All This Damn Gravity

by shukyou (主教)
illustrated by 2013

The date had been marked on Zoey’s calendar for … well, it’d been a while, actually; orbits were predictable like that. But for the last seventeen trips around the moon, she’d been counting down with bated breath, going to bed every night with the quiet excitement of knowing that every sleep brought her one cycle closer to the date.

Not that dates really meant anything out here, nor calendars, at least not in the Earth sense. A display above her workstation kept a Universal Time Clock running, which she could use to calculate what time it was right now on any city on Earth, in case she desperately needed to know. She didn’t. Bravo Orbital Research 15 (abbreviated BOR15, which Zoey insisted on pronouncing like “Boris” even when her supervisors emphatically did not) circled quietly around Lamassu IV’s seventh moon, which itself rotated and revolved at speeds that had nothing to do with traditional Sol-based measurements of time. Thus, Zoey had acclimated herself almost completely to a schedule that literally no one else in the universe kept.

“You going to be good while I’m gone?” she asked the rows of plants growing quietly along what sometimes seemed like every inch of flat surface. They didn’t respond, but it didn’t matter. It was still nice to know something living was going to be holding down the fort. And anyway, she was fairly certain the plants liked her, even if they didn’t have the clearest ways of showing it. She believed that they grew better when she sang to them, and she unrelatedly also refused to stop singing so she could have some control against which to measure this assertion.

She sang to them now as she prepared to leave, in fact — a snippet of a pop song that had come in with the last news/culture data packet. She’d barely paid attention to the words at the time, but the beat was stuck in her head, so she made up her own words as she pruned some dead leaves and tried to kill fourteen minutes and seventeen seconds: “Oh, all my greens are turnip greens, baby… You wanna touch my radishes but you can’t handle ’em… Hello, I’m your sexy potato…

Okay, so her singing wasn’t that good. But the plants appreciated it, she knew. They had refined tastes, and also no ears.

She checked for the approximately eighty millionth time, just to make sure all BOR15’s autosystems were in place and running smoothly. Not that anyone would notice her absence — Lamassu IV was far enough out from the nearest broadcast point that the lag made synchronous communication with Earth impossible, so it wasn’t like anyone was going to call and expect an immediate response. But BOR15 was still both her workplace and her home, and she didn’t want anything happening to it while she stepped out.

Absently, Zoey let her fingers trace the small pouch strapped to her thigh. The material was thin enough that she could feel through it to its contents: a leather-bound paper journal and a pair of knit socks. They were Zoey’s first attempt at a pair of socks, and they were appropriately hideous, but it was the thought that counted.

At last, the computer sent out a little warning ping: five minutes to launch window. Zoey all but bolted for the capsule airlock, heaving herself with such enthusiasm that she overcorrected in the zero-gravity environment and went flailing toward the far wall. Thank heavens she caught herself before the spinach could suffer the ill effects of her poor aim. She righted herself and floated right back to the airlock, then slipped right through.

BOR15 wasn’t huge, but at least the dozen separate compartments that formed its structure gave a sense of space and distinction. The capsule was tiny, barely big enough for a single seat and four cargo chests. Three of the ones loaded into place at the moment were empty; the fourth contained some of Zoey’s harvest, packed tight so it didn’t bruise in transit. Zoey took a deep breath as she strapped herself in. “Computer, time to launch,” she said.

Time to launch, one minute nineteen seconds,” read back a tinny voice. Zoey actually didn’t like talking to the computer, but sometimes it was faster than figuring out which of the hundred screens around her had the relevant information.

“Update and confirm synchro window,” Zoey said.

Synchro window, seventy-four minutes.”

Ten minutes there, ten minutes back — that left less than an hour total that they’d be together. It was different every time, depending on about a dozen different apogees and perigees and altitudes and aptitudes and other calculations Zoey left to computers. Most times it was longer. Once it had been decadently long — twenty-seven Sol hours, long enough that Zoey had actually slept over on Amphivena. She’d brought a toothbrush and everything.

Commencing launch in ten, nine…” As the computer made its countdown, Zoey took a deep breath and held it in. The force of ignition pushed it right back out of her, shoving her back against the chair. She couldn’t even see Amphivena ahead of her yet, nor did any of the capsule windows give a view of BOR15 behind her. She might as well have been adrift in the deep dark.

