A/N: Hey, again! I've been sitting on this chapter actually for a while since last year. I've just been a bit occupied with my second fanfiction – Hans Wins - that I've got going on. It's a Frozen fanfiction so I want to put it out before Frozen 2 comes around. But regardless, I'll be still working on this one, but the Frozen one will be a bigger priority. But do read, do enjoy and do leave a thought! And if you're interested, check out 'Hans Wins' too.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Lion King or the Lion King franchise.
I turn to see my mother. I'm at top of the gorge, watching and waiting for Uncle Timon and Pumbaa to make an appearance. They usually show up in the Pridelands to visit every other sixth sunrise.
"Hi, Mom," I greet before looking back down at the vast canyon cluttered with wildebeest as usual. "Remember when this place was flooded a few years ago?"
Mom sits next to me and smiles at me, "Hard to believe, isn't it?"
"Yeah," I huff a laugh. "I almost thought that part of my life was a figment of my imagination."
"Leave it to my boy to worry that his imagination is warping reality," Mom nudges me playfully. "What are you doing out here so early?"
"It's not that early… is it?" I bunch my brow in befuddlement and survey the maroon sky, realizing that it's the first time I've ever seen it like this. "Woah. I guess it is," I remark. A few stars pierce through the cloudless sky. "I'm just thinking."
I've been visited by that dream about the beach for a few nights in succession. And that's putting it mildly. It isn't a bad dream, but having it so often makes me unsure what to do with it.
"You think a lot," teases Mom.
"Do I? I mean, I don't do it on purpose. It just kinda happens."
"I wonder where you get that from," says Mom. "What are you thinking of?"
I shrug. "Just life in general, you know? I guess I'm trying to get a hold of it."
"I'd say you've got a great hold," Mom starts.
My chest puffs up instinctively at the touch of flattery. I scoff with the weight of pride in my words. "Do I make it that obvious?" I throw my mom a sleazy smile of sureness.
She scoffs. "Oh yes, Your Majesty," she beams. "Everyone knows of the bravado just bubbling in batches off of you."
"Well," I shrug. "It's hard not to stare at perfection."
"You sure are a testament to that."
I smirk, then question. "Why are you up so early anyways?"
Mom smirks back at me and motions for me to lean in closer as if her words are wildly private. I lean nearer, eager to hear now what she has to say.
"Closer," she whispers. I obey, her breath now on my ear. "You're a lousy sneak!" she barks.
"Ah," I wince, pulling back and rubbing my ear with my hind leg. "Am I that bad?"
"Oh, yeah," says she. "You practically woke half the pride. You should get some lessons from the lionesses on silently stalking. Maybe then, you'd be better at quietly leaving the cave and catching bigger prey." She sticks her tongue out at me, and I can't refuse a smile at my mother's antics. She looks back out at the gorge. "I saw you leaving, looking rather rainy. I thought I'd follow you -see if you were okay."
"I'm fine," I set my hind leg back on the ground. "Just a little aimless. Well, not really, but yes really at the same time. I see so many ways my life can play out from this moment on, but for once in my life, I don't know if I want to pursue any of those maybes."
"What makes you say that?"
My head weighs heavy on the right side, then the left – leaning from shoulder to shoulder. "I… don't know." I let out a light laugh, the heat from my breath colouring the transparent air.
"Look, Kopa, I know you're upset that Afua left," Mom says.
"I mean, sure," I start. "But I don't feel it was an injustice or anything. I know Afua wanted adventure – even if that meant leaving the Pridelands. Even if he left in a manner he didn't want, he certainly didn't leave unhappily."
"So you're not overthinking that?"
"Hmm," I consider silently. "Maybe I am." Before I can say more, the sound of arguing is heard. I look down at the gorge to see Uncle Timon and Pumbaa marching up to the cusp of the canyon on a steep hill.
"I knew it was a bad idea to stay up all night bug belching," declares Timon, finally dragging himself to the layer of rock Mom and I reside on a few meters away. "Why didn't you say something, Pumbaa?"
"I know, I know, you're sorry, Pumbaa," Timon says. Pumbaa grunts a grunt of confusion. "I forgive you – again. But you're the deep, sensitive guy of our group. You're supposed to guard my actions and keep me from doing dumb things. You can do that, can't you, big guy?"
