Six Daysby Dr. Kat
Chapter Twelve - Morning
The sun was shining. He could see its golden hues through his eyelids. It was a cool morning. Thank the gods they were out of that desert and....
Lake...LAKE! Lotor's eyes shot open. He would have sat up, but...
His eyes became even wider. He just barely stopped himself from crying out. Oh no! No, it...it had to be a dream. One of many fantasies that he had often experienced.
He softly touched the sleeping princess. Allura. She was still fast asleep; her body curled up on top of his. As gently as he could, the prince slid out from underneath her and eased her form onto the ground. Lotor's face cringed in horror and disbelief. Allura.
"She is going to KILL me!" he rasped in a whisper. He had put his hands, his... And, there was a darkened patch of grass. Blood. "Oh shit!"
Lotor saw the princess begin to shiver. Quickly, he reached the spot where he had left his cape and placed it over her naked body. Oh, Allura. Then, he went on a hunt for their strewn clothes, while feverishly trying to sort himself out. How could he?! HE HAD RAPED...but he hadn't. He should have tried to STOP....but he did try to stop it from happening.
He found his other boot at the lake shore. What was he missing? Out on the lake waters floated the remaining glove. He shuddered at the sight. The bright moon-like light still glimmered on the water's surface. No way he was going after that glove. The lake could have it!
Lotor set Allura's uniform next to her. Oh gods! What if he had made her...? Sh...should he...wake her? He reached out his hand, but he couldn't touch her. He should at least stay nearby. Make sure she was safe and... He couldn't. Lotor stood and walked away. He would keep her in sight, but he couldn't stay near her. Not after what he had done.
There was no sign of the desert. But, the stream was back, appearing from underneath the roots of a stately tree. The water didn't glow, thankfully. He doused his head in the stream. The lake's water had easily cleaned his clothes and skin. That's what made him feel so dirty!
He slammed his fist into the water, cutting his hand on a rock. His breath came sharp and painfully. He could remember everything. Every detail. WHY?! Why did it feel so good...yet so awful? A dream come true. A nightmare!
His left palm was its healthy blue color once more. His leg had not bled through the bandage, nor did it throb. His white hair was in shambles, though. Lotor pulled out the pins and the clip, but knots still pervaded his mane. He struggled to unravel the braid, yet he only seemed to succeed in getting it more tangled. He couldn't stand it! His hand again shot down into the water, this time following five sparks, which flew from his fingertips. Steam hissed from the stream, and rocks under the water were ground into powder from the blast.
"Lotor?" He started and glanced toward Allura. She was still asleep.
"Lotor?" came the second voice.
The prince's gaze returned to the water. "Neither of you could help me that time, could you?"
The mentors were quiet for a minute. The elf then spoke off topic: "Well...it's looking a bit more orderly in your mind than the last time we visited. While I was there, I could almost touch the Drule section."
Lotor dropped his head into his hands. "Who cares?" he mumbled.
"What's eating him?" the Drule asked.
"I know," the elf answered. "It's regret. I guess you could say I'm to blame for these feelings."
Lotor shook his head. "What have I done?" he moaned. "What am I going to do?!"
"But, it wasn't your fault, damn it!" the Drule stated.
"I should have left sooner!"
"Perhaps something could have gone differently," elf added in a sad tone.
"What is with you two?!" the Drule interjected. "You did all you could. WE did all we could. But, it happened!"
Lotor was close to tears. "Why?" A teardrop escaped down his cheek. "WHY?!"
"It's NOT your fault! What's so hard to comprehend about that?!"
"Drule," the elf started, "he knows that. I know that. But, when someone you care about will hurt because of an action, it's hard to think that there wasn't something that could have been done differently."
The Drule thought for a moment. "You know what's crazy? I almost understand what you're getting at." Lotor gave a dry chuckle. "So, you two are finally beginning to get along. Joy."
"Mmm..." A soft moan came from near the lake. The prince went pale, his stomach turning.
Allura was awake.
Chapter Thirteen - Of Circles
Her eyes opened. Sunlight shone through the leaves, creating numerous abstract patterns on the forest floor. A cool wind brushed her face. But, she wasn't that cold. The princess looked down and saw that she was covered by a cape...
And nothing else? Allura felt confusion, then growing horror. What had happened last night? Was it true? Had she and Lotor...?
