This time I'm bringing one-shot I wrote for MLK contest #24 awhile ago. It's extended version. One of contest's subject was what if Kovu didn't fall in love with Kiara. Of course, it was perfect subject for me, since I don't really like Kiara and I'm a fan of pre-Kiara, arrogant Kovu. So this one is written from Kovu's perspective, in which he's bored and a little sassy. It ends on Kovu pouncing at Simba, but I have some next sentences written, so I don't know, maybe one day I'll make it regular story.

Darkness

"What is your destiny?"

"I will avenge Scar... take his place in the Pride Lands."

"Yes! What have I taught you?"

"Simba is the enemy."

"And what you must do?"

"I must kill him."

So, everything seemed pretty obvious. Pretty easy. Vitani and Nuka are about to trap the little princess. The princess can't save herself, someone has to do it instead. And here I come, to save little princess; now Simba has a little problem. Cause now he has a debt to pay. So I enter the pride, everyone believes I left the Outlanders and I'm sticking to the good side. Then I kill Simba and take the throne. Outlanders come back home, finally. Scar is avenged. I'm the king, as it's supposed to be. So everything seems easy, I just have to do him.

Long trainings paid off well, so far I'm the best fighter. Except for mother and Vitani. Maybe she's a chick, but when she's about to hit you, leave everything and run. Don't mess with her. I bet she could easily kill Simba just by herself. The rest of us are pretty good too (maybe except for Nuka) and that's because we have to be ready for everything. If there will be any battle between us and the Pridelanders, they have NO CHANCE. But we don't want a war this time. Only one lion will die, and that will be this traitor Simba. I'm not sure what we'll do with Nala, but I guess she won't give up without fight. I suppose Zira or Vitani will solve this problem, never mind. The main target is Simba. He deserves it. After all those things he did, after he killed Scar and banished us, forced us to starve in a dryed desert… Finally, we'll get back our pride and kingdom. And I'll be the one to make it succesful.

Just we wait til Kiara's first hunting day comes. It had to be some time ago, but the little princess haven't got final permission. Seems that Simba is too worried about his pretty daughter to let her walk by herself, how funny. If he only knew what's going to happen… Anyway, Vitani is the best spy ever, I wonder how's that possible they've never seen her in the Pride Lands, she was literally creeping into the Priderock. But it ain't news they're as blind as they could be.

Luckily for me.

Sometimes I wonder how much I resemble Scar. Mother keeps saying I'm just like him, but I don't know if it's true. He wasn't my father, he just decided to adopt me. I have no idea who I was before that, where I came from and who was my real father. I was a stupid little cub during Scar's reign, so I don't remember anything. I didn't spend too much time with Scar, soon he died. I can't remember when I actually was when this happened. I have some blurred visions in my mind, mostly fire and escaping hyenas. Simba returned, the Pridelanders turned out betrayers, hyenas ran away.

Simba killed Scar. I don't remember it at all, but surely Nuka saw his body after that…

Mother told me also I remind her of Scar in voice, smartness and sense of humour. I don't know. I barely can remember his face and voice. I think Nuka more resemble him. He was the eldest, he should be a king (that's even what he repeats all the time). I know Nuka is horribly jealous, everybody knows it. Sometimes I wonder why the heck Scar has chosen me. Me, not Nuka or Vitani (though when I look at Nuka, I kind of start to understand why didn't he choose him). I was an orphan, he didn't have a time to get to know me well. It was his dying wish: me as his follower. I knew it was a big deal. A great responsibility. I couldn't spoil it, there was no way to disappoint my pride.

Maybe the thing that unites us is the ability to shut up and do what we have to do. The cold blood, the aim, the anger. No fear, no weakness is allowed. I've heard so many times that Scar was a great king, who never gave up, always was ready to face the danger. I had to be like him: to hide my doubts and go ahead.

But after all, this whole king case, it's pretty boring.

I remembered the last conversation between me and my siblings before that day. Vitani, with all this "i don't care" attitude and always bored look on her face, only wished me luck and adviced to kick their bottoms, like she had no doubt I will complete my mission without any troubles, but what Nuka said was actually really odd.

I remember entering the main termitary yesterday and I heard these words:

"B-but...mother, please, I could do it. I'm the eldest, the strongest..."