That was fine. She was used to being alone. She’d been on BOR15 for nearly four Sol years now, and two different one-year deep-space postings before that. Before anyone would send someone out to a solo post, they made that candidate take a week’s worth of psychological tests about everything from traumatic incidents to pet peeves. Zoey had passed them all with flying colors, hitting the Goldilocks window of someone who liked people enough not to be a misanthropic recluse, but could get along without them for long stretches between contact.

The latest of those stretches was about to end. As the light of the Lamassan sun caught its panels, Amphivena sparkled in the night like a star. Its rotational motion made Zoey think of little ballerinas in old-fashioned music boxes, turning with impossible — and impossibly slow — precision. The computer automatically set the capsule’s rotation to match the larger ship’s as Zoey came in for docking. Zoey kept her eyes shut during that transition; she couldn’t feel the difference, but to see the ship stop approaching and start spinning sideways? That was Nausea City, population Zoey.

There was a locking sound of metal clamps on metal slots, followed by a depressurization hiss that whooshed her shaggy hair into her face. She stood up — and immediately felt yanked right back down into her seat. Fucking centripetal force. Amphivena‘s slow spin kept things just shy of Earth conditions on the ship’s outer ring, but even here in the relatively weightless docking core, Zoey could feel her own mass dragging her down. She tried again, feeling like a newborn foal. Her legs shook, but they held.

As the capsule doors open, Zoey was greeted with the sight of the loaders. The metal arms clamped the four cargo boxes and hauled them out of the ship with mechanical efficiency. They pulled away like a curtain, revealing a slight, dark-haired woman in a jumpsuit. She nudged her glasses up her nose; her eyes were slightly unfocused in the way she got when she was reading the display information projected inside. “There’s a weakness in the capsule fuel line,” Tia said with a frown. “This synchro window won’t be long enough to do anything about it. I can have repairs ready next time, but don’t overburn in the interim.”

“Wasn’t planning to,” Zoey said, focusing on putting one foot in front of the other as she walked from the capsule to the dock. Around her the loaders were humming and whirling in their own strange ballet, a precision dance that would have her loaded up with enough supplies to last the months-long stretch until BOR15 and Amphivena spun respectively into their next synchro window.

Tia nodded, still scanning readouts Zoey couldn’t see. “Upload steady at … eight percent?” She peered over the tops of her lenses. “Why’s the data packet three times its usual size?”

“The bok choy had a lot to say!” Zoey quipped, in a way she chose to believe made Tia smile on the inside. “Also, it’s got a full systems scan. CO2 reclamation has been giving me all kinds of fits. Figure I’ll need a full maintenance crew visit somewhere in the next eighty-something orbits.” Zoey wasn’t so much looking forward to having a bunch of people and machines poking through her space and disturbing the seedlings, but when it came to breathing, you had to do what you had to do.

Tia’s dark eyes widened in concern. “You going to be okay out there?” she asked, her voice losing some of its mechanically efficient edges.

“Hey, you know me and the green stuff. We’re tough. We’ll be fine.” Zoey shot her the most charming grin she had in her arsenal; she was rewarded by the way Tia pressed her lips together and averted her gaze, her cheeks a little pink. Tia had taken those same psychological tests and had come out with similar scores, though not along identical axes. People did well on their own for all kinds of reasons. “Oh, speaking of the green stuff, don’t let them restack those containers until you check them. One’s got at least a couple salads for you.”

Of course the loaders wouldn’t have treated full containers like empty ones, but Zoey still wanted some credit for the gift. “That’s very thoughtful,” Tia said without taking her eyes off the console in front of her, though the corners of her mouth turned up in her sweet little smile.

Gratified, Zoey shrugged as she leaned against the far wall, trying to play cool despite her shaky legs. “It’s the least I can do, you know? Can’t get all your calories from bars. Except no peas this time. I tried! Something about this new hybrid doesn’t take well to solar radiation, so we’ll have to try again after we urk–“

Her sentence was abruptly truncated by a sudden yank, courtesy of Tia’s hand fisted in the front of Zoey’s jumpsuit. Zoey barely had time to register Tia’s movement before Zoey was moving right along with her, dragged down the walkway to the lift. If Tia hadn’t been holding her up, Zoey might have pitched ass-over-nose-cone and wound up sprawled across the metal grate beneath her. For as slight as she looked in her loose-fitting jumpsuit, Tia was a powerhouse who had more than once gotten Zoey completely off her feet, even in near-full gravity. As though Zoey needed more things to make her knees weak.

