. . . should have lied about the stork thing, would have been easier in the long run. In any case, I declare this solidly your problem now, by force of astrography; I've never been so glad to be on Komarr with all of you at home. You'll do beautifully, and if you don't it's never too late to chain her up in the dungeon until she's thirty. Though it has just occurred to me that we don't have anything that qualifies as a proper dungeon anymore – brightly lit blocks of sterilized cells just don't have the same effect. So it really is true – your reign is a degradation of all that is proper and . . .
. . . or just set it on fire. Let me know. Oh, also, I would like to take this moment to exercise my undo influence over you and assert that anything Ambassador Hartley may or may not say about what I may or may not have allegedly said to President Johannes is a wild exaggeration. He's getting on, good old Hartley, and his ears aren't what they used to be. Is it any wonder that when I said to Johannes that if he took a step as drastic as revoking the transit permits we'd just have to "muck through," he heard something else?
Besides, no one else was within hearing distance, anyway, so I don't know what he's squawking about.
. . . five months, but I suppose it's naïve to expect it to be any easier. I miss him more than I ever expected, and I expected a lot. And there's regret, of course, for the times we fought, and more for the strain I put between you. I say this now because you are many wormholes away and can't protest. I know I did that, but I can see now that we both loved you to the exclusion of all reason. I understood him perfectly years ago, even if we differed on what we wanted for you. I'm told that happens with fathers.
And that's the greatest loss for me, I think, aside from seeing you grieve. Anything I have ever managed to learn about being a good father came from watching him with you. I always knew I couldn't go far wrong with that guide, knowing as I do the extraordinary results he produced. At least I got to tell him so last fall. You were away, and I had pretty well convinced myself that it was over and you weren't going to come home to me – that you shouldn't. He did a lot of hovering, and the two of us got properly and Vorishly drunk one night and compared mistakes. The big kind, the ones that leave a great smoking hole in the middle of your life and keep dropping fallout for years after. We're still in the fallout, you and me, no matter how hard you insist otherwise. So maybe I should save the rest of the story until we're at least on the same planet, because I want to tell you one of the lesser known miracles of Aral Vorkosigan, and I should do that in person.
. . . the most pigheaded, exasperating, stubborn, impetuous, obnoxious brat I have had the towering displeasure to share genes with. We haven't managed to carry on a civil conversation since the minute you left. Aral and I manage just fine – I still maintain that kid could get along comfortably with a Cetagandan attack squad (pause to pray we will never find out). Aral thinks a great deal more than he says – who'd he get that from, hmm? – so he can be disconcerting sometimes, but at least he and I are speaking the same language. Unlike someone I could name, who might as well be miming for all I can figure what's going on in his head. He was planning on sneaking his school crowd into the armory, stealing a ground-to-air grenade launcher, and setting up on the roof to shoot at a fleet of junkyard aircars he got from he-won't-say-where programmed to fly strafing runs on autopilot. I pointed out that ImpSec was likely to misinterpret this as a planetary invasion, and he said that was half the fun. Your son is a maniac with the sort of instinct for mayhem that should either be surgically excised or applied to productive channels before he takes up starting riots as a diverting hobby. If the Council of Counts knew exactly what sort of loose cannon will be inheriting from you, they'd abolish the Imperium on the spot and start a cooperative organic farming state. I swear, Gregor, if . . .