Pause 22

Much to Allura’s surprise, Lotor somehow managed to behave himself during the night. The most uncomfortable thing he had done was hug her in a possessive hold, and sneak a few kisses that were rather chaste. There had been no waking to unwanted molestations, no lewd touches, and certainly no pinning her down while he rubbed himself to climax.

She didn’t know what to make of this unexpected behavior. Nor did Allura seek to question him about it, the princess fearing he might misunderstand her curiosity as an invitation to do more. And that was something she could not tolerate, not even if his seductions would have given her a much needed distraction from what was about to happen to her.

The appointed time of the procedure was drawing ever closer, and with every passing minute, Allura was sure her nerves wound tighter together. How much more pressure could she take, before she found herself snapping apart? But she had to keep it together, Allura certain she only had herself to rely on in this situation. Lotor of course, thought she should turn to him for support, but he was the last person she wanted to lean on. Especially given he was the source of all her woes, the Drule dragging her off to some unknown world in order to perform a procedure that could very well cause her to miscarry her child.

Some part of her thought this might be as much her fault as it was Lotor’s. Allura understood that she had driven him to do this. And all because she had lied about the baby, making up a tale of some mystery lover who was the real father of the child she carried. Allura might never have told Lotor that if she had known what he would do in retaliation for her fibs.

Allura felt it was very much a punishment Lotor was doing to her. He was adamant she lied, and yet for all his firm belief that her baby was his child, he still was making her go through with a horrible test. She didn’t for a second care about his claims that his father and Haggar would want concrete proof of paternity. It shouldn’t have mattered what they believed. Unfortunately, Allura understood this wasn’t the kind of world they lived in. Zarkon’s opinion counted. In more ways than Allura wanted to acknowledge.

Allura didn’t want to think about the things Zarkon would try to do to her, if she wasn’t carrying Lotor’s child. If Zarkon didn’t try to kill her, he would most definitely try to kill her baby. Just the thought had her shuddering, Allura putting her hands over her stomach in a protective gesture. She felt fearful for her child, though the most immediate threat to it’s life was the paternity test. Allura knew it would be better to just think about one problem at a time, to deal with them as they cropped up. And thus she bowed her head in a silent prayer, begging any God that would listen to watch out for her and her baby.

Her hair fell forward to obscure her face, Allura keeping her hands clasped over her stomach. It would be Lotor who would brush back her hair, Allura trying not to start in revulsion. If Lotor noticed her strong reaction to his touch, he kept calm. His eyes were dark with an unreadable emotion, Allura wondering just what he was thinking. She almost snorted then, an unbidden thought coming to her. Lotor’s biggest concern was probably his next seduction attempt, and how soon he could make an attempt on her body. The procedure she was soon to undertake wasn’t one she could immediately recover from. As much as Allura didn’t want to be tested, she had to admit she was looking forward to the reprieve it would give her from Lotor’s molestations.

Lotor had not finished with her hair, running his right hand over the length of it in a repeating motion. Allura wondered who he was trying to calm. Her, or himself? But she didn’t think he was nervous. Not when he seemed so self composed.

He didn’t try to break the silence that had started back before they had entered the hospital’s cruiser. Allura was glad for that, feeling too weary to verbally spar with him. She wondered if her tongue would have been sharper due to her mounting fears, or if those fears left her so torn up inside that she would falter with her arguments. Allura was begginning to liken herself to a cage animal, wild and scared, and ready to lash out at everything.

But her only target at present was the man besides her. Allura didn’t think herself capable of doing anything to really hurt him. She let out a sigh, and did a subtle shift away from him. His hand abruptly left her hair alone, Lotor gazing not at her but out the window. She didn’t even know how close they were to the hospital. And all because she was unfamiliar with this city, this world.

The silence would continue, the ride nearly insufferable for all the fear choking Allura. She almost couldn’t breathe, and Lotor refused to lower the windows. All because
he didn’t want them to be seen. To that effect, they were both wearing long body concealing cloaks. Complete with hoods that would cast their faces in shadows. Thankfully, for the ride to the hospital, Lotor allowed them to relax somewhat, the hoods lowered. And still Allura felt overdressed, stifling from the heat of the heavy cloak.