For all Amphivena‘s size, relatively little of it was made for humans. Where Zoey had her plants for company, Tia had cargo and machines. Zoey knew Tia didn’t sing to them. Tia barely liked to talk when there was someone listening.

As soon as they were inside the small lift, Zoey was promptly sandwiched between the metal grate of the carriage’s walls and Tia’s strong body. Tia’s mouth was on hers, kissing her as Tia grabbed Zoey’s suit now with both fists. As shaky as Zoey felt beneath the growing G-forces, it was Tia who was holding on like she was afraid of what would happen if she let go.

“Miss me?” Zoey asked, smirking into the kiss.

“Forty-six minutes,” Tia said as the doors of the lift hissed open, revealing her small quarters. She stepped out and hauled Zoey along right after her.

Zoey wasn’t inclined to argue with Tia about any number of things, but especially not on this front. She wondered sometimes what Tia’s family and acquaintances would think if they could see her like this: hungry, bossy, adorably bent on taking charge of the situation. With absolute determination, Tia marched right past the small bed and straight to the bathroom. “What, do I smell?” Zoey laughed.

Tia didn’t answer, which Zoey supposed counted as a yes. Well, that was one — two, actually — of the hazards of zero-G horticulture: Every drop of water was vital to the plants, and there really wasn’t any way to make a shower spray fall without gravity.

Amphivena, however, had both water and gravity to spare. Kissing Zoey’s neck, Tia pushed open Zoey’s jumpsuit, then nudged it back off her shoulders and arms. Tia brought her arms back up Zoey’s middle, hooking her fingers underneath the elastic band of Zoey’s bra. Zoey reached obediently for the ceiling, letting Tia pull the soft cloth off of her. With a little shimmy, Zoey let the jumpsuit fall the rest of the way to the bathroom floor. She kicked off her boots and stepped out of her shorts, until she was completely naked. “Stinky girl, reporting for duty,” Zoey said with a wink, firing off a playful little salute.

Tia rolled her eyes and shoved Zoey backward, right into the shower stall. The water fired up immediately, hitting Zoey’s skin at a heavenly temperature. Zoey indulged for a moment, sticking her face right under the spray. The sanitation procedures she followed on BOR15 worked well enough, but there was something about real-life water that couldn’t be beat for just feeling clean.

Zoey raked her fingers through her sodden hair and slicked it back from her eyes. She needed a trim, but she also hated chasing little stray hairs around the compartment for days after. Maybe Tia could cut it this time for her, if they had time.

Any thoughts of asking, though, were cut off by the sight of Tia as she stepped naked into the spray. With her glasses gone and her hair down from its usual ponytail, her face looked softer, younger. She was lean but muscled, her body toned by the weight-lifting most deep-space travelers did for exercise. Zoey could see her a hundred times like this, she thought, and she’d never stop being gobsmacked by Tia’s beauty. “Hey, gorgeous,” Zoey said, trying to sound as suave as one could while also dripping wet and having recently been accused of being smelly.

Tia said nothing in response, but stepped inside the shower and pushed Zoey up against the back wall. Zoey happily let her — she would have let Tia do damn near anything, in fact, and loved every minute of it. Tia’s hands cupped Zoey’s breasts, catching her nipples between her thumbs and forefingers. She kissed Zoey as the water from the spray rolled down their faces.

It was a wonder to Zoey that the most beautiful woman she’d ever met treated Zoey like she was some sort of irresistible object. Maybe that was why they made such a good pair — Tia was something of an immovable force, after all. Quiet and stern, Tia burned inside in a way Zoey was certain by now only she got to see, and even that only when they could come together like this. “You’re so beautiful,” Zoey said right up against Tia’s mouth. “How are you so beautiful?”

Tia seemed to have no answer to this question. Instead, she drew her hands down Zoey’s body again, tracing the curves of Zoey’s flesh. One of Tia’s legs pressed up between Zoey’s, nudging them apart. Zoey was glad for the solid wall behind her, because otherwise, she would probably have fallen over. Holding her in place, Tia kissed down Zoey’s neck to her collarbone, then bent to take one of Zoey’s nipples into her mouth. Zoey squeaked as Tia first ran her tongue around the sensitive bud, then caught it lightly in her sharp little teeth. Zoey squirmed and squeezed her thighs tighter around Tia’s knee between them. It was a good thing they were already in the shower, because Zoey was going to need to be hosed down after this.