Pumbaa beams brightly, suddenly swayed by the taste of admiration and a valued duty. "Does a warthog stink after a bath?"
"Pretty sure a warthog still stinks after two or three baths," I cheekily chirp in, grinning from either ear.
"Kopa!" my mother scorns, but snickers as well.
"Hey, Nala," starts Pumbaa, happily trotting to us. He gives an elaborate bow. "Pleased to see you again."
Mom offers her own discreet bow. "Always a pleasure, Pumbaa."
"Nala, you don't mind us stealing Kopa, do ya?" asks Timon.
"No, no, I don't mind," Mom says. She grins at me, brow raised. "Maybe talking some science with you boys with clear his thoughts." Mom leans close to nuzzle me affectionately, I reciprocate just as affectionate. "Don't do anything too crazy."
"Me? No. Never," I say, knowing well that I'm a nutty guy.
"I'm holding you to that. See you around, Kid," she looks to my Uncles. "Nice to see you two again." When Mom leaves I look back at my uncles.
"Got a lot on your mind, Kid?"
"No. Yes. I think so," I shake my head. "When do I not?"
"…Never?" offers Pumbaa.
"This is why you need us, Kid," Timon snatches a buzzing bug from the air and munches delightedly.
"Is that right?" I quiz.
"Oh, yeah," Timon licks his fingers. "How 'bout we talk it over some more grubs? Pumbaa and I know a place."
"Yeah, yeah, I could eat."
"Then, let's go," chirps Pumbaa ready to hit the road. We start down the gorge, headed in the direction of Hakuna Matata. "So, how's it like having a sister?" questions Pumbaa.
"It's great," I start. "She's nothing like I thought she'd be – and I adore her surprises."
"She sure looks like a handful," Timon says. "I've raise two lions already, and I know the struggle."
"Well, she can have her moments," I admit, "but my parents have given me some pointers and such." The soil sprouts cool grass and a small pond comes into sight. My uncles and I stop for a sip. "Don't you ever miss life with your pack of meerkat, Timon?"
Uncle Timon swirls a swig of water between his plumped up cheeks. He swallows gratefully and lets out a pleased sigh at the refreshing water. Eyelids shut in solace, he replies laxly, "No."
I raise a brow. "Not at all?" Uncle Timon shakes his head and giddily leaps into the water, forgetting I ever asked. Uncle Pumbaa hops in and they begin frolicking about. "It's all you ever knew, I mean that's pretty big. You left everything and you never plan to go back?"
"Kid, it's not that difficult to grasp," Timon looks at me apathetically. "I don't miss it. I miss the people, sure, but I don't regret anything. Anything that I do regret – Hakuna Matata."
"Yeah?" I grin, strolling over to a lone boulder. I roll it away, and find a bunch of crunchy critters stuck on its underside. I lick the rock clean. "You know, if I were you, I'd have dived into the desert." I wipe my muzzle with the back of my paw.
"The desert?" echoes Timon.
"I don't think my sensitive skin could handle it," Pumbaa looks over his shoulder at his back.
"Why in the world would you purposefully go into the desert?" demands Timon. "Don't you like water? Don't you like food? Don't you like living?" Timon splashes water about as his hands speak.
I chortle. "Of course I do, but I mean, it's so entrancing. It just goes on and on and on and on. And on."
"Exactly!" declares Timon. "Won't it drive you nuts?!"
"I thought so too, but the desert is one of the things we're most clueless about," I say, heading back to the pair and dropping onto my back. "No one who's ever gotten lost in it has ever returned."
"Kid, they died."
"Probably, sure," I laugh, head lolled over to face my uncles. "Or they don't want to come back. Just imagine what kind of things are out there."
"Death, desolation, disaster, damnation, devastation," Timon begins to number the things on his fingers. "I could go on even longer. It's a boneyard."
I shake my head, a smile still on my lips. "I like the possibilities."
"Kid, it's one thing to wonder, it's another to find out," says Timon profoundly, not truly even noting the impact of his words.
