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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 001, Sur Two, Wednesday, Sol 21 (001.2.21)  02:04 NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  Friday, 25 March 2016  2:00 PM PDT 
  • Distance traveled:  101,838,312 kilometers   Time Delay:  3 mins 48 secs
  • Distance to Mars Rendezvous:  290,571,440 kilometers

It had been a big day. It took awhile for Jenna to settle down after Paige’s unexpected kiss, but she finally napped from 7:30 to 11:00 AM when she asked to be awakened for an event at noon. The event was a celebration of travelling 100 million kilometers, and all of ESEP paused to take note of the historical moment. Actually, the Sagan was only about 50 million kilometers from Earth, because Earth, the Sagan, and Mars were all on curved parallel paths with the Earth racing to come up even to both of them.

Jenna stayed up after the celebration to work in her quarters for a couple of hours, then she took another nap. When she woke up at 6:30 PM, she was groggy and disoriented. Her whole day seemed to be unsettled by working the night shift. She was also distracted by her almost constant awareness of what happened with Paige. She knew what she was feeling, and she didn’t like that she couldn’t seem to control it.

Her adult life had always had one rule; don’t become involved with the people she worked with, but ESEP’s rules took account that Mars missions would subject crews to long periods of working around the same, small group of people. It was unrealistic to forbid romantic relationships for two years or more, so ESEP allowed for romantic relationships with co-workers under certain provisions.

Jenna knew that, technically, she was allowed to pursue a relationship with Paige, but it went against a basic rule of her self-discipline. Now she had to decide, whether to do what she was allowed to do, or do what she believed was the correct leadership model.

After mulling over this for a few hours, she decided that she should call in help. The ship’s Counselor, Wendy Stevens had predicted that Jenna would have difficulty dealing with a romantic relationship several weeks before, and had told Jenna to let her know when she needed help. At about 9:00 PM, she texted Wendy,

“u were right. Need help.”

Wendy showed up within minutes. As she entered Jenna’s quarters she said, “From a professional standpoint I am required to be uninvolved in your situation, but in full disclosure, I’m going to enjoy this.”

Jenna looked a Wendy and said, “This isn’t funny.” Wendy replied, “Oh, I know it’s not funny…to you, but something doesn’t have to be funny to be enjoyed.” Jenna scowled at Wendy, but Wendy continued, “Okay, break out the wine, and I’ll explain. As I have said before, you are one of the most unique, and talented people I have ever known. You are extremely intelligent, and can assess a situation, and come up with the perfect solution, but you have one weakness…you have sacrificed relationships with individuals in order to maintain relationship with everyone around you. Now you are faced with a relationship with an individual, and you are afraid it will destroy your relationship with everyone else. Am I correct?”

Jenna had poured the wine and was handing Wendy her glass. As they both sat down she said, “That’s probably correct. I hadn’t thought of it in those terms.”

Wendy asked, “Is it Paige?” Jenna’s eyes got big, and she said, “How the hell?” Wendy laughed and said, “You forget, I see all sides of relationships on this ship. In my talks with Paige, you have been a major fixation. Not that others don’t have a strong admiration of you, but Paige’s eyes sparkle when she talks about you. I was afraid that you would reject her as part of your reflexive response to workplace romance, which would practically destroy her….you didn’t reject her, right?”

Jenna said, “No, I haven’t said anything…I couldn’t say anything….she just kissed me…I didn’t know what to say.” Wendy asked, “Did you kiss her back?” Jenna looked down and said, “Yes…I don’t know what I was thinking…but I definitely kissed her back.” Wendy said, “When did this happen?” Jenna said, “This morning, after the morning briefing. She came to tell me how much she appreciated how I have treated her…and then…wham, she kissed me.” Wendy asked, “Have you talked to her since then?” Jenna said, “No. I don’t know what to say.”

Wendy said, “You have feelings for Paige, that seems obvious.” Jenna insisted, “But I didn’t know that until she kissed me.” Wendy continued, “Jenna, you don’t let yourself have romantic feelings for people. There was no way you were going to recognize what you were feeling until it stepped up and kissed you.” Jenna nodded in agreement.

Wendy began again, “Jenna, you know to maintain a decorum in the workplace. You won’t show your private feelings inappropriately. That said, you can establish private relationships with anyone you want, providing that the person doesn’t receive special privileges because of their relationship with you. And if you’re worried you might slip up, it’s my job to monitor these situations, so I’ll let you know if there is a problem.”

Wendy and Jenna talked while they finished their wine, then Wendy left. A few minutes later Paige received a text from Jenna. It said,

“I need to see you in my quarters when you are available.”

Paige showed up within minutes. Jenna let her come in and closed the door. Paige decided to break the tension and said, “Look, Director, I know that I probably shouldn’t have…” Jenna put her fingers over Paige’s mouth to silence her. Jenna then looked up and down Paige’s body. Jenna looked Paige in the eye and said, “Undress.” Paige said, “Ma’am?” Jenna replied, “Tonight, you’ll call me, Sir.” Paige gave a little smile and quickly started removing her top.