Set some time between seasons 3 and 4

Spoilers: some references to events of earlier seasons

Characters are still not mine. Well one of them is, but all the rest belong to the Jim Henson Company.

Rated PG-15 for scenes and themes of a sexual nature - more angst than smut though!

Word count - 3275

Surrender (PG-15)

The hum of the air recycling unit thrummed through her mind, driving her close to insanity.

Tonight more than previous nights, she felt like wrenching the damned thing off the wall and throwing it out the window. The heat outside was stifling and she knew only too well that she needed to stay cool and get some rest. It was hard enough facing the high temperatures during the day while attempting to carry out her mission without also being exhausted from lack of sleep.

For a moment she let her mind slip back to three cycles ago, to the Draks and the suffocating heat that had engulfed Moya during their regenerative cycle…and then to Sykar – how she had had to leave the planet at day break to avoid heat delirium… to how, back then, she had envied his ability to….

"Stop, Aeryn!" berating herself with barely restrained annoyance she brushed a hand across her eyes, hard, hurting her eyelids a little by the vehemence of her motion. She wanted to stop these unwelcome thoughts from flooding her brain, stifling it, drowning and washing away her self- imposed ban ... no thoughts of the past, no thoughts of a life now gone, lost, left behind by choice.

"Relax, apply what the Peacekeepers taught you…breath in…calm your mind…let sleep come to you…let rest reinvigorate your body.." She repeated this mantra to herself over and over again.

Those lessons felt as they had been imparted decades ago, in that other life, the life she now so wanted to get back to in an attempt to escape the one that she had come to love so deeply and which had been taken from her so cruelly.

She forced herself to lie back facing up at the ceiling, trying to rein her wild thoughts and emotions in…she had to try and zero in on something, anything, let her wandering mind fix itself on something real here in this room…she made herself focus on a spot of moisture spreading across a patch of ceiling right above her bed.

"Good, this is good, concentrate on that"… an amorphous stain of humidity…she slightly tilted her head sideways on the pillow. A frown creased her forehead while her eyes really took in the contours , which seemed to be morphing into something more and more familiar "That looks a little like a large, scaly carapace …and, frell me, if that is not Pilot's gentle face staring down at me, large eyes and sloping nose!" The dearly loved outlines now completely clear and jumping out at her, mocking her!

"Frell, frell, frell! This is no use!" her voice echoed out loud in the room.

She sat up in bed, anger at her inability to re-own those long ago learnt practices of relaxation pressing hard on her chest. She had been able to sleep before battles or field exercises, always, without any problem. She would lie down in her small quarters on the Command Carrier and sleep would engulf her and after a few arns her mind would open up again to this world, fresh, determined, ready to engage in whatever dangerous challenge lay ahead. How she wished she truly could go back to that. She had made a decision on Valldon, she would be who she was meant to be…and yet she wasn't! Try as hard as she might, she just could not be who she had been a mere three and a half cycles ago…who was she trying to fool, she could not even centre herself enough to capture some badly needed sleep!

An episode from her distant past suddenly came back to her. She had been barely seventeen cycles old, still in the final stages of her Prowler training, sleep and relaxation techniques not completely mastered as yet - her energy and will to excel in combat flying and her excitement about taking her final test to become a fully-fledged pilot keeping her alert even during the night cycle. That time, the solution had been simple. She had exhausted her body through a thoroughly satisfying session of recreation with one of the older cadets. He had been more than willing, sleep also escaping him at such a nervous time – it had been a fun, forceful couple of arns of pleasurable exercise enjoyed by both and it had finally brought release of bodily fluids as well as restoring sleep.

Maybe that's what she needed right now, tonight. It had been quite some time now, weekens and weekens since Talyn and the arns spent blissfully…Aeryn shook her head again fighting against floods of memories.

She had of course released tension by herself a few times since - she looked down at her splayed hands a smile surfacing unbidden to her lips, the breath of whispered words against the tender spot at the back of her ear almost real in the strength of her sudden remembrance

'You know what? I got two hands. I can alternate. I can release all the tension I want'

That breathless drawled sentence, his hot lips against her cooler skin had given her then as the memory of them was giving her now, shivers down her spine, all through her core and down right in between her legs, making her tingly and moist… she tensed her pelvic muscles and desire shot through her.

"That's it, sex, that's what I need. I will feel better after it, a simple solution to a simple problem."

Now more than ever abandoning all hope for sleep, she got up and headed for the refresher unit.

While showering she resisted the temptation to seek her own fast release even though her nipples were standing erect to the point of soreness and the throbbing between her legs was made only more intense by the hard jet of water hitting her sensitive skin…no…she needed more…she needed the contact of another body, the pressure of the weight of a man on her, in her, she wanted to be taken, hard and for as long as it took for her mind to finally reach exanimate oblivion…yes, that would make her feel better, it just had to.

