There was a sharp smell in the air, it wrinkled his nose, Lotor disliking the strong scents that hung in the air of this part of the castle. There was no helping it, the medical wing always held the scents of disinfectants, the servants almost zealous in their attempts to keep the rooms clean.
Lotor tried breathing through his mouth, finding the smells sent off a wave of nausea in him, a sign he had drank too much if he was being bothered by the disinfectants. His eyes also hurt, the lights from the rooms bright, far brighter than the rest of castle Doom. He was fighting not to squint, walking briskly through the halls, head turning right then left as he peered into open doorways.
He saw guards, and even a noble inside those rooms, forced down on the sick beds with some kind of malady or injury. But no sign of Allura, Lotor frowning, stepping quicker down the long hall.
Even with his stumbling steps, it didn’t take Lotor long to reach the end of the hall, seeing medical staff rushing in and out of a room. He felt panicked to see them, Lotor stopping before the glass observation window, peering into the inside of a small room.
At first he didn’t see her, she was too hidden by the press of bodies, doctors and nurses hovering around her. Lotor almost turned away, but then a woman moved, and he saw the glint of gold that was Allura’s hair. That proof of her presence had Lotor pressing his hands against the glass, peering into the room with a hint of desperation in his eyes.
“Why is there so many staff around her?” Lotor asked out loud, not expecting an answer. He got one all the same, a doctor over hearing him.
“When the crown prince of Doom commands we do anything and everything to save the life of someone, even if that someone is just a slave, we take him seriously.”
Lotor tore his eyes away from the room to look at the Drule, seeing an older man with spectacles over his eyes standing to the side of the door. His dark hair was streaked with gray, and his face bore lines and age spots.
“Just a slave?” Lotor snorted, words tumbling free before he could stop himself. “Allura is anything but a mere slave.”
“I figured.” The doctor said, not quite smiling at Lotor. The prince frowned at him, the doctor hurrying to explain. “I mean, it’s rare for us to expend this many resources on a slave. She must have some great value to you for you to do this.”
“I’d keep such speculations to yourself doctor.” Lotor snapped, annoyed. He had to fight his every instinct to keep from turning back to the window, desperate for another glimpse of Allura. “So tell me doctor, what is wrong with her?”
“We….we don’t know.” The doctor was hesitant, answers not forthcoming.
“You don’t know?!” Lotor narrowed his eyes at him, annoyance shining within them. “All those doctors, all those tests, and you know nothing?!”
The doctor became defensive, looking just as annoyed as Lotor felt. “She was only brought in a few minutes before your arrival. These things take time.”
“Time I was told she may not have!” Lotor snapped, bristling with anger.
“We are working to stabilize her now.” The doctor answered, seeming to shake with the force of his sigh. “Once her condition is normalized, then we can set about to seeking answers.”
“Do you know anything? Anything at all?” demanded Lotor, staring searchingly at the doctor’s face. He saw the hesitation, the doctor choosing his words carefully.
“She’s running a high fever…and her friends confirm she hasn’t been eating these past few days. So we can rule out food poisoning.” The doctor’s brow steepled. “No one else in the harem has come down with any symptoms, this seems to be an isolated case.”
Something bothered Lotor at hearing the doctor’s words, but he shoved down that feeling, more concerned with Allura and her well being. “We’ve given her an iv drip…” continued the doctor. “To combat dehydration and get some medicines into her to bring down her fever.”
“I want to see her.” Lotor said, his voice confidant that it wasn’t a question of if he could see her, but when.
“Of course.” The doctor nodded. “You’ll be admitted to her room just as soon as things have calmed down some. Please….won’t you have a seat while you wait?” The doctor was gesturing at a row of soft cushioned benches that were placed at intervals between the rooms. Lotor shook his head, turning back to the window.
“As you wish your highness.” The doctor sighed, and stepped away from Lotor. The prince barely acknowledged his exit, too consumed with staring daggers at the medical staff that hovered around Allura’s bedside. He didn’t care if his intense stare was making them nervous, in fact he wanted them to be aware of him, aware of not just his presence but of the promised threat he would carry out if they failed him.
The medical staff actions seemed to speed up, hands moving fast but not careless as they labored over Allura. The skimpy garments of the harem slave gave them easy access to her body, tiny suction cups being placed on her chest, their wires connected to a machine. It gave a readout of her heart, her pulse seemed to race, fast blips on the monitor that left Lotor worried her heart would beat itself into an exhausted state.
A nurse was changing the bag on the iv line, a clear liquid concoction that would hopefully prove life saving for Allura. Needles were brought out, their potions injected into her arms, or drawing numerous vials of blood. At one point Allura started to convulse, her body shaking in violent fits, nurses hurrying forward to hold her down. The doctor who had talked to Lotor ran in, a needle already in hand. Allura was foaming at the mouth, eyes closed, arms dangling off the sides of the bed as she shook.
