Hey everyone! I'm soooo sorry for the long wait! (a year for an update: I'm terrible) But I hope this second chapter is to your liking! I'd like to thank and hug everyone who has favorite, watched, or commented the first chapter: you are all awesome! Please continue writing comments: I read them all and adore the honest encouragement from everyone. It really does make me want to write even more! :]
Warnings: This story contains a boyXboy relationship, more Lion King references, more Disney characters that I try to keep as in character as possible, original Kingdom Hearts references, probably a few misspellings and grammar issues, and some other things I'm forgetting to mention….I own nothing!
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and overall a happy Holiday season! Now on to the second chapter:
Chapter 2- (December 23)
Sora squinted his eyes in annoyance. A perfectly cast stream of light chose to shine directly on his face, much to his displeasure. Releasing a drawn out groan in protest the boy buried headfirst into his soft bed comforter. Sora smiled as the glare disappeared and was replaced by his dark silky sheets that sent out a delicious heat. It felt so good.
Sora pressed deeper into his bed sheets to get closer to his personal source of euphoria…only to sneeze as hair got in the way of his nose.
"Uh…" Sora moaned piteously, bringing his head up from his warm and oddly firm pillow.
"I want sleep!" The sixteen year old complained.
Groggily he opened his eyes. He looked and blinked. Blinked twice. What was once his bed sheets turned out to be a mass of sable fur. Sora lowered his gaze and realized his pillow was also not what it appeared to be. It was a huge paw that the boy would've thought cute if there didn't happen to be dangerously sharpened claws emerging from said paw.
"Wha-" Sora muttered dumbfounded. Just where in the heck did his bed go? Then again, where did the lion come from?
"Are you always this loud in the morning?" a deep voice from above said.
Sora looked up to find the narrowed eyes of lion-form Leon. The male lion looked as if he just woke up too, if the mused fur atop his head and cheek areas were anything to go by. Sora hoped it was the task of waking up that made Leon's dark feline eyes into mere slits, and not because he was angry at him.
"Oh I am not, Ri-." Sora responded on impulse, and stopped abruptly when he realized he was about to say something that he hadn't in months. Sora blinked again up to Leon, almost like he was confused by what he said too.
Leon looked at the weird look on Sora's face. As he registered the look of honest confusion and innocence on the cub's face he relaxed. And now Leon was confused. He knew, logically, that in order to relax a person had to be tense first. But Leon didn't think he was tense or had any reason to be, unless it was because he still wasn't awake yet.
'That's probably it.' Leon thought finally. He was more than ready to dismiss his weird musings when he didn't have coffee to help decipher them.
"Okay Sora. Obviously you aren't awake yet either." Leon said while getting up. He was pleasantly surprised at how adapted he became to walking on four legs. To himself Leon gave a victory smirk as he stretched his body out to its limit, popping the new joints he had around his shoulder blades and hind legs. He marveled at the cool rocks beneath his paws that somehow didn't bother him like it would with his human feet.
As Leon stretched Sora stared with an almost blank expression. Normally he would've been ogling at the older male for the almost tempting way Leon's body gracefully moved. Normally the movement that Leon's hard earned muscles were making now would've made him swoon, but Sora found he was too distracted.
He kept thinking about what just happened. Before he was going to say 'I am not, Riku.' It was said often enough, because Riku often teased him about being spacey, loud, nosy, and other sort of things that Sora denied. Although the teen conceded that there may be some half-truths thrown in there.
But still, such banter between the two wasn't frequent nowadays. Once they had defeated Xemnas and dealt with the Nobodies episode, Riku and Kairi seemed to have immediately become an item. Apparently Kairi went gaga over the way Riku protected her while he was in the form of Xehanort's Heartless and she was the prisoner of Organization 13.
And like that, Riku and Kairi had become nearly inseparable and most of the time Sora felt left out. It wasn't that they ignored Sora openly, it was just being the friend of friends who were boyfriend and girlfriend made him feel ackward and he often felt that he should leave the two some room to romance or whatever. Lately it felt like Sora wasn't as close to Riku anymore. They barely talked like they used to.
"Sora, come on; let's get something to eat." Leon spoke from the mouth of the cave.
Sora looked around to see the magnificent lion he almost didn't recognize. The sunrise peaking across the plains of the Pride Lands was all you could have seen at the gape of the cave. Unless you had an intimidating feline blocking the only way out of the cave, then you couldn't see anything but him. Due to his positioning, Leon was in the shadows as he looked back at Sora. The whole effect of the morning sky and Leon's shaded features were breathtaking. Sora almost forgot to breathe.
"You are breathing right Sora?" Leon prompted after Sora didn't make a move to follow him, or do anything else for that matter. To Leon it looked like Sora was frozen. He was so still that it made Leon fear if the boy spontaneously forgot how to breathe.
"Uh yeah. A'course I am." Sora said breathlessly. It was painfully obvious that the boy was suffering from lack of oxygen.
Leon looked at Sora with a raised eyebrow. Was the boy always this confusing, and dare he say flustered, when he woke up? Leon couldn't be sure since they had never slept together before…not that Leon was looking forward to repeated events it's just that…well, you can't expect him to know everything about Sora when they haven't done everything yet.
'Shit that sounded bad.' The sable-haired man grimaced inwardly.
There was an ackward pause as both males tried to sort through their thoughts.
Sora was the first to recover. He slowly raised his head to Leon, trying to catch the other's attention. Seeing the movement from the corner of his vision, Leon looked towards Sora. The man quirked his eyebrow in question.
Sora couldn't explain it but he found Leon's incredulous glance as funny. He tried to contain it, he really did, but he just couldn't stop the small laugh that escaped him. And then another louder laugh followed. And another, until Sora was full-out laughing.
