jacksonian: (looking down)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-18 04:54 pm (UTC)(link)
A jerky, nervous shrug answers that comment, neither confirmation nor denial. Yet his agitation is clear: the twitchiness, the rime of sweat on his upper forehead, the way he rocks back and forth in his chair - only a little, only slightly, but he still rocks. In spite of that insistence on his indifference, the physical evidence of his terror of Galen is ample.

And yet even so, he goes on, "No. I don't care. Do whatever with him." Another twitchy shrug. "I'm not sticking my neck out for him, but it's not like anything good will come of him dying, either." Except my freedom. And that's not his to give any longer. Though back then - back amongst the Komarrans - he'd always known that Galen's death wouldn't set him free, either...He'd thought about it sometimes, kicking a little harder, kicking a little higher, turning a sparring session into something fatal. But he'd always known that if Galen died, they wouldn't set him free - they'd just turn him into so much biomatter, to be incinerated, like any leftover parts of a clone. And he's always wanted to live. That's always been the goal. Not revenge, not glory, not Komarr - just life.

And how does Galen staying alive serve that? Well, it's not like his lack of malice is going to do anything to spare Galen's life. Barrayar won't kill Galen for what he's done to some Jacksonian clone. They'll kill Galen for the dead Barrayaran soldiers, those past tales of murderous glory that had bored him so very many times.
forwardmomentum: (stomping on your fingers)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-04-22 08:51 pm (UTC)(link)
The naked terror in Mark's posture is discomfiting, and Miles shifts unconsciously in his seat. It doesn't come as a surprise to him, but to see it like that, to see his clone so uncomfortable and afraid of a man who isn't even in the room. He has to stop himself from reaching out, because comfort is...not something his clone would accept from him right now. Maybe it's what his clone wants, but he wouldn't want it from Miles. That much Miles is sure of.

So instead he just looks at Mark, shrugs in mild agreement, and toys with his fork, his own food still only half-finished. He doesn't have much of an appetite. He tilts his head at his clone. "Doesn't seem to me like you're thinking much of killing at all right now."
jacksonian: (stressed the fuck out)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-24 01:50 pm (UTC)(link)
The clone flinches slightly, because that comment is very, very true. He snaps at himself internally - the fact that he guessed that doesn't mean that he has some magical insight into you, it's not like you're being subtle - but there's more to it than simply alarm at being transparent to Miles. It's also...Well. Being reluctant to kill - to fulfill his mission - has always been very, very dangerous.

But dangerous to Galen. Galen was the one who wanted him killing. Miles doesn't. He'd looked like he was going to shit himself when the clone had asked about killing Galen. So, in a sudden burst of berserker courage, he tells the truth. "Why would I want to kill anyone?" He clenches his hands in the fabric of his uniform trousers to stop them from shaking. To absorb the sweat. "Killing isn't power. If you're the sorry bastard who pulls the trigger, that means you're pretty close to the bottom of the heap. Power is never having to get blood on your hands. And that's what I want to do."

Power is having enough money to send other people to do the killing for you, too. Power is getting a vid-recording by fast courier of Vasa Luigi getting his face scorched off by plasma arc - But that's too much honesty.
forwardmomentum: (but i declined)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-04-24 06:20 pm (UTC)(link)
"Why indeed," Miles agrees mildly, secretly deeply relieved, but knows there's more to it than that. Only confirmed by what his clone follows up with, with the implications in it. Glaring implications, if Miles reads them right. He shifts in his seat, crossing one leg over the other, his foot tapping restlessly on the ground.

"But you're only half-right," he goes on. "It doesn't matter whose hand is on the trigger when it's pulled. In the end, it's about responsibility. It doesn't spare you the blood on your hands -- only sends it by proxy."

He spreads his own hands, as if to demonstrate the blood Mark can't see, spilled like invisible ink over his hands. Talking about this doesn't make Miles any more at ease than anything else they've talked about thus far, but he won't lie. He's a soldier, and a commander, at that. Much though he's never once relished in it, he knows he has blood on his hands. Starting with that one jump pilot he'd permitted Bothari to torture, all those years ago...

