A/N: This kind of came out of my other story… I want to say it was called… Okay, I don't know what the heck it was called. Oh, wait, just checked. "Lost". That's what it was. Something in it kind of hit me harder than I was expecting it to. So this came out of it.
Disclaimer: I own nothing at all.
Two AM came around like it always did. Ilana hadn't been woken up before at that time in the morning, but that night, she woke up to the sound of a crash. The princess's dark eyes flew open at the sound and she rolled over to look at the bed on the other side of the motel room where Lance was sitting upright, his muscular form lit by the flooding moonlight that washed into the room. "Lance?" she asked, rubbing one eye to wipe away the sleep before sitting up herself. "What was that?"
There was no response. She saw him just sitting there, hunched over slightly as if in pain. The girl wasn't about to ask again; she knew Lance was touchy when it came to too many questions. Instead, Ilana focused on finding the source of the loud sound that had roused her from her slumber.
She shimmied out from under the covers a bit and looked to where the crash had come from. After realizing she couldn't see well enough in the darkness, Ilana reached for the light switch that would trigger the light that was by the motel room's door.
The light turned on, making Lance cringe away from it. He never turned the lights on at two in the morning. He and his father had always spoken in the moonlight. Always. It was like an unsaid rule, a hidden law. One that Ilana had just broken. "Turn it off." His voice was a guttural snarl that sounded much like the growl of a wolf.
"One second," insisted Ilana, again looking at the place where the sound had come from. Her eyes fell upon a large dent in the wall to the right of where she lay in bed. Her mouth gaped for a moment. Then she looked down to see what object had caused the dent.
"Turn it off," hissed Lance again, slowly growing impatient. He was on the verge of breaking. Everything was finally crumbling around him. Nothing meant anything anymore. He was so tired of trying...
A lamp lay to the left of Ilana's bed on the floor covered in coffee-stained carpets. The bulb inside the light had shattered into glass fragments that had scattered across the floor. The rest of the lamp was pretty much intact, the actual stand and shade still in one piece. The girl's gaze turned to her guardian. "Lance-"
"Turn it off," he said again, now struggling to stay completely calm in the heart of his internal storm. "Now, Ilana." It was a command this time and his short temper was clearly getting the better of him.
The girl could see the pain written clearly across his features that had been partially shielded by one arm from the glow of the light in the front of the room. Ilana quickly reached over and flipped the switch, instantly plunging the two back into the darkness.
Lance's muscles were still tense despite the shadows he was once more enveloped in. It was like this every night. When he curled up in bed earlier instead of working on Octus, he was always going to wake up at two AM. No matter what, he wasn't able to sleep through the night like he wanted so desperately. And finally, he had reached his last nerve. The final straw had been plucked on and he was throwing lamps trying to calm himself down from the blaze of self-hatred that always rose up in his chest.
"Are you okay?" questioned Ilana, still sitting up in her bed. Her dark eyes were worried as they flitted up and down his body. She could clearly see that he was hurting, the misery written across his face. "What's wrong?"
He didn't speak for the longest moments. Lance was still as stone, unmoving, silent as the wind over the moorland. His face didn't change. His muscles didn't relax. The expression that laid across his face was a wince or grimace of obvious hurt that was deeper than physical pain. Ilana was about to give up and curl back beneath her blankets to go back to sleep when she heard his quiet murmuring interrupt the near silence of the night. "It's every night."
She had already laid her head back down upon the flat motel pillow that had probably been stuffed with newspapers rather than fluff when she had heard him. So she decided to listen if he was going to talk finally. They hardly ever had decent conversations anymore, and Ilana knew that Lance had been hit harder by losing Octus than she had and she had talked it out already. He hadn't. All of his emotions were bottled up and maybe now he would finally set them free. "What is?" asked the princess, propping herself up with one hand on her chin and her elbow digging into the hard mattress of the motel room's bed so she could watch him with her blackened eyes.
"I wake up every night at exactly this time." His voice was calmer now, more neutral. It still held hints of hostility, but Ilana could tell he wasn't nearly as fierce as he had been earlier. "My dad used to come in at this time and check on me and tell me about his new projects and what he was working on at the lab." Lance wasn't looking at the girl. His eyes were focused on the fabric of the blanket that he had balled up in one fist, the hideous thing stuck in his tight grip. "I got cookies at two AM every morning."
Ilana didn't know where this was going, and she wasn't so sure she wanted to hear much more. She knew a lot about Lance already and his family was never something he enjoyed talking about.
"When he left, I kept waking up at this time for years. Finally broke the habit about three years ago." His eyes were dark and his moonlit frame was silhouetted by the silver shine. "Picked it back up again a few nights after we landed on Earth." He shook his head, a heartbroken smile kissing his thin lips. "I thought it was all over before and now it's just making me hate it even more."
"That doesn't exactly mean you have to go around throwing lamps," said Ilana with a quiet smirk on her face, clearly fruit to lighten the mood in the dark, dreary motel room. The whole place looked like it had been taken out of a horror movie, but neither teen minded too awfully much.
His teeth gritted tightly, jaw clenching. Lance's biceps had gone tense again, the strain of his muscles showing clearly on the drawn tendons. "But do you know how useless this makes me feel?" he hissed through his teeth.
"You're not useless," said Ilana, trying to comfort him the darkness of the hotel room that reeked of smoke from prior users. "We're doing fine on our own." She was trying to stay confident herself, but the princess was aware that that vague confidence was fading faster than she could build it up. So far, they'd been alone for weeks and Lance had still found no way to bring Octus back.
Lance still hadn't relaxed. He was as tense as ever. His hair was slightly ruffled from having slept for a few hours before the sudden wake up that he always experienced at the same time each night. "It reminds me how inadequate I am." His dark eyes moved towards her body for a moment, meeting her white face that was lit by the pale rays of moonlight. "My father was the greatest scientist of his time on Galaluna. Do you know how worthless I am right now? If I had paid the least bit of attention to his work instead of what it did, maybe we'd be fighting that monster back in Sherman with Octus right now."
Ilana shivered slightly, eyes dark with the thought of how that rampaging monster was still destroying their Earth hometown.
"My father was brilliant, and I could've learned something from him." Lance tore his gaze away from the girl. "If I had followed in his footsteps, we'd have Octus by now. We'd be safer by now. We'd already be back at Galaluna at this point." His dark eyes were watching the blankets that covered his half-dressed body. "But I'm useless and I can't do anything well enough to be of any use. We're walking targets." One of his hands reached up and ran through his deep ebony hair, tugging at the roots of his black locks. "I can't protect you anymore, Ilana. We're defenseless without Octus."
He definitely had a self-loathing complex and she knew it. "You're not a scienti-"
"But if I was," growled Lance, "I'd be able to take care of you better. We wouldn't be in this situation." He quietly stared out the window for a few long moments, noticing the position of the moon in the sky was as it always was at this time of night. "Go back to sleep." He rolled over, his back turned to her, and pulled the covers back up over his shoulders. "It doesn't matter. I'll figure it out."
Ilana let out a gentle sigh and placed her head back on her pillow, watching Lance's sleeping body as he breathed. The girl curled up one arm under her pillow and watched him until she knew he was breathing rhythmically. She slowly let her own eyes flutter shut and let the sleep encompass her. She'd have to deal with him more tomorrow. Tonight, she'd let him sleep.
A/N: Was started last night, got continued today, got lost along the way, sorry for the sucky ending. Review please?