"I told you! Kovu is supposed to be a king, don't start it again!" – it was clear Zira was losing her patience. She never had enough time for her eldest son, or maybe didn't want to have time for him. Sometimes I was getting this impression that Nuka was constantly irritating mother, and it wasn't that hard due to her sharp character. Not a big surprise, everyone would admit Nuka was just overgrown cub.

"But...what he could do, he's just a stupid little termite, how could termite be a kin-"

"Silence!" - Nuka shuddered; even I stepped back. Mother never was too kind person, but when she gets angry...Well, no one wants to make her angry. – "Scar choose Kovu to become his heir and king of the Pridelands. We must continue what he's started and our duty is to fulfil his death wish. Changing his vision...or running away from it...is just a blasphemy...we'd be nothing but a bunch of betrayers..." – now her voice sounded a little strange; her eyes opened wider.

"But..." – whispered weakly Nuka, but he didn't get his chance to continue:

"Shut up! And get out of my way!" – and so he did. He shrieked stupidly and leaped into the entrance. I tried to move back, not allowing him to notice I heard everything, but I didn't manage, Nuka crashed on me. We both lost balance; I stood up, swearing and trying to ignore the pain in my bones. Nuka looked at me, first surprised, then angrily.

"Watch out where you're walking, idiot!" he spat, straightening.

"Sorry – I replied. – I didn't notice yo-"

"So tomorrow is your big day" – he interrupted, watching me with disgust.

"Um...yeah..." – I looked at him, uncertain what to say. I wanted to get away and avoid this angry look of him. We've never been the best friends, I got used to fact Nuka never liked me, maybe even hated. We didn't talk to each other too much and in fact I never had a need for this thing. Now, standing in front of this all messed up and weak walking chaos I didn't feel too comfortable.

"Good luck, you little termite. The chosen termite – he snorted and laughed madly. – May you be as good at kingship as you're at pissing me off... Even though none of Scar's blood is running down your royal veins."

Then he walked away and disappeared in the darkness.

"You must do it quick, but you mustn't let anyone see it... You must kill him when he's alone. If they see it, they would help him. He might come alive and you would be all by yourself, without any help of Outlanders."

"I know, mother. I'll do it...at night or maybe in the early morning" I replied slowly, remembering all what Vitani said: he enters the cave last, then sometimes he wakes up after the sunrise and goes to a waterhole.

Zira smiled proudly.

"Great," she said. - "Vitani will be over here. When you kill him, she'll call us, then we all come back home..." mother smiled even wider. I knew how that was important to her, so I was even more determined to accomplish my mission. "To get him, you must abandon all the right thoughts and trust your instinct, Kovu. You must put the fear behind you. Treat him as a target. It's a hunt, the only difference is that you'll hunt a lion this time..."

"I'm not scared." I replied, straightening.

"I know," said mother. "Scar would be so proud of you."

Finally, Simba decided to let his little daughter go and wander in the grass by herself. It must have been a miracle. He had no idea how big mistake it would turn out.

Kiara couldn't get away too far from home, knowing her lack of any experience in hunting or just exploring savanna (I could bet she didn't even know the names of directions), but I was aware of that she wouldn't manage even to touch her prey and might probably land in other part of the Pridelands, near the borders; I have to be careful and notice her quickly enough. The rest is my siblings' job. There are little exploding craters in the Elephant Graveyard, giving enough fire to lit the branches, which you can take simply everywhere. Vitani and Nuka will use them to set the grass on fire. The flames spreads around very fast, so I'm almost sure Kiara will get trapped. To be honest, it would be a big surprise if she'd manage to escape...

We were waiting, me and mother, sitting on a little rock in the higher part of savannah: we had a good view on what was going on. I saw a shade of two dark silhouettes in the distance, setting everything on fire. Then Vitani and Nuka got away, Zira said it wouldn't be good if someone notice too many Outlanders wandering in the Pridelands. I watched the fire absorbing everything around, feeling the warmth and suffocating scent of smoke. The animals were desperately trying to escape, I could hear their cry for help even from that big distance. What would I do in their place? Would I be scared? When I looked at this hell in which I had to dive soon, I didn't feel anything. It seemed so neutral that it made me wonder for a while, is it alright? Maybe there's something wrong with me...With the one that can't feel anything, no fear, just a need to kill...

