For a while now, I've had the adventures of Lan, Jules Almighty, and Hredegga knocking around at the back of things; like Firefly, only without the smuggling, big bad government, or crazy psychics. Bit closer in tone to Andre Norton's Free Traders series, actually, but much smaller crew and no sentient non-humans. Smaller distances, too. If it were a TV show, it would probably run just two seasons: one season covering the trip out from Earth to Proxima Centauri, one covering the trip back.
Lan writes epic poetry during his down time, which is actually where the original inspiration came from: "the epic poets of the Sol-Centauri line", the idea being that you have to do something to keep from going crazy when you're alone for that long.
Anyway, this is the first bit of story that's presented itself to me. Wish I didn't have so many other stories going on, so I could focus on this one.
Jules is weeping noisily, tears obliterating whatever he's trying to tell her, as he clutches her hand hard enough to almost obscure the pain pouring through the rest of her body. She doesn't wish he would stop--his easy expression of emotion has always charmed her, is something she loves dearly, but she's trying to listen to Lan and Jules's grief is getting in the way.
"We can't move you," Lan is saying, voice and hands steady as he straps a spinal stabilizer around her neck. "So I need you to take care of yourself until we can come back, you hear me, Hred?" The pain's beginning to fuzz away and with it all the world except Lan's words, which hit heavy and sharp against her ears. "Stay alive and in one piece and sane, my dear fool of a mechanic." His fingers brush the hand not currently being crushed by Jules, stroking the place her ring would sit if she wore one.
Her fingertips have gone numb.
"What if I have to pick between 'em?" she breathes, soft enough that Jules won't hear it over the sound of his own panic.
"Don't let yourself be put in that position."
And then they're gone, Lan dragging away her silly sweet husband, and it's like being cast into the deep black, especially since her eyes still aren't functioning properly. (Damn, damn, damn, thinks the tiny rational bit of her that's not high on pain medication and adrenalin). Nothing is, actually.
The cargo bay floor rests cold and solid beneath the palms of her hands, wrongly still without the constant hum of engines and generators and the buzzing bass of Jules's music. Silence rings against the plates of her skull, creeping in under her skin, like it's waiting to explode when the bay's airlock is finally heaved open by the people waiting on the other side.
People. Hah. Maybe this is payback for having liked the pirates best in Muppet Treasure Island.
She's almost out when they finally do come through, her only thought a dim 'huh' when they slide a bodyboard under her instead of shooting her in the face. Their hands are rough, competent but uncaring, though not abusive. Perhaps she'll survive this after all.
When she opens her eyes, some undefined amount of time later, she can see only a metallic gray ceiling, much dinged and scraped and in dire need of a new coat or three of paint. (Yellow, perhaps, like the butter you can get on most of the properly terraformed planets.) She can see, though, and that's all she cares about for what's probably longer than would be approved of by Lan.