Collecting farming supplies from the mainland obviously involved a certain amount of work to be done but there was also the opportunity to relax and take it easy for a bit whilst you were going to be in Australia anyway, making it the closest either he or Frank could get to a holiday. Lister enjoyed himself on these trips but he also missed his husband. It was a pity they couldn't go together and make it a proper couples' break, but one of them always had to stay behind as somebody had to run the farm and they couldn't currently afford any full-time help.
Lister was in Sydney's main shuttleport, waiting for his flight to depart. His supplies were already boxed up and loaded in the shuttle's hold, but he didn't need to be on board for another hour so he was killing time by browsing duty free stores, reading the free magazines that had been left in every departure lounge since the invention of the waiting room, and drinking coffee. He was standing by the big window, watching the sky turn golden as the sun set, and looking forward to being back with Frank again in a few hours, when he heard an unexpected voice from behind. A voice he hadn't heard in four years.
"Listy?! Is that you?"
Lister turned around in shock. "Hello, Rimmer!"
Rimmer smiled at him. "I thought I recognised those dreadlocks."
He wasn't as skinny as the last time Lister had seen him and his hair wasn't full of cheap gel. He was wearing a dark red shirt and tie with tan slacks and a knee length black coat. During his tenure on Red Dwarf, Lister had never seen Rimmer out of uniform, unless you counted pyjamas or underwear, he'd never imagined him in anything else. The look suited him
"You look well," he commented. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm on planet leave. Waiting for a flight to Europe."
Rimmer nodded. "What are you doing here?"
"Picking up equipment for the farm. Well, I've already got it, I'm on my way home now. Sometimes it's cheaper to come out here and pick stuff up than get it sent to us, ya know? Shipping companies charge a fortune."
"Farm worked out okay, then?"
"Yep, got my sheep and my cow. Chickens too. Money's a bit tight at the moment but that happens every so often, we aren't exactly starving and it'll pick up again."
"Well that's good to hear." Rimmer considered for a second. "How's Todhunter?"
"He's good. He's not here because we can't really leave the farm unattended so we have to take it in turns to come out."
"You're here on your own then?" Rimmer enquired.
"Yes. But not for long, going home in about an hour."
"Can I buy you a drink before you go?" Rimmer offered. "We can have a bit of a catch up."
Lister considered. Given the terms of their parting, was that a good idea or not? Still, this was a public place and he wouldn't be here for very long. "Okay," he decided. "I'll have a beer then."
"Just beer? You sure you don't want anything more...,"
"Beer'll be fine," Lister insisted.
They headed to the nearest bar where Rimmer ordered a beer and a white wine and they sat at a quiet table. Rimmer listened attentively to Lister's tales of the farm, he smiled and laughed in all the right places, and told him amusing stories about what had been happening onboard ship, including Captain Hollister's unfortunate accident with a banana. When he'd known Rimmer before, Lister hadn't imagined his annoying bunkmate could ever possibly be charming, but this version of him was. And had he always been that handsome? Lister didn't remember Rimmer being particularly good looking, but he doubted that anything could have changed there, it was more likely that he just hadn't noticed it before.
As Rimmer folded his arms on the table and leaned in closer to him, Lister realised something else too. "You smell nice!" he commented in surprise. "You always used to wear that nasty aftershave."
"It was cheap," Rimmer explained. "I can afford something a bit better now."
"What, you finally made officerhood?" Lister blurted out in surprise. Rimmer? An officer? That just sounded like bad news for everyone.
"No," Rimmer admitted. "But I'm not a technician anymore either, I work in Stores now. I'm still trying to pass Engineering, but a job in storage will pay more in the meantime than technician would."
Ah, that made a lot more sense. "Good," Lister said encouragingly. "That's a better attitude than just staying as the lowest rank while you hold out for officerhood. I'm pleased for you."
"Did you ever...," he paused, wondering how to put it. "Find anyone? I mean a boyfriend," he clarified. "Or girlfriend. Whichever."
"No," said Rimmer quietly, looking down at his drink.
"Oh. Sorry to hear that, man."
Rimmer looked up again and met his eyes. "I never stopped loving you, Listy. I tried to move on, I tried to find someone else, it didn't work. All I could ever think about was you."
Lister shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Yeah, well that's not healthy, man," was the only response he could think of. He suddenly felt the urge to leave, he finished his beer and went to stand up.
Rimmer gripped his arm and held him back. "Come on, Listy. Meeting you like this..., How was I supposed to know you'd be here? This is fate."
"It's a coincidence, Rimmer." Lister shook him off and stood up.
"It's my second chance, my chance to make things right!" Rimmer stood up too, he caught Lister by the shoulders and looked at him with his warm hazel eyes. "Come back to me, Listy," he said softly. "Let me try again."
Lister wondered if he could technically come 'back' to someone he'd never really been with in the first place but decided this wasn't the time or place to argue about semantics. He shook his head. "No! I love Frank. I'm happy with Frank and he's good to me. Plus I've got my farm and the life I always wanted. Why would I ditch all that for someone who used to treat me like smeg?"