But then I looked at mother and it reassured me there's nothing wrong: she didn't seem to be scared of some flames, either.

"The plan is in motion..." she whispered, grinning. "Go."

Well, it wasn't that easy. To get there, carry the barely adult yet still heavy enough lioness on my back, find the safe place and not letting the fire touch not only her, but also my skin – maybe mother's plot was good, but spirits, I wouldn't repeat it. I was deadbeat.

I had to cross the river to get into the Pridelands, thanks spirits it wasn't full of alligators this time. When my paws touched the steady ground, I felt a little dizzy, but I had to play my role, the princess was actually awakening.

"Where am I?" she spoke irritatingly weakly. Oh my, she was even more defenceless than when we met a year ago.

"You're safe...in the Pridelands." I snorted unpatiently.

"Why did you bring me here? Who do you think you are?" she yelled with this pathetic voice of pissed off princess. Seems her beloved daddy taught her well to hate those damned Outsiders.

"I think I'm the one who just saved your life!" I replied, not even trying to hide my irritation.

"Huh! Well you better get out of here, how did you dare to think you're entitled to be there? Who are you?" I rolled my eyes. Seemed that all the attempts of ignoring her wouldn't work. She was always like this, kind of sassy and careless princess. I remembered this first time we met: we were cubs yet. She crept into the Outlands, no one knows what for, and almost got straight into the jaws of alligators. If not me, she wouldn't be alive (again! I saved her TWO times. She should be more grateful, really). Kiara didn't know anything about life. She lived in this paradise, knowing nothing about hunger, pain and fear. She had everything. The future, the whole family all around her, always by her side... She didn't have to be careful. I bet she never even had an occasion to use her claws in any situation.

Now, one year and half later, I could see nothing changed. Maybe she grew up a little, that's right. Despite her never-changing character, the only thing that seemed new to me was that she resembled Simba a lot. She had his pale orange fur, bone structure, the same orange-reddish eyes – and lack of grace, wariness, shrewdness. The thing that could make one wonder was will she follow her father's footsteps, will she become the same brutal tyrant? Nah...When I looked at her, I couldn't imagine her even as a future queen, I could see only a lost cub running around the Pride Rock, not even knowing what is she doing here.

Maybe Kiara wasn't someone who could ruin my plan, but at the same time she was irritating little kid I had suddenly to deal with, to complete all this plan correctly. I only hoped I won't have too many occasions to stay alone with her later, cause I swear to spirit of Scar, I would lose my mind.

"Chill out," I said finally with bored voice. "I thought names aren't important to kings and queens. At least not for kings and queens of yours... Well, they seemed to have enough just having the right to give forces, didn't they?"

"Uh! That was rude! Stop insulting my parents! Get out of here!" Kiara turned around, being about to get away (straight into the river, speaking of direction), but I stood in her way, again and again, that was a part of my plan, maybe some memories will come to her brainwashed mind.

"What are you doing?" Oh, finally. She understood. Congratulations.

"Kovu?" she looked at me with dumb smile, completely changing her tone. I don't know which part of her was worse, this angry princess-like glare or cheerful (and trustful? Oh holy) look, but I'm sure both of them are equally irritating.

Yes, I did it. I can't believe it worked. Some ranting about being prejudged and will to stick to the good side always helps. They took me in the herd, though Simba didn't want to accept it, he ain't THAT stupid however. He knows we're planning something. He'd probably get into fight with me if not Nala and...yes, and Kiara. I can't understand this kid. First she screams and spits at me, but when hears my name, she consider me as her friend...How naive.

Simba didn't allow me to sleep in a cave, like the others. I had to stay outside and believe me, nights in Africa aren't the best time to get a nap outside. While I was shaking from a cold a little, there came Kiara, such a great surprise. Princess wanted to thank for saving her from fire, finally! Then I commented her weak hunting abilities, I just couldn't forbear from that. And that was a mistake: she wants me to give her a few hunting lessons. Yeah, I can see it. I better kill Simba as fast as I could if I don't want to be bothered anymore.

But in the morning I learned she wasn't kidding. I had a perfect occasion to corner the tyrant: he went out to have a little drink from the waterhole. Great. No one else around, just me and my enemy. This would be quick and even painless; no one would hear a single scream for help. I raised my claws, ready to attack, but then I was attacked by someone else. HER. Of course, she had to stand in my way with all her giggling and that sort of thing, just before I was about to pounce. Simba disappeared magically, I stayed with her alone. I lost the perfect opportunity... Damn.

