The shapes in the distance, floating against the backdrop of stars, seemed eerie. Nova was used to the expanse of space around him being clear.

He watched them, anyway.

" I got us drinks!" William called out. He waltzed in, and settled down next to him, handing him a mug.

" Black coffee?"

" You said you didn't like sweet things."

" ... I'm surprised you remembered that."

" It was only like two weeks ago, you know. Almost three?"

" ... Not much time at all."

He took a sip.

" Hey, William, am I really so worth falling head over heels for, like this?"

" What do you mean? Of course you are. You're the full package."

William's gaze drifted over the outline of a wrecked carrier.

" My people did do all of this," Nova replied.

" But it wasn't you personally," William pointed out. " According to records it was... Someone named Ifrit? A son of your Queen Mother, at any rate."

" ... It was us who fought at Thera, though," Nova said.

" No, you've got your chronology of it mixed up," William chided. " After you destroyed the Technologica's bridge and I took command, your uncle displaced you so he could lead counter measures personally. We only fought for like a battle and a half. And it turned out quite well! There's a nonaggression treaty, sapience rights extension, I got a boyfriend..."

William quit speaking as he realized how Nova was looking at him.

" You can't say it turned out well. You can't say you don't hold any grudges from that. We first met through that battlefield, Wille."

" There'd be no point in holding grudges," William replied. He tipped his head a bit. " Nova... Do you have a grudge against me?"

Nova stared at him for a little bit, trying to collect his thoughts.

... William had disgraced him, then, but as he was now... Nova found that he couldn't want anything but to protect him. For all the ferocity hidden in his body, he was still small and fragile. Even knowing he had expert combat ability, Nova's mind still short-circuited to 'small and fragile'.

" Your penance for disgracing me on the battlefield is being loyal to me as a lover," he deadpanned. Scandalous words, but they were alone, so that was fine. " I think that's a fair enough retribution."

" You think so?"

" What more could I ask?"

A large chunk of another old ship floated by.

" Alright. I'm a bit disappointed you didn't ask for more, though."

What he meant by that went unexplained.

He cast his eyes to the debris outside.

" ... There's so much more of it than I thought," he said. " I wish I wasn't in charge of keeping this mess running... It would be nice to go explore all that. We did it a few times for field trips in school. And we had training exercises in jettisoned ships, too... It would be nostalgic."

" You'd probably run into corpses or something," Nova observed. " That's a bit too grim for me. I heard that the way bodies mummify out in space is disturbing to look at."

" They're not too bad, really? We've had to retrieve a few before."

" It's gross, Wille."

" Still, I like the sight of these things at peace."