Leon stared at Sora's mirth in growing confusion and alarm. Leon couldn't for the life of him figure out what there was to laugh about. He would've questioned the boy's sanity if he hadn't also had the urge to laugh aloud. And not just simply bark out a laugh like Cid, or gruffly chuckle like Cloud. He wanted to laugh like Sora; with bright, carefree abandon.
Luckily the man was more successful in containing his laughter than Sora. However he did allow an amused smile to creep upon his features.
"Alright goofy, let's go." Leon spoke up at a point when Sora had to gasp for breath.
The boy gave one last little laugh. "Did you just use a pun Leon?" Sora asked with a smile.
Leon shrugged his shoulders and started to lead them out of the cave. However Sora didn't miss the smile that was still on the man's face. The young Keyblade master decided that Leon smiling was definitely the best sight to see.
"Is that it?" Leon asked while staring up at one of the rock cliffs in the Oasis where a patch of pretty blue flowers sprouted off of. The radiant flowers swayed in the cool breeze, almost teasing the animals down bellow with their growing predicament of how to reach them.
"I think so." Sora gave a brief nod, still trying to figure out how to get to the blasted flowers. Like Leon, he wasn't expecting there to be a challenge into getting the flora. Already the morning sun was inching ever so closely to its peak. They were definitely wasting precious time trying to figure out a way to get this latest present.
"Ah! I got it!" Sora exclaimed while backing away from the rock cliffs. Leon looked at the boy cub and smiled. Sora had to keep looking over his shoulder blades to make sure his paws were moving in the proper way. He however refrained from teasing the younger male at his look of determination.
"Force!" Sora shouted around his magically summoned Keyblade. And like magic, a plum of purple and dark energy raised itself over the cliff and down on top of the Swallowtail flowers. Unfortunately the Gravity spell only caused the flowers to bow at the stems and then lifted and fluttered in the breeze once the spell dissipated.
"Argh! Gravity didn't work." Sora bowed his head in dismay. He didn't notice the male lion beside him move away until he heard the distinct sounds of rock pebbles being disturbed.
Sora looked up to see Leon carefully climb over some of the low lying rocks and now as he tried to pull himself up from the ledge of a steeper rock. "Leon what are you doing?!" Sora yelped in alarm and growing anxiety for the other's safety. Leon was already so high up; if he missed a ledge or his fore paws gave out, he could get seriously hurt. Sora couldn't even begin to imagine what he'd do if Leon got injured because of his silly Christmas present hunt!
The older male lion above risked a glance down at Sora. For a split second, after gauging the nauseating height he voluntarily found himself in, Leon had to ask himself the same thing; what the hell in his right mind made him do this crazy, idiotic stunt? He was never an impulsive being and always had to think things through at every possible angle. And yet here he was grasping at the edge of unyielding rock, its tough edges bruising his paws while he tried to lift more than half his body weight with his feline arms. Although they thankfully retained the muscle of his human form, his lion-like biceps could only carry his weight for so long.
"What does it… look like I'm doing?" Leon growled under his breath. He tried to disguise his quickly growing exhaustion and fatigue from Sora but figured it was a useless effort at this point. The kid was obviously worried and growing more frantic by the second. Even though Sora's worry for him brought a quick smile to Leon's face, Leon didn't want to see the boy distressed. Hell that must've gotten him into this predicament. After watching Sora cast his spell and inwardly applauding him for his quick thinking he immediately felt his heart ache once he saw the look of disappointment on Sora's face. Yeah, Leon could only really blame his irrational, compulsive, and completely unLeon-like feelings for the teen that found himself engaging in this torturous and extreme game of rock climbing.
'He better like these flowers, is all I got to say'. Leon thought moodily. His hind right paw took that moment to loose traction on the wall and the lion had to quickly dig his front paws harder onto the edge of the cliff to keep from falling.
'Okay…I'll reserve my judgments until this is over.' Leon amended sourly as he worked harder to pull himself up.
"Oh Simba! Leon needs help!"
Leon looked down again to see Sora shouting at the bronze and scarlet colored lion. He was about to tell the others he was fine until he heard the distinct sounds of shifting rock. Leon quickly whipped his head up to see the part of the rock's edge he was gripping onto start to crumble, leaving his paws hanging onto air.
Acting purely on instinct, Leon buried his claws into the rock. After the painful screeching of nails on chalkboard experience the human turned lion was surprised to find he was not plummeting to his death. However that surprise quickly turned into quick mental calculations of how to use his precarious position on the rock to get him out of this mess.
"Leon, give me your paw!" Simba cried from atop of the cliff. Leon looked up in surprise but then gave a shaky grin. Although it would wound his pride later to think about, Leon couldn't help but thank his lucky stars to see the lion king and immediately thrust his paw to his soon-to-be rescuer.
Both lions panted, basking in the loss of adrenaline from the successful rescue. Leon was the first to recover as he slowly sat up from his previous collapse of exhaustion.
"Thanks, your highness, for saving me." Leon spoke gratefully. He couldn't believe how much he misjudged this guy, er lion, when they first met. Well it was more like his feelings for Sora and his unfounded jealousy that misjudged Simba, but Leon didn't really think that was an excuse. He disliked others using excuses so he sure as hell wasn't planning on making excuses for himself. Regardless, Leon found himself liking Simba, and he wasn't just saying that because he was saved by the lion. It played a little, okay a lot, of influence to it but the rescue itself just helped to show that this ruler of the Pride Lands had good character that Leon found admirable.
"Please, Simba is fine Leon. And you're welcome. I couldn't just leave you hanging, right?" The lion king joked.
