His promise to her seemed to linger in the air, Lotor staring at Allura, noting the intensity of her blush. She seemed to be struck speechless, his mate not knowing how to reply to the words he had just spoken, That was fine with him, Lotor not wanting to suffer another rejection, the Drule not sure how much more he could take before his heart broke irreparably.
His heart was already in a delicate state, he imagined it to bear many sliver thin cracks from the dismissals and refusals his mate gave him. And it had not even been a full day since finding her, Lotor being with Allura only for a few hours. And yet those hours felt like a small eternity, every second a torment as she kept him away from her.
He thought he could tolerate the distance between them better if his mate would let him touch her. But she kept stiffening up every time he tried, or flinching as though she feared what his next act would be. It left a bad taste in his mouth, Lotor longing for so much, and willing to settle for simpler things with Allura. Such as a smile, Lotor realizing he had yet to see anything that resembled true happiness on her face.
She was always on edge around him, his mate nervous and tense, eyes brimming with sorrowful emotions. Worse yet was when she cried, the pain she expressed slicing through him with the sharpness of knives. It was a learning experience, Lotor never having been aware of just how much anguish a mated pair could feel, how they could feed off each other’s sorrow, until now.
He’d rather be fueling their passion, their intense need for one another, Lotor wanting to be happy and have his mate return that happiness to him. Instead he was left holding back sighs, thinking on his failures with her. They didn’t number that high, and yet to have even one black mark against him rankled his nerves, Lotor trying not to frown.
“What…?” His mate had noticed his expression, leaving Lotor to do a slow blinking of his eyes.
“It’s nothing.” He assured her, and Allura seemed willing to accept that. He wasn’t sure if he was relieved or not, Lotor feeling a true mate would be concerned about the other’s feelings. But then, he didn’t know how mating worked with humans, didn’t know if they were as attuned to one another’s moods as a Drule would be.
Of course he was trying to learn, the soldier he had commandeered for his research project busy with looking up information about humans and their courtship habits. He had already received the first of the soldier’s reports, the man having noting that there was a wealth of information out there. It might take days for him to read through it all, but Lotor was willing to try if it meant gaining a better understanding about Allura and her beliefs about love.
One of the things the solider had highlight in the report, was the importance of giving gifts. Lotor had been relieved to see that the Drules and humans shared at least that in common, the prince eager to begin gifting Allura with all manners of things. He’d prefer to deck her out with jewels, give her, her weight in gold, fit her with the finest gowns if not for one small problem. He had traveled light to planet Arus, leaving much of the finer things in life behind in his home.
Of course, the report his solider had written had come with suggestions, Lotor snorting in amusement at some of the ideas a human would give as a gift. He had been especially unsure about the flowers, wondering how colorful bits of plants could be pleasing to anyone. He knew if his mate had been Drule, she would have been insulted by his offering, but Allura had seemed to like the flowers.
Certainly she had shown them more care than she had ever displayed towards Lotor, the girl leaving them to soak their stems in the bathroom sink. Allura had even opened up to him slightly, sharing tidbits about her home. He learned she had a garden, which proved just how much she liked flowers, even as it made him anxious. Doom did not have flowers, did not have the proper environment to support more than the toughest of plants. What if his mate couldn’t be happy without flowers in her life? He wondered about that, wondered and worried, trying to think of a way to give her what she needed on Doom.
And still his inner voice whispered to him, all but sneering as it told him that if he was a good enough mate, he’d be able to make her happy, flowers be damned. It just made him all the more aware of how he was ruining things between them, a reminder he didn’t want or need.
His thoughts were making him anxious, Lotor sure he was giving off tense vibes. He knew what would calm him down, even as he knew it would backfire to attempt it. He stared longingly at Allura, wishing she would put her hands on him. Surely his mate’s gentle caress would calm the unrest his thoughts stirred up, Lotor longing to feel Allura run her fingers through his hair. But he knew that was wishful thinking, for the moment at least. Any attempts at touching would surely set her off, his mate might even begin to cry, and that would set him back into a foul mood.
So he tried breathing better, taking deep breaths that he let out with a soft hiss. His mate glanced up at the sound, but was otherwise without comment, eyes turning away from him to study the room. He didn’t care, he wanted to study her, even though he felt her image was seared into his mind already. Lotor could go blind tomorrow, and he would still be able to remember clearly his mate’s beauty.
