Warning: Contains slash
Pairing: Ford/Arthur
Universe: BBC version (though oh how I wish I had time to read the books)
Words: 1726
Disclaimer: This is my first Hitchhikers fic. Is it really necessary to point out that I am not Douglas Adams? Is that what people really need? (I'm not even English and I don't even look like a Douglas.)


Better


"How's that?"

"Well…"

"Better?"

"I suppose so, but…"

"Anything?"

"It just feels very odd."

"Let me try… there?"

"Ford, I'm sorry, I don't think this is working."

There was a pause, then some shuffling around. Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent lay side by side staring at the ceiling, the latter self-conscious and embarrassed, because he had never done this with a man before and didn't really know how it worked, and the former disappointed and embarrassed, because he had never done this with a human before and didn't really know how it worked.

"I'm sorry," Arthur said again.

"Shh, it's all right," replied Ford, sounding almost dazed. "There's obviously something we're not doing right. I'm reviewing the mechanics of it now."

"We could check the Guide, perhaps?" Arthur suggested meekly.

"I did earlier. All it says is, 'Can be quite enjoyable when done properly.'"

"Well that's useless," Arthur fretted, once again demonstrating his propensity for stating the obvious. "An infinite number of planets with untold numbers of different species in the universe and it can't be bothered to elaborate on what 'done properly' might mean? Not even a single example?"

They had, of course, entered into this endeavor with a certain base amount of knowledge. It involved lubricant and hitting a particular gland the right way. And sometimes had something to do with fingers, but only, as far as Arthur understood, as a preparatory gesture. They hadn't even gotten to the next, more obvious stage yet.

"Perhaps we ought to be more relaxed," Ford said finally.

"That's all you could come up with?" Arthur rolled onto his fide, facing him. "Look, maybe this was a bad idea."

"Bad idea?" echoed Ford, sounding as though the slightest notion of the thought had not even begun to occur to him and, now that it was, he didn't like the sound of it at all.

Arthur babbled on. "We could go back to the other things we've been doing for the past hour or two. Or three. I quite liked the kissing, and the, ah, roaming hands. And, well, the thing is… since neither of us is wearing anything now there could be more of that. Roaming of hands, I mean. In a wider variety of places. Not that I think there has to be more variety! And, ah, kissing. Actually, I prefer kissing on the mouth, no variety really needed there, although I quite liked it when you did that thing with my neck, whatever it was, I'm not sure exactly… Well, anyway, my point is that I've known you for years but it's only tonight that we've only just started doing…" He waved his hands in a vague approximation of things. "And I don't think this—" now the vague gesturing indicated the bottle of lubricant, which bore the largest, friendliest letters Ford had been able to find "—is strictly necessary. To things. To this. To us."

"Unnecessary, of course," echoed Ford. He glanced at Arthur, and then suddenly sat up in bed. "Music! We could play relaxing music in the background."

Arthur blinked. "What's music got to do with it?"

"Things," Ford replied wisely.

"Look, Ford, I don't think…"

Ford reached down and ran his fingers through Arthur's hair. "No, sometimes you really don't," he said seriously. "This is supposed to work. It's supposed to be an entirely enjoyable experience. Not just the act itself, but with you in particular."

A peculiar feeling stirred somewhere in the vicinity of Arthur's stomach. This was actually a fairly common occurrence for him, but because of it's location he had always made the understandable mistake of associating it with indigestion (and even that may have had its origins in some Ford had said once). "Me?" Arthur asked, though he was a little less struck by the statement itself than the response it had prompted in himself.

"Yes, you," Ford answered, as if this was the most obvious thing in the universe. (And, knowing Arthur, it probably was.) "I've spend a lot of time waiting for this, trapped on that backwater little planet of yours and waiting for you to stop being so very English." He shifted, lying on his side and slipping a leg casually over Arthur's hip. "I'm simply not prepared to give that up just because the angle is off."

Arthur's smile was perhaps much dreamier than he realized. "Ford," he said earnestly, "I have the strangest feeling in my stomach."

"Not a bad one, I hope."

"No, not at all. It's actually quite—"

Arthur didn't get a chance to finish the thought, because as soon as Ford was satisfied of the general meaning of the answer he kissed Arthur with just as much earnestness in his actions as Arthur had had in his voice.

After that, several things happened in relatively quick succession.