Where was he? Where was he?!! She looked to her right and saw her clothes piled next to her. She sat up and stared into the woods. There he was, cowering in the background. Her thoughts turned from horror to bitter anger. That MONSTER!
"YOU!!!" she screamed out. Allura stood up, wrapping the cape round her body. She could strangle him with her bare hands! He had taken her! Just like one of many Doom slaves. And then, he had left her to wallow in her own shame!
What was he doing now? Approaching her? Let him try! "YOU!!!" She raised her hand to strike him. The monster! The bastard demon!
Then, she stopped. Why wasn't he doing anything? He wouldn't flinch, nor laugh...nor stop her. He just stood there in front of her, his head bowed. His mouth was moving, but nothing came out.
The cape. He must have laid it on her that morning. Why would he do that? She stared at his tousled hair. His right hand was bleeding. He looked awful. Almost like he wanted her to hit him. To punish him.
He had taken her innocence. So, why didn't she hit him? Why didn't she rebuke him? He deserved it!! Didn't he? Allura's hand dropped back to her side. What had they done? What was she doing now?
Almost mechanically, the princess knelt on the ground and reached for her clothing. Lotor, she noticed, immediately turned around and walked a short distance away. She looked after him. He wouldn't move. He wouldn't look at her. Could he really feel shame?
Allura zipped her jacket. She felt so strange. She hugged her arms to her chest. Exposed, almost. Desperate to shake off the feeling, she set to rearranging her hair in its normal style. But, she was missing...
She saw the prince's hand near her elbow. It held the two pins she had given him. Allura took them silently. Then, without a word spoken, the two began their fourth day towards the rising sun.
The day grew colder. Much colder. The land became like a flat marble floor. There were no hills, no trees, no brush. There wasn't even any soil. Just a hard cold level slab, extending everywhere.
She had grabbed him. Pulled him to her. Why? Allura could imagine the Forest Dweller watching them... and laughing. Enjoying their torment. She pulled her arms tighter to her body. It made her shiver. Made her feel colder than she already was.
Then, Allura felt something placed over her shoulders. What? It was Lotor's cape. She turned and saw him just removing his hands and backing away. The princess started to remove the cape, started to protest. But, he looked so hurt in his eyes. 'Please,' he mouthed.
Lotor had stayed away from her side. Only at that time did he come near her. Look at her. Allura had watched him for what seemed to be hours, silent and staring either at the ground or ahead of him. He was hurting. The princess pulled the cape closer around herself. She felt herself crying.
He felt as bad as she did, maybe worse. For even now he wanted to move toward her and comfort her, but he didn't dare for fear of harming her more.
A fuzzy band of color entered her teary vision. Allura rubbed her eyes and looked again at the new sight. A small circle had drifted by, just ahead of them. Actually, it was more like a ring. A blue ring, creating a circle on the flat land. As it disappeared off in the distance, another slowly approached from the left.
"Stop repeating that." Allura heard Lotor whispering and watched him discreetly. "I know... I know. I know it looks hazardous. Everything is. You don't have to repeat yourself so much." It must be the voices, she mused. Perhaps they were warning him of danger? She closed her eyes, preparing to break their code of silence and ask.
But, just at that time, she felt herself shoved to one side. "Allura! Get away!"
"Lotor?" As she gained her balance, Allura saw that he had pushed her out of the way of the approaching circle. However, in the process, he had stepped quite far inside the ring himself. She became fearful. What would the ring do? Both were silent and still.
"Nothing's happening," the prince whispered. "I don't feel different or anything."
Allura sighed in relief. "Must be just some strange pattern," she said. Their words sounded odd to her; empty and dampened by the cold. Idle worthless talk. She couldn't put it aside any more. "Lotor..."
"Allura, I..." Lotor's head slumped to his chest. He felt the same way; she just knew it. He was trying not to cause her pain. He was trying do everything in his power to help her, too. A desperate last chance to rebuild her trust and... and love. "I can't begin to say how sorry..."
"Lotor, it..." It wasn't your fault. He was trying. He was really trying to be good to her.
"I don't know why it happened. I... I never EVER would want to hurt you."
I know. I believe you. Why didn't she say those words? "Lotor..." But, the princess couldn't speak. Why not?
