Duty 11

Lotor had found it difficult to sleep. His body while not fully recovered, had been full of a near infinite amount of energy. He had felt like he could run miles, bound over obstacles. Fight a dozen Drule soldiers and win. Not that he would attempt to do any of that, Lotor conscious of the doctor’s recommendation that he stay on bed rest until the ship reached it’s destination.

But staying in bed was boring. Especially when one was alone. Never had it been more apparent how empty his bed was, then with the fact that Allura was within reach, on board the very ship Lotor was on. But he hadn’t tried to force her into bed with him, Lotor conscious of the promise he had made her. A promise that had stated she had until they reached Simestia to come to terms with what would happen between them.

Unfortunately for them both, Lotor had spent much of the trip sick. It had left him little time to get the princess used to him, to his touches and nearness. She was still so frightened of him, so terrified that she overreacted to the most innocent of actions. Lotor remembered all too vividly how she had cried, how she had pretty much hyperventilated when he carried her over to the couch. Lotor could guess what she thought he would do. He wondered if she had had the time to feel the proper relief, or if she was still so upset she barely even registered she was unmolested by him.

Seeing her fear? It hurt something inside Lotor. Made his chest grow tight with protest, Lotor not understanding why she could fear him so. Didn’t Allura understand she was the one person he would never hurt? The one person he was incapable of doing true wrong by? He had always gone out of his way to avoid harm befalling Allura. At times to the displeasure of his bastard of a father. Lotor even bore scars as proof of all he had done to ensure Allura’s safety, paying with his flesh and blood to make sure the princess of Arus continued to live and be safe.

But he wouldn’t tell her all he had done for her. Let her learn instead of the kind of man he really was through his words and actions. Let her learn that he wasn’t a man she should fear, but a man she could love. He wanted that love, wanted Allura to love him even half as much as he loved her. It was something he strove for, something he built up all his hopes and dreams on.

The love he had for Allura gave him strength. His love had allowed him to withstand the worst of his father’s abuse. That same love had given him courage, Lotor turning his back on his birthright, walking away from the Doom Empire. How much stronger would he feel if she loved him even just a little? He didn’t know, but looked forward to finding out.

Nor did he sleep much, Lotor staying up nearly all night to think about his future with Allura. It was better to go to dreams with Allura on his mind. Maybe that had been the key in keeping away all but the worst of his nightmares. He had still dreamed, his mind torturing him with the remembered feel of the whip cracking open his skin. But the nightmares hadn’t been as bad as they could have been. Lotor was actually pleased he didn’t wake up with a shout, or find his pulse pounding in his ears.

He wasn’t rested. But he hadn’t been about to go back to sleep, and let the nightmares overwhelm him once more. Instead Lotor had showered and put on a change of clean clothing. Knowing the doctor would be displeased, Lotor still left his cabin. It felt good to be walking around, good to be seen. The others onboard the ship had been happy to see their prince, many inquiring after his health and whether or not it was too soon for Lotor to be out of bed.

It didn’t fail to register how relieved everyone was that Lotor had recovered from his fever. It was more than apparent how big a scare he had given them. He couldn’t blame them for worrying. They had after all, given up their lives on Doom to come with Lotor in this mad attempt to gain a new life free of Zarkon. He was the glue that held them all together, but more importantly than that, Lotor was the one funding their journey and their new lives. They may have all gathered with the same purpose, but not all had the means in which to attain a new life. If not with money, then with skills and the knowledge of the shadier aspects of the galaxy.

Lotor brought the money and the motivation. But he was letting others handle the forgeries needed, the creation of a fake life history for each and every person aboard this ship. That included Allura, her whole life being carefully made over so that no hint of her true background could be found. Officially she’d no longer be a princess, she wouldn’t even be a noble, though the lives she and Lotor would have would hardly be that of peasants. Lotor had squirreled away enough money for them to live comfortably for years to come, and he wasn’t above getting a job to keep the cash flowing.

But he didn’t want to think about that right now. At the moment he just wanted to see Allura. He always wanted to be around her, but now more than ever. As though his nightmares had made him doubt she was really with him on this journey. But more than that, he wanted a chance to be with her where she hopefully wouldn’t overreact too much around him. Certainly not to the point she hyperventilated again!

