Title: Ace in the Hole
Author: Thesseli (thesseli@yahoo.com)
Characters: Rimmer/m
Genres: Slash
Warnings: First Time, m/m, graphic sex, slash
Summary: Ace trains his replacement during 'Stoke Me a Clipper', but not in the usual way.

Part One: Run with the Dead

"Oh, I'll never be Ace," said Rimmer in defeat, stepping back into Ace's sleeping quarters alongside the other hologram. "We've tried, we've failed. I give up."

"All your life you've given up," muttered Ace. He winced; he hadn't meant it to sound so harsh. His injuries were catching up with him, and the power leakage from his light bee had actually increased during the training session in the AR suite. The session hadn't gone well and Ace, the current one, was becoming worried that he might be the last link in the chain if he didn't do something, and fast. Because soon it was going to be too late.

"Look, maybe after some more training..." Rimmer began hopefully.

He shook his head. There was still a way, he knew that, although it wasn't the usual way a new Ace was born. But with insufficient time to train his replacement, it was the only way he could pass on the legacy. It had been done a few times in the past -- with the sheer number of Arnold Rimmers in the multiverse that had taken on the role of Ace, it would have been strange if it hadn't -- but he wasn't sure if his double would agree to it. And he had to agree; it had to be done willingly. Ace wouldn't have been Ace if he'd even considered doing it with an unwilling participant.

"I can't keep up this dog and pony show any longer. It's now or never," said Ace, knowing now what he had to do. "Arnold?"

Rimmer looked up. "Yes?"

"Arnold I don't have much time left. It's not long enough for me to train you properly, so I'm going to have to do it a little differently than I'd planned. It's not what I'd prefer, I'd rather have you learn and experience these things yourself, during training but there is a much faster way to pass on the benefit of Ace's knowledge, his essence if you will, before it's too late."

"You mean there's an easier way to do it? I don't have to go through all this extended training?" Rimmer exclaimed. "Why didn't you say so in the first place?"

"Because the destination isn't as important as the journey," Ace replied. "But more importantly, because you may not like the idea of how the essence is passed on."

Rimmer looked perplexed. "I don't understand."

"You will, once I'm done."

"I don't care how you do it I really do want to be the next Ace. I didn't want to tell Lister, but I do. So please, do whatever you have to."

"Are you sure, Arnie?" The question was in his eyes as well as his voice.

Rimmer caught the odd look in the gaze of his double, but it only made him more determined to go through with this, no matter the cost. "I'm sure."

"All right. But once we start the transfer, we can't stop. Not until it's done."

Rimmer recognized the hint of warning in the other man's tone, but nodded anyway. "Let's get on with it, then," he said. "What do I have to do?"

Ace smiled. "Kiss me."

Arnold Rimmer's face twisted in disbelief. "*What* did you just say?"

His doppelganger regarded him evenly. "I said, kiss me."

"What the smeg for?" Rimmer sputtered, taking a step away from the injured hologram.

"You said you wanted to do this the easy way and now it may be the only way. I don't have much time left, and I need to make sure your training is complete -- no matter how it's completed."

"What, with a kiss?" he said dubiously.

Ace leaned back casually against the wall. "It starts with a kiss, yes. And then it progresses. To the logical conclusion." He continued to favor Rimmer with that same unyielding, reasonable gaze. "For two holograms, it's a way to share information -- by interfacing and merging our data storage units. That way, you'll have the benefit of my experience, even though you won't have any memories of those experiences yourself."

"Interfacing, you say." He still didn't look convinced, but at the same time he wasn't saying no. "You mean we have to, erm..."

"Do the horizontal mambo? Knock our space boots? Yes."

Rimmer eyed him. "I thought you were strictly butter-side up."

The duplicate smiled winningly at him. "That was the first Ace."

Rimmer thought about it for a few moments. He wanted to be the next Ace, he truly did but was this really the only way to do it?

Then he looked over at the current Ace -- noble, heroic in spite of his injuries and loved by all.

That last part decided him.

"All right," he said, still sounding a little unsure of himself.

"Don't worry, Arnie," said Ace, with a gentle smile. "I'll make sure you enjoy yourself as much as I will. More than I will, in fact. I promise."