"You don't need power not to kill," Miles says, leaning forward to tap his fingers on the tabletop. He fixes his clone with a serious gaze, lips pressed together, another entreaty to listen, to understand. "Unless the only distinction you're only interested in making here is whether or not you do it with your own hands. But sending someone else to do your dirty work? You still ruin more than one man in the process."
jacksonian: (angry)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-24 07:42 pm (UTC)(link)
"So what?" he snaps back. He leans forward in turn, a sudden burst of anger burning in the pit of his stomach. You ruin more than one man - "Is that supposed to be some deterrent for me? Am I supposed to give a shit about ruining other people? No one exactly ever gave a thought to ruining me." He shakes his head, the emotion in his stomach turning to a wailing miserable sort of despair for a moment before it slides back to anger again.

"Anyway, aren't you a mercenary army commander? I'm pretty sure your bread and butter - the way you make your living - is by sending other people to do your dirty work. Huh? So don't get all high and mighty at me. And don't think that I'm all soft and squeamish, either," he adds with a little more ferocity still. "Because I'm not. I'm not like you at all."
forwardmomentum: (nothing says "i miss you")

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-04-26 01:13 am (UTC)(link)
"High and mighty? No, just pointing out an important distinction -- one I can assert from firsthand experience."

Miles is almost smiling, but not quite. There is a distinction between murder and combat casualty he'd like to make here, but he doesn't think Mark would hear it.

"I'm a soldier. I don't have any illusions about what running an army entails. But you're right -- you aren't me. You aren't like me at all. You don't command a mercenary fleet. For all that you've been trained for it, you have, as far as I can gather, dealt very little in death. So you say you don't want to kill. Well, I've got great news: you don't have to. In fact, it's a very easy thing to avoid. Lots of people go their entire lives without taking the life of another." Miles shrugs. "You don't even need power for that."
jacksonian: (intense)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-04-26 01:23 am (UTC)(link)
But the clone's jaw is set. His lips are tight. He is, after all, intensely, fatally Jacksonian, and there's a way that Jacksonian lives work. "Grubbers get kicked around," he responds. "Get killed or eaten alive. I'm not going to be a grubber." He hunches and glares intensely at Miles' half-finished food. (What would happen if he tried to take it? He's still hungry.) "Anyway, I bet you'd like that, wouldn't you? Me fading away into nothing. No one to ever challenge you or anything. But I don't intend to, not for one moment. Not while everything is still going on."

Everything, however elliptically, meaning the clone business. He might not speak the name of it aloud, but it makes his face settle into a taut sort of anger; his expression becomes boilingly, ferociously hostile.
Edited 2017-04-26 01:25 (UTC)
forwardmomentum: (as you'd think it might)

A THOUSAND YEARS LATER

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-07-17 11:09 pm (UTC)(link)
Miles tracks his clone's gaze to his own food, starting to grow cold on the plate. Ought he to push it toward Mark, or would the offer itself serve offense? He realizes he's been tapping the edge of the table in a useless jitter tic and drops it on the plate, as if in surrender. If Mark tries to take it, Miles won't stop him. He's curious to see what his clone will do.

"You're not on Jackson's Whole anymore," Miles points out, though perhaps uselessly, considering what this discussion seems to circle back around to. With that look. Given the way this conversation has gone, it's not hard to figure out what his clone is alluding to. He sits back in his chair, his fingertips drumming on the arm in absence of the fork.

"Good," he says bluntly, studying his clone's expression while trying to keep his own unreadable, but maybe not altogether successfully. For the clone to want some life of his own, to have some goals of his own -- that's what Miles wants for him, isn't it? If his clone doesn't want to be his brother -- a stinging thought, however quickly Miles tries to brush it off -- then at the very least, isn't it enough for him to want to be his own person? Because some faded shadow, some thoughtless entity can't have hopes and dreams. To have goals, you've got to be a person.

