Hitchhiker's Guide: Ford/Arthur slash
Betas: daegaer (who is responsible for the best line in here) and carmarthen - all mistakes, however, are mine.
With thanks: To my wonderful betas; to merka, who laughed in all the right places; to the anonymous livejournal fairy who gave me six months of paid time.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Douglas Adams gave these characters life - I'm just a hack who likes to play with them.
Warnings: Aliens make Ford and Arthur have sex. (See warnings policy)
Archive: Please ask.
Summary: Aliens make Ford and Arthur have sex.
That wholly remarkable book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has this to say on the subject of the H'Lians: "The inhabitants of the planet H'Lss are a gentle, peace-loving species whose diplomatic skills are famed throughout the eastern spiral arm of the Galaxy for finding inventive and, above all, peaceful solutions to interplanetary feuds. Indeed, the only thing they love more than peace is a quiet night in with their extended family and a harmonica. Problems arose when vibrations from passing spaces ships began to disturb the subtle acoustics that go towards making a really good quiet night in, thus forcing the H'Lians to choose between their twin loves of peace and a nice sing song. This explains the race's possession of very big, very lethal and very, very quiet battle ships with which they protect their extended families' ability to enjoy another round of 'My Cousin's Cousin's Cousin's Granddaughter Has Fleas', a well-known and loved H'Lian folk song.
"Further problems arose when the H'Lian definition of 'passing spaceship' was expanded to include any moving object within 2 x 10^12 km of the planet H'Lss."
"Oh... Photon," Ford said, with what he regarded as considerable restraint under the circumstances. Indeed, the circumstances were such that any reasonable person - if you could find one nearby who was neither gibbering in fear nor shouting "We're all going to die!" - would agree that uttering a mere expletive showed considerable restraint. Unfortunately, under these circumstances, the criteria for reasonableness included a degree of gibbering in fear and/or shouting "We're all going to die!" so Ford's supposition must remain unconfirmed.
"We're all going to die!" gibbered Arthur, not unreasonably.
"I shouldn't let it bother you," Ford said vaguely.
"What? We're going to die and you wouldn't let it bother me?" Arthur's voice rose a full octave over the course of the sentence, a feat Ford, who'd never really got the hang of Earth music, failed to appreciate.
"Well, it could be worse," he said, even more vaguely.
"It could be worse?"
"They," he said, waving a hand in the general direction of the fleet of H'Lian battle cruisers circling their ship menacingly, "could torture us first." He paused. "Before killing us, that is."
Arthur considered this response for a moment, giving Ford time to execute a daring defensive maneuver that broke two laws of physics, three associated laws of mathematics and several intergalactic treaties. It had no effect, however, on the H'Lian battle cruisers. "I don't suppose," Arthur said, resigned despondency dripping from every syllable, "they'll have any tea on them?"
Ford, determinedly ignoring him, squinted at the display screens. "H'Lians?" he muttered to himself. Then he began to grin.
The editors of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in their infinite wisdom, made certain subtle and wholly inconsequential cuts to the submitted entry on H'Lss, on the grounds that if their readers were interested in that aspect of space travel, they could look under the not insubstantial section of the Guide devoted entirely to that subject. Possibly the most important cut section, at least as far as Ford and Arthur are currently concerned, ran as follows:
"The pilots of H'Lian battle ships, deprived as they are of harmonicas and the company of their extended family for long periods of time, develop certain quirks. An active sex life, previously unknown to this asexually reproducing race, is one. A desire to share this new discovery with others is another. The longer the pilots have spent away from their home planet, the more like they are to become evangelical in their love of sex, to the extent that they believe their potential victims would surely keep the noise down if only they had a really good shag, first.
"When offered a choice between sex and death, the wise hitchhiker is advised to choose the former."
Arthur was taking the bold and decisive action of turning green. This was not, as it would have been were he a H'Lian, an expression of his immense pleasure at having had a particularly quiet evening. Instead, it was because he was feeling ill.
"What?" he asked eruditely.
"Condoms. Did you bring any?"
Arthur managed not to say something sarcastic, as it would almost certainly set the conversation back by five minutes they didn't have. "No."
"I shouldn't worry. I probably can't get you pregnant," Ford lied. His customary unnerving grin, which he had been wearing since he'd identified the battle fleet as H'Lian, remained firmly in place.
"Ford," said Arthur through resolutely gritted teeth. "What. Is. Going. On?"
