[identity profile] schreckschraube.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] indeedsir_backup
Title: Jeeves and the Mating of the Scorpions
Chapter: 4
Pairing: Jeeves/Wooster
Summary: The unhappy couple has to bring two young people together. In a country-house, who would have guessed.
Rating: PG-13.
Words: 2150
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters, settings or storylines; they were all thought up by PG Wodehouse (except for the Phnell-Bunghams and Mr Spinnerett, those are OCs; and except for "Nether Addlethorpe", which was made up by the late, great Loriot). This story was written and published only for fun, and no financial profit is made by anyone.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: All scorpion species in this fic are completely made-up. Don't bother looking them up to see if they make good pets...

“Miss Travers is on the telephone, sir.”

“My cousin Angela? What can she want?”

“I suggest you find out, sir.”

“Good thinking.”

It is rare enough that Angela calls me – it’s usually my Aunt Dahlia who negotiates everything, if something needs negotiating – but this time it was urgent.

“Bertie, darling, will you do me a favour?”

“Anything, old thing.”

“Daffy has a problem, and I think Jeeves could solve it.”

“Then what do you want me for? You were just talking to him a minute ago. And who the deuce is Daffy?”
“My friend, Daphne Phnell-Bungham. I’ve told you about her, haven’t I? Anyway, she’s in love with this chap who is staying at her father’s place. Her father is a scorpion collector, and so’s the young man. He’s nice enough, but he seems to think she’s a piece of furniture.”

“Has he tried to sit on her?”

“No, you silly old thing. She wants to get him interested. This is where Jeeves comes in.”

“You want me to borrow Jeeves out to that Daffy person?”

“No, of course not. Even you must see that you can’t just send Jeeves without a good excuse for him being there. So you have to come along. You’re invited to spend a couple of days at Daphne’s place. She told her father that she met you at Brinkley at some point. That’s not true, of course, but likely enough. You’re invited for the day after tomorrow.”

“But, Angela, wait. There must be some way we can send Jeeves down without me having to come. I don’t even know these people.”

“They’re fine, you’ll like them. Daffy’s nice.”

“But… but, I say.” An idea began to form in the old bean. “Why don’t we send Jeeves, and he pretends to be me?”

There was a soft cough behind me. “Pardon me for interrupting, sir, but I do not think this would be a good idea. I could not, as you would put it, pull it off.”

“Well, you’ve heard it, Angela, this plan is off.”

“It sounded like a bloomer from the start, Bertie.”

“Well, maybe Jeeves can do a tele-diagnosis through the phone? So that none of us has to go anywhere?”

I handed the receiver to Jeeves and went back to the sofa. From the distance, I heard only one part of the dialogue. For a long time, Jeeves said nothing but “I see, madam”, and “Indeed, madam?”, and finally he admitted defeat. “I am afraid, Miss Travers, that I cannot think of a solution on the telephone. I agree that it would be best to follow your original plan and appear in person – providing the journey is not incompatible with my domestic duties towards Mr Wooster.”

“Oh, you just go, Jeeves”, I sang in the background. I would have liked to have the flat to myself for a few days. Being reminded of our failed relationship would sometimes drive me up the wall.

“I am sorry, madam, but I could not possibly leave him alone. You see, he would not find a suitable replacement on such short notice; and since the visit to Brinkley Court he has been struck with a touch of influenza” – now that was a filthy lie from beginning to end! – “yes, I regret to say, madam, the cold rain seems to have affected him… it would be nothing but neglectful of me to leave him. If Mr Wooster were to follow Miss Phnell-Bungham’s invitation, I would gladly join him.”

“Oh, alright”, I sighed. “Just tell her we’re both coming.”

What Jeeves was thinking, forcing us both upon a bunch of perfect strangers, so deep in the countryside that even the sheep got bored, I could not say. We had a long and silent train ride to a dump named Nether Addlethorpe, where we were picked up by Daffy Phnell-Bungham herself in a car.

