Hey guys! Brand new Hitchhiker fan here... and obviously, I'm in much need of help. I know this isn't a huge fandom so, you know. I don't expect much but I'm definitely excited. Any suggestions or support or links to bigger communities for HGTHG are all greatly appreciated. So here we go...
Arthur never had been able to get the hang of Thursdays. It was difficult to explain, but whenever strange things happened (well, up until Ford miraculously whisked him up and away into the universe, because since then nothing BUT strange things had been happening to him) they usually seemed to strike on Thursdays, and Arthur had always had a sense of impending unbalance on those days. His psychiatrist, during the short phase when he had deigned to have one, told him that this was because his internal clock was messed up, and he had better just get the bloody fuck over it.
Needless to say, Arthur had fired that psychiatrist shortly after that incident.
If time on the spaceship Heart of Gold had any relation to time on the former Earth (which, by the way, it did not) – and if time existed in the universe anyway – Arthur would have been slightly unsurprised to discover that, by some improbable coincidence, it would indeed be a Thursday… again, if such a thing existed, which it did not.
So this would be the reason why Arthur felt awkward that particular day, as though something carnivorous was watching him from just outside his peripheral vision. At the time, however, Arthur had quite forgotten Thursdays, and was for the most part blaming it on some bad almost-completely-not-tea, some motion sickness, and a bad night's sleep. The other inhabitants on the Heart of Gold noticed Arthur's sour mood, but no one offered to help him out. Marvin felt a little more depressed than ever now that he had some competition.
Ford was going about his usual day, molesting the ship and anybody that bothered to make eye contact with him, scribbling meaningless passages in his outline for the Guide, and of course drinking – when he came upon Arthur, who was lying dazed on the floor in some random hallway that had popped into existence some two hours ago. Ford was used to strange things, but this struck him as so bizarre he had to give pause.
"What's this, Arthur?" he asked curiously, scratching his chin.
Arthur gurgled in response.
Ford looked about and, discovering that there was a serious lack of anything better to do, plopped down beside Arthur and peered into his face.
Arthur fixed his gaze on Ford and offered him the tiniest of smiles. He had a little freckle just above his right eyebrow, Ford noticed pointlessly. "Hullo, Ford."
"What are you up to?"
"Not up to anything, obviously."
"Yes, quite obviously." Ford gave his friend a serious once-over. "But you're never really up to anything, and I've never seen you do this."
"Ford, I think I'm a bit ill."
"Eurgh," Ford said with as much sympathy as he could muster, which wasn't much. He was a bit too drunk for that.
"Yeah." Arthur lolled his head a bit. "Have you seen Zaphod anywhere about?"
"Only everywhere. He's a pretty omnipresent frood. I think he's trying to take us to a party planet."
"I do loathe all of these detours. What's the point?"
"I haven't the foggiest." Ford thought for a minute. "So, what?"
"Are you bored?"
Arthur shrugged, wrinkling up his nose. "I suppose."
"I can think of three things you could do, but I'm aware that you rather dislike two of them."
"What's the third idea?" Arthur asked, ignoring the last comment. He wouldn't fall for that trick again… at least, not presently. He was too tired for it and the whole thing would just end up disastrous.
"You could check up on the Guide for me."
"Up on what?"
"I don't know, but you're much more useful when you know what's going on."
Arthur studied Ford's face closely, pursing his lips. "That was a left-handed comment there, I think."
"I don't much think that comments have hands, though I could check up on that if you like. Here, take the Guide. Don't you have someplace more comfortable to rest?" Ford had a manner of very cool, very masculine concern – fussing was never really his business. He helped Arthur to his feet, ignoring the rather inappropriate touch that occurred completely by accident and which Arthur completely failed to notice, and steered his friend to the nearest seat.
"Thanks," Arthur said, still sounding a bit ill. "Sort of feels like a Thursday, doesn't it?"
Ford gave him a very strange look before shrugging casually, deciding not to take anything Arthur said seriously. "I'll be back later, maybe, if I feel like it," he said, "to make sure you haven't died."
"Thoughtful of you," Arthur sniped.
