" Lemme mess with your ears," William requested.

" Fuck off."

" They're fluffy, I wanna touch them."

He reached across to Nova's head, and Nova predictably batted him away.

" I won't suffer your indignities."

" Oh, but you know who will?" William stood, tiptoe, and leaned over him.

" Hey, what're you-"

" Butter Baby!"

William picked up the cat triumphantly, and sat back down. It curled up in his lap.

" That's so unfair. You're so unfair. I can't believe this."

" What's that? I can't hear you over Butter purring-"

He received a call.

" Nova, get off the desk."

" Fine."

And so he picked it up after Nova had gotten down.

The image of some unfamiliar person popped up on the telescreen.

" Ah, hello, Commodore General. I'm Lzdesur, Chzgurit's personal secretary. I was calling about a small change I noticed to the finalized personnel roster?"

William smiled.

" Oh? And what was that?"

" On the list of lieutenants requested from the main ship, it seems that a... Kirie Honda? Was mixed up with Loghred Vaan on the papers you sent over."

" Yes, that was intentional," William said. " Are there any problems with it? It's just one small alteration. Lt. Honda is a staple presence on the Theologica."

The secretary looked a little taken aback.

" Well, it's no real issue... The names were selected randomly, after all. You should've spoken to us ahead of time about any alterations, though, so please keep that in mind."

" I understand. Give the General my regards, then."

The call ended.

" Well, aren't you controlling," Nova sniped.

William petted the cat, staring at the telescreen.

" I need to have Kirie around," he said.

" Because you feel responsible for her, or something like that?"

A silence.

" William?"

" I know it wasn't my fault... But it felt like... my fault... And I don't know how to act around people when she's not there. Everything gets harder, for some reason."

" ...So you're holding her back for your own sake."

" ... Aren't you doing the same with Kaama?"

A moment.

" I am, aren't I."