Disclaimer: The immortal soul of Douglas Adams owns Ford and Arthur, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe owns the spaghetti recipe, and I actually made up the Dougdams so it's mine. And you can probably tell where I got the name from.

Warning: Slash, Ford/ Arthur.

Authors note: Dedicated to Demus, who requested it and gave me the original idea and who is the queen of Ford/ Arthur slash. hugs

Love, the Universe, and Tomato Sauce

Whether something is romantic or not is a highly subjective matter. It depends on personal preference, cultural background, and even upon whom one is with. At the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, a rather bored Dougdams from Ursa Major Alpha pondered this as he wondered why he was having such an unromantic evening. While gazing at his decidedly dull date with one triplet of eyes and picking at his plate of Spiny Bugsblatter Beast Eggs, he observed the couple at the next table over with the other triplet of eyes on the other side of his head. (Dougdams do not refer to 'front' and 'back' because their bodies are exactly the same on both sides).

The couple was quite interesting, even compared to the multitudinous range of odd species to be seen in the room. They were both male humanoids, but that was where the similarity ended. The shorter one, who had strikingly red curly hair and was dressed in brightly coloured not-quite coordinating clothing, exuded the hoopy frood air of a hitchhiker who has been around the galaxy as few times. And sure enough, there was his towel, sticking out of the leather satchel next to his chair. Definitely a hoopy frood. His companion, on the other hand, had black hair, wore a tatty old dressing gown, and had a bleary and bemused expression on his face, which the Dougdams suspected might be permanent. As he watched, a waiter carried a large, steaming plate of what appeared to be worms slathered in red sauce over to the humanoids' table and set it between them. The confused looking humanoid looked at it for a few seconds with his forehead wrinkled in what might be thought, then glanced up to see the frood looking very smug.

Before relating their conversation, it is necessary for the omniscient narrator to explain a few things. Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent—for that indeed who the two humanoids are—are at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe to celebrate their anniversary. Not the anniversary of their meeting, since neither of them could remember exactly when that had been. Suffice to say, they had been friends for years. The anniversary was of their becoming more than just friends, although Arthur's brain shied away from calling Ford either his boyfriend or his lover. The first sounded too juvenile, and the second, too grownup and serious. Ford had explained that it was sufficient to tell people that the hitchhiked together, since those rare hitchhikers who weren't loners were assumed to have a pretty strong reason for staying together, and great sex was the one most people thought of.

Anyway, it was impossible to calculate whether it really was their anniversary, given the complete lack of any consistent system for measuring time as they travelled to different planets light-years apart in a matter of minutes, mucked around in hyperspace, and played marry hell with the space-time continuum. So basically Ford said it was their anniversary whenever he wanted to have a nice meal, get himself and Arthur very drunk, and then head back to the spaceship for some hot sex. Arthur sometimes wondered at the frequency of their anniversaries, but he never objected.

He thought that the Restaurant at the End of the Universe was actually rather an appropriate place for them to celebrate what was in all likelihood not really their anniversary, because their first trip there had lead, in a convoluted train of events, to their getting together in the first place. He and Ford, along with Zaphod Beeblebrox, Trillian, and Marvin the Paranoid Android, had left the restaurant in a borrowed (well, stolen) Disaster Area stunt ship, from which they escaped and ended up on the Golgafrincham Space Arc B, which crashed on a prehistoric planet, which turned out to be Arthur's home, the Earth. It was while stranded here that he and Ford had turned to each other in desperation, and discovered that desperation was actually rather a nice place to be. But anyway, to return to the future, to the end of the universe to be more precise…

Arthur didn't care what Walt Disney said, spaghetti was not a romantic food. He might have been a bit more inclined to listen to Ford, if said alien had not been on his third drink and slurring his speech as he said it. He said as much to Ford, who, as usual, got distracted by the most irrelevant part of Arthur's statement.

"Who's Walt Disney? Someone we knew on Earth?"

Arthur, caught off guard by this unexpected question, stammered,

"No. Well, er, yes actually, in a manner of speaking. I mean, he made films. I watched them when I was little, but since you arrived on Earth when you were, well, I don't know actually, but…"

"I remember!" Ford interrupted loudly. "Those cartoons about unrealistic animals who talked! And the ones where a prince rescued a princess from some horrible fate or other, then married her out of a sense of duty even though he obviously wanted to bang her evil stepmother or whatever it was!"

Arthur looked at him blankly for a moment, before deciding that it would be useless to even attempt replying. Instead, he picked up the eight-pronged fork-like object he had been supplied with, and was about to start eating when Ford stopped him with a yell of,

"No no no no no! You have to do it properly!"

