Someone was calling her name, the sound distant as it echoed around her. She made a sound in response to the voice, hearing it grow more urgent as her name was repeated. Allura wanted nothing more than to sink back into sleep, but the voice persisted, annoying in it’s attempts to get her attention.
Grumpily, she worked her way back to consciousness, growing aware of other sounds, electronics beeping, and the sound of footsteps, people speaking softly in the background. She felt pressure on her hand, someone was squeezing her fingers, lending her warmth that chased away the chill in her body. She smiled then, eyelids fluttering open as a shadowy figure stood over her.
For a second her vision swam, she saw golden eyes set in a face that was colored blue. “Lo…?” She tried to speak, choking on the name, and then the blurry image came into focus. Revealing skin that was lightly tanned from days spent out in the sun, covered with the dark fuzz of a man who had gone without shaving for several days. His eyes were dark, off setting his black hair nicely.
“Keith?” Allura whispered, not fighting the frown that crossed her lips. He didn’t seem to notice her expression, giving another soft squeeze of her fingers, eyes shining with relief as he looked at her.
“Hey there.” He crooned a soft hello to her, warmth in his voice as he bent over her to press a welcoming kiss on her lips. Her own mouth stayed still beneath his, Allura not responding to Keith’s kiss. He wisely did not try to engage her any further, pulling back enough for Allura to look past him towards the room. White plaster walls with soft green accents was the sight she took in, Allura noting all the machines responsible for the beeps and humming she had heard against the walls. A window was directly opposite her bed, curtains for the moment drawn close to give her privacy.
She recognized this room, realizing she was in one of the bedrooms of the castle’s private medical facility. Allura had spent more than her fair share of time here, either as patient or as visitor during the long war with Doom. And though none of those experiences in the med bay were pleasant, never had Allura felt such an overwhelming depression as she did now to realize her appearance here meant she had been taken from Lotor.
“Are you in pain?” Keith’s anxious voice urged Allura to look back at him, the girl silently shaking her head no to his questions. “Should I page for Doctor Gorma?”
“No…no need to bother him at the moment.” Allura said, wishing Keith didn’t hover so close to her.
“You wouldn’t be bothering him.” Keith said, quick to reassure her. “Allura, you’ve had everyone worried. You’ve been out of it for nearly two days.”
“Two days?!” Allura was alarmed to hear she had lost so much time, the princess wondering what had gone on while she slept. Her immediate concern was Prince Lotor, the girl wondering what had happened to him after she had passed out in his arms. Was he here at the castle, or had he escaped, leaving her behind to return to Doom? Her heart screamed out a protest, Allura feeling she would not be able to bear it if Lotor had really left.
“I was beginning to think you’d never wake up.” Keith was speaking, Allura barely paying attention to his words. “A blast directly to the heart at that high a stun setting could have proved fatal. I don’t know what I would have done if you had died on me.”
Real concern was in Keith’s voice, making Allura feel guilty for what she had to ask him. “Lotor…where is he? What happened after I fainted?”
Some of the warmth left the captain’s face, Keith frowning down at her. “What do you care about what happens to him?” Ice practically coated his words, Keith unable to keep from showing hostility at the mere mention of the prince’s name.
“I…I just do.” Allura said quietly. “Please Keith….I want…I NEED to know.”
His look was exasperated, Keith sucking in air as he considered what to tell her. “Don’t worry Allura. Lotor can’t get to you again. I’ve made sure of that.” Her eyes widened, Allura trying to pull back her hand from Keith’s grasp. He held on, fingers tightening possessively around hers.
“What have you done?” Allura asked, fearing the worst. She felt as though she couldn’t breathe, staring anxiously at Keith as she waited to hear his answer.
“For now nothing.” Keith’s words had her sighing, relief coloring her expression. “Lotor’s merely been left to rot in the castle dungeon. Don’t worry…I honored your command.” A facial tic by the eye betrayed just how annoyed Keith was at having to follow her orders, the captain adding to his words. “I dare say he’s enjoying the accommodations a lot more than you did in that wreck of a building he kept you in.”
“He’s being treated fairly?” Allura asked, waiting for Keith to nod affirmation. “There’s been no mistreatment or neglect?”
“He’s fine.” Keith said, and now he dropped her hand. “I don’t know why you worry so much about that monster. Especially after what he did!”
“He didn’t do anything I didn’t want him too.” Allura whispered, Keith continuing to speak as though she hadn’t said anything at all.
“He hasn’t been charged officially yet, but it’s only a matter of time. We caught him red handed in your abduction, and when you add in his lengthy list of war crimes, well…” A shrug of his shoulders, Keith smirking a self satisfied smile. “It’ll be the gallows for him for sure.”
