Fandom: Sherlock BBC (Scorpion AU)
Summary: A terrestrial arthropod coming of age tale.
Spring semester at Scorpion High was in full swing. Sherlock Holmes, a third year scorpion and the school’s brightest pupil, sat atop some pebbles and strained to pay attention while his first-period teacher demonstrated stinging on a crinkly, serrated leaf. He normally had no trouble staying attuned to his lessons, given he didn’t already know the material, but lately he’d been overcome by confusing instinctual urges. At any moment at least three to six of his eyes were drawn to the sturdy, rippling exoskeleton of Scorpion High’s star Stick And Rock player, John. John was a fourth-year and several months Sherlock’s senior. Rumor had it he’d fertilized half a dozen females, and twice that number had tried to eat him. He displayed advantageous physical characteristics that suggested he would produce healthy offspring, Sherlock couldn’t help but note. Watching John rest his lustrous carapace against that stone was enough to heat his internal temperature an entire degree.
Of course, John didn’t know Sherlock even existed.
After many failed attempts, their teacher gave up on stinging the leaf and set it aside.
“Jab your tail thing in the other thing--the thing you want to sting,” said the teacher. “That usually works.”
Sherlock nodded. That sounded right to him.
“And don’t forget,” the teacher continued. “Scorpion Prom is next week. Some of you look like you haven’t found dates yet. You should if you don’t want to be losers. Alright, any questions about stinging or being the only loser at Prom? No? Then class dismissed!”
Inwardly Sherlock cringed. He couldn’t do so outwardly as that would have betrayed weakness, inviting unwanted attention from the larger scorpions at school. He did not have a date to prom, and he was worried he might be a loser. He didn’t want to be a loser; losers got eaten.
Chirring excitedly, the young scorplings filed out of class.
“Hi, Sherlock,” said a small voice. Sherlock observed a plain female scorpion sidle up beside him. What was her name? Mary? Mallory?
She tapped her metasoma nervously. “What class do you have next?”
“Food,” he replied.
“Cool. I have Pinching.” Molly. That was her name. He’d taken a Burrowing class with her last semester.
Aware she was still following him, he continued crawling in the direction of Food. Her Pinching class was another wing over. Perhaps she was lost.
Maybe she needed directions. “Yes?”
“Do you have a date for Scorpion Prom?”
He answered honestly. “I don't.”
He felt her stare and was compelled to return it. The enormity of her eyes overpowered her petite frame. There was an expressiveness to them that Sherlock found disorienting. He wondered if John ever felt that way. He wondered about John maybe more than he should. But then everything he was supposed to wonder about seemed so boring in comparison.
“Would you, um, like to go to Prom with me?” Molly asked suddenly.
She was still there? Oh. Sherlock took a moment to consider her proposal. Molly was puny and delicate, and her mesosoma was way too long for her carapace. On the other hand, if he had a date to Prom he wouldn’t be a loser. He also didn’t want to be eaten.
“Okay,” he said with a shrug of his pedipalps.
“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” said Molly, her prosoma darkening. She clasped a claw to her chelicerae. He hoped she wasn’t sick. “That’s so amazing. Um, I mean . . . you can pick me up at my burrow at eight. Oh, and Sherlock? I hear that it’s going to be a moonless night.”
Sherlock clicked his pincers as Molly scuttled away. She was correct. It was going to be a moonless night. He’d received high marks in both his “Time” and “Is It Light Or Dark Out?” honors courses.
It was only after she had left that he realized she was referring to the fact that scorpions generally only mated on moonless nights, when they were less visible to predators. How strange, he thought. She certainly didn’t smell as though she’d reached sexual maturity yet.
That’s when he felt someone shove him forward, hard.
“Hey, you, uh—you nerd!” cried Greg, a bulky, unpleasant scorpion who had a habit of harassing and eating smaller scorplings he found unworthy. His two equally hulking friends lurked behind him, opening and closing their spiracles menacingly. Sherlock’s pectines twitched. He had a bad feeling about this.
“Greg,” he acknowledged. “What do you want?” He was going to be late for class.
Greg waved his telson in the air.
“What I want is my homework,” he threatened.
Sherlock froze. From across the hollow log where they stood he could see John watching him. Given that scorpions had poor eyesight it very well could have been someone else, and yet he knew it wasn’t. His thorax tightened and for a moment he thought he might throw up. The idea that Greg might sting him as John looked on . . .
“Oh,” he managed, despite the rising fear in his intestines. “The answer to yesterday’s assignment is ‘Eat, then poop.’”
Greg lowered his telson. “You’re alright, Sherlock.” He beckoned to his friends. “Come on. Let’s go behind that rock and sting each other.”
Sherlock blinked, and his stomach cavity settled. He searched for John again, but just like a delicious termite disappearing into its mound, he was gone.
Dazed, Sherlock arrived at his next class just in time for roll call.
“Here!” he chittered, settling into the rotted wood.
“Very good. Sherrinford Holmes?”
Silence. Sherlock raised a pedipalp.
“He’s out today.”
“Does he have an excuse?” the teacher asked.
Sherlock looked down. “Mum ate him last night.” It was just him and Mycroft, now.
The teacher noted it and continued calling roll until everyone who hadn’t been eaten was accounted for.
Sherlock didn’t bother feigning interest in the lecture, his thoughts drifting between pre-Prom anxieties and visions of John: those piercing median and lateral eyes set into that smooth carapace, trailing toward his obscenely exaggerated telson. With such favorable genetics it was no surprise he’d made the Stick And Rock team his first year. Sherlock attended every game that semester just to watch him play, though he doubted John noticed him amidst the crowd. He wasn’t even sure he understood the rules of Stick And Rock, but everyone agreed that John was very good at it.
