Title: Life is Sweet
Timeline: Season 6, sometime after 'Legion'
Summary: I once swore I would never do a songfic.
Disclaimer: I don't own Rimmer, Lister, or Red Dwarf. No money is being made, and no holograms or space bums were harmed in the writing of this story.
Life is Sweet
Rimmer stood at the observation portal, alone, gazing out into the vast blackness of space. Had it been possible, he would have stepped out into that darkness. It matched what he felt inside perfectly.
He pressed his hand against the plexiglass, marveling once again that it didn't pass through.
There were things he still couldn't make sense of. Hard light bodies, holograms becoming solid, and.and Lister's offer. An offer that deep down he wanted to accept -- he had been alone for so very, very long. But he was afraid. If he did, what would become of him?
He feared the consequences. He feared for himself.
The darkness outside seemed to want to cross over into the ship and consume him, just as the darkness inside had threatened to do for what felt like his entire life.
He closed his eyes and pressed his head against the glass.
"Rimmer?" asked a voice softly, from behind him.
The hologram stepped back, but he didn't turn around. He wasn't surprised that Lister had known where to find him. He always came up here when he wanted to think, or when he wanted to be alone.
"Go away, Lister," he heard himself say.
"You don't really mean that, man."
"I need to think. I just -- I just need to be by myself for a little while. This is too much to deal with all at once. I need time."
"C'mon, Rimmer, what're you afraid of?"
The voice was still soft, cloying. Convincing.
Since he was a child, Rimmer had been told what was expected of him. And what hadn't been explicitly spelled out he had just known, known as sure as the sun would rise. His parents had seen to that. Rimmer knew there were things you could never, ever do. Even if you wanted to, more than anything.
"It's a pity," he began. "It's a crying shame."
"People hold you down again," said Lister, echoing what he'd heard from Rimmer a hundred times before. "How painful it must be, to bruise so easily inside."
That was when the lights came up and the music started. Rimmer ignored it as if it was a totally normal, everyday occurrence, sparing a brief glance at the orchestra that had appeared out of nowhere, and continued. "It's a pity, it's a downright crime, it happens all the time."
"You want to stay little daddy's girl," interrupted Lister. Rimmer turned and glared at him; Lister shrugged, and kept on singing. "You want to hide from the vicious world outside."
"Don't cry," Rimmer replied firmly, as his parents had always told him. "You know the tears will do no good, so dry your eyes."
Lister shook his head. "Oh, your daddy, he's the iron man, battleship wrecked on dry land -- your mama she's a bitter bride, she'll never be satisfied, you know. And that's not right."
"But don't cry," the hologram repeated, still following along with the music. "You know the tears will do no good, so dry your eyes."
"Oh, they told you life is hard, misery from the start -- it's dull, it's slow, it's painful," Lister broke in, shaking his head again. "But I tell you life is sweet, in spite of the misery -- there's so much more, be grateful." He smiled. "Well, who do you believe? Who will you listen to, who will it be? 'Cause it's high time that you decide -- in your own mind."
Rimmer looked at him like he was crazy. How could he go against something that was ingrained so deeply within him?
Lister sighed. "I've tried to comfort you, I've tried to tell you to be patient."
Rimmer turned away, but Lister took him by the shoulders and turned him back, staring determinedly into his eyes. "For they are blind, and they can't see." He shook him. "Fortune's gonna come one day, and they're all gonna fade away -- your daddy the war machine, and your mama the long and suffering."
"Prisoner of what she cannot see," Rimmer whispered in agreement.
"For they told you life is hard, misery from the start -- it's dull, it's slow, it's painful -- but I tell you life is sweet, in spite of the misery; there's so much more, be grateful." Lister smiled again, challenging him. "So, who will you believe? Who will you listen to, who will it be? 'Cause it's high time that you decide; it's time to make up your own, your own state of mind." He wrapped his arms around the hologram, then reached up and traced the 'H' on the other man's forehead. "Oh they told you life is long, be thankful when it's done. Don't ask for more; be grateful-"
Rimmer nodded, but his parents' words held little meaning for him. Lister was right. He'd been right all along.
Now Rimmer joined in, accepting the embrace and adding his voice to the chorus. "But I tell you life is short.be thankful, because before you know it, it will be over." He pulled back a little to look Lister in the eyes, then kissed him. "'Cause life is sweet, life is also very short.life is sweet and life is also very short," they sang together, Rimmer's voice carrying the final line. "Oh, life is sweet."
The dream recorder's screen went blank. This was his fifth time through it; each time wondering if there was a different way to interpret the images he'd seen. He still hadn't come up with anything. His bunkmate had woken him from a sound sleep with certain verbal components of this dream, which had sent him to Starbug's computer room to find out what all the mumbling and singing -- if you could call it that -- was about. And after seeing what the other man had been dreaming of, he knew there was no way he could just go back to sleep. Not now.
//The smartest thing to do would be to get back in bed, close my eyes, and forget everything I saw here tonight,// he told himself.
Then he grinned. //Lucky for me I'm not that smart, then.//
Gleefully, Lister bounded back to the quarters he shared with Rimmer. His bunkmate was finally ready.and he was about to discover how truly sweet life could be.