Leon smirked in amusement. "heh. Well I'm glad you thought so."
Simba smiled for a minute until it slowly faded. It seemed that the lion was reliving something dark from his past.
Leon noticed and found himself impulsively speaking. "You okay?"
Simba blinked at the other and then gave a slight jolt as he came back to the present. He smiled sadly at the sable-furred lion. "Well, yeah. I mean, I will be eventually…maybe." He ended quietly.
Leon gazed with a frown at the once proud and happy lion turn into well…Kinda like him. Or maybe Cloud was a better comparison. But whatever Simba was like now, Leon knew it definitely did not suit the lion.
"You know…you're not alone. I haven't been here long to really tell, but from what I see there's plenty of people, um animals, that care about you." Leon spoke awkwardly, not even sure why he was trying to comfort the king. Well he started the comforting so he might as well finish it.
"And Sora would hit you if he saw you acting this gloomy." The sable haired lion ended with all seriousness.
Simba blinked at the other for a beat until he gave a laugh. And like that the shadow that had fallen on the lion king lifted.
"I bet he would." Simba chuckled. "And speaking of Sora, you like him right?" The lion asked almost abruptly.
Leon didn't respond for several minutes. It was like the rest of the jungle had grown in volume around him because Leon could not concentrate on anything else. Oddly enough it felt like his face had gone completely numb. He tried to kick himself into saying something to the other lion but he honestly didn't know what to address first. Like, should he ask 'How do you know', Or 'Am I that obvious?' or even better; 'Ohmygosh does Sora know?!'
Thankfully Simba took the reigns and took the decision from Leon.
"hmm. I'm guessing by your shocked expression that that's a yes." Simba said with partial amusement and worry for the other's mental health. "I didn't know it was a big deal." The king amended gently.
Leon shook his head firmly to get out of his current funk. "No no…it's um, not really? I think I'm just surprised...you know." The scarred lion said hesitantly. Hell, he was never good with emotions, so you couldn't very well expect him to talk about them. There was a reason he and Cloud were compared so often. As Cid would say often say, with his own gruff-like fondness, they were both 'emotionally constipated'.
"I think I get it." Simba said finally after pondering over the other lion's vague statement. "Well anyways, I think you should tell him."
Leon widened his eyes in surprise. "Well I guess that would be the best thing…wait, you mean tell him now?" He asked trying to make it absolutely clear of what Simba was telling him. It was just plain weird; first he was comforting the lion king and now the same lion was giving him love advice? Were all post-traumatic rescues supposed to have these open and disarming discussions?!
Simba gave a thoughtful frown. "Not necessarily now…But I think you should tell him as soon as you're ready to." He closed his eyes and gave a sigh full of regret and longing. "You just, never know how long you're going to be with that person. Life happens. And if you haven't said everything that needed to be said…you might never have the opportunity again..."
The scarlet manned lion then gave a slight smile to dispel the heavy mood. "And I think you deserve happiness Leon. Sora too. I know we haven't met before but…I feel like, after the Pride Lands was taken by darkness, I was beside you, watching over you. Heh pretty dumb, right?"
'He must be talking about when he was a summon gem…' Leon thought with a bittersweet smile. When Leon had found that pretty green stone under the lamp light of the Second District he had picked it up and oddly didn't feel like throwing it away. He often thought about putting it in the lost and found or selling it at one of the Moogle shops. Hell before the invasion of Heartless baring munny, he and the others didn't have much munny to live off of. And yet, he couldn't. He was moody those first few months when he, Cid, Aerith, and Yuffie had found refuge in Traverse Town. But that stone, that emitted an inner strength and hope Leon was baffled by, comforted him more than anything.
And then Sora, the Keyblade's chosen one showed up. He honestly didn't think much of him at first. Sora was short, scrawny as anything, and his adorable blue eyes…the fact was, Sora had no business being the Keyblade master and no one else should have expected him to defend their worlds from the terrible, and tangible darkness. And yet Sora totally surprised him and everyone else for that matter. He battled Heartless ten times his size and stared down evil villains in the eye. He was never selfish in his travels, even if he wanted nothing more than to find his friends Riku and Kairi and go back to his islands; he still trudged on for the 'greater good'. Whenever he saw anyone in trouble; physically or emotionally, he would drop everything and direct all his focus and energy on helping the unfortunate soul. Sora was just the epitome of Light.
And then, after their first fight, Leon started to get to know Sora better. Without him realizing it, he grew fonder of the kid each day he came to visit in Traverse Town and later Radiant Garden. Leon became less dependent on that emerald gem because Sora became his source of light. He didn't want to toss the stone away, so he eventually decided to give it to Sora. Leon told Sora it was because he thought he could help free the trapped spirit inside. Yet it was also the first gift he gave to the kid. Sora accepted it with his silly grin and a 'Thanks Leon'. Leon supposed that was when he first felt the ice around his heart begin to thaw. After years of guarding his heart to anything close to love Sora only had to give him an adorably sweet smile that made him willingly want to give the Keyblade master the key to his heart.
'Shit, I guess I do love him, huh?' Leon thought with a mental snort. Who knew he could be so sappy?
Simba cleared his throat and gave a nod. "Yeah, I would say you do." The lion smiled amusedly at seeing the surprise on Leon's face.
"Are you guys okay?!"