"You shouldn't be so quick to judge," I laugh.
"You shouldn't be so quick to hurt yourself," says Timon. "You're gonna be King of the Pridelands for crying out loud!"
"You're the one always telling me that you can either be king of the land or king of yourself," I point out.
"Which is true," Timon pulls himself out of the water and shakes off his pelt. "But it doesn't mean being king of the land isn't an advantageous position."
"Well, that's given. What isn't is how advantageous being king of yourself is."
I catch a glimpse at Uncle Pumbaa, he's fallen asleep on his back, bobbing about peacefully a few flies flying around him.
Timon presses his back against my growing mane, rubbing against me to dry himself off. "That's something that changes, depending on… well, everything."
"It's the sort of stuff that keeps me up at night, you know?" I say. "I mean, Afua could either be havin' the time of his life or something sour could be happening."
"It's most likely the latter," says Timon, distantly. Realization hits him, that his words aren't encouraging. "Or, I mean, the first."
I snort a laugh. "It's okay, Timon," I say. "We should always see things as they are and not as we wish them to be."
Timon slides down along my neck until he's seated on the floor. He lets out a mighty yawn (probably exhausted from the bug belching they did last night) that makes his sentences slow and disrupted. "That's right… just… just like I… taught you."
Like he taught me? "Yeah, Uncle Timon." I smirk.
"Hey, Bibi," I greet, coming to sit next to my grandmother Sarafina on the terrace. "What're you doing all alone out here?"
"Waiting for my hero of a grandson to entertain me," she grins. "You've been away all day."
"It's strange, isn't it?" I plop down, exhausted. "I was with Timon and Pumbaa."
"What do you boys do all day?"
"Bugs, banter and more bugs," I release a loud burp and my bibi fans away the smell. "Oh, does my belching bother you bibi?" I huff, deliberately spreading my fumes in her direction.
"Your belching would bother the wrong end of a water buffalo," she teases. "Kiara was looking for you all day."
"She was?" I look around me, hoping to find my little sister. "She's probably fast asleep by now."
"She is," says Bibi. "She wailed herself to sleep, demanding to see you."
"I'll have to be sure not to disappoint her next time," I say, a little downhearted that I missed an opportunity to showcase what an awesome big brother I am. "I'm glad Kiara's got such a soft spot for me. I feel the same."
"And to think you thought that you two might be a repeat of your babu and great uncle Scar," Bibi Sarafina nudges me.
I frown at the thought of Babu Mufasa. "Bibi… do you really believe that Babu Mufasa's watching us?"
"I do," says bibi Sarafina. "Do you?"
"I do. I do," I start. "But… how do I know if I'm making him proud? How do I know if I'm not disappointing him?"
"What could you possibly be doing that'd disappoint him?" Bibi cocks her head to the side.
"…Nothing," I sigh. "But… something at the same time. I been having this dream that keeps coming back to me. Every night. It's calling me to do something. I think I know what it wants from me; I just don't know if I should do it."
"Do you think that dream could be from Mufasa?"
"I never thought it could be, actually," I say. "I just thought it was a weird dream that my mind was too fixated on to release."
"Well, I'm no shawoman, but I think we both know a shaman you can speak to about it," smiles Bibi. "I'm sure Rafiki would know the best course of action."
"Yeah… you're right," I start to stand. "I'm going to go talk to him right now."
"Right now?" questions Bibi. "Isn't it a little late?"
"No time like the present, right?" I smirk.
"Okay, right, but don't go alone," advices Bibi Sarafina. "At least take some precaution."
"Alright, I will," I make my way back up towards the cave. "Thanks, Bibi!"
"So… what exactly is so super important that we have to go see Rafiki now?" questions Lela, restraining a yawn.
"Hello? Is Lela in there?" I speak loudly into Lela's ear, making her cringe away and rub her ear. We're on the road to Rafiki's right now, Pride Rock is a good while away. "It's about that dream I've been having. The one with the walking water."
"Yeah, the beach."
"When you say you've been having this dream, you mean it's re-occurring?" Lela comes closer to me curiously.
"Constantly! When I nap, I have it, when I see water, it's like I taste the salt on my tongue," I say, wide eyes in confusion. "Whenever I close my eyes, all I see is the image of the golden sand and the dark water."
