Lister, Rimmer and Kochanski were sat in the boys' quarters. It was late and the Cat and Kryten had both gone to bed. The other three weren't ready for bed yet. They were feeling very pleased with their escape from the Tank and had had a drink or two to celebrate. And then had six or seven more.
In all fairness, Kochanski was only tipsy; certainly still sober enough to notice that Dave and Rimmer were past that and onto the swaying and giggling stage of drunkenness. She was also still sober enough to notice the way that Rimmer was looking at her ex-boyfriend.
She knew, from reading between the lines in her conversations with Rimmer, but also just from watching the two of them, that there had been a definite shift in their relationship since they'd met up again on the reconstructed Red Dwarf to the way she remembered it back before the accident.
To Rimmer, Lister had changed, literally, overnight. Suddenly he was much more tolerant of Rimmer's little idiosyncrasies; more inclined to reason with him rather than squabble. He seemed much more understanding...Affectionate even. For the first time in his life, Rimmer felt like he had a friend. It was something he'd never felt before and it was...wonderful.
It hadn't taken long before his behaviour - and his feelings - towards his bunkmate had started to change as well. For Rimmer's starved emotions, the new-found joy of shared trust, closeness and most of all kindness, had been too much to handle all at once. He'd fallen in love.
Had Kriss been completely sober, then her decision to say what she was about to would have been cruel. But she wasn't sober and it wasn't meant that way. She was only trying to have a bit of fun with them.
"You know," she said, smiling wickedly, "When I left cyber-school and went a bit off the rails?"
"I remember you saying something about being really noisy in the library," Lister sniggered. Kriss ignored him, "Well, sitting here like this just made me remember this night over at my friend John's house. Only then it was one boy and two girls - me and my friend Rebecca. And we all got a bit pissed and me and Rebecca ended up kissing because John had dared us to." She giggled, seeing the effect this revelation had on the boys. "Was the point of that story to make us horny, Kriss?" Lister asked, with a vaguely stunned expression. She guessed he was still seeing pictures in his head. "No. I was just wondering whether you guys had ever done anything like that," she said coyly.
"No," Rimmer said quickly, looking down embarrassed. Kriss waited for Dave to say the same so she could tell them to try it, when he shocked both her and Rimmer by saying, "Yeah. Once."
Kriss was taken aback. "When?" she demanded.
"Oh, years ago. With a guy I knew from art college." Rimmer stared at him,
"You went to art college?
"Yeah, but only for ninety-seven minutes." He frowned slightly and rubbed his eyes, "I think I'm getting deja-vu."
"And you're telling me that in the ninety-seven minutes you were there, you managed to get a boyfriend?"
Lister scoffed, "Get out of town. He was just a friend."
"Even so, that's pretty good going," Kriss remarked.
"I make friends easily. So what? Anyway, his name was Steve. We went out one night and got really hammered. I was living in this scuzzy little flat; I didn't even have a proper bed - just a big mattress on the floor - and when we got in that night we were so pissed we fell over it and just ended up lying there laughing. And then Steve rolled over and looked at me and he said, 'You have such beautiful eyelashes.'"
Kriss could tell by the way he said it that he still remembered it like it was the morning after. "And I said to him, 'And you have beautiful eyes.' Then he just leaned over and kissed me, really gently, on the lips."
Kriss saw Rimmer's expression; a mixture of jealousy, longing and desire and felt a tug of sympathy. Maybe she shouldn't have brought this up. "I don't know how long we were there for," Lister went on, "We must have passed out or fallen asleep at some point. But, at the time, it seemed like we were lying there just holding each other and kissing over and over for hours." Kriss felt an unexpected stirring. The last thing in the world she would have thought would turn her on was the thought of an ex making-out with another guy; but the way Dave had described it it just sounded so sensual and beautiful. Like the most natural thing in the world.
"I never did anything like that again," Lister told them, "But I always remembered it. Just because...that was one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me."
Kriss let out her breath and for a moment a soft hush fell over the room, until Rimmer broke the silence. "You do, you know," he said quietly; and as Lister looked at him in surprise, their eyes met. "You have the most beautiful eyelashes I've ever seen." Lister looked at him; touched but utterly dumbstruck. Kriss held her breath.
And then slowly, shyly, Rimmer moved closer to him and after a final fleeting pause to gather his courage, he leaned over and kissed him gently but passionately on the mouth.
Kriss watched them with her pulse beating like the wings of a joyful butterfly. Now this was the sexiest thing she'd ever seen.