Challenge: rat_jam promptathon: "Miles/Gregor, hiding"
Characters: Miles and Gregor
Length: Comment fic, 700 words
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Lois McMaster Bujold. Go buy her books.
Imperial Auditor Vorkosigan paced in front of a large piece of paper covered with diagrams, notes, and contingency plans. Barrayaran terrorists still seemed the most likely suspects, but Cetaganadan operatives or Komarran revolutionaries might try to kidnap or control the Emperor of Barrayar.
He needed fresh information. Gregor had ordered the cameras in his quarters disabled years ago, but men were inserting sensors now. The comset beeped. Miles smacked the receive button, expecting a report.
Gregor's voice jerked him towards the screen. "What can I do for you tonight, Miles?"
"Gregor?" Miles studied the image of his Emperor and friend. Gregor appeared unharmed, a dark brown robe gaping open across his bare chest. If he was being coerced, there was no visible sign of it.
"I need to report to you on the Torren Peaks project, Sire. Can we meet tonight?" 'Torren Peaks' was code for Emperor under duress.
Gregor's forehead wrinkled. "I'm fine, Miles. Or at least I was until you started spewing code words at me. Is there something wrong?"
The pieces of the puzzle started rearranging themselves into a different scenario. One that was less menacing, but far more embarrassing. "You didn't answer when I called earlier, and your assistant wouldn't put me through. You always take my calls!"
Gregor shrugged, a hint of apology in his voice. "I'm married now."
Miles nodded. "I know. I was there." He waited for Gregor to explain.
Gregor waited, too. A flush slowly spread across his face and down his throat. "We were… busy," he finally hissed as he clutched his robe closed. "We just wanted a night together, man and wife instead of Emperor and Empress. Was that too much to ask?" His voice was angry, but something in Gregor's eyes suggested that, yes, it had been too much to ask, and he knew it.
Miles felt his own face heat. "I'm sorry," he muttered. "When you didn't answer, I assumed…" Miles gestured broadly, allowing a man orphaned by the violence of Barrayaran politics to fill in the gaps.
Gregor buried his head in his hands and groaned quietly. "Has it ever occurred to you that you may be a bit paranoid?"
"Sometimes," Miles admitted, "but Mother assures me that it’s a perfectly rational response to Barrayaran stimuli."
Gregor chuckled dryly and emerged from his hands, looking calmer. "Alright. How many people now believe that I'm in imminent danger?"
"Well, I contacted Ivan first." Gregor nodded. "When he didn't have any information, I called on General Allegre. His agents and analysts are involved. I also had the head of Imperial Residence security scramble his men in case anyone tried to remove you from your quarters."
"Well, I suppose it’s a good thing that I called when I did." Gregor paused a moment. Miles watched possibilities flicker behind his eyes. "Give it another half hour, observe everyone's reactions, and then declare the drill a resounding success. Or a horrible failure. You decide."
Miles smiled. "Letting me off the hook?"
"Well, I can't have people thinking that my newest Imperial Auditor is twitchy, can I?"
Miles allowed himself a good, full-body twitch. Gregor coughed behind his hand. "Luckily they don't know you as well as I do. Just be sure you call off the commando teams," he joked.
Miles was sure nothing showed on his face, but Gregor stiffened. "Miles – commando teams?" he demanded incredulously.
"No, I didn't request any Imp Sec teams," Miles denied.
Gregor shook his head. "You had me worried for a moment there."
The secure message Miles had sent to Quinn requesting Sergeant Taura's strike team was still in Komarran space. It wasn't too late to intercept it.
"So, why did you com me in the first place?" Gregor asked.
"Oh, it can wait until tomorrow. Say hello to Laisa for me?"
Gregor's face relaxed into a fond smile. "I will. Goodnight, Miles."
"Sleep well, Gregor," he responded, hitting the disconnect button.
Miles' report should be meatier by then. Today he'd just had suspicions about which conservative Barrayaran terrorist groups were being leaked information from inside Imp Sec. Tomorrow he'd know which groups had displayed increased com traffic when Miles kicked the hornet's nest.