Lister raised his eyebrows as he walked in on Arnold Rimmer, in his pyjamas, climbing the ladder to the top bunk. He was clearly intending on spending the night there.
“What'r you planning on Rimmer? You always said you wouldn't go near me “filthy bunk” even if it enticed you with a promise of promotion.”
The Hologram turned his head to face Lister distractedly.
“Well, I … changed my mind. Is that okay Dave?” he stammered far too nervously. “I thought it …” he paused just that second too long, “would be a nice shake up, a change. Variety is the spice of life and all that smeg ...” He smirked smugly, so proud of his obvious lie.
Lister shook his head as he stared at his husband still perched on the ladder. He liked variety and spice as much as he always did, but sleeping with his partner in the cramped top bunk certainly wasn't one of them.
“Nah, scratch that one Arn. I'm not in the mood to be kicked out of there in the middle of the night. What if I land on me head and lost me mind?!”
“Don't think that would be a great loss ...” Rimmer snorted. “What are you talking about anyway? Why would I kick you out?”
Lister groaned; “In yer sleep Rimmer!” he grumbled, getting annoyed at the stupid and, to him, unnecessary situation.
“What?” Rimmer looked down on Lister, blinking in confusion.
“You know what I mean Mr fidget, fidget. Now get down and let's go to bed.”
For a second Rimmer stood rigid at the top of the ladder, his hands clenched around the edges of the bed, then he groaned and snapped;
“Why can't you just let me do what I smegging want for a change!!” He pummelled the defenceless mattress with anxious fists. Then there was silence. The sudden outburst shocked Lister and seemed to surprise even Rimmer himself; the rigid posture now shaking.
“You okay man?” Lister asked; Rimmer never lashed out like that for no reason.
“I'm sorry ...” the voice of the Hologram was soft now, almost defeated.
“Come down babe, let's talk.”
Rimmer nodded quietly.
Slowly, always avoiding Lister's eyes, Arnold Rimmer climbed down the ladder, his head held low.
“I asked if you were okay, babe.” Lister persisted, when Rimmer was finally back on ground level and seemingly unsure of himself.
A shrug as Lister put his hand on his shoulder, then Rimmer gave in and turned to him.
“Yes – no, well … I just … really wanted to sleep somewhere else tonight ...” he mumbled anxiously, then looked up at his partner apologetically.
The haunted confused look Lister found in his husbands eyes suddenly made the Scouser realise what was wrong with him. To avoid upsetting Rimmer any further he decided not to let on that he understood more than the Hologram wanted to say.
“Oh … okay babe. I see.” He said, as he took his hand. “You're looking for an adventure, eh …? Then come with me.”
Softly he guided a relieved Rimmer out of the room, to the Captain's quarters, to the big spacious bed. He knew space and lots of it was what his partner really needed right now.
After all these years Lister didn't need Rimmer's words to understand that tonight, after what he had been through today, sleeping in the bottom bunk was just a little too close to being buried alive.