A/N: Most of this was written at four in the morning, so I can't be held entirely responsible for anything that happens. Its been sitting almost-written for a while now and is very pleased to be finished regardless of what condition its in.
This takes place… eh, whenever. Arthur is relatively young, Ford probably appears the same age he usually does.
Disclaimer: Huzzah, Douglas Adams. Huzzah.
When Arthur Met Ford
It was not a very good party. That is, the party itself was going splendidly well- good music was blaring, masses of guests were dancing, and the rest were generally having a good time by standing around talking, getting drunk, or doing both at the same time. Arthur Dent was getting drunk, and did not think it was a very good party. This was probably because he was lonely.
He'd been dragged along by an old friend from high school who insisted it would be a "wonderful time" and would give the two a chance to "catch up." However, just as the thought, Wow, this looks like a good party, passed through Arthur's head, he found that his friend had been "lost in the crowd." He figured searching for something that didn't want to be found anyway was rather pointless, and having nothing better to do turned to the rather large and colorful array of drinks this party had to offer.
After an hour and a half he took to hiding in the kitchen. He slouched at the counter, hunching over his tall three-quarters-empty glass with vague and scattered thoughts running through his head about re-filling it soon. Every once and a while some one would enter, glance at him briefly, get whatever it was they needed, and leave again without so much as a "Hello" or "You're really pissed." Such is my life, Arthur thought.
Arthur Dent wasn't one to become bitter, especially over something like having an unexceptional life. As a matter of fact he took pride in being completely boring. A few years out of college and he had just recently moved out of his small apartment into his new home- a relatively dull house, but perfect for him and within walking distance from the local pub. He had a particularly unexciting job, and he never took on a personal project more worrying than the morning crossword.
However, it was at times like these- when he was alone in a house full of strange people he had no desire to socialize with and sitting in the kitchen working on what would turn out to be a very interesting and no doubt excruciating hangover the next day- that he felt that there really ought to be something more to life.
The something more happened to walk into the kitchen at that moment and without so much as a glance at Arthur began pillaging the cabinets and drawers.
Arthur watched somewhat bemusedly as the man methodically went around the entire kitchen, pulling open anything that could be pulled open and tossing its contents erratically over his shoulder. Several times Arthur found himself ducking just in time before getting hit in the head with a jar of peanut butter or a box of crisps. For some reason the site of this strange man so randomly destroying the before-organized kitchen cheered him.
"What are you looking for?" he asked finally, when the man had just about run out of things to search through. He was disappointed to find that his speech was considerably less slurred than he'd expected it to be. Hopefully another drink would resolve this problem.
The man spun around from the shelf he'd been inspecting and stared at Arthur with surprised (and slightly crossed) eyes. He was on the whole unremarkable looking, but even in his current condition Arthur couldn't shake the feeling that there was something not quite right about him.
"Something to drink," the man replied after observing Arthur suspiciously for several seconds. He took a few unsteady steps towards Arthur and looked hopefully towards his glass.
"They've got plenty of stuff out there," Arthur said, suddenly feeling that he should be protecting his own drink more carefully. He gestured vaguely towards the darkened hall where sounds of people having a good time could be heard coming from all over the house.
The man shook his head, found himself rather dizzy from doing so, took a few moments to steady himself, and decided to make his point verbally this time to be safe. "No," he said, "They won't let me have any more. Said they might run out before the party ended." He said the last bit scoffingly, as if it was no concern of his whether they had enough drinks or not.
Arthur's jaw dropped. "How much have you had?" He thought he'd been doing quite well and no one had even looked at him strangely yet.
The man shrugged, "Dunno. Not nearly enough." He scanned around the now damaged kitchen in case he'd missed anything.
"You don't look like you're having a very good time," he said suddenly as if noticing Arthur for the first time. Arthur downed the last of his drink and frowned.
"Oh sure I am," he muttered unhappily.
"Oh," said the man, "Never mind." He started to leave the kitchen.
Arthur cried, "Wait!" For some reason he felt that if the man left he would only sink deeper into his current depression. "I was being sarcastic," he explained.
The man frowned. "Oh," he said, "Were you?" Arthur wondered vaguely whether or not he was being serious.
"Well," the man continued, "I've been thinking of leaving since I'm not having a very good time either. Especially now that there's nothing to drink. Want to come with me?"
"Yeah, okay," Arthur said, finding himself standing before he even realized what was happening. He followed clumsily after the man, and took a moment to survey the scene of happy people having a very good time. The pounding music was beginning to ring in his ears. It would be good to get out of there.
"Come on," the man said, suddenly appearing in front of him. Arthur shrugged to himself and followed.
"My name's Arthur Dent!" he called over the noise as they crossed the busiest room in the house.
"I said my name's Arthur Dent!" he said again.
"I'm Ford Prefect!" Ford Prefect called back.
"What?" Arthur asked, and not because he couldn't hear. Ford didn't reply.
