Written for a friend, who requested a happy Scorpius story with no John whatsoever as a Yuletide/New Year's present.


The proprietor of the rental properties stared at Scorpius in consternation. "Sir... this is the off-season."

"I'm well aware of that." He glanced out the window. "Obviously the rainy season has already begun. Nevertheless, I would like a lakefront cottage for five solar days."

"Well, it's a question of liability. Sometimes we have storms this early. And the cleaners have all gone home for the season-- we generally only have someone in to dust every tenth of a cycle--"

"I will sign whatever waivers are necessary to protect you from liability," Scorpius said, rather more patiently than he felt. "As for cleaners, my needs are few. I am accustomed to cleaning up after myself."

"But I won't be able to have fresh linens provided on a daily basis--"

"I do not care." It was very hard to avoid snarling, but he managed it. "I would like to have the cabin. I am not concerned with its cleanliness. Will you rent it to me, or not?" The last was said in his best Peacekeeper "the answer had better be yes" tone of voice.

"Uh, yes, sir, of course."

And so an arn later he had the solitude of a cabin on the lake, surrounded by empty cabins and the sound and smell of cool rain falling.

He could not swim-- the heavy cranial implant gave him negative buoyancy exactly where he would most need to keep above water-- but after a childhood spent in confinement, never permitted quite enough water or quite enough coolness to be comfortable, rain had become what he most sought out when he took leave on planets. Sebaceans generally liked snow-covered ranges, mild and temperate forests or sunny lakefronts with plenty of shade and cool water. They weren't usually big fans of rain, and resorts that catered to Sebaceans rarely operated during rainy seasons.

Scorpius removed his cooling suit. The rain was warm enough that it didn't chill too-Scarran skin, cool enough to wash away un-Sebacean heat. He stood naked in front of the cottage, a slight breeze from the lake blowing onto him. Rain splashed on his face.

Aboard a ship, in the carefully controlled environment the Peacekeepers preserved, wrapped in a cooling suit that blocked most physical sensation, Scorpius rarely felt much consciousness of a sense of touch. Proprioception, the sense of where his body was and the physical sensations it experienced inside, was much stronger than touch, the sense of his skin contacting anything. He accepted this, as he had learned to accept most of the compromises he needed to survive.

But every so often he wanted to be able to take off the suit. To let his skin feel. To be fully alive.

Cool rain washed across his skin, draining off the heat inside without blocking his ability to feel the breeze, to feel the pattern of the drops against his skin. He sat down on the ground, crosslegged, face upturned to the rain, and smiled. It was good to be able to take time to relax, to enjoy a peaceful respite from the stresses of his research every so often. It was good to be able to feel.