He reached Ryder’s room, and tried to calm his anxious nerves. He’d run fingers through his hair, mussing it more than smoothing it back. And then he was knocking, letting Allura know that someone was about to enter. The door has been locked, but Lotor overrode the locking mechanism with a code. He’d walk right in, not at all cautious about what he was doing. After all, it wasn’t like Allura could go anywhere on a ship full of Drules loyal to Lotor.

“Allura?” Lotor called out softly, his fingers feeling for the entry room’s light switch. She had to be in one of two places, either the bedroom or the bathroom. Both were to the back of the cabin, Lotor walking towards the door that would lead into the bedroom. The lights were on here, brighter than he would have liked. Allura was not in the bed, but he could hear the sounds of the shower splattering water everywhere.

Smiling, he sat down to wait. She would not be much longer, Allura stepping out of the bathroom in what had to be Ryder’s bathrobe. Lotor felt a moment of irrational jealousy to see her wear another man’s belongings. But he stamped it down, reasoning that she didn’t have much options when it came to clothing. Not until they reached Simestia at least.

“I bet you can’t wait until we get to Simestia.” Lotor said with a smile. Allura who had been startled to see him, now allowed a questioning look to fill her eyes. “You’ll be able to trash that maid’s outfit, and have your choice of clothing.”

Allura was tying the sash of the bathrobe around her in knots, making sure nothing would show. With how large the bathrobe was on her, it covered her down almost to her ankles, so there was no risk of that. And yet he couldn’t help but hope to see something, even as Lotor reminded himself he was not going to molest Allura while she still feared him so badly.

He supposed it was something that Allura hadn’t fled right back into the bathroom. But he also noted she hadn’t come any closer, standing within inches of the open bathroom door. To keep her from fleeing, and wasting both their times with a locked door, Lotor remained seated. “Are you feeling better?” He asked, remembering how upset she had been. And not just over his touching her, but over the news of what Lotor had planned for their futures.

“I’m not a complete mess if that is what you’re asking.” Allura said in response. But her blue eyes were troubled. A trouble that didn’t have all to do with being alone in a room with Lotor while clad in nothing but a bathrobe.

“What can I do to help?” Lotor instantly asked. Allura’s brows lifted in surprise, Lotor hastily explaining. “I want to make things easier for you, make you comfortable with what is happening.”

“There’s nothing you can do on that front.” Insisted Allura. “The only thing that will make me happy is if you return me to Arus at once!”

“I can’t do that.” Lotor told her, his smile dying at her response.

“You mean you won’t!” Allura scowled. “This is wrong Lotor! But more than that, this is insane! You’ve not only kidnapped me, you’ve faked your death, and are dragging me around the galaxy! All to start a new life elsewhere!”

He was puzzled. “What’s insane about that?” Lotor turned defensive. “It’s a well thought out plan. People start new lives all the time, move to new worlds under new names…”

“Yes, criminals!”

“Not just criminals.” Lotor argued. “But people who have made mistakes, or people who need protection from bad elements. Does not your Alliance have a witness protection program that does similar?”

“That program is to protect those who would help put away bad people….people like you!” Allura exclaimed.

He frowned. “You’d lump me in with the bad people?” She immediately nodded. “I know I’ve done wrong…”

“If you know, then you should have acted to stop it!”

“It’s not as easy as you might think…” Lotor said, thinking of his father’s wrath and trying not to shudder. “I’ve had expectations on me…responsibilities I had to live up too…I didn’t have the luxury of refusing my father’s orders….but I am trying to make amends….have been trying for a long time now…”

“How? Besides helping a few Drules.” Allura had crossed her arms over her chest.

“I’ve done what I can to help my people, it’s true.” Lotor sighed. “That much my father would tolerate, so long as it didn’t interfere with his plans for universal conquest. You have to understand Allura…he wouldn’t have understood…wouldn’t have allowed me to do any good for his enemies.”

“You could have tried.” She insisted, then shivered at the look on his face.

“The punishment for that attempt would have been severe…” Lotor would not go into details, would not explain he had been punished time and time again for allowing no harm to befall Allura. That stance of his had kept Doom from winning against Voltron on more than one occasion. A fact that had made Zarkon beyond livid. How often had Lotor been whipped for costing Doom it’s victory over Arus? He had lost count.

