The Price You Pay

by Taryn

Disclaimer: Voltron belongs to World Events Productions.

Note: Sometimes it's probably better if you just don't ask.

I lie in my room in the darkness of night, listening to the soft pattering of footsteps on the bedside table. I don't need to open my eyes to see them looking at me, tiny spheres of luminous white shining so innocently out of the darkness. I can feel the stares, the hunger sending shivering waves of silent demand up my spine.

I roll deeper into the warmth of the arms surrounding me, defiantly giving them my back. Instantly my head is filled with squeaking voices raised in rage, promises of wrath and retribution that ring off the insides of my skull until it's impossible to single out where my thoughts end and the demands begin.

Sometimes I wonder how the others can fail to hear them. At times like these, when their shrill voices become my existence, I'm dimly surprised that Hunk doesn't leap out of bed, hands clutched to his ears in a vain attempt to regain sanity and silence. Not that it would work. I tried it myself once, in a time that seems too long ago to be real.

The voices rise in volume in a crescendo that blocks out all remaining thought, blocks out even the pretense of any other existence, including the shuddering rumble of Hunk's gentle snores against my chest. My breathe catches in my throat and I stumble jerkily to my feet, grasping blindly with one hand for the bedpost, completely unable to feel anything but pain and fear and anger and the awesome overpowering hunger.

The voices cut off abruptly, leaving me panting for air and unpleasantly aware of my nightclothes sticking to my skin through a layer of cold clammy sweat. Hunk stirs slightly in his sleep and rolls over. The snores increase in volume.

I can feel the threat in the back of my mind, feel their attention turning to his innocently slumbering form. No words are needed. The danger is implicit and I know what has to be done.

Without a backward glance I creep into the dark bathroom, carefully sliding the bolt shut behind me. There was once a night when I almost forgot, a horrible moment of realization as the door handle turned and nearly openedů

I shut my mind on the averted horror and strip off my clothes, carefully folding them on the bathroom shelf. The razor blade rests just where I left it in the corner of the cabinet, a shiny piece of sharpened steel glinting blue white in the dim nightlight.

The sound of their footsteps comes back to me as I slide down to the tiled floor of the bathtub. I keep my eyes averted, refusing to meet their gazes in the dark of night. If I don't look I can always pretend in the morning that this is all a dream, yet another installment in a never-ending series of nightmares. The blade bites gently into the scarred flesh of my wrist, oh so careful to not cause any permanent damage. The arm drops heavily to my side and I can feel the sting of the cut, the warm sluggish flow of heavy rich blood down over the palm of my hand onto the cool slick tiles of the bathtub.

Something soft and furry nudges my arm, tiny teeth closing over the edge of the wound. Only long practice stops the automatic flinch. I turn my thoughts violently away, seeking refuge in layers of code, endless soothing rows of numbers, as I feel them running over me. Tiny voices lifted in an almost reverential ecstasy wash through my thoughts as the pattering of bloodstained feet tattoos the pristine white of my flesh with obscene patterns of gore.

It's over quickly. One thing about those tiny bodies I will be forever grateful for is that it doesn't take long for them to drink their fill. A final run up my arms and shoulders to my face, tiny delicate bites like a lover's nips in the heat of passion, and they're gone, retreating into the airducts with coy promises trailing behind them on the wind.

A ragged breath rips itself from my numb throat as I struggle to my feet, the sound too much like a hoarse scream even to my own ears. I flip on the water automatically, letting the chill ice-cold flood wash the lingering traces of our midnight communion down the drain.

Blessed silence is my only companion as I bind the cut with second skin and slip back on my clothes, carefully adjusting the sleeve over the bandage in an attempt at camouflage. Sliding the lock back with nervous silence, I slip through the door and back into the dubious sanctuary of bed.

Hunk shifts again as I curl up against him, grunting and rolling over to wrap me once again in his arms. "Pidge? You're freezing! Are you all right?"

I smile and nod, giving false sleepy assurances about a trip to the bathroom, and he quickly drops back into the realm of happy dreams. I envy him that assurance that the universe is a sane place and that everything must happen for a reason.

Only one other person truly understands, and that understanding has always been kept explicitly silent. Still, sometimes in the dead of night, I can't help but wonder what promises they whisper to Allura, and how dear is the cost extracted.

Can any of this ever truly be worth the price?

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