The closed doors of his office could not entirely muffle out the sounds of the cheery music that was being piped in through out the building. The sound grated on his nerves, his mood one that was neither suited for the upbeat strains of a holiday chorus, nor the downbeat strains of the more religious pieces they sometimes chose to play. Truth be known, Lotor would have preferred complete silence, but that seemed an impossibility at this time of year.
The winter solstice was upon them, and with it came all the trappings of the holiday. Even his office had been decorated by his well meaning staff, colored papers and ornaments hanging in places where they would be seen but not be obtrusive. He was long used to the sight, and just as unimpressed now as he had been the first day the decorations had appeared.
A more spectacular view awaited at his back, Lotor having turned his chair so that he could gaze out the window of his office. A heavy snow was falling, covering everything in a fine white powder. He still marveled at the sight of all that snow, thinking he might never tire of the stuff. And all because his own home world was unfamiliar with a snow that could be so clean and so white.
Beyond the sea of snow, he could see the lights from the nearby city buildings. They were all manner of colors, some twinkling on and off, marking the houses that had been decorated for the holiday. His office at the embassy was too far away to see any of the people that might be walking the streets, but he felt the warmth of their homes through their holiday display.
His mind wasn’t dwelling so completely on the holiday. Nor was he ready to devote himself slavishly to the work that lay spread out on his desk. There was numerous demands and requests, some of which were of vital importance. His approval was needed, as the Galaxy Alliance’s representative of planet Doom, Lotor had obligations that no other Drule could take care of.
The briefest flicker of a smile crossed his face. It was far from his once familiar smirk, lacking much of the impudence of his youth. And all because it was still so strange to him, the things that had happened. The things that had led him to be in this building, to sit behind this desk. Not as a prisoner but as a free man. A highly respected in some circles, politician and member of the Galaxy Alliance.
Much had happened in the last ten years. The least of which being the death of his father, the once mighty and cruel tyrant king of Doom. There had been much to do in the advent of Zarkon’s passing, relationships to mend, and new paths forged for the Drules of the Doom Empire. Lotor had been at the head of it all, and it had not been an easy road to take, this attempt at respectability.
But right now he didn’t feel very respectable. Not with his lips still warm, and his cheek tingling with the remembered pain of a certain princess’ slap. He refused to touch his cheek though, Lotor intent on ignoring the pain that wasn’t really there. What really burned was the memory of what had happened. A memory that was only a few hours old.
The memory though was as vivid in his mind as if it was happening now. He could picture the look on the Queen’s face, her startled state giving way to anger a moment before she slapped him. The slap had had enough force for Lotor to accidentally bite his tongue, though thankfully it hadn’t been hard enough to draw blood.
He let his mind wander farther back, to the moments before the lead up to the slap. Queen Allura had been a nervous presence inside his office. It had amused him as it always did, to watch her flustered response to his teasing.
Of course, Allura had tried to keep them both focused on the reason for her visit. She had documents that required his signature, the queen there to smooth over negotiations between Doom and a few of the other Alliance worlds. The higher ups in the Alliance knew Lotor was more amenable to their demands when the Queen of Arus presented them to him. As such, the Doom King and the Arusian Queen were often forced to work in close approximaty to each other.
It was an all too common sight to see Allura in her pale pink salmon colored suits, sitting perched on his black leather couch. The first year of Doom’s entrance into the Alliance, Allura had tried to keep things as professional as she could. Which wasn’t saying much when Lotor was determined to flirt. She had seem more put out than anything, Allura intent on maintaining a frosty demeanor. But little by little chinks in her armor began to appear, the queen relaxing the more time she spent with Lotor.
It would take years, but there eventually came a time when Allura was comfortable enough to offer a subtle flirt back to Lotor. At the very least, she no longer acted outraged at most of what he said to her. Though he could still stun her on occasion with an especially outlandish or lewd suggestion.
Take the scene this afternoon in his office. Allura’s gaze had been lowered to the documents she had held, the queen fussing over something that had been written there. Lotor had held a pen in his hand, but his attention had been more for the woman than the papers before him.