“Are you that afraid of your father?” Allura asked. It hit home, Lotor’s brow furrowing as he fought not to grimace. Was he afraid of his father? He wasn’t sure. From all the pain and hurt, the punishments, something had broken inside him. Something that would not be able to be recovered so long as he remained within his father’s reach. Zarkon would have personally seen to Lotor staying weak, staying hurt, might even have seen him dead. With that kind of evil after him, Lotor had had to act. To remove himself from the situation in the only way he thought could succeed.

“There’s no love lost between us.” He said out loud.

“That isn’t what I asked.” Allura pointed out.

“Doesn’t everyone fear the King of the Doom Empire?” Lotor asked, tone bland.

“With good reason too, I might add!” Allura exclaimed. “The things he has done….”

“You don’t know half of what he’s capable of.” Lotor said darkly. Allura looked at him, wide eyed.

“What do you mean?” She asked.

He shook his head no “It’s things not fit for mixed company. Things that would upset your sensibilities.”

“I’m not made of porcelain…I won’t break from the truth.” Allura insisted.

“Some things are best left unsaid.” Lotor retorted. He could see that frustrated her. “It’s not as if you need more reasons to fear or hate Zarkon.”

“No, he’s given me plenty…” Allura muttered. She briefly met his eyes, before looking away. “So have you.”

“Me?” Lotor was surprised. “What have I done?”

“You mean besides stalking and kidnapping me? Lotor, you’ve tried to invade my planet. Countless times!”

“Yes, but…what specifically have I done that could account for the terror you show me? The fear that made you hyperventilate?” Lotor questioned. She seemed flustered by his questions, Allura fidgeting in place. “It’s an irrational fear you have of me…”

“Irrational?!” Allura’s gaze jerked up to meet his, her eyes angry. “After all you’ve tried to do….after all you’re doing right now?!”

“Right now I am just talking to you…” Lotor pointed out.

“While we’re on a ship. A ship that is taking us to some planet that’s been forsaken even by your father! A journey I am neither a willing nor eager participant for!” She shook her head no. “Forgetting that for a moment, you’ve made…insinuations of what will happen when we get there.”

“Nothing will happen that you don’t want it to.”

Allura gave him this shocked, disbelieving look. “You really have gone insane!”

“Believe me Allura, I am operating under full mental faculties.”

“You most certainly are not. I was already in doubt of your sanity when you kidnapped me, when you talked about turning your back on your crown, on your very life. But to assume I would ever welcome any type of…of affection from you. That is…that is, what are you doing?!” Allura suddenly cried out, even more alarmed as Lotor rose from his seat.

He fixed her with an amused look, almost chuckling. “I’ve spent the last three and a half days stuck in one place. Do excuse me if I have an abundance of energy.”

“Go have an abundance of energy elsewhere!” She was keeping a wary eye on him, Allura tensing to flee if Lotor should approach. He almost sighed then, disliking how nervous she was around him.

“I have two desires at the moment.” Lotor announced. “Would you like to know what they are?” She tried for a disinterested look, Allura shaking her head no. He told her anyway, lips twitching with amusement. “One is to no longer be confined to my cabin like an invalid. The second, which is even more important than the first, is to be around you.”

“We can’t always get what we want.” Allura told him.

“Don’t I know it…” Lotor murmured, his voice too soft for Allura to truly hear him. He chased away dark thoughts, and smiled at her once more. “I think you should get dressed.” She didn’t try to argue that suggestion, Allura still so leery of him. He could start to chip away at that wariness right now, Lotor inching closer to her. Sure enough she started to back up towards the open bathroom door. “Get dressed Allura.” He ordered softly, trying not to give her any hint of any desire he felt for her in the moment.

“And what then?” Allura asked, already retreating into the bathroom.

“And then we will go for a walk.” Lotor told her. She blinked in surprise, as though such a mundane activity had not even entered the realm of possibilities for her. She really was determined to expect the worst from him. But Lotor was just as determined to get Allura to relax around him, to help her become comfortable in their interactions. As much as he might want otherwise, Lotor knew it would serve no one any good by getting too aggressive with Allura. She had enough of unwarranted fears of him. He would try not to give her a real reason to be scared.

