Miles glared at the offensively empty inbox on his study comconsole. He and Duv had had a spectacular argument last night. In public. And Gregor was not cooperating. He had nothing to do! And he had an appointment with his seizure stimulator tonight, so he couldn’t use the Old Vor solution.
There was a polite knock and Pym entered. He looked up hopefully. The armsman’s expression was not promising. “M’lord. Lord Richars is here to see you.”
He couldn’t hold back a grimace. But…as his father’s appointed Voice and voting deputy, he supposed he should see the man. No matter how personally disagreeable Miles found him. He said, “Show him to the ground floor study.”
“Yes, m’lord.” Pym ghosted away. Miles glanced at the comconsole inbox in a faint hope that something urgent had come up. Still empty. He scratched the kitten sitting on the corner of his desk under the chin, then went off, trying to school himself into a blandness equal to Pym’s.
Lord Richars was obviously impatient with even the short delay. He complained about even having to go through this whole business. Miles wasn’t really paying any attention to that. He was coming up with plans to make things up to Duv. Unfortunately, the best plans he could come up with involved things he was expressly forbidden to do under orders from Gregor on behalf of Allegre and the rest of the General Staff. Until Richars accused Ivan of homosexuality, with what the man obviously thought was subtlety.
He arched an eyebrow at Richars, and said, “You appear to have some inconsistency in your argument. If you’re arguing that Lord Dono is a woman, Ivan cannot be homosexual.”
“I believe confusion runs in your family, Lord Vorkosigan,” an incredibly smug smile on his face. Miles wanted to wipe it off. Unfortunately, pragmatics intervened…
Miles suppressed a sigh. He had been expecting this dig sooner or later. “Ivan certainly isn’t confused about those matters. And neither am I, anymore. As all Vorbarr Sultana knows by now, even if most of them are polite enough to not mention it.”
“That’s not what I heard,” Richars said, with attempted slyness. “I hear you’re having a bit on the side with Lord Auditor Vorthys’s widowed niece, and that Komarran found out.” That wasn’t exactly a new course of attack, for all that Richars appeared to think it was. For all that Madame Vorsoisson spent time with Miles and Byerly Vorrutyer because they were, from her perspective, safe men, there were a number of unsavory rumors spreading.
Preparing to stand, Miles said, “First, my relationships with Duv and Madame Vorsoisson are none of your business. Second, I don’t feel that you have any grounds to accuse anyone of improper relationships-“
Before he could finish the statement, Richars had leaped across the table and shoved Miles into the back of his chair. With his legs spread on either side of Miles’s. Idiot.
Miles lifted one leg quickly, then when Richars went to bend over, stood on the chair, lifting him by the collar while Pym burst in. “Let me inform you of something, Lord Richars. I will not be charging you with treason for laying hands on the Emperor’s Chosen Voice. However, this will be reported. Try anything, and you will find yourself in the ImpSec cells. Do I make myself clear?” He dropped the other man into Pym’s waiting arms. “Lord Richars was just leaving, Armsman Pym. Would you please show him to the gate?”
“Yes, m’lord,” Pym said grimly. He- dragged was a more proper verb than escorted, walked, or carried- Richars out.
Watching them go, Miles puzzled over Richars’s reaction. He had been going to finish the sentence with a comment on the Vorrutyer family tendency for atypical relationships. Virtually any other Barrayaran would have assumed that ending. But Richars had seemed to think he was going to accuse him of homosexuality. Or-
He jumped down from the chair. He needed to call the Municipal Guard. Then Duv. Then Gregor, General Allegre, Lords Dono and Byerly Vorrutyer. Madame Vorsoisson as well, if he had read the conversation correctly.
As Miles made his way to the comconsole, he found himself whistling. Even if some of the aspects were unpleasant, he had found something to do. And he might end up taking down Richars soon, which would satisfy more than him.