“For smeg’s sake, Rimmer, would you just shut up.”
”We-weren’t you listening, Listy? Make. Me.”
“…You have got to be kidding.”
“Wh-Why would I be joking?” Rimmer simply stood a little taller, crossed his arms in a way that he probably thought made him look dashing and daring but that really made him look like as much of a smeghead as ever, “too long have I squeaked into silence at the rumble of your voice, too long have I let myself be chained by-by simple words from an overly arrogant goit-!”
“-Now, my dearest darling Lister, it is time to back up your words!”
He sat slowly up in his bunk, resisted the urge to bang his head against the wall until the world started making sense again “…You want me to punch you, Rimmer?”
“But you just said!”
“I did not-“ Rimmer halted, looked back over his thoughts in a reluctant (and mortifying, if only because everything that Rimmer did ended up mortifying) way “…Alright, so maybe I did. But that wasn’t exactly the point!”
…There’s a point.
Oh smeg there’s a point, “what was the point, then?”
“The point was,” and, if there was a point, there also had to be a deep breath of air – and a huff, and Rimmer somehow managing to draw himself up even further, “proving that you cannot back up your words no matter how often you many snarl them!”
…He blinks, “but I can back up my words.”
“No, you most certainly can’t!” Rimmer hesitated briefly, it would’ve been amusing if the temptation to bang his head against the wall hadn’t morphed into a full blown longing to rip his brain out through his ears “…Can you?”
“I just said I could-“
He lifted a hand to his forehead, groaned.
“…Don’t punch me.”
“I’m not going to punch you.”
“That’s what people say before they punch you!”
“What fights have you been in?”
“…Shouldnta asked that,” he groaned into his hand again, only moved it briefly away to check on the miserable red flush spreading over Rimmer’s cheeks, “look: I’m truly, honestly not gonna punch you. I will truly, honestly never punch you no matter how hard I’m tempted.”
“No, Rimmer, that is not what people say before they start punching you once every day,” He fully moved that (now familiar) hand away for air, returned it almost immediately for fear of his body moving without him and slamming into the wall anyway, “Honestly, you’re as mad and paranoid as a- A… Mad and paranoid thing!”
“Thank you,” the man was forced to give reluctantly, in a tone that rather implied that he would’ve been more grateful if he’d been stabbed in the gums by a mad dentist “…Why won’t you punch me?”
A horrific possibility occurred to him. One so horrific that he almost threw up, “do you… really want me to punch you, Rimmer?”
“You aren’t a saintly person, Lister, no matter how often you smugly hold technically being God over the rest of us,” Rimmer was forced to give again, his arms crossing tighter and a downright glower coming to his face, “you aren’t physically capable of rising above things. So why don’t you punch me in the face and humiliate me utterly and end all this?”
“…Because you’re my friend?”
“Hah! We are not friends.”
“Because I’m not a violent person?”
“Hah! Considering the amount of time you spent with that oaf Peterson I’m pretty sure that we can rule that right out.”
“Because I actually enjoy ‘all this’-?”
“Hah hah hah hah.”
“Okay then,” he grumbled, actually annoyed because Rimmer’s fake laughter was actually the most annoying sound in the whole wide universe, “Okay. You want to know the real reason why I don’t just punch you? Why I don’t just ‘end all this’ for about five minutes? Why I don’t ‘humiliate you utterly’ with my physical strength or whatever?”
“Because I can already ‘humiliate you utterly’ with my mouth, Rimmer!”
A longer pause.
…A far longer pause.
A pause that stretched towards the worrying and he was on the verge of calling Kryten and asking if he knows anything about light bees and-
“…You cannot,” finally came out of Rimmer’s mouth, a fair few minutes too late.
“Hah,” he parroted smugly back at the man, sliding himself off the bunk until they were standing practically nose to nose, “I can, you smeghead, and that just proved it!”
“You couldn’t humiliate a hamster, Lister,” Rimmer hissed, generated spittle flying into the air and disappearing into nothing pretty much instantly, “the idea that you, the basest fungus that somehow managed to crawl its way up from the bottom of the ocean, could somehow trouble me is completely-!”
“I can prove it,” he grinned, on the back of a breath that tasted like… Chicken vindaloo, actually, but he could pretend.
“You could not!”
Rimmer’s eyes flashed, so close to his that he could actually see them darken, “go on, then!”
“You utter smeghead,” He hissed, because he figured that it was best to start with the basics and all, “Smeg. Head. Piece of smeg. Smegging git. Smegging smeghead who smegs.”
Rimmer, to his credit… Only looked a little put out, “Is that the best you have, Lister?”
