|Saved to a Disk
Author: CeliaEquus PM
Kryten and Cat knew who Ace Rimmer really was, and for Lister's sake they ensured that Rimmer could be restored. One day, Ace Rimmer arrives with the worst news. Disclaimer: I don't anything of Red Dwarf, nor do I make money from writing fan fiction.Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance/Hurt/Comfort - Lister, D. & Rimmer, A. - Words: 2,720 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 8 - Published: 03-20-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7941891
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Saved to a Disk"
Kryten and Cat shared a secret look. 'Ace' Rimmer had just departed, but it was not the Rimmer they had been led to believe. They were far from stupid. They knew exactly who was in that craft, setting off to jump into another dimension. 'Back for Christmas', indeed.
Lister wandered away, leaving his two crew-mates behind in the landing bay.
"You got the back-up?" Cat asked. Kryten removed a CD-ROM from… well, never mind where it came from.
"Right up until the very moment he left Starbug," he said, handing it to Cat. "Where do you suggest we leave it for safe-keeping, sir?"
"Old toilet-brush hair?" He made a face. "I've got a few ideas."
"Somewhere safe, sir."
"I'll find someplace. Don't you worry about that."
"Very good, sir."
Time can pass differently when you are dimension-hopping. Every Arnold 'Ace' Rimmer knew this. They had spent millennia defending the weak. Only a few months had passed for the boys (and girl) from the Dwarf since their Arnold Rimmer left. In Rimmer-time, it had been decades.
"I don't believe it," Lister said, staring at the familiar visage on the screen.
"Told you I'd be back for breakfast, Skipper," Ace said. Kochanski's jaw dropped at his dazzling smile.
"Oh my God," she whispered.
"Hey, bud!" the Cat said.
"Cat, another stunning jacket. No one does it like you," Ace said. "Kryten, how's the laundry?"
"Much more complicated, Mr. Rimmer, sir."
"Call me Ace." He flicked his hair back. "Mind if I come aboard, lads? And lady." He winked.
They met him in the docking bay. Kochanski was nearly drooling as the shiny, taut fabric defined certain parts very nicely.
"How are yeh, Rimmer?" Lister asked as he and Ace hugged. "Uh, I mean, how are you, Ace?"
"With all due respect, sir, we have known all along who Ace really is," Kryten piped up. Cat nodded, and Kochanski continued to gape.
"So this is your Rimmer?" she asked, pointing at Ace. The others nodded; he didn't. He simply held out a small capsule in his left hand. Lister's face fell faster than a tonne of bricks. He could barely breathe.
"No," he said hoarsely. "Not Rimmer. It can't be." He looked up at Ace. "You're his replacement?"
"Yes. I'm sorry, Skipper."
"H-how did it happen?"
"Shall we talk about it in the cockpit? I came to give you this, find Red Dwarf, and take Miss Kochanski back to her own dimension."
As they flew through space – picking up speed with the adjustments Ace had made to Starbug – Kochanski gathered her things, leaving the men to talk.
"He was Ace for more than fifty years before passing the torch to me. His hard-light bee took a beating over the years. His last rescue mission nearly ended him before he could train someone new. Fortunately we had met before, and he knew how to find me."
"What was his last mission?" Lister asked. He couldn't look at Ace. It was too painful a reminder of what he had lost.
"There was a ship in distress, one dimension away from me. There was a tear forming in the side, and people were trying to escape, but there were too many, and not enough escape pods. No matter what he tried, a few still perished, even after he blocked the hole with his body. Many more would have died had he not acted when he did, the way he did. But he couldn't accept that, even at the end." He sighed, fingering his wig. "The guilt he carried was terrible. Yet he was the greatest Ace Rimmer in the last few centuries."
"Our Rimmer? The greatest?" Cat said, tilting back in his chair to look at Ace. "Don't you mean the greasiest?"
"Absolutely not," he replied. "It was an honour to know him. I only hope I can live up to the high standards he set."
"That's my Rimmer," Lister murmured. The other three looked at him, and he hid his face.
"It's possible to make a new light bee," Ace said, keeping an eye on him.
"Nah. We don't have his disk, and Holly isn't around to program it for us. But thanks for the offer, man."
The Cat and Kryten exchanged another secretive look, just as they had some weeks ago. Neither Lister nor Ace noticed it, as one was caught up in his unhappiness and the other was simply watching him.
"Mr. Rimmer, could I speak with you a moment?" Kryten said. Ace nodded, and followed him out of the cockpit.
"You know something, Kryters?" he asked.
"Yes, sir." He shuffled guiltily. "You see, before Mr. Rimmer left, sir, the Cat and I had noticed something about Mr. Lister."