Leon and Simba looked behind them to see a slightly flustered Sora. His brown fur looked terribly mussed, as if great gusts of wind had blown through it. But both lions were more fixated on what was in the newcomer's mouth. It was the pair of notorious blue and red flowers that had started their whole mess. Before either could congratulate him for getting the flora or ask how he did it Sora immediately began spewing nonsense at lightning speed. And with each approaching step he took, he came closer and closer to the pair until he finally stopped right and good in front of Leon's face. Leon pondered if he should've backed up or something but figured it was too late now. The look of frustration and concern on Sora's face was an odd mix if not frightening. He would've dared to say it was funny if Sora didn't look so ticked off and relieved at the same time. Or if he wasn't presently killing Leon's hearing with all his shouting. At least Leon didn't need to hear to assume he was in trouble.
"Leon! Are you alright-Outofyourmind!-that was so stupid of you!-Ugh I can't believe you did-Oh I'm so glad you're alright!-DON'T do that again! You could have-Too nice for your own good-Jerk!" Sora ended with a deep scowl while glaring directly into Leon's wide eyes of silver. The teen lion didn't even notice the close proximity the two were now in. All Sora had to do was tilt his head up a little to cause their noses to collide.
Leon blinked at the up close look he now got of Sora. Oh yeah having your love interest that close and unable to do anything about it because the person was blissfully unaware of your affections? Yeah, that was torture. Leon was torn. He was half in mind to either shove the kid away to avoid the awkwardness that would surely come once Sora realized how close they were, but then he also wanted to drag Sora closer to him and never let him leave. Leon gulped, not sure what instinct he would rather act on. Damn it he hated quick decisions! Well he had to do something.
"That's nice Sora. I'm so glad you care. Now could you back off?" Leon said sarcastically, his eyes automatically glaring in an act to protect himself and establish distance from his clearest threat.
Sora jerked his head back as if he had been shocked. His baby blue eyes widened in hurt and embarrassment. Leon felt his heart plummet.
The small brown lion immediately backed away, his head hung low. Sora gave a small depreciative laugh, trying to recover face. "heh, I'm sorry Leon. I know you hate people getting in your personal space…I just…well I guess I should...I'll see you later." And with that he took one small step back, until he quickly turned away down the hill he had come from. Sora didn't look back once as he dashed away from the two speechless lions. However, only one lion felt as if his heart was taken away from him.
Simba quickly whipped his head to the scarred lion. The king of the Pride Lands immediately felt sympathy at the lost yet heartbroken expression on the other lion's face. No, it wasn't supposed to be like this!
"Leon, you have to go after him!" Simba urged.
Leon gave a tiny shake of the head. "I don't think I should. I'm just fooling myself. I could never be with Sora."
"No…"Simba protested weakly. "Leon you know that's not true."
"And what if it is?" Leon glared as pent up emotions and insecurities from the past month unwittingly poured out. "Sora can't be with me; 'Mr. King of Ice'. Sora is happy and I'll just destroy that if I was with him. He deserves a warm-hearted person, someone he can be happy with. He'll be fine, because he's Sora: it's damn easy to love him. But I've always been alone. I know that's how it should be." Leon growled with frustration and self-pity. God whatever was he thinking?! Confess to Sora?! Who was he fooling? He was just fooling himself.
Leon blinked in confusion. Maybe Sora really did destroy his hearing…
"Hakuna Matata." Simba insisted firmly. Leon blinked again. "What?" was all the sable haired lion could say.
Simba gave a grin but his amber eyes told the other he was serious. "It means 'no worries.' It took a mere cat and a warthog to make me understand an important lesson. Bad things happen, and sometimes you're powerless to stop them…But…" he paused and gave a smile. "Sora made me realize that you have the power to change the bad. Not doing anything will accomplish nothing."
Leon gave a depreciative frown. "So Sora helped you out of your bad times?"
Simba gave an impatient sigh. "Well yes…But I think you need to understand that you won't know anything unless you try and see what happens. So you and Sora are different. It doesn't mean that you two won't be compatible. Just…try it Leon. You know you'll scratch yourself later if you don't take the chance to find out what might happen."
Leon stared quietly for a moment and then a small grin broke. Simba gave a relieved smile, happy that his words finally reached the stubborn male.
"You're right Simba. I can't just wait here and do nothing. So if you'll excuse me…This Ice Prince has some apologizing to do."
"Hmm. That you do." Simba said smugly and watched as the other male lion dashed off in the path Sora took moments earlier. A strong breeze suddenly blew and the lion king heaved a great sigh, his mighty red mane flowing in the wind. "Good luck, my friends."
Sora pouted at his reflection in the pristine water. He was currently laid out on the edge of a deep pond, big enough for several grown lions to swim in. His feline ears picked up the loud waterfall a little ways off, feeding into the body of water.
"Leon wants personal space…and you, idiot that you are, invaded that space." He sighed quietly to himself. Absentmindedly he tried to pick up a blade of grass between his paw but found the task surprising difficult without a thumb. But Sora didn't complain; he needed something mind-numbing to do.
"Hmm, he hates me." The blade slips through his furry paw. "He hates me not." The blade slightly tears after coming into contact with his claw.
"He hates me…"Sora stared at the piece of grass that was proving to be quite slippery, and wondered what statement of Leon's hate he'd end up on.
"He hates me not." Sora said just as the blade finally uprooted. He stared at the now loose blade of grass and frowned. "Yeah right…" And with that he dropped the piece unceremoniously into the glistening water below him.
"He doesn't hate you."
Sora visibly jolted and craned his head up and behind him to see the person who his thoughts centered on. It was Leon, in all his lion glory, and Sora couldn't help but give a small smile. It was amazing how Leon's presence could make him smile, no matter what.
"Hey Leon." Sora said simply, not too sure what he should say now. He knew he was the one that left in a huff earlier, but to his defense Leon was being a borderline jerk. But Sora conceded that he shouldn't have got in Leon's face like that either. So now, Sora didn't know who was at fault and because of that he hoped they could just forget what happened and start over.