It would have made her laugh had the situation not been so grim. To actually have a complaint about having too many layers of clothing on. Especially after she had spent nearly two days with nothing more than a robe or Lotor’s shirt on. She still wore Lotors’ shirt, but underneath it, she had been given a pair of pants. They fit tighter than she would have liked, but then there hadn’t been many options available. There was only a few women onboard Lotor’s ship, two of which were the pair that had helped kidnap her from the courthouse.

Still it felt good to be dressed again. Allura knew to enjoy the clothes, for Lotor had made no promises that he wouldn’t take them away from her once they returned to the command ship. She hated the thought of being stripped, knowing the lack of clothes made her feel as though she had been reduced to less than a person. Allura wondered if Lotor would have treated her this way if he had known for sure she was pregnant with his child. But somehow she didn’t think much would change between them, regardless of the truth of her baby’s paternity. Lotor was simply a brute, overbearing, perverted, and cruel.

She let out a sigh, the first real sound between them. Lotor glanced at her, but she was peering past him and out the window. She could see a crowd of people waiting by a large building, and it made her wonder what was going on. Her surprise would increase when Lotor growled a curse under his breath. The cruiser wasn’t slowing, but the crowd seemed to turn to it. And then lights went off, people taking pictures of the approaching vehicles.

“What’s going on?” Her curiosity had won out, Allura speaking out loud.

“Seems someone got wind of just who was coming to this hospital.” Lotor grumbled. He pulled out his communicator, and began hissing into it. A nervous sounding voice would respond, the two men exchanging words in Drule. Lotor’s look turned angrier, the prince all but snarling. “I don’t care what you have to do, but I want the snitch found.” A pause for a reply. “No…I’ll deal with him or her personally.”

The threat in Lotor’s voice made Allura shiver. “A snitch?”

“No one was supposed to know we were here.” Lotor explained, switching off his communicator. “I certainly didn’t count on the local media sniffing about for a news worthy story!”

“The media?” Allura tried not to show how she perked up to hear it. But all she could think was if the story spread through the news, her friends and Garrison would be able to locate her. Maybe in time to rescue her before she was locked away on planet Doom.

“Don’t get your hopes up.” Lotor’s look was annoyed. “Even if the Voltron Force gets wind of our location, there’s no way they’ll get off of planet Arus in time to stop us from going to planet Doom.”

She ignored him, thinking stranger things had happened when it came to the Voltron Force and their wins. She wondered if a smile played on her lips, Lotor grumbling as he reached to tuck her head and her hair under her hood. He would do the same for himself, waiting as the cruiser began to slow to a stop.

“Come on.” Lotor ordered, one of the reporters daring to attempt to pull open the door. Lotor would take firm hold of Allura’s arm, and then release the lock. The roar of the crowd’s voice was heard, questions being lobbed towards them as Lotor dragged Allura out of the cruiser. “Keep your head down.” He ordered, his one hand placed on her head. His strength brooked no argument, Allura forced to look at her feet as she was pulled along by Lotor.

His men were attempting to hold the reporters back, and a path was open to the hospitals doors. Those doors were automatic, swishing open immediately upon their nearing. Allura didn’t get to see much of the hospital’s entrance, Lotor still holding down her head as he led her about. A woman would speak to them, the nurse careful not to say any names.

“An exam room has been prepared.” She heard the click of sharp heels on the floor, Lotor guiding Allura to follow after the nurse. They would pass through an all but empty hospital, Allura wondering at this oddity.

“Where are all the people?” She asked out loud. A hesitation from the nurse, her footsteps slowing.

“Keep moving.” Lotor snapped.

“Most of our patients have been moved.” The nurse explained as she led them into a restricted area of the hospital. “Only the most serious cases remain on another floor of the hospital.”

“Moved?” Allura was confused. “Why move them?”

“It…it was a request of your companion.”

Allura frowned, but Lotor was still holding her head down. “How could you be so selfish to empty out a whole hospital?!”

“I didn’t want to run the risk of you being seen.” Lotor sounded defensive.

“Sounds to me, if anything, this act is what led the reporters to gather outside. I bet there wasn’t even a snitch!” Allura told him. “They just wanted to find out why a busy hospital would suddenly turn away new patients!”