And she was beautiful, with her sun kissed looks of golden hair and tanned skin. Never had he imagined a human could look more attractive to him than a Drule, but now he knew better. Allura was perfect, both inside and out, and she was his to claim. Now if he could only convince her of the inherent rightness of their being together!
Her gaze slid back towards him, and then she was blushing once more. Before Lotor could ask his mate what was the cause behind the color in her cheeks, she was speaking. “You’re staring…” Her voice was soft, but held a chiding note to it.
“So I am.” Lotor agreed, not taking his eyes off her.
“St…stop.” His mate stammered, blush seeming to redden in hue. “I don’t like it when you do that.”
She didn’t like a lot of what he did, Lotor noted sadly. But out loud he was indifferent, trying to keep from sounding defensive. “It’s not hurting anyone!”
Allura paused a moment, then frowned. “It’s making me uncomfortable.”
“How?” He wanted to know, keeping his gaze locked with hers. A challenge seemed to crackle between them, Allura licking her lips nervously.
“It just is. I…I almost wish you were touching me, rather than look at me with that expression on your face!”
His pulse raced up a notch, Lotor thinking it interesting that she would rather endure his touch than be stared at by him. “And just what is the look on my face say to you?” He was honestly curious, and almost smiled at her answer.
“Like you want to…to devour me.” Her blush seemed to deepen, his mate at last looking away from him. “I don’t like it.” She added. “It’s a look you haven’t earned.”
“Earned…” He repeated with a raised eyebrow. “Now I must earn the right to look at you?”
“No…” She shook her head, her hair rustling from the movement. He immediately wanted to go to her, wanting to touch that silken glory and smooth it back into a semblance of order for her. “You can look wherever you like…it’s just how you do it that bothers me.”
“Then I’m afraid we are at an impasse.” Allura turned her gaze back to him, looking confused. He smiled, but it lacked humor to it, Lotor leaning forward. “Because how I look at you is the one thing I can’t, I won’t control.” That earned him a sigh, Allura seeming to sag into the cushions of the couch. “Is it really so bad?” He asked. “My looking at you costs you so little…”
“I think…” She began, her voice slow with hesitation. “Everything you do comes with a price.”
“Perhaps.” Lotor allowed. “But then, isn’t that true of everyone?” That earned him a shrug of her shoulders, Lotor wondering if she could really be that naive about other people.
“Tell me….” He began, wanting to do more than just look at her like a lovesick fool. “Besides tending to your garden, what else do you enjoy doing?”
She looked surprised at the question, but Allura answered it all the same. “I like horseback riding. And being among friends. I don’t have much time for hobbies.”
“And why is that?” Lotor asked, her answer surprised him.
“It’s my studies…they keep me very busy. That and…” She suddenly trailed off, and no amount of prodding could get her to finish what she had been about to say. Still Lotor felt happy to know more about her, the prince leaning back in his seat.
“Studies…are you a scholar…?” He asked, and just as she answered he heard movement in the cabin’s outer chamber.
“No I…” His mate fell silent at a signal from him, Lotor rising to stand. She looked as though she wanted to follow him, but he gestured for her to remain seated. His walk was confidant as he strode out of the bedroom, Lotor quickly closing the doors behind him. Several soldiers were in the midst of transforming the corner of the room into a suitable dining area, using stolen goods they had procured on their journey to Arus.
“Ah…excellent..” Lotor purred his approval, watching as silk was draped over the table, the expensive fabric being forced to pull double duty as table cloth. Smaller bits of silk had been cut for napkins, and a candelabra was being placed on the center of the table. More flowers had been picked, the soldiers leaving them around the table, and the room.
Candles were also being strategically placed around the room, Lotor’s orders demanding there be just enough light from them to give the room a romantic feel. Another soldier wheeled in a cart, several dishes worth of food on the trays. He began to put the plates onto the table, adding silverware to complete the look. Lotor was smiling in satisfaction, even when his General Morduck walked in.
“Just what do you think you are doing?” The sour faced Drule asked, hands on his hips. Lotor blinked, and turned towards him, a cool expression on his face.
“What does it look like?” Lotor drawled, his question making the General bristle. “I am getting ready to have dinner.”
“I meant with the situation on Arus!” Morduck snapped, looking very much like he wanted to knock something over. “We’ve already wasted daylight. We’re no closer to knowing anything about the towns and their defenses! Why are we not making use of the women we captured, to force them to tell us what they know? What was the point in taking them if we’re not going to torture the information out of them? People will notice they are missing, and come looking for them!”