"Sora, about earlier…" Leon started as he walked closer to the teenaged lion.
'Okay, so much for leaving the past behind us'. Sora thought blankly.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have snapped your head off earlier." Leon spoke with remorse. He had reached Sora's laying spot but decided not to get too close to Sora. He figured they both needed to let out some steam without the need for physical contact. Although he would like nothing better than to close this new gap, he also wanted to respect Sora's wishes if he wanted to be alone.
Sora smiled at the other in amusement. "Hmm, last I checked my head was still on my shoulders. But-" Sora paused, effectively stopping whatever Leon was about to say. "I accept your apology. And I'm sorry too." He said with all honesty.
Leon looked like he deflated in relief. He did however breathe out a faint sigh; one that Sora probably wouldn't have heard if he wasn't in the form of a feline. Yet Sora was grateful to see a physical sign that this ordeal fazed Leon. Half the time Leon's 'Nothing can faze me because I'm above your childish antics' attitude impressed Sora, and made him think the man was cool as anything. But the other half of the time he just wished he could see what Leon was thinking, without you know, having to resort to ESP or something.
"So, now that that's over, wanna go in for a swim?" Leon invited, already looking down the ledge he and Sora were on and into the water's surface.
Sora shrugged his shoulder. "Nah I think I'll just stay here. You can go ahead though."
Leon looked down at his furry companion in fake astonishment. "Since when do you decline the offer to get wet?"
Sora closed his eyes while flipping over onto his back and began to stretch . In all appearance it looked like he was going to take a cat nap. "Since now." He replied cheekily, his closed eyes crinkling from his amused smile.
The older lion snorted. "Well alright then. But I don't want to hear you complaining on the next world about not getting a shower."
"Mmmkay. Sure thing Leon."Sora spoke, wondering in his semi-nap faze if Leon was getting annoyed by his childish comments. Well think of this as pay back Mr. Jerk, Sora thought with a not so angelic smirk.
"You're sure then." Leon stated. Oh he knew Sora was messing with him. However he doubted the kid knew what he had up his sleeve.
"Yeah, I am." Sora said, with slight annoyance. Jeez couldn't Leon take a hint?
"I'm going now." The scarred lion said while quietly entering the pool. Leon almost let out a yelp at the touch of the cold water but forced it down. If his plan was going to work he had to stay calm. Needless to say Leon's will power was as tough as steel.
"Okay." Sora said turning over onto his side away from Leon's voice. Huh, maybe he would take a nap afterall…
"This is the end."
"…" Sora didn't quite know what to say to that one.
And with that Sora couldn't hear Leon anymore. He figured Leon had just gone into the pool. He closed his eyes for a little bit and started to think about nothing in particular.
Yet not surprisingly his thoughts ended up on their favorite topic; Leon. He couldn't stop thinking how the man's last comments were odd to say the least. Oh well it probably didn't mean anything.
However after two minutes and Sora still heard nothing of Leon he admitted he was starting to get worried. Sitting up he looked down and across the waters surface. No Leon.
"Leon?" Sora asked, starting to genuinely worry. Cautiously he walked up to the ledge and went to peer down into the water.
A splash of water and two lion paws moving out of his peripheral vision were the only warning Sora got until he was suddenly dunked head first into cold liquid.
Gasping and sputtering, Sora quickly pulled himself back up on the ledge. His eyes were wide and dilated in shock and his fur was dripping like crazy. Sora heard Leon get up from the water behind him and glared.
Leon gave him a smug smirk in return. And that, to Sora, did it. Leon didn't know what to expect when he was pushed back into the water by a mass of wet, ticked off, Keyblade wielding, yet utterly adorable teenage lion.
"So that's why you're dripping wet." Simba clarified with a grin as he took in his two friends.
"Well, Leon's, the one who pulled me in." Sora said indignantly.
"And Sora was the one who was asking for it." Leon corrected. Sora dropped his jaw in disbelief. "How was I asking to be pulled into freezing cold water?! I was just minding my own business and then 'wham!' And I could hardly breathe!"
"You weren't…happy." Leon muttered awkwardly.
Sora blinked in confusion. "Okaaayy…So you pulled me in, because I wasn't happy?"
"That's what I said." Leon said with a frown, not liking how Sora thought that he was completely out of line for his rational.
"Why would you…care if I was happy?" Sora asked shyly after a moment's pause. He didn't know it but a feeling of hope started to surge up within him.
"Well…That's what friends do right?" Leon asked evasively. No, he was not going to confess Sora his love for him yet. Yeah it's stupid and totally irrational but…he knew that now was not the right time. Plus they were dripping wet and had Simba standing a few feet away, probably standing there as ackward as a turtle. That definitely spelled 'inappropriate timing' for any romantic development. So, as much as it killed him, he would have to play 'the friendship' card for now.
"Eh…yeah. Friends do." Sora said with a frown. Mentally he chastised himself for having hoped Leon was going to propose or something to him. Yeah right, keep dreaming Sora.
Both lions turned there heads as Simba, not so discreetly, cleared his throat.
"As much fun as this is, I think you guys had something to tell me…?" Simba prodded.
Sora and Leon both had the sense to look embarrassed. Sora was the first to reply to the red-manned lion.
"Yeah. Actually, Simba; me and Leon have to go now. But here-" Sora motioned to the exotic flowers lying innocently on ground. "There was an extra flower, so I thought Nala might like one."
Simba smiled wide. "Ah Sora, you didn't have to do that! Well, I do appreciate it. I think it might be just the thing to cheer Nala up."