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Allura."
She heard his voice crack. It started her own tears flowing. She couldn't be cruel to him. Not anymore! "Lotor, I should be saying I'm sorry as... as well. It wasn't your fau..." She was cut off by a string of coughs coming from Lotor. She looked over toward him to see him shaking his head, then coughing again.
Something was different about him. Lotor slowly sat down. His face. He looked strangely weak and...old?
"My hands," he rasped. "They're getting... stiff."
The ring. "Get out of the ring!" Allura ran toward the prince, but as soon as she placed her hands inside the circle she shrieked in terror. Her hands immediately became blotchy and withered; drained of life. She jumped back from the border, and her hands returned to their youthful appearance.
She couldn't reach him. She couldn't reach him! "LOTOR!! GET OUT OF THERE!!!" she screamed.
Lotor tried to gain his feet, but fell to the ground. His skin was wrinkled and very pale, his figure bones. He tried to use his hands to crawl, but they would not grip. His cat eyes were glazed over as he looked at her in fear. "Help..." he whispered.
"Lotor! No! Try to get closer to the ring! PLEASE!!!" His breath came out in shallow gasps. He could not move.
Allura then noticed that the circle was again drifting. She watched the blue border shift closer to the aged form of the prince, and her hope rose. "The ring! It's getting closer to you!" If it could reach him... "Hang on, Lotor! Just hang..." Lotor's head then fell to the ground. "NO!"
She could wait no longer. She felt her strength bleeding away as she crossed the ring. I must... She grabbed at the prince's form, her hands shaking and weak. Let me have enough strength... She pulled with every ounce of her energy. Her eyes closed in exhaustion, the rapid aging making her disoriented. All she could do was pull... and pray...
Just as she thought she would soon collapse, she felt her strength returning. She fell backwards from the sudden rush of energy, breathing harshly. Lotor! She opened her eyes and saw him lying still at her feet. "Lotor!" She grabbed at his jacket and pulled him even farther from the cursed circle. "Oh, Lotor! Please be all right! Lotor?" She flipped him over; his face was still very ancient, almost lifeless. Then, she saw him breathe. "Oh, thank you!" She found herself crying in relief. "Thank you!"
The years melted from his face and body, his youth slowly returning. He could feel fingers caressing his face. He opened his eyes to the tear-stained face of Allura. "Oh, Lotor..." She hugged him close, crying heavily.
Lotor held the sobbing princess tenderly, but was confused. "What... what happened?" he asked. "My hands were..."
"I thought I'd lost you," she blurted out. "I don't want to lose you." It felt so good to be close to him. Again came the sense of belonging. She no longer felt empty, not when she was near him.
"You won't." He sat up, hugging the princess lightly in his arms. "It's all right, Allura. You won't," Lotor assured her. "You won't lose me." She nuzzled deeper against his chest, forcing him to hold her tighter.
To hell with what had happened last night! She could never hate him again. Never. "I love you." It was as if a chain had broken inside her heart, releasing all the feelings she had tucked away. Her heart felt light. Free. She loved him. She did love him. "I love you, Lotor."
"Oh, Allura." She could hear him starting to cry as well. "For so long I've wanted to hear that."
Chapter Fourteen - And Cats
"Don't say it." Lotor's face was colored with embarrassment.
"Come on! I think you look cute as a teenager." Allura giggled with mirth. "And even MORE adorable as a little kid."
"Well, I didn't know you had so many freckles."
"Ohh!!" She put her hands on her hips, irked. "Your voice squeaked more than the door to our castle library!"
Lotor's mind went blank; unable to come up with a counteracting statement. "Damn those circles, anyway," he muttered. Making them old, then young. He chuckled. "I always wondered what it would be like to grow old with you." Quick as a wink, Allura tackled him, and they both went tumbling and laughing through the emerging grass.
By the time they settled down and got up, the prince and princess found themselves back in the comfort of a forest. And right next to a stream.
"There it is," Lotor announced. "Knew it would have to show up some time."
"But look." Allura pointed to dozens of shadows in the water. "Fish!"
"Do you think they're safe to eat?"
"They look like Arusian trout."
"Is that a good thing?"
"Well, at home they are exceptional with lemon pepper and butter."
