Chapter 1: Drinks are on Me
Have you ever been concussed? Like proper, need-to-go-to-the-medibay concussed? What about a concussion from being hit in the head by a vengeful vending machine? It’s not very dignified, to say the least. Arnold J. Rimmer (B.S.C., S.S.C.), a former second technician and now the second highest ranking crewmember of the ship was currently in the ship’s medibay for this exact reason – and, in turn, knew exactly what that feeling was like. Admittedly, it was mostly a mix of shame and mostly pain. By the ship’s clock, it was late in the evening.
The whole day had been a mess. They broke out of prison, a corrosive microbe had found its way through the ship, they (almost) had the antidote, there was fire, who knows what else really happened. Rimmer didn’t know, that was for sure. He knew that there were smoke and alarms, he knew that he had gotten hit in the head by something, and the thing that he knew after that was that he found himself in the medibay with oxygen being given to him through a face mask and a very concerned robot muddling over him.
Rimmer sat upright on the scratchy teal bed holding an old ice pack to the back of his skull. After the events of the morning, he was more than thankful that it was the worst thing that had happened to him.
The antidote to the microbe was fixing up the ship has he sat there in the cold light, and the rest of his crew were trying to reconnect with all the escape pods and smaller ships that contained the rest of the nanobotically resurrected Red Dwarf personnel. Rimmer didn't really care about any of that smeg right now, all that he wanted was a strong drink and death. Either order worked, as long as it got rid of the headache.
Lister had been watching as the ship was repaired chunk by chunk, standing near Kryten by a large row of drive room computers as he worked on trying to contact everybody else with the help of Holly. Nothing was responding, and if they were still out there, they were all careening further and further away from the Red Dwarf to the point that they might not even be able to catch up. Lister rubbed his face, he wished he had a cigarette.
There was no way in hell that he was going to lose the entire crew twice in one lifetime, but that’s exactly what looked like was going to happen. Cat was having a nap somewhere on the ship, and Kochanski was still doing a damage assessment towards the lower decks. Lister looked back at the various monitors. One of the ones in the corner was set to the live feed of the medi-bay cameras so he could keep an eye on his former cellmate.
Holly’s face came up on one of the screens. “Hey, It looked like Arn’ is up again.” he chimed in, trying to at least be a little useful. Lister felt like there was a tug in his chest.
Ah; Rimmer. The man who he, no matter how his life seemed to end up, seemed to always be there next to him. If they liked each other one could make a ‘soul mate’ connection, but seeing as there was no love between them, it was less of a ‘soul mate,’ and more like a ‘soul nemesis.’ It seemed like such a wild chance that the two of them would end up together in the same place and same time like they have, even moreso after the old Rimmer had left.
Well, it wasn’t his Rimmer, not the man who he had spent years with learning new ways to make a grown man cry in frustration and inventing a books’ worth of insults between the two of them, but a replication. It wasn’t his Rimmer, but the best that he could do.
“Thanks, Hol’.” Lister turned back to Kryten, "I'm gonna’ go to the medi-bay and see if I can get some of that medical alcohol, all the lager in storage hasn’t been rebuilt yet." he hummed.
"Oh, of course, sir,” Kryten said as he turned back to face him, “But, I can’t agree with you drinking the sterilisation alcohol, it is needed to keep the tools clean should they ever need to be used for surgery." Kryten scolded, but both of them knew that this wouldn’t do anything to deter him.
"It'll be alright Kryties, I’ll leave some of it," he clapped him on the shoulder with a loud ‘clank’ sound, "I'll be back soon, call me if you guys make contact with anyone." he strode out the room and headed for the medibay, making sure to dodge around the half done ship repairs. The ship looks like it was rotting in reverse, and that just seemed to him like an awesome music video idea. He hurried down through the halls and slowed himself down once he was in earshot of Rimmer.
"Hey Rimmer, you alright?" he asked as he headed straight for the cabinet with the booze. The reflective surface of the cupboard let him look at Rimmer without actually looking at him.
Rimmer looked like a mess. He let out a long, deep grown. This was exactly what he needed right now - Lister. "Not really," He replied as he watched the other man dig through the shelves. This went on for a little while before he exhaled and said something else. “Why do all the vending machines always like you?” Rimmer asked, not even caring that Lister seemed to be pouring himself shots out of medicine. His head was throbbing - those looked good.
“Uh, it’s pretty hard to get on the bad side of a vending machine, Rimmer.” Lister responded, turning around and leaning on the doorway. “Plus it is my job to serve them, so it does help if you’re polite to them.” He took a sip of the mixture that he had thrown together for himself. It wasn’t bad.
“It was my job, too.” Rimmer took the ice pack off the back of his head and put it on the counter beside him. “They’ve never liked me.” He said with a twinge in his voice.
Lister chuckled. “Cheer up, it was one smeggin’ machine. It’s been taken care of, I’ve taken care of it.”
“How.” Rimmer asked, deadpan.
“Crowbar to the dispenser, damaged it enough to get the goods.” Lister took out a crushed choccynut bar from his jacket pocket, showed the logo to Rimmer and unwrapped it with his teeth, eating half of the wrapper as he did so. The bar was a half-melted pile of mush, but he didn’t seem to care.
Rimmer stared at him, blinking slowly as Lister scoffed the chocolate bar down in a messy bite. “You’ve gutted it.”
Lister shrugged and took a shot of the alcohol, “It tried to kill ya, man.” The drink was strong enough that it burned all the way down into his gut. "Whoof - that’s good," He hissed with an exhale after putting the plastic cup back down on the counter.
Lister took out a second cup and poured one for Rimmer before holding it out, munching on the rest of the chocolate with his other hand. "Here. This should help with the pain, this stuff is strong enough to peel the paint off the walls." he hadn’t totally finished chewing on the treat as he spoke, and wiped his face with the actual chocolate bar afterwards, leaving a chocolate smear over the corner of his mouth.
Rimmer half-sniffed the small cup being offered to him before wincing at the smell. Sure seemed strong enough. He took the cup, "Smegging thing still tried to kill me," He repeated with a quiet snarl. Rimmer too took the shot, gagging after it went down.
"As for the vending machines,” Lister swallowed, “You just gotta stop calling them names, you know they got feelings, and no one likes being threatened by a half-crazy man with the clearance to disassemble you." he explained, giving his eyes an exasperated roll.
"You know what, Lister?” Rimmer said, quickly changing the topic, “I think that, plus all the smoke caused me to hallucinate. I could have sworn that I saw death himself trying to take me away before I was able to leg it from him. I kept running as fast as I could through the flames only to turn a corridor and wind up with Kryten trying to hoist me onto this very bed." Rimmer said as he patted the bed he was sitting on. Out of all the things on the ship that the JMC allocated money towards, this was not one of them.
Lister snorted in amusement, filling his glass back again for himself, "I bet it felt like that, yeah. Honestly, I’m just glad Kryten found you. It would have been a real pain to clean up your body. I mean-you're so spineless you're practically a jellyfish already," he teased. Lister didn’t know if they would have brought Rimmer back as a hologram if he had of died earlier, but he had a feeling that he probably would have.
Honestly it felt so strange being so, normal with Rimmer. After all that had happened between the two of them in the prison, well, he had thought things would be different. Or at least, awkward. It was like the whole time in the cell had been wiped away as soon as they left it’s walls. Not like that was a bad thing, oh no, that was very much a good thing. It was all mutual exchanges between two people in their situation, nothing else had to be seen off it.