"That they were attracted to each other? It happens in nearly every dimension."
"Oh, yes." Ace leaned against the wall, his arms crossed. "The tragedy is that nothing ever comes of it. Every time an Arnold Rimmer comes close to confessing his feelings, he is called to take over."
"But that's so unfair, sir!"
"I know. But if you've found a way around this… maybe the rest of us have a chance." He smiled half-heartedly. "Though it's too late for me. So should I make that light bee, then?"
"Please do, sir. It would make Mr. Lister so happy. And with Miss Kochanski finally leaving us… I can't tell you what a difference it will make!"
"Not long now, Kryters, old man."
"Hey, monkeys! We're nearly there! I can smell my style from miles away."
"I'm all ready to go," Kochanski said, dragging her case into the cockpit. She blushed when she smiled at Ace. "Will you be taking me there?"
"Of course," he said. "We wouldn't want a lovely lady like you to worry about anything other than getting home to your sweetheart, would we? You leave the dangers to me, Miss Kochanski."
"What a guy," she murmured.
They were dressed formally for the funeral. The Starbug was gaining on Red Dwarf, and Ace had promised to make sure that they got aboard before he left, 'just in case'.
"My predecessor was a hell of a guy," Ace said. "No danger was too great, no life not worth saving. He preferred to hand the bad guys over whenever possible. He gave new meaning to the word fearless, throwing himself into situations even I might have trouble facing."
"Are we sure this is the same guy?" Cat whispered to Kryten.
"But he never stopped missing his friends," Ace continued, a bit louder as he glanced at Cat. "Even at the end, when he passed the flame of responsibility to me, his last request was that I bring him home. His words exactly." He bowed his head, then made eye contact with Lister. "He wanted to make his friends proud."
Lister drew a harsh breath. Rimmer had succeeded.
"His rescues are too numerous to mention," Ace said. "However, the one he was the most proud of was when he saved a single life, just the one." He held up a single finger to emphasise this. "A little girl. Her mother had died saving her from a fire, and her father had run away before she was born. The girl – only six years old – needed a transplant. Arnold tracked down the father and… well, no one knows what transpired, but the girl got her organ. After the operation the father disappeared again, but Arnold was there for her. He told me that when she hugged him, it was the single greatest moment in his career."
"I never knew that Mr. Rimmer could be so noble," Kryten said, dabbing his eyes. "I wish we had seen this side of him before he… before he… died!" He finished on a squeak, and Kochanski patted him on the shoulder.
"Hey, calm down, bud," Cat said, nudging him. "Don't forget, we can…" Ace cleared his throat, and Cat stopped just in time. "We can always remember him."
"It's time, Skipper," Ace said. Lister stared at the light bee coffin in his hands, before clutching it tightly.
"I'll do it," he said, and he walked over to the disposal chute. With his back to everyone else, he lifted the capsule to his lips. Then he whispered, "I loved you, man." Shakily, he placed it on the small platform, closed the door and sent the coffin on its way.
The others all stood up, and performed Rimmer's special salute. Lister surreptitiously wiped away an annoying tear, and finally turned around.
"Right," he said, tugging his jacket down. "That's over with. Are we nearly there?"
"You have a file with Mr. Rimmer's memories on it? The ones of him as Ace?" Kryten asked. Ace nodded as he worked on the light bee. This was the last step before turning it back on. He had coded everything, and could only hope that it would work. The Cat had produced the back-up disk from where he had hidden it in his waxing kit, nestled between strips of paper.
"Is Cat keeping Lister distracted?"
"Yes, sir. Although Miss Kochanski seems to have done well to keep him distracted these past few weeks." He looked most disapproving, and Ace chuckled.
"Skipper takes what he can get," he said. "He won't try for anything he thinks he can't have. Usually, his delusions of extreme competency can keep him going. But the most important things… well, anything he thinks impossible is impossible for him. I hate to say it, especially with the feelings I had – have – for my Lister, but…"
"I understand, sir."
They looked around when someone knocked at the door. It was Cat.
"You monkeys nearly ready?" he asked. "Officer Bud-Babe's ready to go, and Gerbil-Face is looking more miserable than ever. I can't even look at him without feeling like I should change into a suit with more black in it!"
Ace fiddled with something, then snapped the light bee shut. He smiled.
"Done," he said, and he threw the bee into the air. Arnold Rimmer appeared, and glared at Ace.
"You again! I…" Then his face went blank.
"Do you remember everything, Arnold?"
"Yes," he murmured, his eyes moving non-stop. Eventually they came to rest on his doppelganger. "Why are you here?"
"I'll be on my way soon," he said. "Just wanted to make sure you were all right before I left with Miss Kochanski."