It might be more difficult than he thought, Lotor knowing he had to school his responses to her. Especially when he knew the only thing she was wearing was Ryder’s bathrobe. But memories of the night before, of Allura’s panic stayed his hand. Lotor would do almost anything to keep her from going through that kind of terror once more. Irrational though it was, it was still real to Allura. And as such it was an obstacle to overcome. An obstacle Lotor would not mind dealing with.

Talking with Allura, even with the distance of a whole room between them, was a start. The fact that she hadn’t protested the idea of walking with him was another. It gave him a small hope, one Lotor was determined to build on. If he could have, Lotor would have forced a week’s worth of experiences into that walk. All in order to try and gain the closeness Allura was determined to deny them.

He had to remind himself to not rush things, to not try and force Allura farther than she was ready for. It was difficult to be so patient, especially when Allura was finally in his care. Only the thought that they had their whole future together to look forward to, stayed his hand. He was eager for the fear and mistrust to be at an end, to experience true happiness with Allura. Lotor thought again of the family they would have, the happy and loving atmosphere between them and their children. It would be nothing like what he had experienced growing up. There would be no abuse, no hatred and fear. It would be perfect. As perfect as Allura truly was, Lotor smiling at her when she came out of the bathroom.

Even in the badly wrinkled maid’s uniform, she was lovely. He told her as much, Allura giving him a disbelieving look. He just chuckled and held out his hand to her. Allura stared at it as though expecting a trap. “It won’t bite.” Lotor teased her, and she flashed him a dark look.

“No…but I’m sure it and you are capable of a lot of other unpleasant things.”

“You wound me.” Lotor said, but didn’t drop his hand. Instead he stepped closer to her, grabbing at Allura’s hand. She instantly stiffened and tried to jerk back. It hurt to see her so opposed to such an innocent touch, Lotor having intended to do nothing more than hold hands with the princess. “Come.” He tugged her after him, Allura’s hand limp in his grasp. “There’s something I want you to see…”

“I’ve already been all over this ship with Vorlac and Ryder.” Allura informed him. “I doubt you can show me anything new…..”

“Prepared to be surprised then.” Lotor tried not to be annoyed that the two men had had the luxury of showing Allura around the ship. And all because it was something he would have preferred to do himself.

“I don’t think I like your surprises…” He heard Allura murmur. He felt the tremble of her arm, the princess disturbed by some dark thought of hers.

They left Ryder’s cabin, Lotor idly sparing a thought to wonder where the man had been spending his nights since giving up his room to the princess. Everyone had expected Allura to spend her nights with the prince, Lotor included. That illness of his, combined with Allura’s fright, had inconvenienced everyone when it came to sleeping arrangements.

“I understand you’ve been going around getting to know the others on board this ship?” Lotor was trying to make conversation, to engage Allura’s interest. She was quiet a moment besides him, and then she nodded.

“Yes. Ryder thought it would be a good thing.” She hesitated. “Though getting to know them might be too much of an exaggeration for what we did.”

“Oh?”

“I don’t really feel like I know the people on board this ship. Except for Vorlac, and Ryder to a lesser extent.” Allura corrected with a sigh. “But I did talk to some of the other Drules…”

Lotor already had some understanding of what they had talked about, Ryder reassuring him that no one had revealed the truth of Lotor’s suffering at Zarkon’s hands. “What did you talk about then?” He asked out loud.

She gave a sidelong glance to him. “About you.” A pause. “About the things you have done. The things you’ve done to help the people on board the ship. Even the things you’ve done for the rest of the people on planet Doom.”

“Ah…I see.” He wasn’t sure how to react, not wanting to gloat or be full of pride. “And how does that make you feel? To know these things about me….?”

She hesitated. “It doesn’t change anything.” Allura said at last, looking away from Lotor. “Not for me, not for us. You still kidnapped me…you’re still trying to ruin and run my life according to your whims and desires.”

They were walking through the ship’s corridors, various Drules smiling at the sight of the prince with the princess. They didn’t come close enough to hear Allura’s words, didn’t know how the princess was rejecting Lotor.