She wasn’t what I call pretty, but I liked her – lively and cheerful, without being oppressive. She was also very short and must have weighed about the same as a middle-sized hen.

“Has Angela told you what the problem is?” she asked while we were driving through fields.

I said nothing, but I gave Jeeves in the backseat an encouraging look.

“Yes, madam.”

“And you, Mr Wooster?”

“I don’t know the details. Anyway, I won’t be much help. Jeeves is the one who does the smart thinking. I’m just being ornamental.”

She must have spotted a splash of bitterness, so she gave me chocolate eyes and said: “Don’t say that, Mr Wooster – or, I should say, Bertie. We’ll have to call each other by first names if Father is to believe that we’re old friends, right? Don’t worry. We’ll see to it that you have fun while you’re staying. There’s a golf course near the house, you know. And on Tuesday, some of my friends are coming over for some board games. It’s not London, but you won’t get bored, I promise!”

Her soothing voice was balm for Bertram’s soul. I was starting to believe I could really distract myself from our domestic tragedy.

That is, until I saw the scorpions. Old Phnell-Bungham had a couple of hundred scorpion tanks put up in the drawing-room, filled to the brim with nasty, crawly, highly venomous beasties, and he was enormously proud of all of them. I got the guided tour as soon as I had entered the house and shaken the old chap’s hand. He thought his scorpions were such a treat the he even asked Jeeves to come and have a look at the things.

I could see from the look on Jeeves’ face that he would rather be anywhere else. After Bungham had introduced us personally to about two dozen species, we came to a large tank with a difference: There were two scorpions in it, not just one.

“And this, my dear Mr Wooster, is a couple of blue-bellied Whineria argutica. You came just in time for a treat: they’re going to mate any time now!”

This was too much. If life in this place was so boring that people got a thrill out of watching vermin produce more vermin, I would have to leave as soon as possible! I cast a quick glance at Jeeves, pleading with my eyes and telling him to hurry along with his magic. The sooner he was done, the sooner we could leave! But Jeeves stepped closer and eyed the things politely.

“Ah, you’re wondering why they’re holding hands, eh?” said old Bungham jovially. The two critters really looked as if they were holding hands, though: they had locked their pincers as if they were about to do a ring-a-roses. “It’s a pretty sad story. Scorpions can’t let their guard down, even when they’re mating. They might get attacked by their partner if something goes awry, you see, so they hold hands to keep each other’s pincers busy, and to make it harder for the partner to sting them.”

“What happens if they let go after… you know?” I asked.

“Oh, sometimes the male gets eaten. Scorpions have horrible private lives, you know. They never even have any intimate contact with each other. The male just leaves his sperm somewhere for the female to pick it up.”

I could feel my face growing hot. I mean to say, I’m a modern chap, as modern as they come, but to hear a dignified old man, and a perfect stranger at that, talk about the married life of the scorpion gave me the pip.

“Your man’s looking quite fascinated”, said Bungham in a very loud whisper and turned to Jeeves. “Interested in scorpions, are you?”

Jeeves had been in a kind of trance, staring at the things as if mesmerized. Now he woke up and got a grip on himself. “They are very interesting, sir. I have never had much interest in entomology, but this seems to have been a mistake.”

“Not much interest in entomology”, chuckled the old man. “I can tell. Entomology is the science of insects. Scorpions aren’t insects, you know. There are some books in the guest rooms. Some of them about scorpions. If you want to catch up on… oh, here they go now! Do you see how they’re pushing each other around? It looks like a dance, doesn’t it? Quite tragic, when you think about it. Whenever I have a row with my wife, I remind myself: at least we’re not scorpions!”

Anybody who didn’t know better would have let the matter slip, but I did know better. I’m the first to admit that I would have made the same mistake, throwing scorpions into one bag with the insects. But Jeeves! My heart was bleeding for the poor chap. He had to be quietly fighting for his sanity to make a mistake of this magnitude. Something had to be done about our star-crossed love affair. I’ve read that people can die of a broken heart, and I was sure that Jeeves was close to it.