And according to both of them, there was nothing to discuss. Nothing had ever happened between them, and that’s how it was going to stay.
"You don’t have to worry about the machine assaulting you again,” Lister said with a smile after taking his second shot, “you should see the mess of choccy bars over the floor after I finished with him."
Rimmer rolled his eyes, "as long as you clean that mess up, we don't want anybody tripping or somethin'." he replied, brushing off the insult as the cleaning alcohol was already starting to affect him. Rimmer was a lightweight - that much was true. He looked down at his cup and realised that it was one of those little cups that you pee into when giving urine samples. It was too late to hope that Lister had gotten it from an unopened box. "You wouldn't have any more of those bars in your pocket, would you?" He looked back at Lister softly, trying not to think about his inspiring choice of shot glass.
Lister nodded and dug into his pocket, pulling out an unopened, but slightly even more melted choccy bar, "Yeah here you go, figured you might want one after being laid out like that." He threw it his way, "you want any more booze?" Lister asked.
Rimmer didn't exactly catch the bar when it got thrown his way, more like, prevented it from passing through him. It was soft, and parts of it oozed out when he opened it up. "Is that even safe to drink?" Rimmer asked after taking a bite, wanting more of the not-safe-for-human-consumption alcohol regardless of Lister’s answer. There was something about this choccynut bar that just made it so much better than anyone that he had had before. Maybe it was the taste of revenge? Who knew.
Lister looked at the bottle, "I mean it says it’s not suitable for drinking but hell, I’ve drunk it before in a pinch," he took Rimmers’ ‘shot glass’ and filled it back up. Honestly, he had drunk alcohol out of more dubious things, and had had more dubious drinks. "You'll be fine man, just drink up, it'll help with ya headache."
Rimmer eyed the drink, before giving up any possible protest and ingesting it for himself with a gasp. Whatever he was already dealing with couldn’t be worse than the ensuing hangover it was going to give him. He picked up the damp ice pack again, holding it to the large egg that was growing out the back of his head. "How's the rescue mission goin'?" Rimmer asked, voice slightly slurred.
Lister poured and drank another shot for himself and shrugged, "We can’t get contact with any of the escape pods, so we might as well be just yelling out the airlock." he explained, having a little better head for alcohol than Rimmer, although this stuff was strong enough that he didn’t really need much more. “We’re all gonna keep trying but, well, it’s hard to be hopeful.” Lister looked back at Rimmer, and then away with a faint blush. “Really I’m just glad you, uh, a-and everybody here is alright. I was damn worried about you-you all when the fires started. We had to leave you in the mirror, and when we went back to find you we thought you might have been a goner." he had had to catch himself a few times there.
There was a strong roll coming from deep inside of Lister’s gut. His whole body seemed to be yelling at him to either stop drinking what he was drinking or stop saying what he was saying. He didn’t feel like he needed to vomit just yet, but the smell of the alcohol seemed to be digging at him from the inside out.
He felt like he needed to go outside for a while and catch some fresh air. Of course, you can’t do that on a spaceship, but his body didn’t know that.
"It wouldn't be good if they didn't miss the microbe, they could all be dead by now." Rimmer replied, unaware of Lister’s vocal shake. "Then, you’d be back to how you were before the nanobots brought everyone back – but with a ship and me alive."
Lister didn’t really want to think about that, to be honest, but he couldn’t help nodding solemnly. "All that we can do is hope, right?" he sighed and rubbed his face, "I think I’m gonna go get some sleep, you should try and get some rest yourself." Lister didn’t know if he needed to sleep or if he needed to eat. He was worried, it was a deep worry that makes you sick.
Rimmer nodded quietly and put the cup down on the table as Lister cleaned up. He popped his pillow back behind his head and turned himself the side, making sure he didn't put any force on his sore spot. "I'll see what I can do," he said quietly. Headache or not, it was weird to think about how concerned Lister seemed to be for his health. Maybe he really had matured over the years, maybe the very real reality of losing the rest of the crew was dawning on him, and he just didn't want to lose one more. The room was freezing, and felt even colder once Lister had turned the light off and left.
He knew that either Kryten or Kochanski would most likely be back at any moment to check up on him, so he didn't intend to fall asleep right away. Rimmer still ended up drifting off anyways, the pain fading out as the same background noise as the aircon and all the beeping of the fancy medical machinery that sat around him. It was a thick, groggy sleep that one could only describe as being rather depressing.
Honestly, Lister felt a lot better with some alcohol in his system, and seeing that Rimmer was well - or at least well enough. He let out a sigh and went back to the drive room to meet back with the others. The plan was to see if anybody had managed to actually contact anyone, but after that, he'd get some well-needed sleep. This was a problem that wasn’t going to go away any time soon.
Chapter 2: Good Morning
The next morning or whatever equated that on the ship, Rimmer woke up with slightly less pain on the back of his head, and a good amount everywhere else from the mild hangover he was experiencing. He opened his eyes and looked around. Somebody, presumably Kryten, had put out some pain killers and a bottle of mineral water on the bench next to him. He kicked off the crate paper-thin blanket and swung his legs over the bed. Rimmer hadn't of gone to bed with a blanket on, so somebody must have also tucked him in at the same time.
Rimmer took the pain killer dry and sat with his head in his hands for a little bit, before loosely sliding into his boots that had been left at the end of his bed. He made his way out of the medibay to try and find the rest of his crew.
Lister groaned as he lay in bed. The alcohol he'd drank yesterday had absolutely not agreed with him. He had already thrown up about four times already, and now he could be found lying on his top bunk bed in the dark, his bare arm thrown over his eyes as Kryten tried to convince him to eat something-something that Lister was very much refusing to do. He really didn’t trust his stomach at the moment.
Lister hadn’t had a hangover like this, well, probably ever.
"But Sir-" The mechanoid insisted to no use. Kryten had already spent a good amount of the morning trying to explain that it was better to have something inside of you than nothing. "Oh, I knew that drinking that cleaning ethanol was a bad idea! I did warn you." He said, fussing over his sick companion.
Lister nodded through his elbow, "I know ya’ warned me Krytes, but – God I just needed a drink after the day we had," he complained. His stomach gave another twist and a lurch and he groaned, "I think I’m gonna be sick again, could you get me the bucket?" he asked weakly, taking his arm off his face.
Kryten quickly went over to the sink where the bucket was left after being washed out, and gave it to Lister. "I'm going to go and see how the other's mornings are going, and then I'm going to come right back and fetch you a proper breakfast. Stay right there." Kryten ordered before he left the room.
A little further along the ship, Rimmer was pushing his hand through his curly hair as he walked idly into the officers’ quarters that Lister had apparently seemed to have already turned into his new bunkroom. The ship had been empty for less than a day and he had already done that, interesting. Rimmer’s plan was to ask Lister to order him a coffee for him, since all the machined had seemed to be on strike agents him, but he didn't make it far into his request before he saw that Lister's entire face was in a washing up bucket as he sat on the edge of his bunk.
Lister could have sworn he had lost even last week’s prison-issued vindaloo with all his vomiting. He heard the door slide open and assumed it was Kryten. "Krytes, can you get me a wet cloth or something? I'm sweating somethin’ shocking." Lister said as he was leaning over the bucket.
"It's not like you to hold your drink so poorly, Listy." Rimmer said half concerned, half amused as he walked towards his vomiting crewmate.
Lister looked up with a baleful look, his normally dark skin looking pale. "Shut up Rimmer - I'm really not in the mood. I’m surprised my stomach hasn’t come up and dangled out my mouth like a malformed uvula," he grumbled with the taste of vomit in his mouth, holding the bin. "I'll get the damn cloth myself."
