At first, Lister still wasn't 100% sure he'd done the right thing.
Yes, the money was good, his new quarters were far more private and luxurious (decorating his new boudoir had been particularly fun), and the nature of the role meant that his working hours weren't particularly long. But the doubt had nagged at him, even through the first few weeks of the job. His fears, his concerns, his own ambivalence about the morality of what he doing, all troubled him.
He was in post for almost a week before the first appointment had appeared in his diary (he worked strictly by appointment only). He'd been a little offended by that. Where were all these admirers he supposedly had? Was it all a big practical joke? He had no idea that after the email had gone out informing the crew of his new post, the booking system had crashed under the surge. It took I.T. two days to get it working again.
Before the first appointment he'd been a wreck. He'd scrubbed himself almost raw in the shower, doused himself in cologne, tucked himself into a minuscule red satin thong, and spent twenty minutes trying to find the most alluring pose possible on his leopard-print faux-fur bedspread.
His first client was Communications Officer Karen McKenzie. She was forty-five years old, looked good on it, and was no nonsense. She took one look at him sprawled on the bed and gave him a condescending smile, "No need for the show, laddie. I'm already in the door."
Lister sat up with a sheepish smile, "Sorry. You're my first client. I'm a bit nervous."
"Got in first, did I? Now there's an achievement to be proud of."
"What can I do for you?" he asked, trying his best to sound helpful and professional.
"To be perfectly honest, in the circumstances I think maybe this is gonna be more about what I can do for you, Sonny Jim. By the looks of things you could use a wee bit of guidance on the art of seduction."
Lister blushed. "Is the thong a bit much?"
"It's a bit much and not enough all at once," she eyed it with amusement. "Either wrap your presents or don't, but don't just stick a bow on and call it Christmas."
He'd learned a lot from that first encounter with Karen, in more ways than one.
His first male client had also been a nerve-wracking experience. In his head, he kept going back to his date with Todhunter, and the kiss that had failed to stir any strong feelings. Obviously this was a different situation, he wasn't obliged to have any feelings as such so long as he did his job. But what if he messed things up? What if he was rubbish? He'd gone back and forth on whether to confess his lack of expertise at the start of the appointment, and decided honesty was the best policy. Luckily for him, Gary was a thoroughly nice guy who was thrilled to take the role of teacher for a couple of hours. Lister was relieved at the end of the session to find that not only had Gary enjoyed himself immensely, but actually so had he.
Once he was in the swing of things, he found the job actually wasn't too demanding. Yes, he'd had some interesting requests from time to time but, on the whole, most people didn't want anything fancy or strange. They just wanted an orgasm. He'd been surprised by how many of his female clients liked to go on top - and how many of them told him their usual partners didn't share their enthusiasm. He'd never considered it particularly relevant how bodies arranged themselves during sex, so long as all the important bits were in the right place.
He'd been equally surprised by how emotional some clients became. Raw break-ups, broken marriages, long-repressed and shameful desires, even stories of abuse had all been relayed in this room. There had been more than one occasion when Lister had found himself supplying tea and hugs rather than anything more physical.
The initial rush lasted about six weeks. The people who'd had pre-existing crushes on him, the ones who were simply curious, and those who didn't care who he was and were just desperate for a bit of nookie with someone. Anyone. Most of them hadn't returned once the desire (or curiosity) had been sated, at least not with any real frequency, but new faces still popped up roughly once a month; and he'd obtained himself a motley crew of regulars who he'd become rather fond of.
There was Jeannie Chang, one of the aforementioned ladies who liked to play cowgirl. She'd swoop in, take him for a brisk ride, and then share cigarettes and gossip. Laurie Holland, who looked like five foot nothing of blond sweetness, and was - by far - the dirtiest girl Lister had ever had the pleasure of meeting. He usually cleared his schedule for the entire day for her. Jeremy Totton-Smyth, who had a society wife and young son back on IO, and never wanted anything more than to suck Lister's cock while bringing himself off, and frequently wept with gratitude after. And there were a few others too.
Todhunter, of course. The first time Lister had seen the name in his appointment schedule he had smiled widely. When Frank had entered his room, he immediately handed him a ready prepared vodka martini and clinked his own glass against it with a gently reproving smile. "Well, you certainly took your time."
