jacksonian: (despairing)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-13 12:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Mark. Again with Mark. It's a word without any real meaning to it, like a word that's been repeated so many times that it's lost its sense of being real. And yet somehow - somehow - it hurts him to hear, feels like a blow to the face. How's that possible? A nonsense word shouldn't hurt. It should just...roll off your ears. It shouldn't leave any impression at all. And yet somehow it's more terrifying and fraught even than Miles' brief flare of anger. He huddles down, glaring at his feet, feeling sweat prickle along the back of his neck.

Why is he screwing with him? How does this end, Mark? Every part of that sentence is like some fucked-up joke. If the clone wanted to look him in the face - because he doesn't want to look him in his damned face - he probably would end up seeing laughter in his face. How does this end. Fucking joke. It's - it's a joke.

"How the hell should I know?" he mumbles down at his feet. How the hell should I know? "You cut out my brain. You just kill me. Whatever you decide to do. Why are you asking me?"
forwardmomentum: (to make me horny)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-04-13 01:13 pm (UTC)(link)
You cut out my brain. Those words bring that sickening nightmare back with a jolt, and a little of the color drains from Miles's face, too. He couldn't possibly have guessed that from Miles's subconscious. The kid really thinks he's only here as some replacement body, or -- waste disposal, at best. Oh, hell.

"You think I brought you up here just to kill you?" Miles's voice comes out a little choked, but that might just be the exhaustion. Doesn't the kid realize that bringing him up here wasn't just a return rescue, but a gesture of trust -- an attempt to affirm that Mark could make a choice, make a difference? It's a hell of a security risk to have him up here -- Elli had pointed it out, and so had Ivan, even though no one had asked for his stupid opinion -- but Miles had done it anyway. He rakes a hand back through his hair with a noise of consternation.

"If I was going to kill you, I'd have done it back at the safehouse, not bring you to the Dendarii. I don't do murder in cold blood, thanks. And if I wanted a replacement body -- well, I don't. I've been to Jackson's Whole. I've seen enough of that whole operation to be permanently turned off by the idea, and not one I was a fan of to begin with. Listen, M-- " He cuts himself off with a frustrated sigh, gesturing uselessly with one hand. "Listen, you saved my life just a few hours ago. You saved Galeni's life. Hell, you saved your own. I don't generally repay deeds of that magnitude with backstabbing."

That isn't why he'd done it. He'd have done it anyway. But it doesn't hurt.
Edited 2017-04-13 13:13 (UTC)
jacksonian: (angry)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-13 01:27 pm (UTC)(link)
"That's not what I've heard." But - Galen had made it clear, always, that the sins of the father washed onto the son. The Butcher lied, so the Butcher's twisted progeny also was a liar. But Galen was a liar, too, wasn't he? The clone is surrounded by them. He'd been raised by smiling liars, smooth-talking manipulators who'd made him grateful to be raised in a charnel house. It took him a long time, a long long time, to understand exactly who they were and what they were doing to his friends...The Butcher killed his prisoners. Wouldn't Miles do the same?

Wouldn't he? He hasn't yet. Yeah, just because the clone was willing to come along of his own volition. Taking an unwilling enemy is harder than taking a corpse, but taking a willing one - a dupe, an idiot - is easiest of all. So why are you sitting in this room? For easy access to him to torture. So Miles can get out information about Galen and Galen's plans. So why hasn't he started yet? Early intel is the best intel, you know that. If he was going to torture you, wouldn't he have started in on it the moment you got on this ship?

He rubs at his cheek - the exact spot Miles had rubbed earlier. Unconscious echolalia.

"I want something to eat," he says suddenly, and then glares up at Miles ferociously. Defiantly. Waiting for the denial. This will be the test of his intentions - whether he'll endure the clone being a drain on his resources.
forwardmomentum: (fixed with parcel tape)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-04-13 01:44 pm (UTC)(link)
Miles sighs, opens his mouth to respond, because he knows what Mark's heard, and dammit, he wishes there was some way he could get the clone to trust him, to take anything, anything as guarantee. The man who believes everything is a lie is just as mistaken as the man who believes everything is true...

