Ivan must be drunker than he thought he was. He could have sworn he knew his way around Vivienne's parents' house, since she wanted to introduce him last week and showed him the place, but maybe they have a... secret... upstairs... bar? where Vivienne's room is supposed to be? And most certainly was last time he checked? He's never going to find the sweater she sent him up looking for here, anyway. Why is there a secret upstairs bar in Vivienne's parents' house?
(Miles briefly gets a look when Isabella mentions Bothari.)
(Mark gets a look about Miles getting a look.)
"Large amounts of flying subtext is going on over there. Should we be talking about something else?"
"I don't know," says Mark. "Should we?"
"...maybe," says Miles. "We could talk about, oh, sneaking Mark and Stalas onto Barrayar. For example."
"Does anyone have a better idea than the duffel bag?"
"The duffel bag in question would have to be fairly enormous," says Miles. "I don't really think you could plausibly claim that everyone just forgot they saw you bring it in. We could, I don't know, dress them both up as me and have us all leave as unobtrusively as possible by different exits. With somebody to shepherd Stalas. As long as no one actually sees all three of us in the same room, 'which way did he go and when' is the sort of thing people are pretty willing to have their memories quietly revised about. 'Was she or was she not carrying Father Frost's sack of presents when she came in a few minutes ago' is... less that way. I could easily imagine someone deciding that you were making off with the family silver or some damn thing, and demanding to see in the bag."
"I believe Mark has already volunteered to go out Vivienne's window."
"In a sense, I suppose. I'll do it, anyway."
"There's a back staircase, leads to a door that goes out near the quail. I could show it to Stalas and he can meet Miles and Linyabel and the Armsman she brought after they go out the front, and then I can go up the back stair again, get Vivienne's sweater, and resume like nothing happened."
"The quail that aren't going to try to kill me? Those quail?" inquires Stalas.
"The very ones. The quail that will try to kill you are up in the attic."
...Stalas cracks up.
So does Mark.
So does Lalita.
"Killer quail are no joke, gentlemen."
This does not cause anyone to stop laughing.
"Does this seem like a plan? Are people in a hurry to implement this plan?"
"But I do like having the plan planned," says Miles. "It's very planlike."
"I mean, we do have a a more or less complete accounting of all the obviously profitable exchanges between applicable worlds, or we wouldn't have sent the little ones home already, but I am concerned that the moment we step out, six more sets of alts with more fascinating trade goods are going to come in."
"Which logically implies you want to stay here literally forever," says Miles. "I'd rather not do that."
"Perhaps not literally forever, but I might want to wait for another week or another alt, whichever comes first."
"We can survive a week, I'm sure," Miles says agreeably.
"You know you don't have to wait for me, right? You can step out and I will be along presently regardless, because of the fascinating temporal properties at work."