“Settle down Morduck.” Lotor said, waving a hand at him. “There’s always tomorrow to begin our take over operations.”
“You’ve put us a day behind with your antics and delays!” Morduck would not calm down, practically snarling at his prince. “We needed that information sire…needed it to help ease our taking of the towns that surround the castle. If we want to pull this off in secret we…”
“We will.” Lotor interrupted, trying to sound reassuring. “We’ll capture the towns before they have a chance to let those at the castle know what is happening. Once the towns are ours, we will move on to the castle itself. With the people of the towns our hostages, the Arusian rulers will be forced to surrender.” Lotor smirked then. “Humans are such a…self sacrificing race. They’ll do anything to keep people from dying.”
“That may be true.” Conceded Morduck. “But I also know we need a leader on this mission who is not distracted with other matters.”
“I am not….distracted.” Lotor knew it wasn’t entirely true, he had been distracted, too concerned with his mate to even think about the take over operations until now.
“Oh?” Morduck was snide, looking Lotor over with a shrewd look in his eyes. “Then you tell me what all of this is then?” He gestured at the soldiers who by now had finished preparing the table and the room. “You’re wasting manpower on her.” He practically hissed at Lotor. “Sending off soldiers to do the Gods know what, having them pick flowers, FLOWERS! Do you know how risky it is for us every time we venture from the ships? They could have been caught, and all because you wanted to gift your mate with some colorful plants!”
Lotor blinked, realizing it had been foolish but worth it, if the flowers made his mate happy. He brought fingers to his face, pinching the space between his eyes. “I..” He wasn’t sure what to say for himself, trailing off hesitantly.
“Sire…” Morduck stepped closer to Lotor, voice almost purring in that moment. “You need to take yourself off of this mission. Devote yourself entirely to your mate. There’s no shame in stepping down to tend to one’s woman. I’m sure your father would understand.”
“Then you don’t know Zarkon the way I do.” Lotor retorted, his look making Morduck freeze in place. “I will not be stepping down. I will continue to lead this invasion. Not only will I lead it, I will bring us to victory.”
“Sire no!” Morduck protested, aghast. “You are in the midst of bonding with your mate. You cannot think properly…especially not to both be with her and help us take over this planet! Please…I ask of you again….step down now…before you cost us everything!”
“I will not!” Lotor refused, his eyes blazing. “I will not be like those other mated men. I can and will function beyond thinking about my mate and her needs!”
“It is an admirable that you would try. But now is not the time to be proving yourself different from our race. Not with the invasion at stake!” Morduck retorted.
“Speak to me no more about this!” Lotor snapped out an order. “I tire of your voice general, and what’s more I tire of YOU.” He was sneering then, eager to get rid of
Morduck. “Leave now. All of you!” The soldiers all snapped out a salute, hurrying past their agitated general.
“I hope you don’t come to regret this choice.” Spit out Morduck before he turned on his heel and left the room. Lotor slammed the door shut after him, fighting the impulse to punch his fist into it’s metal. He was badly shaken by the conversation, and he wondered if Morduck wasn’t right. Not that he’d be able to admit it to the man, Lotor knowing his pride would never let him back down from the course he had set.
“Damn it..” Lotor muttered under his breath. “I am distracted. I could cost us everything if I don’t get these impulse under control.” He straightened, taking a deep breath. “I am my own man. What’s more, I am the Prince of an Empire. I can and will not be brought low by a biological imperative.” And yet, he could no more resist that imperative than he could stop the beating of his heart, Lotor turning to walk back into the bedroom where Allura waited.
She was still on the couch, but she wore a worried look, surely having heard some of what he had been saying to his general. He thanked whatever gods were listening that they had both been speaking in Drule, Lotor counting on Allura not knowing the language to understand what the argument had been about.
“Problem?” She asked softly, and Lotor fought his every urge to go to her now.
“Nothing I can’t handle.” He replied, and stalked over to his closet. He grabbed a random tunic, pulling it over his head. The act of dressing helped calm him further, he was almost ready to smile when he turned to look at her. “Are you hungry Allura?”
She nodded her head, confessing to the following. “Yes…I didn’t have lunch today, and only a light breakfast.”
Guilt immediately flared up in him at her words, Lotor trying to fight the feeling. His mate had been hungry and he hadn’t even noticed it, too consumed with his own problems surrounding her refusals to acknowledge their bond. Well, he could take care of that need of hers now, Lotor walking over to reach for her hand. “Come with me…”
His fingers grazed the back of hers, and then she was pulling away, rising to stand without his assistance.