They hadn’t been talking business. Nor had their discussion been about the current politics of the Galaxy Alliance. Instead their conversation had drifted into their plans for the holiday, Allura expressing an eagerness to return to planet Arus. Though her eyes had been distracted by the papers in front of her, excitement had filled her voice. A kind of girlish glee was expressed as she explained to him the sights and sounds, the festivities that would take place on her home world. It was clear to him she was looking forward to it, and it went beyond escaping her duties as the Arus representative in the Alliance.
She even began to talk about a tradition, one that was prevalent on over a thousand of the human settled worlds. Lotor was familiar with the concept of receiving and giving gifts during the winter solstice, even if it wasn’t a practiced tradition on Doom. As excited as Allura had been, Lotor hadn’t been able to tell if she was more interested in receiving, or giving gifts. He assumed the later won out, the queen always of a giving heart.
Somewhere in the midst of wondering, a teasing impulse had come over him. “And what will you be giving me?” His question had caught her off guard, Allura’s eyes slowly lifting up to meet his.
He had nodded. “Yes. You give gifts to your friends, do you not?”
“I’d hardly call what we are friends!” She had protested. He had lifted a brow at that, seeing her do the faintest flush in response.
“Then what are we?” He had been truly curious then, interested to know just what Allura saw their relationship as. Just as he was interested, she was not, the woman so loathe to answer that she avoided the topic all together.
“Besides…I wouldn’t know what to get you.” Allura had sputtered. He could see her point, he was rich beyond a hundred men’s wildest dreams. And he had the power to go with the wealth, able to take what he wanted. But those days were behind him, Lotor and Doom now civilized, to the point he had to go through the proper channels to obtain his desires. But there was one desire that no amount of paperwork could easily gain him, Lotor gazing across the desk at Allura.
“You.” He had finally said, and she somehow managed not to gasp. “You could give yourself to me.”
That blush of hers had tinged even redder, the queen not hiding her frown. “That is not an appropriate gift!”
“But you are what I want most in the galaxy.” He had been blatant in his admiration then, his look surely longing.
“Sometimes we don’t always get what we want.” She had been almost chastising in the moment. But he was unrepentant.
“I guess I’ll just have to try harder for you.”
“What you should be focusing on is the work at hand.” She had retorted, and lowered her eyes back to the documents in her hands. If Allura would have had her way, that would have been the end of it. But Lotor was hardly ready to drop it, content to bide his time until an opportune moment arrived.
Silence would stretch between them, Allura feigning an avid interest in the documents she held. Lotor’s ink pen would scribble his messy scrawl, his signature being added to important documents. All talk of the holiday had ended, but gifts had still been very much on Lotor’s mind.
When Allura had approached his side of the desk, intent on pointing something out on one of the documents that she carried, Lotor had seized the opportunity she had offered him. Perhaps he wouldn’t have acted if she hadn’t bent over him, the faint scent of her overwhelming him as he gazed up at her face. She hadn’t been frowning any longer, eyes still on the paper as she brushed up against his arm. That touch had been electric, and before Lotor could stop himself, he had moved them both into action.
In one smooth movement he had dropped his pen, lunging upright to slide an arm around Allura’s waist. That action of his had startled her, Allura had gasped out loud, the papers dropping from her hands. His hand on her back, Lotor had pressed Allura between him and his desk. It had felt good to have her against him, to feel her slender form struggling to get free. It rose something primal in him, predatory instinct had filled him. And with it that thought had come that perhaps he wasn’t as civilized as he had thought.
“Let me go!” Allura had cried out when it became apparent she would not get free on her own. Her one hand was gripping the arm that had wound about her waist, her other trapped in his grasp. “King Lotor, this is highly inappropriate!”
It was a mark of her flustered response that she had resorted to using his title. He had put her on edge, Allura close to panicking. It just fed into his excitement, Lotor being reminded of a time many years ago when the chase and capture had thrilled him so. Some part of him still warmed to the pursuit, especially if the prey was Allura. She would gasp a second time, and then he would be kissing her, mouth sealing over hers.