The sudden request takes Miles by surprise, but then perhaps it shouldn't, considering the time. Come to think of it, he should probably eat. That might steady him a bit, keep him going a while longer. He checks the nearest Dendarii officer, nodding up at him. "Lieutenant, what've we got around here for food?"

"I've got a rat bar in my pack," the officer supplies helpfully. Miles gives him a look.

"I meant real food. Or close enough to it, anyway. Go grab me a couple of MREs -- and coffee," Miles adds as a quick afterthought, rubbing one eye. "Definitely coffee."
jacksonian: (stressed the fuck out)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-13 02:01 pm (UTC)(link)
That's...it? That's all? There's something almost...disappointing in Miles' total lack of reaction. Like the clone had jumped off what he'd thought was a cliff, only to discover that the drop was only a foot. It's not that he wanted to splatter himself on the ground, it's just...He shifts in his chair, leaning back, the defiant fear shading into watchful and wary suspicion, his mouth pressed into a pale line.

Who is Miles? He ought to know better than anyone else in the world - after all, he'd studied the man, imitated him, learned every bit of his biography, learned how he ticked. He'd studied the psych profiles (manic-depressive), the medical profiles (fragile and broken), the biography (so much to learn, too many names, too many events, all of it too sudden and too fast). He'd immersed himself in every gesture and tic, so even now as Miles rubs his eye the clone clenches his hand into a fist to keep from doing the same. They look the same (he doesn't miss, cannot miss, the look that officer gives him, the startled uncertain half-respectful gaze and he nearly chokes on the way that respect isn't for him), they sound the same (almost, this Betan accent is new and unknown). There was a time the clone had thought that they were the same, that he was him, except for the fervent devotion to the Komarran cause.

So how the hell does Miles keep taking him by surprise?

"You're going to eat too?" Why? To try to prove it isn't poisoned? Hah, what a joke. That just makes it more likely to be poisoned. Right? But...it's not like Miles needs to poison him; he could shoot him just as easily. Or if it's a drug, they could just introduce it by hypospray. Poisoning is what you do to someone with power, not someone powerless. So is it really...sharing a meal with him? Or maybe all those MREs are for him...No, he could only dream of that.
forwardmomentum: (tell me that you're alright)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-04-13 02:17 pm (UTC)(link)
The Dendarii lieutenant nods and gives Miles a quick salute before jogging out of the room, and a little breath whooshes out of Miles as he turns back to the clone. Who's looking at him like...like what? Had he really expected Miles to deny that request? Galen's a master manipulator, Miles knows that by now, but just how had he been manipulating Mark all that time? He's starting to get tiny pieces of the picture, just little flickering fragments, and what he can make out so far is a little sickening.

The slightly cracked smile on Miles's face speaks more to how tired he is than anything else. "It's been as least as long since I last ate as you did. Longer, probably. No clue what time it was when they served us that last meal, but I didn't eat much of it, anyway. Besides, if I don't get more coffee in me I think I might keel over on the spot."

He realizes he's started babbling, a sure sign of caffeine deprivation -- or, well, sleep deprivation, but nothing short of bodily force is going to get Miles to take a nap right now -- and then also realizes that mere facial movement alone has cracked open the split in his lip as he tastes blood in his mouth. He pulls a handkerchief out of his pocket with an annoyed look to press it to his mouth before any of it drips onto his uniform. God, the last thing he needs right now is to look more beat up.
jacksonian: (despairing)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-13 02:37 pm (UTC)(link)
"Can't you get that taken care of?" The clone himself isn't sure what motivates that question. Complaint over how gruesome he looks? Concern? Guilt, maybe. When their positions had been reversed - Miles sitting, the clone standing over him - the clone had taunted him, jeered, hit him. And now, like this, Miles offers him food and comfort. Asks him how this is going to end. Which was a joke, which had to be a joke, which had to be - Galen had taught him to be hard and cruel to your enemies. Being hard and cruel to your enemies is no crime. It's not. Guilt is - it's stupid. Really stupid...

