“He just won’t stop! All evening it was, ‘Frankly’ this, and ‘Frankly’ that, and ‘Can I Be Frank with you?’ The snaggle-toothed little git is doing it on purpose.”
“C’mon, Rimmer. He’s just having a laugh."
“Well it isn’t funny to me, Lister. The other day he offered to bring me something to warm me up. I thought he was getting a cup of tea. Do you know what he brought me?”
Lister gazed up at the ceiling above his bunk as he braced himself for the reveal. “What did he bring you?”
“He brought me a bowl of beans and frankfurters.” Lister didn’t have time to bury his head in his pillow before he let a chortle escape. “Oh yes, ha ha! Let’s all have a good laugh at my expense like we always do.”
Lister sighed as he heard the telltale rustle of Rimmer’s pajamas that meant that he was pouting. He leaned over the side of the bunk, and sure enough, the hologram’s arms were crossed over his chest, his mouth set in a determined pout. “Why’d you have to put down your Uncle Frank as an answer anyway, Rimmer? I mean, your uncle stumbling into your bed one night and kissing you because he thought you were your mum? That’s not a first kiss, Rimmer. That’s just a creepy smegged up mistake!” Lister let out a shudder as he imagined being snogged by one of his own uncles.
“Well what was I supposed to do, Lister? That was the security question!”
“Put down your second kiss then, for smeg’s sake! Not the kiss from your horny uncle! That one shouldn’t even count!”
The hologram’s pout deepened into a frown as he glared back at Lister. “That’s easy for you to say. You’ve probably kissed enough people to start your own political party.”
“I haven’t kissed THAT many people, Rimmer.”
“Well you’ve kissed more than I have, that’s for damn sure.”
“How d’you know? How many people have you kissed then?”
“Forget it. Just… forget I ever mentioned anything.”
“What if I guess? Can I guess?” Lister grinned a chirpy upside down grin as Rimmer glared at him. “Let’s see there was McGruder, so that’s one. And that sexy bird from that holo-ship, that’s at least two.”
“You’ve regained that much of your memory back already?”
“Am I right then? Is it two?” Lister chuckled as he held up his two fingers in a rude gesture. Rimmer’s lips pursed into a near-murderous scowl.
“Oh c’mon, man. I was only kidding. OK, so it’s not two then, eh? Was it more? Four? Five?” Rimmer remained silent, the H on his forehead dropped as his frown deepened.
“C’mon, Rimmer.” Lister grumbled as he sat back up in his bunk and disappeared from Rimmer’s view. “You’ve got to at least give me a yay or a nay here. How many lips has old Arnie J kissed?”
“Would you please shut up about it, Lister? I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
“Why won’t you just tell me? I’ll tell you how many people I’ve kissed.”
“I don’t WANT to know how many people you’ve kissed.”
“Why? What’s the big deal?”
There was a sound not unlike a bull ready to charge as Rimmer breathed angrily through his nostrils. “Because however many people you’ve kissed is just going to make me look pathetic in comparison.”
“It can’t be THAT bad, Rimmer. Why can’t you just tell me?”
“WOULD YOU JUST STOP GOING ON ABOUT IT? IT’S NONE ALRIGHT?” Rimmer’s face was crimson with embarrassment as he continued to fume. “There! Are you happy?! It’s none! The only kiss I’ve ever had was with my smegging Uncle Frank! Now why don’t you just laugh and get it the smeg over with!” Rimmer waited for the chuckles and guffaws to spill from the top bunk, but none came. “Am I so pathetic that it’s actually managed to shock you into silence?”
Lister swung his face back down to stare at Rimmer. “Are you serious, man?"
“Why no, Listy. Actually this is all just a part of my new one man comedy routine: Arnie J, Dead and Loving It. Of course I’m serious. Usually when people lie about their love life, they tend to build themselves up. They don’t usually make themselves sound MORE pathetic.”