Rimmer watched Lister half climb, half stumble down the ladder of the bunk with the bucket in the other hand. "That's, a pleasant image," Rimmer replied after accidentally taking a look inside of the bucket.
Lister sighed. "Yeah, I know. I think that I saw that meatloaf we had a month ago, I was right about it looking the same coming back up." he dumped the bucket into the sink and rinsed the mess down. Lister grabbed a cloth to wipe his face, feeling hot and sweaty.
Rimmer crossed his arms and began to tap his foot. “Well, I'm not going to say any of that was wrong, but I'm still pretty sure that it wasn't meatloaf." Rimmer moved a few steps closer, "Have you seen that robot anywhere? Or the other two?"
"Kryten was here just a moment ago, but he had to do something else. He was gonna stay but I told him to get lost, I’d be fine without him fawning over me for 15 minutes," he half-explained, half-lied, getting the cloth wet with fresh cool water and then wiping his face again. He shivered at how good it felt. "I swear he's gonna try and shove food into me wither it actually goes down or not.”
"It's like that machine has an entire chip inside of him that just has 'mother Lister' written on it." Rimmer seemed to fumble around his mouth with clicks to find something else to say to the other man. "Anyways,” Rimmer said after a cough into his fist, “I'm going to go and get something to eat, I would invite you, but I doubt that would help very much."
Smooth, very smooth.
Lister sneered a little. "Yeah, and I hope you choke on it," he wet the cloth a third time and went to get back into his bed, putting the wet cloth over his face like a spa treatment. He felt a bit like a corpse, like when they put a sheet over the body to shield innocent eyes. Honestly, he wished he was a corpse right now, he felt like smegging crap.
"Wouldn't it be better to be on the bottom bunk? You look like they're going to fall off yours." Rimmer asked, still standing halfway between the sink and the bunks.
Lister looked almost as bad as Rimmer felt the day before. "Yeah, it'd be a helluva lot easier, but I don’t think that I could stand you complaining for a week solid because I got sweat and half my guts all over your bunk," he mumbled, his voice a little muffled from the towel.
"Oh, is this my bed now?" Rimmer asked as he walked back towards and faced the beds. He wondered if Cat and Kochanski had done something similar in other rooms. They've got the entire ship to themselves for the foreseeable future, anyways.
Still, they had bunked before because they had too for work, and then again when they were imprisoned. Rimmer had known that the two of them had kept on sharing a room after the accident, but it still was weird to hear how naturally the two of them living in the same room came to Lister.
Lister lifted the cloth enough to give Rimmer a weak glare. "Of course it’s your bunk, we're roommates, have always been roommates," he huffed a little, not really even thinking of taking one of the hundreds of rooms for himself. It did honestly sound like a smart idea, there were even beds that were double wide so he could spread out if he wanted to.
But really, the thought of splitting up never even came to him until Rimmer made note of it.
"I guess that's a fair point," Rimmer said, leaning on the ladder of the bunks and looking over at Lister. "Anyways, there is some pain killer in the medibay - that might help with your hangover." Rimmer stretched a little bit as he left the room, leaving the door open when he did.
As if comedic timing was running rampant in the ship, Kryten came back into the room from the other direction a few moments later, fear in his synthetic voice. "Oh, Mr Lister sir! I can't find Mr Rimmer anywhere!" He was loud, louder than he should have been with a patient with such a strong hangover.
Lister groaned though the towel over his face. "Kryten, seriously? Rimmer just left. I could really use some peace and quiet until my body stops rebelling against me. He probably went to go see Krissie or something," Honestly, he loved Kryten, but every once and a while Lister wished that he could experience a hangover or be sick without him trying to ‘help.’
"Oh! Was he? My apologies I must have just missed him." Kryten said in a smaller voice. He asked Holly to turn the lights off and to close to the door once he left the room.
Rimmer had indeed found Kris over by one of the dispensing machines who was able to get him the coffee that he needed. They talked a little about the ship's reconstruction and her's and Cat's trip around to see it all complete, and then a little bit about connecting with the rest of the crew. That part of the conversation didn't last long, the same fear that Lister had the day before seemed to be present with everybody. Well, everybody aside from Cat.
A week or two later, Lister still hadn’t been able to keep anything down, even trying had him gagging - and he was still throwing up most morning whether he had anything to drink or not. Although, it wasn’t as bad as it had been that first day after the ship had been built. It wasn’t much like him to go cold-stone sober, but it was better than nothing.
After his morning vomit or two, Lister generally felt much better. He could eat like normal, but it was all still awful. Worse of all, he sure hadn’t been able to hide it from Kryten who was almost beside himself with worry and the other four who were starting to join in.
Kochanski sat around the table, watching as Lister got some food from a machine and joined them in a very ‘yes I’ve been here the whole time and not throwing my guts out’ sort of way. “You really should get that checked out,” she said once he sat down opposite to him with a poached egg on her fork, “nobody else is getting sick.”
"I already checked at the medibay, and the bot says I’m fighting fit," he lied. Lister hadn’t actually been for a checkout at all. He always felt better after throwing up, so in a sense, he used that to justify any and all denial.
"Hmm, okay then." Kochanski hummed as she took another bite of her food. Cloister, it felt good to have real food again. Well, as real as synthetic chicken eggs could be.
“Well, it looks like your diet is finally catching up to you, Listy." Rimmer mocked with a salad fork in his hand. He was sitting in-between the two them with a novel on the table above his own plate of food.
"Shut up Rimmer, this has nothing to do with my diet. It’s gotta be something to do with the rebuilt ship.” Lister snapped. “I mean, nothing else has changed since we got it back, the nanobots must have messed up somewhere." Really, it was the only thing that made any sense.
Although, he had been feeling a tad bloated as of late. Rimmer could have almost been right.
"Well, It's not making anybody else sick," Rimmer said with an eyebrow raised. It was sort of fun seeing Lister so sick at first, but as it had lost its charm the whole ordeal had started to concern him - not that he would ever say that out loud.
"Well, you're a bit of a total smeghead, so that might be why you aren’t affected - and anyway, I’m not sick." he muttered the last part. Lister went back to eating his chronically unseasoned curry. Usually, Lister hated having to dull his food down like this, but if he had any more it made his stomach twist. Honestly, the last time he was forced to cull his diet like this was back-
Back when he was pregnant with his twins.
Lister’s stomach suddenly dropped at the same speed as his spoon. He began to frantically put the pieces together while staring intensely at his tray of food. Going off smokes and booze, vomiting every morning, unable to eat spicy curry without all the spices making him gag -
Lister shoved his plate away, suddenly looking a bit pale, "M' done eating!" he murmured out as he stood up, leaving his half-eaten curry, slamming his hands into his tracksuit pants pockets and walking quickly, definitely not running, out of the room.
Rimmer and Kochanski shared a look.
"-Abosulitly no idea." Was the entire conversation before they both half got out their seats to follow him, and then slowly went back down. Lister was probably just going to go and vomit again - It’s not like they were in much of a rush to watch that happen.
Lister did, in fact, vomit again before throwing himself into his bed with a heavy ‘plonk.’
Lister wasn’t pregnant and that was that! He'd just picked up a space bug somewhere on a Canary mission and it was just showing symptoms now. Some viruses needed to incubate for months, it totally made sense that it could be some outer space version. He’d had weird space viruses before; the space mumps and Eppideme, just to name two of them.
