SCP-173 turns as Newt suddenly sneezes. Hermann freezes- too late too late too late he’s too slow and it’s too fast. He drops the bag of samples tries to get his head up and see the thing before-
Hands snap closed around his neck. Horror explodes in his belly and oh god oh god oh god no-
But the hands don’t squeeze, or clench to snap his neck. They simply stay, on his neck. Newt sneezes again.
Hermann looks up, into SCP-173′s face. It doesn’t move. Hermann reaches up with trembling hands, and prises the thing’s hands from his neck.
“Hermann? Oh fuck Hermann! Are you okay!” Newt’s voice rises to a shriek.
Hermann gets up, leaves the sample bag. He staggers backwards, and nearly trips over something half buried in the muck on the floor. “Newt?”
“Yeah?” Newt breathes, he’s trembling.
“Don’t look away.”
Hermann takes a breath, and risks a quick glance down.
It’s SCP-131b, the yellow one. It’s eye is barely above the filth. He bends down and picks it up, then spots and picks up SCP-131a, cradling them in his arms.
They are looking steadily at SCP-173, “Newt?”
They back away slowly. SCP-173 is still standing there, arms outstretched, fingers still closed around where Hermann’s neck had been.
The door closes. Newt nearly collapses. Hermann puts down the eye-pods, walks stiffly over to the dustbin, and throws up.
“Hermann?” Newt’s voice trembles. “Herms- I am so, so sorry.”
Hermann stands up, shivers. He takes a breath, leans against the wall. He can’t stop shaking.
The eyepods bump against his heels, press up against his ankles reassuringly.
“It was them.” He manages. “They looked at it when we didn’t.”
“I know.” Newt comes up behind him, rubs his back. “Babe- I-”
“Stop.” Hermann takes a deep breath. “It’s alright.”
“It’s not.” Newt’s fingers brush over his neck, “It nearly-”
“It didn’t.” Hermann stands up, tries to pull himslef together. “We’ve had close calls before.”
“I’m so sorry.” Newt hugs him. “Shit, I didn’t even feel it coming.”
“It happens.” They’re still alive. That’s lucky enough. He bends down and picks up the pods. “Let’s give them a bath.”
“A bath,” Newt blinks at them, shakes his head. “Fuck that, they’re living with us now. Screw regulations, they can bond with us. I’m getting them cat beds and everything-”
“They don’t sleep.” Hermann half protests, but doesn’t push it too far. The pods whirr happily in his arms.
“They can snuggle if they want to.” Newt says firmly.
They stop off at a bathroom and give the pods a quick bath in a sink. They whistle in pleasure and roll around the sinks, then up over Hermann’s arm to sit on his shoulder.
Maybe they could buy some pet toys, and see if they like any of them.