“No!” Allura cried out, voice loud with her distress. “Lotor will not be executed.”
“You don’t have to be scared of him.” Keith said, frustration showing on his face. “He’s locked up. He can’t hurt you anymore. I’ll protect you. Protect you the way I should have the day of our wedding.” He reached towards her face, Allura holding herself still as he brushed back her hair. “I failed you.”
“You didn’t.” Allura tried to sound reassuring, feeling sad that Keith blamed himself for her disappearance.
“Yes, I did. I should have been more vigilant. I should have known that Lotor would not let you get married unchallenged.” He sighed, still playing with the curls by her cheeks, the man choosing his words carefully. “I was cocky. I was on cloud nine over marrying you, and Lotor hadn’t been by in weeks. I didn’t think that coward would dare show his face at our wedding. I nearly paid the price for my over confidence.”
“I thought I lost you.” He said, his words making Allura’s guilt rise for she knew he had never had her in the first place. Knew he never would have her for always her heart would belong to Lotor. “I spent many sleepless nights searching for you…we even had your cousin Romelle’s terrorist cell snoop around Doom for clues to your whereabouts. Zarkon of course claimed not to know Lotor’s whereabouts, but I didn’t believe that for a second.”
“How did you find us?” Allura asked, her curiosity getting the better of her. “How did you know where to look?”
Now Keith smiled, pulling back his hand. “You gave us the tip we needed.”
He nodded. “When you tried to contact the castle. A technician who was on duty that day heard your cry. My brave fiancee, risking the insane prince’s anger to let us know where you were.” She wondered if she paled, Allura knowing how bad it must have sounded to hear her scream out Lotor’s name, a protest following that utterance. The words could easily be misread, especially in the situation surrounding her abduction.
“I don’t want to think of what he did to you when he caught you with that radio.” Keith said, a shudder shaking it’s way through his body. “But if you hadn’t made that call, I don’t know if we would ever have found you. Pidge spent many hours tirelessly working to trace the call, leading us to many dead ends before he got the breakthrough needed to find you.”
“I see.” Allura commented, inwardly cursing Pidge’s talent with computers.
“We’ll have to reward him.” Continued Keith, a chuckle escaping him. “Something suitably nerdish to thank Pidge for his assistance.”
“Keith…I…how long must I remain in the hospital?” Allura asked, trying to gear up her nerve for her next question.
“Hopefully not too long.” Keith said. “I mean aside from the stun blast, you seem to be in good health. Allura…I…I’m sorry for shooting you.”
“Aren’t you going to ask me why I jumped in front of Lotor?”
He shook his head no, face slipping into a mask that hid his true thoughts on the matter. “I’m sure you had your reasons.”
“I did.” Allura agreed, fighting the temptation to chew on her lip. She refused to give in to her nerves though, and with a short sigh, she was speaking once more. “Keith…I…I did it because I love him.”
For a second he just stared at her, eyes startled. And then he began to laugh, a loud, uproarious sound. “Oh Allura….that would be funnier if it wasn’t so out there a notion.”
“Why would you laugh?” Allura asked, feeling the first flames of anger boil inside her. “Why would you think I’m joking?”
“You couldn’t possibly love Lotor.” Keith said, and seized hold of both her hands. “And I’ll tell you why. Aside from his many crimes, the fact of the matter is you love me.”
“No Keith. I’m sorry. I don’t.” Allura told him, seeing his impassive mask slip to show the hurt emotions in his eyes. She didn’t like hurting him, but she was through lying. The truth had to come out, one way or the other, and it might as well be from her lips.
“You’re traumatized.” Keith said. “You’ve been through a lot, and in such a short amount of time. It’s no wonder you’re talking nonsense.”
“It’s not nonsense!” Allura’s temper flared at that, the girl jerking her hands free of Keith’s. “It’s the truth!”
“The doctor was afraid of this.” Keith told her, clicking his tongue in a chiding manner. “He feared you’d be suffering from shock and the horror of what happened. But fear not, I won’t abandoned you just because you’re sick.”
Her jaw dropped open in shock, Allura gaping at Keith. “I’m not sick!”
He continued as though she hadn’t voiced a protest, Keith flashing a small smile at her. “I’ve got a priest on standby. He can be here within the hour.”
“A priest?” Allura’s brows furrowed, the princess confused. “What do we need a priest for?”
Keith fixed her with a look as though she was stupid, giving her an answer that made her blood run cold. “Why to marry us of course.”