"Here," Ford thrust the Guide into his hands, "read this entry on the H'Lians. That should explain it."
Arthur did so. Enlightenment failed to dawn and he told Ford as much. Ford, who had by this time abandoned all hope of outmaneuvering the H'Lians, muttered something about incapable simians that he declined to repeat and scanned through the entry in question.
"What?" asked Arthur, not for the last time.
"They edited - Oh, never mind. The H'Lians will probably let us live."
"Oh. Good." Arthur paused for a second of blissful relief before he acknowledged the suspicion lurking in the back of his mind. He took another second to recover from the enormity of the suspicion and a third to steel himself before voicing it. "What does this have to do with condoms?"
"They'll want to watch us having sex."
'What,' Arthur decided, was a good word. Short; to the point; capable of displaying a degree of urgency lacking in queries such as 'could you possibly be so kind as to elaborate on your previous statement?' He used it again. "What?"
"Look at it this way," said Ford, who had blinked twice since he'd identified the battle fleet, "you can't repress being dead."
Arthur's mouth opened and shut a few times of its own accord before he could force any words out. "But why us?"
"Who? Zaphod and Trillian are long gone, and do you really want to stick anything in Marvin you might not get out again?"
"No!" For a moment, the sheer horror of the suggestion overwhelmed both men. Arthur recovered first. "I mean, why any of us?"
With a long-suffering sigh, Ford explained.
The field researcher who submitted the original draft of the Guide's definitive entry on the H'Lians - one Ford Prefect, who at this point in the narrative was quite looking forward to the next half hour - omitted one important detail about the race in question on the utterly correct grounds that it would be edited out any way. That was this: they treat sex as a spectator sport.
After a while, Arthur found himself getting into the, as it were, swing of things. Ford's third and fourth nipples couldn't have been more strategically placed if evolution had gone looking for ideas in a number of very specialist magazines.
There had been some difficulty in deciding which of them would do what. Arthur had claimed terminal heterosexuality as grounds for being, as he put it on his third attempt to articulate his intentions, "the man" while Ford said he clearly shouldn't top if he didn't know what he was doing. Oh, Arthur had inquired, so you know what you're doing? which had led to a very heated debate that got considerably more heated when Ford turned to the audience of now impatient L'Hians and explained that this was foreplay. On reflection, it was unlikely that much, if any, of the increasingly hysterical handwaving he had used to illustrate his distress at the imminent loss of his masculinity had helped Arthur's cause.
It was at about that time Ford had kissed him. Ford kissed like he did everything: with a determined, enthusiastic and infuriating intensity that left Arthur aching to- Well, normally aching to hit him, but under these conditions he was prepared to adapt. He had kissed Ford back.
It is a testament to Arthur's bloody-mindedness that after a particularly stunning practical application of Ford's tongue - unbeknownst to the recipient, the oral equivalent of Ford's earlier daring defensive maneuver - he was still capable of coherent thought. It is a testament to his Englishness that this thought was 'I wish I'd remembered to - OH! GOD! - remove that bloody fish.'
Aside from the infinitive splitting exclamation, he was wishing this because the Babel fish in his aural tract was translating the appreciative murmurs of the audience into cries of "Oh, that's novel!" "I didn't know that was legal!" and, as he bit down on Ford's collarbone, his nails digging into the man's back leaving vivid red welts and Ford finally sinking into him, "Doesn't that hurt?"
He didn't, however, mind listening to Ford's rhythmic, breathless chant of "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes..." which rose and fell in pitch and volume as their hips swayed to a complex and inaudible beat. Here, we see a drawback of the linguistic homogeny brought about the Babel fish. Ford was actually saying "yes" in each of the 493 languages he'd learnt over his years working for the Guide. He hadn't realised he was doing so.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has very little to say on the fine line between pleasure and pain, as curiously enough any Guide researcher given the brief tends to come back either missing several limbs or not at all. The current dedicated Guide employee working on the entry in question was last seen ten years ago somewhere in the Plural regions clutching his curiously stained towel in his one remaining tentacle and trying to hitch a lift to Eroticon 8.
If he ever files his report, it would give the interested (and green) L'Hian mentioned three paragraphs ago the answer of "Yes, but in a good way."
Ford watched Arthur sleep. After the long, deep post-coital kiss they had exchanged, he hadn't looked at Ford once. He had gone off to sort out the H'Lian's paperwork, mainly consisting of signing documents promising to keep the noise down in future, and when he came back Arthur was asleep.
