Bristling with impatience, Lotor ran through the corridors of the castle, not caring that he was a sight that caused many a person to stop and stare. He supposed they had a right to, Lotor knowing he looked like a wild savage covered in the blood of the robeast he had slain. It soaked through his uniform, onto his skin, and fell off him in fat drops, Lotor tracking blood all over the floor.
In his hand he clutched the robeast’s heart, the large muscle having crystallized the instant it left the warm, wet cavity of the creature’s chest. It would make a fine piece of jewelry once cut down to size, Lotor imagining an Argon necklace surrounding Allura’s neck, the reddish pink crystals twinkling as it reflected the light. There would be enough of the crystal left to make her earrings and a bracelet, and most important of all, an engagement ring. He might even have a little left over to sell if he so chose, a thought that should have left him grinning for Argon heart jewels were rare and fetched a high price on the black market.
But none of that mattered right now, Lotor desperate to reach Allura and find out why she was crying. He turned a corner, startling a servant, the woman dropping her broom as she screamed. He didn’t pause, practically knocking her down as he sped by, unrepentant in causing fright to the woman.
His other arm, the one that had held the shield was bent at a crooked angle, Lotor holding it close to his body. He knew he had sustained a serious injury, one that would require a doctor’s expert touch to heal. He had wrapped fabric around it, binding it tight to stop the bleeding, but even that material grew damp after a while, turning the band black.
He was sure he had some of the robeast’s teeth embedded in his arm, Lotor not looking forward to the extraction process. He still couldn’t believe he had allowed the beast to get such a damaging blow on him, Lotor wincing as he recalled how it had felt to have the robeast’s mouth crunch down on his arm. He’d be lucky if it wasn’t broken, and his body still ached from when it had been slammed into the wall.
Another turn, Lotor reaching the hall that led to the royal arena box. The guards reacted to the sight of him, eyes full of worry as they took uncertain steps towards him. “Sire! You’re hurt!”
“That’s stating the obvious.” Lotor muttered, hissing when one tried to touch his arm. “Leave me!”
“Sire please, you must get yourself to a doctor.”
“Not until after I see her.” Lotor insisted, knowing it would be just another thing for the people in the palace to gossip about. They’d speak on how foolish his love for Allura made him, Lotor ignoring his own health to see to the girl.
“But…” The two soldiers exchanged looks, trying to decide what to do. With a haughty sniff, Lotor was moving past them, clutching the heart in his good hand. He reached the doors, grateful to see they were still open, and strode through the archway. The closer he drew to the staircase, the more he became aware of sobbing, a female weeping her heart out.
It turned his stomach to hear it, Lotor feeling guilt at having rendered Allura to tears. He didn’t quite understand why she was crying, Lotor hoping the sight of him would calm her down. He also could hear the guard he had left with her, the man’s voice loud with anxiety, trying to calm her down. Lotor marched up the stairs, hating the fact that another man was trying to offer comfort to HIS woman. His possessive nature further made itself known when he got to the top of the staircase, seeing the guard hovering uncertainly over Allura, a hand on her back.
Without even being aware of it, a growl had started deep in his throat, Lotor stepping onto the floor, his eyes glued to where the man touched Allura’s back. Both the girl and the Drule turned at the sound, the guard’s eyes going wide with fright at the murderous look on Lotor’s face. Almost guiltily, he snatched his hand back and took a step away from the kneeling Allura.
At the same time Allura gasped, her tear streaked face beautiful even in it’s distress. “Lotor!” She got to her feet, and took a shaky step forward, looking as though she might drop at any second. Both Lotor and the guard moved, Lotor catching her around the waist with the hand that still held onto the heart. As he steadied Allura, he shot the guard another angry look, eyes practically screaming that Allura was HIS.
The guard wisely backed off, and he heard Allura sniffle, an instant before she threw her arms around him. Lotor took his eyes off the guard, awkwardly hugging Allura, whispering soothing nonsense in her ear. He wondered if she could hear him over her own sobs, Allura shaking with the force of them.
They stood like that for some time, several minutes ticking by, Lotor becoming more and more aware of the pain in his arm and the fact that he was getting blood on Allura’s dress. Desmonde would be upset, the dress was potentially ruined, leaving the artist to have to pick out another one for Allura’s portrait.
