" It's so weird to have to sneak around after hours just to sleep in here," William complained as the door closed, unfastening his cape. It slid to the floor. " Makes me feel like I'm back in school."

" Shouldn't you hang that up?"

" I can just get it dry-cleaned later if I have to."

" You act as though you're such a careless man," Nova scoffed.

" I am, aren't I?" William said, a bit taken aback.

" I refuse to believe you have anything less than a stickling sense of propriety."

" I don't have to care about that kind of stuff when I'm around you," William said.

" Hmmm, is that really so?"

William laid next to him.

" I can act more like myself," he said. " I don't get that freedom often."

Nova reached to him and caressed his face.

" I'm grateful," he said.

" You're so sweet to me, Nova..."

He put his hand over Nova's.

" Wille, have I changed too much?" he asked quietly. " I... feel different. And Mordau... said he did not know me."

... He sounded upset.

" I... I don't know," William admitted in turn. " I... feel like I've changed a worryingly amount, as well."

" That's a little relieving, then... Perhaps we've changed each other."

" Do you find comfort in that?"

" A bit... After all, I wouldn't want to be like this alone..."

" Ah... "

" Wille...?"

" I can't stand loneliness either..."

They kissed.

Nova drew him closer, and unbuttoned his shirt, sliding his hand across warm skin.


A pause.

Someone knocked on the door, low and clandestine.

Nova attempted to ignore it, but it did not let up.

" Why does this shit always happen?" he grumbled in complaint.

" Who knows," William said with a sigh. " Let's hope Prima just got into a fight with one of his girlfriends or something."

He buried himself under the blankets as Nova stood and went to the door. Wouldn't want anyone who wasn't already aware of their indiscretions to see him in there.

The sound of the door opening.

" ... Nova. I wanted to continue our conversation."

" I'm not going to change the answer I gave you."

" ... We don't have to discuss that if you don't want to. I still... want to ask you to return to Rasha with me."

" I'm not interested in doing so."

" I'm worried for your health," Mordau's voice shifted to a softer concern. " You don't look well. It's like you're falling apart at the seams... You're talking strangely as well, and your clothes were in disarray earlier... Have you been taking proper care of yourself?"

" I'm in perfect health."

" Please let me come in and visit with you, Nova."

" I'm sorry, but I can't."

" What is it that you want me to give you, Nova? What do I have to do? I want to take care of you."

" This isn't war time," Nova said. " My feelings have changed."

" Why do you want to stay so badly? Didn't you hate the DASS? Didn't you feel nothing but contempt for Lyeha? What's happened to you?"

" ... Mordau. I fear that it's something you may not understand easily."

" At least reassure me that you haven't been brainwashed!"

" ... In truth, Mordau... I... have. A... partner. Here."

His voice was tight, strained.

" And?! Nova, I would even contemplate rae for you!"


" Mordau, I..."

" I've been together with you all these years! How could being your raeli be any different? Just please come back from this place. It's not any good for you. Your blade has dulled."

" Mordau. I have... already chosen."

A silence.