The cat was in the room at the time, working on the hem of a shirt while lying on Rimmer's bunk. Usually, he liked to sit on Lister's because it was higher up, but Rimmer's was nicer because he changed his sheets more than, well more than once. Cat didn't even know if Lister used sheets.
Cat had also seen Lister half run/half shudder into the bunk above him, completely unaware that there was another person in the room. "You don't seem to hot," Cat said after a while of quite.
Lister had already buried himself in his blanket without even taking his boots off, he needed a few moments, his stomach still twisting. "I've just got some space virus, I just need peace and quiet.” He said louder and harsher than he intended to.
"Oh nasty! If you've got some space virus then you better keep away from the rest of us." Cat said in an inflexion that would usually indicate that he was going to leave the room, but he didn't move from his spot. The spot he was on was warm. There was a bit of 'lister doesn't want to talk' quite before the Cat spoke again. "You’ve been vomiting as much as ya did when you had those kittens of yours aaaaaaages ago."
Lister tensed for a second before pulling the blanket down, leaned over the bunk enough to glare down at Cat. "Unless Miss Debra Lister spirited me away in the middle of the night to have her wicked way with me, there's no smegging chance that I'm pregnant. Suggest something like it again and I'll toss you and all your clothes out an airlock." In retrospect, he was probably being a bit too harsh, but Cat was so far from the right he wasn't even in the same dimension.
"Hey, hey! Calm down there buddy, I was just being observant." Cat said in a friendly voice before cutting the thread with his teeth and admiring his work. "And besides," Cat added, "If there was anybody on the ship to take away during the night to have some sexy fun times with, it's me."
Lister relaxed a tiny amount. "Yeah, sure Cat, maybe you should put up some signs so if any ladies come onto the ship they know where to find you." He didn't know if that was helpful, but Cats words were sitting like a rock in his stomach, he wasn't pregnant! That was just impossible.
And frankly, just absurd.
Cat’s face seemed to light up. "Oh! That's a good idea. Do you think you could get black hole nostrils to paint them for me?" Cat asked the bunk above him as he got up and slung his finished shirt over his shoulder. The old Rimmer use to paint all the time in privet, maybe this new Rimmer might want something actually worth making?
"I'll ask him when he comes back, though he'd probably paint the sign in military grey, with ocean grey decorations" he joked and laid back down, maybe he should go watch a movie to get his mind off all this virus crap.
Cat leaned over the side of the bunk, their faces met. "Nah, better to make it all in pink and sparkly. That's the best way to get anybody's attention." He said, before leaving the room to go and get his second breakfast of the day.
This vision of Rimmer filled Lister’s mind like a fly that wouldn’t leave you alone. Lister put his hand on his stomach, wishing that he wasn’t so chubby so he could properly see if there was actually anything there or not.
Chapter 3: He Might be Pregnant
Later that evening, Lister and Rimmer found themselves hanging out in their bunkroom. Lister was on his bunk, watching tv with a blanket over his head, completely engrossed in what he was watching. Rimmer on his own still reading the same book from breakfast. It was just some WW3 history novel, nothing all that interesting in retrospect.
"How's that 'space bug' going?" Rimmer asked, not taking his eyes away from his book.
Lister managed a shrug, eating salted chips he had gotten from one of the vending machines. "I feel better than at breakfast, but still a bit cruddy."
“Lister, I know you haven’t actually been to the Medbay.” Rimmer said softly, putting his book down onto his chest. He had checked the records easier in the day and saw no sign of Lister being anywhere near it since after they got out of prison. “I’m not going to go soft on you here, but I assume you’ve dealt with and recovered from worse in the past, right?”
Rimmer felt a bit like he should just drop the topic, it had been a point of talk on and off talk for a while now. Either way, Lister still hadn’t seemed to recover from whatever was ailing him.
Lister took his eyes off the tv and leaned over the bunk to look down at him. "What the hell Rimmer? What gives you the right to look into me smeggin’ medical records? They're meant to be private." Lister shouted out as if he hadn’t been the one lying to everyone. "I told you! I just have a space bug, leave it alone."
"Lister, is there something more going on?" Rimmer asked sternly, standing up and knowing full well that Lister was simply avoiding the situation.
"Listen, Arnie,” Lister said with a snarl, “I’m smeggin’ fine! fit as a fiddle, so how about you go take a trip out the air lock and leave the suit behind, hell, I’ll push the button!" he snapped looking dead into Rimmer’s eyes, "get the hell out."
Rimmer put his hands up and took a few steps back. "Ah, okay then, I'm going, keep it together.” He said before leaving. Rimmer stopped by the doorway, and turned back around. “But, if you turn out to be some sort of shapeshifting GELF monstrosity that can't hold it's Lister-form any longer, you know full well that I'm going to do the same to you."
Lister ‘flomped’ back down on his bed with a long exhale. What was wrong with him? What was wrong with a simple ‘smeg off?’ The movie was making him emotional.
Kochanski was wandering the hallway when she heard Rimmer yelling as he left his room. An eyebrow was raised as Rimmer walked past her with a huff. "Trouble in paradise?" she asked him jokingly, but she couldn’t help keep a worried glance at the door that closed behind him. Kochanski lowered her voice. "How is he?" she asked, leaning in a little bit.
"He's moping around the bunk, so not much has changed in that department." Rimmer said with a sigh. "I honestly don't know what's gotten into him, do you really think it’s stress?" He still couldn't believe that he was actually concerned for Lister's wellbeing like this.
Kochanski put her hands on her hips as she thought. "I don’t know.” She pushed her hair off her face with a flip. "Do Cat or Kryten know anything? They’ve been around him much longer than both of us combined."
Rimmer leaned on the wall behind him. "Well, that cat was asking me to make him a sign to show any cross-dimensional impregnating women the location of his room, after talking with Lister a while ago, whatever that means." He said with a confused inflexion. "And I can't tell concerned Kryten and normal Kryten apart."
Kochanski looked back at him with a blank expression. "What? Cross-dimensional impregnating women? He’s a strange man but that doesn’t sound like a normal Catism. Do you think that we should go and ask him what all of that means?”
"Probably, but you know how that moggie is. All the vomiting and emotions, it's almost as if he is pregnant." Rimmer laughed. He paused for a moment before the realization of what he had just said came to him like a truck, he looked back at Kochanski with fear in his eyes. "He is cis, right? All normal down there? Nothing unusual?" Rimmer said with a vague lower-torso gesture.
Kochanski couldn’t help burst out in a bit of laughter at Rimmer’s question. "Yes, he is, I promise," she chuckled, the thought of that was just ridiculous. How could he be pregnant? "Why don’t we ask Kryten instead?" she suggested, "I'm sure he can clear all that up."
Rimmer seemed to relax quite a lot. "That sounds smart, if anybody would know about medical stuff it would be the robot. He’s pretty much been his mother for the past several years."
Kochanski nodded, and the two of them walked towards the officer’s communal area where they usually ate.
"Kryten, we want to know everything that you know about Listers’, ‘Illness.’" Kochanski said sternly, putting her hands on the back of a chair.
Kryten looked up from his mopping at the two humans that found themselves before him. "The, 'space bug'?" He asked. "Mr Lister has been sick in the mornings, but he has said that he's been to the medical computer and he's fine. How are you two going?"
Rimmer looked to the side, "Neither of us have been sick. Does he have any allergies that you know about?"
Kochanski shook her head and looked at Rimmer to the left of her, "He tried to convince me that he was allergic to soap once, but I proved that wrong, and there’s no kind of allergy I can think of that makes one throw up every day. Maybe it is a space bug and he'll get over it eventually?" she suggested, but it gave her a weird feeling in her stomach, it didn’t sound right.