Firstly, Arthur began to realize just what an astonishingly complete form of communication physical contact was. Ford seemed to be delivering a heartfelt speech about – well, Arthur wasn't sure precisely what yet, and that's where the word "began" reveals itself to be important. This new language, like the lingering feeling of not-indigestion, was difficult to imagine being translated into actual words, but the general idea was also not a bad one. It was something Arthur didn't understand but understood anyway.

Secondly, Ford was trying very hard to be everywhere at once. He ran his hands down Arthur's sides, sliding his thumbs over the slight protrusion of his hip bones, and dragged his nails lightly down the inside of Arthur's thighs. Arthur made a mewling sound and jerked up seeking more contact, just enough for Ford to grope blindly for a towel and slide it under him. It seemed dreadfully important that Arthur didn't question this, so Ford distracted him by nipping and sucking at the soft skin of his neck – something that Ford was discovering made Arthur particularly distractible.

As soon as Arthur's mouth was freed up, he naturally began to talk.

"Oh god, Ford… This is… I never thought that – ahh… I never thought anything at all like this. One day I was drinking my tea and just – oh please do that again! And then you… well, you're Ford. And I think… if you hadn't been there when the Earth was destroyed, I wouldn't have – ooh – minded not being rescued very much. I'd be… I'd be completely lost in this ridiculous universe without you."

Thirdly, sometime during this speech Ford freed one hand to make a flailing grab for the lubricant.

"OH," Arthur said next, opening his eyes very wide.

"Arthur," Ford agreed. He paused, panting, in an attempt to catch his breath, and succeeded like a penguin trying to fly. Then he asked (breathlessly, of course), "Is that all right?"

"Better. Much. Than before," Arthur managed. "Oh god…"

Ford's ego would have preferred "Oh Ford," but at the same time led him to conclude that was close enough. Arthur was his now, arching and moaning and writhing and whining as Ford began to move, and that was the most important thing. Arthur's hands twining through his hair and pulling him into a frantic kiss. Both of them twisting at all manner of awkward angles (except for the one they'd finally gotten right) to make that happen. Loosing track of whose limbs and lips were whose because everything felt as blissfully natural as if they had been born this way, tangled together and only now realizing it.

The Earth did not stop spinning, because they were on a spaceship and the Earth had in fact stop doing anything at all a while ago now. But if it hadn't, and they had been on it, it might well have paused for a moment or two.

Ford let himself lie draped over Arthur for several minutes, content to listen to the human's heartbeat slow from a wild pounding to a relaxed and sated rhythm. Then he stirred and half picked himself up. "Up," he murmured, tapping a finger against Arthur's hips.

"Huh?"

"Up," Ford repeated, tapping again. When Arthur still didn't seem to get it he glanced pointedly down at his own stomach, which was… sticky.

"Oh." Arthur obediently moved enough for Ford to extract (Arthur's) towel.

"Did you mean all that stuff you said?" Ford asked as he wiped up. "You know, during?"

Arthur blushed. "I, uh, I think so. That is, I probably did. I wasn't… Well, I was in such a state that I don't actually remember what I was saying anymore."

Ford deposited the towel on the floor and crawled back up the bed to lie down properly. "Poor Earthman," he teased, but the light tone wasn't quite enough to hide a faint disappointment. "All that effort spent talking must have shorted out your memory a bit." His fingers brushed lightly over the side of Arthur's face and began playing with stray ends of hair.

Quite unexpectedly, Arthur snagged Ford's hand in his and brought it to his mouth, kissing the Betelgeusian's palm gently. "That's probably right," he said. "But I wish I could remember, because the thing of it is, Ford, I think I love you rather a lot. And I probably had some terribly poetic way of putting it, too, when I wasn't trying too hard to find the best way of wording it. And I couldn't tell you when I started feeling this way, either, or what exactly my stomach has to do with anything, but at some point it must have been a natural next step because I can't imagine not feeling this way."

Sometime during this speech (which was more eloquent than Arthur was prepared to give himself credit for) Ford's already bright blue eyes lit up and he began to grin wildly in a way that would have terrified a great many people. Arthur, however, was starting to get used to it.

"I've been waiting forever to hear you say that," said Ford, sounding like the giddiest being in the universe. He wiggled closer and curled to fit against Arthur's side, his face pressed against Arthur's neck and his fingertips ghosting languidly over the lips of his longtime-friend-turned-lover. "I love you too, in case you were wondering."

And that's how they drifted off to sleep, warm and content in the knowledge that life seemed a little better than it ever had before.