The next twenty minutes were just a nightmare. I promised to give her those stupid hunting lessons, so I had no way. Maybe when she learns something, she'll finally leave me alone and I'll take care about Simba...

"GOTCHA!"

"I'm amazed" I muttered, as the princess hit the ground right after I ducked. "Hey, can we stop finally? No offence, teaching you to hunt is very interesting, but I'm not about to waste my whole day."

"What?" Kiara gave me a surprised gaze.

"Don't lie to yourself, you won't do it, at least now. You're pathetic, deal with that."

"B-but I thought..." she whispered and then went quiet, her smile disappeared.

"Can I go now? Princess?" I snorted, straightening.

"Can't you show me it all again? For the last time? Please..."

I wanted to deny, but I finally agreed (what for?) and repeated everything again.

"Relax... feel the earth under your paws... so it doesn't shift and make noise...You have to be careful, be concerned about small things cause they're important. Like your paws, claws, your breathe, they way you step..." then I saw a flock of birds flying in the near distance. Not the best prey, but maybe this helpless one needs to see a good hunter, not to listen to him...

"Watch the master...and learn..." I added and started to creep up the little hill. What happened next wasn't really clear for me. We met a meerkat and a warthog, who were walking around and digging for worms and (I could predict this) seemed to be Kiara's friends. Okay, have I said Kiara is the most irritating thing walking in Africa? Well, I didn't know about Timon and Pumbaa yet. I only managed to figure out they're kind of Kiara's babysitters and they're having problems with birds. They love to eat worms, but the birds also love to eat worms and they all don't get along. It was so stupid that it hurt to look at it and I was half shocked about what am I forced to experience, half (more than half) done with it all and wanted to run away from here. Kiara didn't seem to have any problem, she was eternally delighted with everything, giggling all the time. What was so funny? Things started to get worse when this meerkat spoke to me:

"You wanna lend a voice? Huh? Grrr. Roar! Work with me!"

No, that was just beyond stupid. I looked at Kiara, searching for any help, but then she roared, making all the birds scatter.

"Wooo hoo! C'mon, do it again! Do it again!" the meerkat was shouting, the birds were escaping, the warthog was also doing some senseless things, and then, not knowing wy, I gave up and roared too, feeling contageous. Kiara started to run down the hill, I followed her, completely confused.

"Why are we doing this? What's the point of this training?" I spat, trying to figure out what was going on.

"Training? This is just for fun!" she laughed.

"Fun?" I repeated. No, that was just beyond me. I stopped instantly, speaking: "No, no. Wait a moment."

"Kovu, come on!" she stopped too, a few yards from me. "What's wrong?"

"This...this is just pathetic." I snorted sarcastically. "Great. FUN. I've NEVER had so much FUN."

"What are you talking about?" Kiara frowned, coming closer.

"Heeey! Are you coming or what?!" shouted the meerkat.

"Tell your little friends that they have to do it on their own," I spat. "I won't take part in this kind of entertainment."

"What's the matter with you?"

"You all try to change me. No, you try to make me as...foolish as you. It's senseless! Spirits, I've never thought a one could waste time like this...especially king's daughter" I added sarcastically.

"You never have fun, do you?" she narrowed her eyes, but she was just watching me carefully; her voice was soft, maybe a little bitter, but she didn't seem to be offenced. "You can't see any sense in ANYTHING. You just passively watch as your life is flying by... You can't see the beauty in small things. But...maybe you should try to?"

First I only chuckled, but then I couldn't take it, I burst in sarcastic laughter.

"But you're gonna try," said subbornly Kiara. "I will help you. If after a one day spent with me you won't have any fun, you win. But I won't give up. I will make you see the sunshine."

Oh holy. No.

I learned if Kiara makes up her mind, she INDEED never gives up. She took me to every boring place in the Pridelands, forcing me to admire the beautiful views and to speak to stranger lionesses, who were glaring at me and was about anything but talking to me. I didn't know whether to scream, cry or try to escape – but there was no escape from Kiara. We were walking til the sunset, then she forced me to watch the stars. Huh! What an idea... But...well, it was a new thing to me. I would definitely enjoy this moment, but without Kiara.