"Hmm," Lela ponders. "I'm sure Rafiki will know just what's going on. As for what I think… I think you're purpose has to do with the beach."
"What makes you say that? Maybe I'm supposed to stay away from it by all means," I point out.
"You said that you were wandering around in a desert before you reached the beach," Lela says. "And that you wanted to stop wandering, you wanted to find or achieve that thing you were wandering for. Then, you came to find the beach and you felt renewed. The water was refreshing and cool. And you weren't drained and tired. It sounds like you found what you were searching for in your dream to me."
"Well, I guess that makes the smallest bit of sense," I tease.
"Oh, whatever, your Majesty," Lela slams into me with her shoulder. "We're at Rafiki's. He'll put the matter to rest."
"Lioness' first," I smirk.
"You just want me to give you a hand once I get up," Lela sticks her tongue out at me before she hops up into the window of Rafiki's tree. "Come on up."
I spring up into the window and Lela draws me up into the tree. "Thanks." I look around the tree. "Rafiki! I need to speak to you."
"Ha!" Rafiki pops out of the darkness of the room and pounces on my back, his staff at my throat in a manner of restraint. He yanks his staff closer to himself, making my neck bend back uncomfortably. "You won't get ol' Rafiki this time!"
"What?" I gag.
"Rafiki, relax!" Lela advocates. "It's just Kopa. It's Kopa and me, Lela."
"Oh-ho-ho, I won't fall for that-" Rafiki pauses. "Kopa? Lela?"
"Yes!" I hack.
"Oh," Rafiki releases his hold on me. "Apologies, child. Rafiki has had some… incidents that cause me to be rather paranoid."
"You don't say," I clear my throat.
"Um, Rafiki, Kopa has a question for you," Lela nudges me.
"Well, I've been having a dream lately that-"
"Say no more!" Rafiki raises his open hand right in front of my face to silence me. Lela and I exchange clueless glances. "Rafiki has just the thing."
"Really? Because I could seriously use a break from this one, incessant dream," Rafiki heads over to the wall and climbs up some alcoves on his tree, gathering pinches of powder from their respective crevices. "Am I right?" Rafiki goes about mumbling something to himself as he works in the treetop. "It's like having someone constantly tell you to do something," I start to laugh a little deliriously. "They just keep telling you to do it again, and again, and again. Like, I'll do it!" Rafiki silently and swiftly drops down right in front of me, a balled had full of power.
"Shh!" he shushes. His wild eyes turn serious as they instruct me to sit. I obey and watch as he gestures for Lela to come sit next to me. After she does he speaks quietly. "Listen carefully: if you trust what is, trust what is not. If you trust what is not, trust what is." With that Rafiki puffs, a plume of purple powder into our faces. Lela and I hack loudly as we shut our eyes to shield them from the dust. As I inhale the powder in my fits of coughs, I begin to feel light headed and woozy. "Stick together, now, and have fun!" Rafiki's distorted voice weaves through my mind and his maniacal laughter echoes in a dance with his words.
I open my eyes slowly, and when they open, my surroundings are totally different. I'm back on the beach and grown, just as I was in my dream. "This again?" I mumble once my breathing has settled.
"There you are!" a little lion cub pounces on my hind ankle from behind a sand dune. He nibbles at my foot with the smallest growl. "I caught you! You're making this too easy." He laughs.
I raise my hind leg, the golden coated, brown eyed cub dangling from it. "How long have you been looking for me?"
"Not long," comes his muffled answer. He drops himself to the sand below and whispers to me. "The others should be here soon, all I have to do is give them with the signal." The small lion croons as he gives forth his best effort of a roar. It comes out in a squealy meow. I can't help but smile at the memory of my own struggles with roaring as a cub. "Why aren't you joining me? The signal, remember?"
"Oh! Right," I plant my feet firmly into the ground and release a loud, portentous roar.
"Woah!" muses the cub. He begins bouncing on his feet. "It gets cooler every time!"
Once I finish, I look around and see a pair of jackal pups running full force towards me. Once they reach me, they pounce on me, giggling loudly. "You're trapped, Elephant!" says the girlie of the pair, her emerald eyes shining with glee.
