"That was an interesting conversation discussion at Count Vorgren's reception last night," said John as he and Sherlock entered their flat, "I didn't realize that some people actually though that Dagoola IV was a Barrayaran operation."
"Mycroft admitted he had no part in it," said Sherlock, "Although he admitted it was an impressive operation."
"Lord Vorkosigan apparently thought so. He and Lord Vorplade had quite the debate on the skills of the Admiral of the mercenary outfit-Vorplade though it was pure luck but Vorkosigan insisted it was skill and talent."
"Well of course he would," said Sherlock, with exaggerated patience, "That's because he's Admiral Naismith."
John blinked. "What?"
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Honestly John, weren't you paying attention the first time?"
"Yes-look-I mean," John spluttered. Finally he took a deep breath and began again. "Sherlock, you can't go around accusing Vor Lords of being galactic mercenaries."
Especially not High Vor who happen to be foster brother to the Emperor.
"I am not accusing. I am simply stating the facts, which in this case are quite obvious."
"Look," said John, as patiently as he could. "You're brilliant Sherlock, really. The way that you deduced Vortragan was selling information to the Escobarans because of a blank plastic flimsy and a fake limp was amazing. As was the way you caught the last conspirator from the Glenmarkin incident, going only by his shoe size and love of Betan pastries. But there is such a thing as going too far-even for you- and this is it."
Sherlock threw up his hands in exasperation. "You're as blind as the rest of them John. You look, but you don't see."
John crossed his arms in front of him. That was the third time this week he had heard that particular phrase of Sherlock's and he was getting rather sick of it. "Right then. Explain it to me. What aren't I seeing?"
Sherlock looked terribly satisfied at being given a chance to explain his reasoning, so much so that John immediately regretted his decision.
"Firstly is the most obvious point of correlation," began Sherlock. "The appearance. While there are no confirmed holos of Admiral Naismith, there are a remarkable amount of descriptions of him floating about if you know where to ask-"
"Lestrade?" asked John, somewhat apprehensively. The ImpSec Colonel was a friend of theirs, and one of the few people who could stand dealing with Sherlock. John didn't want him risking his job (and his freedom) so Sherlock could indulge his curiosity. Not even the influence of the Vorholmes family would save him if he were caught passing classified information by Captain Illyan.
Sherlock looked a little put out. "No, he wouldn't talk about him. Neither would Donovan, and Dimmok only muttered something about making sure the two of us never met."
"Oh God," said John, as the unwelcome image of the manic Admiral and Sherlock working together sprang into his mind. The end result would either be the destruction of the planet, or the expansion of the empire.
"As I was saying," continued Sherlock crisply, ignoring Johns comment to the best of his ability, "All the reports say that the Admiral is uncommonly short and dark haired, with an overlarge head and a twisted spine. An unusual appearance which matches that of Lord Vorkorsigan's. Furthermore, the Admiral goes by Naismith, which is Lord Vorkosigan's middle name, and the maiden name of the Countess-his-mother."
"So?" asks John. "That doesn't prove anything. Naismith could easily be a clone of Lord Vorkosigan. That's probably even more likely seeing as he's using part of his progenitor's name. It's too obvious. No one would ever use their own name for an undercover identity like that."
"Honestly John!" Sherlock threw up his hands and began to stalk around the room. "Don't you read anymore? And I don't mean those rubbish old earth historical adventure novels you're so fond of, medical journals"
"I don't see what that has to do with-"
"Soltoxin gas, what his mother was attacked with and what caused his deformations- is a teratogenic, not a mutagen. His genome is clean. Any sample used to produce a clone would produce someone that looked more our cousin."
"You're related?" asked John, suddenly very afraid.
"No, but we share a mutual cousin, Ivan Vorpatril."
"You're related to that-idiot-Ivan?" asked John incredulously. It took a good deal of effort to refrain from laughing, but he managed to keep a straight face. Ivan Vorpatril was infamous in certain circles in the capital.
Sherlock pretended not to notice.
"His mother, Lady Alys, is my mother's sister. She married Padma Vorpatril, and my mother married Jean Vorholmes. They remained close, and would even hold family reunions-" John could practically hear the disdain in Sherlock's voice "- every once in a while when I was young."
"I take it you weren't terribly fond of those?"
"They were dull. Mycroft would go off on his own, and Ivan would follow me around and try to talk to me about Lord Vorthalia the Bold or lightflighers."
John smiled at that mental image. It was nice to think of Sherlock as being the one pestered for once, instead of the other way around.
"As I was saying", said Sherlock, clearly annoyed that the conversation had gotten so far off track from his deductions, " a clone would look like Ivan."
"Not necessarily," interjected John. He was an army medic, not a cosmetic surgeon, but he still knew some basic details. "The Jacksonians are rather nasty body sculptures. They could easily deal with that sort of things. So could the Cetagandas for that matter. All it would take would be a series of specialized surgeries as the clone was growing up."
"True, but a clone would have an undamaged metabolism, and therefore gain weight much faster than his counterpart," argued Sherlock.
"While I may not have read the reports on Soltoxian gas from over twenty years ago, I do still remember basic medical facts," said John, slightly testily. "A metabolism can easily be controlled by a variety of chemical treatments. That's what your brother does, you realize."
"Really," said Sherlock, his face lighting up with this unexpected bit of information, "I shall have to bother him about that sometime."
John wished him all the best with that. Mycroft Vorholmes was aloof and all-knowing, almost to the degree of Captain Illyan, and far more annoying. John was just glad that he had decided to go into politics, instead of the military. Mycroft was bad enough on the Council of Ministers, John shuddered to think of what he'd be like in ImpSec.
