Categories > TV > Red Dwarf > Forwards0 Reviews
A followup to Rob Grant's book Backwards. Slash.
With the instinct for preservative warmth that had made his ancestors curl up on television sets and behind the fans of desktop computers, Cat squeezed between the cave wall and Rimmer. He contorted his lithe body into a ball and started to purr.
"You intrusive git!" Rimmer snarled. "You smell like fish." He stood, letting Cat slide to the floor, and walked to another section of cave. He sat against the wall pointedly.
"Hey! This ain't a picnic for me, either, bud. My suave factor is down a few million from bein' that close to you. Now stay still!" Cat unfolded and trotted over to Rimmer's new position.
"Look, you brainless pussy..."
"Oi!" The hairy, white, very Yeti-ish guard stumbled into the cave and rapped on the bars of their cage with a paw-like hand. "Stop makin' so much noise. Yer spoilin' me nap. The Chief don't count too good, so he wouldn't really notice if I only brought in two prisoners tomorrow, savvy?" It glared at Rimmer with beady black eyes.
"Oh, yes, Mister Yeti, sir." Rimmer clasped his hands together and assumed an expression that Lister could only assume was meant to be ingratiating. "Apologies if my unintelligent companions disturbed your rest. I can assure you..."
"Yeh will siddown and shaddup, or I'll rip yeh apart with me fists," the guard snarled. "I'm sick of yer whiny voice." It turned and stomped out of the room.
"You heard him, typewriter-head!" the Cat said, grinning. "Shut up and stay still." He slid behind Rimmer's back again, purring, and Rimmer bit his lip and stared irately ahead.
Lister watched, nibbling on his lip. He had pointedly avoided contact with Rimmer since the night the weasely smegger had kicked him out of the bunk. With typical Rimmer timing, it had been just as Lister had started to think there might be something more than a smeghead there, after all. He had clambered back into his own bunk, fuming. /Ace/, he had thought. /Ace wouldn't've done that/. Even if Ace hadn't wanted Lister, he would have been decent and upfront about it all. But Ace was dead. And Lister had found that his dreams - at least, the ones that made him wake up with his sheets warm and sticky - featured Ace with decreasing frequency. Rimmer was more often in the starring role; his long, lean hands on Lister, or his long, lean, sarcastic mouth, silenced for a moment, at least. Lister was not too proud to admit that something had happened that was beyond immediate physical need. Too bad that the smeghead hadn't; he had swaggered airily through the day with his large nose in the air, never meeting Lister's eyes, pretending they had never so much as touched, let alone... smeg it all. Lister had promised himself he would just stay away from the bastard.
But Lister was cold enough to partake of any warmth that was in the offering, and if Cat were willing to snuggle with Rimmer to stay warm - well, that made Lister's distance excessive grudge-holding.
To be fair, the predicament they were in was Lister's fault, after all. Sort of. In a way.
He had just wanted a sledding holiday.
It had been yet another routine day in space, chewing up the vast distance between themselves and Earth like a microbe digging into an extra-large deep-dish pizza. Lister was in the room he and Rimmer shared; Rimmer, as was frequently the case since the last time they had made love (not a good term at all, but 'fucked' was too uncaring and 'sex' too clinical), was not. Holly had popped her head in to laconically announce their proximity to a planet with a breathable atmosphere. Lister had dropped his dirty magazine and run through the corridors to the control room. Rimmer and Kryten were already there, the former flaring his nostrils in annoyance at Lister's breathless entry. Cat had swaggered in after Lister, wearing a maroon velvet suit and a dazzling smile. "You all need to be sittin' down to see this one," he had announced, holding his lapels out in two elegantly manicured hands.
"What's with the planet, Krytes?" Lister had asked. Oh, he had been so ready for planet leave. If it had been a planet of bubbling acid lakes, he would have gone down with a towel and a swimsuit. He was sick and bloody tired of Cat's vanity, Kryten's fussiness, and Rimmer's general anal-retentive, officious, pompous smeg-headedness. Not to mention his refuse-to-shag-ness. Lister had read every porno mag he could find on the ship twice, and he was getting bored even with /that/. He needed out.
"It's very Earthlike," Kryten reported, reading what Holly flashed up on the screen. "However, the sun is cooler than Sol. It's a winter planet, entirely snow-bound, except for a band of freezing rain at the equator. The poles are too cold for human habitation."
Lister had felt stirrings of excitement. /Snow/. When was the last time he had felt honest-to-smeg snow? Real stuff, not like the toxic crap on that moon he had been marooned on; real snow, the kind that was all water, the kind that you could catch on your tongue and eat? The kind you could sled on and make snowballs and snowmen and snow forts out of? He had jumped up and slapped Cat on the shoulder. "Hey, Cat, let's grab a 'Bug and head on down." Cat had pulled a fabric brush out of his pocket and smoothed the nap that Lister had ruffled.
Rimmer had snorted and objected. Of course he had. "Are we really going to trust the judgment of a man with more JMC lager on his breath than is present in the ship's manifest? A man whose judgment is unreliable even when he's sober? I say we pass."
Nothing could have made Cat and Kryten more eager to land on the planet than Rimmer's objection, and so they immediately started packing. Rimmer had stood in the middle of their quarters, prophesying death, doom, and a lack of proper toilet facilities as Lister had thrown warm clothes into a bag.
"If yeh don't want to come," Lister remembered saying, as he slung his bag over his shoulder, "stay here. Hol will keep ya company."