Cat closed the door of the fridge behind all of them. There was quite a lot there at their disposal to recreate a normal household. The officer’s always good nice stuff. Cat had a jug of milk* in hand (* not an actual product of a cow) and a wine glass in the other. "Doormouse cheeks is acting the same as he did when he had those two kittens years ago. He's even started to nest in his room like he did back then, its wild."
Kochanski looked at him, "Why are you talking about kittens?" she asked him, not fully understanding what he was implying.
Kryten stopped his mopping and piped in. "Well, Mr. Cat is speaking about the time that everyone went to a parallel universe, and Mr Lister had,” Kryten paused, looking for the right word, “relations with his female self named ‘Deb,’ but the encounter ended with Mr Lister pregnant with his twin boys, James and Bexley. They had to go back to their Mother-Fathers universe, as being here had them ageing at a hyper-accelerated rate."
"He... He what? Lister was pregnant? For real? You have got to be pulling my leg here." Kochanski looked between Cat and Kryten, waiting for one of them to crack up and say that it was all a joke. Neither of them budged.
"Naaaaaah BB, it was an entire thing. That universe wasn't all that cool, my opposite was a dog." Cat replied, taking a drink from his glass. "Lister's got a huge ugly scar on his stomach from when Kryten took them out of him."
Rimmer's face hadn't changed from mild panic with his hand tightly gripping half his face hard enough to leave a mark. Lister hadn't mentioned any of that before.
Kryten raised his hands a little as if to placate them, causing the mop to fall into his elbow, "Holly said that he only got pregnant because he was in the other universe, we haven’t been back, so him being pregnant now is, completely impossible." he assured them in a very computer-like way. "I trust Lister that it is simply a space bug, and with some time he will recover."
Kochanski felt a little weird about the new information, it was definitely a tale to tell her Lister when she went back home, still holding out some hope. She and Rimmer exchanged looks before Kryten kept talking about how 'wonderful the twins had been' with Cat only agreeing that them leaving was good.
Rimmer began to tap his toes on the ground, the few nights they had spent together in that dark, nighttime cell began to replay in his mind. Did he have a caesarean scar like Cat described? It could have been possible – but that wasn’t exactly one of the things that he was paying attention too at the time. He didn't realise how much he had zoned out before somebody else tried to ask if he was okay.
It was Kryten who was asking, with Kochanski seeming to have left the room while he was spaced out, "Are you quite alright Mr Rimmer? You seemed to be processing something quite difficult there." He said worriedly.
Cat grinned from his half-empty glass of milk. "Yeah, trying to work out one plus one again?" he asked with a smile.
Rimmer seemed to find that subjection offensive but brushed it away. "No you illiterate moggie, just thinking." He crossed his arms. Lister never mentioned any of this before, you think two entire children would be worth talking about, but no. That wasn't actually what he had been thinking of, but as soon as he brought it up he started to think of that too. He wanted to run back to his and Lister's dorm, but didn't know how to bring up his concerns without collapsing into a ball of concerned shouting.
Cat gave a careless shrug, "Makes him all sad, definitely drinks more around their birthday and father’s day," he explained, not caring about spreading the potentially sensitive information. "You might have seen their pic in his bunk, him looking rougher than normal holding two equally fat babies. Honestly, I dunno how they fit in him.” Cat made a ‘capping’ gesture over his stomach to indicate a concernedly large baby bump. “He was really massive by the end of it."
"Yes, that makes sense." Rimmer mumbled quietly. He looked down at the floor for a second before walking back to his shared dorm a lot faster than he normally walks. Cat shrugged it off, taking out some leftover meat* (not an actual product of any Earthian animal) from the fridge before giving the dirty wine glass to Kryten. Man, Humans are strange.
Rimmer got to their door, freezing up before asking it to open. There was no way this was a possibility, Lister was just sick, that was all. He hadn’t of accidentally impregnated him, that’s just silly.
He rolled on his heels for quite a while before going in. The lights were off, but the tv wasn't.
Lister had several blankets pulled up bundled up in them like he was in the Antarctic, still watching that sappy romance film. Sometimes the romance movies made him so damn emotional, but it was hard for him to tell if that was from the movie or whatever else was going on around him. Lister glanced over as Rimmer came in, before looking back at the screen, he really hoped he was just here to go to sleep.
Rimmer paused for a moment, not quite sure what to do or say. He felt a bit like he had violated trust by knowing about his twins. The other’s knew and told him! Its’ not like he wouldn’t eventually find out. “What are you watching, listy?” He asked as he moved closer. The room was freezing, a sign that he must have turned the AC down so he could rug up. Rimmer's blanket was one of the blankets being used. It was almost like Lister was ‘nesting’ like Cat had noted.
Lister looked at him, "Just watching some old movie, about a girl who loses all her memories every day, its pretty good,” he said, sighing a little as he watched the antics on screen. Rimmer looked among all the photos hanging in his bunk and saw a picture of Lister holding two newborns who looked just like him – unsurprising as to who their parents where. The photo was small, but it was easy to see how exhausted he was.
Rimmer looked over at the screen by the wall to see what he was watching. Rimmer couldn't understand why Lister loved those old romcoms so much. He began to feel more and more like the woman in the movie. In a sense 'he' had been with Lister this whole time Like Cat had been, but he didn't remember or know of any of it. He coughed into his fist, before very smoothly pretending to notice and be intrigued by the Polaroid on the wall of Lister's children. "What's that one about?" He said with a vague point towards it.
He looked at the picture he was pointing at, "Ah well, those are me boys, Jim and Bexley. I always said I’d name my first boy Jim and my second Bexley," he explained with a slight twinkle in his eyes before beginning to mumble the rest of his sentence. "I forgot you weren’t here for them."
"'Your boys’, I never knew that you were a father." Rimmer said in a bit of an 'I already know this information' way.
"Yeah, we had a bit of fun in an alternate reality and 9 months later I ended up with a pair of boys, but... they couldn’t stay in this dimension, it only took them three days to get to 18 years old" he explained, the sadness in his voice seemed genuine, like an old wound being opened up.
"That’s, huh." Rimmer replied softly.
Lister looked over at the photo blue-tacked to his wall. ‘Rimmer knows’ came a voice inside of him. ‘They’ve told him about his last pregnancy, he’s going to ask if you are pregnant.’
Rimmer sat down on his blanket and pillow-less bunk. "What about their mother?" He asked. He assumed that the other Lister would have stayed in her reality, but wanted to keep the conversation going.
Lister managed a little laugh, but there wasn’t much heart in it. "Yeah, Deb was pretty shocked, I’ll tell you that. She was happy to take them at least," he explained.
"Deb? Yes, I guess that makes sense if her name was Deborah." Rimmer said, wondering what his female self's name would have been. His tone of voice changed, "Was she like Kochanski? From another universe but instead willing to fall in love with you?" as soon as the words left his mouth Rimmer regretted saying what he said. He was playing it up too much, Lister was clearly already quite upset, and he is just making it worse.
Lister didn’t take offence at that, but his voice did start to soften up. "Nah, she was only really interested in one thing, which is funny, because it was the same for me." and it was true. "The twins were an accident that I hadn’t even known was possible, I just wish I had more time with them y'know...." he sighed and paused the movie. “Look, as nice as talking with you was, I think that I’m gonna sleep now, I’ve seen this thing before."
