Sprinting across the dusty, barren terrain, lungs heaving and legs pumping as hard as they could, you just wanted to reach him. To dive into his embrace, to feel the warm, comforting sensation of his arms around you. When you were with him, you were safe. When you were with him, you were loved. You hoped he knew how much you returned those sentiments, how large of a space he’d come to occupy in your heart. Right now, you were lucky that you were still able to breathe at all, that your limbs responded to your wordless will. Separated by means beyond your control, you hadn’t even known whether or not you’d be able to see him again. But you knew that you wanted to, that you had to. If nothing else, you had to tell him you loved him one last time.
“(Y/n!)” his voice was clear but a little tremored, projected across the short distance you were both trying so desperately to close between you. In a perfect world he would have preferred to have kept you out of harm’s way, to have held you back in his arms before you even had a chance to think about facing anything on your own. He hadn’t been able to prevent you from becoming a target, to save you from being forced into the midst of yet another of his petty squabbles. He considered most of them to be so trivial, so mundane, but if something happened to threaten your life and wellbeing, there was nothing insignificant about it.
Diving into his arms, he cradled you close without a second thought. Limbs locking around you like unbreakable chains, he relished in the sensation of your weight against him, the relief of your presence finally being reunited with his own. He kissed your head and squeezed your torso and uttered fragments of apologies and thanks into your hair. He was trembling slightly, and you felt yourself start to take after his involuntary reaction. The reality of the situation you’d just managed to escape washing over you, the wave of overwhelming emotions that you’d just barely been keeping at bay was almost enough to drown you. Fittingly enough, you felt tears start to bud in the corners of your eyes, and valiantly fought to hold yourself together just a bit longer.
There’s no point in upsetting him more. You didn’t want to do that, no, now wasn’t the time to make things worse. On the contrary, you were safe and sound and reunited; the two of you should have been celebrating, relieved, reveling in your triumph. It appeared that Lotor wasn’t interested in trying to keep up fake pretenses, though; the gentle trickle of a tear across your skin caught your attention. You knew it wasn’t one of your own, so that could only mean—
“Hey, why are you crying?” You pulled back as much as you could, craning your neck to get a clearer view of his face. “It’s okay now, really. I’m okay now. Are you hurt, did something else happen?”
“I’m sorry.” His broken whisper was enough to shatter your heart, and you weren’t sure how you were still managing to hang on to your composure. “I’m sorry for all of this. For not being able to stop it, not being able to do something sooner—”
“You did enough,” your own voice was a tad unstable, fingers curling against the back of his battered armor. “You did more than enough; you came for me. You’re here now, and that’s all that matters. I just want to…stay here with you a little longer. And I never want to get separated from you like that again.”
One or two more tears escaped his eyes, staining his cheeks with glistening trails that you may have found beautiful if you had the opportunity to admire them out of context. But they were the product of his pain, the result of a feeling of failure and remorse that made your heart twist and flip with sympathy. His expression was fixed in a melancholy daze, and you knew you never wanted to see such a sad sight grace his features ever again. Bowing your head, you nestled closer to him, somehow managing to cling to him even tighter than before. Maybe if he could just feel you that much more, if he could shift his focus to you that much more, he could finally be spared the punishment of having to endure any more of this self-imposed suffering.
“I don’t know what I’d do without you.” This time his words were even harder to make out, but your proximity just barely enabled you to comprehend them. “You don’t know how much you mean to me. No matter how many times I tell you, or what I do to show it, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make you truly understand the depth of my love for you.”
“Listen to you, sounding all tortured and dramatic,” you tried to make your tone as lighthearted as possible, but it was apparently impossible to remove every trace of uncertainty. “There’s nothing you need to worry about. Nothing else you need to lament. I’m here now, I’m right in front of you, safe in your arms. I’m not going anywhere. As long as you want me here, I’ll do whatever it takes to stay.”
“You shouldn’t have to do anything,” Lotor rebuffed, tightening his hold on you once again. “I don’t want my love to be a burden, something you have to actively fight for—”
“It’s not,” your sharp words cut the air as you wrangled the conviction to put your foot down. He could hear the shakiness in your voice, falling silent until you were finished. “Stuff like this doesn’t happen all the time; it was a fluke. I’m going to do my best to make sure it never happens again. And you’re not a burden. You’re one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. You’ve given me a new life, a life I can look forward to, a life that I love…but there’s nothing I love about it more than getting to be with you. Getting to love you. So please, just for right now, that’s all I want to do.”
A heaviness hung in the silence your impassioned speech left behind, and you had a suspicion that it was because he wanted to say more. How much longer did he want to argue his case, when was he going to take the hint that your mind wasn’t going to be swayed? He exhaled long and deep, and you took it as a sign that you could finally relax. You’d disarmed him, it seemed, or at least that’s what you hoped. You were tired, and he must have been, too…it’d been a busy day, the kind of day neither of you wanted to have to face again.
“As you wish.” Tender words nested in your ears, and a warmth flickered in your chest like a delicate flame. Maybe now things would finally start to improve. Maybe now the two of you could put all this unpleasantness behind you, if only just for the rest of the day. Either way, you’d be facing tomorrow together, so you’d be prepared no matter what came to be.