carmilla: Rimmer and Lister in their respective bunk beds. Caption reads 'Bunkmates' (Rimmer/Lister)
[personal profile] carmilla
SUMMARY: This isn't what he's looking for.


Rimmer carefully extricated himself from the arms of his snoring bunkmate, and rolled out of the top bunk they’d been sharing. His feet hit the floor with a soft thud. Quietly, he took out his regulation pyjamas from under his pillow, and put them on. Then he got into bed, pulled the sheet over himself, and lay perfectly still, his back ramrod straight. He wouldn’t sleep for a long while now. He was too cold, for one thing; his toes chilled by the bare floor, his body missing the extra heat that had been settled against it a moment ago. But he couldn’t have stayed. He couldn’t have borne waking up next to Lister, not again.

He’d taken his chance a few weeks ago, when an early morning inspection had nearly caught them tangled up together, naked and twisted up in their sheets and not a plausible explanation in sight. As it was, Rimmer had sprained an ankle diving from the top bunk and into the shower at the sound of the rap on the door. Can’t risk that again, Listy, he’d said that evening, holding an ice pack against his swollen foot. I think I’d better sleep in my bed from now on.

Perhaps, when he’d said that, he’d meant to break it off all together, but Lister had looked at him with something dark and sad in his eyes and he’d had to kiss him to try and make it go away. It hadn’t, not entirely. It never did.

And that was what Rimmer was really running away from. Not the possibility of being caught, but the certainty of what would happen, every morning, when Lister woke up. He’d blink a few times, and rub his eyes, taking his hand from where it was curled around Rimmer’s shoulder, or cupping his hip, or lying heavy across his stomach. And as his eyes cleared, he’d look at him, and he’d smile – a unique smile on a face made for inane grins, quiet and confident and serene. The first time Rimmer had seen it, he’d caught his breath. But then Lister would shake his head a little, or look around the prison quarters, or keep looking straight at Rimmer, and the sadness would creep back into his eyes. He kept smiling; but only a blind man couldn’t have told the difference.

Rimmer wasn’t an idiot. He’d always known he was second best, second choice, something to pass the time with until a better offer came along. He’d known that when Lister first reached out for him tentatively, offering him comfort, solace in this place where comfort was a rare and precious thing; he knew it even if Lister himself wouldn’t admit it, or couldn’t. Knew it even when he could no longer pretend that the same was true for him, that there was anyone or anything in the world he wanted more than this. And because he’d wanted it, he’d taken it, and told himself that he didn’t care where the offer was coming from, it was no concern of his whose face was on Lister’s lids when he closed his eyes and parted his lips and hitched his breath just so.

So they’d gone to bed. That night was the only time they’d used Rimmer’s instead of Lister’s. And Rimmer was clumsy and unsure and nervous, doubly so because Lister seemed to know exactly what he was doing; what the quickest way was to remove a regulation Space Corps uniform, how to make the best use of the limited amount of space a single bunk bed provided, how they could fit their bodies together and touch and grapple and slide, how if he crooked his fingers there and applied his tongue there, Rimmer suddenly forgot his own name. Rimmer felt lost and hopeless, but he tried his best, and soon Lister was panting against his neck, his legs locked around one of Rimmer’s own, a sheen of sweat gluing their bodies together. And he panted yes, and please, and good – or was it God? – and when he came he looked into Rimmer’s eyes. His hand brushed his sticky hair off his forehead, awkwardly, groping for something that wasn’t there, and only then did Rimmer realise how much of a mess he’d got himself into.

Because he knew then, knew for definite, who Lister really wanted. And no matter how he tried to cover it, that insidious sadness in Lister’s eyes told him that he’d looked for him, in this, and hadn’t found him.

And in spite of everything, he couldn’t resist a bitter half-smile. Smeg like this could only happen to him. Of all the cruel, twisted ironies Fate had deemed to throw his way, this was the worst.

Only Arnold Judas Rimmer could be a poor substitute for himself.
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