Lister suddenly dropped to his feet and sat on the edge of Rimmer’s bunk. The hologram shimmied towards the wall. Lister ignored Rimmer’s attempts to keep himself further away, and shifted himself closer. “But… what about McGruder?” Lister asked, his voice bewildered. “You weren’t lying about that. Were you?”
“No, I wasn’t lying. She pinned me down to the floor and rode me like a redneck on a mechanical bull. She barely even touched me, and there was certainly no kissing of any sort.”
“What about that hologram woman? What was her name?”
“Nirvanah,” Rimmer mumbled.
“Yeah, what about her?”
“Onboard the Enlightenment, sex was something that was regimented. They were ordered to have sex at least twice a day or risk being derelict of duty. It wasn’t particularly romantic, and foreplay was considered a waste of mental energy.”
“Smegging hell, Rimmer.” Lister scratched at his locks as he tried to digest this new information. “But didn’t you mention something about being Ace Rimmer? Flying from dimension to dimension, rescuing damsels in distress and all that crap?”
“Let’s just say that my time as Ace was probably one that will not go down in the books as one of the more sexually prolific chapters.”
“Why not? Didn’t you have loads of girls throwing themselves at you?”
“But it was never actually ME they wanted, Lister. They were throwing themselves at Ace: the legendary interdimensional space adventurer. Not Arnold J Rimmer: Z-Shift leader and smeghead extraordinaire. They were never really interested in me.” Rimmer rolled onto his side and avoided Lister’s gaze. “It never felt right.”
Lister shook his head slowly. “I can’t believe it.”
“Why would I lie about something as embarrassing as this?”
“It’s not that... it’s just… I can’t imagine not having ever really kissed anyone. Kissing’s just so… so fun!”
“It was hardly fun when Uncle Frank was using his tongue to play the bongos with my uvula.”
“Rimmer! I already told you, you can’t count that as a proper kiss! That was disgusting and wrong. That’s not what kissing should be like. Real kissing, proper kissing when it’s with someone you like, someone you care about. It can be really, really nice.”
“Well that’s all fine and dandy for you, Listy. You managed to kiss loads of people while there still were people around to kiss. I, on the other hand, missed the boat. Unless we manage to come across some GELFs that don’t look like the spawn of bigfoot and a bad case of verucas, I think I’m a bit short on suitable kissing partners.”
“There are still some people around, you’re not alone in the universe you know.”
“Lister, has it escaped your attention that every single time we DO run into a living human, they wind up dead?”
“I’m not talking about them, Rimmer.”
“What are you talking about then?”
“Well… I’m talking about me.”
“Yeah! I’m still here aren’t I? You could always kiss me.”
“Yeah! Why not?”
“Kryten must have botched your brain reboot if you think there’s any way I’d want to kiss you.”
“Why? What’s wrong with me? I cleaned me teeth before we went to bed and everything.” Lister flashed Rimmer a pearly smile.
“But it’s YOU.”
“Yeah? And so what? Aren’t we mates now? Haven’t we been through thick and thin together? Spent years with one another? So what if we throw in a bit of kissin’ on the side?”
Rimmer cocked his head in amazement. “You’re serious aren’t you?”
“I just think it’s a bit sad, y’know? No one should have their first and only kiss be with their creepy Uncle Frank, Rimmer. Not even you deserve that.”
“And you think a kiss with you would be so much better?” Rimmer replied with an edge of snark in his voice.
“Hey, I’ve had loads of compliments on my kissing, I’ll have you know. And just look at these lips.” Lister leaned in closer to Rimmer and pursed his lips together. “These babies were just made for kissing.”
“I can’t kiss you, Lister. It would make things… weird.”
“Why would it have to be weird? It’s just a kiss, Rimmer. It doesn’t have to mean anything. Just a simple, ordinary kiss to wipe the slate clean. Just so you at least don’t have to say that the only person you ever kissed was your Uncle Frank!”
“But what if it does make things weird?”
“Rimmer, I swear it won’t make things weird. Now c’mon.” Lister grabbed the hologram by the hand and hauled him up to a sitting position. “Just a quick little kiss, I promise.” Lister scooched himself closer to Rimmer and the hologram stiffened.