"There's one that looks like a baby rabbit. See the fluffy tail?"

"No."

"Come on! You HAVE to see it!" she almost glared at me.

"Maybe there is a...fluffy tail, maybe not...Who cares anyway? Who cares about rabbits in the stars? Phhh."

"Can't you just for once in your life think anyhow but logical? It's not about rabbits! It's about beauty. BEAUTY! Stars are beautiful."

I didn't answer. I stood up and looked at the Pride Rock in the distance; where was Simba now? It wasn't that late, maybe he hasn't entered the cave yet...Maybe I'd be lucky enough to corner him somewhere... Spirits, I just wanted to go home, get along with my sister, even Nuka, my friends from the pride.

"My father and I used to do this all the time. He says all the great Kings of the past are up there."

"What?" I looked at Kiara and added quietly, confused: "You think Scar is up there?"

"My father said there was a... a darkness in Scar that he couldn't escape" she replied softly, getting closer to me. I didn't like that soft tone, I didn't want any compassion. What darkness? He just tried to have a better life, have a family. But there came his nephew and took him almost everything away...

Suddenly, I felt a soft touch: Kiara nuzzled into my mane. Oh, spirits. What was she thinking of?

"Liar!" I growled angrily, moving back with a pure disgust. She looked at me, completely confused.

"What's wrong? Who are you calling liar?"

"You!" I shouted. "You're all liars! You have your sick groups, your sick point of view, your stories, your explainations, your good and bad category, but you're liars, you lie about everything. You lied too! All your happiness, all your love all the small things is a lie."

She was silent for so long that I thought she's actually understood she prejudged me. Just like Simba, but in the other way. But then she spoke and I don't know if I wanted to hear it:

"But why? Why can't you just...why do you have to hate everything?"

"I don't know" I shrugged and chuckled sarcastically: "Maybe there's a darkness in me too."

"Maybe...maybe you don't have to like everything...enjoy everything...but couldn't you like just one thing? Or...one person?"

I didn't reply, staring at the grass under my paws. Right now, everything seemed senseless. Why did I have to come here with her, why did I have to waste my time and her time. I knew what she wanted so say, but I couldn't be with her in any way. Not even because she was stupid and irritating. I didn't feel I would be able to love anyone.

"But...Kovu..." she started again, as if she was knowing my thoughts. Her voice started to shiver a little. "I thought we...me...and you..."

I looked at her and slowly denied.

"No. I don't think I could." Then I turned around and walked away.

I don't remember how I got back to the Pride Rock, it might last for minutes, seconds or maybe for years. But as I was approaching to the rock, I made up my decision. I had a plan. I had a mission to complete. A family to care about, a pride to provide good conditions to live, the enemies to punish and dead friends to avenge. That was my responsibility, my destiny. I was this chosen one – and I didn't thought about that title like about something glorified and great, but I just knew it means that I am the one that can make a change. No matter if something could go wrong, no matter if Nuka could turn against me, no matter if the Pridelanders won't accept me and maybe will have their own plot against us, maybe the war won't ever end. Maybe I won't be a good king, I don't know. But I knew one thing: there was no "good" or "bad" – cause there's no good without bad. The important thing is what I was fighting for. And I wasn't doing it for my case, but for my family's case. And...I don't know. Maybe I can't find any light in the tunnel, maybe I can't enjoy stupid things. Would I be happier if I could? Maybe. But I bet I would overlook many important things.

When I climbed on the massif, Simba was actually waiting by the entrance, looking at me...pleasantly? Except for him, no one else was around. Suddenly, my own voice from the past sounded in my head: Relax... feel the earth under your paws... so it doesn't shift and make noise. Such an irony...

"Hey, Kovu!" started Simba, his voice was shockingly kind. Has he changed his mind? He wanted to become my friend? A little too late... "Where is Kiara? Have you seen her?"

"Well, I was just walking with her," I replied politely, raising my claws. "But someone stopped her under the Pride Rock, she told me to go and tell your majesty that she'll be here in a while..."

"Alright...But she'd better hurry...It's getting late." The redmaned lion looked around and then smiled suddenly. "It's... kinda cold tonight, huh? Come on."

„With a pleasure" I smiled, tensing his muscles, ready to hit. "But I'll come without you" I added in my thoughts and pounced at him.