Disclaimer: Disney owns Timon, Ma, Max, and I guess it owns Swifty and Flinchy, too. All other characters belong to me.
A/N: Yes, I'm starting another story, but this one will only have about three chapters. I just have to get this out of my system before I continue "The Search for Timon." As usual, this fic ties into my other LK fics, but it can stand on its own. But if anyone's curious, it takes place a few days after "The Fittest."
According to my research, ant larvae are among the meerkats' favorite foods, so they're a significant part of this story.
"Here, Timmy, I found a special treat for you!" Nina, Timon's mother, presented a pile of tiny white larvae on a leaf. She was quite proud, as if she had made them herself, but, to her credit, they were almost impossible to find that time of year.
"Ant grubs!" Timon took the leaf. "Thanks, Ma."
Nina said that he was more than welcome, and that she had to go up for her sentry watch, and if he needed anything, he should look for his dad in the new lower north tunnel. "Stay out of trouble." She nuzzled him briefly and set off toward the nearest exit.
When Timon began to shove the larvae into his mouth, another kit came running round a bend in the tunnel. The kit, who was called Kijio, braked right in front of Timon and stared down at the food. Timon frowned and turned away from him.
"C'mon, Timon, lemme have some."
"No," Timon said firmly. "Ma dug these up just for me."
"Just one. You're not gonna miss one grub."
"I didn't think anyone could eat just one."
"Well, I can. Gimme one and I'll show ya."
Timon sighed. "Okay, just one and that's it!" He rummaged through the pile until he found the smallest one. "Here ya go."
Kijio popped the larva into his mouth and squished it once between his teeth before swallowing. "Okay, one ant grub. Great. I'm good to go," he said, mostly trying to convince himself.
Timon stood there watching. Kijio turned to walk away, but he immediately spun to face Timon again.
"Who am I kidding? I can't eat just one! I need more!"
"No, Kijio. I told you that was it."
"So you're gonna make me suffer?"
"Jeez, get a grip," said Timon, trying out an expression he'd recently learned. "You're three and a half months old. And you call me pathetic?"
"Did I say pathetic?"
"Uh, yeah, just this morning you did."
"Oh, you heard wrong. I actually said parthetic."
Timon knotted his brows. "Parthetic? What does that mean?"
"You don't know what parthetic means?" asked Kijio, feigning surprise.
"Course I do," Timon said defensively. "I was just checking to see if you knew."
"Well duh, I wouldn't say it if I didn't know what it meant."
"Okay." Then, after a beat, Kijio got back on topic. "So are you gonna give me some grubs?"
"The answer's still no, so leave me alone."
"Come on! Don't make me beg!"
Timon stared expectantly.
"Oh, all right," Kijio sighed. "Please, please can I have some grubs? I'll be your best friend," he added for good measure.
Timon's brown eyes grew wide with shock. "You really mean it?"
The younger kit thought for a moment. "It's a deal. How many do ya want?"
"Would it be pushing it to say all of them?"
Not knowing what to say to that, Kijio tried again. "Can I have all of them?"
"No. But you can have half."
Kijio was satisfied with half, so Timon divided the pile down the middle, and Kijio took off with his share and without so much as a "thanks."
His twin brother Kumbwe ran into him as he gorged the lot. "Kijio, I was looking for - woah, are those ant grubs?"
"Mm mm," said Kijio through his full mouth. The twins were nearly identical with their fair hair and red-brown eyes, except that Kijio now had slime dribbling down his chin.
"Those are ant grubs!" said Kumbwe. "Where'd you get 'em?"
Kijio swallowed and wiped his chin on his arm. "Were ant grubs. I got 'em from Timon."
"What did you do?" Kumbwe's curiosity peaked. "Did you tell him to plant them in the ground so a grub tree would grow? Or did you use the old 'Look! A random carnivore!' trick?"
"Nothin' like that." Kijio sniggered. "Though that would've been funny. But all I did was beg."
Kumbwe raise an eyebrow. "Sounds too easy."
"I'm tellin' ya that's what happened."
"Hm...What did you say to him, exactly?"
"Oh, I think it was, 'Please can I have some grubs, I'll be your best friend.'"
Kumbwe widened his eyes in something akin to horror.
"What?" Kijio gave him an odd glance.
"You did not tell him you'd be his best friend."
"Yeah, but, I mean...You don't think..."
"You know he takes everything literally! I bet any moment now he'll come runnin' up wanting to do stuff with us and tag along everywhere we go."
Kijio matched his brother's horrified expression. "Chimvi on a stick. What are we gonna do?"
"I don't know about we, but you can go tell him you were just kidding or something. Just tell him the truth and keep him out of our fur."
"No way am I gonna do that. He'll blab to his parents about it, and they'll tell Mom, and she'll make me do extra work."
"Okay, fine, I'll see if I can think of something else. But if he comes, I'm outta here."
"That's it! You're a genius!" said Kijio with a spark in his eyes.
"Tell me something I don't know."
"All we gotta do is avoid Timon for the rest of our lives! It's perfect."
Kumbwe frowned. "I don't think so, bro. The mob's big, but not that big. Sooner or later he's going to see us."
"Well, we can at least avoid him till we come up with a way to deal with him."
"Yeah, I guess that's the best thing to do for now," Kumbwe said with a nod.