Lotor’s jaw clenched, and he made fists out of his hands, hurt that she would deny him even that much of a touch. Stiffly, he walked ahead of her, leading her out into the candle lit room. “Lotor…” her voice was soft, Allura sounding nervous. “What’s all this?”
“Dinner.” He wouldn’t admit that he had read up on some of the human’s idea of romance, pretending that fancy, romantic dinners were a normal thing for the Drule. He urged her to follow him to the table, Lotor pulling out her seat for her. She hesitated, but the aroma of the food had her moving, Allura sitting down in the chair he held. He took advantage of their nearness to lean in and sniff her hair, Lotor sighing in bliss. Just a whiff of her scent, and some of his troubles seemed to fade away, Lotor not quite as tense as he had been moments ago.
He could tell she was pretending not to notice what he was doing, and for that he was glad, Lotor reveling in the scent of his mate. It was a long minute before he pulled away, walking to take a seat across from her. Lotor would rather be sitting next to his mate, but knew that would make her uncomfortable. So he kept the table between them, and began uncovering plates, revealing meat that was some kind of pig they had found on Arus.
He began carving the ham up, wondering if Allura would grow to like the food they had on Doom. Much of it was imported from other worlds, the Drules developing their tastes from a galaxy’s worth of choices. He’d make sure the imports would include Arusian delicacies, Lotor wanting Allura to be comforted by the familiar in her new home.
They began to eat, and for a time there was silence, both pretending to be too focused on the food to do much else. Lotor kept sneaking glances at Allura, watching the delicate way she ate the meal, the girl not spilling a crumb, nor getting the ham’s juices on herself. She ate perhaps more than he had expected, but then he realized she truly had been starving, and the guilt returned.
“I’m sorry.” He said out loud, seeing her tilt her head to the side. “I should have realized sooner that you would need to eat.”
“It’s fine.” She assured him. “You couldn’t have known I skipped lunch…”
“Still…I should have been more attuned to your needs than this. It won’t happen again.” Lotor added as promise. She looked sad for some reason, and he sighed, wanting to reach over and touch her hand. “What now Allura?”
“It’s just the thought of being here to share another meal with you…it overwhelmed me…” She admitted.
“You don’t want to share my table with me?” Lotor asked, feeling upset.
“It’s….not that I don’t want to…” She stammered, putting down her fork. “It’s just…I want to be free. I want to be home, at my own table, with my friends and family sharing in the meal. And I know…it won’t happen so long as I’m with you…”
“You depend on these friends of yours too much.” Lotor retorted, not choosing his words as carefully as he might have. His upset was blinding him, making him say things that had the potential to hurt her in return. “Your mate is all you should need. Your mate, and the family you have with him.”
“Family…” She looked as though she hadn’t even considered the thought of their having children together. “You think you can replace one set of friends, one set of family with a new one, with you?” She sighed when all he did was look at her, Allura muttering under her breath, “I suppose that answers that.”
Another sigh from her, Allura staring down at her plate. “It doesn’t work that way with humans. We don’t…don’t abandon people just because we fall in love. We add to the number of people we care about, and the experience as a whole makes life richer for us.”
“It sounds like you’re saying humans have a big heart.” Lotor commented, and she nodded.
“We do. Most of us at least. Of course there are some bad seeds, some who only care about themselves. But those are the exceptions, not the rules!”
“Drules…aren’t like that. Of course we care about what is good for the race as a whole, but individually we are more concerned with our mate, and the family we make with her. Such love is total, completely consuming. It’s difficult to think on anything else but pleasing your mate, keeping her happy.” They were looking at each other again, maintaining eye contact as Lotor told her these things. “Allura, I would make you happy. I know I would. You just have to give me the chance…”
“I can’t…” She said to his frustration.
“Why not?” She was shaking her head no, and a horrible thought came to his head. “You….you don’t already have a man do you?!” She immediately colored, Lotor feeling a growl come on him. “Who? Who is he? Tell me and I’ll…”
“And you’ll what?” She interrupted heatedly. “You’ll hunt him down and kill him?!” He did not answer, but then he did not need to, Allura looking mad. “No…that’s horrible. And for the record I do not have a man. Not that that should matter!”
