It was a quiet early afternoon on Red Dwarf. Kryten had served lunch, but to his annoyance his efforts didn't seem to be appreciated: Dave Lister, his favorite human in all of history, had barely touched his plate. Instead he just sat staring off into the distance sighing a little.
“Is Rimmer up yet?” Lister sighed miserably, pushing his food around his plate once more.
Shaking his head Kryten internally groaned with frustration. “But sir, I baked pancakes and created the perfect Curry milkshake for you!” the android whined. Who could prefer the company of Arnold J Rimmer to all his hard work?
Sensing Kryten's annoyance Lister looked up with an apologetic smile.
“I know. I know Krytes. But that's just it!! I want to tell him about it, trick him in drinking it! – Make him think he's getting banana and see that look he gets on his face!” His eyes went misty at the thought.
Oh, that was just too much!! Kryten's mechanoid brain screamed. Mr Lister couldn't be totally attached to that hologram! “How about a fun game of Mineopoly?” He offered, locking away his frustrations in another file he'd delete later.
Unfortunately the suggestion made things even worse.
“Mineopoly … Rimmer likes Mineopoly." Lister pouted. "At least he used to … till I learned all the cheats.”
Kryten sighed: this was the human race conversation all over again. “Sir … Is nothing going to take your mind of Mr Rimmer?”
Another watery smile from Lister, then his face fell. “Aw … it's just … smeg, I can't believe he's taking afternoon naps now.” With another sigh Lister pushed away his plate.
“Is that a problem for you sir?” Kryten blinked in confusion.
“No … smeg … well … yes … It … it reminds me that we're all getting so smegging old now. It … It makes me think we … I might never reach earth …”
Clearly upset Lister put his face in his hands, making him oblivious to the fact that his words had made Kryten engage panic mode. The android reached out to Lister, grabbing his shoulders.
“Mr Lister sir, please don't talk like this … Please don't make me think of this!!”
Stunned by the force of the android Lister looked up with irritation, meeting a horrified mechanoid face.
“What's your problem Krytes?" Lister said, brushing him off. "It's not you who's aging!!”
Kryten left his masters personal space to make a series of dramatic poses that went from bizar to ludicrous while wailing. “This is the Nova 5 all over again!!” He then cried out.
With that the Android stormed to the bunkroom where he immediately dived at Arnold Rimmer's peacefully sleeping form. His audio unit at maximum, he tore the blanket of the Hologram and bellowed;
“Mr Rimmer sir, get up! Get up now and do your duty!!”
Startled from his deep sleep a panicked Rimmer snapped upright, gasping: “What?” as he bashed his head at the bottom of Lister's bunk.
“It is your mission to keep Mr Lister sane," Kryten continued, still at maximum volume, " so don't you dare ever taking afternoon naps ever again!!!!”
The half asleep, terrified, man sat panting. “What …?” He asked again, as Lister ran in.
“Kryten?” The Scouser looked at the scene in confusion. “What the smeg are you doing?”
Seeing his partner in a dazed panic Lister quickly crawled into the bunk to take Rimmer into his arms.
“Hey, it's okay.”
“Listy … he … he took my blanket ...” Rimmer muttered in utter confusion, clinging on to Lister gratefully. “He … he took my blanket and just started screaming at me. Has he got droid rot again?”
Running his hands through Rimmer's tousled bed hair, Lister rocked his partner and shushed him. When he felt the man calm down he glared up at Kryten angrily.
“Kryten, have you gone mental, man?! What the smeg did you do that for?”
The Android looked crushed as he answered: “Well, to make you happy, of course sir!”
Blinking in confusion Lister shook his head in exasperation.
“Almost giving poor Rimmer a holo-heart attack doesn't make me happy Kryten.” he grumbled wearily.
“But … but you said you hated him having afternoon naps sir!” Kryten said, starting to sob, oblivious of the “shush” signals Lister threw him. “You were talking about dyyyyyiiiiiiiing!!!” The android wailed as he waddled out feeling like the most misunderstood android in the universe.