I met Daffy’s dreamboat, Albert Spinnerett, over dinner. He was very handsome and very aloof. While Daffy was melting into her food bowl whenever she looked at him, he eyed her with friendly indifference. I spotted the problem right away: too many scorpions on the chap’s mind. He talked about nothing but scorpions, and neither did old Bungham.

Jeeves was standing to attention in the background, together with some of the ghosts of the Phnell-Bungham household. I had told him specifically to have a good look at Spinnerett and see what one could make of him in re: Daffy. But whenever I stole a glance at him, I found that he was eyeing my back instead of Spinnerett’s. I got really pipped at the neglectful ass. Couldn’t he stop thinking about his own problems for a second, and put his mind to the one of Daffy and her scorpion lover? After all, here I was, suffering from an unhappy love affair, just like him, but I could at least be selfless enough to try and make other, luckier people happy!

We met Daffy in the garden after dinner. We were standing beside a large rhododendron bush, quite in plain sight of the house, but our voices were low.

“So, you know the situash”, I said to Jeeves, and Daffy hung on our lips, “what do you make of it?”

“It seems that the young gentleman is exceedingly interested in scorpions”, said Jeeves.

“What, really?”

“Sir, I am aware that the impression forces itself on the observer, but I think I already have an angle from which to approach the problem. I take it, Miss Phnell-Bungham, that you are quite well-versed in all things concerning scorpions?”

“Oh yes”, said Daffy darkly. “Grew up around the blasted things. Never had a scorpion-free day in my life. I’m talking to him about scorpions every day, you know. But it’s not enough to get him interested.”

“From the conversation between Mr Spinnerett and Mr Phnell-Bungham I take it that Mr Spinnerett is interested in a very specific scorpion Mr Phnell-Bungham has in his possession – an animal by the name of Emerald.”

“Yes. Emerald is a Heimeria telsoserrata, a South-Italian cleft-stinger. A male. Albert – I should say Mr Spinnerett – has a female. Very few people in England have this species. Albert is trying to get Father to borrow him Emerald to mate him with his Betsy. But Father won’t think of it. He is afraid that Betsy will eat Emerald after… you know. It’s only a small risk, I keep telling him, and he could get a couple of the babies in return, even if Emerald does get eaten. But he won’t hear of it.”

“I see, madam. I think this is exactly the toe-hold where we should begin. If you were to go to dramatic lengths to do him a singular favour, while at the same time linking to the subject he is most interested in, you could prove yourself a soul mate in his area of expertise, but at the same time a woman in love.”
“He always talks like that”, I explained to Daffy.

“You mean I should keep trying to talk Father into borrowing him Emerald.”

“No, madam. I propose you abduct Emerald for one night and bring him back before dawn, thus enabling the two animals a night of passion, and fascinating the young man by disobeying your parents to make him happy.”

“That’s brilliant”, I said. And he'd come up with that one while broken-hearted! “He’s brilliant, isn’t he?”

“Thank you, sir.”

“You really are, Jeeves”, beamed Daffy. “Handling Emerald is child’s play for me. I’ll have to sneak past Mother, of course, but… yes, that’s going to be easy! I’ll do it right tonight!”

The plan sounded like a corker. But take it from Bertram: If someone says “It’s child’s play”, be warned. It never is, once you get down to business, and the girl found out the same night.

Date: 2013-04-22 10:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] godsdaisiechain.livejournal.com
yeah!!!! scorpions!!!!!!

Date: 2013-04-22 11:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erynn999.livejournal.com
Oh dear - this sounds far more sticky than the usual sticky wickets Bertie finds himself within. Why do I envision escaped venomous beasties in the offing?

Date: 2013-04-23 08:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erynn999.livejournal.com
Of course! And you will rise to the challenge magnificently! :D

Date: 2013-04-23 03:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] krisreinke.livejournal.com
Scorpions? OUCH!
More fic? HUZZAH!

Date: 2013-04-24 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saylee.livejournal.com
Ooh, I just read the first four chapters in one go. I am intrigued and greatly enjoying this.


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