***Author's Note: ***

Hey everyone, I've been reading these things for a while and I thought I'd share one of my ideas. This is my first fanfic about a teenager coming into the pridelands right in the beggining of the first movie and becoming friends with Nala. Hope you enjoy!

***Chapter 1***

**********A New World**********

Alex opened his eyes and looked around what was left of the small plane he had been flying in. Many windows were broken in and there were multiple dents in the walls. He began to remember the chaotic events of the thunderstorm the night before. It was too quiet. There were no screams of terror that had filled the coach only hours earlier. It was unsettling.

"Hello? Is anyone there?" Alex called in vain. It was obvious that none of the three other passengers were around, or at least conscious. He fumbled with his seat belt and got to his feet, ignoring the many bruises and cuts. All his joints moved well and with little pain, despite the crash landing. A sharp sound to his rear made him instinctively turn and face the potential threat. A small brown and black bird had flown through the window and was staring at him from the headrest it was perched on. It chirped twice and flew out the window on the opposite side. As Alex watched the bird leave, his eyes rested on a pair of legs protruding from a row of seats several rows back and his body grew tense as he approached them. He looked down at the body with dread, and realized that his guide, Mark, was dead. The dried blood that had been flowing from the grey-haired head made Alex nauseous. He had been around dead things before, he'd gone hunting, gutted his own animals, and eaten them. But a dead man was something he hadn't seen before. He concluded from the head injury that Mark must not have been buckled into his seat, and had hit the ceiling when the plane smashed into the ground.

"Help! Is anybody here?" He called again, feeling panic start to set in. Alex maneuvered up the aisle and found his two friends sprawled against the sides of the fuselage with similar wounds. He remembered how they were scrambling back to their seats as the plane flew through the storm. Turbulence knocked them to the ground every time they stood, and when the lights went out it became impossible for them to find anything to hold onto. He remembered how he had tried to unbuckle in order to help them, but kept losing grip on the release lever every time the turbulence hit. In a last ditch effort to find help, Alex looked into the cockpit only to find the pilot skewered through the chest by an eight-inch branch. It was all too graphic, so Alex kicked open the door, stumbled away from the wreck, and puked into the weeds. After he regained control, he became aware of the African savannah he was now standing in. He had wanted to see the plains, but not like this. The camping trip he was heading for in Eastern Africa now seemed significantly less important.

He was the sole survivor of the plane crash, and he knew he should feel relieved for his remarkable lack of injuries, but all he felt was immense guilt and sadness. There must have been something he could have done, something that could have saved them. Time became nonexistent as he sat there, lost in despair and self pity. The situation seemed bleak. Not only was he alone, but he was in the middle of Africa, one of the most brutal and unforgiving environments in the world. Eventually Alex noticed the height of the sun and went to retrieve his stowed backpack from the cargo hold. The following hours were spent burying the dead and taking inventory of his gear. He began to count his blessings as he spread out his equipment. Alex was an outdoorsman and brought his own stuff. From his backpack he pulled his survival knife, cord, flint, and other essentials which he knew would make a huge difference in the Savannah. Normally these types of items would not be allowed anywhere near a plane, but the pilot was the owner and knew they were going camping. He disn't mind as long as it wasn't in his carry-on bag. The night soon came and Alex laid down next to his small campfire. He reluctantly allowed himself to fall asleep to the sounds of night predators and their protesting prey.

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The early sunrise made Alex cringe and roll over. He slowly got up, ran his fingers through his short brown hair, and made sure all his stuff was still there. It was, and he pulled the backpack onto his moderately broad shoulders. He figured that the nearest village couldn't be too far away, so he started walking. He rested periodically and caught some small rodents to stave off his hunger. The animal trails he used made the move easier, but the summer heat and humidity soon began to wear on his sixteen year-old body. As he walked he thought about his life back home. His parents would be worried out of their minds and his teachers, at least the ones that liked him, would be worried too. His karate master would care, and so would his teammates from football. But ultimately it didn't matter if anyone cared. They couldn't help him, he was alone. Eventually Alex got to the top of one of the only hills in the area and looked around. The view was stunning. A herd of antelope grazed in the distance and the sun beat down on their golden backs. The sapphire sky was dotted with exotic birds that called each other with their own unique calls. Suddenly Alex didn't feel so bad. His friends and family couldn't help him now, but maybe they already had. His dad taught him how to hunt and live off the land. His teachers challenged his intelligence and made him build on his existing inventiveness. His master taught him how to fight, granted against people, but he figured the same principles applied to animals as well. Maybe he'd be alright.

