Cordelia first sees him standing at the edge of the construction site, surrounded by stone and dust and machinery on all sides. He’s leaning back against the fence, giving orders into his communicator as he watches the men raising massive blocks of white stone into position high above them.
"Excuse me," she says politely. "I seem to be lost. Could you tell me the way to the spaceport?"
He turns around, and she notices the way his sharp grey eyes take her in with one swift glance; her tangled red hair, the tan survey uniform, the lieutenant's insignia on her shoulders. She reads his badge: Vorkosigan, A. Something about that name seems familiar, but she can’t quite place it.
He begins to give her directions, and she is surprised; of all the accents one might expect to hear in the Vervani capital, Barrayaran is the last.
And then it clicks.
"I know who you are," she blurts out. "Vorkosigan, the architect who built the Minchenko Auditorium at Graf Station."
His stern face lights up in a sudden smile, and the effect is so breathtaking that Cordelia finds herself smiling back without meaning to. "You've seen it?" he asks, obviously delighted.
"Our ship stopped there a month ago," she explains, offering her hand. “It was magnificent."
The hand that engulfs hers is strong and firm and callused, and she decides that he’s the sort of architect who’s used to taking tools in his own hands. "It's a pleasure to meet you, lieutenant," he says, still smiling.
And then before Cordelia knows it she’s standing in the middle of the half-constructed Vervani museum of modern art, listening while he explains his work, watching the ornate facade take shape in his shining eyes as he describes it to her in words that border on poetry. He shows her the plans and she can’t help but gasp out loud, and he seems absurdly pleased by her reaction, like a little boy receiving an unexpected gift.
"Perhaps," he says shyly, "if your ship ever visits Vorbarr Sultana, you might call on me at Vorkosigan House. I could show you some of my designs."
“Perhaps,” she answers, knowing only too well how remote the chances of a Betan Survey ship visiting Barrayar are. And yet something in his hopeful smile makes her wish it was different.
Perhaps, she thinks, she might walk this way again tomorrow.