" A-ny-waaay, I'm finally done with all the catch-up paperwork, so tonight, let's go out to drink somewhere!" William suggested brightly, carrying his cat into the room with him.

" Ah, that's a good idea," Kirie said from where she was seated. " I've been so busy with Neda I haven't been able to do much with you..."

" Acceptable proposition," Nova agreed. " Though I doubt this backwater place has any really good liquor."

William flopped down and let the cat loose; it promptly slinked across the room to sit directly in front of Nova and not look at him.

" Ah, should we invite Prima, too? I'm pretty sure he's old enough to drink," William suggested.

" His eighteenth birthday's in like a month," Nova said passively.

" Eighteen is aerospace law. Local law is like fifteen or sixteen," William responded.

" Your people have too many laws."

Kirie leaned back as though thinking.

" Mmm, but if we have Prima with us, Neda always gets a little weird about that," she said. " I don't think I've really seen him since we landed, anyway. What's he so busy with?"

" Smashing that xenophobic woman's daughter," Nova replied diffidently.

" Ah! Lyena-Nova! Isn't there a more polite way to say that...?"

" Oh, yeah, I should tell him to stop that," William mused. " It's a matter of time before Mrs. Morey comes up here with the intent to sue. I already heard about it through the town gossip."

" So this is more of a double-date thing we're planning, then," Kirie said, as though taking mental notes.