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Terrarium Incognita (Sherlock/John, Scorpion AU)
Fandom: BBC's Sherlock
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Rating: G
Word Count: 966
Summary: John's world falls apart as he is faced with the unthinkable: Sherlock has gone missing from their burrow.

John stirred awake just as the sun was setting—slightly early for the normally nocturnal Emperor Scorpion. The substrate beneath his carapace felt cold, despite being his preferred 83°F. John wiggled his sternate plates deeper into the shallow depression he’d formed in the shreds of bark, but found he was restless and could not sleep.

He did not wish to wake his partner, so he stood quietly, his eight legs stepping so lightly that they did not make an impression, though, weighing less than or up to one-point-one ounces he seldom did anyway. When John emerged from the shadow of their shared log, he turned to look back at his sleeping partner with all eight of his adoring eyes.

Sherlock was not there.

John rushed back to the burrow at his top speed, which was frustratingly difficult to find information about online but should be comparable to the quoted “up to ten miles per hour” figure given for spiders, the scorpion’s arachnid relative for which the internet displays a clear informative bias.

He skittered over the ground where Sherlock usually slept, his exoskeleton making small indentations in the soft earth. The ground where Sherlock usually nestled to sleep away the daylight hours was empty. John began to panic.

He could not imagine life in the burrow without Sherlock. Who would eat the other half of a cricket when he pinched it in two? Who would nudge his pedipalps ever so slightly in his sleep, or keep him safe from the terrors that lurked at the edges of their burrow?

John calmed himself. This was a Mystery and he was a Trained Scorpion Detective. Okay, he lived with a Trained Scorpion Detective; okay, a Scorpion Detective at least.

What would Sherlock do? he thought to himself.

John tried to envision his Mind Burrow. He closed his eyes--though not the pair of eyes on top of his cephalothorax; he needed those to keep watch for aerial predators--and pictured his bark shelter. It looked just as it always did. In his mind, he walked around the depression that Sherlock had left in the dirt. A small piece of bark stood out, too small to be from the shelter.

He looked up, which was not difficult thanks to his vertically placed eyes. He could see no missing piece from the shelter. The bark had to have come from somewhere else.

But what else could he be looking for?

The stick, he realized. Sherlock loved that stick. John would have been jealous if his neuronal ganglia had been capable of that higher level emotion.

Having used his Mind Burrow for its intended purpose, he left the burrow churring with excitement. Perhaps Sherlock was just visiting his stick, he reasoned. It was dangerous to do so in the daylight, with such little protective foliage, but Sherlock was smart and probably knew what he was doing.

When John crossed the six-inch expanse from burrow to stick, his long, arched arachnid heart fell; Sherlock was not there. He looked around in desperation for more clues. The soil was undisturbed, its surface nearly perfect in fact. The air felt dry as he breathed it in and out through his spiracles. He turned back and forth, and crossed over the ground where the stick used to be, feeling it with his pectines. It felt normal, clean and soft.

Then he noticed: the stick was gone!

How had he missed it? He and Sherlock had shared their first cricket beneath its single, solitary bow over a year ago--or ten-to-sixteen scorpion years, allowing for variance in the average lifespan. How could it have disappeared? John didn’t even know the average lifespan of a stick.

He threw his pedipalps to the sky and chittered defiantly.

“You won’t get away with this,” he cried. “I will pursue you to the ends of the earth!”

John crawled. He didn’t know which direction held his answers, nor did he know how long his journey would be, but he would let nothing come between him and his soulmate. And their stickmate. He had to rescue them.

Two inches further, John ran into the end of the world.

His pinchers clanged impotently against the tall, hard wall that marked the edge of John and Sherlock’s universe. He lashed at it with his tail, but his telson found no purchase in the impossibly smooth surface. His stinger rebounded futily.

“Why?” he screamed. “What cruel god has done this to me?”

Broken, John dragged himself back to his burrow, lost in desolation and fear. He crawled under the burrow, only now noticing the extent of what had been taken from him. The husks of crickets piled against the wall were no more, the piles of waste vanished.

They’ve even taken our poop from me, John despaired.

John huddled alone and cold under his home, now foreign to him, until he lapsed into a despondent sleep.

When he awoke, it was to the tender caress of pedipalps on his mesosoma.

He blinked his anterior eyes, seeing the familiar chelicerae and that graceful, arching aculeus. Such a distinguished tail could only belong to one scorpion.


“Our home is clean now,” Sherlock murmured, petting him. His stick rested on the floor beside them. “It happened while we were away, in other places.”

Such an event would explain why John had not recognized the bark the night before. He looked around the burrow; this looked a lot more like home.The cricket husks and waste pile had been removed, to his disappointment, but Sherlock was with him and that was all that mattered.

“I’m glad we are back,” he said, fondling Sherlock’s brachium. “I never wish to leave you again.”

Passionately, they embraced.

“I’m hungry,” Sherlock whispered.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 10th, 2015 11:55 am (UTC)
Very sweet and funny! I love all of the technical details and callbacks to reality. Glad they survived the Cleaning of the Terrarium.
Oct. 13th, 2015 02:47 pm (UTC)
They’ve even taken our poop from me, John despaired.

The perfection in this line!! This was awesome. Poor scorpion-John's sadness was very moving!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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