disclaimer: HHGTTG is not mine
dedication: For Kirke, who's having a bad time of it. hugs Hope this helps a little, babe.
Warning: This contains
text lifted directly from both radio and books. I do not claim these
extracts as my own work. This is a quickfic.
Context: A pair of gay penguins in a zoo were once so desperate for a chick that they incubated a rock until they were given an egg to foster.
"Ford! You're turning into a penguin! Stop it!"
Ford ignored the human's distraught cry. After all, he'd been having a very unusual day, what with all the pressure of discovering that there was an outer to space, and what's more it was inhabited by green bug-eyed monsters. It was only to be expected that…The Betelgeusian suddenly looked down, feeling a strange fluid, tingling sensation spread like viscous syrup through his body. He stared in horror. His body was short, stocky and seemed to have been coloured in black and white by a very messy child. His taut pale skin had sprouted black feathers, and a long orange beak was now curving from his face. He quacked furiously, impotently. Arthur continued to whimper about his missing limbs.
Then, from the swirling dustbowl of snow and stars above them, came a calm, measured voice. It made the almost, but not entirely unhelpful remark "Two to the power of seventy-five-thousand to one against and falling…"
The incredibly annoyed avian began to squawk angrily, "Hey, who are you? Where are you? What's going on, and is there anyway of stopping it?"
"Please relax. You are perfectly safe," the voice soothed.
"That's not the point!" Ford screeched at the top of his penguin vocal range. "The point is that I am now a perfectly safe penguin and my colleague here is rapidly running out of limbs!" Oh Zarquon , he suddenly thought, what if this is permanent? Returning to his old free life with his best friend wasn't turning out quite the way he'd expected.
"Pleasant mystery voice? Isn't there anything you feel you ought to be telling us?"
A third silence muscled in on the other two, stealing their lunch money and nicking their sweets.
Ford cursed. Now not only was he a penguin on an unknown spaceship somewhere in the unfashionable end of the Universe, he'd also managed to offend a complete stranger's voice and lose Arthur's legs. Perhaps the transition back to being a hitchhiker would take a bit of work. "Arthur?" he called out, tentatively.
"Ford? I've got the most wonderful news. My limbs have come back."
"Admittedly they're longer than I usually like them but, er…"
The Betelgeusian, satisfied that Arthur was alive and in partial control of his faculties, let the human ramble on for a bit and carefully zoned him out. He'd learned to do this on Earth at a particularly boring cocktail party. He'd only gone because the name sounded promising and there was a suggestion of astrophysicists on the invitation he'd stolen from a letterbox. Unfortunately, the astrophysicist party was in the next room and once he'd entered the wrong room, he'd been cornered by rampant human girls who thought he was, quote, 'pretty'. He seemed to recall sleeping with at least one of them. She hadn't been that impressive.
Ford glanced around at their surroundings. Southend, long since melted away, had become a vibrant pink neon desert, with blue cacti and large deer-like creatures happily slaughtering skipping green foxes. He was scrutinising the interesting vegetation when a small rock zoomed past in front of him. He cawed in surprise, and waddled backwards a few steps.
The rock, completely unperturbed, continued to whiz around on the ground, emitting a whirring noise. Ford's eyebrows (what was left of them) furrowed. A motorised rock? Who would want a motorised rock? He waddled forwards a little, bending over to get a proper look. He prodded it with his beak. It stopped moving. He prodded it again. It whirred a little, then fell silent. Ford was aware of Arthur ambling towards him, asking inane questions, but he paid no attention to the human. His penguin body was giving him strange conflicting orders that he couldn't ignore…something about a potential mate standing behind him, an egg for them to share, a nest of their own, a chick…
Eventually, his inner turmoil ceased. He knew what to do. He sat on the rock. His webbed feet wormed their way under it, and he was soon perched quite comfortably over the little mechanical rock. He warbled happily, feeling all was right with the world, and turned his long-absent attention back to Arthur.
The human, who was slowly and unknowingly turning a bizarre shade of maroon to match the trim of his dressing gown, gawped at him. "Ford," he offered, faintly. "You've turned into a penguin and you're…incubating a rock."
"Oh," Arthur nodded and stared off into the middle distance. He seemed to be labouring with an inner dilemma.
Ford poked him with his beak. "What's wrong?"
"Its not something I would previously expected of you. Maybe if we'd just been thrown out of a pub. Why are you incubating a rock?"
"I'm not sure."
"Ah. Right. Good. Erm…" The Englishman stammered uselessly for a bit as Ford regarded him with inquisitive black eyes. "I don't suppose you know where we are? Or why? Or what happened to that voice?"
The Betelgeusian sighed, a difficult task to accomplish with a long curved orange beak. "Does it matter? We have our nest and our egg, what more could you want?"
"I beg your pardon!" Arthur shrieked, his eyes bulging.
"Well, we're probably going to be here for a while, so we might as well not worry until the chick is fully…"
"What do you mean 'chick'? You're sat on a rock!"
Ford frowned. "That's no way to talk about our daughter." He leaned over to whisper to the grey curve protruding from his belly "It's okay, baby. He doesn't mean it."
Arthur was starting to hyperventilate. "Ford!" he pleaded, "What the hell is going on? Why are you talking about chicks? I'm confused. Can you possibly stop being a penguin for a few minutes so my mind can go into melt-down safely?"
Before Ford could reply, the landscape began to shift again. The clashing neon world faded away, twisting into a great whirlpool of improbability, and they heard the pleasant voice saying, "Two to the power of twenty five thousand to one against and falling…"
Ford pulled himself up from his semi-crouch, brushing off his restored stripy jacket. He looked down at his feet. Nothing. He glanced across at Arthur, who had covered his eyes with the towel Ford had given him and was gibbering softly to himself. The Betelgeusian stalked towards him, his mind mulling over the chickmateArthur scenario. There was a reason why he'd thought Arthur was his mate, a reason that might also explain his crushing urge to bring the Earthman with him into space…
He tutted at the tall quivering form in front of him and placed his hands on the human's shoulders, tugging the towel off his head. Frightened grey eyes met his and Ford smiled comfortingly. Arthur relaxed a little. "Before I forget," Ford murmured, "and normality is restored, there's something I have to do so that later I can blame the improbabilities."
"Really? Does it involve nest and rocks?"
"No. Just incubation." With his prey suitable compliant, Ford lunged forwards to press his lips to Arthur's. His left hand slid up to mesh in the human's hair, holding him still, and his right remained where it was, preventing Arthur from moving away. As the voice informed them that they would be restoring normality as soon as they knew what was normal anyway, Ford made sure he made thorough work of kissing his struggling friend.
After all, he reasoned the probability of him turning into a penguin again or either of them remembering this was so small that the probability of incubating a rock looked normal by comparison.