Lotor grumbled something unintelligible under his breath. Allura didn’t quite gloat, thinking this had been a stupid move on his part. One that might benefit her in terms of a rescue. But as excited as the thought of a rescue caused her, it couldn’t vanquish all her fears about what was to happen. Her feet were turning to lead, and she only kept moving, because Lotor dragged her. Allura had a feeling if she were to freeze in place, Lotor would simply pick her up and carry her. He’d probably grumble complaints the entire time too.

“Here we are.” The nurse held open a door, Lotor pulling Allura into the room. She was at last allowed to raise her head, Allura glancing around with trepidation. There was an exam table situated between an assortment of machines. There was several monitors, and some kind of printer that would do a read out. There was a tray of instruments set to one side, several sharp needles laying wrapped in plastic. She shuddered, but none of the needles looked anywhere as big as the needle that was supposed to be used in the procedure.

“Please….you can change over there.” The nurse was pointing at the corner where a sheet hung from the ceiling. Allura thought about kicking up a fuss, and in her moment of hesitation found herself and Lotor behind the sheet. He was already reaching to pull off her cloak, Allura lashing out with her arm.

“I can undress myself!” She said heatedly. Lotor looked ready to argue, and then the nurse was calling out to him.

“Your highness, a moment if you please…?”

“What?” Lotor asked.

“I need to ask you some questions as to the nature of your visit.” The woman explained. “Your agent was very careful not to explain just what treatment the patient required.”

“Ah that…” Lotor left Allura alone behind the sheet. She’d hear him explaining the situation to the nurse, telling her he wanted a paternity test conducted on the baby Allura was carrying. Allura could hear the nurse murmur things as she wrote down what Lotor told her.

“I’ll have to take a sample from you as well.”

“From me?” Lotor sounded as though he hadn’t thought of that.

“Yes, we’ll need it to compare to the baby.” The nurse explained. “It’s nothing too intrusive. Just a few tubes of your blood. I can take them right now, if you please.”

“Fine, get it over with.” Lotor ordered. Allura would pull on the hospital gown. The fabric was soft cotton, white with light blue polka dots scattered all over it. It didn’t close in the back, forcing her to hold it with one hand for an attempt at modesty. She’d come out from behind the sheet in time to hear Lotor let out the lowest of yelps. At one time she would have giggled to hear the dread prince of Doom yelping in pain from a needle, but now she just glared at him, completely resenting him for what he was doing to her.

The nurse drew four vials of blood from Lotor. She’d label them, and set them aside. She’d then gesture for Allura to sit down in the room’s only chair, the woman getting ready the instruments needed to take Allura’s vitals. Allura would get her temperature taken, her heart and lungs listened to, and even endure a constricting blood pressure cuff around her arm. It was no surprise to Allura that her heart was racing, her blood pressure higher than normal.

“It’s a little high, but no worries.” The nurse smiled at her. “Most women that come here for this procedure are nervous enough to affect their heart rate and blood pressure.”

“So she can still have the procedure done?” Lotor asked. That questioned earned him another glare from Allura.

“Of course. I see no reason why she couldn’t.” The nurse put aside the instruments. “The doctor will be in with you shortly. I apologize for the wait, but we had an emergency he had to deal with.”

“Believe me there’s no rush!” Allura said, voice high pitched with her nerves. The nurse smiled, then bowed before leaving the room. Allura immediately stood up and looked at Lotor. “I want you to know I’m completely against this!”

“Duly noted.” Lotor retorted. He eyed her in her hospital gown, Allura trying not to fidget in place. “You should sit down.”

“I’d rather stand.” Allura told him. But she feared she wouldn’t for much longer, Allura’s legs shaking so badly her knees practically knocked together. She began to pace in the narrow space that was available between all the machines crowding near the exam table. She wondered what they would do, and wasn’t sure it would make her feel better to understand just what would happen.

She wandered closer to the tray of needles and other sharp things. A hysterical breath escaped her, Allura wanting to knock over the tray and it’s contents to the floor. She thought trashing the room might make her feel just a little better, but Allura controlled that desire. Instead she continued to walk around, breath coming out faster and faster, until Allura thought she might hyperventilate.