“I ALREADY feel weird, Lister.”
“Look just stop thinking so much about it and let’s just do it, man. C’mon. On the count of three, alright?”
The hologram let out a sigh of resignation and closed his eyes. “Fine.”
“OK, here we go. One… two… three…” At three, Lister grabbed Rimmer’s face in his hands, closed his eyes and planted a kiss on the hologram’s lips. He was surprised by the softness, the familiar feeling of the scruff underneath his hands, and the way his mouth seemed to slot into Rimmer’s like a puzzle piece snapping in place. He pulled away more quickly than he wanted to, mindful of Rimmer’s desire to not “make things weird”. He opened his eyes and saw the hologram staring back at him, his gaze charged with something that Lister couldn’t quite place.
“Is that all?” Rimmer asked, his face expectant.
“Well you said you were worried about it making things weird, so I kept it short.”
“But Uncle Frank used his tongue.”
“Rimmer! Would you stop talking about him!”
“Well, I’m sorry but that’s how it happened.”
“So what? You want me to use my tongue then?”
Rimmer cleared his throat. “Of course I don’t WANT you to, but if we’re going to do this, hadn’t we better do it properly? I mean if this is supposed to be my first kiss, it ought to be a proper one.”
“Ok, Rimmer. Ok. You want a proper kiss, you’ve got it.” Lister lunged at the hologram, winding his fingers through the greying curls as he pulled him closer and kissed him again. It was no simple peck this time, he kissed Rimmer like he was savoring a cone of ice cream, alternating between using his tongue and his lips to taste every bit of the hologram’s mouth. Only this was better than ice cream. This was better than any kiss Lister had ever had. It was as if every other kiss he’d ever had, was only training leading up to this kiss.
After several seconds, he nibbled on the hologram’s lower lip and pulled away reluctantly. He smiled as he stared back at Rimmer, the look in the hologram’s hazel eyes finally clicked in recognition. It was want. Rimmer had liked that kiss, and he wanted more. “Was that better then?” Lister asked coyly, even though he already knew the answer.
“Oh, Listy,” Rimmer groaned as his hands suddenly grabbed at Lister and pulled him to him. “Oh, Listy,” he cried out again before kissing him again, pressing his lips to Lister’s like he needed them for oxygen. “God you were right,” he mumbled between kisses. “This is nothing like with Uncle Frank.”
“Oh Rimmer,” Lister moaned as he fell on top of the hologram, pushing them both down to the bed. “Would you quit bringing up your smegging Uncle Frank!”
Several minutes later; lips reddened, hair tousled and clothing askew, they finally pulled apart. They stared at one another incredulously as they gasped for breath. “Why didn’t we do this sooner?” Lister asked as he lovingly ran his thumb across the scar on Rimmer’s jaw.
“Because,” Rimmer gasped in response. “We’re both complete and total smegheaded idiots.”
“Right,” Lister muttered as he nuzzled at the skin of Rimmer’s neck. “But you’re MY smegheaded idiot.”
“And you’re mine,” Rimmer murmured into Lister’s curls as he cuddled him close.
“Well, smeghead of mine,” Lister said in mock seriousness. “Now that we’ve gone and given you a proper first kiss, what do you say we give you a few other proper firsts?”
“You’re incorrigible, Lister.”
“What can I say? I’ve got the body of a fifty year old man, but the mind and libido of a twenty-five year old right now.”
“Just please, at least give me a minute to catch my breath.”
“Hey no worries, man. You just lay back, relax, and let me handle everything.” Lister kissed his way down the hologram’s slender throat as he undid the buttons on his pajamas.
“Oh yes, Lister,” the hologram trembled with anticipation as he licked at his lips.
“But you’ve got to promise me something, Rimmer.”
“Oh, God,” Rimmer gasped as Lister began to kiss his way down his chest. “Yes, anything.”
“Not another word about your smegging Uncle Frank.”