"Of course. No problem." Ford grinned him, quite taking it as a compliment, and strode off to haggle some more liquor off of Zaphod, who had decided to monopolize all onboard beverages until they landed.
Arthur idled for a while before he began listlessly browsing through the Guide, which chattered to him about an infinite amount of pointless things for him to know about. Arthur closed his eyes and twirled his finger before putting it down randomly on the screen. Quite improbably, he had selected the People section, which fanned out at a startling speed.
Such strokes of imagination were rare for Arthur, who overall quite preferred being safe and predictable, but at that exact moment, as he watched thousands upon millions of files being loaded, he felt the beginning whispers of an idea. It was a very mundane idea, and at the time in this young idea's life it really had no inkling of what was to become of it (it rather wanted to go to college and perhaps settle down with a lovely idea-wife) – and, in all probability, it would have no lasting effects on Arthur's remaining life. But the Universe had a way with bending rules – if there are such things as rules in the Universe.
Presently, Arthur could feel the idea living inside of him, tickling at the corners of his brain. He let the impulse carry him, and he curiously chose to search for a specific name.
First, Ford Prefect.
Apparently, there were three Ford Prefects to choose from. One was from a distant planet, an alien with a single eye and a fetish for jump-roping and who was, to be precise, not the Ford Prefect Arthur was looking for.
The second Ford Prefect was from an alternate dimension and, while this Ford did have all the attributes of Arthur's Ford, there was one small but very significant difference: this Ford was female.
The last Ford Prefect was finally the correct one. The entry was very short, but it still filled Arthur with a sense of vague satisfaction (which confused his idea greatly). The entry read: A very hoopy frood, Ford Prefect is a writer for The Guide and semicousin to the former President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox. Has probably sassed half the universe – or at least a good two-fourths of it. When encountering this Ford Prefect, it is customary, wise, and altogether hip to offer him a drink or several, and probably some great sums of money if possible.
For the first time that day, Arthur found himself genuinely smiling, greatly amused. Of course Ford must have written this – he had a way of being totally full of himself at all times, which, on an unrelated note, Arthur absolutely adored.
Arthur idled a little while, studying the picture of Ford that had popped up. It wasn't recent, and, if Ford had aged as humans do (which he didn't), the picture would have been taken about fifteen years ago (which it wasn't). Ford's eyes were a bit wider, his features a bit softer. Though he looked less suspicious of everything, there was still that very conceited, ready-for-action appearance about him. The picture had actually been taken close to thirty years ago which, by coincidence, was around the time Arthur was born. Ford was approximately forty years old – it was difficult to tell, with those beings from the vicinity of Betelgeuse – which was about nineteen by human standards.
In the picture, Ford's hair was lighter, almost golden. His skin was darker, too.
Arthur frowned and flipped through a few more pages about various other people before curiosity struck and he called for Trillian's page. There was nothing on it. The Guide, being rather snide, only stated: This person is clearly not important enough to merit any sort of comment whatsoever except for this one stating how totally insignificant said person is.
Arthur bit his lip. If Trillian, girlfriend and accomplice to the ex-President of the Galaxy, couldn't get a page in the Guide, the chances were almost none that he would have one, himself. But then he spotted a button in the corner. This was Ford's personal Guide, Arthur realized – the one he dragged about with him and annotated constantly. The idea that had spontaneously been born in Arthur's brain squirmed with delight, as it had begun to have a purpose.
Arthur searched for recent data, and it seemed that Ford had written something about Trillian after all, albeit it was very brief and full of absent-minded corrections. It said:
There is high probability that Trillian is the last surviving Earth woman ever after the destruction of her planet. She is very full of herself and also empathetic as females of her species tend to be. Her hobbies include being smarter than everyone else and generally getting in the way. Occasionally tries to act like your mother – which is way not hip. Whenever coming across Trillian, it is best to pretend you like her because she'll most likely die within the next seventy years. If you happen to be carrying alcohol, hide it immediately in her presence.
She is the only known Human Being surviving except for a male of her species, Arthur Dent.