"No problem your highness!" Sora grinned. Then remembering something, the teenaged lion lowered his eyes. "But…I don't know what to get you now." Sora added sadly. Try as he might, he could not think of a gift to give to the lion king. The Keyblade wielder felt so bad that he couldn't give a present to a friend who helped him out in so many ways for the past year.
Simba blinked in confusion. "Sora, I don't understand…Why would you need to give me something?"
Sora looked up and quickly blushed at his mistake. 'I forgot! Lions probably don't even know what Christmas is! Great, how am I supposed to explain Christmas?'
Leon quickly came to Sora's rescue. "What Sora means to say, is that he wants to give you something for being such good friends. We have a custom back home to give gifts to important people around this time."
Simba listened with interest at this new concept. "And this is a custom for all humans?"
"More or less." Leon agreed. Leon looked down after feeling being watched. He looked at Sora in concealed amusement at the younger males' open expression that read 'Thank you, you saved me from doing something stupid!'
"hmm. Well, Sora, I don't really want or need anything you can give me. But I'll take yours and Leon's visit to the Pride lands as my gift."
Sora widened his eyes at the king's response. It was just so…sweet! He cleared his throat in order to keep down his now 'warm in mushy' feelings from coming out. He was almost seventeen…damn it…and he was going to act like a sixteen-going-on-seventeen male should act!
"Simba…I agree. Your gift to me will be seeing you too." Sora spoke slowly. Mentally he thought he was maturing already. Another part of him just hoped his true childishness wouldn't leak out.
Simba lifted an eyebrow in genuine confusion. "Who said I was giving you a gift?"
Sora's mouth dropped and Leon couldn't react in time to stop his amused laugh from escaping. Sora immediately redirected his gaze at Leon. The scarred lion looked quickly schooled his features. "I'm sorry. But the timing was perfect." He said seriously.
Sora pouted, not amused that he was being joked about.
"Ah Sora I was just joking. Of course I'll give you this visit as your gift." Simba said. He then walked over to Sora and planted his right paw atop his head, musing the fur underneath. "And you guys should come visit more often."
Sora, after a few tries, was able to disengage his head from the lion king's paw. However despite the move to get away, Sora beamed up at Simba. "Definitely Simba! We'll visit again."
"I'm holding you to it." Simba looked to Leon and gave a wink. "And you better visit too."
Leon gave a small smirk. "I guess it's the least I can do for the lion that saved my life."
Simba chuckled. "Well alright you two, get going!"
The other two lions grinned and both simultaneously bowed their heads before the king could protest. And with another bout of 'goodbyes' the two human turned lions headed back to their gummi ship, their quest for Christmas presents back in motion.
Leon looked at the Gummi ship's monitor with growing trepidation. Their next world, if you could call it that, was most unusual. There were no buildings, no palaces, no land. It was all water.
"We're going down there?" Leon asked. In all honesty Leon knew they were going down there because Sora wasn't likely to stop at worlds just for the heck of it. No, he purposefully went to this world, so obviously, their ship was going under…literally.
And yet, he could not see how they would find a Christmas present in a world with nothing but water.
"Yes Leon, we're going down there."Sora answered neutrally. A part of him wanted to bask in the moment that Leon might be…dare he say it?...afraid to go under water. Yet a bigger part of him was sympathetic to Leon's reluctance. Heck when he first went to Atlantica he had a few good arguments to give to Donald to why he should not go under water. But back then he had his friends and King Mickey to find, so he pushed his fears aside. And now they had to get a gift. Plus he needed to give the mermaid princess her present. Thus, they had to go.
"Don't worry Leon. Donald rigged the ship with his magic, so, just like at Pride Lands, we'll be transformed to fit the surroundings. Plus we'll be able to breathe underwater." Sora explained.
Leon gave a small glare. "Right…We're not going to be turned into fish, are we, Sora." It wasn't really a question, because Leon refused, absolutely refused, to be turned into another animal. He got adjusted to a lion because lions were his favorite animals. But a fish? Nope, not going to happen. He was not going to be harpooned, electrocuted by jellyfish, or eaten by a whale. To put it blankly, he didn't like life under the sea.
"Leon…"Sora whined. He hated to do it, but it seems that the only way he'd get Leon to come with him was to pout for all he was worth. "Please Leon. I really want you to come with me." Sora spoke with glistening blue eyes and a pout that could rival any puppy's.
"Hnn…Whatever." Leon said finally, a slight shade of pink dusting his cheeks.
Sora expertly completed a full underwater cartwheel, in order to get reacquainted with his blue merman tail. He smiled as he felt the water all around him, almost enveloping him in a welcome back hug. "Ah, it's been too long." The teenager spoke wistfully, while doing another twirl.
Then Sora quickly remembered his new companion. He looked behind him and almost didn't want to blink in fear that the sight would vanish. Twelve feet away was Leon. Shirtless. Oh my!
Sora knew the man was tan from his nicely-toned biceps but he couldn't fathom how his chest and stomach were too. Leon's leather jacket and white tee-shirt, although they were tasteful, did not do justice for the man's torso, or revealed it for that matter. But, heck, Sora bet his Keyblade couldn't break through those abs!
"Um Sora, could you help me?" Leon asked with a slight flush on his face.
Sora quickly snapped out of his fantasy zone and swam over to Leon. "Heh, sorry Leon. But uh, you look, really great in this form too." He said, trying his best not to openly stare at Leon's bared chest. If he stared at it he feared he would do something rash…Like touch it with his hand…or tongue…yeah he definitely needed to quit those thoughts right now.
"Hnn. Well you look pretty good yourself. You tease." Leon added with a smirk.
Sora gapped indignantly. "Leon! I am not a tease; this is just how mermen look!"