She quickly dried herself off and wore her standard attire: leather pants and leather vest, no t-shirt. She gathered her hair in a tight braid and strapped her thigh holster to her right leg, checked her pulse pistol and left the untidy squalid room only to be hit by a wall of stifling heat in the corridor of the dingy accommodation establishment that had been her home for the last 10 solar days. "Well, one thing for sure, recreation tonight is going to be a sweaty affair" she caustically thought.

She gingerly made her way to a refreshment house down the road which she had passed often in her comings and goings from the town centre. She knew it mainly serviced the drinking and gambling needs of the few hundred miners who worked at the local quarry – the place never closed, receiving patrons coming off shift at all hours of the night and day. These were relatively young, strong men doing very physical and demanding work on a daily basis.

Aeryn was sure that one of them would more than fit her requirements.

She had learned long ago in the Peacekeepers that finding a willing recreational partner would never be a problem for her or in all fairness for most women that went looking for one. Men were always willing in that department it seemed, at least Sebacean men…that unexpected refusal of her offer in a semi collapsed conduit on a disintegrating commerce station whipped back to the front of her mind again. He had fought it, but, even though it had taken him a few arns, he had finally come around. Even he, with his feelings and morals and strange chivalrous attitudes, in the end had capitulated and gone back on his decision…only for her to back down from her own. Why had she? Certainly not for lack of desire - Cholak only knows the effect his eyes, his crooked mocking smile and his large strong hands had had on her.

She really needed to snap out of it and get on with the business at hand. She was driving herself mad with these longing, useless, tormenting thoughts …

She looked around and realised that she had stopped dead in the middle of the street and that the few people around were starting to look at her strangely, which only strengthened her determination to shake herself and see her plan through.

Aeryn stepped into the refreshment house and after a quick nod to the tall, furry Vorlag who manned the bar, a common occupation for members of his species in this section of the galaxy, she stood straight as a fuse just inside the tavern's entrance and surveyed with cold, systematic Peacekeeper determination all of the various male specimen scattered around the place, engaged in drinking, talking or playing cards or any combination of the three.

She started her dispassionate scan from the left of the room, eliminating quickly and decisively the non-suitable candidates in her mind:

"Too short"

"Teasing smile"

"Too young"

"Bad teeth"

"Blue eyes"

"Too dirty"

One by one they fell discarded under her gaze, which was cutting a swathe through the room until she finally settled her sights on one particular male, tall, wiry, around her age, dark hair, dark eyes, good smile but not crooked or gently mocking….yes, he would do! He reminded her a little of Velorek, but that was okay, she could cope with that, she'd rather cope with that than with somebody reminding her of the other one.

Having made her choice, she walked determinately over to his table – he was drinking raslak or some other alcoholic beverage, talking to three other men and playing a game of drekka. She stopped right beside him until he, alerted by the admired and amused looks of his companions, turned his head and appraised her – eyes at first level with her bellybutton, slowly travelled upwards, taking in and caressing the taut muscles of her stomach showing from beneath the short vest, the swell of her breasts under the leather, her cleavage and finally her angular but extremely appealing face. A lazy smile spread from his eyes to his lips showing appreciation and definite interest. She let him look, he was after all entitled to evaluate the merchandise if she expected him to satisfy her needs.

"Seeing anything you like?" she coolly asked

He slowly got up from his chair, definitely taken aback by her directness but willing of course to go along – he had never lacked female companionship, but this type of head on approach was a first for him and it was throwing him a little.

He coughed slightly to clear his throat, nodded once in positive reply to her question and then remembering his manners, he extended a hand towards her:

"Yes, yes, definitely" he almost stuttered reinforcing his previous silent agreement "The name is.."

"Not interested in your name" Aeryn interrupted ignoring his proffered hand. A few snickers from around the table reached her ears, however she barely glanced at the other men, instead she picked up his still almost full glass and drained it in one swallow.

She then turned around and took two full strides towards the door. When she realised that the stranger had not yet moved from the table, she whipped her head around impatiently and stared straight at him:

"Are you coming or are you not?"

Snickers now turned into wolf whistles and heavy handed comments on how lucky the guy was and what was he waiting for and why hadn't the tralk picked them instead as well as coarse comments on how the night was going to unfold, how her attributes were enough to drive a man wild and so on and so forth…embarrassed by his friends' behaviour, he quickly grabbed his light coat from the back of the chair and followed this stunning woman out of the bar.

"Hey, wait up, will you?" He called after her trying to catch up while she firmly stalked up the road.

Aeryn didn't stop or turn around but did slow her pace a little letting him draw level with her.

"What's your name?" the stranger asked trying to get something, anything out of her.

"That is also not important! " Aeryn suddenly stopped and turned her head in his direction "Look, let's make something clear, I am not looking for friendship, conversation or any of that nonsensical dren. All I want is a good, hard frell, do you think you can provide that?"

