“What is it with you and fruit?”
“Eh?” Lister looked up, confused by Rimmer’s sudden outburst. They were in their quarters and Lister was at the table with his feet up and an apple in his hand, and Rimmer was in his bunk, sitting up now and glowering at him.
“Why don’t you just eat it?”
“I do eat it.”
“Eventually! Only after you’ve spent an hour picking it up, fondling it, rolling it around in your hands, sniffing it and rubbing it against your mouth. Why do you do that?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“How long have you been holding that apple?”
“I dunno. A couple of minutes.”
“Cos I’m not ready to eat it yet.”
“Then why did you pick it up?”
“I’m going to eat it. Just not yet.”
“Why do you have to play with it first?”
“It’s just something to do. Draws things out a bit. Heightens the anticipation.”
“Maybe if you ate fruit a little more regularly, you wouldn’t feel the need to make such a performance out of it.”
“Shut up. I eat plenty of fruit.”
“Mango chutney doesn’t count. Nor do jam doughnuts.”
Lister ignored the dig, “Does it really matter?”
“It’s so frustrating. Here’s me, unable to eat anything ever again, and I’m forced to sit here and watch you making out with a Granny Smith.”
“I’m not making out with it! Stop exaggerating.”
“That apple has had more contact with your lips than most of the birds you’ve slept with.”
“Hey! I’ll have you know that I am an incredibly tender and considerate lover, and these lips have had travels you could not even imagine.”
“I don’t want to imagine them!” Rimmer said, looking vaguely panicked for a moment, “Just eat the smegging apple!”
“Okay, okay,” Lister took a bite and chewed pointedly, “I’m eating it. Look.”
“Good. Great. Thank you.” Rimmer lay back down, “I’m always saying it’d do you good to get some fresh fruit in you.”
Two years later…
Lister carried the fruit basket into his cramped quarters on Starbug and pushed aside the ashtray and empty lager cans to set it with great reverence at the side of his bed. They’d found a derelict with a huge number of fresh supplies sealed in stasis; meat, fish, milk, eggs, cheese and fruit. Even on Red Dwarf such luxury was rare. Here on Starbug it was the stuff of dreams. Most of it was now sealed in the deep sleep unit to be preserved, but Lister had helped himself to a platter of different treats to take back to his quarters. Kryten was in the engine rooms, Cat was in the cockpit, Rimmer was somewhere minding his own business, and now Lister intended to make the most of his free shift by getting comfy, lying in his bunk, and enjoying his sweet bounty.
He stripped off his grimy overalls, flopped naked into his bunk with a satisfied sigh and viewed his choices with dreamy eyes. Soft tender peaches. Firm just-ripe bananas. Plump juicy strawberries. Sweet fat grapes. Where to start? Where to even begin with such a feast? He picked up a small fuzzy peach and gave it the gentlest squeeze. His fingers left small indents in the flesh and a luscious aroma filled the room. He brought it to his lips and felt the light velvety fuzz, the delicate skin that would split so readily under his teeth, giving up the succulent juiciness within. He gave a heartfelt sigh. There were many pleasures he was denied these days, he was going to make the most of this.
“No.” Rimmer’s voice made him look up in surprise. He hadn’t heard him enter the room, he’d been so lost in his own thoughts. Rimmer was staring at him with an almost wild expression.
“What’s the matter with you?” he asked bemused.
“No,” Rimmer said again, shaking a finger at him, his voice trembling. “No, no, no, no, no. Not this again. I cannot take it. I simply cannot take it.”
“Can’t take what? What are you going on about?”
“You and fruit. It’s too much. It’s too much, Lister!”
“Rimmer, are you okay?”
“No, I’m not okay!” he exploded. “It was bad enough when I was soft-light! At least then there was nothing I could do about it, even if I wanted to. But how long have I had this hard-light drive now? Three months? Three months, Lister! Three months of finally being able to touch, taste and smell and all I have to enjoy is lichen stew, dandelion sorbet and my own right hand! It’s not fair! Now I walk in to find this!”
“Calm down. There’s more fruit if you want it, man.”
“I’m not talking about the fruit! I’m talking about you sprawled out naked giving more attention to that smegging peach than you’ve ever given me in eight years!”
“Ummm…” Lister gave the peach he still held an odd look.
“I cannot watch you making mouth love to one more juicy morsel while I stand here and die inside, do you hear me?!”
“I’m not exactly getting a lot of action either, y’know,” Lister protested. “This fruit basket is the closest thing I’ve had to sex in forever!” He paused. “And I can’t believe I just said those words out loud.”
“Do you know what it’s been like?” Rimmer asked him, his eyes so wide now they were almost manic, “All these years, watching you eat? Watching you suck sauce off your fingers? Swirling that tongue around an ice lolly? Thinking I’d never taste anything again? Knowing that I’d never taste you, or feel that mouth on me? Do you???”
Lister’s mind was whirring now, “I suppose not.”
“You suppose. You suppose?!”