Arthur was curious now. He glanced up to be sure he wasn't being watched – which he was. Marvin was shuffling down the hall towards him, lopsided slightly as though his unbearable agony was weighing him down. His red eyes fixed on Arthur and seemed to flash.
"Hello, Marvin," Arthur said, covering the top of the Guide unconsciously.
"Oh, so you've noticed my presence, how bloody sweet of you," Marvin complained. He paused for a long twenty seconds before he added without much conviction, "Ford would be angry with you reading his notes, you know."
"Yeah," said Arthur dully. "What are you doing here, anyway, Marvin?"
"Ford sent me looking for you," Marvin said in a tone so pained that Arthur pursed his lips. He went rambling on for a little while about how unfortunate it was that he was forced to go around looking for people when he was so intelligent, and that Ford would probably be glad to know that everybody was still alive, and Marvin had never felt glad in his life, and Ford had perfectly capable legs and could have easily run his own errand, that lazy…
Arthur's eyes glazed over slightly after a while. He waited until Marvin was finished and out of sight before he returned to his reading. He was feeling much more alert now, but still very odd, like something wasn't quite right, like he was going to throw up. It was something akin to space-sickness, minus the zero-gee and the stretching of his molecules. He took a deep breath to steady the faint waves of nausea within him, and then he deliberately searched for his own name, something no one ever ought to do. The Guide itself seemed to hesitate before it gave him the page.
Arthur Dent, it read, and Arthur had to stop to close his eyes and most definitely not-panic. Once he had composed himself, he read again.
Arthur Dent is an ape-descendant from the planet Earth and so far the only known male human left in the known Universe. He is overall a dull individual who can never seem to remember his towel, and has an unnatural affection for his dressing gown. He is only an occasional drinker and rather likes to give hugs, if he thinks it's acceptable. Rudeness and danger are his least favorite things, and when approaching Arthur it is best to keep in mind that you had better remain non-threatening, and never panic. It is unclear whether or not he will buy you alcohol if you ask, but it's always a good idea to ask anyway. His only relevance to your everyday life is that he is friends with Ford Prefect – who is a very cool frood and may be visiting you sometime, if you are incredibly lucky.
The only known surviving Human Being aside from Arthur is a female of his species, Trillian.
Oh, it was so mundane. Arthur's excitement died. He stared morosely at the page, thinking blandly that he was most certainly not dull, and how rude of Ford to say so, they were good friends! Arthur considered throwing the Guide against the wall as an expression of his manly fury, when something caught his eye. There was a little footnote down at the bottom, and it said simply this:
Ford Prefect fully intends to mate with this human, so any moves in a similar direction by anyone else will be greeted with a swift and violent argument.
Arthur stared at this for a long while. He blinked, and then stared some more.
It was all so improbable, he felt he might faint (which would be terribly feminine and greatly damage his self-esteem).
Fortunately, however, at that exact moment Ford Prefect saved Arthur from having to draw a conclusion for himself by racing down the hallway and quite efficiently tackling him to the ground.
A very serious pain exploded from the back of Arthur's head as his skull bounced violently from the floor. Stars swirled along the corners of his vision. He was suddenly overtaken with a strange fatigue, which eventually passed and was replaced with a terrible throbbing.
"Ughh," said Arthur.
"Umph," said Ford, who had not expected the impact to be quite so sudden or painful. However, he was lucky in that he had quite a comfortable friend to land on.
The Guide had skittered off into an obscure corner (the obscure corner in question was highly offended by the invasion of its personal space) and turned itself off in surprise.
"Gugh," Arthur said, going cross-eyed, and then thoughtfully added, "Achh."
Ford was too busy squishing Arthur to say anything else.
It was quiet for a long while. Arthur gazed at the ceiling and Ford decided he was quite comfortable where he was and didn't feel like the bother of moving off of his comfy friend would be worth the effort.
Arthur, for modesty's sake, gathered a bit of breath at last and whispered out, "Er, Ford?"
"Are you going to get off?" Arthur's voice was muffled by Ford's shoulder.
There was a pause and a slight shift. "Well, eventually I'll have to."
