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3.

For four days they accelerated, until they were well into the 99% range. The acceleration continued, though the proverbial needle no longer moved much: 99.8, 99.9, 99.999% of light speed. Time dilation meant that, maxing out at 99.99998% of light speed, their 34.8 light year journey would seem to them to take about ten days. It was a long time to spend in a small space, but not long compared to the 34.8 years it appeared to take to those at either end of the journey. And it was definitely a new record.

“You know,” said Clay, as he performed a series of checks on his display and Rachel, her naked back (and mole) to his naked back (and slightly hairy butt), “Borman and Lovell spent fourteen days just orbiting Earth in a spacecraft with about the internal volume of what we have here.”

“Really? Did they have sex at all?”

“I don’t think so,” said Clay. “It was the 20th Century.” They did some more checks, then giggled as their butt cheeks rubbed against each other. “Ha,” said Clay.

“What?”

“Jim Lovell and Frank Borman. They were asked about spending so much time together in close quarters. They said they were thinking about getting married. That’s what it says here.” He turned half around, and so did Rachel, and they kissed. “I need to show you Apollo XIII,” he said. “It’s about this same Jim Lovell. He was married his whole life to this woman, I guess you’d say it was kind of romantic.”

“But 20th Century. They dressed funny, I bet.”

“And everyone smoked tobacco.”

They turned back away and finished their chores. Clay noticed Rachel had started a chess game with him. He made a play: standard king’s side opening. She was up three games to one with two draws already this trip. “Clay,” she said, in an inquisitive tone that gave him the willies.

“Yes, dear?”

“Are you attracted by Bonnie Bain? Sexually?”

“The Bain woman??” He laughed, but even facing away he could sense she wasn’t going to accept anything dismissive. “Sure,” he said. “She has all those girl traits, you know, breasts and stuff.”

“So would you—? Did you?”

“Ha. Seriously, Rachel.”

“Seriously! Like, I don’t mind if you admit something from the past, obviously.”

“Admit. Ha. And ha. And ha and ha and ha, ha, ha. The Bain woman. So glad she’s found love in the arms of the Leith woman.”

“Any others you’re attracted to? Obviously Natasha, Vera Santos. You slept with them.”

“Rachel. Really. You slept with Gil Rojette. That was before Love came to town.”

“I know. I know.” It was her turn to laugh. She brushed against him as she rotated in place, and he did the same, and they were facing each other, naked, at a range of about two centimeters. “I just thought, you know, I wondered how a man like you views other women. It kind of matters.”

“I get that. Um, Rachel, I never know how much stock you put in words. I know it’s not going to be settled in your heart till you’ve seen—Rachel, were you cheated on?”

She got a funny, angry look, then smiled. She poked him in the slightly hairy chest with a finger. “You are bleeping brilliant,” she said.

“Trust issues.”

“Up the wazoo. Up the frippin’ wazoo. Gil—!”

“Frippin’ wazoo?”

“Deal with it, Clay. Gil, may he rest in peace, he and that Bain woman—!” She gave him a look full of her deep blue eyes. Blue in some lights, green in others. And he was such a sucker for eyes. And moles. And breasts. And everything else. And wasn’t that the whole point of the discussion. Rachel looked down, then into his blue eyes again. “And I will admit that I had a husband back on Earth, in Vancouver, and we were together for six years, and then he announced that he was divorcing me. And he had another woman. And he had been seeing her for months. And he needed me to move out soon, no rush, take a whole two weeks if I want, so they could be together.”

“Oh, Rachel.”

She giggled. She pulled his head in for a kiss. “It’s fine,” she said. “I don’t have a complex or anything.” Another long kiss. “Just be aware. That if you take up with another girl, I will have to kill you. I’ll try and make it a clean kill.”

“I will not give you the slightest reason,” he replied. They kissed some more.

Some time later, he half woke and half rolled out of Rachel’s arms. He had a look at the sensors.

“Uh, Rachel,” he said.

“Mmmm, what, baby?”

“Check your port side sensors.”

“What? Oh. Oh my. Oh my.”

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