Title: Private Eyes
Author: Katrin Halcyon
Summary: Nothing lasts forever. SLASH.
Just like every other square inch of the Imperial Palace, Emperor Gregor's bedroom was under ImpSec observation. Unlike every other room, however, the monitoring was only done by Simon Illyan, the Chief of ImpSec, and Gregor could request privacy from the ever-present cameras. He wasn't guaranteed it even if he asked, however, as Illyan did not always trust the judgement of his 26-year-old Emperor.
The monitoring was supposed to be off, but ImpSec operative Lieutenant Lord Miles Vorkosigan glanced upwards at where the feeds were supposed to be, in case his boss was watching, and grinned briefly. Then he heard a sound from behind him, and turned around. Gregor stepped out of the (also monitored) Emperor's bathroom.
Gregor sat on the edge of his bed, putting him almost at eye level with the four-foot-nine Miles, a victim of prenatal teratogenic damage through exposure to the deadly soltoxin poison and its antidote. Miles flashed another smile, this one at his Emperor, his friend, his…
Gregor didn't smile back, which was unusual, in these circumstances, for the grave-faced young man. "I'm glad you were able to get here, Miles."
"Anything my liege requires," Miles said in a teasing tone. Gregor still failed to smile, and Miles' own grin faded. "What's wrong, Gregor?"
The Emperor pressed his lips together, then let his breath out in something that suspiciously resembled a sigh. "In Illyan's report to me this morning, he said something – no, I'm not going to tell you what," Gregor answered Miles' question before he could even open his mouth. "From anyone else I would think it to be perfectly harmless, but from Illyan… I think he knows, Miles."
Something cold seized Miles' heart, but he kept his voice calm as he said, "We knew that was a risk from the start…" The cold gripped tighter. "Has he told my father, do you think?"
"No… I don't know. Has he said anything to you?"
Miles tried to remember everything his father had said to him in the past few days. Nothing he could think of offhand seemed immediately suspect. "No. Don't think so."
"I didn't think Simon would have." Nonetheless, Gregor looked relieved.
"It's none of my father's business, anyway," Miles said, a touch defiantly. "The head of ImpSec's job is not to report the Emperor's every move to the Prime Minister."
"It's more complicated when the head of ImpSec and the Prime Minister are friends. And when the Emperor is the Prime Minister's foster-son."
And when the Emperor has been sleeping with the Prime Minister's actual son, Miles added in his head. "All right," he said. "So Illyan knows, but no one else does. Where does that leave us?"
There was silence for a long moment, until Gregor answered, quietly, "I think that leaves us at the end."
Miles had been more than half-expecting that reply. Once it had been made, though, he had to take a deep breath, needing a minute to compose himself. "So just because one person knows, it should all be over?"
"Secrets don't last in Vorbarr Sultana, Miles," Gregor pointed out. "We knew it couldn't last forever."
"So you called me here to dump me? Or were you hoping for a good-bye fuck?"
A pained look appeared on Gregor's face. "I never wanted to hurt you, Miles, you have to know that. Please don't be angry. This is just how it has to be."
How it has to be. Right, Miles thought, trying to ease the flood of hurt he felt. The Emperor was required to have children, to pass along the Vorbarra line. What he really needed was a decorative woman with impeccable bloodlines and breeding, one who could bear children and play social hostess and look elegant while doing it.
Whatever Gregor needed, or wanted, the Emperor did not need a caustic, birth-damaged, half-galactic, male lover. The Conservative faction would never accept it. Hell, the Progressives wouldn't accept it either.
And whatever happened between Miles and Gregor, Lord Vorkosigan and the Emperor would have to uphold their duties, which would surely involve seeing each other.
Miles and Lord Vorkosigan were usually able to keep their actions separate, while still taking into account the other's situation. Perhaps it hadn't been helpful to Lord Vorkosigan – or the Emperor, for that matter – when Miles and Gregor became lovers. It was too late to do anything about that. But if Miles stormed out right now, mad at Gregor, Lord Vorkosigan might never recover.
Miles took another deep breath. "You're right. I'm sorry."
"No, I'm sorry, I didn't want things to work out like this, but I should have expected them to." Gregor paused. "I don't regret it, Miles. Please never think that."
"I won't," Miles choked out. He turned, took a few steps towards the door, then turned back. "A good-bye kiss…?"
Without hesitation, Gregor stood, walked over, and knelt. Almost the same height. He framed Miles' face with his hands. "I can't not love you," he whispered.
In response, Miles leaned forward, pressing their lips together. I love you, too, he thought, but the words wouldn't come out.
Reluctantly, Miles turned again and walked out of the room. The watchful gaze of the ImpSec cameras was like a physical weight on his hunched shoulders.