bedroom incident hadn't been bad enough . . . .

This is the one reference you'll see to Death and Vetinari having sex in this story. Blink and you miss it.

"How is your granddaughter?" said Vetinari.

SUSAN? Death paused in his search for gruesomely cheerful textiles. SHE IS . . . DIFFICULT.

One day I'm going to write a Death/Vetinari story in which they have a courteous, awkward meal with Susan, and call it Tea With Susan.

"I understand descendants usually are," said Vetinari.


I don't much like Susan. She's the least interesting of the Discworld characters to me. But miraculously, she becomes incredibly fun when you toss Death/Vetinari at her, even when she isn't there. Weirdass pairings are cool like that.

Vetinari made a polite noise, indicative of understanding and sympathy.

"Have you made your choice?" he said. "I do not wish to hurry you, but I have a meeting at eleven o'clock . . . ."

YES. Death held up another swathe of black fabric, looking hopeful. It was exactly the same as the first he'd chosen, except the skulls looked like bird skulls now. Birds that had been little yellow tweety balls of fluff in life, if Vetinari was any judge. Death had a curiously penetrating taste in these matters, although it usually penetrated exactly the wrong place.

This is the kind of sentence that makes you wonder if you should giggle, because it sounds sort of dirty, but it doesn't actually work as innuendo. I didn't do it on purpose, really; it is because my sentence construction is something awful. So you can do with it what you will, and I'll pretend I meant to inspire that reaction.

"A striking choice," said Vetinari.


"The staff will be impressed," said Vetinari. He made a mental note to remind his secretary to advertise for new help. If the secretary was still around, that is.

Vetinari calmly accepts the resignation of most of his staff for Death! THEIRLOVEISSOTRUE!

Okay, so I made it up. Doesn't mean it didn't happen in some really, really weird universe.

"We'll take this one," he said to the salesgirl hovering a few yards away, looking like she had been seriously contemplating her mortality in the last half an hour. Vetinari tended to have that effect on people. Death, on the other hand, merely struck them as someone very tall, very thin, and very polite. The black robes didn't even register.

Vetinari enjoyed the irony.

So do I. Another way in which this pairing works like whoa.

"We should do this more often," he said to Death.

Death didn't beam, but his grin was a little shinier than it was a moment ago.

THIS WAS . . . FUN, he said, with the uncertain intonation of a man speaking a foreign language. He bent.

There was a press of cool bone against Vetinari's forehead, and then Death was gone.

That, of course, was Death's attempt at a kiss. Like I told you, fluffy.

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