"Is that what we are?" Leon asked, looking down at his black and white tail in a mix of awe and reluctance.
"Well I think you might be half killer whale, but that's just my opinion. As for me, I'm half shark." Sora said proudly while swishing his dorsal fin for emphasis.
Leon shook his head, a thoughtful frown on his face. "Nah, you have to be part dolphin."
"What why?" Sora voiced.
"Because 'shark' and 'Sora' do not mix. Dolphins are more friendly and cute." Leon said as if it was the most obvious thing.
"Sharks can be cute too!" The Keyblade weilder defended. At Leon's disbelieving look he looked away. "Well…the small ones are cute." He muttered. "And anyways, we're both mermen so that's that."
"Mm-hmm. About that…could you help me swim with this, thing?" Leon asked, while nodding his head back to his tail.
"Heh, sure thing. Well I learned to swim by playing some tag with Flounder. So, you gotta catch me."
"What?" Leon asked in disbelief.
"Yeah, you gotta catch me." Sora repeated with a playful grin. "Come on, it's really easy, just think of going up and kick your fin. Soon you'll be going up! Yeah like that!" Sora smiled as Leon followed his instruction flawlessly. Now he was above Sora.
"Okay you got it. Now let's go!" Sora excitedly exclaimed as he lead the way to their next destination. Leon shook his head in amusement, but nevertheless followed the exuberant teenager.
A mermaid with an abundance of brilliant red hair swam around a giant pillar made of rock and coral with the ease of an expert swimmer. She then looked behind her to see her fiancé awkwardly swim around the pillar and towards her. She smiled in encouragement as the mereman gave her a helpless look.
"Oh Eric, you're really doing wonderful. We'll just go a few more leagues and then we'll head back to Daddy's." Ariel said with a beatific smile. She still couldn't get over the fact that her home for sixteen years under the sea would soon no longer be hers. However, as much as it left a heavy feeling in her heart to leave her father and sisters, she would do anything to be with her one true love, Eric.
And it was really saying something that Eric was so tolerant and accepting of her aquatic heritage. He even proposed that they should spend Christmas with her family under the sea. Of course, that meant Eric had to earn a new set of fins in order to last the trip. So with a wave of his majestic trident, King Triton granted the couple such, simply delighted that he got to spend time with his youngest daughter and his soon to be son-in-law. Well, more likely he was happy to see Ariel. Like most fathers, King Triton put his daughter on top of a pedestal and still had a few lingering restraints to keep Ariel home. But he was getting better, and Eric and King Triton were bonding in that strange way men do. In a word, it was practically a perfect situation.
'Of course it took a lot to get here.' Ariel thought with sad smile. She had to learn a harsh lesson from making a deal with the notorious sea-witch Ursula. She risked everything: her family, her heritage, and her freedom for three days and a risky chance for true love's kiss. However through that whole ordeal she got to spend time with Eric and even met some great new friends: Sora, Donald, and Goofy.
'I wonder if they'll be visiting again soon…' the mermaid princess thought wistfully. Just thinking about her great friends made her sigh in longing. Oh well, wherever they were, she hoped they were all happy and well.
"Daydreaming again Ariel?" Eric said playfully. He was quite proud of himself that he mastered the art of staying stationary in the water. When he first got down here, he couldn't stop himself from either floating or sinking when he remained motionless. However with training from his fiancé he finally got the hang of it. Now it was just the actual swimming part that made living with his new aqua-colored fin difficult.
Ariel gave a smile in embarrassment. "I was thinking of my friends. I hope they're doing okay."
"Oh those three guys? Yeah, I would imagine that they're doing fine. They really know how to take care of themselves, if the battle with Ursula is anything to go by." Eric spoke with a grin.
Ariel giggled in agreement. "Especially with the battle of Ursula! Of course, you did wonderfully too Eric."
Eric gave a pleased smile. "Ah well..I was just the one to throw a spear. Those guys did most of the damage."
The red haired mermaid gave a light pat on the former man-turned-mereman. "You're being too modest."
Eric smiled at his soon-to-be-wife and gave her an innocent kiss on the cheek. The couple looked in each other eyes for a moment until the spell was abruptly broken with a happy laugh a short distance away.
The couple turned their heads to see a familiar spiky haired teenager currently enclosed in a pair of strong arms. The arms belonged to a strange yet utterly handsome merman. He had a scar running down diagonally across his forehead and towards his left eye. Although the scar gave a little sense of alarm to the two bystanders, the honest yet small smile on the man's face erased any doubt that the younger male was in danger. To the established couple it looked like the two males were perfectly content with each other.
"Ah, Leon! Let go let go!" Sora laughed in mirth, giving a few playful tries to escape the arms around his chest.
"Not until you say 'Mickey'." Leon stated with a playful smirk. In emphasis, he attacked Sora with another barrage of tickling.
The Keyblade wielder laughed helplessly. "Okay Okay, Mickey!" He gave a few more lingering laughs as the older male released the teen. "Jeeze Leon." Sora said with a smile to the scarred man.
"You were the one who insisted on playing 'tag' of all things. I was just returning a favor." Leon said calmly, traces of his smile still evident.
"Well, I guess that's true. But hey, you've gotten much better at your swimming because of it. I say my teaching was a success." Sora grinned while giving a small 'victory' symbol.
Leon gave a slight snort. "Only you would teach someone with a game."
"What can I say, it's highly effective." Sora spoke smugly while folding his arms behind his head in nonchalance.
"Hnn." Leon ended. The Gunblade weilder then looked away from Sora to realize that they had an audience this whole time. He lifted his eyebrow as a way of acknowledgement.
