It had been over an hour and Rimmer still hadn’t found them. How he hated being “it” in Hide and Seek. He had hated it on the are occasions when he had played it with his brothers and he hated it now.
His brothers never hid, they had just left him to search all day and then returned from the movies laughing at him. They had never wanted to play with him in the first place and this had been the easiest way to get rid of him. Longing to be part of the gang he had fell for it time and time again.
Smeg!! What if this was what had happened now!! His mind cried out.
No, no!! Lister wouldn’t do that to him. He told his mind.
Oh, yeah? He had done it before!!
But that was before he knew you, that was before he loved you!! His heart tried to intervene.
Love? What was there to love, he was nothing but the closet thing to human for a lonely Scouser.
No, no, don’t fall into that trap. Rimmer muttered, trying to keep himself together. It was his fault. He was so in his mind most of the time that it made him unaware of the guys habits. Even some of Lister’s …
His partner had found him easily, he knew that his favorite hide out was either the broom closer or under the bunkroom table.
That is how he tricked you, he knows you!! his brain piped up again.
Well … it … it was convenient. The rest of him admitted. Especially as they’d just passed that Las Vegas style satellite: Space Vegas, an android run gambling, partying and drinking paradise. Lister had probably wanted to go there for ages, but of course not with him – the joy sucking leech that he was.
He went away, he doesn’t love me anymore.
No-one here does …
I am a waste of space.
It’s just like my brothers all over again!
Why do I keep getting everything wrong?
Sobs started coming from him as his brain took over.
He’d been searching everywhere he knew for two hours now. If Cat wasn’t in his clothes closet where would he be? If Kryten wasn’t in his equipment room, where was he? Lister wasn’t anywhere he thought his Listy could be.
They were gone.
What if they wouldn’t come back?
He should check to see if Starbug was gone!!
He couldn’t; that would confirm everything and break his heart.
For a brief moment he gave into tears as he sat in the back of the movie theater, then he made up his mind: he would flush himself out of an airlock. Make it easier for everyone, especially Lister. Poor Lister didn’t deserve someone like him. He deserved better. It made sense. He should have done it decades ago.
With that he made his way to the first airlock he could find.
Standing in front of it he took a few deep breaths and wiped the tears from his face. With a sad sigh he looked up at the camera and whispered “Goodbye Listy, I love you.”
Then his hand reached out “Open”. He closed his eyes and …
“Mr Lister, sir, I’ve found him and … Oh my!!”
Rimmer was thrown to the floor by something fast.
Meanwhile the airlock opening sequence was abruptly stopped.
“Bud, what the hell are you doing?!”
Slowly Rimmer opened his eyes to find .. The Cat sitting on top on him with something that looked almost like … panic in his eyes.
Then … the voice he had longed to hear reached his ears.
“Rimmer!! Smeg!! Babe!!” Footsteps ran towards him.
The Cat jumped off him shaking his head, then soft arms cradled him. Rimmer was still so in his mind it all felt unreal, like a movie or a dream.
“Rimmer, what happened?” Lister asked as he cradled his partner in his arms and rubbed his back.
Rimmer couldn’t talk, he was shaking and his teeth chattered.
“Did you think we left you?” Lister asked softly.
The Hologram nodded against his shoulder, then he started to cry. Lister hugged him tighter.
“Aw man, I was worried as it took you so long to find us. So in the end we all went looking for you. I was afraid something like this would happen. You always freak out on yer own."
“I … worthless ...” Rimmer gasped between sobs. “Better … without me ...”
“No, no, you stupid smegger!! I hated everything about being without you. I need you. I'd never leave you behind ever again. That time we tried I regretted it, you were so hurt. I’ll never do it again, you hear me?”
Rimmer did, but he couldn’t reply. All the panicking had left him beyond exhausted. He just leaned against Lister and nodded.
“Mr Rimmer, just know ...” he heard Kryten from far away, “even though we don’t always show it we do care about you in a way.”
That was kind, and so good to hear. He sighed again. Maybe his brain had been wrong.
“And well … non-bud ...” Cat then offered, a slight hesitation in his voice, “I might joke about wanting you out because you’re so non fashionable and stuff … but I’d never really want you gone, because who else can I joke about?!!”
A soft chuckle escaped Rimmer.
“Hey, feeling better now?” Lister asked softly, rubbing his back.
“Hmm ...” Rimmer whimpered in affirmation. A kiss on his cheek.
“Guess what:" Lister's voice continued in his ear. "I’ll get Kryten to carry you to bed and you get some rest okay? You’ll need it cause I gotta big trip planned for us all tomorrow. Did ya hear about Space Vegas? I’ve got us the wedding suite in one of the hotels. You are gonna love it!!”
“Got my outfits all laid out for it bud!!” The Cat piped up as Kryten lifted the weary hologram.
“It’ll be the trip of a lifetime sir!!” Kryten chimed in.
As Kryten carried him through the hallway, Rimmer listened silently to the three man talking about the trip. The trip HE would be part of. He wasn’t unwanted, he was part of a team. He wasn’t hated, he was loved. The tears long dried a small smile formed on his face as he nodded off on an android shoulder.
A soft Scouser voice whispering “I love you, you idiot!!” was the last thing Arnold Rimmer heard.
Once again Lister had found him, and something deep inside of him knew that Lister always would.