"I'm sorry," Frank said bashfully, "I wasn't sure it was appropriate for me to call on you after our previous encounter. You made your position perfectly clear, I know. I hope you don't mind..."
"Mind? I'm offended you didn't drop in sooner. Here was me thinking you liked me, and yet I open my doors for business and not a peep."
"Well, it may be rude of me to say so, but I'm glad you cared enough to be offended. Although I do hope you'll forgive me."
"I do. And I'm glad you're here."
They drank their drinks and chatted for a while. Eventually Lister put his arms lazily around Todhunter's neck and looked up into his eyes. "So, what can I do for you, Sir?"
"Whatever you're comfortable with. I know you're not..."
Lister put a finger to his lips. "Hey. Forget what I said back then. We're not on a date now and we're not talking about a relationship here. Besides, I don't mind telling you, my horizons have broadened since then."
"Really? How much?"
"I say. That's...food for thought."
"Then chew it over and tell me. Honestly. What do you want?"
Frank curled a hand around the back of his neck and drew him close, gazing into his eyes.
"You," he said simply. "Just you."
After that, Frank took to dropping by at least once a week. Lister looked forward to his visits.
There had been a few less enjoyable sessions too, although only one occasion when he'd needed the panic button concealed in the bunk space to summon security. They'd arrived within sixty seconds and dealt with the matter swiftly. The experience had been scary, but it had also put his mind at rest that he wasn't as vulnerable as he sometimes felt.
After about two months, he saw a name in his appointment list that made his throat tighten and his stomach churn. He hovered over the 'Decline Appointment' tab several times (he was allowed to decline clients, although he never had. He liked to give everyone a chance.). In the end, he let the appointment stand, while dreading it every day in the lead up.
It was some comfort, though not much, that when Kochanski finally entered his room for her appointment she looked at least as uncomfortable as he was. He did not welcome her in. He sat at the table, arms folded, and didn't waste time with niceties. "Why are you doing this?"
"I'm sorry," she said, "I wasn't going to. I kept telling myself I didn't care, that I was content with how things were, that it wouldn't be right, wouldn't be fair. But every time one of my colleagues comes in singing your praises, I just....It's driving me crazy."
"You made your choice."
"I know. And I stand by it."
"So why are you here?"
"Because," she looked at him pleadingly, "much as I love Tim, there are some things that you're just...better at. And I can't deny it."
Lister glared at her resentfully, "You've got some smegging nerve."
Kochanski looked away, her cheeks hot with shame. "I know."
"You broke things off. You decided you didn't want me, that I wasn't good enough. But I'm still good enough for this, right? Is that all I was ever good for, as far as you were concerned?"
"Of course not. I cared about you a lot. I still do."
"But apparently not enough to feel bad about using me like this, after everything that's been between us."
"I suppose I hoped you would be flattered."
"Go ahead. Be angry with me. Hate me for leaving you. Hate Tim for being the other guy. Be as bitter and jealous as you like. But I'm here. I'm standing here in front of you, embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated, because I still want you; and I'm sick of feeling like I want to strangle every person who steps foot in here."
"Oh, cry me a river."
"Come on," she said softly, "If I can swallow my pride and come here and admit all this to you, can't you swallow some of yours and cut me a bit of slack? Yes, I know that I hurt you, but it was never intentional. And this has got to soothe your ego a little bit, surely. Knowing that every time he's inside me, I'm thinking of you. I think you can call that a victory of some sort, Dave."
"And I should be grateful for that? I don't get your love, I don't get a future together, I just get the bitter satisfaction of knowing your precious Tim doesn't measure up in the sack?"
"Doesn't that make you feel better, even just a bit?"
"No," Lister told her, fighting back tears, "No, it doesn't. This isn't about my ego. You broke my heart. For fuck's sake, Krissie. I would have married you."
There was a long painful silence. "I'm sorry," she said eventually. "You're right. I shouldn't have come. It was selfish of me. I'll go."
"No." Lister stood up. "No. If this is what you want, then fine. Let's do this. Let's go nuts. See if we can break our own record. Hold nothing back." He walked over and stood face to face with her. "I'll do whatever you want. I'll fulfil every fantasy you've ever had, no matter how nasty. I'll blow your smegging mind. On one condition." He swallowed hard. "When you walk out that door tonight, you don't come back. Ever. Whatever you still want from me, you take it now, and then you leave me alone. I will not spend the next five years of my life being used by you whenever you feel like it. Understand?"
