[identity profile] schreckschraube.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] indeedsir_backup
Title: Jeeves and the Mating of the Scorpions
Chapter: 6
Pairing: Jeeves/Wooster
Summary: Bertie's cunning plan backfires... slightly, leading to general havoc and a nasty shock that forces Jeeves to rethink.
Rating: PG-13.
Words: 3500
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). This story was written and published only for fun, and no financial profit is made by anyone.



I woke up peacefully the around eleven and watched the rain pour down outside the window. But soon memories from last night hit me over the head with a truncheon. Daffy had given me the eyes rather a lot with me last night. She had also given Spinnerett the e.’s, but then, he was meant for her and I wasn’t. If everything went according to plan, he would tip the scales himself today. The plan could hardly fail. It was one of Jeeves’, after all.

Jeeves! I thought of our little episode in the corridor, and my heart grew heavy again. It was clear now that he wanted me still, but he wasn’t satisfied until I was an arm’s length away. Did he think he was a scorpion? Was he trying to break me into long-distance mating? Well, I wasn’t a scorpion, that much I was sure of. Where was the blighter anyway?

Blinking through sticky eyes into the cruel light of day, I found a glass of Jeeves’ hangover cure on the nightstand, and beside it a piece of paper:


Unfortunately I am currently engaged in a search of several scorpions, which for unknown reasons escaped last night. Everybody in the house is advised to wear shoes at all times, and to examine their clothing carefully before dressing.

All of the staff are required to help searching, excepting only the cook, but if you ring, she will hear it and have me sent up to your room.



I drank the cure. I looked into my slippers and through every trouser leg and every shirt arm, and then I dressed. It was not before lunchtime that I came toddling downstairs. I met old Bungham in the corridor, walking to and fro and scrutinizing the baseboard.

“What ho”, I said. “Bit of rotten luck, eh? About the scorpions roaming the house?”

My affability didn’t warm the old man at all. He just said “Shhhht!” and kept going. I traipsed on, but then he called after me: “Keep your eyes open, will you? And don’t try to catch them on your own. You might get stung!”

“Are there any deadly ones out there?”

“Possibly.”

“Oh.” I made my way to the other rooms and came across a kitchen maid who was going through the crockery in a sideboard as if it were made of egg-shells. She seemed to expect something deadly jumping at her from a saucer any time now. I asked if she had seen Jeeves, and she sent me to a corridor on the other side of the drawing-room.

I found the fellow there, going through a broom-cabinet.

“What ho, Jeeves.”

“Good day, sir.”

“How many escaped from Alcatraz?”

“Seven, sir, but three of them are already caught.”

“That part was my own idea. Leaving a few tanks open, I mean to say.”

Jeeves gave me a strangely soupy look. “Indeed, sir? I thought so.”

“You mustn’t be so gloomy about it, my man. If only one had escaped, it might have looked like foul play.”

“I suppose there is some truth in that”, he admitted reluctantly. “In any event, Mr Phnell-Bungham does seem too confused to speak out any accusations – so far.”

“How long have you been searching the house?”

“Six hours, sir.”

“Well, if he hasn’t said anything so far, he won’t say anything at all, I reckon. What about the lovebirds?”

Jeeves brightened up at this subj. “Mr Spinnerett has been eyeing Miss Phnell-Bungham with visible interest since breakfast, sir.”

“You see, Jeeves? Your plan brought home the bacon after all.”

“It would seem that way, sir. By the way, sir, there will be no lunch, unless the escaped animals are caught by this time. I suggest you help searching, to speed up the end of the hunt.”



It was a cruel thing to ask of a chap who hadn’t had breakfast and hadn’t been fed lunch, to search a stranger’s house for their vermin on an empty stomach. But in the hunt, all differences of sex, class or education were annihilated: everybody in the house, staff or owner or guest, was crawling the floors and going through bookcases, touching things as carefully as if they were red-hot, and walking across the floor as if it were made of lava. This must be the image of equality those revolutionary chappies imagine the world should be. Someone should tell them that they’ve got it all wrong: they don’t need rallies and signs, they just need a couple of scorpions for every household in England.

The ordeal went on and on. By teatime, two more scorpions had been caught. Now only two were missing, one of them Emerald. And sure enough, at five precisely, a triumphant cry came from the drawing-room. Everybody heeded the call, and soon the whole household was assembled around Mr Spinnerett, who was holding Emerald on his hand, and Mr Phnell-Bungham, who was fussing over the animal happily.

