" And those two women wouldn't stop dragging me over it! I thought I was being perfectly reasonable!"

" Honestly, from a strategic standpoint, it makes sense," William replied, sipping his coffee. " But this is the DASS, you know? You have to consider the long lasting moral consequences of your actions when making plans."

" I hate it when you suddenly talk like you have any common sense."

" You have to be nice to people, Nova."

" I think keeping her from being killed is nice enough," he complained, draping himself on William's desk. " Besides, Irdat hasn't had any other daughters. As much as I hate the woman, I feel like it would be an affront to any sort of self-proclaimed progressiveness Lyeha has in mind if we were to force her into such a situation where she's forced to produce another heir."

William leaned back in his chair.

" ... I'm still not entirely sure how things work for your people, but you may be right about that," he said.

" Go read a basic fucking biology textbook," Nova deadpanned. " I don't have to teach you everything myself."

William was still lost in thought. After a moment, he leaned forward.

" Then, let's put a progressive standpoint aside, and consider it as a question of whether you'd rather hurt Lyeha-Lesa or the Queen Mother Irdat."

" Well, Irdat already actively hates me, so if you consider it on an antagonistic basis I have no problem. The problem is that the most likely outcome of this scenario is Lesa dead, a new Lyeha we can't count on to be in our court, and the other members of the royal family hating me even more than before."

" Those are pretty fair odds, though. As it stands at the moment, everyone in the royal family hates you, including Lesa. The only potential way for you to gain allies on your own side is to let her do as she pleases."

" That's one way to read this, isn't it."

Nova sat up on the desk, facing William.

" I'm right, right?"

" You should consider that you sound like you're trying to edge your way in on the drama, Wille."

" You've gone and crinkled up all the completed paperwork I was due to turn in, so. It's only fair."

William wrapped his arms around Nova's waist, and rested his head on his stomach.

" I already sent in our next course for approval anyway, so you've got another two months to think this over."

Nova was frozen for a moment, as though unsure of what to make of William's sudden affection in the middle of an otherwise serious conversation.

He put a hand on his head.

" I'll have another two months to think you over, too."

" Mhm."

The door opened.

" A-ah! Captain! N-not in your office!"

Both William and Nova jumped; Nova almost fell off the desk. He turned around, a mixture of embarrassment and anger on his face.

" The fresh hell do you think we're doing, woman?!" he demanded.

" Kirie, help, he's messed up all my papers," William complained mildly as Nova shoved him away.

" Lyena, you have crumpled everything up!" Kirie exclaimed, nearly dropping the stack of papers she had as she expressed her dismay.

" Not my fault he wouldn't give me a chair," Nova replied.

" You never even asked."

" Not to cut in, but we need these forms for docking in Siluria's Septim ports sent off by the end of the week," Kirie stressed. " You finished the vaccine certifications already, right?"

" What do you think Nova's been laying on?"

" Laying?"

" Anyway, I guess you'll have to flatten them out, but I somehow managed to survive overseeing all of the health forms for the cadets," William sighed. Then he paused. " Goddammit."

" What?" Kirie asked, slight bit of consternation in her voice.

" I forgot about Lyeha-Lesa's health documentation..." He said, slumping back in his chair. " No-o-ova, can you get it sent over? I'm exhausted."