"You didn't know that having children with a woman was possible?" Rimmer stood up before he heard a response. He was treading shark-laden waters. "Can I, have my blanket back?" He asked Lister above him, he looked horrible in the light of the screen. He definitely looked like he had been crying at the movie.
Lister exhaled. "Just get a spare one from somewhere, I spilt stuff on this one. I’ll just get Kryten to wash it for you tomorrow." He hadn’t actually spilt food on it, but he had used it to wipe his gross face more than a few times.
Rimmer signed and went into the dorm next to them to steal a blanket from there. The room was a mess, its old owners had left in a hurry. It was sort of like a quiet ghost room - a sign that they were alone on the ship. After taking the unmade blanket from the bottom bunk he went back to his own room, put the blanket on his bed and got changed into his PJs. Lister had already tucked himself in and turned the tv off by the time Rimmer had gotten back.
Rimmer laid on his own bed and looked at the ceiling of his bunk. Rimmer couldn't sleep. It was too early for him and Lister’s last, and possibly current, pregnancy on was his mind. If Lister was to be sick again in the morning, he told himself, he would take a more direct approach. If Lister wasn't going to get a check-up he was going to drag him to the medical wing him-smeggin'-self.
After getting up in a nausea-filled hurry, Lister found himself curling up over the toilet and throwing up, you could set clocks by how predictable he had become. At least he had expected it today and hadn’t eaten all that much for dinner, so it was mostly a lot of retching.
Rimmer was awoken by the sound of said retching. He pulled his blanket off his eyes and looked over at the ensuite bathroom to the right of him. Rimmer could see Lister, door wide open. He swung his legs around the side of his bunk and put his hand through his curly hair as he woke himself up. "Lister," He said to the space around him, "Are certain that there is absolutely nothing else going on?"
Lister just grunted. "Yeah, everything is hunky dory. I’m just throwing up cause I like doing it." he muttered, going to the basin to wash his mouth out and wipe his face, not feeling much better after doing it. "Smeg off Lister, unless you wanna see me take a piss."
"'Lister'? That's your name, not mine." Rimmer said as he began unbuttoning his shirt. ‘I could make it mine, if you wanted too’ a voice crawled into his mind, causing him to stop and scrunch his whole face up tightly. He still hadn't woken up. That was all. Shut up brain.
"Look - shut up - you try making sense just after just throwing up." Lister half muttered, half stumbled. "I’m still serious about that piss though, so wait your turn."
"Oh don't act like I haven't seen you naked before," Rimmer said as the bathroom door got closed with a slam, his shirt still half undone.
Lister didn’t comment, he didn’t need to be thinking about the times that he and Rimmer were naked together, it'd make peeing a lot more difficult. Luckily, he managed just fine and pulled his boxers back on, leaving the small bathroom after washing his hands. "I'm going down the hall to use the shower, so you can use this one." the public showers were fine with him, nobody ever used them.
Rimmer didn't have a morning shower, instead going off once Lister was gone and fixing a coffee for himself. It was really early in the morning, so the others hadn’t awoken yet. Kryten was probably working on cleaning something further down the ship, or still recharging. It didn’t matter. Other then the hum of the air con, the ship was quiet.
He looked down into his coffee. This was it, he had to ask.
Lister felt a lot better after his shower, even washing his face and mouth out with the shower water while he was in there. After spending enough time in there for the water to start to go cold, he went back to his bunkroom just wearing a towel around his waist, deciding to get into the days' clothes rather than just putting his ones from yesterday/pyjamas back on. Those needed a wash, anyways.
Rimmer watched as Lister walked past him, holding onto his empty cup of coffee. He tried to study the other man's frame for something, but it went by so fast he couldn't tell. He waited for a few minutes alone, giving enough time for Lister to get dressed before he would go back to their room and talk to him.
Rimmer knew that he was being completely irrational, but that was what Rimmer did best.
Lister got dressed, finding that his pants were a bit tighter than normal, especially at the front. He didn’t even bother with a belt - he didn’t need one anymore. He began to grumble something about ‘throwing up so much and that he should be losing weight not putting it on.’ Lister checked his face in the mirror. He could probably get away with another day without shaving - he hadn’t really needed to shave in ages.
Rimmer got back to the dorm with his leg starting to shake, "Are you dressed?" He asked the still-closed door.
Lister really had no idea what Rimmer wanted, but his aggressive hovering was getting pretty annoying. He opened the door, "Yeah, what do you want Rimmer? I got a busy day planned." A busy day of riding his motorbike around G deck and most definitely not thinking about the different puzzle pieces that were pointing towards something that made him want to go all the way to Z deck to become a hermit for the rest of his life.
"Yes, I, well, I know that," Rimmer said, trying to word his question. "David I want to ask you about something. It's probably nothing, but I just want to do a bit of, catch up, on something that the other Rimmer dealt with." Rimmer seemed to say that half with his voice, half with his hands moving wildly back and forth.
Honesty, how hard was it to just to go up and say 'Hey Lister! You got pregnant before, right? Cat and Kryten told me that. Can you get pregnant again? Help????'
Lister looked at him, not knowing where he was trying to go with this. "Do you wanna ask inflatable Ingrid to marry you again?" Though, that hadn’t actually happened. Rimmer didn't need to know that it never happened. "Look man, I told you last time, just follow your heart, she's gonna be shocked no matter what you do," he mimed the gaping mouth of the inflatable doll before cracking up.
Rimmer choked up, stumbling with his words to try and defend himself through a heavy blush that found it’s way all over his face. "No you gimboid, I want to ask about that-" Rimmer said as he pointed in the direction of the old photo of Lister and his twins. "Cat was making jokes that you were the one pregnant with them and that you're acting the same as you did when you had them," He kept the arm out, not letting Lister say anything else. "Do you think that-," Rimmer didn't really want to finish the question.
All of his suspicions were brought to light, but all Lister could do was deny it. It had become second nature at this point. "Look you nosy piece of smegma, I haven’t been to see Deb since I lost the boys, there is no way that I am pregnant. It only happened because I was in that universe while when it happened, so there is no smeggin’ way." he almost shouted, shoving Rimmer to the side as he left the room, glad that he wasn’t a hologram so he got the satisfaction of doing it.
"Can you not run away from me?" Rimmer called out from his spot in the doorway, matching Lister's tone. "I'm trying to have a proper adult conversation here. You've been sick without any other reason to be, how can you be so certain that it’s not a possibility?" Rimmer panted for a few seconds, trying to calm himself down more than Lister. "I'm freaking out here and you keep avoiding it."
"You’re freaking out? What about me!?” Lister began to shout. “I told you! It could only happen in that other dimension! You need to get it through your thick smegging head. I know you only have two brain cells to rub together but give it a red hot go." Lister wished that he hadn’t already started to storm off so he could slam the door, instead he walked towards the elevator with a huff.
For the millionth time! there was absolutely 1000% no way that he was actually pregnant, it was not possible, he had had medical scans after the pregnancy and it said that everything was back to normal. Normal! What else is there to know?
Rimmer fumbled in the doorway before marching to catch up to Lister power walking away with his arms around his body. Rimmer grabbed Lister's shirt, not caring what Lister had to say. "Take a medical." He ordered, eyes in a glare that he had only seen Kochanski been able to pull off.
Lister looked back with a snarl. "If it'll get you to smeg off I’ll take all the medicals you want, but it’s not gonna show anything.” he snapped and twisted out of Rimmer's grip.