Arthur went back to his previous occupation of being squished and breathless. Ford seemed to be curiously nuzzling his ear with the tip of his nose, which made Arthur flushed and ticklish. He couldn't restrain a small sound of appreciation, which made Ford sit up on him and look him in the face.
"How much did you read?" Ford demanded suddenly, pale eyes burning.
"Er," said Arthur, slightly distracted. Ford had settled rather pleasantly on his stomach.
Ford smacked him gently on the hip, which startled him out of his quiet pleasure. They blinked at each other (or, rather, Arthur blinked and Ford simply stared).
"What did you read?" Ford repeated, pushing a bit of hair out of his face.
Arthur pursed his lips. He didn't like to lie, especially not to Ford.
Ford made a very complicated face that was somehow extremely cool while maintaining that he was also very angry. Such an expression would not have been possible if it weren't for his stretchy Betelgeusian skin. "Arthur," he said patiently.
"Ford," Arthur said, desperately trying to keep his guilt from his voice, "you called me dull."
"I did." Ford did not express his feelings on the matter, though Arthur gave him ample opportunity to.
Realizing that he wasn't about to hear an apology, Arthur said quietly, "That rather hurt my feelings."
"Yeah, they'll recover. Feelings are tough little creatures."
Was it Arthur's imagination, or was Ford sitting on him harder than usual?
"Could I get off the floor?" Arthur asked sadly.
"I'd rather you didn't."
Arthur slapped his hand angrily on the floor in protest, and then lay back obediently. After he had collected himself a bit (as he seemed to be all over the place no matter how many times he told himself not to panic), he said in a very slow, calculated, and icy voice that he often used with tax collectors and girl scouts whenever they were either giving or taking something he wanted no part in, "You want to mate with me."
"Well, yeah, what?" said Ford, absently fingering the flap of Arthur's robe.
"Well," said Arthur, incredibly flustered, "well, Ford."
Ford smiled at him. "Don't panic," he reminded Arthur.
"I'm not panicking!" But this was precisely what Arthur was doing. "You're my friend, Ford!"
"Being friends is often a good first step," Ford agreed. He had just barely begun to shimmy up Arthur's torso.
"But I don't think I quite like other men, you know," Arthur said warily.
"Sure you do. You like me, don't you?"
"Not in any sexual way, you know, and – hey! Stop th-that. That."
Ford grinned, which chilled Arthur's guts, not only because it looked so unnatural on his slight face but because of the connotation that usually came with that grin – Ford was up to something, and Arthur didn't like it.
"What's the matter?"
"You're what's the bloody matter, get off of me."
Ford locked eyes with Arthur for the briefest of moments before he leaned down and pressed a soft but demanding kiss on his lips.
Arthur, appropriately, was furious. He flailed about pointlessly for a few seconds before the idea registered that it didn't actually feel very bad… It was actually sort of enjoyable. Certainly wasn't the worst kiss he'd ever had, after all…
But then Ford drew back, and all of Arthur's sense came rushing back into his head. "How did you like it?" Ford asked in a tone that suggested that he really didn't care and was going to carry on doing what he was doing regardless of whether Arthur had enjoyed himself or not.
"Well!" Arthur huffed, just as Ford did something very odd with his hips, and a sound entirely unlike "Well" came out of Arthur's mouth. In fact, it rather sounded something like "Oh Ford" but that could have simply been a trick of sound.
"This isn't very proper," Arthur was gasping, struggling to prop himself on his elbows. He couldn't help but complain. "I mean, you ought to at least ask me first, before just getting on with it like that –"
Ford hooked the back of Arthur's head and pulled him up for another searing kiss that left Arthur feeling quite dizzy, his argument forgotten.
"Uh… er," said Arthur, trying to focus on Ford's face. Something was tickling his abdomen, and then he felt a rush of cool air – Ford had parted his robe and was now working on his pajama bottoms. "Hey, now, that's a little pushy!" Arthur harped.
"You honestly have no idea what's good for you," Ford was mumbling. He paused to shed his own jacket before returning to his work. "Just relax, and don't panic."
And Arthur did just that.
-- The End