It makes sense in Miles's head, anyway.

"You're wrong on one point. I don't want you to fade away. In fact, I'd rather very much you didn't. I think we've been over this part already, but if I wanted you dead, I could've accomplished that half a dozen different ways by now. Besides -- " Another half-hysterical laugh escapes him. He can't help himself; he hasn't had enough caffeine. Or too much caffeine and too little sleep. Whatever. He'll work it out later. "Even if you did, ah -- fade away -- that wouldn't leave me with no one to challenge me. It'd just make the line a little bit shorter."
jacksonian: (brooding)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-07-17 11:26 pm (UTC)(link)
Something unreadable - almost unpleasant - comes into his expression at that. There's a weird little twist of...what? Jealousy? Hostility? Towards whom - Miles, who's so special that he has dozens of enemies? Or towards those enemies, who would dare to have designs on this man who's his? It's a strange, unsettling thought, vaguely nauseating, for reasons he can't fully comprehend. He stomps it down with all the force it'd take to pack down grave-dirt.

He fiddles a moment with his own fork - and then reaches out, snapping at Miles' half finished tray with the speed of a viper, dragging it towards him and shoveling it into his face before Miles can stop him. He inhales almost half of it before he pauses to speak.

"Well, I'm not going to." There's food in his mouth when he speaks; mortifyingly, a fleck of spacer-ration mashed potato flies from his mouth to land on Miles' uniform sleeve. He hopes Miles doesn't notice, but - of course he will. Oh, well. "Fade away. So your fantastical enemies can get fucked, because I'm first in line, because no matter what other people think - " Another swallow. "I'm good as you are." It tastes like a lie in his mouth, so he fills his mouth with more food to drown it out.

Chew, swallow. After a pause, he asks, warily, "Do you really think killing ruins you?"
forwardmomentum: (you think this is about drugs)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-07-18 01:06 am (UTC)(link)
Miles blinks a little when his clone snatches the plate away from him. Well, curiosity confirmed. That little fleck of food doesn't escape his notice, no, but he very deliberately does not react, despite the kneejerk itch to brush it away. This conversation has been -- still is -- a very long, thoroughly exhausting exercise in non-reaction, which is not one of Miles's specialties. But all he does is blink, quite mildly, one eyebrow slightly raised.

"I didn't know you still thought of yourself as my enemy," he says, equally mildly, and he just as carefully does not comment on that I'm as good as you are. A challenge or rebuttal would be an abysmally poor move, and his clone might take any encouragement as patronizing, which would be equally devastating -- more, maybe. God, he's not awake enough for this. He considers comming that lieutenant to bring more coffee, but he's afraid of disrupting the very delicate flow of this conversation. It's actually going somewhere. He hopes, anyway.

Miles considers that question. A good one, and it's a sign that his clone is starting to question Galen's propaganda more and more, that he's starting to challenge his own preconceived notions.

"It changes you," he finally says, a little slowly, tilting his head to the side slightly. "For the worse, I think, but I suppose there are some that might disagree. But it definitely changes you, irrevocably and completely. You cannot, as they say, unring that bell. Or unfire that nerve disruptor."
jacksonian: (stressed the fuck out)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-07-18 01:21 am (UTC)(link)
Do I - No, he doesn't think of himself as an enemy. Right? Or does he? Not a kill-Miles enemy, because Galen's plans are worthless and they'd tear him to pieces and he isn't dying for someone else's revenge; no question of that. But what about rivals? No. Yes? Maybe - Is that giving too much credit to Miles? Does he want to disentangle himself completely? Flee to the other side of the nexus? How could he? He realizes with a little wrench that Miles is the only person he's ever had a real conversation with, at least since leaving the creche. The only non-clone in all the world who's answered him with anything other than propaganda. Maybe. What's the difference between propaganda and truth? I wish I knew.