“Allura…” Lotor said, feeling her press harder against him, either not seeing nor caring about the blood on his uniform. “Shh…it’s okay…” A long, drawn out breath, the sigh shaky to the core as Allura slowly relaxed her grip on him.
“I was so frightened.” She was whispering, her voice hoarse from crying.
“Frightened?” Lotor repeated, feeling some of his confusion ebb away. “Oh my dear Allura, there was nothing to be frightened about. I had the situation completely under control.”
“Control?” She lifted her head, Lotor catching sight of the sapphire of her eyes, wet with her tears. He nodded at her, not yet ready to risk a smile at her when she seemed so fragile in this moment. “Control?!” She hissed it, eyes narrowing an instant before she was shouting. “Lotor, that monster of yours nearly killed you!”
“But it didn’t.” Lotor pointed out, Allura jerking back in his embrace to beat her fists against his chest. She put effort into those thumps, Lotor wincing from the feel of them. He was weaker than he thought if Allura could cause him even the slightest bit of pain.
“Idiot! Jerk! Meanie!” Allura cried out, Lotor wondering just who had been teaching her those words in Drule. She continued to hit him, Lotor unable to stop her so long as he held the crystal heart in his hand. “How could you make me worry like that? Do you even care what I went through seeing you on the ground like that, seeing that monster sink it’s teeth into your arm?!”
Lotor couldn’t help himself, he smiled, pleased by her concern. She saw that, and practically growled, Lotor hastily thrusting the heart in front of her face. “Here Allura. For you.” He saw her blink, eyelids fluttering rapidly as her gaze fixed on the heart. He waited for her to be impressed, to light up with a smile, hell to stop crying. Instead she stared blankly at it, as though she didn’t realize the worth of what he held.
“For this…” She was suddenly slapping his hand, knocking the heart to the floor. He heard the guard gasp, listening to the crystal roll across the carpet. “For this you risk your life?! For some trinket you nearly leave me….leave our unborn child without a father?!” Dully, he nodded, and she seemed torn between hitting him and hugging him. “Stupid!” She settled for pressing against him, one arm wrapped around his waist, the other a fist that thumped against his chest.
“Allura…” At the sound of her name, she started crying again, and now he realized her trembles were born of fright. She had really been scared, terrified of losing him. Silly as it may be, the thought gave him hope, Lotor grinning over the top of her head. The guard was watching them, sobering some of Lotor’s happiness, the prince wondering just how many ears this little scene would reach before the day was done.
“I’m sorry Allura. I won’t do it again.” That stilled her hand, her voice muffled against his uniform’s top.
“Yes, Allura, I promise.” Lotor said earnestly, feeling her sag against him. His arm was really throbbing, but he didn’t want to let her go, relishing the feel of her in his arms. The soldier noticed his look of pain, his voice coming out hesitant to offer up a suggestion.
“Uh sire? I really think you should get that arm looked at.”
That had Allura moving, the girl drawing back to peer at his arm. “You’re hurt!” She accused, lower lip trembling.
“A little.” Lotor admitted, and winced when she brushed her fingers against his make shift bandage.
“You need a doctor!” She took his good arm, intent on leading him down the stairs. “Why didn’t you go to the hospital wing straight away.”
“I needed to see you.” Lotor told her, unresisting as she moved him. “You were upset…”
“So foolish…” Allura said, but he saw the hint of a smile on her lips. “I could have waited.”
“No, you could not have.” Lotor retorted, than cast a glance at the guard who was eyeing the crystal heart on the floor. “Come along soldier. And bring that heart with you.” Lotor wasn’t about to let his gift to Allura disappear due to a soldiers’ greed.
“You’re still worrying about that thing?” groused Allura, taking care to help Lotor down the stairs. She was practically treating him like he had rendered himself an invalid, and he hadn’t even told her he was starting to feel dizzy. Most likely from blood loss, Lotor taking care not to stumble down the stairs.
“I went through a lot of trouble to get that for you. Plus Argon hearts are exceedingly rare. The robeasts are nearly extinct in this part of the galaxy.” They reached the bottom of the steps, Allura pausing to look at him, a frown now on her face. He steeled himself for the worse, seeing how unhappy she looked, but she kept quiet.
“Do you remember the way to the hospital wing?” Lotor asked, to fill in the silence. Allura shook her head no, still silent, the guard stepping in front of them.