To introduce himself would have required squeezing past the harem of females who swarmed John after each game. Several bragged of having been fertilized by their idol, but Sherlock suspected many were lying, based on their size. A gut instinct in his first abdominal segment told him John wouldn’t be the type to settle for a female physically smaller than himself.
“Sherlock?” The teacher was calling his name.
He would think about John some more later. “Yes, sorry?”
“Pull your prosoma out of that burrow and pay attention,” tsked the teacher. “I expect better from you. Now: you have three crickets. If you eat one, how many do you have left?”
Sucking air through his spiracles at exactly the standard rate of diffusion from the atmosphere, the wheels in Sherlock’s brain began to turn. It took some effort to get the answer.
“One,” he said.
The teacher paused.
“Sure,” she finally replied. “I can’t count.” Then: “Do you eat the remaining cricket?”
Could this be a trick question? Sherlock was sure he knew this one, too. “Yes.”
The teacher clicked her pincers approvingly. “Good. Always eat the cricket. Moving on: who of you hasn't found a date to Prom?”
The sun rose and fell several cycles until Scorpion Prom night had arrived. Rumor had it John was taking three females at the same time. Someone told him this was against the rules, but after looking up the school guidelines the principal determined he couldn’t read.
Worryingly, Sherlock didn’t see Molly all day.
He stopped by her burrow at the appointed time with a frothy, liquefied cricket torso, his carapace freshly picked clean of clinging moss and vermiculite. A bulky, scowling scorpion Sherlock took to be Molly’s father waited at the tunnel entrance.
“Hello,” Sherlock said, trying not to sound nervous. “I’m here to pick up Molly for Scorpion Prom.”
Molly’s father took a good look at him.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m afraid Molly won’t be coming tonight.”
Sherlock assumed the worst. “Did she get eaten?”
The older scorpion shook his prosoma. “No. She’s just molting. She said she doesn’t want you to see her like this.”
Dejected, Sherlock went to Scorpion Prom alone.
He watched the other scorpions dance as he sat in the corner sucking cricket juice from the torso he’d intended to give to Molly. Meanwhile, John was probably having the time of his life, being that he was an attractive scorpion and not a dateless loser.
Powerful vibrations buzzed up Sherlock’s pectines, and within moments some oafish scorpion crawled over his foremost leg to reach one of the dew-covered leaves set out for students.
“Sorry,” the scorpion said. It was hard to hear him over the musical chirring emanating from the stagerock. “I didn’t mean to step on you. Are you okay?”
“It’s fine,” said Sherlock, scuttling out of the way.
A strong but graceful pedipalp grabbed one of the leaves. At second smell Sherlock realized the pedipalp belonged to none other than John. He stared at the other scorpion like a dummy, the remainder of the liquified cricket contents oozing onto his claw.
After taking a sip, John set down the leaf. “Sherlock, right?”
Sherlock’s pectines tensed with such force it felt like he’d been stung in the basal piece.
“Yes!” he yelped, almost in pain. “That’s me.”
“I thought I recognized you. You’ve been to all my Stick And Rock games.”
John had noticed him? “Oh, um, yes,” Sherlock mumbled, blood rushing to his prosoma. “I admire your playing.”
John nodded. “Can I ask you a question?” He’d lowered his voice.
“Yeah, anything,” Sherlock said. He hoped John wasn’t in some kind of trouble.
“Well, this is sort of embarrassing, but what are the actual rules of Stick And Rock?” John scratched his dorsal plates with his telson, shifting legs.
Sherlock’s caudal segment clenched involuntarily. Did John not actually know, or was he just messing with him?
Regardless, he didn’t want to seem stupid, so he made his best guess. “You have to touch the stick to the rock.”
John’s posture straightened.
“Of course,” he murmured. “That makes so much sense. Thank you.”
“Sure,” Sherlock said, feeling kind of cool. “Glad to help.”
John offered him a sip from his leaf but Sherlock declined.
For a moment neither said nor smelt anything. And then John brought up the worst possible thing he could have.
“So, did you come to Prom without a date?”
Sherlock wished a bird would swoop down and snatch him away right then.
“She couldn’t, you see, she was, well, the thing is—no. I didn’t.” Horrified, he imagined a ravished John tearing him limb from limb with his claws, his loser status now revealed.
But John didn’t eat him.
“Hey,” he said, patting Sherlock’s carapace. “It’s okay. I don’t care much for females, anyway.”
Their telsons brushed. The scorpions locked six and seven eyes together, respectively.
“But John,” chittered Sherlock. “You brought the school's three biggest females as your dates.”
“Yeah, because that's what I'm biologically expected to do. But they’re not really who I’m interested in.” John lowered his tail enough that his caudal segment massaged Sherlock’s prosoma. The heady pheromones it released would have made Sherlock shiver had his rigid exoskeleton allowed such a thing.
Several minutes later, Molly burst into the burrow where the dance was being held, newly minted from her molt. Every eye turned to her, taking in her proud, elegant tail and perfect mesasoma-to-metasoma ratio. Several males would be eaten later that night after their mates caught them stealing glances at her well-formed pedipalps.
Sadly for Molly, Sherlock had found a new date, and the pair were nowhere to be seen.
Uncountable meters away (by scorpions standards), in a dry, snug burrow dug under a moonless sky, a careful listener would have overheard one of many scorpion couplings that evening.
“Can I fertilize you?”
“No, John. We’re both males.”
“. . . Can I try?”
- Current Mood: content