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pre-series

They shoulder into the mess together, fighting to get through the doorway like bickering siblings.

Chen nudges him, and Petersen grins, eagerly awaiting the newest form of entertainment. Over the last few weeks, disagreements between Lister and his roommate had been gradually ramping up in intensity. The scouser constantly complained about him and his stupid smeggin’ pencils and his tunnel-sized smeggin’ nostrils. Petersen, frankly, couldn’t imagine ever caring about anything Arnold Rimmer had to say – and he wasn’t sure why Lister did, either.

“You’re on report, Lister. Obstruction of superior officer.”

“See if I give one single smeg, bog-breath,” is Lister’s curt reply.

Rimmer glares, hand already reaching out for his report book. “Bog breath?”

“Yeah, bog breath.”

“Just wait until Hollister hears about this, Lister, you’ll be on PD until you finish this trip.”

Lister casts a backwards glance at him as he makes his way towards the groups’ customary table. “You wish, smeghead.”

“Trouble in paradise?” Selby smirks as he takes his seat, groaning in annoyance.

He lights up immediately, taking a deep drag. Someone – Chen – slides him a can across the table which he catches and opens with a satisfying pop. “He drives me absolutely spare. You guys have no idea how it is.”

“You’ve said,” says Chen, exchanging an amused look with Selby. “Over and over again.”

Lister glances up at them, half-listening. “What are you talking about?”

“You’re always complaining about Rimmer,” says Petersen. “Constantly. If you’re not fighting with him then you’re complaining to us about him. Or winding him up and then complaining to us about him. ”

“Because he’s annoying,” Lister glares. “You know how it is.  You complain about him too.”

“Yeah but not like you – not all the time,” says Selby. “You’re always going on about him. It’s like you’re fixated.”

“Smeg off,” Lister snaps. “I live with him and I work with him. I spend most of my time in close proximity to his arseholishness. If it were any of you, you would be saying the same thing.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Selby grins. “Whatever you say, mate.”

Honest - ”

The commotion at the far end of the room interrupts them -  the familiar sound of clipped, precise Io vowels. Lister’s head snaps up, and Petersen cackles. “You’re like the boy who pulls the girl’s pigtails on the playground, Lister.”

Shut the smeg up.”