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Planet Earth is Blue (And There's Nothing I Can Do)

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She yawns. Stretches. Looks around, blinking.

She's in her bunk, that oh-so-familiar space. There are images of her family on the walls, her slippers on the floor, swirling en pointe in Hermes' reduced gravity. She's tucked in with her thermal blanket, her coverall hasn't mysteriously disappeared, but Johanssen still feels that something isn't right.

Why is she so sure she's lost something critical, something she can't get back?

Raking he fingers through her auburn hair, she apprehends her slippers. She doesn't usually feel so woozy in the "morning"...maybe she should have Beck take a look at her.

The thought brings a little smile to her face. Beck is a good looking guy; lately, she's thought he's been checking her out.

No one is in the corridor. No one is in Rec. Have they all overslept? Is she the only one awake?

Ops is empty as well.

This is starting to get creepy. She goes back to crew quarters and raps on Beck's door. There's no answer.

The lab, she thinks. He could be in there, although where everyone else is, she can't imagine.

Someone has drastically lowered the temperature in the lab and turned off the lights. You could hang meat in here, she thinks, shivering. Then her hand finds the panel that controls the lights.

Chris Beck is in the lab, and so is everyone else. They're all slumped against the left-hand wall, tethered to one of the grab-bars. There's a injection-gun beside Beck, as if it dropped from his hand when the drug took effect.

Yesterday bursts into her consciousness, protective barriers collapsing as if sucked into vacuum.

Their resupply probe..they hadn't been able to reach it. As they'd watched it sail past them, a scant kilometer out of reach, Lewis had nodded to Beck. He'd guided Johanssen back to her bunk, his hand gentle on her shoulder. "You'll be out for eight to ten hours," he says. ""It's the best way. No mushy goodbyes."

There were no words. They probably couldn't have gotten past the lump in her throat, anyway. "It won't hurt," he told her. "We'll just go to sleep. When you wake up, we'll be gone."

She remembers telling her dad about the plan, not seriously believing that it would really come to this, that her crewmates would suicide to provide a food source for her, so that she might survive the long journey around Mars and back. And now it's happened. They're all dead, except for her.

Now she remembers the hiss of the hypo-spray against her arm...Chris kissing her forehead. "I'm so sorry, Beth," he whispered as the darkness overwhelmed her. .

She wishes he'd really kissed her. Hell, more than that: She wishes they'd fucked like bunnies, just so she'd have that memory to cling to.

Alone in the dark, in a ship filled with the dead for so many months...she can't do this, she knows with certainty. It doesn't matter that Mark Watney has survived alone on Mars all this time; the stray probe has condemned them all. The thought of being alone in this mega-billion dollar crypt makes her stomach knot, and the idea of what she'll have to do when the rations are It's wrong. She won't do it. They are her team; it's only fair that she join them on this last mission.

There's no point in contacting NASA. There's nothing they can do. And besides, their priority is going to be getting their enormous, expensive, ion-propelled piece of hardware back. That she has to do that and live with herself afterward isn't even on their radar.

Good luck with that, she thinks, crossing to the Med locker.

There's a vial front and center, along with a piece of paper, BETH printed on it in angular, slanted caps.


Love? She looks across the room at him and sighs. "You left that a little late, didn't you?"

Taking the vial, she returns to her team. Picks up the injector. It only takes a moment to insert the new vial. Before she takes the dose, she clips herself to the grab-bar with the others. They've been a team all this time...they'll always be a team.

She sits on the floor next to Beck. He'd said, "I'm sorry."...

"Me too", she whispers, although the others can't hear. She takes his cold right hand in her still-warm left one, and guides the injector in her other hand to her chest. "I'll see you soon."

The injection doesn't hurt, but the regret lasts for eternity.