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Three in a Bed

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"Wake him up."

"You wake him up."

"He's your husband."

"He is NOT my husband."

"Boyfriend, whatever."

Rimmer wasn't about to go into how incredibly astonishingly unfathomably wrong the Cat was about him and Lister because he was shaking so much it felt like his teeth would fall out from all the chattering. "Lister," he hissed into his snoring bunkmate's ear. "Lister wake up."

"Why are you whispering?" asked Cat.

"Because he's asleep."

"But ain't we trying to wake him up?"

"Obviously, but I'm being polite about it."

"Why?"

Rimmer thought about it. "Good point. LISTER WAKE UP!"

Lister threw his limbs out in shock as he was suddenly roused from a pleasant dream about winning a load of Zero-G merchandise. "Whuhthuhsmuh?" he mumbled sleepily and squeezed his pained eyes against the bright light of the room.

"We can't sleep," said Rimmer.

"So you woke me?!"

"It's your fault."

"How the smeg is it my fault?"

"Your dumb stupid lame movies, that's how," said Cat.

Lister rubbed his eyes again and looked at them more closely. Rimmer was holding a cricket bat and staring wildly around the room, more paranoid than usual. The Cat was merely a face peeking out from a large blanket. Lister hauled himself up into a sitting position and cracked open a beer reserve from under his mattress. "Start from the beginning, man, and I might know what the smeg you're on about."

"Is the perimeter secure?" Rimmer asked the Cat. The blanket rose up in a clueless shrug. Rimmer backed them up carefully against the bunks and squinted towards the door. "Seems safe."

Lister poked him with his toes. "Why'd you lock the door?"

"Safety. I literally just said."

"From what?"

"Zombie Mannequins from the Planet Necrodoll," Cat wailed.

"Oh for-" Lister rolled his eyes and curled back up in bed with his beer. They were talking about the film he'd chosen earlier for movie night. "You woke me up simply because a B-movie gave you the willies?"

"You've got those kinds of movies too?"

Rimmer knocked the blanket on the head gently with his bat. "Be quiet, moron. And yes, Lister, it was a scary film after all. That is its purpose."

Lister sighed loudly. "Rimmer, those films are meant to be disgusting and funny, not scary. Paper mache heads filled with spaghetti and peeled grapes painted as eyeballs. The blood looks more like ketchup than even ketchup does."

"You mean it's not real?" Cat smiled toothily. "That hot girl didnt get decaffeinated?"

"Decapitated," Rimmer corrected. "And it doesn't matter if it's real or not. It still… has an effect."

Lister turned over again to look at his shivering crewmates and felt sorry for them. It was actually rather cute how frightened they were of a such an obviously fake film. "I don't get it guys. We go though way worse in real life."

"Yeah but it's just once a week."

"And only sporadically. We had that lovely long break where nothing happened at all for years."

Lister sat back up and finished his beer. "So what do you want me to do - check under your beds?"

"Nope," said Cat as he clambered up to join him.

"Gerrout," Lister shrieked. "You can't sleep in here."

"Maybe you're right." The Cat grimaced as his hand landed in some old curry. He hoped it was old curry. "Your bed is too gross. We'll all sleep in Goalpost-head's."

"We?" said Lister. "All?"

"Safety in numbers, miladdo," Rimmer said cheerfully as he moved aside for the Cat to crawl underneath. "We need someone who hasn't been recently compromised by fear to keep watch, and Kryten is busy guiding the ship."

"I'll keep watch from up here."

"But what if the monsters get us from below!"

"Cat's right. What if they get us from below? You can't see clearly from all the way up there."

"Feels like I'm the one in a bloody horror film," Lister muttered to himself. He swung down regardless and settled down at the foot-end of the bunk, Cat having already 'bagsied' himself as 'kitty in the middle'. Rimmer sat on his pillow with his knees tucked up against his chest and his trusty cricket bat between them. Cat became a ball of blanket and was quickly snoring softly from within. Lister scoffed. "Can't be that scared."

"Shows what you know. He'd never ruin his hair with an itchy woolen blanket over nothing."

Lister hadn't considered that. He reached underneath the bunk and brought out another secret can.

"You bastard," said Rimmer. "I knew my bed felt lumpy."

"Sure it was my beer? Sure it wasn't… ZOMBIE DOLLS!" Lister sniggered and waved his hands. "Woooooo!"

"It's not funny. I know it's all smoke and mirrors and I know I've run away from scarier things in the real world. There's just something about the atmosphere of a film."

"Yeah, s'true," said Lister. "It's the timing and the music and the lighting. All tailor-made to make you shit yerself."

"Thankfully it wasn't that scary."

"I dunno. I peed a bit when I saw it the first time."

"Really?" Rimmer brightened slightly. "Honestly?"

"Sure." Lister omitted he was only six at the time and had been dragged into the cinema by the older tougher boys in his gang. "Feel better now?"

"A little."

"Enough to turn out the light?"

Rimmers arms tightened around his legs and bat.

"Don't worry." Lister patted his knee fondly. "Your knight in shining long-johns will protect you."

Rimmer grumbled at this but nodded for Lister to call 'lights out'. They snuggled down for the night, and Lister was only disturbed the once; when Cat woke up and yelled at him in a panic that he had to keep his feet in the bed or the monsters could grab them and drag them all to their lair. Rimmer wearily pointed out that Lister's awful crusty feet was their first line of defence against monsters - they'd never come near them. After a glass of water the Cat calmed down and retreated back into his blanket fort. Lister and Rimmer silently exchanged raised eyebrows at how mussed the Cat's hair had been (but were kind enough not to comment) and then settled down again.

Lister listened to the oddly melodic contented puffs of air from the Cat and the low humming from Rimmer's lightbee. He wondered what they'd make of his next choice - Mutant Lizards from the Jurassic Swamp - and whether or not this would be a recurring thing.

Might not be so bad, he pondered as he drifted off to claim his new London Jets limited edition autographed t-shirt.