I felt the need to give Ma a "real name," since it would be weird for Max to call her Ma. So, logically, I named her "Nina," which is a Swahili word for mother. Online dictionaries are fun.
Disclaimer: All the characters in this story are owned by Disney. But you know, if I thought I could get away with writing a completely original story starring my own meerkat characters, I would.
The Search for Timon
"Are you NUTS!"
That's what Max shouted when his niece told him she was going to look for her son. What was the point? He was probably dead. With Timon's absolute lack of common sense there was almost a zero per cent chance he had lasted a week on his own, let alone two months. She couldn't be serious...But what if she was? Max decided he had better go up and talk to his niece, so he climbed up and stuck his head out of the nearest exit. He was surprised to see her walking away from the tunnels, already about twenty feet past the rock-and-tree sentry post.
"Nina!" he called.
She turned and looked at him. "I told you I was going, Max. And nothing you can say will change my mind."
The plump meerkat continued to walk away, leaving a trail of smashed grass blades. Max climbed out of the hole and began to follow her.
"Even if Timon is alive, how are you going to find him?"
Nina didn't slow her pace. "The baboon said he saw him about two months ago near his baobab tree."
She stopped and looked around. "Hm, that's strange. He was here a minute ago."
"Did he say anything else?" asked Max, finally catching up to his niece.
"He told Timon to look beyond what he sees to find a place with no worries."
Max slapped a paw to his forehead. "He'll be looking forever if he hasn't been eaten."
"I know! Now do you see why I have to find him?"
"Honestly? No. What good will it do anyone if you get killed?"
"I have to try, Max. What kind of mother would I be if I didn't?"
Max said nothing, but his face softened.
"I'll send you a message as soon as I can. Take care of yourself."
"There won't be any need, because I'm going with you."
"Really?" She smiled.
Max nodded. "You're the only family I have left, and...Well, Timon wouldn't have left if I hadn't been so hard on him."
"You mean you actually regret that?" she asked with wide eyes.
He folded his arms. "Don't put words in my mouth. If anything, I regret letting him be a sentry in the first place." In reality, Max did regret that his last words to Timon were harsh ones, but he didn't want to admit it.
Nina sighed, looking a little disappointed. "Well, Timon probably would've left eventually. You know how restless he was, always dreaming of a better home."
"Our home would've been a lot better if he didn't wreck it all the time."
"Come on, Max, I thought we were finally on the same page."
"Just because I'm going to look for Timon with you doesn't mean I have to give you any moral support. My main objective is to make sure you survive."
"Well, I guess it's good to have another set of eyes, at least, even they come with cranky old meerkat. I'll need all the help I can get."
"Hey, this cranky old meerkat has a great deal of wisdom and experience."
"Wisdom my eye."
Max glowered. Nina and Timon were the only ones in the mob who didn't respect him for his age.
"Do you want me to go with you or not?" he asked.
"I want you to come, but I don't want to argue the whole time. Can we agree to try to get along for a little while?"
"Well...I suppose I could keep the negative comments about Timon to a minimum."
She grinned. "Thanks, Uncle Max; that's good enough for me. Come on, let's go to that tree."
"Hold on a second." He turned and yelled, "Hey, fellas, you're gonna need someone to take over this watch!"
Several dusty brown heads popped out of the ground. "Why? Are you leaving?" one of them asked.
"Yes, we're going to go look for Timon," called Nina. "See you in a few months."
Max held his tongue this time, but as he started to leave again he heard one of the others voice his thoughts.
"We'll never see them again, will we?"
Nina strode away with determination, and Max tried to match her pace, but he kept looking over his shoulder at the shrinking tree. He knew that in a couple of feet he would be out of Shouting Range.
No meerkat ever went past the point where he could be heard by the mob if he needed help. Out of Shouting Range, a meerkat was on his own and vulnerable in the big, hostile world. Max's heart pounded in his ribcage like an animal trying to escape as he neared that invisible line. Still he went on for several more feet, until his legs began to shake as though he hadn't eaten all day. He felt like grabbing onto someone, but Nina was too far ahead, so he hugged himself, wishing he could see in all directions at once, wishing every creature on the savanna wasn't out to get him, wishing he was safe in his tunnels.
"Uncle Max?" Nina slowly walked back to him with a pitying expression. "I know we're out of Shouting Range, but we can do this. We'll stick together and we'll get through this." She offered him her paw, which he gripped firmly, and together they walked away from the only home they had ever known.
A/N: I plan on switching back and forth between Nina's and Max's POV (third person limited). Ideally this fic will end with the colony moving to the oasis, but I don't know if I'll get that far, to be honest.