Lotor still strong in her mind, Allura arrived back at the hospital in time to find it in a state of burgeoning chaos. People milled about uncertainly, a mixture of the uniformed medical personnel, and plain clothes civilians. Their backs were mainly to her, most staring ahead towards the source of a man shouting, few if any noticed Allura pausing in the entrance way.
She could hear the commotion, the man’s voice faint but recognizable, both in it’s tone and the anger he displayed. Allura sighed, realizing Keith had discovered her absence, the captain raising hell over her disappearance. She couldn’t see Keith from where she stood, he was inside her hospital room, the curtains drawn but the door left open, allowing his voice to carry out into the hall. Allura bet that even if the door had been shut, it wouldn’t have been strong enough to muffle Keith’s shouts.
Squaring her shoulders, she sighed and began walking towards the room. As she passed by the people standing about in the corridor, she saw them start with recognition, elbows nudging each other as they nodded at Allura. Relief was in their eyes, the people curious as to where she had been. But they dared not approach her, allowing Allura the freedom to reach the hospital room unimpeded.
From this close a range she could make out Keith’s words, Allura surprised he wasn’t frothing at the mouth, so angry he was.
“How could you just let her get up and walk out of here?” He demanded, Allura cautiously peering into the room from around the corner of the door frame. The nurse she had bullied was cringing before Keith, her face colored with her distress blush. Keith’s own face was reddening, his arms gesturing wildly about as he screamed. “Are you stupid or something?!”
“Keith, calm down.” Coran was standing slightly behind the captain, a hand being pressed on his shoulder.
“Calm down?!” Keith whirled around to glare at the advisor. “How can you expect me to be calm? Allura is missing! My fiancee is gone, and the man who kidnapped her is loose in the castle!”
Allura saw there was other people in the room, her Nanny sitting on a stool near the bed, her hands over her face as she cried. The woman let out a loud sob at Keith’s words, a priest standing next to her offering a comforting word and a handkerchief.
“We don’t know that they’re together.” Coran said, trying to reason with Keith. “It could be pure coincidence…”
“You don’t honestly believe that, do you?!” hissed Keith, hands on his hips. “Lotor’s kidnapped her before, he won’t hesitate to do it again. What’s worse, she might let him!”
“Allura is far too sensible for that!” Nanny said in between tears, not lifting her face from her hands. “She’d never go anywhere with that fiend.”
“Allura is not in her right frame of mind.” Retorted Keith. “She’s unwell, traumatized from her recent ordeal. She’s not thinking clearly…”
“I’m thinking more clearly than I have in a long time Keith.” Allura said as she entered the room. Everyone seemed to gasp at once, turning to look at her. Everyone, even Keith looked relieved to see her, Nanny dropping the handkerchief to rush towards Allura’s side.
“Oh my baby!” She sobbed in relief, wrapping her arms around the princess. Allura felt like the breath was squished out of her from Nanny’s hug, the girl awkwardly patting Nanny on the back. “Thank goodness you are safe!”
Coran was more restrained in his emotions, approaching Allura and speaking quietly. “It is good to see you up and about your highness. Would you care to tell us where you’ve been all this time?”
“I needed to get away for a while…” Allura began, pulling free of Nanny’s arms. “Clear my head, and think about a few things.”
“You could have done it in your room.” Snapped Keith, staying standing by the nurse. “Hell, you could have told someone where you were going, requested a companion to escort you on your walk.”
She looked at him, seeing how suspicious he was. “I needed to be alone for this.” Keith snorted, the sound scoffing.
“Because you knew there isn’t anyone in the castle who wouldn’t try to stop you from your foolishness!”
She fought the urge to glare, staying clam as she responded to Keith’s accusation. “It’s not foolishness, but you’re right. What I had to do, I knew would not go over well with you…or with anyone else in the castle.”
“What did you have to do child?” Nanny asked, and Allura glanced at her, wondering if the woman would ever see her as anything more than a little girl.
“I had to see Lotor.” Allura’s words had most of the room gasping, Keith looking as mad as ever, even as his suspicions were confirmed.
“Why Allura, why?” Coran wanted to know. “After all that he did to you…”
“We needed to talk.” Allura said, holding up a hand to hold off interruptions. “But more than that…I had to set things right.”