He was still sleeping now, snoring resolutely but arhythmically, probably too embarrassed to wake up. Idly, Ford wondered what would happen when he did wake up. Declarations of eternal love were as unlikely as ever, which was a pity but hardly, if you'll pardon the expression, the end of the world. A smile and the suggestion that they do that again, this time without (or with, if Arthur was so inclined) the audience seemed even more unlikely. No, Ford was definitely in for either a weak smile and an enquiry about tea or a weak frown and an enquiry about tea, with the odds favouring the frown. Zarking Arthur Zarking Dent and his zarking- But before he could finish the thought, Arthur woke up.
"Is there," Arthur enquired tentatively, "any such race as the Huh Lyans?"
Ford's hearts sank. So that was how they were going to play this. "Shouldn't think so," he said, unnerving grin and unblinking eyes implacable.
Ford knew it was hope rather than empirical observation that made Arthur's expression look to him to be almost disappointed, but still he asked, "Why?"
After a silence as uncomfortable as any engineered by Marvin, Arthur spoke. "Did any tea appear on this space ship while I was asleep?"
"Certain primitive life forms," says The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or at least it will say so when Ford Prefect gets round to filling his latest report, "attach extremely silly and counterproductive social and cultural mores to the simple, natural and often quite pleasant activity of sex.
"If you ever get the urge to become emotionally attached to a member of any of these races, don't. Instead, why not orbit H'Lss making loud noises and insulting the inhabitants' grandmothers? When the H'Lians take you apart molecule by molecule, starting with your reproductive organs and working up your pain threshold from there, you will still be having a far better time.
"If you absolutely must have sex with one, emotional attachment or not, make sure not to do it on a spaceship of which you are the only two inhabitants, thanks to an accident with an improbability drive and a depressed robot which somehow lost your semicousin, his girlfriend, but sadly not the robot. The avoidance alone is like Xarquardian water torture. Combine that with the occasional sideways glance when the bastard thinks you're not looking and the ridiculous - not to mention paranoid and baseless - belief that every casual remark you make is somehow an attempt to get into his grotty and quite frankly unappealing underwear, and you'll wish you'd kept your orifices to yourself, H'Lian ultimatum or no H'Lian ultimatum."
As well as the sidelong glances, avoidance and general jitteriness Arthur was displaying, he'd been thinking. Ford wouldn't know this for quite a while yet.
Unfortunately for Marvin, he would.
"It's not that I don't think he thinks I don't want to think about it," Arthur paused, unnecessarily, to give the robot a chance to keep up, "but I don't think he thinks I think he doesn't want to think about it. And even if he did and I do, he's a man."
"Yes, and you're a monkey, but you don't find us making personal remarks."
Arthur, as yet too caught up in his own worries to be offended, reflected that that's funny, that's what Ford said, too.
"So," intoned Marvin, "you think you've got it bad. At least you have reproductive organs."
Showing as much regard for Marvin's problems as the robot did for his, Arthur soldiered on. "But if he doesn't think I think - or at least, I think I think - of him like that, and he doesn't think of me like that, why did he rescue me?"
"I don't know," the robot remarked, "and I'm more intelligent than you can even begin to compute, so don't even try."
"Thanks. You're being a great help."
Marvin didn't care. "You seemed perfectly happy when you were having sex. Not that I have any first hand experience of happiness. Or sex. But there you go, brain the size of a planet and what am I doing? Using 0.000001% of it to give you the best advice you'll ever get, which you'll only ignore anyway, that's what."
Arthur hadn't noticed any advice coming from Marvin, and said so.
"I can't find the logic in your argument against having more sex with him, therefore there is none. Then again, why bother? You'll only die. Your concerns have no intellectual merit, hold no interest to me and-" Marvin didn't bother to raise his voice to Arthur's rapidly retreating back, "- imply that you are socially stunted." He paused. "I'm not getting you down, am I?"
Arthur approached Ford in his sleeping quarters. "I'm sorry," he said, although he wasn't entirely sure he meant it.
"That's a good start," said Ford, who was absolutely sure he meant it. "For your behaviour recently or just for your existence in general?"
"No." Arthur took a deep breath he didn't need. "For this." With that, he stepped forward and kissed him.
Ford was not too surprised to kiss him back.
It turned out Arthur could find a use for that extra lungful of oxygen after all.
Any and all feedback gratefully received.
Sequel can be found here.
Commentary can be found here.