“I miss your mouth,” Zoey murmured, her words half-hidden beneath the sound of falling water. She stroked Tia’s wet hair as she talked, letting the dark strands curl between her fingers. “This is what I think about when you’re away. Your pretty little mouth and that pretty little tongue.”

Tia flicked that pretty little tongue right over the top of Zoey’s nipple, making Zoey moan. One of the benefits of being the only sentient beings on a ship was that noise was not a concern in moments like these. Neither machines nor vegetables were easily scandalized.

There was a vertical safety bar in the shower — presumably in case the ship’s rotation somehow stopped and down suddenly became a lot more arbitrary — that Zoey gripped, twining her forearm around it. She didn’t think of herself as an aggressive person, but she did tend to be a bit enthusiastic about … well, most things, really. And the thing about enthusiasm was, if you had it, most people just sort of let you take the lead wherever, including in bed.

Sex with Tia was a completely different experience for Zoey. Most of the time, she just held on tight and went wherever Tia wanted her. Often, Tia’s own pleasure was a complete afterthought; her gratification was in how she could make Zoey moan and writhe. She made Zoey think of giant undersea waves, deep things rolling whole kilometers high while the surface barely shifted. Her face was like that now, her eyes shut, droplets of water suspended in her thick lashes. The casual observer might have thought she was meditating, or even sleeping, were they somehow able to ignore the frankly obscene movements of her mouth against Zoey’s breast.

Then her fingers pressed between Zoey’s legs, sliding in where the wetness changed from water to the slick juices of Zoey’s pussy. “Oh, fuck, fuck me,” Zoey moaned as Tia’s fingers teased at her clit. “Fuck, don’t make me beg, we don’t have time…”

Tia made a quiet little noise, one that sounded resigned to the fact that Zoey was right. Slowly, she sank to her knees in the shower, dragging her tongue down along the curves of Zoey’s belly and hip. She put her hands between Zoey’s thighs and eased her into a wider stance. Zoey let herself sink into it as Tia leaned forward, nuzzling her nose into the wet, dark patch of Zoey’s pubic hair.

“Come on, come on.” Zoey’s breathing sounded like she’d just finished a race. Of all the thoughts racing through her head at the moment, one had to be the countdown: They had to be coming up on the thirty-five minute mark, maybe closer to thirty. If they cut it too close, Zoey would have to wind up bolting for the capsule half-dressed and dripping, to say nothing of potentially needing to stop before she even got off.

Of course, this was an unfounded background worry, and she knew it. Tia probably knew exactly how many minutes they had left and had a ten-point plan for getting Zoey off with at least ninety seconds to spare, because that was the kind of person she was. As close as they’d cut it before, Zoey had never gone back to BOR15 either late or unsatisfied. Tia had seen to that, as she was seeing to it now. She looked up at Zoey with dark eyes not meditative or sleepy, but outright smug. She knew exactly what she was doing and she was going to be a total monster about it.

When she leaned in and pressed her tongue to Zoey’s clit, the touch wasn’t dainty or hesitant. Her mouth there had the same tender roughness as it had shown circling Zoey’s nipple. “Fuck!” Zoey exhaled hard and held on to that safety bar for dear life as the water coursed down over both of them. “Please, I need it, I need you to fuck me.”

Under other circumstances, Tia might have held out a bit more — might even have made Zoey describe, in detail, just what she wanted and how she wanted it. As pressed as they were for time, though, Tia slid her fingertips up the inside of Zoey’s thigh. Zoey felt the push of Tia’s fingers against her pussy. With her lips still around Zoey’s clit, Tia started to press inside of Zoey, opening her wide.

At first, Zoey felt the pleasant stretch of two of Tia’s fingers, followed by a third. Then her eyes snapped open as she realized that wasn’t the end of it. What followed was no a less pleasant, but certainly more intense, sensation as Zoey felt all four of Tia’s fingers slip inside her to the knuckle, and then keep going.