"Sorry." That comes out as a feeble mumble. He rubs at his knees and hunches over. He doesn't know whether he means it or if it's just some desperate attempt to avoid retribution. Sorry I hurt you. Sorry I made you feel like you had to smile and now you've just hurt yourself again. Sorry for existing. But then, immediately, he looks up, and his face hardens into a glare, because fuck him. Fuck Miles. He does exist, and he didn't ever ask for it, but he is here. And he shouldn't have to apologize for it. He -

God, he just wishes Miles would get it over with.
forwardmomentum: (but i declined)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-04-13 04:05 pm (UTC)(link)
"When I have time," Miles says dismissively, partly muffled by the handkerchief, which really means whenever Elli or Bel drags him kicking and screaming to sickbay, probably. Not right now, at any rate. He pulls back the handkerchief before it can stick and dabs lightly at his mouth. Still bleeding, but just a little.

The quiet apology catches him off guard, too, but then, damn near everything with the clone does, especially when Miles is this damned tired. He would like, he thinks distantly, maybe a solid six hours in which nobody does anything surprising. But it's far-fetched fantasy. He's still searching for a delicate enough way to respond to that that won't rattle the clone or make him feel even worse when he gives Miles that look. Well, that saves Miles the trouble of having to be delicate, at least.

He doesn't smile again, suppressing that reflex. Apparently the first one hadn't had the disarming effect he was hoping for. The bleeding probably spoiled that. "I've had much worse, at any rate. Did you study Dagoola IV?"

It certainly had been one of the most public Dendarii operations, but it was also fairly recent. Miles isn't sure if Galen would've had the time to cram all that into his clone's skull in the last few months.
jacksonian: (uncertain)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-13 04:20 pm (UTC)(link)
He hesitates. Why do you want to know? Trying to build a catalogue of everything I don't know? Trying to mis-educate me so that you'll have secrets that you can use to differentiate yourself from me? But that possibility is...better than he was imagining, because there are a lot of nastier ways for Miles to differentiate himself from the clone. Like killing the clone. Like burning his face off with a plasma arc. A little lie or two would imply that he's not going to do that, and that's...

He shifts in his chair. Then, uncertainly, he says, "There was - a lot. And we only figured out about Naismith..." He looks around them, then, uncertainly - because he probably shouldn't be talking about Naismith and Vorkosigan in front of the Dendarii, right? That's still a secret dual identity. Isn't it? But also, why should he give a shit about Miles' secrets...? "Recently. So it's not like I even had time to learn."
forwardmomentum: (the day before i met you)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-04-13 06:10 pm (UTC)(link)
Miles quietly clears his throat at figured out about Naismith, a quiet but, he hopes, clear sign to nix that in the bud. Not when they're not alone. See? There's another risk Miles took by taking Mark on board. He's a walking security risk on about seven different levels. But Miles took him anyway.

The Dendarii lieutenant returns with a few MREs, and Miles waves him and the other couple of mercenaries still in the room out, politely requesting that they shut the door on the way out. He doesn't know if that'll set Mark more or less at ease, honestly, but at least this way he doesn't have to risk somebody overhearing something they ought not to.

It isn't until then that Miles finally permits himself to sit down opposite his clone, and he almost instantly regrets doing so. Oh, hell. He should've stayed standing up. He's going to have a hell of a time getting himself back on his feet after this. Ah, but the lieutenant had brought coffee, blessed coffee -- Miles reaches for that first and downs half the cup in one go. It scalds a little on the way down. He'll be paying for this later, but as long as later includes no one dead, his cover still intact, and eighteen million marks in his pocket, he'll live with it.

"Well," he says brightly, with a puff of breath to cool his burned mouth, "within the first fifteen minutes of my arrival on Dagoola IV, five of the schoolyard's premier bullies kicked me down, kicked me some more, stole my clothes, and left me naked on the ground with a couple of cracked ribs." He very tenderly touches a finger to his lip -- no longer bleeding. He chances a very small, if a bit gray, smile. "A split lip doesn't really rank."
jacksonian: (intense)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-13 06:29 pm (UTC)(link)
The clone doesn't smile back at him. Instead, he just looks him in the eyes, and then looks away again, his eyes darting around the room. He makes no effort to hide it, twisting around to look behind him, twisting back to look at Miles again. He eyes the meals (hungrily, with an intense longing, although too wary to go for it yet), eyes the coffee, eyes Miles, eyes the comconsole behind him. He hears the story about Dagoola - his eyes narrow in recognition, in processing, in curiosity - but he doesn't comment. He just seems to absorb it and file it away.

