Miles is really, really jealous of Ivan and his splendid looks and physical health. To think – what couldn’t Miles do if he had a body like Ivan’s! So he unabashedly takes pleasure from dragging Ivan into uncomfortable situations.
Ivan always knows where he least wants to be. More often than not, that’s exactly wherever Miles leads him.
All badgering aside, Miles remembers just whose doggedness saved him from execution. Ivan, somehow, is the one Miles can depend on most out of everyone.
If anything were to happen to Miles Ivan would not have enough personal honour left to keep living.
Miles is insane. Gregor knows it, but since his insanity is employable in the service of Barrayar, giving him leeway to be as insane as he needs and see what happens is the way forward.
Gregor must act as Miles’ anchor when no one else can. Exasperation and appearances aside, though, in a pinch it also holds the other way around.
Admiral Naismith showed Gregor his true self on a starship. A runaway emperor, Gregor had looked into the abyss and Miles Vorkosigan looked back.
The sight was infinitely better than too many other relatives he could have found there.
Both Ivan and Gregor come close – never close enough – to being Aral Vorkosigan’s sons. They are the fatherless sons who live constantly under Alys Vorpatril’s thumb. Even when Gregor had turned away from Aral he’d respected Lady Alys.
Lord Ivan is a very simple man. The Emperor has little reason to allow himself any deeper thoughts about it. Except: If Ivan excels as anything, it’s at sensing trouble. Flighty Ivan might never be thought to emerge where he is needed, but he is always there when it counts.
Gregor is the standard that Ivan can’t ever allow himself to reach.
On paper, Ivan and Miles are the most diehard would-be contestants to Gregor’s throne after Aral himself. In actuality they will each in their own way guard Gregor’s back like nobody else will. Like nobody else can.
They will do it. They have done.
It hardly looks like an impenetrable united front with Miles roving manic, Ivan slouching half-bored, half-panicked and longing to be anywhere else, with Gregor as serene as he is only now learning how to be.
Enemies of any one man beware. There are very few shapes a threat can take that none of them will see.