“Nope!” It drove him onwards, at least, gave him motivation or whatever the smeg it was they talked about in those big war movies where the main character kissed their girl goodbye then marched off to war with tears in his eyes and eventually ended up with no legs, or something, but was still the brave man inside and came back home to find that his girl still wanted him and- “you’re cowardly, crawling and dumb. You run from every bit of smegging danger, would happily kiss any arse that presented itself to you and failed the astronavigation exam eleven times!”
“That was because-“ Rimmer halted, drew another deep breath, “you’ll still have to do better than that.”
“You were the most unpopular man on the ship,” and he shall, he shall while trying to vaguely remember the name of that movie, “even more unpopular than Crieff. And Crieff never stopped talking about airplanes, of all the smegging pointless things. And not only that You’re still the most unpopular man on the ship-“
“There were two ships-“
“-On both ships,” smeg, there have been a lot of war movies with that general theme, “hell, Rimmer, you were even the most unpopular person in your family. And can you really blame them? Not only are you cowardly, crawling and dumb. You’re also entirely obsessed with yourself, the most neurotic man in the universe and completely incapable of being anywhere near likeable for more than five minutes!”
“When, and only when you forget to talk about your smegging swimming certificates and your own stupid face and the fact that you once saved a pen from a crushing machine or some other pointless bit of smeg despite the fact that that pen hadn’t worked for about five years.”
“And perhaps, perhaps, you’d be tolerable if you’d just admit that you actually hate yourself like any normal British person,” he spread his arms, refused to listen, “But no! Despite all your obvious character flaws you still act like you’re the best bonehead around!”
Rimmer made a choked little sound.
“King bonehead, in fact. Rimmsy. Arn. Old iron balls, for smeg’s sake!” he spread his arms even wider, adopted an expression of pure despair, “you’re the worst kind of insecure bastard: the one who covers it by acting like the best thing since chicken vindaloo!”
Another choked sound.
“But you’re not.”
“You truly are just a cowardly, craven, dumb, unpopular, self obsessed-“
One that sounded almost like a whimper that time, desperate and high as if Rimmer was trying to hold himself back.
“-Neurotic, unlikable, insecure, arrogant, twattish, bastardly, stupid, infuriating-“
Which he obviously was: judging by his nails digging into his palms, the shaking of his body, the way his eyes had slid shut, the way his teeth had bitten temptingly (except not temptingly, because what the smeg) into his lip.
…Which obviously meant something.
He watched Rimmer for a smug second, pleased. Half wanted to order the man to open his eyes, to actually look his fist-pumping, ball-stomping triumph right in the face instead of hiding away and whining through his teeth and acting ever so superior due to the briefest lapse.
He jerked in surprise when Rimmer’s eyes fluttered, his knees half-buckled under him. Immediately reached out: trying to catch the man, despite the fact that he was an utter smeghead, trying to drag him back up to shake him or ask if he was alright or something that he’d probably get mercilessly mocked over from multiple mouths later, “Smeg! Rimmer, man? Rimmer, talk to-!”
…Rimmer shot right up.
Brushed his hair out of his red, sweating face. Clenched his free hand into a shaking fist, “why, Listy, should I talk to somebody who’s failed in such a way?”
Twice, “Are you alright-?”
“…Okay,” he searched for words. There were a lot of words. Most of them seemed to be ‘smeg’ but it was a start, “you almost fell over there, are you sure you’re feeling alright-?”
“As I said, Lister: perfectly.”
“But you almost fell over-“
“Per. Fect. Ly.”
He gritted his teeth over the syllables, because who the smeg breaks up words into syllables, clenched his fists too so he could speak in a generally sensible and intelligent and not at all aggressive way, “but you almost fell over, Rimmer. Are you sick?”
“Holograms can’t eat, Lister, no.”
“…Did I humiliate you that much-?”
“You didn’t humiliate me at all, Lister you goit, so absolutely smegging not!”
Stared at those red cheeks, the heavy way that Rimmer was breathing, the way his fists were still shaking just slightly, the way he was still sweating, the mortified look in his eyes, the faint easing of his back that he was trying not to show, the faint stain spreading at his crotch…
“You got off on that?” He asked incredulously, half wanting to dive for the side for real and half wanting to actually put his fist in Rimmer’s face and half wanting to run away and half wanting to snog that face and half wanting to see if he could push Rimmer to another orgasm with his just words and he knew that he had enough emotions for about six or so people but he didn’t really give a smeg-, “Rimmer-!”
…Rimmer took one look at his face, “smell you later, Listy!”
“It was nice seeing that you really can’t back up your words with any serious action!”
…But the man had already run, practically sprinted while tripping over his feet, out of the room.
Which left him stood there, staring. His mouth still open, confusion still probably all over his face, emotions still warring in a highly smeggish way, hands still clenched into fists-
“For smeg’s sake, Rimmer, wait!”
…Yeah, smeg that.