He could feel the soft cotton of William's glove, hand covering his mouth, and it was William looking down at him-

I understand how you feel, but you mustn't do such things, Nova.

He woke with a start.

Sat up and shoved his blankets away. According to the clock, it was nearly noon. That was fine. He'd been up late the prior night, watching the stars on the portside, for a long while.

... He was hungry.

He picked up his communications device and called William, sinking back down into the blankets.

" Wille. Wille. Will you bring me something to eat? I just woke up," he asked, upon hearing his call being picked up.

" I just got done with lunch, I was getting out civilian clothes for Siluria," William complained. " Can I just s-"

" I want you to bring me food," Nova cut him off.

" When did you get so clingy? Aren't I supposed to be the clingy one? Isn't that how we've been going?"

" I'm tired and I'm hungry and I'm your guest, treat me like one."

" Fiiine, Nova."

" Lyena-Nova."

" Are you still on abou- Ah!"

The call ended abruptly with a crashing sound. Nova stared at the screen for a moment, trying to figure out what had happened; his best guess was that he had tripped over something and broke some of his cheap furniture.

... He hated that he liked William so much.

He didn't know how it had crept up on him. Perhaps it was just because they spent so much time together. Or maybe it was that they were too alike, beneath the veneer of skin and stubbornness. Maybe it was because they were nothing alike, beneath the veneer of skin and stubbornness. Every time he thought he knew him, he pulled something new.

... That was irritating.

He flipped on his back and thought for a moment about Siluria.

He'd never been on Siluria. It had never even been anywhere near Starka territory, even at the height of the Empire. Not even Ifrit had been able to punch through the DASS defenses to get that deep into their expanse of space.

He wondered what the people there would think of him. The non-aggression treaty was so recent, after all. They had all probably lost family in the war. Generations of family lost to war.

I don't hate them. I don't feel anything for them. I suppose... I feel bad that they have to be on the side that I'm fighting. They're obstacles I have to get out of the way to make Mother happy. Lives shouldn't have to be wasted like that, just to make a point.

Recalling those words gave him an awkward, ugly feeling.

The light flicked on.

" Rise and shine, love of mine!" William called out cheerfully, obnoxious smile.

" Morning, idiot."

" You know, your room is way nicer than mine," William commented, closing the door. " Maybe I should start sleeping in here."

" Kirie would think we're committing war crimes," Nova commented drily. " ... Not that I would mind it, much."

" I'm amazed. You've finally showed me a moment of weakness," William said, smiling, and sat on the edge of the bed. The sheer fluff of it promptly absorbed him.

" Hand me whatever's in that bag," Nova said, fishing him out by the collar.

" Well, yes, I was intending to before your bed tried to drown me," he said. " It's just cafeteria food, you know."

" Don't care. I'm hungry enough to eat fast food trash at the moment."

He took the bag and opened it. There was a sandwich and two cups that presumably had sides. Passable, at least.

" We're going to be landing on Siluria in like two days. You should start getting your stuff together."

" Not like I'm going to take a single step off this ship. I'll be prosecuted for my brothers' war crimes."

" The ship is going to undergo maintenance, actually! We'll be staying at an on-base hotel."

" I hate you. Don't spring things like that on me at the last second."

" It'll be fine. You're a cultural ambassador for peace, Nova. Nobody's going to throw rotten vegetables at you and call you cat slurs."

" The fuck is a cat?"

William stared at him for a moment, expression so shocked that Nova thought perhaps he had said a slur.

Then he dug out his communications and called someone almost frantically.

" Kirie, we don't have a ship cat, we're getting a cat," he practically yelled.

" You already have one." Nova could hear her reply faintly.

" No a real one, oh my God, Kirie, a real cat, Nova just said he doesn't know what a cat is," William seemed to be bouncing with excitement, and Nova got the sense that something tremendously funny was flying over his head.

" H-he doesn't? I, uh, I'll see what I can do," Kirie replied, and then hung up on the call.

" William, don't blow me off to call your Kirie, what is a cat?" Nova repeated. " What did she mean by 'already have one'? Quit trying to pull stuff over on me," he demanded.

" You'll see! Ahahaha, oh my God, this is so funny, Nova..." He fell laughing back into the blankets, practically vanished from sight.

" What's so funny?" Nova asked again, further irritated. " William! Are you being a xenophobe? William?"

" Oh, Nova, I love you!"