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A Place in the Universe

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There were places where they could go. Granted, most of them were off-world. Beta Colony, obviously. An ever-increasing number of Barrayar's surplus men vanished every year to go walk arm in arm under the Betan sun. Jackson's Whole was an option for the wealthy: all perversions were available there for cash up front. Miles had told Ivan, during an evening of pleasant drunken come-uppance, about the all-male planet of Athos. Miles had found it amusing and hard to resist the misnomer Pathos. Ivan laughed because he knew he was supposed to and vowed to never, never let Miles find out.


There are places we could go, Ivan said, the conversation circling like the orbit of Byerly's finger around his navel.

No. Byerly sounded bored. I'll not run away and abandon everything I am.

Ivan pressed his face into the soft skin where neck met shoulder and breathed in comfort.

It's all right, Byerly said, his hand sliding down. They don't know about us.

I want you to be safe.

And I want to be safe, believe me. But you can't blame me if others have different ideas.

Ivan growled and rolled to cover Byerly, who raised an eyebrow in sardonic salute.


There was only one place he could go, and a call ensured that Aunt Cordelia would meet him. Alone. She swept him into the library and sat down opposite him with a look of anticipation. He started his story backwards because to start at the other end would mean starting with sex. The story wasn't about sex; it was something deeper-rooted.

What do you do, he said, when you know you should go… but you can't?

You have to make the place where you are… become a place where you belong, she said, slowly.

Even Barrayar…

She smiled. Especially Barrayar.