...The memory at the edge of Nova's mind was one he did not want to recall. It was also a shadow he could never let go of.

If Redlin really, truly, didn't know, then he didn't want to disclose it to Redlin.

" Are you alright? You really like, uh... just kind of completely froze up, for a moment there," Redlin said. " What relationship?"

Nova gritted his teeth, and looked down at the floor, and finally managed to hiss out what amounted to nothing but an excuse.

" ... Ifrit... took care of me when I was a child."

Redlin observed him dumbly for a moment, then took a very long drag off of his cigarette.

" Huh. Never woulda reckoned that. I always thought he was a fucked up evil monster incapable of love or empathy," he replied. " I guess everybody's gotta have something they care about."

" Hannan told me... no one would want to support me because of him," Nova said. " Hannan said that I could only rely on myself and the fleet."

" You were too young to deal with all that responsibility," Redlin said. " It's no wonder you're so uptight. Having nobody around but that bitch... I'd probably go crazy from it... Not to say you're crazy, like, what I meant is, it's a miracle you're not like totally fucked up, that is, you're not fucked up, you're just too repressed and anxious for your own good, speaking neutrally, as your brother, I think those are areas you could improve on..."

He trailed off into a coughing fit from the smoke as Nova stared at him.

" Oh," Nova said.

For once, he looked the way he felt.