"JMC regulations specify at least one adult on every extravehicular lander mission," Rimmer had muttered. "If I go along, there will be a grand total of, oh, /one/." Rimmer had, for the first time in far too long, actually met Lister's eyes, and the sad resignation there had belied his snippy tone.
But that had disappeared so quickly that Lister was not sure if he had just imagined it. Rimmer had snipped as they had boarded Starbug, had sneered at Cat's outfit, had critiqued Holly's course and landing, and groaned in disgust at the rolling, snowy hills nearby.
/Screw him up the arse with a pineapple/, Lister had thought. He had grabbed a scarf, mittens, and a section of Pyrex radiation insulation, and run out into the snow. He could not remember the last time he had experienced such genuine, unreserved /fun/. He had run to the top of the first hill he reached, flung himself on the insulation, and sledded down it. When he tired of sledding after a few hours of it, he made snowballs and pitched them at Rimmer. When he tired of annoying Rimmer, he built a snowman and nicked Kryten's earmuffs for it. The mechanoid had complained of chills in his circuits, and retired to Starbug to warm up. Lister had ranged farther and farther afield, frolicking with Cat, being pursued by Rimmer's relentless negativity.
Then the GELFs had appeared.
Lister had practically sledded down one. Their inbred camouflage was perfect for the snowy landscape. It had picked him up by the collar with one huge paw, staring him in the face with small black eyes under an overhanging, hairy white brow. More had risen from their hiding places to surround Rimmer and Cat.
"Normals," one had growled. "It has been long since we have seen them; long since we have feasted on their flesh!"
"Trust me," Rimmer had said, fawningly, "we are anything but normal. And we taste hideous. Really. Just smell that one and see!" He pointed at Lister.
"Shaddup," shrieked another one, with an oddly Cockney accent. "We're takin' yeh to the Big Boss!"
The Big Boss had turned out to be an old GELF, his white fur streaked with grey, who was sitting on a throne-like chair that stood, for no reason that Lister could see, out in the middle of a snow-covered clearing.
"Oh, great and mighty GELF leader!" the first GELF had cried.
The great and mighty GELF leader had snorted and mumbled, shifting in his throne.
"Erm. We have prisoners, your Really Impressiveness!" the GELF had continued, doggedly. The impressive leader started to snore.
After a hasty conference, the Cockney GELF had carried the three prisoners bodily to a cavern in the side of one of the hills. Lister had struggled, but the GELF had a grip of iron.
He had tossed them in a cell in the cave, then loped out and left them to stew. Or, more accurately, freeze. The sun had sucked far too much warmth out of the sky as it went down, the last rays throwing ruddy streaks through the cave's mouth before they faded to nothing. Lister and Cat had started to shiver. At first it had been the regular shivers of cold, as they whispered together, Lister trying to think of possible escape plans, Cat and Rimmer trying to insult each other. Then the cold had become worse, and regular shivers gave way to violent, wracking, uncontrollable spasms. Rational thought had begun to elude Lister, slipping out of his mind like a deft minnow. /That isn't good/, part of him said, but the rest of him asked just what the smeg he could possibly do about it?
Well, Lister thought as he watched Cat purr contentedly, tucked between an irate hologram's back and the cave wall, Cat certainly seemed to have found something to do about it.
Smeg it all. Lister scurried across the floor and pushed up against Rimmer's knees, which the hologram was holding to his chest. Lister had never been so close to Rimmer in such a cold - indeed! - and calculated fashion; without lust fogging his brain, he noted things that he had missed before. The experience was odd. Interesting, but odd. Rimmer was, indeed, warm - warm, and slightly staticky, like a TV screen. It made one of Lister's fillings ache, the one that he had gotten on Callisto from a back-alley dentist. It was so different from being close to a human, and smeg it all, Rimmer was /warm/! Lister shoved Rimmer's legs aside and pushed himself close to the hologram's chest.
"Lister," Rimmer sighed, quietly, looking warily towards the cave entrance.
"Mmm-hmm," Lister agreed. He was warm! The chill air was becoming a happy memory as he curled up, sticking his hands into Rimmer's armpits and tucking his face into the underside of Rimmer's chin. The hologram swallowed, nervously, and Lister smiled at the sensation. /Warm/. Rimmer had no heartbeat, but had an oddly lulling buzz, just barely at the level of audibility.
"I was always cold when I was soft-light," Rimmer muttered.
"Yer warm now," Lister replied. He shifted, trying to bring as much of his body into contact with Rimmer as possible. Interesting, he thought, that Rimmer's clothes were just as warm as his neck. Then again - he was all one projection, wasn't he? His clothes were just as much a part of him as his skin was. Oh, yes, skin. Lister was rapidly forgetting that he was annoyed at Rimmer. He pushed his lips against Rimmer's neck, tasting the soft electricity of it. Smeg, it was exciting. "Me back's cold," he murmured.
Rimmer moved his hands hesitantly, tentatively, to Lister's back, bringing that delicious warmth to that side of Lister, as well. Lister licked the side of Rimmer's neck, and Rimmer shivered. "Dave..." he sighed.
"Stop movin', smeghead!" Cat hissed.
Rimmer opened his mouth, then closed it with a snap, looking warily at the cave entrance. He leaned back against Cat, staring at the ceiling with resignation. Lister relaxed. He was horny, yes - but he was also warm and content, with that peaceful lassitude that would come, millions of years ago and back on Earth, with a warm bed and a cup of tea after an afternoon playing in the snow and becoming thoroughly chilled. He closed his eyes and drifted off, lulled by the low hum of Rimmer's projection.