" William, I've-"

" Ah, Kirie. It's no matter. Nova brought me lunch."

Kirie was staring at him; both of them, actually. Though Nova was sitting apart from him, looking as taciturn as ever, William felt that she was taken aback by him being present at all.

" We're close enough to imperial territory that we can import more expensive traditional food with no significant shipping cost," Nova said stiffly. " It'd be a shame to pass an opportunity like that by."

Kirie opened the refrigerator and put the closed tray she'd brought in.

" Right," she said.

" It's cultural exchange, Kirie, cultural exchange," William said, repeating it to drive home importance, shaking a slice of some spiky red vegetable he had speared on his fork. It tasted mildly bitter, a bit spicy, and had a very strange texture.

" Ah. Right, William, what should we do about the Lyeha coming aboard..?" she asked, evidently hesitant.

" I'll be up and walking by then, I'll be going with Nova to get her off their ship," William handwaved. " I guess I'll give her the other nice guest room? We'll have no room for our visiting generals if we keep accumulating so much royalty."

" I'll make the arrangements for that, then, since you're hurt," Kirie offered.

" Don't encourage his laziness," Nova complained. " He can hold a pen."

William rolled his eyes.

" I'm an invalid, Kirie, don't listen to him," he said.

" Have more respect for your staff, she isn't a secretary."

" I'll be going to start up the paperwork for that now, then," Kirie said, and she left quite quickly.

William watched her leave, thinking.

" She certainly was in a hurry to leave," he commented.

" Oblivious oaf."

William smiled politely at him.

" Hm?"

Nova's ear flicked in annoyance.

" It's a bit obvious, how it looks."

" Y-you think she took it that way..." William blushed red; he hadn't considered it...


" Why did you bring me lunch, anyway, Nova?"

Nova jumped a bit in his seat.

" Excuse me? Why wouldn't I?" he demanded.

" Hmmm... Any number of reasons?" William ventured. " I was awfully forward with you yesterday before my match..."

" How about after?" Nova deadpanned.


" I don't especially, one might say, remember much from afterwards...?" William admitted awkwardly. " I was completely blitzed on pain killers all night..."

Oh, Nova was giving him a death glare, all stiffened up and hackles raised. What in the hell had he done.

Nova stood, abruptly, and snatched the half-finished plate from his lap.

" I see," he said, voice cold.

" H-h-h-hey now, Nova-!" William entreated, sitting up more. " Don't you think that's a bit much? It's not like I can chase after you if you leave..."

" I'm sure you could, all things considered," Nova deadpanned, making to leave.

" Noo-oova, my legs hurt and I don't want to get out of bed," he complained. " Make things easier on me, I'm hurt... You're bullying an injured man... Where's your honour now? You can't withhold food from me like this..."

" Crawl cross the floor and get out the cafeteria food your lieutenant brought you," Nova suggested indifferently. " Or perhaps get black out high on your painkillers again."

" God, what did I do to deserve this..."

" You know what you did."

" I really don't! Nova!"

... But he had left.

William flopped back on his pillow and stared at the ceiling, mind moving a thousand light years a second, trying to figure out what he had done to offend him so badly. He had been rather nice, for Nova, until William mentioned that he hadn't remembered the night before...

Oh, perhaps he had been hitting on him again?

But he had been hitting on him all of yesterday, including times he could remember, and Nova had just seemed irritated by it. He had directly said he was only humoring him because he thought Diurn would kill him. The thought of him reciprocating in any capacity actually seemed a little ridiculous. The man was ice all the way through. Pretty ice, that was fun to chip at, sure, but still...

Well, he had left, and he never had his communications up anyway, so it wasn't like he could call him back and say, 'sorry for whatever reckless flirting I got up to last night while I was high, let's try that again but without the drugs?'

If he did try that one, he felt like Nova would make a sincere effort to break his other ankle.

The sheer tsun he possessed was enough to topple empires. No wonder he was the Crown Prince, undefeated in those frankly hellish duels. He'd probably rather die than show any emotion beside annoyance and disdain.

How troublesome.