Next thing Lister knew, he was flat on his back with Rimmer’s nose touching his. “Let me show you what it was like, Lister. Let me demonstrate.” Rimmer reached over and plucked a round red strawberry from the basket. “Open your mouth.” Half-shocked and half-intrigued, Lister obeyed. Rimmer pushed the strawberry gently between his lips. “Hold this in your mouth,” Rimmer told him, “And do NOT bite down until I say.” Lister felt the slightest droplet of sweet juice melt onto his tongue. Oh, it had been too long since he’d tasted anything so good. He made a soft sound of pleasure and want. “If you eat that strawberry, Lister, I’m going to force every last item in that basket down your throat and spray whipped cream up your nose so you suffocate in your own fruit salad. Understand?”
“Mmph,” Lister managed. He wasn’t sure the threat was serious, but the insanity dancing in Rimmer’s eyes right now made him unwilling to test it.
“It’s hard, isn’t it?” Rimmer said, more softly, “Having something so delicious just out of reach.” Lister shifted slightly. The weight and heat of Rimmer’s body on top of him was beginning to wake up senses other than his taste-buds. Senses that were just as starved. “Imagine feeling like this,” Rimmer went on, “Every hour of every day for years, and never getting satisfaction. Never getting to sink your teeth into the thing you crave so much.” Lister gulped, another trickle of juice running down his throat, sweet and fragrant. His mouth was watering, and the hotter and wetter his mouth became, the more he could taste the strawberry sitting so delicate and fragile on his tongue.
Rimmer moved on top of him, the velvet of his blue trousers sliding pleasantly against Lister’s naked skin. He was undeniably getting hard now, he couldn’t stop it. His senses were all heightened; touch, taste, smell. He fixed his eyes on the grey metal of the bunk above him. Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it. Clear your mind. Be cool. Be zen. It worked right up until Rimmer’s voice, somewhere by his groin said “Don’t you dare bite down, Lister,” and suddenly a warm moist mouth surrounded his cock.
Lister squeaked, his back bowing, his hips arching upwards. But he didn’t bite into the strawberry, even as that mouth sank lower, taking him in almost to the hilt. His thighs trembled and he whinnied softly. Smeg, this was all too much. He wasn’t going to last much longer. The taste of strawberry and the feel of Rimmer’s mouth filled his whole world. He was almost there when Rimmer lifted his head, “Are you starting to understand, Lister? Are you starting to get an idea why I’m peeved?”
“Mmm-hmm,” Lister nodded desperately, his cock throbbing and tingling in the sudden cool air. Come on, just finish this, please, please, please, he begged with his eyes. But Rimmer wasn’t finished. As Lister watched, he stretched out his arm, plucked a strawberry from the basket, popped it into his mouth and ate it in one bite, staring into Lister’s face as he did so. Lister groaned, squirming fitfully. “How does that feel?” Rimmer asked him. Lister whimpered. Rimmer reached out again, this time selecting a long proud banana. Oh god, Lister thought. He’s going to make me watch him eat every single damn thing, isn’t he? But Rimmer didn’t peel the banana. He slid it into his mouth, skin and all, and sucked on it meaningfully. At first Lister just thought he was teasing him. Then Rimmer slid the banana out of his mouth, and did something with it that made Lister squeal and his eyes widen like saucers. He wrapped one strong hand back around Lister’s cock and began to pump him and, mere moments later, Lister was having the weirdest and most intense orgasm of his life. His teeth clenched shut on the strawberry and his mouth was flooded with intense sweetness that made his tongue almost cramp with pleasure and the juice poured down his throat, even as his pelvic muscles spasmed and his come spilled over in a fountain of blissful release.
“You ate the strawberry,” Rimmer’s voice said reprovingly.
“So go ahead and kill me then,” Lister panted, eyes still closed, “It was totally worth it.” But when he managed to open his eyes, Rimmer was smiling. “You’ve really felt like that for years?” he asked breathlessly.
Rimmer dipped his head modestly, “Perhaps at a slightly lower intensity. I may have exaggerated for effect. Not much though.”
“Smegging hell,” Lister let his head thud back against the pillows. He went to wipe the sweat from his brow and realised his hand was wet and sticky. He’d crushed the peach he’d been holding all this time. “Allow me,” Rimmer moved up and began to suck the nectar and pulp from his fingers.
“Hey,” Lister pulled his hand back, “Not so fast. Trousers off.” Rimmer raised an eyebrow. “You got me all sticky,” Lister smirked, “Reckon I should return the favour.”
“Well, if you insist.”
“I had no idea you liked fruit so much,” Lister teased, taking the opportunity while Rimmer undressed to discreetly remove a banana from somewhere personal. “I love it. But not enough to eat that banana, thank you,” Rimmer clarified quickly.
“I think that goes without saying,” Lister tossed it across the room and into the bin, “At least it certainly wasn’t wasted. You know, I think I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for fresh fruit.”
Rimmer tugged him back down amongst the pillows and pulled his hand to his impatiently waiting cock. “If only you’d listened to me sooner.” He popped a grape into Lister’s mouth. “I’ve been telling you for years it’d do you good to get some more fruit in you.”