“You have no idea how relieved I am to have him back”, he said and slapped Spinnerett on the shoulder.

“Don’t mention it. I’m just glad nobody got stung”, Spinnerett said and lifted his chin heroically.

Old Phnell-Bungham was just about to answer, but I had to interrupt him rather rudely by screaming and jumping about five feet high into the air. A pinprick like a red-hot needle had just taken place in my right forearm.

“Here, now, what happened?” asked the old man with a touch of reproach.

“Mr Wooster’s been stung.”

I fell back into a chair and pulled my sleeve up with a trembling hand. There was only a tiny red dot on my arm, but it was burning like the dickens. The beast had got under the sleeve of the jacket and, not liking it there, had stung me through the shirt.

Jeeves jumped to my side. “Mr Spinnerett, how dangerous is this animal?”

Spinnerett grabbed the blasted critter with a practised grip and eyed it up and down. “Oh, it’s a South Indian Greyfooted.”

“Well, then, what’s it going to be?” I asked weakly. “Amputation or death?”

Daffy came and fussed over me. “Here, don’t get agitated. It won’t help. Keep calm.”

Jeeves behind me was panting like a race horse. It served him right, I decided. At least I would have one final satisfaction. When I was dead, Jeeves would eternally be sorry for his coldness of heart!

“Any heart troubles in the family?” asked Spinnerett serenely.

“Not so far, but after today, I’ll be the first!”

“You should be fine, then”, he replied cheerfully. “It’ll just swell and ache for a while. Very unpleasant, but nearly always harmless. Just put something cold on it. Phew, that was the last one. I’m starving. Anyone else for scones?”



When I came back from the kitchen with some ice in a tea towel, Daffy met me on the corridor. She came sailing towards me from a starboard direction.

“Bertie, everything worked out wonderfully”, she told me in a hushed voice. “Mr Spinnerett – or, I should say, Albert – proposed to me just twenty minutes ago, before he brought Emerald back to Father!”

No victory in the Crusades ever cheered a Wooster up as this news did Bertram. “You accepted?”

“Of course I did! Oh, I’m so grateful to both of you! And I do so hope that you’ll both be as happy one day as I am right now – if that’s at all possible!”

The smile I was trying to put on in the face of young love was sliding down my chin. The cold steel of reality cut me, and I knew that her wish would not come true, at least for me. Love was not meant for Bertie Wooster.
“Bertie? Did I say anything wrong?”

“No! No, I’m just happy for you…” It was less than three syllables into the sentence before my voice broke and left me sounding like a man who has just imbibed a gallon of helium. Poor Daffy, of course, got it all wrong.
“Oh. Oh my gosh, Bertie! I’m so sorry! I didn’t think you’d… Jeeves said you wouldn’t…”

The mention of Jeeves’ cursed name constricted my throat like a badly-knotted tie. I suddenly couldn’t breathe.

“You know, after I didn’t get Emerald, Jeeves came to me yesterday morning and suggested that I should pretend to be interested in you, just to see if Albert would get a bit jealous. To have a rival in the picture, you see. And he said you shouldn’t know that I was just pretending, because then you’d try much harder to get Albert and me together.”

Did that man’s depravity know no bounds? I thought so, and I said so.

But Daffy jumped to the rescue immediately. “If I had known that you’d take it so hard, I would never have said yes! But Jeeves told me fourteen times you wouldn’t want to marry me anyway, so you wouldn’t mind playing the decoy! And you got Emerald out of his tank, too, and wrote a note for Albert… with my name on it… just to help me get him… when you would have liked to marry me yourself?”

I sat down. I fanned myself for a bit. I tried to think. Was I in the soup again, or was I not? Where exactly was I?

Daffy gave me her handkerchief.

“Wait”, I said. “Let’s straighten out all the facts of the case. You never really wanted me.”

“I’m sorry, Bertie. It was Albert all the time.”

“But Jeeves told you to pretend that you wanted me, because that would get Albert jealous.”

“Yes.”

“But he told you not to tell me…” My head began to hurt. “I wasn’t to know that it was just a red herring. I was supposed to think you really wanted me.”

“To make you more anxious to help. That’s what Jeeves said.”