"Just by everyone else on board." She remarked pointedly.
"Yeah," he replied defiantly, "'Cause I can handle that. Smeg, I think I can even enjoy that if I put my mind to it. Because they don't matter. I never loved any of them. But this...No. I won't do it. I just won't."
"Okay," she said tightly, "Okay, I suppose that's fair."
"No," he said, "It's not." And he kissed her, hard.
The sex was epic in every sense of the word. Passionate, pleasurable, painful; all in equal measure. The taste of her, the smell of her, the texture of her skin, the feel of her body against his. Every sensation was a giddy combination of bliss and a thousand daggers in his heart. Every gasp and moan and breathless whisper of his name brought back cherished memories, and simultaneously filled him with bitterness. They fucked in every position he could physically manage. During each refractory period, he brought her to orgasm any other way he could while his cock recovered; again and again and again. Remember this, he screamed at her inside his own head. Every time he touches you, remember this. Remember me. Remember what you gave up. You will never be fucked like this again, Kristine Kochanski, I swear to you. And that can be your parting gift and your punishment.
It was late when she finally left, but he didn't know what time. They were both dazed, exhausted. He drifted in and out of sleep as she peeled away from him and started to dress herself without a word. Before she left, she came back to him. She climbed onto the bed, lay atop his drowsy naked body and kissed him for a while. He was too tired to push her off. "I have to go," she said eventually.
"Then go," he replied. Lord knew there was nothing more he could do. He was done.
She looked down into his eyes. "God, I'm going to miss you."
He closed his eyes and managed a whisper of a breathless bitter laugh. "Yeah. I reckon you will."
He tasted her lips on his one last time as she slipped out of bed, and he slipped out of consciousness.
He awoke, groggy and aching, in the middle of the night. He staggered into the bathroom, peed, downed two glasses of water, and hauled himself into the shower to clean up. As he washed the scent of her off his body, he burst into tears.
About a month later, her name appeared in his diary once again. He declined the appointment.
He didn't dwell on it for long. The next day, a different name appeared that threw him into an even bigger spin.
Okay, he'd known it was a possibility - a very real possibility, given recent events - but he still wasn't prepared for it. Somehow he just hadn't believed that Rimmer would have the balls to go through with it. To actually put his name (his real actual name this time) on a formal request for sex. With him. For permission to boink Dave Lister. This was going to be interesting.
He'd arrived promptly for his appointment. To Lister's mild relief, he didn't seem to be carrying anything in the way of props. While he thought he was just about mentally prepared to have sex with Rimmer, he wasn't sure he was ready to tackle the list of fantasies he'd blurted out not so long ago. He'd handed him a white wine spritzer without asking if he wanted it, and helped himself to a shot of something a bit stronger. He figured they could both use a relaxant.
Rimmer stood at a distance, bouncing nervously on the balls of his feet. "Big room," he observed.
"Yes," Lister agreed mildly.
"Do you have a new roommate yet?"
"So you've got more space too."
"Oh, yes. Yes indeedy."
"Z-shift running okay?"
"Yes. All tickety-boo."
"Well, good. And you? You doing okay?"
Rimmer cleared his throat nervously, "And er...you. You're okay?"
"The new job. It's er...alright, is it?"
"Tickety-boo," Lister confirmed with a smile.
"I must admit I was kinda surprised you asked to see me," he added after an awkward pause.
Rimmer squared his shoulders defensively. "I'm a man, Lister. With manly desires."
"Oh, I'm sure," Lister replied, thinking of edible underpants.
"Besides this is a much more sensible way of going about the whole business. No titting about in bars. No nonsense about feelings and whatnot. Good old-fashioned physical exercise. Clears the mind."
Rimmer pursed his lips and squinted around the room. "Soooo....". Lister waited calmly.
"Sooo," Rimmer went on, "How does this work? Exactly?"
"Exactly? Well, that's up to you. I trust you read through the leaflet before coming down? You're familiar with the ground rules?"
"Then take it away, Big Man. What would you like?"
"Well, you know. Nothing...nothing too..."