“No! I will not marry you.” Allura protested, giving a wild shake of her head. “I’m sorry Keith, but the engagement is off. I…I’d give you back your ring if I still had it.” She didn’t even know what Lotor had done with the ring, Allura wondering if she;d ever get a chance to return it to Keith. But for now she had more pressing matters to attend to. “I need to get out of here. I need to see Lotor, make sure he’s really okay.”
“I told you he’s fine!” Keith snapped, hand gesturing dismissively.
“I need to see that with my own eyes!” Allura said, just as snappish as Keith. “Plus I have to apologize…”
“Yes….for locking him up.” Allura saw her words were just making Keith more angry, but she couldn’t stop herself from speaking. “He needs to be released.”
“You’re definitely not feeling well if you think to let that fiend go!” Keith snarled. “Allura, you’re in no condition to make any decisions about Lotor…or the planet. Which is why we should get married immediately, so that I can take this burden off your shoulders while you recover!”
“That’s not going to happen Keith!” Allura retorted, making a fist out of her right hand. “I’m thinking clearer than I have in a long time.”
“Oh yes, so clear.” Keith’s tone was sarcastic, his lips twisted into a sneer. “Talking about letting him go, about being in love with him!”
“I am in love with him!” She insisted, pounding her fist on the mattress.
“How could you be?!” Keith demanded. “He kidnapped you! He kept you chained like an animal, kept you in that room a prisoner to his every sick urge. Allura we know!”
“Know what?” She asked, tone wary.
“We know he raped you.” Her stomach dropped, Allura staring at Keith horrified. The captain nodded his head, expression grim as he spoke. “Doctor Gorma did a thorough exam on you. He…he found the evidence of Lotor’s use of your body.”
“How could you?” She was horrified by what he had told her, Allura feeling violated that they had examined her body so thoroughly.
“It had to be done.” Keith said, Allura hardly able to stand it when his voice turned sympathetic. “No one blames you. We know you couldn’t defend yourself against him. Allura…” He lifted up her hand, fingers stroking her palm. “You don’t have to be ashamed, and you don’t have to lie to me. I still love you, even with all that happened.”
“But I don’t love you.” Allura whispered.
“You won’t chase me off with lies.” Keith told her, raising her wrist to his lips. He kissed her, and she shivered, repulsed by the touch of his lips. “I know you must be feeling pretty bad about yourself and what happened…but don’t punish yourself. Don’t punish me by turning your back on us. Please Allura…don’t let Lotor win. Marry me, today, now…”
She stared at him for a full minute, eyes welling with frustrated tears. “All right Keith…” Allura said, voice weary. “I’ll marry you.” His eyes lit up, his smile dazzling as he leaned in to kiss her. She stopped him, Allura placing her fingers against his lips. “But only if you go gather as many of our friends and family as you can.”
“All right…” Keith agreed. “You won’t regret this Allura.” She said nothing, merely dropped her hand, allowing Keith to press a chaste kiss against her lips. “I’ll be back as soon as I can…in the meantime you rest.”
“Yes.” Allura agreed, watching as he turned away from her. “Please hurry Keith.” She added, the man heading towards the room’s door. “I can’t wait to be your wife.”
“And I can’t wait to be your husband!” Keith said, blowing her a kiss before he disappeared out the door. Allura counted to five minutes in her head, and then she moved into action, pulling the iv line out of her arm, and removing the suction cup wires on her chest. The machines beeped in alarm, but Allura ignored them, yanking back her bed sheets as she slid off the bed.
A nurse burst into the room, doing a double take to see Allura up and out of bed. “You shouldn’t have pulled out the iv.” She chided Allura, taking a step towards the princess. “If you needed to go to the bathroom, you should have page for help.”
“I’m going a lot further than the bathroom.” Allura retorted, than fixed the woman with her most regal stare. “I’m leaving this place.”
“But the doctor hasn’t given permission to discharge you yet.” Protested the nurse, stepping in Allura’s path.
“The doctor doesn’t give me orders.” Allura hissed, moving forward determinedly. “I out rank him, and you. Now…if you don’t move out of my way, you’ll find yourself earning a lengthy stay in the palace dungeons.” Her eyes were a fierce challenge as she gazed at the nurse, all but daring her to argue. The woman wisely did not, moving out of Allura’s way.
“You made a wise decision.” Allura said, then ran out of the room. People looked startled to see her, but she ignored them, running faster in her hurry to get to the castle dungeons. She knew she had to go see Lotor, had to free him before Keith came back. Her mind ran through scenarios as she moved, until at last Allura smiled, having thought of a plan that would ensure she had a future with Lotor rather than Keith.