"So who were you?" He's almost at the end of the food; he picks at the last of it, trying to stretch out the pleasure of eating it. "Before."
forwardmomentum: (yes i'll be just fine)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-07-18 02:21 am (UTC)(link)
Miles watches his clone, trying not to focus too obviously on the way he's eating, but God, his behavior speaks volumes about what Galen must have done to the kid. Far, far more than his clone is inclined to tell Miles himself, Miles is sure. Should he offer more food? Will the clone take that as a slight or some unpleasant editorial? God, this is frustrating. How the hell do I help you, kid?

"Miles Naismith Vorkosigan." A half-shrug. Miles's expression doesn't change. "But a different Miles Naismith Vorkosigan. They say that when you pull the trigger you kill two men, but it isn't as simple as all that. The old you doesn't die so some new thing can spring up in its place. But it changes you. It...takes something away from you." Miles offers his clone a gray smile. "You want freedom? Take my advice -- don't ever get anybody killed."
jacksonian: (incredulous)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-07-18 02:32 am (UTC)(link)
That gets Miles an unimpressed scoff. It sounded nice, sure, really wise and clever, but - "That's crap." He glowers over at his progenitor, but it's an expression that's edging more towards scornful than sullen. A more open and honest sort of disapproval, instead of the fearful resentment he'd had before. Thanks, naturally, to the way that Miles has fed him - fed him twice over. Once with the ration-packs, and once with honesty. Because it's the latter he's starved for, far more than he is for a meal.

"There's a hell of a lot more to freedom than that. There are plenty of people who haven't ever hurt anyone and who are kept in cages." Like me. Or maybe not like him. It feels, sometimes, like his hands are gory, bloody as anyone's... "And I don't think that the average Baron back on the Whole is sitting around crying over how he's trapped by his guilt."
Edited 2017-07-18 02:38 (UTC)
forwardmomentum: (on the back of a natural disaster)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-08-14 02:27 am (UTC)(link)
Miles doesn't expect Mark to buy into everything he says -- hell, he doesn't expect Mark to buy into anything he says, no matter how badly Miles might want him to. Any nod of acceptance is a breathless surprise, all the more so because it feels like they just keep getting closer. When Mark dismisses that notion, Miles's mouth only twitches slightly. At least Mark is still talking, still asking questions, still searching for the truth, an answer, whatever it is he craves.

"Different kind of cage." Miles wonders blearily if the conversation has stabilized enough that calling for more coffee wouldn't disrupt it, but then, as well as things are going -- relatively speaking -- he's still not sure he wants to risk it. This is a real conversation, and Miles is just as hungry for it.

"You're not wrong. They're trapped by other things. Greed, mostly. Only they don't see it as a trap, which is what keeps them snared." His forehead wrinkles slightly as he raises an eyebrow, leaning forward to brace his elbows on the table where his plate had been. "Are you thinking of aspiring to a Jacksonian barony? Because that's not a great way to avoid killing people, either."
jacksonian: (brooding)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-08-14 02:40 am (UTC)(link)
The clone hesitates only a moment before saying something openly honest. No matter how he resists, Miles' little affirmations, his ratifications of what he's saying - they draw him out. He can't help but be satisfied by them. No, be honest - he drinks them down, parched for any sort of approval. Even from Miles. Especially from Miles.

"No." And there's a frankness in that. He may not know what he does want, but he has a decent idea what he doesn't. "They make their money crushing people who can't defend themselves. I won't hurt people who can't defend themselves." A moment as he hears himself and realizes how sentimental he sounded; he finishes up with a tougher-sounding, "Who could get satisfaction out of that?"

And then, "And don't act like you're not trapped, too."
forwardmomentum: (but i declined)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-08-15 05:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Miles lets out a thin little breath he hadn't realized he was holding. It's a relief to hear in concrete terms that his clone's desire for revenge isn't so blinding as to view innocent lives as unavoidable or even acceptable collateral.