Suddenly Lotor was touching her shoulders, pulling her against him so that her back touched his chest. She continued to wheeze, struggling to break free of his hold. Lotor didn’t let her go, which only increased Allura’s agitation.

“You need to calm down.” Lotor advised.

She let out a strangled breath. “Calm down? How can I?! How can you expect me to?!”

“If you don’t, you’ll pass out…”

Allura ignored that. “They’re going to stick a needle in me! And Lotor? It will be a lot bigger than the one the nurse just used on you!” She kept on doing exaggerated breaths, thinking the room was starting to spin. “Did you know that’s what they would do? Did you?” She didn’t wait for his reply. “Do you even know anything about the danger and risk of this procedure?!”

“I think the risk is less than the risk of what my father would do to you if he doesn’t believe you carry my child!” She choked at that, Lotor turning her around to face him. Hot tears burned her eyes, Allura blinking rapidly as she tried to get enough air in her lungs to breathe normally. Lotor started petting her hair, but it was cold comfort he offered her.

“I…I don’t…” She wheezed out the words. “I don’t give a damn what your father believes! This test could cause me to miscarry my baby!”

Lotor opened and closed his mouth, but a new man’s voice was who responded to her cry. “There is that risk.” She somehow wrenched free of Lotor, turning to look at the Drule in the mint green scrubs of a doctor. His gold eyes were locked onto Allura, his expression kind as he talked to her. “However, you should know the risk is dependent on what sort of test we are going to do.”

That didn’t make Allura feel any better to hear. “I’m Doctor Shavat.” He continued, walking towards her with his hand extended. “I will be seeing to you and your baby’s care.”

Allura ignored his hand, continued to breathe funny. The doctor looked concerned. “You need to be calm.” He said, and she managed a snort. “This panic won’t help you or your baby.”

“It’s not that easy to calm down.” Allura admitted through panicked breaths.

“I’ll help you, but you need to work with me.” The doctor glanced at Lotor. “Get her on the exam table…”

“NO!” Allura cried out, knees buckling as Lotor attempted to pick her up. She ended up on the floor, the doctor kneeling besides her. Lotor must have made some move towards her, the doctor shaking his head no with a frown.

“Please….your highness….take slow, even breaths…” The doctor advised. He began to do an exaggerated breathing with her, showing her how it was done. She tried to mimic his breathing, Allura fearing if she passed out she’d wake up in the middle of the procedure.

“Perhaps it would help if I told you a bit about the procedures…” The doctor suggested. Allura nodded slowly, still concentrating on forcing her breath out at a slow pace. “How far along are you by the way?”

“I’m in my sixteenth week…” Allura told him, and the doctor smiled.

“That’s wonderful to hear.”

“It is?” She asked, wary.

“Yes. There’s two ways we can go about this, and each way is dependent on what stage of pregnancy you’re at. You’re very lucky you waited this long…”

“I don’t feel very lucky.” Allura muttered.

“Chorionic Villi Sampling is performed in the first trimester. That procedure holds the greater chance for miscarriage. Fortunately for you, we will be doing Amniocentesis. The risk of miscarriage is greatly lessened.” Explained the doctor.

“What does that involve exactly?” Lotor asked.

“Well, first we will run an ultrasound to check on the baby.” The doctor said. “It will help me to get a basic understanding of the fetus’ size and development. I’ll even be able to tell you the gender if you want to know ahead of time.” He paused, looking at Allura. “Do you want to know?”

She shrugged. “I just want my baby safe and healthy…”

“Well, the testing done will allow us to do a whole diagnosis on the baby. We’ll be able to see if there are any potential problems that wouldn’t normally be apparent until after the child’s birth.” The doctor touched her back, rubbing it encouragingly as Allura continued to focus on breathing normal. It wasn’t quite so big a struggle as it had been just a minute ago.

“The ultra sound will be used during the actual procedure as well.” The doctor continued. “I’ll be using it to pinpoint a viable spot of amniotic fluid that is a safe distance from both the baby and the placenta. It is then that I will insert the needle into your abdomen at that location. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to get a sample of the fluid.”

“It’ll hurt won’t it…” Allura said fearfully. Her breath came out a little faster in response to her nerves.