“Right?” asked Coran, confused.
“We can’t keep him prisoner. To do so…” Keith snorted, Allura raising her voice to be heard over his mutterings. “To do so would be wrong.”
“He’s done many crimes.” Keith hissed, Coran nodding in agreement. “This kidnapping debacle is only the latest in a long list of them. He deserves to be locked up, to be killed.”
“That is not the Arus way. We don’t kill unless we have to.” Allura frowned then, looking at Keith. “I thought you knew that.”
“He’s a menace. He’ll only return to pester us once more. Allura, do you want that? Do you want to constantly be living our life together with the threat of Lotor over our heads?!” Keith questioned.
“He won’t be a threat.” Allura said, and Keith scowled.
“And I suppose he told you that, and you believed him?!”
She ignored that, looking at Coran and Nanny as she spoke. “He’s a prince, the only heir of King Zarkon. You know as well as I do, that with royalty comes certain…privileges and rights. At the very least, he could claim diplomatic immunity, and we would have to adhere to the laws set up by the Galaxy Federation.”
“Oh sure….the Drules mock the Federation, openly refused to join, and yet when it suits them, they use their laws to cover their own asses.” Keith had made fists of his hands, bristling with rage. “Prince or no, he has to be made to pay!”
“Forget about vengeance Keith. I hold no ill will towards Lotor, I thirst for no revenge.” Allura retorted, seeing Nanny and Coran exchange looks.
“Do you hear her?” Keith demanded, with a vicious punch towards the air. “No ill will? He’s brainwashed her, made her too compliant. It’s as I said, she’s sick and needs our help.”
“I am fine, if a little banged up. No thanks to you captain.” Ice chilled her words, Allrua fixing a cold stare at Keith. “I’ve done what you wouldn’t, what no one would do. I let Lotor go.”
“How could you?” Nanny gasped, horrified.
“Easy now Nanny.” Coran advised, and the woman turned to glare at him.
“You’re not approving of what she did!?”
“No, not exactly.” Coran said with a sigh. “But Allura speaks the truth. His prince status is something we have to consider before we make any harsh moves against him. To act against Lotor is to strike a blow against the Doom Empire, something Zarkon would be sure to take advantage of.”
“We have Voltron.” Keith interjected his opinion. “We need not fear Doom or it’s King. Damn it, we can protect Arus and we can protect Allura!”
“I don’t need protecting Keith!” Allura snapped, hands on her hips. “What I need if for you to respect my wishes, and do what you can to help me in these matters.”
“I won’t help you bring ruin on yourself Allura!” Keith retorted. “And this is what you are doing!” He pointed suddenly, hand shaking at her. “Tell them what you told me. Tell them about your feelings for Lotor, and then let’s see how quick Coran is to side with you.”
“Feelings?” A lift of his brow, Coran looking questioningly at Allura. “What feelings?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about Keith.” Allura said, fighting the urge to smile. She knew it would be his word against hers, with no one around to have witnessed her love confession. “I feel nothing for the prince of Doom.”
“That’s a lie!” Keith snarled. “You told me you love him!” Nanny and Coran seemed torn on who to look at, turning their heads back and forth to watch both princess and captain.
“You clearly misunderstood my words.” Allura said, the picture of perfect calmness.
“I heard you quite clearly.” Keith replied. “You said you loved him several times!”
“I do not.” Allura found the more she lied, the easier it became, the girl sharing a look with her advisor and nanny. “Can you imagine me ever feeling anything but fear and loathing for the man who had stalked me for so many years?”
“No.” Coran said.
“Of course not!” Nanny cried out, shooting a furious look at Keith for daring to suggest otherwise.
“So you see, Keith is clearly misguided on what he thinks he heard me say.” Allura said. She saw Keith clenching his hands into fists so tight his knuckles bled of their color. He glared furiously at her, silence stretching onwards for a full minute before he suddenly lowered his arms. He actually smiled, though it was strained around the edges, and his dark eyes couldn’t hide the storm clouds within them.
“Very well Allura. If you don’t love him, then you must love me, yes?” She hesitated, but gave a very slow nod of her head. Keith all but smirked at her, his words making her shiver. “Then as such, you won’t object to us carrying on with the wedding.”