They’d done this before, a handful (pun mildly intended) of times, but always with a little more warning and a lot more leadup. Now it was all Zoey could do to remain upright as Tia got her whole hand inside of Zoey’s pussy. Zoey felt like she could barely breathe, much less move — she swore she could feel the tips of Tia’s fingers pressing right up against the underside of her lungs. “God, oh fuck, oh fucking fuck,” Zoey babbled. It was too fast, too much, but it was so good, so fucking good. Tia knew just how to take her, just how to bring her to the edge of no and make it firmly and definitively yes. “Oh my god, baby, I fucking love you, fuck me, come on and fill me, I needed this, I fucking need this so bad…”

Whatever expression might have passed Tia’s face at that was completely lost in how buried Tia’s face was between Zoey’s thighs. Her tongue flicked back and forth along Zoey’s clit with eager pressure. Her hand, by contrast, remained stone-still inside Zoey — but it didn’t need go anywhere. Zoey was moving herself around it, feeling her nerves catch fire every time she so much as shifted her weight. 

In a way, it was good that they only saw one another a handful of times a year, because if Zoey had the opportunity to have this all the time? She’d be dead. She’d be dead of getting eaten out and fisted in the shower daily by the most beautiful woman in the universe. And it would be a hell of a way to go.

There was something delicious about being that full, pushed so hard that Zoey could hardly believe her body could take it. She could barely breathe; even the slightest expansion of her chest reminded every part of her body of its intrusion. It was hot and tight and shockingly intimate. Zoey was completely vulnerable like this, her tenderest parts at the mercy of someone who could, if she wanted, do a lot of damage. But that was what made it good too, wasn’t it? That edge of danger mixed in with the quiet certainty that Tia would take anyone who wanted to hurt Zoey and rip them apart with the same hands and teeth that now held Zoey with such overwhelming care.

When Zoey came, it was like the pressure of ignition, knocking the air from her lungs. Zoey shouted and gripped at the safety bar while she let her orgasm overtake her. The noises that came from her mouth were not words. She could feel her pussy muscles squeezing around Tia’s fist, caught in the push-pull of wanting the intrusive force gone and wanting to steal it and keep it inside her forever. 

Before its presence could become painful, Tia slipped her hand out in a rush that left Zoey shaking, boneless, and feeling like she weighed about eighty tons. Zoey pitched forward and would have hit her head against the shower wall, had Tia not been there to catch her. Her strong arms wrapped around Zoey’s chest, supporting her as she rested Zoey’s sodden head against her shoulder. “I’ve got you,” Tia whispered, the words almost nothing over the fall of the water. “I’ll always catch you.”

Too soon, the shower stopped and a small alarm sound rang throughout the cabin. “Fifteen minutes to end of launch window,” said Amphivena‘s computer, which was more of a surly tenor than BOR15’s bright mezzo. Zoey wondered sometimes if that had been factory-installed, or if it had been Tia’s settings choice. Like with needing a haircut, Zoey never managed to ask until they were out of time. “Fifteen minutes to end of launch window.”

Zoey exhaled in a tired laugh. “I guess…” She weakly lifted her hand and placed it on Tia’s bare hip. “Guess I owe you one?”

She could hear Tia’s quiet chuckle as she bent in to kiss Zoey’s wet hair. “Next time.”

“You’re beautiful,” Zoey murmured, turning her head to return the kiss against Tia’s neck. “The most beautiful woman in the galaxy.”

“You love me for my shower,” Tia said, giving Zoey’s upper arm the gentle little pat of a compliment-skeptic.

Zoey shook her head. “I love you for a lot of reasons.”

There was a slight stiffness in Tia’s body at that, but Zoey didn’t mind. She was used to it by now — hell, even a little proud of her ability to throw the nigh-imperturbable Tia off her game with something so simple as the truth. Maybe one day Tia would say it back; maybe she wouldn’t. The plants didn’t say it back either, but Zoey knew. Some things you just knew.

The bots brought them both clean clothes — Zoey’s being the ones she’d worn over last time, which had by now been laundered and folded and waiting for months for her return. Zoey had to hold tight to Tia’s shoulders as Tia helped her step into both her underwear and the jumpsuit. The tight fabric of her shorts made her wince a little, then laugh. She’d be feeling that for days, in the best possible way.

“There’s, um–” Zoey pointed to the thigh pouch that lay among her discarded clothes. “I got a little bored just watching the potatoes grow, so there’s something extra in there. For you. Since it gets a little cold here.”