Wow this woman was something else! He had overtaken her by a few steps before realising that she had stopped, so he now had to turn his body to look back at her – she was breath-taking, all wiry muscles, strong profile and wide sensual mouth – just looking at her made his groin tighten.

Yes, yes of course he was up for it although far from comfortable with the detached manner in which it was being offered to him.

Again he found himself just nodding.

Aeryn nodded back "Good, now follow me. My lodgings are just a few doors down from here"

A few microts later they reached the main entrance of her hired quarters and still in total silence, they went up the three flights of stairs that led to the corridor where her room was located.

She produced a key from her pocket and inserted it in the door. She was about to twist it and gain entrance into the room, when his hand gently covered hers stopping her in her tracks. His low, slightly concerned voice came to her from very close behind:

"Listen, whoever you are, whatever you name is…are you sure about this?"

She didn't even turn her head, she shook his hand off of hers and continued opening the door. She entered the room, firmly covered the couple of steps to the side of the bed and only then turned and looked at him. Very slowly she unzipped her vest and dropped it to the floor.

He took a sharp breath at the sight of her semi naked body in front of him and putting whatever tenuous reservations he had about her motives out of his mind, he also stepped into the room and quietly closed the door behind him.

She let him approach her and when he was close enough, she clinically popped the button of his trousers and lowered the zip, she then did the same with her own, slipped them and her boots off with a surprising economy of movement and, naked, stood in front of him. An eyebrow raised in question, she made it very clear that she was displeased at the slowness of his undressing. With an impatient huff, she slipped his shirt over his head and pulled his already open trousers down to the floor and off.

When he too was finally standing naked, she took hold of his biceps and let herself fall backwards on the bed dragging him along on top of her, in one long fluid motion bringing their bodies to almost complete contact, his pressing down on hers.

She wriggled under him and by reaching in between them with her hand she made sure of his hardness, then adjusting the angle of her body, guided him firmly inside of her.

He tried to kiss her, once, twice but each time she just turned her face away only turning back towards him when he gave up trying, her mouth set in almost a grimace of concentration, her eyes stubbornly looking at his face but not really seeing it.

He lost himself to the fast rhythms she was setting for them, trying hard to hold himself back, not wanting this to be over too quickly, truly wanting to give her what she so obviously craved.

However the longer their bodies pounded into one another, the more he realised that the tension he could feel in her was not a precursor to release but pent up frustration at her inability to even get close to reaching it.

He bent his head and softly whispered in her ear "Don't try so hard, let your mind relax…"

A half sob left her lips and she buried her face in his neck, her hands clinging to his back as if to a lifesaver, nails digging into his flesh and leaving marks.

She then stilled for a few microts and nodded against his shoulder, for the first time letting him set the pace.

His gentleness just acted as a catalyst for what she had been trying to push to the back of her mind for most of the day…she closed her eyes and finally let the memories take her…memories of soft lips murmuring and whispering endearments against her skin in an uncomfortable, narrow, heavenly bunk on a hybrid Leviathan, strong wide hands softly tracing arousing patterns on her tingling skin, a deep throated laugh vibrating against her belly while playfully teasing her, feather like kisses leaving a slightly moist path around the birthmark on the sweet spot of her hip, intense blue eyes staring into hers while minds and bodies melted into one.

The man who was actually in the room with her couldn't help but look with fascination at her beautiful face, at her features softening, her lips finally parting in a luscious smile and her eyes rolling back under her closed eyelids, all the while feeling her legs tightening around his waist until she finally let go with a strangled moan and a whispered name he couldn't quite capture on her lips.

Sweat coated both of their skins and to his surprise, his own release was now, somehow, something that did not seem so important. He brushed a couple of strands of hair that had come loose from her braid away from her face and then lifted himself up and off of her and softly asked "Are you okay?"

He saw her open her eyes and a few microts passed before those grey-blue windows into her soul actually focused on him.

Aeryn slowly dragged herself back to the present from a different place and time and saw this stranger, now propped on his elbow by her side, looking down at her, his almost black eyes following the single tear that had escaped her eyelashes leaving a damp trail from the corner of her right eye to the dark hair at her temple.

She expected some angry or flippant words. She knew at the back of her mind that he had not reached an orgasm and that he must be well aware that hers had not really been his doing other than as a purely mechanical means to an end…yet a strangely kind light lit his eyes and a faint, sad but warm smile hovered on his lips when he gently stroked her cheek and spoke:

"He must have been somebody really special"

This stranger she had so callously used was being kind to her- she would have preferred cruelty or mockery – but in the last three cycles she had come to know and appreciate kindness and a strange feeling of gratefulness now constricted her throat, so she swallowed the harsh words she had mentally prepared herself to use to dismiss him and push him away and to her own surprise and a little dismay she slightly tilted her head into his caressing hand and replied honestly, finally giving voice to what she had known and denied to herself all along:

"Yes, he was…he …he still is".

The end