Title: Back in the Red, Part 3.5
Author: Thesseli
Timeline: Series 8, between Back in the Red- Part Three and Cassandra
Summary: Lister considers the possibilities after the ship and crew are resurrected.

"Well _talk_ to me then," Lister pleaded from the top bunk.

This was intolerable, that Rimmer refused to speak! And after all they'd been through in the past three days, since the 'Dwarf and its crew were resurrected.

"_No_."

"Look, I'm sorry, OK? How many times do you want me to say it? I. Am. Sorry," he stated, punctuating each word of the 'apology' by clapping his boots together.

Rimmer glared back at him. "_No_. _You're_. _Not_."

"It was an accident."

"An accident?" Rimmer repeated in disbelief. "You poured a whole tube of it over me, you disgusting, rotting, fetid piece of congealed monkey vomit." His face twisted in distaste, and he turned away from his cellmate.

"At last you're talking to me," Lister said in satisfaction, swinging his legs back up onto the bunk and picking up his magazine. He'd gotten what he wanted. "I knew we'd make it up." He glanced back at the story he'd been reading, as if it was now the only thing on his mind. "83..."

Rimmer buried his nose in his book in disgust.



Lister smiled gleefully, hidden behind the glossy pages. This was more like it! Almost like the old days. Almost like the old Rimmer. _His_ Rimmer.

He shook his head ruefully, at the thought of how much his opinion of the other man had changed. _That_ was something he'd only just got used to, how he felt about the man he'd once referred to as a cancerous polyp on the anus of humanity (although the memory of that particular insult still made him laugh). Even though he had sworn that he would never, ever miss his former bunkmate -- especially after Kryten's AR masterpiece 'The Rimmer Experience' -- more and more he'd found himself thinking nostalgically about the past. Since the hologram had left to become the next Ace, things just hadn't been the same. He was glad for Rimmer, that he was off somewhere realizing his dream of being a hero and all, but deep down he knew that something was missing because of his absence. He also knew that, no matter how vehemently he denied it, he missed Rimmer. A lot. <> But then, when they'd landed on the newly reconstituted Red Dwarf, with the newly reconstituted crew...it was like something that had been switched off inside him had suddenly been turned back on, when he saw who'd been brought back with the rest. All right, the Rimmer sharing his cell wasn't _his_ Rimmer, the hologramatic one that had kept him sane for all those years, but he was close enough! Too bad the nanobots hadn't remade this one in the hologram's image, with his memories. This one's personality was just as annoying and unpleasant as his Rimmer's had been in the beginning.

But that could change. If his Rimmer could do it, could become slightly less of a smeghead than he'd started out as, then this one could too.

He thought of the old Rimmer again, 'his' Rimmer. When had he started thinking of him like that, as 'his'? Lister wasn't sure; it just sort of happened. And why shouldn't it? They'd been through so much together. He was the only one of their small crew who'd been with him from the very beginning, when he was right out of stasis and he'd had to accept that the entire ship's complement was dead. Cat had shown up almost immediately afterwards, but then he wasn't a member of the original crew -- he wasn't even from Earth, and he didn't know how it felt to be so utterly alone in the universe. Rimmer did. Even though he'd been brought back after Dave had been awakened, as a hologram he could not touch anything and was effectively separated from the world around him. at least until they'd met Legion. After all that, he was bound to have _some_ affection for him, smeghead or not.

He grinned again. Affection was probably the last thing Arnold Rimmer wanted right now, what with the effects of the sexual magnetism virus still fresh in his mind. At least some of the virus had remained on his clothes, enough to infect most of the people trying to remove them, which had taken some of the heat (so to speak) off him. After being 'rescued' from the amorous advances of his fellow prisoners, Rimmer had been taken to the medical bay and checked out, then thoroughly decontaminated. A little too thoroughly, from what Lister heard. <> But he supposed he could forgive him. It was just Rimmer being Rimmer after all.

And he'd always forgiven the other Rimmer.

Lister peaked over the top of his magazine to steal a glimpse of the other man, so very much like his former shipmate, and smiled again. He'd already begun to see cracks forming in Rimmer's prickly outer defenses -- probably from Lister's unexpected treatment of him as a friend and comrade when he came on board, rather than as the git he'd been forced to bunk with. It had started the same way with the hologram. With time, the same mellowing would likely happen to his cellmate as well.

And if Lister wanted to speed the process along, he still had an ace up his sleeve. Or rather, a virus. One he could infect himself with quite easily, with just a swig or two from the shatterproof pyrex container he'd kept carefully hidden from the guards.

He hadn't poured the _whole_ tube of it over Rimmer, after all.

***