“I’ll lead the way your highness.” He said, and took off at a brisk pace, Lotor and Allura hurrying along after him. He heard Allura gasp, the girl noticing his blood on the floor, a trail of crimson that had her giving him a chiding look. Lotor was sheepish, only now aware of how bad it looked to everyone who had seen him. But she saved her rebukes for now, helping him to navigate the corridors, the blood trail being left behind as they walked new pathways.
Soon they reached the hospital wing, and by then Lotor was really feeling dizzy, and fighting not to show it. He leaned heavily on Allura, her arm around his waist as they walked. “Almost there Lotor.” She said, concern softening her voice even further.
They entered through the archway, seeing medical staff and patients moving about the floor. Lotor immediately drew attention, as did the blood covered Allura, doctors and nurses hurrying forward, abandoning their patients to tend to their prince. Lotor rolled his eyes, and spoke in his most commanding voice. “It’s just a minor injury. I don’t need every blasted nurse and doctor on this floor. One will do.”
His words were almost enough to set the staff squabbling on just who would have the honor of tending to the prince, Lotor letting of Allura to jab a finger into the chest of one. “You there. You will attend to me.”
‘”Yes, Prince Lotor.” The doctor’s face lit up with pride, pleased he had been chosen. He gestured for Lotor to follow him, and together the three followed the doctor into a room where a nurse was waiting. The guard took up position by the room’s closet, still holding the crystal heart carefully in his hand. The doctor eyed the large object, giving a small disapproving tsk. “You tangled with an Argon?”
“Yes.” Lotor said, allowing Allura to help him onto the bed. The nurse came forward with a pair of scissors and began cutting off his uniform’s sleeve, revealing his arm which had grown in size, swollen and crusted with blood. He could see white protrusions sticking in the skin around the tear, his hunch about the teeth proving right.
“The Argon didn’t hit you with it’s tail did it?” The doctor was concerned, peering over the nurse’s shoulder as she worked. “Those spikes are poisonous you know!”
“No, fortunately I managed to avoid it’s barb. It only got me with it’s mouth.”
“He’s lucky to still have his arm!” Allura interjected, and the doctor glanced at her.
“And you miss? Where are you injured?”
“Me?” She shook her head, hastily waving her hands in the air. “It’s not my blood. Please, concentrate your efforts on Lotor.” Her use of his name without title did not go unnoticed by doctor and nurse, the two sharing glances before moving into work.
The doctor moved the nurse out of the way, pulling on latex gloves as he stared at Lotor’s injured arm. “Pliers.” He said, holding out his hand to the nurse. She reached for the tool off the tray that sat on the night stand, handing the doctor the item. Allura grasped hold of Lotor’s good hand, squeezing it as she offered him support. Lotor flashed her a grateful smile, not flinching when the doctor gripped one of the large teeth with the pliers mouth.
Allura winced for him, whole body seeming to shake as the doctor wrenched the tooth out of Lotor’s arm. “You don’t have to look.” Lotor assured her, listening to the plink of the tooth being set down by the nurse. The doctor was already grabbing hold of another tooth, no less gentle this time as he pulled it out. Allura’s face was pale, and she looked down at the floor, but the girl never let go of Lotor’s hand.
Eventually the teeth, all seven of them, were removed, Lotor’s wound bleeding once more. “I’ll have to stitch this wound up.” The doctor announced, waiting for the nurse to hand him a threaded needle. “You may walk away from this with a scar.” His tone implied Lotor was lucky that was all he had been inflicted with, the prince nodding for the doctor to go ahead and start the process.
The nurse gave Lotor a shot to numb the area, skin desensitized to the point he didn’t even feel the needle go in. Allura continued to look down at the floor, clinging to his hand like it was her lifeline. Lotor kept his eyes on her, not wanting to watch the needle being threaded in and out his wound, waiting impatiently for the unpleasant ordeal to be over with.
At last the doctor finished, stepping back from the bed. “I’d like to get some fluids in you, both a iv and a transfusion to replenish the blood you lost. Are you hurt anywhere else?”
“He hit the wall when that….that thing threw him.” Allura spoke up, and the doctor looked at Lotor.
“Okay, off with the shirt.” The nurse was there to help cut if off him, Lotor unable to unbend his arm to remove it himself. That left the doctor frowning, the man speaking once more.
“I’m gonna schedule you for an x-ray later today. You may have a compound fracture in your arm.”
