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“I think you’re perfect. Even with your flaws, you’re nothing but perfect.”

“So you admit I’m flawed.”

Lister had expected the compliment to be doubted. It always was. Every now and then Rimmer went through a period of needing constant reassurance about their relationship. To an outsider, the neediness probably looked annoying and unhealthy but Lister was a patient man with a deep understanding of Rimmer’s emotionally neglected past. He had no problem indulging his insecure beau.

Lister patted the cushion beside him on the sofa and moved along.

“I’m not falling for that miladdo. You can’t distract me as usual.”

“Just sit down, y’smeg.”

Rimmer gingerly perched on the edge of the seat, keeping his distance. Lister shifted closer. Before he could start anything Rimmer grumbled, “Your tongue in my ear, whilst very pleasant, is not an answer to my queries, so don’t even try that again. Stay over there.”

“I was just going to snuggle you.”

“Oh it always starts that way…”

Lister could see Rimmer was after some more ego-pampering. “Want me to do ‘The List’?” Lister asked with a soft chuckle. Rimmer nodded and despite his earlier protests he allowed Lister to pull him down so he could lie upon his chest for a chaste cuddle. Lister let him settle down and relax, breathing slowly and gently as he gazed lovingly up at him. “First on the list,” said Lister, “I love your hair.”

“It’s frizzy.”

“It’s curly, and it clings onto my fingers when I stroke it. It’s gorgeous. So’re your eyes.”

“Mud-coloured.”

“Hazel,” Lister corrected.

“You can’t possibly like my nose.”

“I like the way it digs into my cheek when you’re snogging me really hard.”

“Oh god, does it?” Rimmer whined.

“Yeah, but it’s sexy.” Lister’s grin widened but Rimmer was unconvinced. Lister tapped at the thin pale lips below the aforementioned feature. “These are sexier. Or at least, the stuff I can do with them.”

Rimmer turned into the back of the sofa with a groan, but it was an unhappy one rather than amorous to Lister’s disappointment. Rimmer mumbled something into the fabric.

“Eh?”

“I said, I’m sorry I keep making you do this. Why do you put up with me? And don’t say it’s because I’m perfect; it’s nonsense.”

“You are though. Maybe not perfect as far as people go, but you’re perfect for me. And that’s all that matters.”

Rimmer came out from the cushions. “I don’t deserve you.”

“That’s true.”

“Git.” He tugged one of Lister’s dreads over his back and caressed it fondly. “I am sorry though. Needing you to validate us. Me. I’m probably always going to be like this, you know. I’ll always need you to tell me you love me.”

Lister just kept smiling the smile he reserved just for Rimmer as he leaned up to kiss him. “And I always will.”