Rimmer let go and followed Lister a couple of meters behind him as the two of them silently made their way to the medibay. There was this horrible sense of curiosity deep in Lister’s gut, he didn’t want to find out what was wrong if there was actually anything amiss. Rimmer didn't want to say anything else, or feel like he was able to. He knew that Lister already knew the answer, and they were just about to confirm it.
A shorter chap, this one ended up being pretty long so I split it in half.
Chapter 5: Congratulations!
Lister opened the door to the medibay, not knowing if he was relieved or not that he was finally being made to check himself; or if he should be worried. He hated this place, he only seemed to end up here when something was going wrong. Rimmer was in tow, feeling almost as bad.
Lister flopped down into the dentist-like chair towards the middle of the room and logged in. It had been a while since he had needed to do this. "Computer, I need a full health check," he said in an overly-rehearsed voice to the animated face once it had popped up.
The face was chirpy, a little too happy to finally have a patient that it was able to care for. "Please remove all metal you may have on and lie down on the bed as I perform a medical." It instructed as a scanner bar went over the bed. It was similar to an old CAT scan in how it worked, but a lot smaller and more mobile.
Rimmer leaned on a bench nearby, watching the scanner work. There was a calm smugness to his body, but quite concern to his face. Neither man said anything to each other.
The medibay started its routine. Lister lied down as the machine had instructed getting comfortable, changing position as the machine asked him, holding his hand out for a tiny blood test, braced himself for a puff of air pressure test in his eye, and an assortment of other things. He watched the little progress bar go across as it worked, and he sighed as it was finished.
"Computer, report," he said as watched the screen, the anticipation making him feel queasy, or maybe he was still sick.
The machine spoke. "David Lister, congratulations, for your age, height and weight you are completely healthy."
Lister could have melted in relief as he sat back up with a stretch. "See! There ya go Rimmer, I'm fine." Lister said with his arms out on celebration. He couldn’t help feeling smug about it all.
Rimmer rolled his eyes at Lister's attitude. He wasn't going to hear the end of this. “Yes, very well, but why have you be-“
The computer kept on talking once the scanner was collapsed back into the wall. The display on the screen changed to another tab. "As for foetal health, you appear to be roughly 12 weeks along and it is also just as healthy as you are, but I would recommend an increase in iron in your diet to help it along."
Ah, that was why.
Lister almost choked as the computer continued, "W-What!? What foetus?!" he shouted to the screen.
Rimmer jumped, half at results of the scanner, half at Lister's outburst. The machine seemed to take hours to respond, but it was really only about 3 seconds. "Oh! It doesn't appear to show that you've had a test or scan before, my apologies." The computer chirped. "Congratulations!"
Lister could have screamed, he put both his hands over his face and groaned loudly, he was pregnant, again, and he knew exactly who the other father had to be. His heart rate was going like a jackhammer.
Rimmer's mind seemed to have flown off to the other side of the galaxy before he got snapped back to reality with the deep, denial-filled groan of the man beside him. Rimmer's eyes were large and looking everywhere and nowhere at once.
There was a whirring and then some ‘fwip’ noises as the computer spat out a few pamphlets. "I have supplied printed information sheets about what to expect when you're pregnant, along with information about raising babies, and how to prepare for them." The computer either had a tonal problem, or knew what it was doing and loved every moment of it.
Rimmer stared at the pamphlets with disgust. "Do I look like I want those you festering waste of RAM?" he said with a loud, angry snarl. "Do you have any sense of tone or appropriate behaviour at a time like this?" Rimmer snapped, getting himself together quite badly. He wasn't thinking of what he was saying, more just angry about how fast things were going.
Rimmer fell into the visitor chair beside Lister’s bed, picking up the pillow on it. He held it in his arms, trying to process the new information he was given. There was the JMC logo printed on it. He was going to be a father - and with Lister. Lister of all people! He wanted to bolt out of there and never come back.
"I am only interested in the physical wellbeing of the crew. Mr. Lister needs to get more iron in his diet as the baby makes him need more than normal. Would you two be interested in knowing the gender of the baby?" the computer asked.
"I think the topic of gender isn't really one worth bringing up right now, is it? I mean, this man's pregnant! Even when he couldn't get pregnant before! As far as I am aware there was just as much chance for me to get pregnant!”
Rimmer looked back at Lister. His arm was over his face blocking out the harsh light of the room. Neither of them even really wanted to know right now, anyways, it would just cement the fact that there was actually something growing inside of him.
"It’s fine if you don’t, I totally understand, many parents want their babies gender to be a surprise." the computer said cheerfully, and on the bed, Lister let out another groan, rubbing his face as he did it. He didn’t actually look all that pregnant at the moment, he had always had a bit of a gut.
Rimmer's attention got brought back to the man behind him. "Lister," he said quietly. He moved in closer, "Are you alright?" He asked, putting his hand on Lister's shoulder.
Lister just shook the hand off before giving a small nod. "Oh, I’m just hunky-dory. Just found out that I’m smeggin’ pregnant again." He honestly felt a bit like throwing a tantrum, kicking his feet and everything, but he managed to resist.
"Yes, um, apparently," Rimmer said as he put his hand back down, avoiding any eye contact. "It would, it would be mine right?"
Lister narrowed his eyes a little at the question and looked over at Rimmer. "You heard it, twelve weeks. We were in the prison back then, and I don’t remember some other bloke getting in bed with us" he muttered coldly.
Rimmer's voice got caught on his tongue, that wasn't really what he was going for. "Sorry I- sorry." He twiddled with thumbs.
There was a drawn out silence, the only noise being the buzz of fluorescent lights overhead. Their thoughts took a similar course, drifting back to those nights spent in the cell, each of them recalling the events that had transpired within for the first time since gaining back their freedom. The innocent gesture of sharing body heat after freezing moments of certain doom had escalated into so much more. It felt far away now, like a distant memory, almost as if it hadn't happened at all, though the results from the medi-bot scan proved otherwise.
Lister stared up at the ceiling and the bright lights, wishing like hell this was just a dream, but no. "Smeg." He breathed, rubbing the heels of his hands into the dark circles of his eyes. “This is a lot to drop on a guy at four in the morning." He grumbled.
Rimmer didn't really know what to say. He had never had children, or really been around somebody who was an expectant parent. Even when his sisters-in-law where pregnant he wasn't anywhere near them. Usually, he found out about any niblings that he might have years after the fact at a big family gathering.
Lister’s stomach churned. A deep-seated fear was growing inside of him, among the other thing. He had no idea what he was meant to do now, he'd gotten so excited with the twins only to lose them just three days later, what if he lost this one too? His heart couldn't take that again.
Rimmer had been watching him, taking note of the dread that seeped into his features and pulled his shoulders forward. It wasn’t the reaction Rimmer had exactly expected, to say the least. If anything, he figured that Lister would be jumping for joy right about now, especially considering the way he spoke of Jim and Bexley with so much pride and joy. Instead, he looked like he was about to puke again.
Then, the simple realization came to him: Lister must not particularly want a kid with him. It made sense. It had been a silent rule, but the somewhat mutual agreement that whatever happened back in the cell was to remain there. Surprisingly, the return to normalcy had been a somewhat easy transition. Throwing a kid in the mix would only complicate things beyond repair. Besides, their relationship was messy enough as it was, he could only imagine the two of them attempting to pull off parenthood.
That said, Rimmer could understand the predicament Lister was now facing. He knew how the man felt about the preservation of life, he got that, but even if they did want to keep it, it wouldn't be fair to the child to raise it in such unstable circumstances.