Instead, he asks Miles, "Do you really want to be alone with me?"
forwardmomentum: (i used to rely)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-04-13 06:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Miles sees the way the clone eyes the food and his eyebrows quirk slightly, but he doesn't comment. Instead he just reaches for his own food once he's gulped down a bit more coffee. Proof that it's not poison, although he has an uncomfortable sense that that is not his clone twin's current concern.

At that question, he just sits back in his chair, trying not to look as tired as he suddenly feels. That's the problem with sitting down. The second you stop, it all catches up to you.

"I don't know," he says mildly, shrugging one shoulder. "Are you going to try to kill me?"
jacksonian: (uncertain)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-13 07:48 pm (UTC)(link)
"It's what I'm supposed to do." When Miles picks up the food, his eyes leave his face. Instead, they fixate intensely on the fork, watching it as it descends. It's a hypnotic sort of motion. He thinks he can feel it go down, like a swoop of vertigo. He feels so hungry that it's like an ache in his bones. He feels sick, too. Nauseated.

"And it'd be easy. I could have all the doors locked before any of them could react. And from here I could take control of your ship."

He makes himself look up again, watching Miles' face. Searching for signs of dismay or fear. He doesn't know what he'll do if he finds them...Strike? Apologize again? Neither. He just wants to see what'll happen. He just wants to see how he'll react. He just...he wants to know, wants to understand.
forwardmomentum: (and you must confess)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-04-13 08:03 pm (UTC)(link)
Miles is, admittedly, a little unnerved by the way his clone watches him eat but refrains himself, despite having been the one who demanded food. Some kind of weird mind game? No, his clone is the one who throws that accusation around. But Miles is more curious than unnerved, and at any rate, neither shows on his face.

"You could," he concedes with a sideways tilt of his head and an aimless wave of his fork. "I'm unarmed, and tired, and as you said, we are very much alone. You might even get far enough with that little scheme to pull the Dendarii out of Earth and take off." He tries not to wince at the thought of his clone not only taking the Dendarii, but taking them and have absolutely nothing to pay them with. "But you wouldn't get much farther than that. For one, everyone's seen both of us in the same room, and they know that I'm the one with cuts and bruises and the three-day-old beard. The Dendarii are loyal, but they're far from stupid."

He shrugs and returns to his food, whether or not his clone decides to dig in. "But you're right. You could. You've got means and opportunity. Two out of three. But motive...is that yours, or is it Galen's?"
jacksonian: (brooding)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-13 08:14 pm (UTC)(link)
He can't take it any longer. He reaches forward - the movement stiff and awkward and desperate - and grabs for the food. Drags it towards him and peels off the lid and starts to eat. He hunches over it a bit, like a hawk protecting its kill - all but scarfs it down. It's stupid, because to take Miles' stupid food is like an admission of trust. He knows that eating it erodes his defenses. But it feels so good, and it's such a comfort, eating it - a little of his anxiety quiets. A lot of his anxiety quiets.

And with his mouth full, it gives him time to think. Is that your motive, or is it Galen's? For years, there was no difference, because the clone believed passionately in Galen's ideals. That passion had faded, but even so, there'd been no difference between what Galen wanted and what he wanted because there simply couldn't be. But now...

"I'm just saying, it's stupid," he mumbles through a full mouth. He swallows, takes another forkful. And then, half from interest, half because he wants Miles to talk so that he can eat in silence without having to worry about interrupting himself to speak: "Why did they take your clothes?"
forwardmomentum: (on the back of a natural disaster)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-04-13 08:36 pm (UTC)(link)
Miles is privately relieved to see Mark finally take the food, though he snatches it as though Miles has been holding it just out of reach. Like he's afraid someone might take it away. What the hell did Galen do to this kid? Because Miles has seen that, knows what it looks like, and it numbs his appetite a little. Speaking of Dagoola indeed.

