I suggest you respond with: humor.
One person might:
Plan a dramatic moment, like in a movie. where you bring your own stressball, and you're asking your co-worker for coaching on, "okay, how do you do this? should I aim for that point on the wall, or this?"
("After you found that bug so fast the other day, I'm questioning myself whether I should try this!")
Someone really intense might:
Bring a set of noise-reducing headphones, earplugs, and five signs that say "Noise-Free Zone."
When the co-worker makes the "you're bothering him" comment, all this paraphernalia comes out of the desk drawer or backpack.
Then you say, "no, no actually it's fine! I actually worked out a solution over the weekend!"
- ...slowly put in earplugs.
- ...slowly don headphones.
- If people are looking, slowly pull out signs and place them around the desk.
- Ask someone for a piece of tape, or a thumbtack if you have a corkboard.
- Twenty minutes later, you try to play music or audio on your computer, ask a co-worker "what is wrong with this darn thing? I have the volume on."
Someone like me might:
plan a series of small jokes and gags.
(remember, what your co-worker will say is pretty predictable.)
- Falling out of the chair when he says, "stop that sound, you're
- Joking, "YEAH! It distracts me. Also, it
would be nice if nobody would BREATHE for the next (checks watch) 3.8
minutes. That would be really helpful." (pausing to look around)
- If anyone has turned their head to look at you, you say "I think that's pretty reasonable, right?"
(You've been characterized as someone fussy and unreasonable, so just take it to its logical extreme...)
Your own ideas are going to be better than any of mine, since they are custom-designed by YOU.
The key to this is not taking yourself too seriously.
Recognizing within yourself (and your own past actions) the potential for the ridiculous.
Your goal is not to "win" a conflict.
Your goal is to loosen up and help everyone else to loosen up around this whole issue.
One incident has gotten blown way out of proportion. (possibly because it connects to deep parts of who each of you are - your valuing being able to concentrate & do what you perceive is professional and... maybe your co-worker's value of playfulness & a relaxed environment.)
You want to put things back in perspective.
If you can't see anything ridiculous about your role in this conflict... maybe tell the story to a trusted friend, without saying that you are even one of the people in the story. Then you could ask something like, "So the guy who's getting picked on is really stuck. Is there anything he can legitimately apologize for?" (I've done things like this before, and friends have thought of things I never would have myself.)
Also, keep paying attention to what you value about your colleague in his work.
Keep thinking about that and noticing (not necess. aloud) what good he's doing on the project.
It will affect the tone of everything - things you say and things you don't.
If you want to try using humor, don't be surprised if you're nervous beforehand.
There's an element of risk to it.
Feel free to run your ideas past someone in your life whose thoughts you value!
If that seems too "wild-and-crazy" for you, go for the vulnerability option as someone talked about above.
(in fact, one of the best kind of results of successful humor would a good laugh followed by a conversation where you're able to "get real" and be vulnerable with your colleague.)
In any case, you know what your goal is... you have a great workplace, interesting project, & you want to be able to restore things so you are at peace & able to work together wit the rest of your team well. (maybe even rise to a level of working together & functioning that is BETTER than before!)
Best to you, in this & other ventures!