"Mistakes happen, Lister, you shouldn't feel obligated to hang onto it." He assured gently. His mind drifted to his own parents and the fact that their religious beliefs had to be the only reason they were burdened with him. That was the last thing he wanted for his own child. "It only makes sense not to go through with it." He continued.
Lister's head snapped up at his words. "What?"
Rimmer shifted under the intensity of his gaze. "The, foetus." He reiterated in the same way that the computer had said it, gesturing to his stomach with a cupping motion. "Unless- you don't actually mean to keep it, do you?"
Lister shifted away, his forearm instinctively manoeuvring to shield his abdomen from the perceived threat. Lister could hardly believe what he was hearing. "You want to get rid of it?" He said with a concerned creak in his voice.
"Well, don't you?"
The tension in the air between them was rapidly growing thicker. "What kind of question is that?" Lister was watching him as if he'd just suggested to put a bullet in his head and throw Lister’s corpse out of the airlock.
Rimmer cleared his throat roughly, shaking the thought. "A sensible one. One that should at least be considered while it's not too far along." All of a sudden, Lister looked about ready to cry. Rimmer could see the turmoil stirring in those dark brown eyes of his, he moved in a bit closer. "You can't possibly be expected to raise a child in these conditions." He reasoned.
Lister’s gaze didn’t change. "It's not that bad." He argued.
"Not that bad? Well, it sure as hell is far from good, isn't it?"
Lister was feeling attacked. One moment he finds out he's pregnant and the very next, the unwilling father is pushing hard to get rid of it. So much for having any support from Rimmer. He glowered at the man's blatant insensitivity. "I get it, man, you don't want to be a part of it. Don't worry, I don't expect you to be."
Rimmer was thrown by the response. "Wait, that's not what I- so you actually mean to keep it, then?" He asked, feeling both relieved and slightly more panicked at the same time.
"Of course I am! I've always wanted to be a dad, you know. And so far, all I've done is lose kids, can you believe I've had to give up three kids? Spending so long looking forward to meeting them and having to abandon them?" His voice cracked under the strain of emotion as he got off the bed. "You don’t have to do anything with it, I can take care of this myself."
"Hang on, three?" Rimmer asked, feeling the tension in the room somehow rise even further. "Wha-Where did this third one come from?" With each new bit of information he got over the last few days he felt like knew less and less each day.
"Well,” Lister rolled, turning back to Rimmer, he forced in a breath to steady himself. Right, Rimmer didn't know. “You clearly already know about the twins. When Kochanski came here from her dimension one of the things we exchanged was, uh, help from me to help her have a child. She and the other Lister – who was a hologram – wanted to have them. Shit hit the fan during all of that and she and the sample-tube-thing got stuck here with us.” He exhaled, “long story short, that baby turned out to be me.” Lister’s voice went quiet, his voice full of old pain. “I had to go back in time and leave that sweet chubby baby under a dirty pool table to be found later."
Rimmer blinked a few times, trying to put together the new information and timeline. "So you’re, your own father?" He said with a reflective laugh.
He knew how desperately Lister had pined over Kochanski, and even how much that still happened. Lister had actually been crazy for his own mother this whole time. And he thought that his family was hard to deal with. Still, the revelation made sense as to why they hadn't attempted at any sort of relationship thus far. He swallowed thickly.
Lister couldn’t help rolling his eyes, Rimmers reaction pretty much how he had imagined his reaction to be. "Yeah I am, honestly its weird how much I took after meself," he managed to joke, but it was weak at best. "Point is, I’ve already had to hand over three babies, and nothing short of death is gonna keep me from losing this one too."
"Right," Rimmer said, oddly formally. He didn't really know what to say. He looked back at the other man, Lister didn't look too hot. Rimmer probably didn't either, but he couldn't see his own face. He looked back down at his hands to avoid the fierceness in Lister’s eyes. So Lister wanted it then, he actually wanted it! Rimmer didn't know what to say or how to even say it. "Lister-" He began, as the man hopped down from the bed and made his way towards the door. "Where are you going?" Rimmer asked hurriedly.
"For a walk," Lister gestured vaguely. "I've heard enough."
"But Lister, I didn't-"
Lister raised a hand to stop him. "Leave it, okay? It's as I've said, I don't expect you to be a part of this. I'm going to tell the others, at least they might be happy to hear the news."
"Lister, get back here!" He was ignored. "That's an order!" But Lister was already at the door.
Rimmer already knew that it was too late to save the conversation, the sentiment he'd meant to get out withered and died on his tongue. He never meant to say that Lister should take that particular course of action, he'd merely wanted to be supportive. Ultimately, as the automatically assigned co-parent, (as weird as that was to think that) it was up to no one else to discuss such things with Lister. Of course, he'd gone and smegged it all up, just like he always did.
Now Lister had been quick to jump on the defence and even more so to shut him out. Or perhaps that's the way he preferred it? A certain kind of bitterness rose in him at the thought and before he could think better of it, harsh words leapt from his mouth like bile. "Well, have fun explaining that!" He spat. "What are you going to tell them? ‘Surprise! There was no space bug, me and Rimmah shacked up in prison and now I'm up the spout and I’m going to try and be a dad again?’" He put on a pretty good mock of Lister's voice that was no doubt in pretty poor taste.
Lister had paused with a hand on the doorway, turning slightly. "Maybe I could just pass it off as a virgin birth? Maybe I wore the same pair of underpants for too long, I dunno." He shrugged.
"That doesn’t even make any sense.”
"Look! I'll figure it out later." Lister sounded positively exhausted. "It's not like you're gunna be daddy number two right? Not with you trying to be an officer and all that smeg."
The ice-cold tone hit him square in the gut. In spite of it, Rimmer leaned forward. Lister was watching him warily from the corner of his eye. "Yes but, lots of officers have children." He argued. "Benison, Toddhunter," Rimmer paused for a second, "Kochanski."
If given the option Rimmer would have loved to get married have children one day, but this wasn't how he expected to have that latter future come true. True, he didn't really think about that all much aside from the fact that was just something expected of him, but he had thought of it in the past.
Lister rolled his eyes at the last name. "Benison and Toddhunter don’t have children on the Red Dwarf," he pointed out, "And Kochanski doesn’t count." Lister was a grown ass man, so was her son. "-And you seriously want to be a part of this kid's life?" With Rimmer's initial reaction, Lister seriously doubted that. He didn't need Rimmer sticking by him out of some misplaced sense of obligation. What had he said, ‘don't feel obligated to hang onto a mistake?’ Perhaps the man should follow his own advice for once in his life. "How about you just go and think about it? I'm gonna go talk to the others."
Rimmer kept his mouth clamped tightly shut as Lister disappeared through the doorway with a heavy huff.
You’ve done enough damage already, Rimmer inwardly cursed himself. This is exactly why he feared the thought of having a child involved. They couldn’t even manage a simple conversation without it turning hostile. He moved over and flopped down on the bed, resting his head in his hands dejectedly.
Lister had told him to think about it, but Rimmer knew that in reality, he would have no choice but to be a part of this whether he wanted to be or not, but it was the coldness that Lister had to him that made it worse. Lister seemed ashamed as to who this kid's father was.
Rimmer sat in the miserable silence for quite sometime before the medibay computer decided to pipe up again. "I've sent in a report to the captain about this, I do hope we're close enough to a planet or station for Mr Lister to get adequate paternity leave. It’s been so long since I've had to do that. I think the last time was when Miss McGu-"
Rimmer glared up at the machine, "Shut up. You've done enough harm today." he snapped, not hearing a single word that the machine had said before leaving the room in a march.