Rimmer nodded, not trusting himself to say anything. Ace's reputation as a great lover was well known, and he supposed it made sense if that reputation extended to men as well as women. He was shaking, although he wasn't sure if it was from fear or excitement.

Ace could see the trepidation in the other man's eyes. He understood it completely. "Don't worry," he said again, taking his double by the hand. He moved closer, then kissed him. It was a kiss designed to melt the hardest of hearts.

And it worked.

Part Two: Dare the Ghost

Rimmer practically threw himself into his double's arms, kissing him back for all he was worth.

Ace chuckled a bit at the other man's raw eagerness. He wanted to make this good for him. Better than good, actually.

"Come on then," he whispered, beginning a slow, sensuous exploration of the body that was so like his own. Rimmer's hands soon began their own tentative journey over his duplicate's shoulders and neck. Their lips connected and they kissed again.

Ace parted his lips slightly as the kiss continued. He felt his counterpart do the same, and was soon rewarded with the soft touch of the other man's tongue against his. Without breaking the kiss, he trailed his hands over Rimmer's chest, touching and caressing, and occasionally drifting downward to explore below his waist.

He was pleased to feel the technician beginning to respond to his ministrations. That was as it should be. Each of them had to want it as much as the other.

"Oh god," murmured Rimmer, unable to keep himself from pressing back against Ace, against the growing hardness that mirrored his own. "Oh god!"

They stayed that way for a little longer, kissing, and pressed against each other as their hands roamed freely over each others’ bodies. Ace knew what he was doing, knew how to make Rimmer *want* him to go further; and when he felt he was ready, he began to undo the clasps on the other man's jacket.

Rimmer fumbled with his duplicate's flight suit, obviously trying to get it off without ending the kiss. It didn't quite work, so with a whimper of frustration he pulled back, attacking the zips and buckles in a frantic effort to remove it.

"Steady on, not so fast," said Ace softly. "I want to make this last."

Rimmer nodded briefly, and the other man went back to undoing his jacket. Once that was off, the pilot began to strip. Rimmer found that he couldn't look away; it was slow, tantalizing, and seemed to be designed to drive him insane. He practically ripped off the rest of his own clothing -- everything except his boxers -- all while watching Ace.

Once Ace was down to nearly nothing, he smiled at his double. He liked what he saw, and he could tell Rimmer did too -- his lack of experience was more than made up for by his enthusiasm. Ace reached out to him, resting his hands on the technician's hips, then slipped Rimmer's boxers off.

There was a sharp intake of breath at that, and Rimmer shakily reached for what was left of his double's clothes. The undershirt had covered a makeshift bandage, not there for any medical reason but rather to hide the flashes from the power leakage. He avoided this, and instead removed the other man's black silk boxers.

Rimmer couldn't help but stare in fascination. If Ace was that big, then he must be the same.

Ace drew him back into his arms, kissing him deeply and letting their erections slide against each other. Then he grasped Rimmer firmly and began stroking him. Rimmer gasped, thrusting into his counterpart’s hand as the pilot maneuvered them both down onto the bunk. Once he was on his back, Rimmer reached for Ace, trying to match the movements of his duplicate’s hand. His touch was hesitant at first, but soon became more confident as he found the right rhythm; and with his free arm around Ace's shoulders, he pulled the other man closer and kissed him again.

Ace let his double hold him there for a little while; then he reluctantly left Rimmer’s lips, giving him a quick kiss on the forehead, right over the H. After that he began moving down Rimmer's body, licking and nipping at the skin. It was agonizingly slow -- from the chin down to the chest, then further down to his belly button and stomach. Rimmer was practically whimpering when he finally reached his destination.

In one quick motion, he took Rimmer into his mouth, expertly taking him to the back of his throat. The technician looked like he was beyond coherent thought; there was a look of pure ecstasy on his face as he groaned and twisted the sheets in his hands.

Without missing a beat, Ace reached down to the floor and took a small packet of lubricant from his jacket pocket. He'd found that it paid to always carry it with him -- and condoms as well (not that he had to worry about disease or unwanted pregnancy, but the human versions of Ace did, and it helped to maintain the illusion that they were all the same man). He would only be needing the lube today; there could be no barriers between him and the next Ace during the transfer.