Her mouth had been open for that gasp, Lotor able to ruthlessly plunder it’s moist depths with his tongue. He used all his skill and expertise to seduce her, to melt her from the lips down to her toes. At first Allura would struggle, free hand pushing at him. She would then make a whimper of noise, some kind of helpless protest as her lips softened with their yield.
Lotor was sure he had growled back in response to that sound of hers, his kiss becoming even more aggressive. He had stolen her breath away, Allura’s knees buckling. She would have fallen if not for his support, and as her body tried to go limp, he had pushed her back. Allura had hit the desk with a muted squeal. “Do…don’t!”
His papers had scattered, ink pens and pencils falling off the desk. She had just narrowly missed a cup of cooling liquid, Allura staring up at him with wide blue eyes. Lotor had smiled at her, his body already moving to pin her in place on the desk. He had begun working to seduce her with his kisses, feeling the control he had built over the years rapidly fraying apart.
Allura’s hand would clutch at his back, fingers pulling at his jacket’s fabric. He had let out a throaty chuckle then, kissing along the line of her jaw until his lips had ended near her ear. Allura had taken advantage to gain back her breath, panting as she tried to say his name. Another shocked gasp would escape her, Lotor had placed his hand under her skirt, directly onto the smooth expanse of her thigh.
“N….no…” She had hissed, even as he had bit down on the lobe of her ear. His fingers had caressed her thigh, Lotor had felt smug as he had whispered in her ear. “I note for all your protests, you haven’t done much to try and push me away.”
It had been the wrong thing to say, Allura’s hands leaving his back. For one instant they had laid flat on the desk, as though she had been surrendering to him. He had
felt cocky then, thinking he had finally gain the person he had wanted for most of his adult life. That hand of his had started to caress up higher on her thigh, and then Allura had struck.
The sound of her hand connecting with his cheek still made him cringe. After all these years, the princess hadn’t lost her skill when it came to striking his face. And with that slap, his reason had returned, Lotor abruptly pulling off of Allura. He hadn’t apologized, not even as she had stared at him with that unsettling gaze of hers. In the end, he had moved to pick the papers off the floor, telling her the meeting was over with. Allura had not protested, the woman adjusting her clothes before making her escape from his office.
Now with some time between the event of the afternoon, Lotor could recognize how foolish he had been. How stupid and reckless, and so like his old self. He stared out the window, his hand making a fist. He was supposed to be better than this, to have progressed beyond a brute who took what he wanted by force. Lotor knew he had gotten exactly what he had deserved when Allura had slapped him. And all because Lotor had regressed to his see it, want it, take it mentality.
Lotor had thought he had moved on from acting like an entitled pig. He had thought he had come to accept that Allura would never be his so long as he tried to take her by force. He wondered then if he had just grown tired of waiting, if the respectable king and politician of Doom had been nothing more than an act. An act meant to win her in a different way.
“I’m such a fool.” He muttered under his breath. He suddenly wanted to press his forehead against the window’s glass, feeling something like defeat slump his shoulders. Why did things have to be so complicated, even now, between him and Allura? There were many problems, and they would be compounded by what had happened between them this afternoon. He didn’t know where they had stood before Lotor had had a momentary lost of control. He didn’t know what Allura felt for him, or if it was something that went beyond tolerating him for the Alliance’s sake.
He had hurt her, Lotor realized and understood that once she had slapped him. And that was something he hadn’t wanted to do! And all because he cared about Allura, because he loved her. Even if that love was something that might never be realized, no matter how much he tried to flirt and beguile Allura. Lotor wondered if he could step back from her, if he could put space between them. That space might be the only thing that would keep him sane.
But could he tolerate losing the closeness her visits brought them? He frowned again, Lotor wondering if he would have the courage to tell the heads of the Alliance to stop thrusting Allura in his face. It was the only thing that could give him peace of mind, and Lotor hated the fact that he would even consider blaming Allura for his loss of control.
“Pathetic.” Lotor grumbled. “That I would blame her proves I am not fit to even touch her.” His hand clenched harder in the fist he was making, Lotor tempted to risk the window’s glass with a punch. Maybe the impact would jar some much needed sense into him. But before he could act on that impulse, a knock sounded on his door. Lotor frowned, knowing he had sent his staff away for the rest of the day. And all because he wanted to be alone to torture himself over what had happened.
