"Look, I'm sorry, okay?" Lister says, leaning against his bunk. "I didn't think you'd mind."
"Mind? Why would I mind?" Rimmer snorts. "It's only my limited edition Reggie Wilson. Why would I care that you taped over it with what you laughably call guitar music?"
"I was in the zone, man," Lister tells him. "I was trying out this new song, and I didn't want to forget it."
Glaring at him, Rimmer stalks over to the computer and hits a button, releasing a noise that brings to mind cats being strangled. "This is in the zone?"
From the look on Lister's face, his point has failed to come through. "Good, innit?" he asks, nodding along as he raises his voice to be heard over the din.
Rimmer takes a deep breath, but he doesn't have a chance to argue further. The music cuts off and the lights go out as the room suddenly lurches violently, sending him flying against the wall. Despite his hard-light form being effectively indestructible, Rimmer curls into a ball and covers his head, the habits of a lifetime being hard to break.
Eventually the ship stops shaking and the emergency lights come on. Rimmer cautiously raises his head, then, when he's sure it's safe, climbs to his feet and dusts himself off. "What on Io was that?" he asks.
There is no answer, and he looks up, scanning the room. "Lister?"
The dim lighting shadows everything in shades of grey, but he catches sight of a limp form lying on the floor near the beds. "Lister?" he asks again, his voice wavering slightly.
There is no response. Rimmer moves closer. Lister's eyes are closed, blood dripping onto the floor from a cut on his forehead.
Swallowing, Rimmer steps back, then turns and heads for the door. He needs to get help. But the door doesn't open at his approach, and when he reaches out to open it manually, his hand goes straight through the wall.
He blinks in disbelief, then tries again and again, getting steadily more desperate as his actions give the same result. The impact must have done something to his light bee, changing him back to soft light.
Suddenly he hears a voice from the other side of the door. "Mister Lister? Mister Rimmer? Are you all right?"
Rimmer isn't sure he's ever been so grateful to hear Kryten's voice. "No!" he calls back. "Lister's hurt, and my light bee's been damaged. What the hell happened?"
It's the Cat who answers. "We got hit by a wibbly thing!"
"We encountered a subspace anomaly," Kryten adds. "It seems to have had an adverse effect on the ship's systems."
"That's what I said!"
"Never mind that!" Rimmer cuts in. "Get us out of here!"
There's the sound of someone trying to open the door before Kryten's voice comes again, this time tinged with panic. "I'm afraid the door's stuck, sir. It can only be opened from your side."
"Well, you'll have to come up with something," Rimmer tells him. "I can't touch anything, and Lister's unconscious."
There's a muffled conversation, likely between Kryten and the Cat, before Kryten speaks again. "We'll try to cut through the door, sir, but it will take some time."
"Just get on with it!" Rimmer orders, before going over to sit by Lister. The steady drip of blood from his head wound is growing into a pool on the floor, making Rimmer feel nauseous. "Kryten, you need to get in here!"
"We're doing our best, sir," Kryten replies, as the glow of a blowtorch appears through the door
Rimmer reaches out to Lister, but just as before his hand goes right through him. He'd forgotten how frustrating it is to be this helpless. He tries fiddling with the settings on his light bee, but there's a limited amount he can do while still in his soft light form. All he can do is hope that Lister will be okay until Kryten can get to them.
In an effort to ward off panic, he begins to talk. "Don't think this means you're off the hook for Reggie Wilson, miladdo. I'm holding a concert tomorrow night, and you're going to be there."
Lister says nothing, and Rimmer continues, warming to the subject. "Not too long. Just a few of his absolute best tracks. Shouldn't be more than three, four hours tops."
He continues on in this vein as Kryten continues to cut through the door, but he can't ignore the fact that Lister is getting worse, his breathing becoming harsh and laboured.
"Something's wrong," he calls, his voice higher than he'd like. "Kryten!"
"Oh, dear," Kryten replies, sounding worried. "I'm getting readings that the air regulators are offline in your quarters. The toxins in the air are not being filtered out."
They're making progress on the door, but it's still clearly going to be a while.
"We have to get out of here," Rimmer mumbles. He looks at Lister, unconscious, straining for breath, and something inside him seems to snap. As if in a trance, he stands, walks over to the door, and places his hand on the panel.
The door slides open.
Shocked, he meets Kryten's gaze for a moment, the mechanoid still holding a burning blowtorch, before Kryten springs into action, turning off the torch and rushing into the room to get Lister.
Numbly, Rimmer reaches out and watches as his hand passes straight through the wall.
* * *
It seems to take an age, but eventually he reappears to see Kryten smiling at him. "All done, sir," he says. "The impact must have overloaded the sensors in your light bee, but resetting them seems to have fixed the problem."
Rimmer reaches out and feels a rush of relief as his hand lands on the table, the metal cool under his fingertips.
"The strange thing," Kryten continues, "is that according to these readings the bee changed to soft light as soon as you hit the wall, and stayed that way until just now. At no point during the intervening time should you have been capable of touch."
Rimmer remembers sitting there, watching Lister struggle to breathe, and feels a chill go through him. "The readings must be wrong," he says briskly.
"Or maybe you just wanted it enough," Lister says, from his vantage point in a bed across the room. "Like parents lifting a car off their kid." Before Rimmer can speak, he turns to Kryten and adds, "Krytes, could you leave us alone for a minute?"
Kryten looks between them, then nods. "Of course, Mister Lister," Kryten replies. "The air recycler in your quarters won't fix itself, after all."
He leaves, and Rimmer and Lister are left alone, the Cat having wandered off to find shiny things a while ago.
"You saved my life," Lister says.
"Yes," Rimmer says, barely able to believe it himself. "And after you ruined my favourite Reggie Wilson album."
Lister has the grace to look a little sheepish. "I didn't mean to," he says. "It was just the first thing that came to hand. You can destroy one of my albums if you want."
"I'll take you up on that," Rimmer says, then, quietly, "I'm glad you're not dead."
"Yeah, the last thing we need on this ship is another hologram," Lister replies, but he's smiling. "Thanks, Rimmer."
The strange feeling of warmth in his chest is unfamiliar to Rimmer, but it fills him up until he can't help but smile back. "You're welcome."