“The wedding….?” She repeated faintly, eyes glancing at the quiet priest.
“Yes. Father Jenson is here, and ready to perform at a moment’s notice.” Keith moved, walking towards her to take her hands. “We can be married within minutes, and get on with our lives. We can forget about Lotor and what has happened.”
“I…I don’t know..”
“What’s the problem? Why hesitate?” Keith asked, still wearing that creepy smile. “Unless you don’t want to marry me?”
“Of course she does!” Nanny interjected. “But can’t you see it’s too much for the child? She’s barely recovered from her ordeal, and you want to rush her down the aisle.” Allura flashed Nanny a grateful look, even as Keith frowned.
“I would think Allura would jump at the chance to marry her true love.”
“I can’t marry you Keith. Nanny is right. It’s too much for me. I’m still…” She thought fast, words rushing out of her. “I’m still recovering. I don’t know if I could ever be a good wife to you, to anyone after what has happened.”
“I have faith in you.” Keith said. “Father Jenson, if you please…the ceremony?”
“If the princess does not want to get married, I can’t in good faith perform the ceremony against her wished.” The priest said, making Allura want to kiss the man in thanks for his words.
“I’m sorry Keith….we will just have to put off the wedding for now.” Allura told him, forcing herself to look sad at the thought. It was easy when she thought on how torturous a life with Keith would be.
Keith looked as though he still had protests to utter, Allura faking a yawn as she pulled her hands free of his grip.
“The poor child is tired.” Nanny said, Allura playing up on her tiredness. “She needs rest.”
“Yes.” Allura agreed, and allowed the woman to help her to the bed. The nurse pulled back the covers, Allura sliding her legs under them, and leaning back against the pillows.
“I’ll fetch Doctor Gorma.” The nurse said, moving to leave the room. “I’m sure he’ll want to look over Allura.”
“Thank you.” Allura said, hoping that the quicker the doctor saw her, the quicker she’d be able to leave the hospital.
“I better call the others and let them know you’ve been found.” Keith pulled a communicator off his belt, thumbing the on button.
“The others?” Allura asked, and Nanny answered her.
“The boys. They’ve been scouring the castle looking for you.” Nanny said. “And Lotor.”
“Allura’s been found.” Spoke the captain, the communicator crackling to life. “Speak to me Lance.”
“She has? Ah that’s good.” Came the tinny sounding voice of red lion’s pilot. “What about Lotor?”
“His whereabouts are currently unknown.” Keith admitted, shooting a pointed glare at Allura. “I want you to expand the search, have people searching the planet for him. Close all the ports too, Lotor can’t have gotten off planet yet.”
“Keith, what are you doing?” Allura asked, sitting up, alarmed.
“I’m making sure he doesn’t get away.”
“That’s going against my wishes!” Allura snapped, Nanny catching her hand and patting it worriedly. “I command you not to go after Lotor.” She raised her voice, shouting. “Did you hear that Lance?”
“Er…right princess.” Lance sounded doubtful. “Keith? What should I do?”
“Do as your captain orders and find that man!” Keith said, his eyes holding a look of challenge that was directed at Allura.
“And I am the princess, and sole ruler of this planet!” Allura shouted. “My word is absolute law, and my commands are to be followed. Do you understand me?!”
“Allura….do not get upset.” Advised Nanny.
“You’re in no position to make demands.” Coran added. “You need your rest. Let Keith worry about taking care of things.” His back was turned, so he didn’t see the way Keith smirked at her, Allura flashing the captain a look of pure poison.
“It’s always like this! You never listen to me!” She jerked her hand out of Nanny’s grip, and pointed at Coran. “I am not a little girl anymore. I am a grown woman, and your ruler. My commands should be obeyed without question. You shouldn’t try to overrule me!”
“Allura…” Coran sighed, pausing to think over his words. “I know you are not a child, but sometimes…”
“Sometimes what?” Allura demanded.
“You’re bold and rash, making snap decisions especially where your own safety is concerned. At these times I cannot allow you to jeopardize yourself and leave Arus without a ruler.”
She frowned at him. “Letting Lotor go doesn’t place me in jeopardy. I thought you agreed with me that it’s a matter of protocal that we do this.”