“Thank you.” Tia grabbed the zipper of Zoey’s jumpsuit and fastened it up for her from her navel to her neck. Then Tia took an identical-looking pouch from one of the cubbies on the wall and fixed it in the same place the first had gone. Zoey could feel the weight of its contents strapped to her like an anchor, like an anchor she wished could actually hold her still.

Some small, defiant part of her wanted to miss the launch window — not just by a little, so that she had to burn extra fuel resources to catch up with her runaway station, but actually to miss it by so much that her capsule could never hope to catch up with BOR15 on its own. Sure, she’d get colossally fired for it, and probably blacklisted from any other job like it, or even any other position in her entire field, to say nothing of how all the experiments would be ruined, and her reputation, and Amphivena‘s life-support systems weren’t keyed in for double occupancy, so they’d have to break into the supply cargo earmarked for all the other projects on the circuit, which would get Tia fired as well…

Okay, so she didn’t actually want to miss the launch window. She just wished it could be a hundred times as long, so they’d have all the showers and kisses and orgasms and time to talk they wanted.

The lift back to the docking bay was much the same as the ride down had been, with Tia’s arms around Zoey and Zoey’s mouth against hers. She could taste herself on Tia’s tongue. That thought alone was nearly enough to send Zoey scrambling for the lift’s emergency override, until it let them fall right back down, thrown out from the center of Amphivena by its constant quiet spin. After all, there was no such thing as the pull of gravity here. There was only the push of everything forever falling into, and thus always away from, everything else.

They were all business again as the lift doors opened. There were now under eight minutes to the end of the window. Zoey scurried over to the back of the capsule to see that all four cargo slots were filled again, the empties exchanged for containers holding everything she’d need for the coming months. “Did they give me any applesauce this time?” Zoey asked as she checked the locks. Didn’t want boxes twice her size floating around her head while she was trying to steer her way back.

Tia shook her head. “‘Berry purée’, whatever that is.”

What it was, was that one of the other BORs had grown too many ugly fruits and needed to offload them on the people who couldn’t be picky. “Tell them applesauce next time,” said Zoey, who knew full well Tia had no control over the cargo contents.

“Six minutes,” was Tia’s diplomatic reply to that. “Data transfer, successful. Refueling, complete. Systems diagnostic and update, complete. Scheduled maintenance request for next compatible synchro window, submitted. Do not overburn the engines either direction.”

“Still wasn’t planning to!” Zoey laughed and stretched her arms above her head, taking in the last moments before she became weightless again. “I’ll take it easy. Cross my heart.” She wasn’t entirely looking forward to sitting down for the trip back, but she figured it was a fair trade. Besides, the ache would make her think of Tia, and what was better than that?

Tia walked over and gave Zoey a gentle but pointed shove toward the capsule. “Then get going.”

Zoey laughed as she caught herself against the door. “Kiss me first,” she said, beckoning Tia with a wink and a grin.

The put-upon expression on Tia’s face was a complete contrast to how quickly she crossed the distance between them, using the room’s low gravity to make it in a single bound. She caught Zoey’s face between her hands and kissed her with an intensity that made Zoey melt. Her lips were soft and pliant, but behind them, the edges of her teeth cut through like a promise. There’d be more of that next time.

As the capsule rocketed off again, Zoey could have turned on the monitors, but she didn’t like looking back. She didn’t like good-byes either, or endings, so she simply chose to believe that nothing actually ended. Everything was always only in the process of becoming something else. Maybe it was a bit of magical thinking, but so what? Her entire life was built on principles of cycles, repetition, intersection, revolution. It was one of the few points where her academic training and her Buddhist grandmother would have found themselves in agreement, and for Zoey, that was enough.

As the capsule guided itself across the long stretch of space back to BOR15, Zoey opened the pouch Tia had strapped to her thigh. In it was another leather-bound journal, the twin of the one she’d left behind on Amphivena. The handwriting traded off every dozen pages or so, alternating between the meticulous, cramped print of being tucked up among machines, and the swooping scrawl of floating past roots and vines. 

She flipped it over to where the latest section started: Sunlight looks different filtered through an atmosphere. I’ve been falling asleep lately listening to the sounds of the Pacific Ocean and thinking of how the sunlight sparkles off its surface. I think about how the light would look against your skin, reflected in your eyes. Out here, they’re as dark as the spaces between the stars. I wonder what color they’d be in real daylight.

