He surveyed the room quickly, surreptitiously, as he entered. Last stop, Ky, he told himself. Make it count. The Prince Serg was indeed a beautiful ship, but it was the company he was here for. And there, on the far side of the room, was the man himself, followed closely by Naismith and Jesek. Glancing at his commander, he surprised a look, unidentifiably hungry, as Aral Vorkosigan turned away to greet some ally or other.
...Interesting. He filed it away for further thought.
They all circulated the room, talking politely, drinking politely, and through some maneuvering, Ky found himself face to face with the great Vorkosigan himself. He managed to come off professionally enough, he thought, by extreme force of will. Vorkosigan surveyed him with piercing grey eyes, thanked him for his words, congratulated him on his victory, nodded at his comment about the Cetagandans' over-preparation and lack of a retreat strategy - and he found some tiny piece of his own war-mind, the part that watched everything all the time, asking where he'd seen those sharp grey eyes before, even as the rest of him was absorbed in the conversation. (Well, most of him. There was another part of his brain engaged in wondering how in all the worlds the man honestly managed to wear his power and brilliance like a cloak. Ky had not imagined that he would actually live up to his reputation in person as well. And the last non-relevant thought, Thank God I'm only gushing internally, at least.)
The connection solidified when they sat down for dinner. Naismith and Vorkosigan were close by, and he took a brief moment to size them both up. Yes - same eyes, and now that he was looking for it, almost the same nose, definitely the same jawline... Ky nearly choked on his wine. What was Vorkosigan's son named, again? It was Miles, wasn't it. No, it couldn't be. ...Could it? There weren't many men running around with Betan and Barrayaran in them, really, but it could be a coincidence - and after Escobar, there were definitely more than there had been. And why would the son of Barrayar's most celebrated military genius, the man whose father had saved the planet from the Cetagandans, the man who had won victory at Komarr and saved his fleet, and Barrayar's honor, in all honesty, at Escobar... why would Aral Vorkosigan's son be so many wormhole jumps from home, exiled to a mercenary fleet, hidden from - no, surely Barrayar's views on mutations wouldn't extend so far - not to him?
Surely Aral Vorkosigan wouldn't hold his only son to his planet's insanity? And if he had... no, none of this made sense. If Vorkosigan saw his son with the Barrayaran eyes, saw only a useless mutie, why meet with him at all? Why come swooping in personally to the rescue? Barrayar hardly lacked for military personnel, he could even have commanded from the backstage and left his emperor to meet with the generals...
There. Watching them both, though surreptitiously, as closely as he dared, the last connection fell into place as Admiral Naismith (he'd been well-behaved for the entire banquet, Ky noted - most unusual behavior for the manic little Admiral) cheerfully answered one of the Vervani general's questions about the Cetagandan ships, and the Dendarii advantage on information. Ky happened to look back towards Vorkosigan's face, and the emotion that passed - only though his eyes - was easily identified indeed. Pride, fierce pride, and equal parts love; the look of a father who had watched his only son swim shark-ridden waters and escape unscathed, through equal parts will and skill. Ky sat back, satisfied. The man guarded his body language quite well, but he could not guard his eyes. He found himself thinking, for a moment, of his own sons, back in Brazil.
As they stood to retreat to their own ships, Ky shook hands with Vorkosigan, smiling, wishing him the best, and one of the Barrayaran fleet officers made an offhand joke a few feet away - intensely impolite, really - that they hoped never to find themselves facing the Dendarii in battle. The sharp amusement in Vorkosigan's face, for less than the blink of an eye, was the only piece he needed to file the question as answered. He grinned, and followed his commanding officer off the Prince Serg.