"Yeah!" says the male pup. "Fighting us will prove to be useless!"
"Guys, guys, I've already subdued him," says the little lion cub from before. "We have to go save the queen now." The cub beams an arrogant and proud beam, waiting for something. When nothing happens he clears his throat and speaks through his grin, "Mind giving us a hand, Elephant?" I lean down so that the children can climb onto my back. "Onward, Elephant!" orders the lion cub. As I begin trotting down along the beach, the cub addresses his companions. "You've done well, brave warriors," he tells. "As your leader, I know the secret whereabouts of the queen."
I pass by a collection of lions, unsure which lioness would be the queen. Among the pride, the older lions look as if they'd had their share of battles, and the younger ones – even the old younger ones- look totally unscathed.
"Can I be the leader next time?" the girl jackal asks.
"Yes," starts the little lion. "Next time."
"That's what you said the last time," she moans. "You don't play fair."
"Yes, I do!"
"Guys, guys," the male jackal interrupts. "We need to get it together. The queen!"
I pay closer attention to the road, drawing my focus away from the kiddie chatter, when I see Lela on the beach talking to a black backed jackal. He has a few scrapes and scars on him as well, but all of those wounds look relatively old.
"Charge, Elephant!" demands the lion cub. I sprint forward and the children on my back give a war cry as we near Lela. The black backed jackal dashes towards us, giving a battle cry of his own. "Brave warriors, attack!" the twin jackals leap off of me and land right on the face of the jackal. He goes down dramatically, obviously in on this game.
"Whoa, Lela," I stop at the sight of her. She's wearing a crown made out of dark green leafs. She seems to be glowing in the light, and very, very pregnant. "You're… you're…"
"The queen," informs the little lion. "We're saving her from her distress. Can't you see the crown? Or the look of anguish on her face, Elephant?"
"Yeah," the boy jackal starts while in the middle of a fit of giggles, "we're playing the same way we play all the time."
"Sorry, you know Elephant is a feeling off today," I say. "Can you remind Elephant what to do now?"
"Now, I have a guard to deliver the final blow to," says the cub. "Just keep watch over the queen, Elephant!" he leaps off of me and flops right onto the belly of the jackal who's pinned down by the twins.
I clear my throat and speak to Lela. "So, maybe should address the elephant in the room. And I don't mean me." I chuckle. "Who's he?" I nod to the jackal that fakes a theatrical death. The children dance in a circle around him, chanting that they've defeated the guard.
"He's their dad," says she.
"Speaking of dads," I start. "Who's the partner in crime?" I gesture at Lela's swollen belly.
She snorts. "I just got here, just like you."
"Right, right," I grin.
"My queen," huffs the little lion. "We've saved you!"
"What a relief from such distress!" Lela beams. "How could I ever repay you?"
"I've thought long and hard about what would best benefit the children of this beach," starts the lion. "We request that you add one more hour to our bedtime." He puts away his bravado and pouts. "Please, Mom, please! Please!"
"Hmm," Lela starts, obviously surprised at the situation she's in. "Well, I'd have to consult the king. But seeing as he isn't here, I'll consult my good friend, Elephant." Lela looks at me. "What do you think, Elephant?"
I look down at the cubs pouting face. "How about a half hour?"
"Sounds good to me!" squeals the lion cub. "Yeah!"
"Then a half hour it is," Lela grins.
Then, just as groggily as Lela and I came into this world, we make a warped exit, purple seizing our sight.
When our vision settles, we're back in Rafiki's tree, seated just as we were when we left. "Woah," I say. I double check my surroundings and see everything is in order, Rafiki busying himself with a painting on the wall. I look to Lela who's relatively well composed about what just happened. "Is this what you get up to all day in Rafiki's tree?"
"Not always," Lela laughs. "This is only my second time."
"So, you've returned," Rafiki ambles over to the pair of us. "Did you find your answer?"
I ponder over the words that storm around in my mouth before I look assuredly at the shaman. "You bet I did."
A/N: There you have it ladies and gents. I hope that you enjoyed reading! Take care!s