Mask 12

It had been a mistake to kiss her, he realized that just as soon as he did it, Allura stiffening in his arms. Her frozen state lasted only an instant, and than she began moving, thrashing about violently in an attempt to escape him. Lotor broke the kiss but did not let go of her, fearful that she’d end up doing damage. If not to him and the room, then to herself.

At least she wasn’t screaming, Lotor thought with a modicum of relief. But she was making an odd hiccup of sound, as though she was desperate for breath and failing to get it. He held tighter to her, trying to control her body’s movements, his one hand cupping the back of her head, fingers doing a gentle rub of the scalp beneath them. Minutes passed like this, her struggles calming, until there was only the sound of Allura’s quiet weeping.

“Shhhh…..” He murmured softly, loosening his hold enough to push her back from him. Her cheeks were wet, tears running down her face, mixing with the blue make up. It was streaking, powder changing colors in spots, becoming lighter in a way that made it obvious to anyone who looked at her that it was a ruined disguising of her skin.

Allura didn’t help matters, lifting her hands, brushing angrily at her eyes. The make up there came off on her hands, leaving wide circles that show her sun tanned skin. “Here now…” He said softly, catching at her hands. “You’ll get the powder into your eyes.” She just looked at him, Lotor giving her a kindly smile as he led her towards a chair in the corner of the bedroom. It’s fabric was thin, and patched over with miscolored pieces of material, but it was serviceable for his intentions.

“Wait here.’ A quiet command, Allura sniffling in response. She watched him walk out of the room, not understanding where he was going. Her heart was beating wildly in her chest, and for all the wrong reasons, the sudden kiss having frightened her out of her wits. Allura curled her fingers into fists on her lap, trying to ignore the shaking of her hands.

She could remember what had happened when Lotor kissed her, the move swift and sudden, and completely unexpected. Unasked for too, Allura leery under the best of circumstances of demanding touches. And it was all Tristan’s fault, the man ruining her when it came to experiencing physical contact from other people. She hadn’t realized how bad off she had been rendered, not until Lotor forcefully kissed her.

All coherent thought had left her mind in that moment, Allura could only concentrate on getting free. It had been a horrible, suffocating feeling, the girl flashing back to the moment in Tristan’s bedroom, the slimy kisses he stole from her, the man slapping her for her defiance. ~Lotor’s not Tristan.~ She told herself firmly, knowing he had plenty of time to prove her wrong while they stayed in the Baron’s home.

Footsteps alerted her to Lotor’s return, the prince carrying a bowl of water, and a clean hand towel. The cleanliness of the towel looked out of place in the ruins of the room, and she wondered how he had managed to find it.

Lotor walked towards Allura, noting she had quieted down to the point not even a stray sob or hiccup escaped her. He offered her another kind smile, and knelt down before her, setting the water bowl besides him on the floor. He dipped the cloth into the water, then wrung out any extra moisture, before leaning up to dab at her face. He thought it good that she held herself still, Allura managing not to flinch from his hand’s approach.

He kept his eyes on her face, gently scrubbing it clean, the ruined make up taking time to come off on the towel. The cloth’s fabric turned from a pale gray to a dark blue, Lotor occasionally dipping the towel into the bowl, it’s water becoming discolored from stray powder. When he finished with her face, he turned his attention to her hands, taking hold of a slender wrist, and working to clean her palms.

All this was done in quiet, Allura watching him as he performed this task. It wasn’t until he began cleaning her fingers that he broke the silence, his voice gruff with embarrassed apology. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

She couldn’t think of what to say, knowing it would be a lie to try and soothe his ego by insisting he hadn’t. He switched to her other hand, Allura noting he hadn’t been able to get all the powder out from under her nails. More quiet followed his apology, and then she was reacting startled to his question.

“It’s Tristan, isn’t it?”

“It…it’s that obvious?” Allura asked, Lotor looking up from her hand to give her a serious look.