The knock sounded again, more insistent. He grumbled but ignored it, content to fool whoever that was into thinking his office was empty. A third time the knock would sound, and then the creaking of the unlocked door was heard as it was pushed open. Lotor lurched off his seat, and turned to glare at the person who would dare intrude on him. “WHAT?! What do you…” His words would choke in his throat, Lotor staring surprised at Allura.
Allura didn’t say anything at first, merely stepping into the room and letting the door fall close behind her. She wore an unreadable expression on her face, the woman being careful to keep her distance from Lotor. Her eyes seemed to focus more on his desk than him, and Lotor wondered if she even noticed the stunned look on his face.
The silence didn’t last all that long. Lotor found himself speaking, his voice coming out hoarse and unsure. “Allura….I thought you would have headed back to Arus by now….”
“I’m going to…” She said in response. “But I had some unfinished business here.”
“Ah yes, the documents…” Lotor looked at the papers neatly stacked up in a tower on his desk. “You’ll be happy to know I’ve signed the ones you brought me earlier. So you needn’t…”
“No.” Allura’s soft interruption almost wasn’t heard. And then she said it more firmly, her head shaking slowly. “No…I didn’t come here about work.” He blinked, Lotor unsure of what to say to that. Allura seemed to fidget in place, still staring at the floor. “Did I hurt you?”
“Huh?” Now he was really confused. Wasn’t that what he should be asking her?
“Your cheek…” A quick glance up of her eyes before she looked down again. “When I slapped you?”
“Were you…worried about me?” Lotor asked after a moment’s hesitation. Her head seemed to dip in the slightest of nods, and Lotor almost fell back in his seat, stunned even more.
“I hit you pretty hard….”
“I’d be more worried about you hurting your hand than my cheek.” Lotor told her. It didn’t earn even a glimmer of her smile. “No, I’m fine.” He then reassured her. Now it was his turn to lower his eyes. “If anything, what happened earlier? I deserved it. I shouldn’t have kissed you. I shouldn’t have pushed you down and…” He shrugged, still not looking at her. “I was the one at fault not you. For everything, even the slap.”
A shaky exhale of breath from her direction, but other than that Allura was quiet. Lotor didn’t dare look at her, even as the sound betrayed how heavy this afternoon’s encounter had weighed on her mind. He knew he couldn’t cause her any more pain or discomfort, Lotor trying for a level tone as he spoke. “I’m going to put in a demand with the Alliance heads.”
“A demand?” She questioned, and he found himself nodding.
“This isn’t working.” He couldn’t look at her. Not now. If he did, Lotor would lose his resolve and be unable to send Allura away. “It is wrong of the Alliance to force us in close proximity to each other.”
“It’s for the good of the galaxy.” Allura said quickly.
“We can do good for the galaxy apart.” He let a humorless smile cross his face, though he still did not look at Allura. “Worry not princess. I will not revert to my old ways if you are removed from my presence. I will honor the changes Doom has made, I will keep on striving to keep my people an active part of the Alliance. It will…”
“I don’t know how to deal with it.” Allura said abruptly, cutting Lotor off.
“You’ll manage. With or without me, I’m sure.”
“I’m not sure I want to.” Lotor lifted his head at that, unable to hide his shock. Allura wasn’t looking at him, but her cheeks were turning pink. “Lotor…when you did what you did…”
“A mistake I assure you…”
“Mistake or not….” She sighed then, a weighty confession coming out of her. “It’s not a situation I am used to. This being wanted so badly.”
Lotor wondered if she had ever truly looked around her, to gauge the reaction of the men and women that were affected with desire for the princess of Arus. But he knew to point that out would only distress and embarrass her further, so Lotor kept silent.
“When you held me down…I kind of panicked.” Allura admitted. A long pause followed those words. “I’m sorry I hit you.”
“You have nothing to apologize for.” Lotor quickly reassured her. Another awkward silence followed, Allura fidgeting in place.