"We certainly don't have those luxuries here. But, if you're willing to take the risk, then we'll eat tonight." He reached the side of the stream. "Could I have the dagger?"
"That monster earlier certainly wasn't poisonous. I wouldn't think fish would be." Allura handed the blade over. "You need help?"
"I hope I remember how to do this. If so, then we just need a fire."
Four weeks on Arus. Romelle was probably on the verge of killing him. Sven admitted to himself that he did feel homesick, but he also quite enjoyed being on Arus. It was beautiful day. A few puffy clouds floated over a sky of blue. He strolled leisurely through the woods; little paw prints in the soil dotting his way.
It was especially comforting to be on Arus since he was with Blue Lion once again. There were a few changes made to her since he last flew. Some new control panels. Fresh paneling on the left side; due to a previous destructive battle with Lotor, he was told. But, Blue Lion still had the same spirit. Something he would always remember, throughout his life. It was almost as if the metal cat was alive. A powerful and protective soul.
Lance. Why did you do it, dear friend? Thoughts turned toward the missing comrade. Lance was never one to act this crazy. Something must have driven him over the edge. Or maybe more than one thing. Sven still just couldn't get it through his head that the...prince...elf could have created such a change in him. Sven and Lotor had fought almost to their deaths, but he didn't really feel that hostile toward the Prince of Doom anymore. There was something different, inwardly different, about Lotor. So what else was bothering Lance? Allura's disappearance? Well, that bothered everyone. Why so much anger and bitterness?
Poor Lance. Poor friend. Sven knew where his colleague had gone. He had followed Lance soon after Red Lion had left Arus. Though what happened after he arrived...that was still a mystery. Blue Lion had almost entered Doom's orbit when the homing signal just vanished. What could he do; fight all of Doom's sentries all over the planet to locate the renegade pilot?
And, the four other lions couldn't just zoom off aimlessly to Doom. Not without some direction as to what had occurred. There, he saw the hissing creature just ahead, squeezed into the hole of a tree. Sven smiled. Or perhaps an advantage which could draw out the truth.
"Here Kitty Kitty..."
It wasn't like home, the princess had explained, but the fish did wonders for her empty stomach. Two days without food was too long. It made the fire-cooked meat taste like a twelve course feast.
Allura picked off the last bits from the bones. "Wonder what could top today in terms of weirdness here," she pondered.
"No idea," Lotor added. "Those circles were the most bizarre."
"I just hope we never run into anything like that again! Just feeling myself age that fast; it's quite spooky." She laughed nervously, while Lotor gave her a hug in comfort. "It's strange. I wonder why it took longer for you to age than it did for me? Probably another elf advantage, eh?"
Lotor's chuckles ceased, and he looked at his fish. Elf advantage. "I don't know," he replied half-heartedly.
"Mmmm....I'm tired." Allura stood up to stretch and immediately shivered. "It's still so cold here." She edged closer to the fire. "You going to sleep?"
Lotor took a deep breath. "I think I'll stay up a little longer." He then got up and retrieved the cape hanging on a tree branch. "Take this."
"Will you be cold?"
"Nah." He smiled. "The worse that could happen is that I'd need another haircut."
"It's nothing. Good night, Allura."
She curled up on the ground, her face toward the fire. She could see Lotor on the other side of the flames; sitting and staring into the woods. Still a little concerned and antsy, she thought. She looked at the cloak. Still her knight in shining armor.
Lotor stared into the darkness and green. So long. He kept hearing Allura's words. It took longer. Longer. Then, he remembered Mari's words: Wars...so many times in my life... His thoughts were broken as a hand touched his shoulder. Lips kissed his.
"Come to bed," Allura told him.
"I won't take no for an answer." She placed part of the cape over him. "Come on. It's late. We need rest."
The fire burned dimmer, turning slowly to ash. A silver crescent of a moon rose and set while the stars turned in the sky. And underneath lay the prince and princess, sleeping peacefully in each other's arms.
"Sven! Where have you been?" Keith looked up from his lunch to see the pilot enter the dining room.
"Just out hunting," Sven replied.
"Hunting?" Catch anything?" Pidge asked with slight curiosity.
Sven grinned and held up a netted bag. Puzzlement turned into surprise as the team heard a soft "meow" escape the confines of the sack.
"Oh yeah!"On to Day Five