“It won’t always feel that way.” Lotor finally said. “Allura…I know this seems extreme to you…I know you feel this is a mistake, that I am ruining your life. But you’ll see. In time we’ll be happy. We’ll be free of the war, free of Doom and the Alliance’s interference.” Most importantly of all they’d be away from Zarkon, somewhere that even the Empire’s reach did not extend.

“What if I was already happy with my life the way it was….is…” Allura demanded. She shook her head no then. “No, don’t answer that. It doesn’t matter what I felt, the real truth you have to face is that I can never be happy with you.”

Disturbing words, Lotor upset and trying not to show it. “You haven’t even given me a chance…”

“Nor do I want to.” Allura retorted. “Heaven help me if I did! You’d be quick to take advantage, quick to use and hurt me.”

“I would never hurt you Allura!” Lotor protested.

“You’ve hurt me just by kidnapping me. You continue to hurt me by forcing me to go with you! I can only imagine what you’ll do once we arrive at Simestia…”

“You’re wrong. About me, about your fears of what I will do…” Lotor insisted, having them turn a corner. “But then….you’ve always been quick to make snap judgments about me. Always quick to make the wrong assumptions.”

She didn’t try to deny it. “You’ve never given me a reason to think any other way.”

“I’ve never given you a reason to fear me!” Lotor pointed out. “And yet you do. Yet you always have, almost from our first meetings.” He didn’t want to, but he remembered one of the first times he had ever been alone with Allura. He had cornered her by her lion, the girl’s eyes alight with terror. She had felt such profound fear of him, Allura had actually drawn a weapon. But it was not to use on Lotor, Allura ready to kill herself rather than be captured by him.

Even now, a year later, the fear startled him. They had only seen each other two times before the incident by her lion, and Lotor had done nothing to merit such fear from Allura. Nothing save be born the son of a tyrant, the prince of the Empire threatening the safety of her world. Even his reputation as conqueror shouldn’t have been enough to account for that amount of fear.

Sometimes Lotor thought Allura truly let her imagination get the best of her. Just like it had when she had driven herself to a panic so deep Allura had started to hyperventilate.

“You’ve tried to kidnap me so many times!” Allura reminded him. “You’ve been attempting to invade my world, enslave my people…”

“The last two was nothing personal to you.”

“Nothing personal?!” Allura gasped out in disbelief. “Lotor, Arus is my home….it’s people under my care. Your father killed my father…if that doesn’t make it personal, than what does?!”

He didn’t have a real answer for her. When he had come to Arus, Lotor had been acting under his father’s orders. Arus should have been just another planet, another world to invade and discard. Maybe if he had kept thinking that way, the months of abuse that followed would have never happened. But Lotor had been smitten with Allura from the first moment he had laid eyes on her. A crush that would ultimately lead him to do foolish things, things that allowed Arus and Voltron to win time and time again. And with each victory, Zarkon had seen to Lotor’s punishment, to his breaking.

“Anything I’ve done…it’s been motivated by love.” Lotor didn’t have to clarify just who that love was focused on. Even Allura could not misunderstand that much. “Even now, it’s that love that keeps me going…” His love motivated him, but more than that it protected Allura. Lotor had been under no delusions that if he died, Zarkon would press on to capture Arus. Allura would suffer under Zarkon’s hands, suffer worse than Lotor had ever. That was yet another reason why Lotor was running away, and taking Allura with him. Not just to love her, but to protect her from the monster that was his father.

“This is wrong…” Allura whispered softly. They had reached the viewing deck, Lotor leading Allura over to one of the benches closest to the railing. A planet was in the distance, colored oranges and golds in this view point. Allura looked at the planet without truly seeing it, let alone recognizing it.

“There it is…” Lotor said, still holding her hand as they sat on the bench. “That is our destination.” That drew Allura’s attention to the planet, the girl studying it with a frown. Lotor knew it didn’t look like much from this vantage point, but once they began to descend to the surface, she would see Simestia’s true beauty. He looked forward to her reactions, knowing that unless Simestia had changed drastically in the fifteen years since he had last visited it, it would be a beautiful world. A true paradise. But more than that, it was a safe haven, a brief stop over until they could get on with their journey to their new lives. Even if someone were to look for them, they would never think to come to Simestia. It made it the perfect world to hide on. But more than that, it was the perfect world for Allura to fall in love with Lotor.


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