“I agree we can’t kill him. Nor should he stay in the castle.” His mustache twitched, Coran fighting a smile. “But it can’t hurt if we capture him and hand him over to Garrison to escort off the planet. That way we can be sure he’s really left, and not intending to come back for you.”
“He won’t. He’s not.” Allura protested, and Keith laughed.
“Did he give you his word? Did you actually believe anything that comes out of that black heart’s mouth?”
“Allura please. Let Keith and Coran handle this.” Nanny spoke up. “You need your rest.”
“This isn’t over.” Allura said, shaking her head no. “I forbid you to do this!”
“Who is getting my patient all riled up?” A new voice entered the conversation, Doctor Gorma standing in the doorway, the nurse behind him.
“We don’t mean to upset Allura.” Coran began, the girl letting out a furious ha at his words. “We don’t.” Coran insisted, looking at her. “But right now, you should not be worrying about anything but getting better.”
“An excellent idea.” Gorma said, and strode over to the bed. He frowned at Allura, a chiding look in his eyes that had the princess chaffing in annoyance. “I hear you’ve been bullying around my staff your highness.”
“I’m sorry.” She glanced at the nurse, nodding her apology to her. “But it was important that I attend to a matter.”
“Important enough to stagger out of bed, and pull out your iv line?” The doctor questioned with a lift of his brows. She blushed, embarrassed. “Hmm….how are you feeling otherwise?”
“A little tired, but I am fine.” Allura said, knowing she felt full of energy in her urgency to get back to Lotor.
“I’ll be the judge of that.” He pulled out a pen light, flashing it into her eyes, checking her ears and her mouth. He then reached for her wrist, feeling for her pulse point as he looked at his watch. “A little elevated in speed, but otherwise fine.”
“Fine enough for me to leave?” Allura asked hopefully.
“Hmm…I want to get some more fluids in you.” Gorma said in answer. “If you’ll allow me, I’d like you to remain for one more bag of iv before discharging you officially.”
“All right doctor.” Allura agreed, and the nurse began moving, preparing the bag and the needle.
“It will give us time to talk.” Added Gorma, then glanced at the others. “In private if you please.”
“Go on.” Allura said when they hesitated. “I’ve nothing left to say to you. Nothing you would want to hear at any rate.”
“Princess…” Nanny said tearfully.
“Your highness…” That was Coran, doing a stiff bow to her.
“See you later Allura.” Smirked Keith, walking out communicator still in hand.
Doctor Gorma waited until the door was closed, then smiled at her. “I bet you’re relieved to have them all gone.” She nodded, unable to return his pleasant smile. “It’s really too much, them badgering you when you’re still recovering.”
“Allura…I know this is not a pleasant topic to discuss but…” Doctor Gorma hesitated, then steeled himself to continue. “I want you to see the staff therapist.”
“The therapist?” Her brow furrowed, Allura protesting. “But I am not crazy!”
“Therapy doesn’t mean you’ve lost your grip on reality.” Gorma explained. “Sometimes people just need to talk to someone. And with all that has happened, I think you need it more than ever.”
“All that has happened…” echoed Allura.
“The kidnapping and the….sexual assault.” Gorma answered, wincing at the words. “I’m sure you will have a lot to work through, and you’ll need guidance. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a professional than your friends and family about your trauma.”
“So, allow me to schedule you in for an appointment this week.” Gorma said, as the nurse inserted the iv line into Allura’s arm. She nodded her head, otherwise not speaking. “It’s remarkable how well you were taken care of aside from the assault.”
“No malnutrition or bruises.” He clarified, and she nodded.
“Yes, Lotor took pretty good care of me considering the situation.”
“Thank goodness for small favors.” Doctor Gorma said, then stood. “As soon as you finish with that bag of fluid, you can leave the hospital. But only on strict orders that you stay in your own bedroom and rest. That means no running around, no affairs of state, and no getting upset by others. Is that understood?”
“Yes, doctor.” Allura agreed. He nodded at her, and gestured for the nurse to accompany him, the pair walking out of the room. She waited until the door was closed to sigh, Allura staring at the iv bag. With each drop, she counted out the seconds, waiting impatiently for her chance to return to Lotor.