It happened that long before Ma's watch was over, Kijio thought of a plan. "Ya know, Kumbwe, I think I can actually make this friendship thing work."
His brother stared at him as though he had grown a third eye.
"No, seriously. I figure havin' a best friend could be good for me."
"How in the name of mud do you figure that?" Kumbwe had never seen any point in having friends when he had a twin brother. He didn't think anyone else was worth his time, and he was certain no one else could appreciate his clever ideas.
"Well..." Kijio studied his claws. "I could tell you, but I'd rather show you. You game?"
Kumbwe blinked. "I really don't want anything to do with this, but I'm strongly curious."
"So that's a yes, then?"
Kumbwe answered in the affirmative, but stressed that he just knew he was going to regret this. The next step, then, was to find Timon, and they ended up spending more time looking for him than they had avoiding him. When they finally saw him in a crowded main tunnel, Kijio went right up to him and clapped him on the back.
"Hey Timmy! Can I call you Timmy?"
Timon grinned. "Only if I can call you Kijy."
"Timon it is, then. How's my best bud?"
"Great! I wasn't sure if you were serious about being my friend, 'cause my dad told me you probly just said it 'cause you wanted me to give you some grubs."
Kumbwe spoke up from beside his brother. "Oh, you told your dad?" He kept his voice casual, but he threw Kijio a meaningful glance.
"Yeah. Hey Dad!" called Timon. "Look who's here!"
"I just remembered, I have to clean my room." Kumbwe started to take off, but Kijio grabbed his wrist.
"But you'll miss all the fun, bro," he said with a look that clearly meant 'You better not ditch me.'
"Afternoon, boys," said Timon's father, Nate, as he approached the three kits.
"Look, Dad, Kijio's really my friend now!"
"Uh-huh." Nate eyed Kijio with well-deserved skepticism. "So, Kijio, the way I understand it, you agreed to be Timon's best friend if he would give you half his grubs. Is that right?"
Kijio kept a straight face as he answered, "It's not just that, sir. I was just tellin' Kumbwe that being best friends would be good for me and Timon."
"I see. Well then, by all means, start friending! But behave yourself. You never know if someone's watchin' you." Then, to his son, he said, "Don't forget to meet us for dinner under the old eastern tree."
Timon looked up at his father. "Is that...?"
"The opposite direction of sunset," Nate said kindly.
"That would be why they call it the morning side. Ow," said Kumbwe, as Kijio elbowed him.
"I'll be there," said Timon. "Hey, can Kijio come too? And Kumbwe, if he wants to?"
"I suppose so, as long as it's okay with their mom. I'll probably see her before then. You kids have fun." And he wove his way through the moving crowd and was lost from sight.
Kijio turned to his new "best friend." "So, Timon, you know best friends do nice things for each other, right?"
"Yeah." Timon raised his eyebrow. "That's why I invited you for dinner."
"Oh. Right." He suddenly looked very eager. "Do you think your mom will have more of those ant grubs?"
"I couldn't say. Come to think of it, I haven't eaten those since I was a little kit." He brightened. "But maybe she found a big nest of them and she's saving the rest for dinner."
Kijio told Timon he was probably right, and even Kumbwe began to think that having Timon as a friend wasn't such a bad idea after all.
And then, out of the throng came a familiar voice. "There you boys are! Why haven't you changed the bedding yet? I told you to do it this morning!" Soon the twins' mother Jan stood before them with paws akimbo.
"Sorry Mom, we got a little sidetracked, but we'd be glad to do it, right away!"
Kumbwe muttered, "Laying it on a bit thick there, are - ow! I wish you'd stop doing that."
Jan narrowed her eyes. "You boys are up to something."
"Why is it always 'you boys'?" said Kumbwe. "I don't do everything he does."
"Oh yes you do."
"She's right, ya know," Timon told Kumbwe. "You're like two legs on a grasshopper."
Kijio snapped his head toward Timon in surprise. "So you do understand metaphors."
"That was a simile, not a metaphor," said Kumbwe. "A simile is when you say something is like something else. A metaphor is when you say something is something else."
"Ohh," said Kijio and Timon together, with understanding expressions. But after a pause, Timon said, "No, wait, I don't get it."
Jan tapped her foot. "Boys! What happened to 'I'll do it right away'? Do I need to teach you the definition of 'right away'? Because it sure doesn't mean 'after I stand around gabbing for an hour.'"
"Sorry, we're on it," said Kijio. "Let's go, guys."
Timon, realizing that "guys" included him too, said, "Oh, I wouldn't wanna get in your way while you clean your burrow."
Kijio put his paw on the redhead's shoulder and began to lead him toward his family's nest. "Don't be ridiculous, you won't get in the way. Actually, I was hoping you'd give us a paw. You know, since we're best friends and all."
"Well, I guess I could help a little," said Timon, with heavy reluctance. He was beginning to wonder when his new friend would do something nice for him.
Jan frowned as she stared after the kits. It was plain that her boys were kissing up to Timon so he would help them with the job they were supposed to do by themselves. But before she could say anything, Swifty ran up and told her that Flinchy had accidentally dug past the water table and needed help filling in the wet hole. Duty called, but Jan would think of an extra chore for her sons to do later. Or maybe two or three.