"I'm fine. Uh, how did I get here?"
The Cat and Kryten explained. His attention kept straying to his surroundings, but he caught enough of the story to understand what was going on.
"Thank you," he said softly. "I don't deserve it, so… yes, thank you."
"From what Mr. Rimmer has told us, you do deserve it," Kryten said. Ace grabbed his helmet and shifted it under one elbow.
"It's been good knowing you, Arnold." They shook hands, although Rimmer still looked dazed. "Why don't you wait in your room? Lister will be along soon." The hologram immediately looked terrified, and Ace leaned closer. "Calm down, matey. We all have the same secret. You're not the first to feel this way. You're just the first to have the opportunity to do something about it. Do it for all of us, Arnold."
Rimmer nodded, and they all departed, three to the docking bay and one to his room.
As soon as Ace and Kochanski disappeared, Lister's shoulders drooped. Cat grabbed them.
"Cheer up, bud," he said, leading him through Red Dwarf. Kryten left through another doorway to start the laundry.
"It's just the three of us now," Lister said, shrugging. "I dunno. I should be used to this by now, but… it's still hard without Rimmer…"
He stopped in his tracks. Cat kept walking.
"I've gotta go check on my shoes," he said. "See you later, crocodile."
Lister wasn't paying attention. Vaguely he wondered why the Cat needed to check his shoe collection, but he had worse problems.
"Smeggin' hell," he muttered. "Why Rimmer?" Why did I have to fall for him? He hates me. And even if he didn't, he's still gone. Dead. Around Saturn by now."
Drifting to his room, he remembered when he and Rimmer flew among the coffins of thousands – millions – of Ace Rimmers. He had encouraged him to leave, to go and die doing what he wanted to do – be a hero. He also remembered a conversation from the morning Ace had arrived.
"I'd like to speak with you, Lister," Rimmer said over breakfast. "Is that all right?" Lister paused mid-spoonful of cereal.
"What? You're actually asking me? Usually you'd just tell me."
"Well, I'm asking you this time!" His hands were twisted together, his fingers twitching nervously.
"All right, all right, mate," Lister said, lowering his spoon. "After our shift in the cockpit, okay?"
Rimmer nodded. "That's fine."
Then Ace had turned up, and Lister was so excited to see him that he had forgotten about his own Rimmer, and the conversation they were supposed to have. After that, they had to get him ready to take over from the hero. No wonder he had been extra frustrated. Lister's instant connection with both Aces must have made him bitter. If only it had been jealousy of a different nature.
"Hello, Rimmer," he said, mooching over to his bunk. Once again, he halted. His gaze moved slowly to the right, and landed on a well-dressed hologram.
"Ace brought me back," he explained. "Apparently the Cat and Kryten made a copy of me before I left – saved me to disk, so to speak. They did it for you, to k-keep you sane." He looked at his boot-clad feet. Lister began to smile.
"I don't think that's why they brought you back at all," he said.
"Why else? It's not as though I contribute anything other than that. The new Ace gave me some memories, but it's just like watching a film. I don't remember doing any of it. I… I don't remember being brave."
"I remember," Lister said. "You can be brave, man."
"Listy, why did they think you would want me?" Rimmer asked, staring into his eyes. Lister's breath caught in his throat.
"Dunno," he said honestly. "But I know why I want you."
"Even over Kochanski?"
"I'd much rather have you."
Rimmer appeared to blush. "Not like that, though."
"Like what?" Lister asked, stepping forward. Rimmer gulped.
"Like this," he said, and he shocked Lister with a slow, sumptuous kiss. He let go before Lister could get over his surprise and start to reciprocate, and the look of terror on his face was almost amusing.
"Don't move away," Lister whispered, grasping the hologram's arms.
"I-I wanted to tell you. I was going to tell you that day, I swear. But then that smegger Ace came along. Mind you, I probably would have chickened out at the last moment, knowing me."
"No, man," Lister said, cupping his cheek. "I just wish we hadn't waited so long."
"Lister?" He looked so hopeful.
"Oh, Rimsy." He pulled him close. "Don't ever leave us again."
"Y-you don't want me to leave?"
"Nah. We care about you too much."
Rimmer smiled, even as tears welled up in his eyes. "Thank you, Listy."
I wasn't sure how to end this, I'm afraid. They don't always need words, and I certainly wouldn't want to bore you with repetition. So… yes. I hope, as usual, that you enjoyed this.
Really wish I could see the new series, but I doubt it will be shown here, except perhaps on pay TV, which we don't have. I've tried to watch videos on the Dave website, but they won't let me. Presumably because I'm in Australia. Sigh.