Smiling, Zoey tucked her knees up to her chest (wincing only slightly) and propped the journal on them. As she changed positions, she felt something press against her thigh. It seemed as though she hadn’t been the only one tossing something extra in this time. She reached into where the journal had been and drew out the unexpected cargo.

A pouch of applesauce. Zoey laughed. It figured.


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9 thoughts on “All This Damn Gravity

  1. god, this is so hot. whew. but also so funny and smart and touching. Zoey is such a fun, idiosyncratic POV that it was a pleasure to spend time in her head, and she made a perfect match for the more reserved but also take-charge, hyper-competent Tia. I adored the little flashes of personality that came through — the blushing, the smug eyes, and the soft “I’ll always catch you” (!!!) — partly because they made Tia feel very real, and partly because it was clear that they were only being allowed to shine through because she was with Zoey. Dreamy.
    I’m not good at understanding sci-fi settings but I could picture this very clearly so you must have done a truly great job with the description! I particularly liked the lush, otherworldly zero-g greenhouse environment on BOR15 — which was very clever because it soothed the ache of their parting a little that Zoey was going back somewhere a bit homey. That ending was something of a magic trick, actually — after the very satisfying, uh, climax the switch to a tone of philosophical but slightly melancholy wistfulness was just lovely. I think it really captured that unique feeling that comes with a loving long distance relationship. Like, the connection is really good and fulfilling, but also a little bittersweet and tinged with loneliness, but then also you’re never really alone because you have this other person in your heart and in your future. And then the time you do get (physically) together is just electric! The image of the journal with the alternating handwriting was gorgeous, and so deftly slipped in.

    also stinky girl line extremely funny and cute. stinky girls I love and support u

  2. Aww, this is absolutely adorable! I love these funky little space gals, especially as a duo — bubbly vs stoic but both deeply affectionate. Tia is CLEARLY in love too, given all the little displays of caring like wanting to do repairs and of course the applesauce. And from the brief snippet of journal, it seems like she has plenty to say when she has the right medium to do it in. Super romantic, and also: fisting, woo! (Please imagine 27 rows of thumbs up/high-five emojis here.)

    2013’s art is lovely too (as always!). It’s a really great dynamic pose, and I’m totally obsessed with the water droplet rolling down Tia’s shoulder. It gives me a really strong sense of like a freeze frame, where the idea that everything could be in motion comes through very effectively.

  3. ah, “coming around again”, I see what you did there! v clever.

    the idea of only having forty six minutes for sex stresses me out, but the execution was absolutely masterful. definitely established relationship territory.

    also let me second previous commenters with HELL YEAH FISTING

  4. Upon rereading this to write a proper comment I was struck by just how little Tia actually said out loud during her entire time with Zoey, and yet how it never felt like she wasn’t communicating; Tia was a strong, yet understated presence throughout, and she made for an excellent foil for Zoey’s happier, chattier nature. I’ll probably always have a soft spot for the Quieter One That Thinks A Lot archetype! The payoff of both seeing Tia’s written words and the applesauce surprise was the perfect way to let the reader know that yes, it’s extremely mutual. I also find the mental image of Zoey doing her best to knit in zero gravity to be immensely endearing. Imagine the things a skein could do if left to drift without its own weight to keep it contained!

    2012’s art is gorgeous, as always, with so much to appreciate: the subtle musculatures of both women, little details like the mist of the shower for background patterning or the casual presence of body hair (Zoey barely has the luxury of bathing and keeping her hair short, when would she even have the spare resources to shave?), the intensity of their eye contact. An excellent companion piece to an excellent story.

  5. EYYYYY Zoey has such a great personality and she was so much fun to follow through this story. XD Also, hot damn! This was smoking. She has a great outlook on how to cope with the (temporary, but extended) separation.

    I’m seconding appreciating how Tia’s actions speak much louder than any dialogue she could possibly say. That’s always a lot of fun to see in things, and I also think it’s entertaining that she went out of her way to make sure she’d stay on Zoey’s mind even more with what little time she had, hahaha. Hopefully, they’ll eventually get to spend a nice long vacation (? Maybe) together.

    THAT ARTWORK! I love everything about it, but the thing I keep coming back to is that they do actually look soaked. There’s a lot of detail with very simple rendering, and I’m all for simplicity!!! It’s not easy to do!!!!

    Amazing job. Thank you very much for writing/making this!!!

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