For the most part Arthur was in a daze as he followed this strange man, Ford Prefect, throughout the house. He seemed to know where he was going at least, so he didn't worry much. Oddly enough, he passed right by the front door and headed for the stairs. Arthur had made a point to avoid the stairs all evening. Seeing everyone having a good time made him unhappy, and he figured everyone upstairs would be having a particularly good time.
Ford led him steadily, staggering and tripping over his own feet only once or twice. He led him up the stairs and around a corner, down a hall past several closed bedroom doors, and to the very end, where he looked up expectantly.
Above them was a rectangle frame with a cord hanging down- presumably the entrance to the attic. Ford reached up and pulled the cord, stepping out of the way and allowing a ladder to descend before them.
"How did you know that would be there?" Arthur asked curiously.
Ford shrugged, "I was up here before."
"Ah," sighed Arthur, and without a second thought followed Ford as he climbed the ladder.
The attic was empty save for a few old and no-doubt forgotten boxes here and there. It was also quite dark, resulting in Arthur tripping over one of these boxes. Ford was already on the other side, fiddling with the window latch.
Up to this point, Arthur had followed Ford simply because he had nothing to lose and also because he was very drunk. He had expected that "leaving the party" meant actually leaving the party- through the front door, or perhaps the back door, or maybe a window if necessary. This was certainly not a way out.
"That window leads to the roof," Arthur Dent said once he realized what Ford was doing. The other man turned back to look at him oddly before stepping out onto the narrow ledge under the window and disappearing. Arthur shrugged to himself and followed.
"It's funny," he said as he stumbled along the precarious passage, "I'm so drunk I'm forgetting that I should be very very frightened right now."
Ford made a noncommittal noise. Only when they had reached the portion of the roof that was least likely to hand them over to gravity did they stop to sit down. Arthur realized that Ford was clutching a very large bottle and squinting to inspect the label.
"Where did you get that?" he wondered.
"There was a small cabinet next to the kitchen," said Ford, "it was locked so I figured there was something worth having inside." He raised the bottle in a small salute to Arthur before taking a long swig. He scrunched up his eyes and sighed. "I was right." He held it out to Arthur, who took it readily.
"You think this is something, Earthman? Someday I'll give you a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. The greatest drink ever. It ate hole right through my shoe once…"
"What was it doing in your shoe?"
"Eh… it was my semi-cousin's bachelor party."
Arthur nodded that he understood and asked, "When did he get married?"
"Oh, he's not married. Every once and a while he likes to throw a party to celebrate that he's still a bachelor. Really he just likes parties."
For a while the two sat in silence, passing the bottle back and forth. After several minutes of wondering why he couldn't get any more to come out, Ford realized it was empty and tossed it aside. It landed with a thunk and proceeded to roll down the slanted part of the roof and eventually tumble to the ground where it landed with a slightly less audible thunk.
With a sigh he glanced at Arthur, who was now lying on his back and humming cheerfully to himself between hiccups, the digital watch on Arthur's wrist, then at the sky.
"I guess I'll be heading off soon…" he said unhappily.
"What?" Arthur cried sharply, sitting up suddenly, falling back again, and sitting up once more. "But I've actually been having a good time with you! Why do you have to leave?" His speech was now quite slurred, thanks to the bottle Ford had so cleverly found, but he was agitated and therefore didn't think to enjoy it.
"My ride will be here soon…" Ford replied. He inched his way to the edge of the roof. Arthur watched in amazement as he promptly rolled off.
"Ford?" he called hesitantly to the ground after carefully making his way to where the other man had just been. "Are you all right?"
"I think so," he replied after a while. It was a little hard to hear considering he was sprawled flat on his face. "Arthur?"
"Can you tell me where my legs have got to?"
"They're still attached."
"Okay, good," Ford said, sitting up awkwardly after several failed attempts at doing so. "Are you coming down or what?"
"I think," said Arthur, "I'll go the traditional way."
"Hurry up then," Ford said, and glanced up at the sky nervously.
Getting back downstairs was very confusing for Arthur. The music inside was still quite loud, and it was difficult to see considering the whole house was fairly dark. The undwindling amount of party guests made it no easier for him to find his way. It was a good fifteen minutes before his stumbled out the front door and immediately tripped on the front steps.
"Arthur," he heard Ford slur. He looked up and blinked. How peculiar. He could have sworn there hadn't been a spacecraft on the front lawn a few minutes ago; for that's surely what it was. Ford appeared to be having difficulty standing and was being supported by a tall, vaguely greenish, elder gentleman in a silver tuxedo.
"This is my ride," he continued, grinning. Arthur, still on the ground, was quite unsure what to say. The greenish gentleman began to lead Ford slowly towards the ship. "It's been real hoopy, Earthman. We'll have to do it again sometime. I'll come back in a few years, bring you that Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. I really liked those shoes too, it's a shame…"
The hatchway door closed, and the ship silently rose into the air and into the night, leaving an astonished and eventually unconscious Arthur Dent in it's wake.
Of course, neither of them remembered any of it in the morning.