Work Header

Mother of Two

Work Text:

The first time she sees an image of Mark, she thinks he's Miles.

It's poor quality, a 2D snapshot taken by some ImpSec agent on the streets of London. He's paused on a corner, head in profile, turning to look at something out of frame. He's wearing Miles's uniform—the Barrayaran one, green with red tabs. He has it all just right, the polished boots and the military stance, right down to the slight stoop of his spine.

She feels Aral's anger, tensing beside her, and he says without speaking: He impersonated our son, Cordelia! And she answers, just as firmly and just as silently, He is our son.

Simon explains the rest, concisely but in whole, and as she listens she studies the only image she has of this newborn son of hers, eighteen years too late.

"Thank you, Simon," she says when he is done. "Please pass on new information as it comes in." She pulls her eyes from the holo, finally, and fixes him with a Look. "All of it." He gives a little bow, and Aral walks him to the door.

New reports come in swiftly after that. She reads them once, skimming—more than she can stomach for one day—and then settles herself in front of a holo display and pulls up images of her sons.

For Mark she has a high-res scan, facing the camera dead on, his brows pinched in a slight scowl. Pulled from the Komarrans' files, no doubt.

To match, she finds an ID scan of Miles, chin up, unsmiling but unscowling as well. She prefers the images where he smiles, or runs away through the grass, or laughs at some face Aral is making out of frame. But she doesn't think Mark has many photos like those.

She sees so much of Miles in Mark, of course, and herself and Aral too, hidden away in his DNA. But Miles is not Mark, and Mark is certainly not Miles—she will never make that mistake again. She will make sure of it.

There are differences, if you look. Identical twins are not as identical as they seem at first glance, and what are clones if not twins separated by time. Simply left in the uterine replicator a little too long, perhaps. Mark's cheeks a little rounder, Miles's brows a little higher, the set of their mouths and the lines at their eyes—lines already, both of them, so young—and by the time she's through she no longer understands how one could look at Mark and mistake him for Miles for even a moment.

Her sons, both of them, wholly separate, though perhaps neither entirely whole. Her sons.

Someday, when the shade of Ser Galen had faded enough to let him listen, Mark would know it too.