Ariel was first to compose herself after realizing she had the newcomers' attention. She immediately swam up to Sora and gave him a big hug making the teen jolt a little bit at the surprise.
"I'm so happy to see you Sora! I was just thinking about you." She said after releasing the boy from her enthusiastic hug.
"Nice to see you too Ariel. But I'd thought you'd be busy with Eric to think about little old me." Sora said with a mock-pout.
"Oh I still think of Eric, what's the phrase..twenty four seven." Ariel beamed, glad she mastered another human phrase. Eric had taught some to her, seeing as how, as upcoming queen, she needed to adapt to her human environment and be able to relate to them: otherwise meaning she had to learn all the new lingos and phrases. She was more than happy to learn though, it felt like there was a new and exciting thing for her to learn about the human world everyday. "And besides, I couldn't forget one of my wonderful friends." She insisted. Then after looking at the strange merman she inquired politely. "Hello, my name's Ariel."
Leon gave a cordial nod. "My name's Leon. Nice to meet you."
Eric also introduced himself to Leon. "So…Were you dragged into swimming with a fin too Leon?" Eric asked with a sympathetic smile.
Leon gave a serious nod. "Of course. You too?"
Eric made a noise in agreement. "Yeah, my wonderful fiancé loves bossing me around." Before Ariel could protest he quickly continued with an easy going smile. "But I wouldn't have it any other way." Ariel gave a blush at that and smiled charmingly.
The other two males smiled in amusement at the innocent interaction between the betrothed couple.
Ariel then broke through the moment after forgetting she and Eric had company. "So Sora, is there something you need to do in Atlantica?"
"Yeah, I actually thought of getting a gift for my friend Yuffie. I think she would like some of those pretty sea shells I saw last time I was here. She likes shiny things." He said in explanation.
"Oh great! Where me and Eric were heading has a lot of beautiful shells. We'd be happy to go with you."
"Alright, sounds good." Sora said. And thus the two couples, one not so established, went to retrieve another Christmas gift.
"Wow, these things really shine! And I recognize this other one from my home world too." Sora exclaimed in admiration while turning over a good shard of Mother Pearl. It was fascinating how one side could look so ugly and murky when on the other side it was smooth and sparkled with a wide spectrum of color.
"I agree, they're one of my favorites too." Ariel said with her ever present smile. In her mind she remembered that she really wanted to ask Sora what his home world was like. But that conversation would hopefully come later.
"I'm just glad Yuffie's present was much easier to get than Aerith's flowers." Leon spoke up behind them. He was swimming beside Eric as both males decided to let the two friends up ahead get reacquainted.
"That sounds like there's a story behind it." Eric commented innocently. Beside him, Leon gave a nonchalant shrug. "Hnn. Nothing really happened."
Sora opened his mouth in astonishment. "As if! Leon could've died trying to get those flowers!"
"Oh no! What happened Leon? Are you alright?" Ariel asked in slight horror. She had only just met Leon, but she thought that the two had the makings of a real friendship. Plus she was a firm believer of the saying 'the friend of my friend is also my friend.'…maybe that wasn't the exact human saying, but she agreed with it whole heartedly. But regardless she wouldn't want any danger to befall her new friend.
"I'm alright Ariel." Leon said in a placating manner, secretly embarrassed and flattered that the princess worried for his welfare in an event that happened before she met him. He seriously wondered again why this princess wasn't one of the Princess's of Heart.
"Yeah, thanks to Simba. But I'm glad he was okay too." Sora said with a small smile. Honestly he was so glad Leon didn't get hurt. He couldn't imagine if Leon fell…but that didn't happen, so he refused to think of the 'what ifs' of a situation. Come to think of it, that was Leon's philosophy; not to think of the possibilities but of the true consequences of a situation. That's one of the things that made him a great leader…a great man…
Sora blushed and quickly banished his thoughts of his affections for Leon. Ariel thankfully distracted him from his musing at her next announcement.
"Hey, would you guys like to come eat a late lunch with us? I'd love to talk more with you both." Ariel invited.
Sora looked up above the surface of the water to see the sun, millions of miles away. Thanks to numerous days and nights of searching the worlds with Donald and Goofy, Sora became somewhat familiar of what time of day it was due to the sun's position. It wasn't much, but thanks to many worlds not having clocks, Sora just impulsively looked up above to see what time it was. He'd like to think it was a nifty skill to have, and now since time was of the essence before the day of Christmas, he was grateful for his choice.
And looking at it now, Sora deduced that they would be able to make two or three more worlds, four if they really hustled, for today. And two more days till Christmas. Yikes.
But looking at Ariel's hopeful smile and Eric's encouraging look, Sora decided that they could stay for another hour. 'We just might have to wake up early tomorrow…'Sora thought with a shiver at the ghastly thought.
"Yeah why not?" Sora spoke with an easygoing grin. His smile widened as Ariel gave a cheer of delight.
Whew! That was a lot huh? I hope you enjoyed the second chapter! I was going to type more but I figured since this chapter was longer than the first, I should give you guys a break. (if you read this all in one sitting, I formally give you my respect!)
Now I know you know I'm horrible at updating, so I think another chapter this week won't be realistic. (I'm so sorry!) It's definitely not you readers, it's all me. I decided that I'm literally a compulsive quitter and procrastinator...not a good combination. But! I do plan to finish this (along with a lot more projects...) so in this coming year look for more updates! I'm so grateful for everyone's patience. I'm sorry and I hope to get better at updating quicker.
Once again, I hope everyone has a merry Christmas! Be jolly, merry, and all that good stuff! :]
Oh, and reviews count as a Christmas present. xD By the way, could everyone tell me what their favorite world in Kingdom Hearts is? Thanks!