“You’re as white as a ghost, and even though you try to control it, I can feel you shaking.” Another smile, but it was without humor to it. “I’ve kissed you before, and though those usually ended with a slap to my face or worse, you never lost to an all consuming fear.” He had finished cleaning her, towel dropped in the water bowl. But he remained kneeling, holding onto her hands as he stared up at her.

It was a very intimate way to hold a conversation, even one that seemed to be veering into such a serious topic. “I should have realized.” Continued Lotor. “I shouldn’t have just out and out kissed you. You’ve spent these last few days leery of contact with others, and yet I thought…”

“What…what did you think?” She asked softly.

“You let me touch you at the mansion. You were hesitant, but we managed…allowing contact that you refused to all others.” He sighed then. “But it was wrong of me to assume it meant I could just kiss you.”

“It was more than a kiss.” Allura pointed out. “You grabbed me and forced your lips on mine. Why? Why did you do it?” She was surprised to see him lower his eyes. Lotor unable to meet her gaze.

“Would you believe I was caught up in the heat of the moment?”

“I would…if there had been anything leading up to the kiss.” She replied, wondering if she had given him some kind of signal. Some mixed sign that led him to believe it would be okay to just up and grab her. “And Lotor….there wasn’t.” She said this firmly, Allura wanting him to understand that whatever he had read off of her, it hadn’t been an invite to kiss her.

He was silent, just digesting her words, to the point she had to prod him to speak. “We were talking…arguing really…”

“You were asking hard questions…..ones that have no easy answers.” He said.

“So you what….” Allura spoke slowly, trying to understand. “Kissed me to get me to stop?” He was no stranger to hiding his emotions, his face a mask that betrayed none of the guilt he might have over this line of questioning. And that was assuming he even felt remorse at trying to manage her with his kiss. “You thought to distract me, didn’t you?”

“It backfired though.” Lotor pointed out, his words as close to admission as he would get.

“Yes, it did…” Allura shook her head, expression sad. “I would rather endure horrible truths, than relive the suffocating panic I felt in that moment.” She wondered if this was normal, or if there was something seriously wrong with her, Tristan’s attempted rape having broken something in her. How much worse would she be if Tristan had
completed the act of claiming her body?!

“Lotor? We do need to talk.” Allura said, and emotion flickered back into his face, the prince sighing.

“Yes, we do.” He agreed.

“And you hate it, don’t you?”

Lotor hesitated, not sure he should answer that question. He had hoped to have more time with Allura, more peaceful moments like at Baron Krieg’s home before the reality of their situation came crashing down on them. It would be no easy task to resolve the Doom Arus conflict, and he understood that Allura had not been thinking straight completely when she had agreed to marry him.

It made things easy when it came to getting her down the aisle, but that was the only benefit. Too many things needed to be considered, things that might have been easier if he forced her hand.

“Lotor?” A prodding from Allura, Lotor realizing he had been kneeling there, just staring at her.

“Truthfully?” A nod from her, Lotor not smiling in response. “I really hadn’t thought that far as in to what to do with Voltron.”

“You hadn’t?” Allura sounded like she didn’t believe him. “But…surely in the past, you’ve had some thoughts…even idle ones…fantasies…”

“Voltron would be a powerful assets to the Doom Empire.” He finally admitted. “With it we could conquer planets at thrice the speed, our efficiency increased. Not to mention the fact we would no longer have to waste ships battling it to retain the planets already in our possession.”

“You’ll use it won’t you?” Allura asked. “You’ll lay a path of devastation through the galaxy, and it will be all my fault!” She snatched her hands free of his, bringing them up to cover her face, though thankfully she did not start crying. Lotor watched her, uncomfortable by her upset, and trying to think of the words that could somehow make things better for her, for them.

But there weren’t, not for this matter, Lotor’s hands resting on lap, frozen in place when she had jerked free of their grip. He actually felt helpless in this moment, unable to bring comfort to his fiancee. He heard a sound, and realized she was speaking again, voice muffled against her hands so that he had to strain to understand her.

“My people will hate me..the galaxy will hate me!”