“Fine.” Lotor sighed, the last of his uniform’s top being stripped free. He leaned forward when the doctor asked him to, the man examining his back. He made a tsking sound, then stepped back.
“You’ll have some bruising, and you’ll be sore for a while, but I don’t think your back is anything to worry about. Of course…” added the doctor, wanting to cover all angles. “We’ll run an x-ray of the area just in case, but since you’ve reported no pain there, I don’t think we’ll find anything. Mertule?”
The nurse stepped around to the other side of the bed, gesturing for Allura to let go of Lotor’s hand. The girl did so reluctantly, watching as the nurse inserted the iv line into Lotor’s vein. The doctor scribbled something on a pad, speaking without looking up.
“I’m going to prescribe you some pain medication. I think you’ll need it once the that numbing agent wears off.”
“All right.” Lotor nodded his head. “Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it.” The doctor said, and with a stiff bow, walked out of the room. The nurse was still fussing over the iv, checking the bag to make sure it was flowing properly.
“I’ll be back in a bit with the blood bag.” She said, bowing to the prince. He watched her leave, then turned his eyes to Allura, who was standing by the bed, looking unsure of what to do. He wanted to speak to her, but he remembered the guard standing watch over them.
“Leave us.” Lotor ordered, then held out his good hand for the heart. The guard held back a sigh, shuffling forward to set the heart in Lotor’s hand. “Stay outside the door in case we have need for you.” Lotor added.
“Need?” Allura questioned as the door swung shut behind the guard.
“I may have to stay in the hospital awhile.” Lotor explained. “There’s no point in keeping you here if that is the case.”
“But I want to stay!” Allura protested, making Lotor hide a smile.
“All right Allura.” Lotor said, glancing at the heart he held. It was beautiful, all reddish pink with blue lines running through it. He felt she’d look good in pink, and the blue would bring out her eyes even more. “Here.” He was holding it out to her once more, feeling a primal need to see her holding the heart he had gotten with his own hands.
She looked at it doubtfully, shaking her head. “Allura, take it!” Lotor insisted, trying to push it into her hand. She’d need both to hold it, but Allura refused to move her fingers to grip it.
“I don’t want it.”
“Why?” He asked, frustrated she was rejecting his gift.
“It’ll just be a reminder of how scared I was!” Came her answer, her eyes wet but not yet crying.
“Ah.” He thought he understood now. She didn’t see it as a grand romantic gesture, the proof of his love and devotion to her. If she had been Drule she would have been thrilled, may have even looked upon the heart with greed and possession in her eyes. But Allura was human, and she couldn’t, wouldn’t appreciate what he had done. He sighed, tone rueful as he murmured. “I’ve made a mess of things again, haven’t I?”
Allura just looked at him, eyes a bit confused. “With this.” He set the heart down on the bed, watching it fall over onto it’s side.
“Lotor, why did you do such a thing?” Allura asked, and he shrugged his shoulders. “Please. I want to understand.”
“It’s a…ritual we Drules have. One of courtship.”
“Courtship?” She echoed, Lotor nodding.
“A male proves he is fit to provide for his bride by doing battle with an Argon Robeast.” Another sigh from him. “It proves we are strong, fit companions. Able to kill to protect, able to kill to provide. The heart used to provide the fortune in which a new couple started their life together on.”
“So…if I was a Drule instead of a human…I would…I would be pleased by what you did?” Allura spoke slowly, as though trying to come to terms with the notion. Lotor nodded, and her mouth made a funny expression, neither frown nor smile. “I’m sorry.” Her words surprised him, Lotor looking confused at her.
“For what?” He asked softly, and she gestured.
“For not understanding. For being angry. For not…not accepting the heart.”
“It’s still not too late.” Lotor smiled, and nudged the heart with his fingers. “You can still take it.”
“I don’t think I should.” Allura’s words caused his smile to wilt, Lotor disappointed. “It would give you false hope about my intentions. But…” She covered his hand with hers, Lotor thrilling to the feel of that slight touch. “I thank you all the same.”
“I’ll hold it for you.” Lotor said, determination in his eyes. “One day you will accept it, and me.” She opened her mouth to speak, eyes sad, but Lotor hurried, cutting her off with a hissed out word. “Don’t….” She nodded, still keeping her hand over his, a gesture that meant the world to him.