“Because I didn’t want to marry you anyway.”

“Again, that’s what Jeeves said. If I had known that you were interested yourself, I would never have…”

“Dear old thing”, I said, drying my tears, “do not worry about it. Jeeves was right. You’re a fine girl in many ways, but you’re not my kind of girl.” And I managed to smile quite sincerely.

“No? Then why are you crying?”

“Happiness”, I said. “Happiness for you. And because Emerald got Betsy, and you got Mr Spinnerett, and all I get is stung, but mostly happiness. Definitely mostly happiness.” And I smiled. And I can tell you why I smiled: Because the mastermind had made one fatal mistake, and now I saw all.



Later, when I had changed into my pyjamas and was ready for bed, Jeeves shimmered in once more to tuck me in. He carried a little jar of something or other.

“Mr Spinnerett was kind enough to give me this, sir. He said it would ease the swelling on your arm.”

“Ease away, I can certainly do with some easing. That blasted bite burns like fire.”

“If you’ll allow me, sir.” Jeeves took my arm, rolled up the sleeve and began to rub the stuff on. At first I hissed at the mere touch, but the ointment was as good as its word – after a few seconds, a cooling and tingling sensation happened, and then the pain was much more bearable.

Jeeves finished his work with some cotton gauze.

“Lucky that it wasn’t a deadly one, what?” I said weakly.

“Indeed, sir. It was a terrifying experience.” He looked up at me and smiled a bit. He was making love again, and I began to hope.

“Jeeves”, I said, “do you admit that you talked Daffy into pairing up with me, not just to make Spinnerett jealous over her, but because you thought that another escape from hellish matrimony would make me fling myself into your arms again?”

“I admit, this was the scheme I had in mind.”

“Oh dash it all”, I said and jumped at him. But when I took his face between my hands and planted a kiss on him, he suddenly recoiled and went stiff as a broom again.

“Sir”, he said touchily, “I distinctly remember telling you that I do not like to be crowded.”

“Crowded? What do you mean, crowded? You mean I’m not allowed to kiss you?”

“I would feel easier if you left the business in my hands. I thought you were always very satisfied with the way I handle your affairs.”

“Yes, but… but Jeeves! You can’t keep a lover at bay with a whip and a chair! Do you… you do know that I won’t eat you after mating, right?”

“Yes, sir, I am aware of the fact.”

“Then what is eating you? Why won’t you tell me?”

“Don’t you think that such an arrangement could be very satisfying for both of us?”

“No, it blooming well couldn’t!” I started to pace around Jeeves, giving expression to my feelings with my arms, not unlike a windmill. “Maybe for you! But I can’t have that. Not being allowed to come to you at will? Only speaking when spoken to? Even Florence wasn’t that cruel! The way you’re treating me, you might as well be an aunt!”

I’ll be damned if I didn’t see a thin film of water forming over the honest fellow’s lower lids. Suddenly my own headlights started to leak in sympathy. “I’m sorry, old thing”, I said, mustering all my strength. “This won’t do. If nothing has changed, we’ll have to call the whole thing off.”

Jeeves’ voice was barely audible. “Very good, sir.”

“Now leave me alone before I make a fool of myself, will you.” My voice broke, and Jeeves floated out.



I admit shamefully: when he was gone, I threw myself between the covers and cried myself to sleep. Much later I woke up very thirsty. I could have died for a glass of water, but instead I did the sensible thing and rang for Jeeves.

For some reason, this manoeuver failed to produce a Jeeves. After ringing for the seventh time, I got up and went to his little room myself. The irresponsible blighter wasn’t in bed, and I was left to my own devices.
On my way to the kitchen I saw a faint light from the drawing-room. I looked into the matter quickly, and there I found Jeeves: sitting in a wooden chair next to one of the scorpion tanks, in the light of a small dim lamp, and staring at the beasts like a marble statue.

He never even noticed me as I slunk off to the kitchen.



My arm was still aching the next morning, so I carried it in a sling. Jeeves was sitting opposite of me on the train home, and in the bright sunlight that shone on his face, he looked pretty unhealthy. I reckoned that he hadn’t got much sleep for staring at scorpions.