Ford's arm shot out to grab Arthur's fork-like object, but he accidentally knocked over his drink and got distracted picking up the gooey gelatinous globs it had contained. Arthur waited patiently, until Ford had ordered new drinks for both of them and returned his focus—what there was of it—to Arthur.

"What was I saying?"

"How to eat this properly."

"Ah yes. Well, this is an ancient and obscure Betelgeusan custom—"

"It's spaghetti." Arthur felt the need to point out.

"Never mind that. You Earth people had it all wrong anyway. What you do is find one end of it, and I find the other, and we eat it until we meet up in the middle."

Arthur eyed the large plate in astonishment.

"You mean it's all one piece?"

"Of course. It's very bad luck for it to break."

Ford began rooting around carefully with his fork-like object, until with a cry of triumph he produced one end of the spaghetti. Arthur did the same, but without the cry of triumph, and they both started on their respective ends. Arthur was surprised to find that it tasted quite good—that is to say, similar to spaghetti on Earth, hot and a little bit spicy and cheesy. He doubted that sauce was actually made from tomatoes, but knew from previous experience that he was probably better off not knowing what it really was. For a while he was focused on following the stand of spaghetti and consuming it as neatly as possible, but then he looked up at Ford, who had no such compunctions about neatness. Reddish-orange sauce, almost the same colour as his hair, covered his lips and chin; there was even a splotch on his nose.

This is not romantic, Arthur reminded himself. Spaghetti is not erotic. He tried to convince himself that his first impulse was not to lick the sauce off of Ford's face before spreading it all over the rest of him, but he was eventually unsuccessful. He wondered if there was something in the food that was doing strange things to his brain, before deciding, 'What the hell, it's our anniversary isn't it? Well that's what Ford said, anyway…'

Soon there were only a few feet of spaghetti left, and Arthur realised what would happen when they met up in the middle. He ate faster, and was forced to lean forward as the slack disappeared. Ford's mouth was only inches away from his now, and Ford reached out and curled his hand around the back of Arthur's neck, bringing their lips together as the last bit of spaghetti disappeared. Arthur hastily swallowed what he had been chewing, before giving in and kissing the tomato sauce-tasting Ford. Some of the sauce on Ford's face got transferred to Arthur's in the process, and they spent a good few minutes licking it off of each other. Then Ford sat back and grinned contentedly, which made Arthur twitch.

"Enjoy the meal?" He asked the still-breathless Earthman.

"Er, yes, quite."

A sudden storm of applause took them both by surprise.

"Ooh look, the show's starting!" Ford exclaimed, scooting his chair around for a better view. "C'mere Arthur, you didn't get to see it properly last time."

Arthur moved his chair next to Ford's, and the alien wrapped an arm around his shoulders. They sat back and watched as the universe moved inexorably, ineluctably, toward its inevitable end. Suddenly Arthur noticed something.

"Ford," he whispered, "there's a spot of tomato sauce on your chin."

"Really? Where?" Ford asked, wiping ineffectively at his forehead.

"There." Arthur licked the miniscule red glob off the angle of Ford's jaw, nuzzling closer to drop a kiss beneath Ford's ear.

"You have tomato sauce on your face too, you know." Ford said after a moment.

"Oh? I thought I had it all cleaned—"

Ford leaned over to scoop up a fingerful from the plate, then smeared it across Arthur's cheek, ending the trail at the corner of his mouth.

Arthur startled at the warm wetness, but before he could complain, it was followed by the warmer wetness of Ford's mouth, half licking, half nibbling it off. Arthur gasped slightly as Ford's tongue nudged at the corner of his mouth.

"Think I missed a bit," Ford murmured, sliding his tongue into Arthur's mouth.

The Dougdams at the next table shifted uncomfortably in his chair, trying to focus on the stars exploding above his head, and Max Quardlepleen's smooth commentary. His date looked at him oddly, before noticing the two humanoids making out a few feet away.

"Honestly," she sniffed, "Can't even eat a meal in a decent restaurant without having to see what those…those…hitchhikers get up to."

The Dougdams made a noise of what he hoped sounded like sympathetic agreement.

Eventually, Ford disentangled himself from Arthur, and reached for his drink, only to slosh half of it over the edge of the glass as Arthur's hand found his lap.

"Arthur, behave." He ordered sternly. "You can't come this far and not actually watch the end of the Universe."

"Behave? That's rich, coming from you." Arthur groused, but was soon distracted by the spectacle above them.

Later, as they got up to leave, Ford called one of the waiters over, and requested,

"Could we have the rest of the sauce wrapped up to take with us, please?"

Arthur grinned.

The End!

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