“No Allura, no! No one will hate you….they couldn’t…” But his protests felt empty, wooden words that fell on deaf ears. He knew what the media would say about their union, how it would vilify Allura for her choices if the truth came out. It would be easier for her, if he had forced her, no one could blame her then, not for being captured, not for becoming the forced bride of a villain.

“Doom will be an unstoppable killing machine.” Continued Allura, as though he hadn’t spoken. “Plundering and enslaving everyone in it’s path!” She suddenly lowered her hands, staring at him, eyes gleaming with her upset. “Why? Why must your people be like this? Why can’t they be satisfied with their lot, why must they continued to succumb to greed, lusting over other’s possessions.”

The honey moon period was over before it had even gotten a chance to start, Allura no longer content to exist in a grateful daze. Those days at the baron’s home, she had willfully remained ignorant of the problems her marriage to Lotor would cause the rest of the galaxy. She had been to grateful to him for his protection, too insistent to let him handle everything, manage every detail of her life. But now the questions came, serious ones, ones whose answers matter to her.

Answers Lotor couldn’t give her, not with satisfactory results. She knew that, and yet she couldn’t help but ask, as though she was tied to the tracks and an incoming train was barreling down on her. “Why are your people so violent? So blood thristy?!”

“Studies suggest it is a result of the harsh environment surrounding Doom.” The last thing she had expected was for him to bring up those studies, Allura blinking owlishly at him. “It’s certainly made us strong, tenacious. You see….we have to be in order to survive…”

“And you want me to live there with you?!” Allura squeaked out, wondering if Doom would be the death of her after all.

“Yes, but…” A hesitation. “You’ll live inside the castle….your care and comfort will be seen to. You will be protected Allura.”

“Protected from what?!”

Blast, he was only succeeding in making her ask more questions, Lotor trying not to show his frustration. “From the nobles of my father’s court.” Her eyes widened, her lips parted, Lotor hurrying to answer her unvoiced question. “They’re vicious and ruthless, a petty and jealous lot. They enjoy causing strife, stirring the waters. They’ll make trouble for you if allowed to run unchecked.”

“Such a thing is a foreign concept to me.” She admitted. “The nobles of Arus aren’t like that.”

“Yes, I doubt backstabbing and murder, both real and political exist there…At least not to the extent it does on Doom.” Lotor said. “The Drule nobles thrive on such things….and Allura, make no doubt about it….they may be what you call politicians, but they are as blood thirsty and dangerous as those who serve as soldiers in my father’s military.” She was shivering again, no doubt chilled by his words.

“You’re probably regretting making this deal with me.” He said, a wry smile on his face.

“No…” She shook her head, expression troubled. “Not exactly. You said it yourself, you’d take me to Doom anyway. This way at least, I can do some good, I can save someone before resigning myself to a life on Doom.”

“It won’t be all bad.” Lotor said in response to that. “I’ll give you everything possible that you desire….I’ll fill our chambers with love and laughter, warmth and kindness. You will come to be at ease there.”

Why did his words leave her with the feeling she’d be spending all her time inside his private quarters, if only to avoid the stark cold reality of the rest of Doom. She sighed out loud, suddenly feeling too exhausted for words, and remembering she had little chance to sleep aside from a few stolen moments inside their carriage.

“You’re tired.” Lotor noted, and now he rose off his knees. “I’ll let you rest now.”

For one long moment of silence, Allura studied him. He had to her surprise, many moments of kindness, a behavior that should have seemed contradictory to his ruthless nature. Yes, he could be savage, his violence in the tavern proved as much, but he was also gentle, showing a tenderness to her that astounded Allura.

“You’re not what I expected.” She said at last, and Lotor crooked his head curiously at her.

“Oh? And what did you expect?”

She was finally recovered from her earlier fright, for the heat of her blush was high in her cheeks now. “For you to…to…” She stumbled over the words, Allura embarrassed and tongue tied. “To assault me the first chance you got.”