He shrugs again, more moving his food around than eating it now. Dagoola still wasn't that long ago, still fresh, and talking about this one small part of it brings the rest of it rushing to mind. Miles forces all the memories of Murka and Beatrice back, trying not to recall his hideous nightmare on top of all of it. Maybe mentioning Dagoola in particular had been a mistake. But he'd offered it, and now Mark's asking, and really, is he asking so much? Miles puffs out a little breath through his nose, trying not to feel cold.

"Because they could, mostly. They sure as hell weren't going to wear 'em." He lets a faint snort despite himself at the absurdity of it. "You have to understand -- Dagoola wasn't your run of the mill war camp. It was an expertly designed exercise in psychological torture. The Cetagandans managed to, technically, follow the letter of the law, while whole-heartedly violating it in spirit. There were no guards, no special facilities -- just one huge force dome with a light that was always on, a source for drinking water, latrines, and twice a day they'd shove a pile of rat bars in. Twelve hundred people shoved in that miserable dome -- what d'you think happens in that kind of environment? Survival of the fittest. Great displays of power over the weak -- " He gestures at himself with his fork. "-- in the hopes of spooking off anyone fitter than you but not wise enough to know it. So what do you do when you see a twisted little mutie standing around with no friends? You beat the hell out of him and try to steal his dignity, just to show you can."
jacksonian: (uncertain)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-13 08:46 pm (UTC)(link)
His brows draw down as he listens to that. That strikes him as stupid, too. No one beats you or hurts you just because they can. They do it because you've done something to piss them off. No, he decides. They took his clothes because they were going to sell his clothes, because there was profit in it, and they beat the shit out of him because he had it coming. Probably said something. Count on someone like the great and powerful Miles Vorkosigan to decide that it's just because he had so much magnificent dignity that it had to be stolen from him. Bullshit.

Still. With a stomach (partially) full of Miles' food, a little bit of his hostility is gone, so he doesn't call him out on it. Instead he just looks at Miles, watches him, and asks, "Was that the only time?" He means to ask whether that was the first time Miles had been hurt. Seriously beaten. It's a perverse sort of question, maybe, and he doesn't really entirely know why he's asking it.
forwardmomentum: (stomping on your fingers)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-04-13 11:03 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, that certainly was a...non-reaction. Then again, what was he expecting? All things considered, the continued curiosity counts as a good sign to Miles, and the clone doesn't seem quite as hostile now. Maybe hearing about Miles's vulnerabilities makes him more comfortable, though God knows he could probably -- no, definitely still kill Miles with his bare hands if he wanted to. Galen didn't just train a substitute, he trained an assassin.

But Miles doesn't think he really wants to.

Miles gestures at his bruised face with implication of all the bruises his clone can't see -- Galen's thugs sure as hell hadn't been giving him and Galeni Swedish massages back there -- but still answers the question.

"At Dagoola? Ha. No." Miles taps his fork against his plate, nearly a rattle as the caffeine takes its hold. Thank God for coffee. "And that was hardly the first time, either."

He could follow that up with what about you? He could ask more about his clone, the things he's been through. But right now he's leading the conversation, and Miles isn't going to take that away from him just yet. The kid clearly needs something to hold onto, if it isn't trust or truth.
jacksonian: (looking down)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-13 11:20 pm (UTC)(link)
A small jerk of his chin acknowledges the state of Miles' face. Only time aside from this, he'd meant, because his curiosity doesn't exactly extend to what Miles had been going through at Galen's hands. He doesn't know what they were doing to him, but he can suspect. He'd helped interrogate David Galen, after all.

"You had bodyguards, though." The clone scrapes his fork rather forlornly against a bit of sauce left on the plate, lifts it to his lips to suck that little bit of flavor off the tines. When he speaks, it's from behind the metal. "Even before all this Naismith stuff. I know the Butcher had assigned them to you. Didn't they stop it?"
forwardmomentum: (you think this is about drugs)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-04-15 03:56 am (UTC)(link)
"Sergeant Bothari, you mean?"

Miles's face flickers just slightly; sinking this deep into memory, digging up answers to Mark's questions, it's impossible not to feel that small twang of guilt, however removed by time it is now.

