" Councillor Mordau will be returning next month. Are you going to stay that long?"

" No. We're going to go back to the DASS after Prima recovers."

" ... You're always gone these days."

" Not that it matters to you."

" I wish that you would stay gone, Lyewa-Nova," he said quietly, throwing the blanket down on the bed and straightening it out. " You make things strange when you're around."

" I know that."

The water turned off.

William stepped out, whole body wrapped in a towel and then under a bathrobe.

" What are you two talking about?" he asked cheerfully.

" How much we hate each other," Nova replied flatly.

" Now, not to unnecessarily advocate democracy, but abolishing the class system might possibly work in your favor."

Kaama flinched a little.

" ... It's not anything like that," he said. " I was just waiting for the two of you to go away."

" Ah, me too?"

Kaama's nose wrinkled.

" ... Even fresh out of the bath, you smell of blood," he said. " You're unsettling."

" Wille is just fine, Kaama," Nova complained at him. " Don't be so rude."

" ... You've always tended towards people like that, though. Maybe so much that you don't notice it anymore."

The atmosphere felt sour.

" Well, anyway, Kaama, will you go check on Prima? That one, Lanta, was giving him some hateful looks earlier, so..."

" I'm not your servant," Kaama said, even though he was turning to leave. " I'm Lyewa-Nova's."

The door closed; William sat down on the bed.

" ... You two are really close. I feel like I'm intruding on something," he said absently.

" All we ever do is argue and hurt each other nowadays," Nova replied.

" It's that he feels safe enough to argue with you."

William traced a hand up behind his neck, feeling his scars.

" Wille?"

" I don't mind it so much, either. But I like it when you hurt me, too. It makes us real."