Книга Komarr. Содержание - CHAPTER NINE
"I'll let you know by tomorrow morning," Miles promised.
"I need to stop by my own office and tend to some routine matters," said Tuomonen. "Would you care to accompany me, my Lord Auditor?"
So you can guard me at your convenience? "I still want to potter around here a bit. There's something . . . something that's bothering me, and I haven't figured out what it is yet. Though I would like a chance to talk to the Professor on a secured channel before the evening is out."
"Perhaps, when you're ready to leave, you could call me and I can send one of my men to escort you."
Miles considered refusing this ingenuous offer, but on the other hand, they could swing by the Vorsoissons' apartment and collect Miles's clothes on the return trip; Tuomonen would have his security, and Miles would have a minion to carry his luggage, a win-win scenario. And having the guard in tow would give Miles an excuse not to linger. "All right."
Tuomonen, partially satisfied, nodded and took himself off. Miles turned his attention to the next layer of Venier's corn-console. Who knew, maybe there would be another joke list.
Ekaterin finished folding the last of Lord Vorkosigan's clothing into his travel bag, rather more carefully than their owner was wont to, judging from the stirred appearance of the layers beneath. She sealed his toiletries case and fitted it in, then the odd, gel-padded case containing that peculiar medical-looking device. She trusted it wasn't some sort of ImpSec secret weapon.
Vorkosigan's war story of his Sergeant Beatrice burned in Ekaterin's mind, as the marks on her wrists seemed to burn. O fortunate man, that his missed grasp had passed in a fraction of a second. What if he had had years to think about it first? Hours to calculate the masses and forces and the true arc of descent? Would it have been cowardice or courage to let go of a comrade he could not possibly have saved, to save himself at least? He'd had a command, he'd had responsibilities to others, too. How much would it have cost you, Captain Vorkosigan, to have opened your hands and deliberately let go?
She closed the bag and glanced at her chrono. Getting Nikolai settled at his friend's house "for overnight"—that first, before anything else—had taken longer than she'd planned, as had getting the rental company to come collect their grav-bed. Lord Vorkosigan had talked about removing to a hotel this evening, but done nothing toward it. When he returned with Tien, to find no dinner and his bed gone and his bags packed and waiting in the hall, surely he would take the hint and decamp at once. Their good-bye would be formal and permanent, and above all, brief. She was almost out of time and had not even begun on her own things.
She dragged Vorkosigan's bag to the vestibule and returned her workroom, staring around at the seedlings and cuttings, lights and equipment. It was impossible to pack all that in bag she could carry. Another garden was going to be abandoned. At least they were getting smaller and smaller. She'd once wanted to cultivate her marriage like a garden; one of the legendary great Vor parks that people came from districts away to admire for color and beauty through the changing seasons, the sort that took decades to reach full fruition, growing richer and more complex each year. When all other desires had died, shreds of that ambition still lingered, to tempt her with, If only I try one more time. . . . Her lips twisted in bleak derision. Time to admit she had a black thumb for marriage. Plow it under, surface it with concrete, and be done.
She began as a minimum gesture to pull her library off the wall and fit it into a box. The urge to cram a few of her things hastily into some shopping bag and flee before Tien returned as strong. But sooner or later, she would have to face him. Because of Nikki, there would have to be negotiations, formal plans, eventually legal petitions, the uncertainty of which made her sick to her stomach. But she had been years coming to this moment. If she could not do this now, when her anger was high, how could she find the strength to face the rest in colder blood?
She walked through the apartment, staring at the objects of her life. They were few enough; the major furnishings had all come with the place and would stay with the place. Her spasmodic efforts at decoration, at creating some semblance of a Barrayaran home, the hours of work—it was like deciding what to grab in a fire, only slower. Nothing. Let it all burn. The sole awkward exception was her great-aunt's bonsai'd skellytum. It was her one memento of her life before Tien, and it was in the nature of a sacred trust to the dead. Keeping something that foolish and ugly alive for seventy and more years . . . well, it was a typical Vor woman's job. She smiled bitterly, and brought it off the balcony into the kitchen, and began to look around for some way to transit it. At the sound of the hall door opening, she caught her breath, and schooled her features to as little expression as possible.
"Kat?" Tien ducked into the kitchen and stared around, "Where's dinner?"
My first question would have been, Where's Nikolai? I wonder how long it will take that thought to come to him. "Where is Lord Vorkosigan?"
"He stayed on at the office. He'll be along later, he said, to take his things away."
"Oh." She realized then that some tiny part of her had been hoping to conduct the impending conversation while Vorkosigan was still finishing up in her workroom or something; his presence providing some margin of safety, of social restraint upon Tien. Maybe it was better this way. "Sit down, Tien. I have to talk with you."
He raised dubious brows, but sat at the head of the table, around to her left. She would have preferred to have him opposite her.
"I am leaving you tonight."
"What?" His astonishment appeared genuine. "Why?"
She hesitated, reluctant to be drawn into argument. "I suppose . . . because I have come to the end of myself." Only now, looking back over the long draining years, did she become aware of how much of her there had been to use up. No wonder it had taken so long. All gone now.
"Why . . . why now?" At least he didn't say, You must be joking. "I don't understand, Kat." She could see him begin to grope, not toward understanding, but away from it, as far away as possible. "Is it the Vorzohn's Dystrophy? Damn, I knew—"
"Don't be stupid, Tien. If that was the issue, I'd have left years ago. I took oath to you in sickness and health."
He frowned and sat back, his brows lowering. "Is there someone else? There's someone else, isn't there!"
"I'm sure you wish there were. Because then it would be because of them, and not because of you." Her voice was level, utterly flat. Her stomach churned.
He was obviously shocked, and beginning to shake a little. "This is madness. I don't understand."
"I have nothing more to say." She began to rise, wishing nothing more than to be gone at once, away from him. You could have done this over the comconsole, you know.
No. I took my oath in the flesh. I will break it to pieces in the same way.
He rose with her, and his hand closed over hers, gripping it, stopping her. "There's more to it."
"You would know more about that than I would, Tien." He hesitated now, beginning, she thought, to be really afraid. This might not be any safer for her. He's never hit me yet, I'll give him that much credit. Part of her almost wished he had. Then there would have been clarity, not this endless muddle. "What do you mean?"
"Let go of me."
She considered his hand on hers, tight but not grinding. But still much stronger than her own. He was half a head taller and outweighed her by thirty kilos. She did not feel as much physical fear as she had thought she would. She was too numb, perhaps. She raised her face to his. Her voice grew edged. "Let go of me."