"He saved my ass plenty of times. My life, more than once. But he was just one man. And a bodyguard isn't as useful in a schoolyard as you might think."
jacksonian: (incredulous)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-15 03:25 pm (UTC)(link)
That earns Miles both a suspicious squint and a derisive snort. "If he couldn't handle a bunch of kids, then how was he even a bodyguard at all?" Honestly. It's not like kids are really any good at fighting, are they? Not without a bunch of training, and he can't imagine that these kids were getting drilled on how to take down a full-grown soldier. Probably. It was Barrayar, after all, which (he's always been taught) was a land of total monsters...

But he kicks down that thought. Touches a little too close to him.
forwardmomentum: (yes i'll be just fine)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-04-15 09:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Miles's eyebrow quirks. Ah, but his clone was raised by Ser Galen on a steady diet of propaganda. And Miles is starting to see the other ways in which Galen shaped him -- ways that would drill into someone's head that an adult beating on a child is a perfectly acceptable response to a situation.

"He usually intervened before it got too serious," Miles admits, because Bothari mostly just had to show up to scare off a few bullies. He doesn't particularly want to talk about the times Bothari didn't, not of negligence but Miles's terminal inability to keep his mouth shut, especially when angry, on days when the cold treatment by his peers did more than just discourage him. "But -- you know the story. He died when I was seventeen. And now you know what I really do for a living."
jacksonian: (looking down)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-16 02:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Is that grief in his voice? The clone did hear a bit about Bothari - just a bit, enough to have heard of the man's brutality and excesses. A war criminal, and therefore one of the Butcher's bosom friends. So it's strange to hear that little wistful note in Miles' voice. It...makes him a little nervous, honestly. Has Miles sought out more such criminals and torturers? Amongst the Dendarii...? He shifts a little, and decides not to keep pressing after the question of Konstantin Bothari. For his own peace of mind. To tamp down his worries about what might happen to him. He's starting to be convinced that Miles truly doesn't intend him harm - but that doesn't guarantee the behavior of the other members of his little army...

No. Stop thinking about it. He turns his attention instead to a frustration he's been feeling for a long while. "For a living is a little generous, isn't it? For a crew with this high a success rate, your profit margins are pathetic." But - "But yeah. Now you can pay for your own bodyguards."
forwardmomentum: (someday you'll be fine)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-04-16 04:02 pm (UTC)(link)
Mark is bouncing around from topic to topic, prying into details, and Miles realizes he's only trying to get as much of a picture as Miles is. That's how it seems, at any rate, and Miles doesn't think he can really begrudge his clone that -- he doesn't want to. Galen filled his head with enough toxic bullshit. If his clone wants to hear it from Miles himself, then Miles isn't going to withhold.

"That's because we're kept on retainer," Miles says, one eyebrow raised. "I mean, sure, the fleet takes other contracts as they come up, but whether or not Admiral Naismith comes home with a tidy profit isn't the point. And it wouldn't exactly go in my pocket, at any rate. The Barrayaran government gives the Dendarii contracts -- covertly -- and then compensate them accordingly. Plenty to pay my men a good salary -- with benefits, mind, mercenaries care about benefits -- keep the fleet up and running, up to date with the best equipment and tech the Imperium can afford. Making a profit is...sort of a circular notion here." He taps a finger to his cracked lips, frowning slightly. "And the Dendarii aren't my bodyguards. Not that they don't occasionally act in that capacity, but they aren't here to protect me. They protect Barrayaran interests. They're not my refuge, they're my responsibility."
jacksonian: (intense)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-16 07:40 pm (UTC)(link)
"That sounds like a load of crap." That's said with more caution than aggression - a careful little probe, a test of Miles' temper. He pauses a moment, searching Miles' face, and sees...nothing, really. No real anger. Nothing alarming. So he goes on, with a little less caution, "You're here because you like to be here. No one asked you to be. Don't act like you were ordered here - you chose it, didn't you? You started all this because you wanted it."

He rubs at one of his knees and frowns just a bit, still watching Miles' face closely. His gaze flicks over his eyes, mouth, nose, down to his hands, looking for signs of displeasure. This is indeed a test - every word a test, every moment a test. Pushing Miles, trying to see where he'll break, where he'll flinch. Trying to understand him. Like the unsanctioned interview where Miles had undermined his courage - or maybe exploited his courage. He doesn't know. Both at once. But on more equal footing now.

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