“It matters to me!” Lotor said, though he had relaxed somewhat when she confirmed she did not have a man. “Allura, you belong to me. Yes, yes you do!” He insisted at his mate’s head shake. “Just as I belong to you. No one should get between us, no one should even dare. And if they did, the price they would pay for it is their life. That is just, and that is the way of the Drule.”
“It’s too, too horrible!” Allura snapped back. “Everything you tell me, none of this makes me want to be mated to you!”
“Allura!” He gasped for air, feeling as though she had taken her fork and stabbed him in the lungs.
“It’s true!” She said defensively. “How can I love a man, how can I be with one who is so jealous that he would kill to keep me?!”
“It’s not jealousy…” He retorted, still struggling to breath right. “It’s not! It’s a different urge from that…more like protecting…”
“Protecting?” She shook her head, not believing him. “It sounds to me as if you Drules don’t trust your mates to be around others!”
“You’re wrong!” Lotor retorted. “A bonded pair trusts each other implicitly. It’s the others around us that we don’t trust!”
“It still feels like jealousy and a lack of trust to me.” Allura insisted.
He made an unhappy sound, not sure how to get her to believe otherwise. “This is a disaster…” he murmured, voice low. She heard him all the same, looking at him questioningly.
“This…” He gestured, taking in the table and their surroundings. “The dinner…..I wanted to please you. Instead I just upset you more and more…I’m such a failure as a mate…”
“I…” She bowed her head. “I’m sorry.”
“You have no reason to apologize.” Lotor replied, still trying to be reassuring. “The fault lays with me not you..” But his words seemed to bother her, Allura frowning.
“I don’t think it’s fair to pin the blame completely on you.”
“But if it’s not with me, then why?” He looked at her then, his eyes expressing his grief and frustration with the situation they found themselves in. “Why do you hold yourself back from me? Why aren’t we bonding? Why aren’t we happy?”
“Bonding…is this what this is?” She gestured at their surroundings and he nodded.
“It’s part of it.” Lotor said. “But bonding is so much more than eating and talking together!”
“Oh?” She was curious. “Then what else does it involve?”
He locked eyes with her then, knowing a blush would bloom on her face, his mate not liking what he would say. “Us touching. Getting to know each other’s carress….gaining the intimate knowledge of each other’s bodies.”
She blinked rapidly, as though trying to break the hold his gaze had on her. “So it’s all about sex…?”
“No….it’s not sex. It’s about loving one another….”
“I don’t see the difference.” Allura admitted, and he leaned forward, eyes intent on her.
“With me you would know. Allura…I promise you…when I am inside you, you will know the love that I speak of.” He didn’t miss the way she shivered at his words, goose bumps breaking out on her arms. Such was the confusing nature of their relationship that he couldn’t tell if that was a good sign or not, but Lotor reached for her hands all the same. She didn’t jerk back at his touch, Lotor gaining courage to caress his thumb over the back of her hands.
“You will feel worshipped and adored in my embrace, you will know safety and contentment like never before. I will see to your every need, every desire, my own pleasure put aside for yours, ignored if that is what you want. You’ll never have to know fear, or go with the wanting of something, all will be provided. Because I make a vow to you, a promise to be all that you need, all that you could want…”
Lotor lifted Allura’s right hand, bringing it towards his face so he could press a kiss into her wrist’s pulse point. He felt it lurch faster, and he assumed she must be
affected by his words. Indeed she was staring at him, lips slightly parted, and if the table hadn’t been in the way, he would have claimed his mate’s mouth then and there. “So please….give me…give US a chance…”
“I…” Her tongue came out, moistening her lips. He wanted to moan at the sight, finding her pink tongue hugely erotic. “I don’t…” She suddenly frowned, as though coming out of spell, and jerked her hands away from him. “I’m sorry….I’m tired.”
He was nearly crushed with disappointment, the moment between them ruined. “Of course…” he said, his tone weary. But it was not sleep that he needed, but her, her touch, her love, her acceptance. And Lotor knew that he wasn’t going to gain any of that any time soon. “You may sleep in my bed….”
“What about you?” She was once again guarded, eyeing him warily. “Where will you sleep?”
Lotor knew he could have forced her to sleep in the bed with him, his arms wrapped around her, holding her trapped. Instead he made a concession to what he knew she would prefer. “The couch will be comfortable enough for me.” Lotor said, and she seemed relieved to hear that. He sighed and leaned back in his chair, reaching for a glass of wine to drink. He knew no matter how comfortable or not the couch was, he would not be going to sleep easily this night.