"No man who wishes to protect others from harm," he agrees in a carefully mild tone of voice, not wanting to upset the fragile balance of this conversation. He wonders just how long it'll take for the clone to start to feel comfortable enough around Miles not to constantly jump to his own defense unprovoked. What the hell did Galen do to this kid?

He has a few uncomfortable inklings.

Miles smiles slightly, gingerly rubbing a bruise on his cheek. "I wouldn't dare pretend otherwise. Blood on the hands, remember?" He wiggles his slightly shaky hands at the clone as if in demonstration. "I was seventeen when a life was first actively taken in my name -- under my command. But you don't need to fall into that trap. You don't need to take the same path I did."

That's what the clone wants, isn't it? To be different from Miles -- as much as possible? Good, Miles thinks fervently. Take any other path. Any path you like -- just not this one.
jacksonian: (uncertain)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-08-15 05:30 pm (UTC)(link)
"I'm not talking about being trapped because of bloodshed or any of that crap." He still doesn't think Miles has the right of it. Most Barrayarans wouldn't care about killing someone...at least, he thinks not. He's not exactly ready to argue the topic of what Barrayarans are like with Miles. Not because he thinks Miles is clear-eyed and well-informed, but just because he knows he's been fed a lot of horseshit over his life. But Jacksonians? Even grubbers will kill without feeling remorse. Bharaputra's goons were fucking casual and relaxed around the children they were about to drag to the fucking operating room. And the Komarrans, Galen and the others, they were tied up in their hatred before they ever took a life.

And what about you? Is he trapped, too? Wrapped up in Miles? Tied to him? Your conjoined twin, sharing a heart and a brain - the doctors need to decide where to cut, which one gets the vital organs, which one gets to live. And I know which one they pick... He hunches his shoulders, rubs at his knees, but successfully shoves down his wave of panicky hatred.

"You're trapped by your Barrayaran programming. And your issues with the Butcher. Your need to be as famous as he is."
forwardmomentum: ((three!))

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-09-14 10:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Miles, tired and twitchy as he is, flinches at that despite himself. That strikes a bit more of a nerve than he was really prepared for. He turns the gesture into a jerky rub of his hand over the back of his neck.

"It's...not about fame." Barrayaran programming. The implication invokes a kneejerk indignation, but Miles bites the inside of his cheek. "It's not quite that simple. It's about..." He tries to pick the right word, can't seem to settle on just one. "Recognition, maybe. But not fame. For all that my father is, indeed, a political-military monolith -- " For all that I want to escape that shadow. " -- It's about service, too. It's about proving that I can serve Barrayar just as well as anyone else can."

That feels painfully honest, and it is, and Miles is fully expecting this confession to be met with further scorn and skepticism. But if he was anything less than honest -- that'd only blow up in his face too. The trust is what's important here.
jacksonian: (incredulous)

[personal profile] jacksonian 2017-09-15 02:19 am (UTC)(link)
It at least doesn't get laughter, or a scoff, or anything particularly aggressive. That sight of Miles' visible flinch calmed something in him just a little bit. So a little bit less scorn this time around. But skepticism - yes. Absolutely skepticism. The clone lifts his eyebrows at his progenitor, and raises his hand to gesture around them.

"Sure. And all of this - Admiral Naismith - is proving what? To whom?" He drops his hand. "How many Barrayarans even know this fleet exists?"
forwardmomentum: (so put on every winter coat)

[personal profile] forwardmomentum 2017-09-18 02:02 am (UTC)(link)
He's worn a little too thin right now. Too little sleep and too many blows to the head during his confinement, or else he might've been able to control the reaction Mark gets out of him. Not quite a flinch, or a wince -- but a kind of retreat, a brief show of weakness. How many indeed.

"It's a covert operation," Miles says -- not really an answer, he knows, and he shifts in his seat. Mark's questions are getting difficult to answer. Shouldn't he be ready for this? He rubs one eye gingerly, avoiding a contusion on his cheek. "And it's -- not about immediate payoff. I'm playing the long game here." He tries to inject a little levity into his tone, play it off.