Rating: PG to be safe
Summary: Rimmer muses. Set in the first few weeks after Lister's emergence from stasis.
Author's Notes: Follow-up of sorts to Impasse. Written for LJ's fanfic100 challenge, prompt 007 - Days.
Turning over for what seemed the fifteen hundredth time that night, Rimmer begins to consider giving up on sleep.
He had begun to wonder, over the course of the three days he had now spent as a hologram, whether sleep was really a necessity for him at all any more. Given that so many other normal human bodily requirements had been rendered superfluous by his hologrammatic form, it didn't seem unreasonable to suppose that the same would be true of sleep.
Truth be told though, he had never been much of a sleeper. For as long as he could remember, there had always been more important things to do, more productive ways to spend his time than lying in a comatose state of unconsciousness. At home, he had spent his nights poring over astronavigation textbooks, desperately cramming for his father's early morning quizzes which would generally determine whether or not he got anything to eat that day. More often than not, he would pass out from exhaustion as the sun was coming up, come down to breakfast two hours later bleary-eyed and barely conscious, utterly fail to recall anything of what he had speed-read the night before, and end up sleep-deprived and starving for the remainder of the day.
On Red Dwarf, things had hardly been better. By that time, his father's fixation with the Space Corps had been so resolutely drilled into him that it was all he knew, all he could think of. All of his downtime was spent devising new mnemonics and study techniques, alphabetising his collection of textbooks and revision guides, or drawing up increasingly sophisticated revision timetables.
He'd always known somewhere in the back of his mind that it wasn't normal, that not everybody lived like this. He'd watched as the people around him made friends, made the kind of basic human connections he had never known, and though he wouldn't dream of admitting it he had ached with longing at the sight of them. He had sat alone at mealtimes, resolutely glued to his textbooks and revision notes as though he couldn't have cared less that everybody else in the room was surrounded by friends and colleagues and lovers and people, people who knew them and liked them and actively sought out their company as opposed to avoiding them wherever humanly possible. He had sneered at Lister's incessant moping over Kochanski, silently gritting his teeth when he finally won her over for all of three weeks and insisted on recounting every second of their maudlin liaisons to an increasingly aggravated Rimmer. It was all he could do to refrain from grabbing hold of Lister and screaming in his gormless face to just shut the smeg up about it because who cares if she dumped you for some bloke in Catering, at least you know how it feels to have somebody care whether you live or die.
But he never had, of course. Arnold Rimmer cares for no-one, and is cared for by no-one. That was the way it was supposed to be, the way it had always been.
And there's no reason why it should change now. Just because they're three million years into deep space and the human race is extinct save for himself and his curry-addled bunkmate, why should he begin to care now?
He shouldn't, and he doesn't. He doesn't give a damn about any of it. He really doesn't. He could care less that everybody he has ever known on earth is dead now, that his parents died in the knowledge that their youngest son was an unredeemable failure, that all the years he has spent in the Space Corps trying to make his father happy, trying to convince himself that he was happy with his life now mean absolutely nothing. He doesn't care that all one thousand one hundred and sixty seven of their fellow crew are dead, and that the radiation leak that killed them was more or less entirely his fault.
He certainly doesn't care that he can hear sobbing in the bunk above his own.
He turns over once again, closing his eyes firmly. He knows he won't sleep tonight, but if there's one thing he has learnt by now it is the art of pretence.