"Nothing too...?" Lister prompted gently.
"You know. Exotic."
"Okay. I'll put the coconuts and hula skirt away for next time, shall I?"
"Coconuts?" Rimmer's eyes widened.
"Relax, it was just a joke. Come on. You must have thought about what you would like to get out of this. I'm surprised you haven't made a spreadsheet, knowing you."
"Maybe I should," Rimmer chewed anxiously on his knuckles. "Maybe we should postpone until I'm better prepared."
"Take your clothes off and lie down."
"On the bed???"
"Yes, on the bed. Come along, I don't have all day."
Rimmer stripped down to his snug white boxers and lay down, his adam's apple bobbing nervously in his throat. Lister followed suit, keeping his undies on so as not to cause any undue alarm. It wouldn't take much to send Rimmer into a panic, and Lister was aware that his proportions could be intimidating. He straddled Rimmer's hips and gave him an encouraging smile. "Okay there?"
"Yes." Rimmer nodded stiffly. His whole body was rigid with tension. Lister pondered the offer of a massage but dismissed the idea. He didn't think it would help much, just prolong the stress Rimmer was under. Better to just get straight to the point. "Close your eyes. Relax." Rimmer screwed his eyes shut tight and blew out a lungful of air, as if bracing himself for something dreadful. Lister tried not to laugh.
He didn't try to kiss him. He didn't bother with any foreplay. He just gently placed one hand on Rimmer's cock through the thin material of his shorts. Rimmer gasped, a shiver going through him.
Lister didn't move, just let his hand rest there, letting the soft pressure and the warmth stimulate him. Within seconds Rimmer's cock was stirring, beginning to stiffen against his palm. Lister waited until it was around half hard before he began to help it along, just stroking gently to encourage it up. "Oh," Rimmer said anxiously, his voice unsteady, "Oh my."
"Relax," Lister said again, "That's supposed to happen. Let it."
Once Rimmer's erection was fully formed, he slipped it free of the cotton, curled his fingers around it, and began to stroke it very lightly upwards. Rimmer whined, his hips arching up off the mattress. "Do you like this?" Lister asked him softly. Rimmer had no words. He just nodded emphatically. "Would you like me to suck it?" he asked.
"Yes!" Rimmer gasped out, but he needn't have bothered replying. The way his cock immediately bulged in Lister's grasp at the words told him all he needed to know. Lister slid downwards, his own cock getting hard now out of a combination of jealousy and excitement. He leaned down and nuzzled Rimmer's balls a little, drawing out the anticipation just a bit longer. The pained whimper he got in response told him it would be cruel to string this out any further. He brushed a soft kiss against the shaft and leaned over him, lips parted ready. And got hit in the face with a hot splash of come.
"Wow," he said, wiping it away in as dignified a manner as possible.
Rimmer raised his head from the pillow and stared down at him, his chest heaving. "Have you finished?" he panted.
"I haven't even started." He sat up, trying not to laugh. "I barely even touched you, man."
"Never mind. You take a breather. We'll try again in a few minutes."
"That was...that was...very nice."
"Good. But I think we can do better, don't you?"
Lister took in Rimmer's flushed cheeks and shell-shocked expression, and wondered just how much experience the man actually had. He'd always assumed Rimmer had managed to find casual sexual partners here and there, who didn't spend enough time with him to be put-off by his obnoxious nature. He'd also assumed Rimmer's nervousness today was less about what he was doing than who he was doing it with. Now he wasn't so sure.
He washed his face, fixed them both another drink and took a seat beside Rimmer on the bed. "So," he probed gently, "now you've released some of that...tension, are you feeling better?"
"This is all a bit strange for me. I'm not used to it."
"You mean organised sex? Or just organised sex with people instead of androids?"
"That wasn't me! I keep telling you, that guy on Mimas wasn't me!"
"But yes, of course that's what I meant. I'm used to the thrill of the chase, Lister. Finding a tasty specimen out in the wild and bagging it, then enjoying the spoils."
"Are you talking about dating or hunting?"
"Uh-huh. So tell me, what kind of game are you usually stalking?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, do you normally hunt bucks or does?"
"Oh well, obviously, you know."
Lister waited a beat. "You do know that wasn't actually an answer, right?"