“Some women complain of cramping or pressure. But some say they don’t feel anything at all during the procedure.” The doctor continued to rub her back. “You could of course have a mild anesthesia injection. But I should warn you that shot might hurt worse than the actual needle used to get the sample.” Doctor Shavat smiled at her. “Many of my patients opt out, deciding one needle is enough.”

“I can see why.” Allura said with a shiver. Her breathing was almost back to normal now, the doctor and Lotor both looking relieved.

“Are you ready to see your baby now?” Another kind smile at her hesitation. “Have you ever seen a picture of your baby before?” Wordlessly, Allura shook her head no. “Then you’re in for a treat.” He held out his hand, helping her up off the floor. Allura would let the doctor guide her over to the exam table, Shavat helping her climb up on it. Lotor hovered behind him, looking put out with how he had been ignored.

His agitation increased when Doctor Shavat pulled up her hospital gown, exposing her belly. It was clear Lotor didn’t like the doctor putting his hands on Allura. Shavat would rub his hands over her belly, feeling out for the baby inside. Apparently he liked what he felt, the doctor nodding to himself before turning to take something off the top of a machine.

“Now, you see this?” He held up a small metal disc that was attached to an elastic belt. “This is an external fetal heart monitor. With this we’ll be able to hear your baby’s heart beat.” He applied a dab of gel to the disc, before securing it in place on her abdomen. The disc was somehow attuned to one of the monitors. The minute the doctor pressed a button on the monitor, the reaction was immediate. A rhythmic, thumping sound was heard.

“Is that…” Lotor broke off.

“Yes, it’s the baby’s heart beat.” Shavat smiled at Allura. “It’s got a steady, healthy beat.”

Her eyes immediately welled up with tears. It was a profound moment, hearing her baby’s heart. Pity it was marred by what was soon to happen, Allura trying not to shake in fear. It didn’t help when the doctor squirted a cold, jelly like gel on her stomach, the man spreading it around.

“I know. My patients always complain about how cold it is. Please try to bear it a moment…” Doctor Shavat replaced the gel bottle in his hand with some kind of handle, the man then pressing it gently on Allura’s belly. He began moving it around, his head turned to stare at another monitor. Allura was at a good vantage point to see the monitor without twisting, though she didn’t completely understand what she was seeing.

The images on the monitor were grainy, black with some white that formed an odd shape. Allura realized it was her baby she was seeing, her tears actually falling the instant the doctor confirmed what she was seeing. A tissue was immediately offered her, Allura snatching it from Lotor’s hands so she could dab it against her eyes. Resentment flared in her, Allura not wanting to share this moment with Lotor. She felt he had no right to be here for any of her baby’s firsts, and she doubly hated that a stranger, even one as kind as Shavat was proving to be, was present for her exam.

The resentment didn’t chase away her fears. “Just stay focused on your baby’s image.” Doctor Shavat advised her, trying to keep her distracted. He was now cleaning her abdomen with a fluid that was staining her skin yellow. She panicked a new, and turned to look at Lotor. Both her eyes and voice was pleading with him, Allura willing to beg for her baby’s chance at life.

“Lotor please….Don’t do this…not to me, not to us…”

Lotor stared at her. Was it her imagination or was his expression as tortured as she felt? “You know why I have to. You’ve left me with no choice…” A sob escaped Allura, the girl crushing the tissue in her hand. Lotor would reach out to touch her hair, Allura trying to jerk away. The doctor made an alarmed sound, and Lotor placed his hands on her shoulders. “You have to remain still, Allura….”

She understood that. She couldn’t struggle, or the risk would increase. The doctor was studying her face carefully. “Your highness? Should I continue?”

It was Lotor who answered. “Yes, of course. Get it over with.” He was still touching her shoulders, but one hand slid down the length of her arm. He would try to get her to hold hands with him, all in a show of support for what she was about to endure. For one instant, Allura very much wanted to forget he was her enemy and tormentor, and just take the comfort he offered her. But she didn’t, Allura shoving his hand away from hers. Lotor’s expression turned unreadable, the prince stiffening in displeasure. They kept right on staring at each other though, neither one willing to look as the doctor approached Allura with the needle.

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