Slacks, belt, turtleneck sweater, ankle socks, leather boots. Beige and pastels. Covered everything except his hands and face. He didn't like that the faint silvery trace of a few scars was visible on the back of his hands, at the curve of his wrist, but there weren't so many people around to notice, that would be looking to notice.

He didn't like that Nova had noticed them.

" You look like a career homosexual," Nova sniped from where he was still lying in bed.

" I am, that's what I was going for," William replied.

" Well, you're excelling at it, just as you do everything else," Nova said. " Have fun at brunch or whatever. I'm going to sleep in more. I don't feel like getting dressed."

" Nooova, I don't wanna be stuck with a bunch of stiffs at some boring on-base café."

" Oh? From what Kirie said last night, being surrounded by a bunch of stiffs sounds like your favorite activity."

" Rude! That was ages ago, I was practicing."

" God, you know how you sound?"

" It seemed reasonable at the time."

" At the time."

He waltzed cross the room and leaned over Nova, face close.

" You're the only one I love, though, so it's fine," he said, as though it was meant to be reassuring. " You're the first person I've ever felt this way about. I'm practically drowning in my love for you, silly cat."

Nova sat up, to kiss him-

William's hand over his mouth.

Familiar feeling; lips pressed against palm; sourness, bitter, a knife twisting in his chest.

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

A sharp intake of breath.

The taste of rust.

" Ah, Nova, that was really deep," William complained mildly. " Be more careful with your teeth."

Blood falling onto the sheets.

He stared at the bite mark on William's hand for a moment, how it didn't close up, how his thin red blood was dripping down steadily.

" Now I'm gonna have to go see the on-site doctor," he complained. " Have stitches or whatever. What am I supposed to say? Doesn't look good when a peace ambassador bites his host, you know!" he chided gently.

" ... Didn't realize I bit that hard," Nova muttered, sitting up.

" I was just fooling around, I was gonna kiss you right back," William pouted.

" It's no use now, I'll taste of blood," Nova said, drawing up. " ... You should hurry and go to the infirmary."

William leaned in, cupped Nova's face in his hands; torn flesh, blood smearing on his cheek. He kissed him.

" ... I'm used to blood," he said as he drew away. " It helps me to feel alive."

Nova stared at him; felt the liquid warmth on his face. He was something sharp and soft all at once, again. Unreadable.

" ... Wille."

" Welll, I'm going to go get stitched up, so get dressed and we'll have lunch together, alright?" William requested cheerfully. " Don't look so concerned, I don't mind so much that you left a mark on me. It's the first time in a long time that it's been done."