“I realize that I probably can’t give you what you’re looking for….” He fought not to deflate, wondering how long before his heart split in two at her awkward attempts to let him down gently. “Not yet at least….”
He was suddenly blinking owlishly at her, Lotor not sure he had heard her right. “Allura…?”
Her hands lifted, her fingers touching each other’s tips. “It’s not that I…um don’t like you…” Her blushing cheeks and fidgeting manner betrayed how insecure Allura felt about what she was saying. “But sometimes…you say and do things….” She shook her head then. “It scares me…”
“It remind me of the old days….but it’s more than that.” Allura continued. “I didn’t know what was going through your head….I still don’t.” The last was added softly. “I didn’t know what it meant to you, if you were just playing with me…I’m not a mind reader…I don’t….” He had come around from behind his desk, Allura lifting her gaze to warily watch his approach.
“You think it’s any easier for me?” He asked, and put his arms around her. Unlike this afternoon, Allura didn’t struggle though she did look away from him. “I can’t read your mind either…It’s torture to sit here with you week after week, and not know how you really feel about me. It’s even worse to have been sitting here thinking you must hate me for trying to force myself on you…”
Lotor hugged her then pulled back, a hand taking hold of Allura’s chin. He kept her face tilted upright so she had to make eye contact with him. “You should have seen me. An angry, pathetic mess. And then, impossibly, there you were. Speaking to me, actually trying to apologize for something that was my fault to begin with. I’m the one who should…is apologizing. Allura, I am sorry for what I did. I’m sorry I put you in that position. I….” Lotor fought to get out the words, but knew the only way he could make this promise was if he sent her away. “It won’t happen again.”
He forced himself to step away from her, but not before he did a lingering touch on her face. A smile was a hard won battle, but Lotor managed a small one. “I want to thank you for letting me know how you feel…”
“Lotor….” Allura was frowning at him now. “You don’t understand anything do you?”
“What?” He was confused, and let it show.
“I wouldn’t have been so scared, so concerned with what you were thinking and feeling if it…you, didn’t mean something to me…” Lotor was sure he had a stupid expression on his face, wondering if this was a dream. “I meant it when I said I don’t dislike you…” She locked gazes with him. “And I don’t want you to send me away. I want to keep working with you. Not just for the good of the galaxy, but to explore this….attraction between us.”
“That slap must have hit me harder than I thought.” Lotor muttered.
Allura stepped towards him, her trembling hands reaching for his face. Lotor froze in place, not daring to so much as breathe as her hands gently grasped each cheek. And then she was tugging him down towards her, Lotor bending all too willingly for whatever it was Allura wanted to do. “Close your eyes.” She urged him softly, and he immediately complied.
Lotor could feel her breath warming his lips, but the kiss never came. The seconds stretched on to eternity, to the point Lotor opened his eyes and saw Allura red faced and hesitating. Once again he felt defeat surge through him. She couldn’t even willingly kiss him!
Touching the backs of Allura’s hands, Lotor pulled free of her grip. “I appreciate the sentiment, but you don’t have to force yourself…” He moved to kiss her forehead, and suddenly Allura went up on tip toe. Her lips were just there, pressing invitation on his mouth. He quivered as much as she did, and then his hand went behind her head. It was fine, she was clutching at the front of his jacket, hands desperate fists that would not yield in their possession of him.
It felt like several lifetimes pass as they kissed, mouths growing hotter, desire turning them feverish. Lotor was as short of breath as Allura when they slowly pulled back. She looked at him with shyness coloring her expression. Wonder was in his, Lotor bowing his head so that their foreheads touched. “Thank you.” He said softly. “That was the greatest gift I have ever received.”
“Happy Winter Solstice Lotor.” Allura whispered. Her fingers would unclench from his jacket, Allura stepping back. She was still blushing, but Allura didn’t look dismayed over what had just happened. If anything she looked happy, as if she had come to an acceptance she had struggled with for quite some time. He felt that same happiness, for that acceptance meant Allura was willing to try at a relationship with him. Suddenly the day, the future, looked a whole lot brighter.