A needle was injected into her neck, whatever the serum contained inside the plastic was, it calmed her. Lotor breathed a sigh of relief to see her go limp on the bed, her heart beating a calmer pace now.
Soon the doctors exited the room, leaving behind nurses to fuss over Allura. One had a wet washcloth and was wiping at her face, cleaning her up. Another fiddled with one of the machines Allura was hooked up to, the third reading a print out issued out of the fax by Allura’s bed. They stayed in the room for several minutes more, but slowly, one by one each left, the final nurse pausing to speak to Lotor.
“You can go in now.” She said softly.
“Will she be all right?” Lotor asked, and saw her hesitate.
“It’s too soon to tell.” The nurses answered at last.
A frown on his face, he swept past her and into the room. His eyes were all for Allura, seeing the girl looking so pale and fragile in the bed, relying on so many machines to keep a constant vigil on her vitals. Lotor stepped closer to her, noting someone had left a chair by her bedside. He sat on it now, and for a second he just stared at her, not saying anything.
He reached for her hand, lifting it carefully to cradle between his two, his head bowing over it. Silence in the room, except for the beeps and hums of the machines, Lotor comforted by their noise. It meant they were doing their job at keeping her healthy.
“Allura….” Lotor was not a religious man, but for once he found himself praying. He whispered out the words almost fearfully, as though he expected the deity he prayed to, to strike him down at any second. He tried to say half remembered prayers from his lost days at church ceremonies, but aside from a few scattered phrases, he knew none by heart.
He eventually settled for just speaking frankly to any God that would listen, not quite begging as he asked them to look over Allura, to spare her life, and above all, to not take her from him. Lotor wasn’t sure how long he sat there, whispering the words over and over, but little by little Allura’s breathing evened out. She no longer took rasping, drawn out gasps, her breathing coming natural and easy to her.
Lotor prayed harder for her, and then he felt it. A slight squeezing of her fingers, the girl seeming to respond to the sound of his voice. Hope in his eyes, he raised his head to study her face, seeing her eyelids flutter.
“Allura…can you hear me?” Lotor asked, hope in his heart.
“Nmmm….” A soft moan from her, pain at the heart of it.
“Shh….don’t try to speak.” Still holding onto her hand with his right, his left hand moved to touch her face, brushing aside the damp with sweat curls that clung to her heated skin. She seemed to sigh at his touch, nuzzling her face against his fingers. Lotor didn’t quite smile, still too sick with worry for her health to feel relieved and happy.
“I have the best medical staff on Doom.” Lotor told her, making conversation for she seemed to be responding more and more to the sound of his voice. “They are working diligently to help you get over this…this malady.”
Another sound from her, Allura’s lips parting to sigh. Lotor saw her eyes flutter open, their blue color looking faded and clouded over. Her lips moved, a silent question he could not decipher. Lotor bent closer to her face, staring at her as she struggled to speak.
“It’s okay…” Lotor said soothingly, fingers caressing her brow. “I’ll get you what ever you need.” It seemed the right thing to say, her lips curved upwards, a soft smile on her face. Lotor exhaled at the sight of it, dazzled by the look of love and adoration in her eyes. It was a look he would kill for, and it was directed from her to him. He found himself smiling back, his own heart starting to beat faster in excitement.
It nearly went dead with cold shock at her next utterance, hearing a hated name on her lips. “A…” Her tongue licked across her lips, her voice sounding so soft and weak. “Avok?”
Of course. Dull with disbelief, and angry at himself for ever thinking she could look at him in that way, he sighed. His first instinct was to tell her she was wrong, to alert her to the reality of her situation. But concern at causing any sort of agitation to her in her weakened state held his tongue, Lotor looking at her for a long instant. Finally he nodded, and she seemed to sigh in relief, her smiling growing more brilliant as she sagged against her pillows.
“Go back to sleep, Allura.” Lotor urged her, resuming the petting of her hair.
“Got to tell you something.” Allura whispered, seeming to tremble from the effort it took to speak. “Got to…”
“Later…” Lotor told her, even as he leaned closer, intrigued by her words.
“No…now…..before it’s too late…” She mumbled, her eyelids drooping, the girl being lulled into sleep by his petting. “I…Avok….I’m so sorry…..for everything…”
He was quiet a moment, recalling how both he and her cousin had told her what happened to Avok and planet Pollux was her fault. How distressed she had been to have the blame placed on her. For an instant he was tempted to further her distress, to paint Avok into a villain that damned her. But one look at her smile, and he was defeated, Lotor whispering out words that seemed to comfort Allura.
“You’re forgiven.” Lotor said, bending to press his lips against her forehead. “For all of it.”
“Thank you…” She sighed once more, and then her fingers stopped their squeezing, Allura slipping back into her dreamless sleep. Lotor didn’t let go of her hand, still staring at her, wondering if he would ever be granted forgiveness for all he had done to her.