"Look, enough about me. I'm an experienced hunter, okay? That's all you need to know."
"Alright, whatever you say."
Rimmer looked at him sideways. "Are you going to...?" He made a quick gesture to suggest pants being discarded.
"Would you like me to?"
"I wouldn't say that. I mean, I don't care one way or the other. It's certainly not necessary for you to take them off. I mean, at this particular point in time. I'm sure you take them off sometimes, given the nature of your job. But if you don't feel it's appropriate just yet..."
"Rimmer, you just blew your load in my face. I don't think me shedding my undergarments can be considered inappropriate in comparison."
"Obviously it's up to you. If it will make you more comfortable."
Lister lay down next to him with a smile. "Tell you what: why don't you take them off for me?"
"Go on. Just slide them off."
Rimmer sat up and reached out a nervous hand. His fingers slipped under the waistband of Lister's shorts with trepidation. "Go on," Lister coaxed, "The beast is sleeping. It won't bite."
Rimmer slowly tugged the pants down, gulping slightly as Lister's genitalia were exposed in all their glory. He slid the shorts down his legs and dropped them off the bed, leaving them both naked. Lister tried not to smirk at his awed expression. "So," Rimmer piped up with just an edge of hysteria creeping into his voice, "That's your penis."
"There it is."
"That is where I keep it, yes." He took pity. "Would you like to touch it?"
"No," Rimmer said quickly - too quickly - then paused. "You do it."
"Yes. Touch...touch yourself."
"Okay." Lister wriggled down into the bedding to make himself comfy, and wrapped one hand around his cock. This session might be a little different from what he was used to, but this was very familiar territory indeed.
When he opened his eyes again, still pumping himself lazily towards tipping point, he saw Rimmer was grasping his own cock, which had already recovered from its previous excitement. His eyes were glassy with arousal. Lister knew that look. He'd seen it in the eyes of many clients as they lived out their fantasies. "How many times have you pictured this?" he whispered. "How many times have you imagined me like this in your head?"
Rimmer didn't reply, but he blushed fiercely. "It's okay," Lister told him. With his free hand, he reached for Rimmer's. "Put it on top of mine," he whispered, "Help bring me off." He mirrored the movement, curling his own fingers around the hand Rimmer was still using to grip his own cock.
Rimmer lasted a little longer this time. Almost a whole minute.
It wasn't long before Rimmer was his most regular customer. Inch by inch (or perhaps more accurately, blow by blow), Lister wore down his defences, using every session to tempt him a little further, expand his horizons a little wider, chip away at the shields and neuroses and encourage him to lose himself in their coupling.
Lister didn't fully realise just how much Rimmer's confidence had grown until some months later, when he returned from two weeks of much-needed shore leave, and opened the door for his first appointment with him. "It's...nice...to see you...too," he found himself panting roughly sixty seconds later, as he lay sprawled across the table while Rimmer pounded into him with the speed of a woodpecker on a caffeine high. You've come a loooong way baby, he thought to himself proudly.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd say you missed me while I was gone," he remarked afterward, "Who'd have ever thought it."
"Well, I suppose you're more tolerable now I don't actually have to live with you."
"Tolerable?! That's it? Tolerable?!"
"Oh, you know what I mean. You're not that guy leaving dirty socks around anymore, that's all."
"And here was me thinking the fact I'm now the guy who sucks your smegging dick at least twice a week was what endeared me to you. But clearly not."
"Well, yes. That's nice too."
"Nice? Just 'nice'???"
Sadly, Rimmer was still Rimmer; and arguments before, after, and even during sex were still fairly common.
Frank kept pushing him for details. "Pleeeease. At least tell me if he's asked you to do that historical roleplay thing yet."
"I don't know who you're talking about. Besides, you know I maintain strict confidentiality about all my clients."
"Oh please. Everyone knows he's down here every chance he gets."
"Look who's talking."
"Come on. I'm dying to know."
"Why? Do you need some inspiration?"
"Oooh, you are cruel."
"No, I'm not. I'm very, very, nice to you."
"Sweet as pie."
"So mind your own business and let me mind mine."
He actually rather liked that Frank was jealous. Besides, it was nothing compared to Rimmer's jealousy of Frank.
He just took it as reassurance that, for once in his life, he was actually doing a good job.