A confused glance from Rimmer broke Lister's heart: his partners eyes were filled with sadness and guilt.
“Is it true Listy?” Rimmer asked, taking Lister's hands. “Is my napping upsetting you?”
Hearing Rimmer say it Lister realized it sounded ridicules. Napping upsetting someone? He sighed, he'd try to explain.
“Not … not … the napping of course, not the napping per see … but what it represents.”
Rimmer's sleep worn face twisted into an indignant scowl. “Represents? It represents I smegging need a nap sometimes! I'm not twenty-eight anymore!”
“Yes, yes, and tha's what's upsets me! We're getting old!!”
For a brief second Lister saw a flash of dark hurt flash through Rimmer's eyes then the hologram slightly turned away from Lister. The atmosphere seemed to change and Lister knew he'd deeply upset his husband.
“Lister …" Rimmer said, pinching his brow wearily. "I'm seven hundred and fifty nine, you're only fifty two, give it a rest would you?”
For a second this threw Lister “What?” he muttered. Then he gasped: smeg! How could he do this to him!
“You keep forgetting." Rimmer said softly, a hint of tiredness in his voice. "I've … I've lived for centuries, I was tortured for c … centuries, then I was Ace for another smegging century. I've lived for so long, seen so much. My lightbee is knackered from all that. I am knackered from all that. I need extra downtime to keep up. You're still in the prime of your life. You'll live to at-least a hundred and thirty remember?”
Lister cringed, feeling like a heel. Poor Rimmer having to bring up all that trauma just to reassure him. It was true, he kept forgetting Rimmer's history, as it had never happened in his timeline.
“I … I'm so, so sorry Rimsy," Lister whispered, trying to get his holo-man to snuggle in his arms again, "it's true … I … forgot. Have as many naps as ya need if that's what keeps yer bee going.”
“It was never meant to last this long ...” Rimmer sighed. “I … I'm worried sometimes … have I overused it?”
This immediately worried Lister. “You do have it checked right?” He urged.
Rimmer nodded, curling in on himself a little. He looked tense, Lister noted. He crawled closer to him and stared kissing and massaging, he wanted to show him he understood, that he would be there for him. “Aw smeg poot babe, now I upset you as well. So sorry man.”
Breathing out his fears with a massive sigh Rimmer relented to letting Lister overpower him with affection.
“Don't worry," he grimaced as an overly sloppy kiss ended up on both his temple and in his eye. "Kryten's bedside manner had already ruined my day.” He then groaned, as Lister brushed the spot where he'd bashed his head.
“What's that?” Lister asked, seeing some static buzzing around a lump that was forming.
“Bumped my head on your bunk ...” Rimmer grumbled. “Smeg … What a way to wake up. I'm more exhausted now than when I started my nap …” Giving his Rimsy another cuddly and sensing the hologram was less resistent to his affections Lister smiled.
"Well, don't get up then ..."
A confused Rimmer face looked up at him. "What? And I thought you were so desperate for my company it sent Kryten over the edge!!" A smile met his confusion.
"Oh, but I am babe." Softly Lister lay himself and Rimmer down. "That's why I'm gonna lay here and nap with you. I mean I gotta save me strength to make it to a hundred and thirty, don't I?"
A smile formed on Rimmer's lips. "You absolutely do Miladdo, because remembering the state your future echo was in it's going to be one hell of a ride."
His head resting on Rimmer's chest Lister softly sniggered. "I love you Arn." He whispered.
He felt Rimmer's long fingers gently circling his back in response. "Love you too Listy." came the soft reply.
Then they were quiet. After about a minute Rimmer's hands fell still and his holo-breathing slowed, his lightbee starting the soft almost meditative buzz of holo-sleep. A sound Lister had always found soothing, a comforting sound he wanted to hear for all of the hundred years that were still to come.
The sound that told him that no matter what his future held, if he was there with Rimmer he would always be home.