“You mean I am not like Tristan.” He actually smiled then, and she nodded. “Our ambitions are the same….” Lotor reminded her. “But the way we go about it is very different.”

“I’m glad.” Allura said, and let him help her up out of her seat. “I don’t think I could have handled two men attacking me.”

Lotor didn’t seem to know what to say to that, the man actually coughing nervously. “I’ll leave you to your sleep.”

He left her nodding at him, Lotor striding out of the room, and closing the rickety door behind him. He almost slumped against it, debating with himself over how the conversation with Allura had gone. It had had both ups and downs, but he dared to come away hopeful. After all, she hadn’t threatened to go back on her agreement to marry him, Allura seeming as if she was slowly struggling to accept the things that would come from their union.

Lotor wasn’t getting ahead of himself. He knew there was still ground to cover, to work to make Allura happy with her situation on Doom. It was more than just acceptance he wanted to foster within her, he wanted to see to her being able to glean some enjoyment out of life with him and his people. He refused to think he asked for the impossible, feeling she had managed quite remarkably among the Drules at the Baron’s home. Of course those men and women were no leeches of the court, but it
was a step in the right direction.

He didn’t smile though, moving away from her door. He could hear further down the hall, Krieg talking to Drake, Lotor catching stray words that had him running. “Did I hear right?” He demanded, his arrival in the room drawing their attention. “You’ve managed to hack into the villa’s security cams?”

“But of course.” Drake said, gesturing at the computer’s monitor. It’s screen was split into several smaller images, movements showing a few guards patrolling various rooms. The footage was mainly of the halls outside the various rooms, Tristan apparently not wanting his private dealings to be filmed. The bedrooms were off limit completely, but the servants quarters and kitchens also had cameras within their walls.

“This is useful…” added Drake, fiddling with the computer’s mouse. “If we’re going to break in, we can use tonight’s footage to splice into the camera’s security feed the night of our break in. They won’t even know we’re there, not unless we encounter the guards in person.” Another click of the mouse, and then the screen change, showing a schematic of the villa.

“This is the architectural blue prints of Tristan’s home.” He tapped a finger on the keyboard, and suddenly red appeared over certain spots. “I’ve marked the bedrooms where guests stay. The target will be in one of these.”

“Can’t you narrow it down more?” Lotor asked, noting how numerous the amount of bedrooms were.

“I’m working on it.” Drake told him, and the Baron spoke up, voice filled with pride, as though the hacker’s accomplishments was Krieg’s doing.

“He’s hacked into the villa’s computers. You won’t believe the amount of information Drake has to sift through.”

“If it’s anything like the computers at Castle Doom, then I can imagine.” Lotor said. “Keep seeing what you can find out, but don’t forget your real purpose. You said you could improve upon my plan…”

“It shouldn’t take more than an hour or two for that.” Drake said, his tone turning boasting. “I am a tactical genius after all.” A cocky grin then, the brown skinned human turning to look at Lotor. “You’ll find I’m worth ever penny.”

“You better be.” Lotor’s voice held a quiet danger to it, the prince flashing his own menacing smirk at the human. It seemed wasted on Drake, the man surely used to dealing with threatening Drules due to his partnership with Devana. Lotor held back a sigh, not liking a man he couldn’t intimidate with words.

“I could work faster if I didn’t have people hanging over me every step of the way.” Drake added, and the computer’s printer began making noises. A long slip of paper was emitted, writing printed on it’s surface. “Give this to Devana. These are things absolutely essential if we want to pull off this rescue successfully. She’ll know where to get them, and for a cheap price.”

“Fine.” Lotor took it from him, glancing at the writing. He saw quite a few expensive items written down, things that were also rare and not easily accessible to just
anyone. But then crooks and thieves always had their own way getting their hands on hot items, Lotor turning to leave the room.

“Just add the cost of the items to our bill.” Drake called after him, a hint of laughter to his voice. Lotor stifled an unhappy growl, telling himself the cost was worth it, if the outcome would make Allura happy even for just a bit.

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