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Lister can’t help but think it’s strange. The entire ship is shaking with the effort to escape the tiny psi-moon. Now they’re free of the quicksand, surely they should be able to lift off? Such a small moon shouldn’t have this strong of a gravitational pull.

It’s not enough. This stupid dead git he’s hugging just has too damn many hang-ups for them to get away from the moon.

...this stupid dead git who, Lister realises, is gazing at him, in a manner that can only be described as adoring.

Oh, smeg.

He takes two steps back out of the awkward four-way embrace, pulling Rimmer with him, and says, ‘We should go upstairs and reminisce about all the good times we’ve had as bunkmates!’

Stupidest. Excuse. Ever.

The Cat buys it, naturally. Kryten looks puzzled but Lister drags Rimmer up the stairs too fast to hear whether or not the mechanoid objects. Just as they get to the sleeping quarters door he hears Holly giggling. Damn her. Fortunately the JMC’s privacy laws, pathetic as they are, mean that she can’t peek in on them without just cause. Unfortunately there’s nobody left alive who can either a) determine what can be defined as ‘just cause’ and b) enforce it.

He doesn’t have time to worry about that now. Rimmer’s looking bewildered, and Lister doesn’t have flowers and chocolates to hand so he’s going to have to jump ahead a few steps if they’re going to get off this Godforsaken moon. He pulls Rimmer into the bunkroom, locks the door behind them and then, without allowing himself to think too much about it, presses his lips against Rimmer’s.

All he’s thinking about is getting them off the psi-moon. Really. He’s not even sure this is going to work, or if some sort of hideous homophobia monster is going to burst forth from the Wood of Humiliation and eat the ship whole. Given Rimmer’s upbringing, he would be completely unsurprised if that happened. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after a—

Rimmer lets out a shaky sigh against his lips, and then is kissing him back so hard Lister’s pretty sure he’s going to get his tonsils licked out. He manages to persuade Rimmer to ease off a little, settling one hand on his cheek and rubbing his thumb over the forever smooth skin there. Rimmer, in return, acts with less finesse; his fingertips scrabble at the back of Lister’s jacket, pulling him in as close as possible.

‘How did you know?’ he whispers into Lister’s mouth. ‘How did you know?’

Lister has no answer; will never have an answer. He just keeps touching Rimmer’s face and hair and neck, and Rimmer kisses him and wriggles his hands in under Lister’s jacket, rucking up his t-shirt at the back. It’s been so long, so long since anyone really touched him. He’s surprised that Rimmer’s so enthusiastic but maybe going from zero to being inundated with sex on board the Enlightenment and back to zero has done something to his sex drive.

Later – and not much later – this is going to be just a memory he pushes aside that keeps surfacing no matter what he does. Right now, though, he can feel Rimmer’s cock pushing hard against his thigh and all he’s thinking is, get him off to get off this smegging moon. He paws open the front of Rimmer’s ridiculously shiny uniform pants and leans his head against Rimmer’s shoulder, one hand fisting Rimmer’s cock and the other sort of pinning him against the wall, as if they didn’t have a perfectly good bunk mere metres away.

All he can hear is Rimmer panting and the tortured whine of Starbug’s engines attempting to escape atmo. Kryten yells something downstairs but Lister’s not paying attention. Not when Rimmer’s wriggling his hand in between their bodies and, before Lister can tell him it’s not necessary, slipping his hand into Lister’s leather trousers and—

Bunk,’ Lister says, as his knees inform him they’re about to resign.

They stumble-stagger across the room, Lister kicking his trousers off on the way, Rimmer simply vanishing his own (stupid smartarse hologrammatic dead git). Lister ends up on his back with Rimmer rubbing against him; he gets one hand down there and closes it as best as he can around both of them.

There are a number of reasons why this should be wrong: he’s doing it just to get them off this moon and he’s not really into using people sexually; it’s Rimmer; he’d always thought that he was – that both of them were – heterosexual, not that that matters, he’s an enlightened guy; it’s Rimmer; it is almost certainly going to cause repercussions later on, especially if Kryten starts thinking Lister likes Rimmer better than him; and it’s Rimmer. They don’t get on. It doesn’t happen.

‘Listy,’ Rimmer murmurs against his ear. ‘God, Dave...’

The words send a thrill through him that he can’t ignore. He moves his hips up, spreads his thighs a little, and ends up with Rimmer settling in even closer. Rimmer yanks at the bottom of his t-shirt, pushing it up and out of the way, and the feeling of his nails scraping over Lister’s stomach makes him shiver. He thrusts up into his own hand and feels Rimmer’s cock rub against his and he’s so used to softness and wet warmth around his cock when he’s with someone else, not this corresponding, complementing hard heat.

‘Oh God,’ Rimmer mumbles. ‘Going to...’

Lister can already feel the increase in tension, both in Rimmer’s body atop his and in the length of Rimmer’s cock held close to his own. He slows his hand for a moment just to see what will happen and gets a hazel glare and a whimper that sounds suspiciously like the word ‘insubordination’.

Then there’s a moan in his ear, and Lister looks down between them to see Rimmer’s cock jerk in his hand and a soft spatter of see-through semen stripe his belly. The sight triggers his own climax, decidedly messier than Rimmer’s. He drops his head back to the pillow, eyes shut for a moment, and feels Rimmer’s lips press against his. Then, without so much as a single squeak of the bedsprings, Rimmer’s weight is gone, and Lister’s eyes snap open.

‘We must be outside the psychological well of the psi-moon,’ Rimmer says. He’s sort of sitting in Lister’s lower body and it’s extremely disconcerting.

‘Must be. Look, um, why don’t you go downstairs and check and I’ll clean up?’ Lister doesn’t need to gesture at the sticky mess on his belly and thighs. ‘I’ll be right down.’

Rimmer nods, smiles – actually smiles! – and reappears his trousers before he leaves the bunkroom. Lister grabs a handful of tissues and does an initial wipe up before going into the shower cubicle and cleaning off properly. He has bed hair – bed hair, for smeg’s sake – and has to disentangle his dreads before he can go back downstairs. Not to mention that he has to really scrub his stomach because the Cat always complains about the smell of come, which is pretty damn finicky considering Lister knows what’s in those cans of scent marker the Cat carries around with him.

He finally runs out of ways to procrastinate and goes downstairs to the cockpit, settling into his usual seat beside the Cat. Kryten is at his station; Holly’s chattering away with relief and giving them an update what seems like every millimetre further away from the psi-moon.

‘It was all baloney, wasn’t it?’ Rimmer stands in the doorway and Lister feels a twinge of guilt at not having realised that he wasn’t there in the first place.

‘What was?’ he asks, hoping the hologram isn’t about to blurt out what they just did to everyone present.

‘All that hugging stuff back there. It was just a way of escaping, wasn’t it? I mean you didn’t really feel that deep down I’m an okay sort of bloke, that I’m not such a bad old stick once you get to know me. You didn’t really mean any of that, did you?’ He addresses the question to the cockpit in general, but his eyes are locked onto Lister’s face.

Lister sees the pain come into those eyes when he choruses, ‘No,’ along with the others, and he wonders why it feels so much like he should have said ‘yes’ instead.