After twenty minutes of solid silence, an elderly couple who were sickeningly in love with each other came in and took two of the other seats. The words of greeting they said to us, and we to them, sounded as strange as if they had been spoken in a silent cathedral. The two old prunes fell into silence too, but it was a very warm silence. Every time one of them looked up, the other smiled. I hoped they would both die of a heart attack, preferably while I was watching.

Just as I was thinking that, I scratched the back of my neck with the left hand. My wrist met an unexpected crisp resistance on the way, coming from my breast pocket. Had I forgotten a slip of paper in there?

Impossible, I had only put on the suit this morning. I fished the article out of the pocket. It was not just a slip of paper, it was a whole sheet, neatly folded several times. I looked at Jeeves. He met my eyes, then averted them. Of course, he had put it there for me to find.

A cold hand gripped my heart, and the cushions of the seat seemed to fall away and drop me into an endless black abyss. Was this Jeeves’ formal resignation? Would he leave me alone in the cold?

There were black spots before my eyes when I unfolded the hellish letter. But then, Jeeves wouldn’t use a crumpled sheet of paper for a resignation, would he? It would have to have an envelope, at least. With the Sword of Democrit hanging over me, I began to read.



Dearest Mr Wooster,


This was Jeeves’ neat handwriting, but this was no way to begin a resignation letter, unless I was very much behind the times. The clouds of terror were lifted from my mind, and I could read on with a much lighter heart.


I am very sorry for the way I spurned your affections recently. The long and the short of it is that I was wrong; that you deserve to be loved unconditionally; and that one cannot expect love to grow under the circumstances which I tried to implement.


I looked at the fellow. He kept staring at his hands in his lap, as if he was counting if they were still all present. Only the slightest movement under the skin of his throat showed that he was inwardly screaming and jumping in circles.


There is an explanation for my behaviour – it might strike you as silly, but I hope you can understand to a certain degree why I acted this way. I have learned that it is important to retain control over one’s life at all times. You not only left me that, you even trusted me enough to grant me control over certain aspects of your life.

I am not naturally a trusting soul, and when our relationship began to change in a more intimate direction, I could feel that my grasp was slipping. There is no book of rules for a relationship like ours, and my growing fondness for you, combined with our social positions, made me fear that I was giving you incalculable power over me at last.



“But… blast it. This is nonsense”, I said out loudly, and I hoped my indignation would show in my voice. What did he think I would do? Put on a black moustache and tie him to the railway tracks? When all I wanted to do was love him and cherish him, and make myself a complete fool over him?


I tried to keep control of all our improper encounters because I was scared of depending on you, and your emotions for me. But I know now that I cannot control your affections, and that I must simply step out into the weather and brave it, whatever may come.

I hope you can understand that this step, which you always take so easily – to trust someone, and to depend on them – is very hard for me. I would never put myself into anybody else’s hands in this way; in fact, I never meant to put myself in yours, but I am afraid I already am.

Will you still have me, if I promise to muster the courage necessary to let you love me?

J




I was not sure I had read this all correctly, so I read it again, and tried to make something out of it. But the more I read and the more I tried, the more it was clear that there was only one thing to make of it. The birds started to sing; flowers began to bloom on barren fields; the two sweet old people next to us told us a story about how love can last; and life became one grand song again.

Jeeves had been eyeing me quietly, his hands folded in his lap like a schoolboy’s. Then he saw my smile, and the light of love lit up once more in his eyes, and his quarter-inch smile came back to his face after all those weeks.

I smiled so broadly I must have looked like a perfect idiot, but I didn’t know what to say. So I just folded up the paper and put it back into the pocket, and stretched out my legs, so that one of my trouser-legs was touching his in an inconspicuous way.

And the arm wasn’t aching any more, and all was golden.

The End.

Date: 2013-04-27 05:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] haikitteh.livejournal.com
Oh, Jeeves! So glad you bowed to the inevitability of loving Bertie. :DDD

Really fun story! Thank you!

Date: 2013-04-27 10:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] godsdaisiechain.livejournal.com
Aw!!!! Too bad they were on a train and couldn't do any snogging....

Date: 2013-04-28 11:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] godsdaisiechain.livejournal.com
and it was adorable....

Date: 2013-04-27 10:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] erynn999.livejournal.com
Finally! Jeeves comes to his senses! YAAAAAY!

Date: 2013-05-05 10:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emeraldreeve.livejournal.com
Great story! I'm glad it ended happily!

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