He lubed a finger, then teased around the opening of the other man's body. He was still sucking Rimmer's cock and holding its base with his other hand. Rimmer moaned, wordlessly begging him to go further. Once Ace was sure he was ready, he did.

Rimmer's eyes shot open at the new sensation, then he moaned again when the finger brushed something inside him that sent sparks of pleasure through his entire body. Ace was smiling, or rather trying to smile; his mouth was too full to really manage it. He slipped another finger inside and this time Rimmer cried out in delight. He pressed down against Ace's hand, desperately trying to keep the fingers in contact with whatever it was that was shooting fireworks up and down his spine.

"Are you ready, Arn?" the pilot asked, nuzzling him. His voice was low and husky, like he was holding himself back, waiting until his partner was fully prepared.

"Yes, god yes, do it now, please," he murmured.

"All right, then."

From his spot between Rimmer's legs, Ace slicked his own cock with the lube and withdrew his fingers. He positioned himself, then slowly pushed forward, passing through the virgin-tight ring of muscle into his double.

Rimmer gasped, looking like he was going to cry out again, but no actual sound came out. His eyes were glazed and unfocused, and he was holding onto Ace like he was his sole lifeline to earth. Ace was holding him just as tightly, kissing him and letting his tongue stroke against his partner's. Ace's thrusts were careful, slow, but soon Rimmer was pushing back to meet them, encouraging him to go harder and faster.

Ace could feel his orgasm building, and he could tell Rimmer's was as well. They were fully joined now, body to body, as close as they could physically be. It was time.

Without slowing his pace, the pilot triggered the light bee subroutine that would begin the transfer. Once the program had been activated, he pushed as far into Rimmer as he could, their mouths never breaking contact.

Both holograms flickered, then glowed a bright, bright white. The two men were still locked together, and now new connections were established between them as Ace’s light bee began to transmit through the interface. Digital information streamed from one to the other; each man had a sense of moving closer to one another, then into one another. Merging.

For a brief moment, they were one.

Then their mutual climax hit, and the white glow around them exploded into a blinding sphere of light.


"What's that?" Rimmer asked lazily, some time later. They were wrapped around each other, the two identical men, relaxing in the afterglow of both the sex and the transfer.

"Light bee remote," replied Ace, who'd taken the object from his jacket when he took out the lube. It had been sitting on the nightstand, ignored until it was finally needed. "If you can fool your crewmates into thinking you're me, we'll know you're ready." He regarded his duplicate evenly. "Are you ready, Arn?"

Rimmer considered his answer for a moment. "I think so."

"Then stand up."

Rimmer did so, after disentangling himself from his duplicate's loose embrace.

Ace pressed a few of the device's controls, and suddenly Rimmer was in a flight suit identical to the one his counterpart had on earlier that day. While Rimmer was marveling at that, Ace took off his wig and handed it to him -- lamentably, very few versions of Arnold Rimmer had hair that matched the original Ace's, and neither of them was an exception. The pilot watched Rimmer put it on, noting with some satisfaction that his appearance was now identical to Ace's when he'd come aboard Starbug.

Rimmer felt his forehead in wonder. The H was gone.

"Do you really think I can do this?" Rimmer asked hesitantly.

Ace smiled. "I know you can."

"But I don't feel any different."

"Just trust yourself. Trust your instincts. You'll see." Ace gazed at him warmly, but not without a pang of regret. He'd chosen his replacement and trained him, but he would never see the results of his labors. The afternoon's activities had exhausted him. In his weakened state, he couldn't do much more now than lie back on the bed. He knew he had very little time left; but he also knew that even as his own journey was ending, this man's was just beginning.

Even though they were no longer linked, Rimmer seemed to pick up on what he was feeling. "I will," he said solemnly. "I promise I will. I'll make you proud."

"You already have," said Ace. "You were brave enough to take this on."

"Thank you, Ace."

"No thank *you*, Arnie." //Thank you for accepting the challenge. Thank you for becoming what was always inside you, what you always could have been. Thank you for not making my death meaningless.//

Thank you for all those things he couldn’t say, but that Rimmer already knew.

He smiled again. "Now, get out there and convince your friends you're me Ace."