"I wouldn't, Listy." Rimmer gently touched his cheek. "I'd treat you like a prince, I'd give you everything you wanted, I'd make you the happiest man in the universe. I know I messed up before, let me make it up to you."
"You know what? Maybe you would for a bit. But it'd wear off and you'd go back to treating me like crap again. Anyway...," he added before Rimmer could respond. "It's not only Frank, it's also the farm. I've got the life I always wanted and I'm happy. You can't offer me a farm, you can't even offer me a proper home, all you can get me is a bunkroom and a job on a ship. I don't want that."
"I'll get you anything you want. I'm sure with a bit of effort, I can manage...,"
"It's too late, Rimmer," Lister cut him off. "You had your chance. You had your chance and you blew it." He shook Rimmer off and walked away through a door to the corridor that lead back to the lounge.
He heard Rimmer following him, heard the door banging shut behind him, turned around to tell him to go away. Rimmer caught Lister's face between both hands and kissed him, propelling him back into the corridor wall.
Smeg..., Lister melted into him. Rimmer felt good, he smelled good, he tasted good...,
"I've missed you," he breathed against Lister's lips. "I've missed you so much."
Lister kissed him back, sucked the tip of his tongue into his mouth, caught hold of his tie and used it to pull him in deeper. "Rimmer," he moaned. God, he'd never imagined that that smeghead could be so passionate, so sexy...,
Rimmer broke his lips away from Lister's and looked him in the eyes. "Come to bed with me. We'll get a hotel room. You can go back to Todhunter tomorrow. He'll never know. You can tell him you got delayed overnight." He slowly kissed down the side of Lister's face. "He'll never know," he repeated softly.
"No, I can't," Lister insisted. "I'm not cheating on my husband! I love Frank!"
"But you want me!" Rimmer breathed against his neck.
Lister couldn't deny it, he wanted Rimmer badly. His whole body was on fire and his cock was starting to stiffen. He fell back against the wall, legs slightly parted and pulled Rimmer in for another kiss, bodies flush together, his hands running down Rimmer's back, Rimmer's groin against his. Rimmer nuzzled his neck again and Lister felt his teeth worrying the skin.
He pulled away. "Don't leave any marks."
"Sorry." Rimmer kissed his neck and shoulder past the open collar of his Hawaiian shirt. "Come to bed with me, Listy," he whispered again. "If I can't have you forever, then let me have you for one night. Please. Just one."
Lister imagined it, Rimmer's warm naked flesh against his, Rimmer's weight on top of him, Rimmer's throbbing cock buried inside of him. Then he thought about Frank. "No!" he broke away and pushed Rimmer off of him. "No, no. I'm not doing this."
Rimmer scowled. "Why not? I want you and you want me!"
"I do," Lister admitted. "Right now, I want you more than anything. You want the truth, man? Every cell in my body is aching for you! But that's not the point. It's not about what I want, or you want, or we both want, it's about what's right! I am married and I love him."
"Please, Listy...," Rimmer whined, sounding more like the annoying smeghead Lister remembered. "Please just give me...,"
"Rimmer!" he snapped, cutting him off. "Don't beg me for sex! It's pathetic and embarrassing, and I already said no."
"I love you, David," Rimmer insisted.
"No, you don't. You don't know what love is. You've just got some weird, unhealthy fixation on me that you should probably see a shrink about." He took a deep breath. "Goodbye, Rimmer." He walked away towards the shuttle and the way home, leaving him standing there.
"Hey, babe." Lister gave his husband a warm kiss.
"Hey." Frank hugged him, glad to have him home. "You smell nice. New cologne?" he asked.
Lister was baffled, he wasn't wearing any..., Smeg! "It was a free sample at the shuttleport," he lied quickly. "But I didn't buy any, too expensive."
"Shame, smells really good. Anyway, I made dinner."
He felt a bit guilty about lying to his husband, but what was he meant to say? I bumped into Rimmer and he tried to seduce me. I told him I wasn't interested, I wasn't going to leave you, I wasn't even going to sleep with him. But, in a moment of weakness, I did let him snog the hell out of me and his cologne must have got all over me and I'm really sorry. No, best not to say anything. Best just to forget it ever happened.
"Anything interesting happen while you were there?" Frank asked as he dished up dinner.
"No. Pretty boring trip really," was all Lister could think of to say.
They had a hearty dinner of locally caught shellfish cooked in a new curry sauce they'd created together, with mounds of boiled rice. Then Lister took a long, hot, soapy shower, scrubbing off any trace of Rimmer and his smell. He felt clean again by the time he climbed into bed beside his husband.
"Goodnight, babe." He snuggled into Frank under the duvet and closed his eyes.
Frank held him close and kissed him on top of the head. "Goodnight, Dave."
Lister smiled as he began to drift off. He was warm and cosy with the man he loved and who loved him, he'd had a delicious, lovingly-cooked homemade meal, he could hear the ocean waves and occasional sounds made by the chickens and Arlene the cow through the open window. This was all he wanted, this was true happiness. There was nothing Rimmer could give him. He'd made the right choice four years ago and he'd made the right choice again tonight.