"Furthermore," Sherlock continued, "his job as a courier officer gives him the perfect cover from which to launch his missions."
"Hang on," said John, instantly a little suspicious, "How do you know he's a courier officer? You didn't even realize his father was Prime Minister until five years after the Regency."
"I observe, John," said Sherlock with a roll of his eyes. "He wears the Horus Eyes on his collar, so he is obviously in ImpSec, but his skin is the paper white of someone who spends the majority of his time on a spaceship."
John nodded in agreement. That much at least was obvious, even to him.
"He has a new Betan style comlink," Sherlock continued, "which only came out last month. As per typical Betan policy it won't be on sale in the greater Nexus until next year. Therefore, he must have picked it up there. None of our fleet ships have been near Beta Colony recently, so he can't have been serving as an ImpSec liaison on one of those. Therefore, he is a courier officer, at least in name."
"Because heaven forbid he went there on vacation," muttered John. He could really use a vacation himself right now. "Or that his Grandmother sent him one as a present. She is Betan you know."
Sherlock gave him a look. Having lived with him for near on five years, John was able to translate this one as the you-are-missing-something-blindingly-obvious- John-but-I-will-refrain-from-saying-so-to-be-polite-but-if-you-don't-ask-what-I-will-be-annoyed look.
John took the bait. "Alright. What did I get wrong?"
"While his grandmother is at least moderately wealthy by Barrayarn standards, there would be no way she would pay to ship a small item like a comlink over to Barrayar. Freight costs are extravagant if not done in bulk. The item is much too frivolous to be shipped to a nearby Barrayan embassy to be picked up there, so it must have been purchased on site."
"So why couldn't Lord Vorkosigan have bought it while on leave?" asked John, giving his friend the straight line he wanted to expound on his deductions.
"The journey from Beta Colony is at least three weeks. Vorkosigan has been on Barrayar for at least a week, judging by his slight tan, and intends to stay at least a week more, since he invited Lord Vorpatril to his mother's birthday party. That makes at least five weeks, assuming his leave began on Beta, and ImpSec rarely allows for their junior officers to use that much leave at once, even with Vor privilege in play."
"Any other brilliant observations?" Better to get it all out now, or Sherlock would be sulking for the rest of the night.
"His posture and altitude all show an air of command. He expects to be listened too. When Vorplade interrupted him, he was irritated."
John sighed. "Most people are annoyed when someone starts talking over them, Sherlock."
"Furthermore," Sherlock continued, vexed at the interruption and failing to note the irony, "during the conversation his eyes would often flick to the side, and his right hand would twitch. These are symptoms typical of someone with a long exposure to a command helmet."
John opened his mouth to speak, and then closed it again.
"Command helmets are navigated by small gestures and eye movements, John," explained Sherlock.
"I know that," snapped John irritably. "I've used one. Multiple times. I was even wearing one, as part of my space armor, in the Hegen Hub, when I got hit by the shrapnel when our ship took plasma fire. It's the reason I didn't die of rapid depressurization before they could pull me out."
"So why the confusion?" asked Sherlock, "You know about those little gestures. I've even seen you make them. Even that terrible Betan therapist you're seeing notices them."
John paused, trying to think of the best way to phrase it, without saying something insulting about the Prime Minister's son that Sherlock would inevitably repeat later, at the worst possible time. His friend was brilliant, but terrifyingly rude. John was sure that the only reason he had managed to avoid being detained for insulting some Vor lording was because Shelock was High Vor. Either that, or the fact that his brother Mycroft pretty much controlled the Council of Ministers.
"Lord Vorkosigan is known to have occasional involuntary movements," John said at last, "His nervous system was…affected in the attack on his mother when he was a fetus."
"That much is obvious, John," said Sherlock. "The way is chin jerks is characteristic of fetal nerve damage. His eye twitches and hand gestures, however, are not."
"Right," said John pushing himself out of his chair, "That was an interesting theory, Sherlock. Right now though, I'm going out for some milk, since you used up the last in that experiment yesterday about rates of decay."
Sherlock waved a hand. "Fine."
John left the apartment and took the lift tube down to the ground floor. He exited the building, and turned left, towards the little grocery store at the end of the road. He kept walking past the grocery store, to a small office building, guarded by a man in green, with silver Horus eyes on his collar.
John went upstairs to his office, and opened the palmed door with a quick press of his hand. He took a deep breath and then went to the comconsul and punched in a code.
A rather harried looking Simon Illyan quickly appeared on the screen.
"What is Watson?" he asked, only a hint of irritation in his voice. He had probably just come from debriefing Naismith.
John took a deep breath. "Sir. Sherlock's figured out Naismith's identity."
Illyan grimaced. "Damn it!" he said, uncharacteristically losing his calm façade, "I knew it was only a matter of time- his brother's known for years- but I wanted to put it off as long as possible. Can you imagine the trouble that the two of them would get into?"
John winced, involuntarily. "Yes, sir."
Illyan sighed. "Do your best to keep them apart. Vorkosigan's leaving the planet soon, but he'll be back at Winterfair. I'll make sure Lestrade has an interesting case for Sherlock then. And send me a report on how he figured it out as soon as possible."
John saluted and cut the com. He went and bought more milk, because they really did need some, and then walked home, praying all the while to whatever gods there were that when Miles Naismith Vorksoigan and Sherlock Vorholmes inevitably met they would not bring down any governments.
Or at least not ones that didn't deserve it.