As he was walking he picked up a stick and started whittling. In not too much time he had removed the bark and removed its defects. Alex started spinning his new staff, practicing his karate techniques as he walked. Its weight and balance became familiar in his hands and soon he held it like he had used it all his life. He was just considering taking a rest, when a shriek split the calm morning. Alex froze and listened.

"HELP!" came the sound to his left. It sounded like a young girl and he sprinted toward the cry though the neck high grass. He burst into a clearing to find four hyenas advancing toward a little lion cub. The yellowish cub was backed up against a pile of boulders, and was franticly looking in vain for a route to escape by. Alex stopped in slight confusion at the scene, and was frozen with amazement when the cub cried out for help again.

"What buddy?" asked one of the hyenas. "You got somtin ta say?"

"Back Off!" demanded Alex. He had no idea what in hell was going on, but he wasn't about to let a bunch of dogs kill a cub. He dropped his bag and tightened his grip on the staff, while widening his stance.

"Okay tough guy, I'll play wit ya!" said another hyena as he turned towards the teenager.

The dog-like creature leapt towards Alex and was intercepted in mid-air by the end of the staff. The blow sent him sprawling to the side and caught the attention of the other three. Alex struck them with powerful strikes, each movement flowing into the next, just as he learned in karate. The first Hyena that he struck down got back up and charged him from behind. Alex turned and got his staff up to block, but was knocked to the ground by the animal's weight. He kept its jaws away from his throat with the staff and kicked the dog over his head. Unfortunately, the hyena didn't relax its grip on Alex's staff and pulled it out of his hands. Alex quickly got to his feet to meet the next attacker and punched the hyena with enough force to send it reeling back. The two hyenas that were not reeling in pain charged simultaneously with the hopes of catching Alex off guard. He was able to kick the first one away, but the second hyena bit into his left arm and held on tightly. He quickly drew his knife from his belt and thrust it into the creature's shoulder. It wasn't a mortal wound, but it was enough pain to make the Hyena release his arm. Wanting his longer range weapon Alex leapt towards his staff and rolled to avoid an attack from one of the beaten hyenas. He grabbed the staff and went on guard facing the four assailants, each of which looked at the stick with fear. They now knew the damage it could inflict, and wanted nothing more to do with it. They began to back up and eventually took off into the grass.

Alex turned to the young cub who was still huddling under the boulders paused to catch his breath.

"Are you okay?" he asked feeling a bit ridiculous for addressing a lion cub.

"Are… are you going to hurt me?" asked the little thing as she looked up at him.

"Of course not!" cried Alex. "What's your name? Do you live around here?" He slowly walked towards her and knelt down to meet her gaze.

"I'm Nala… I live that way." she responded as she pointed off to into the distance.

"Well Nala, my name is Alex. How about we go find your parents and get you home?"

"I think that's a good idea." The cub smiled at him and started walking the way she pointed, "That was pretty cool by the way! I can't wait to tell Simba."

Alex laughed to himself at how easily she shook of her fear and followed her down what seemed to be a narrow foot trail. He winced as he wrapped his bleeding forearm with some scrap cloth. As they walked, Nala told Alex all about the Pridelands, which he assumed to be her home. in exchange, he told her about his home, and fascinated her with the stories of cities and lights.

"But how do you get the stars into the glass ball?" she asked.

"It's really complicated" he struggled, "I don't really understand it myself, but it works and it keeps it light at night." His answer seemed to satisfy her because she quickly changed the subject.

"HEY! Let's play tag! You're it!" Without another word Nala jumped into the bushes and vanished.

Alex sighed reluctantly, but dropped his pack and ran in after her. He found under a small tree holding perfectly still. He was impressed by her discipline and waited a moment before running at her. Nala saw him burst from the grass and yelped in excitement. She tried to run but was too slow to avoid being tagged.

"Now you're it!" Alex laughed as he took off back towards his backpack. Nala ran close to his legs and made him trip as he bumped into her. They both went sprawling into the soft grass and started laughing.

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They continued their journey in the direction Nala had pointed, playing various games on the way. Their destination became obvious to Alex when he saw the massive stone extruding from the ground like a massive monument to the gods. After some time, Nala became tired and Alex carried her on his shoulders. He fell into step with her rhythmic breathing and soft purrs. Her soft fur felt pleasant on Alex's neck, and he smiled to himself at how quickly she had crashed from her previous state of excitement. After about an hour Nala awoke and got down once they started to get close to Priderock, She started walking faster and called for her parents to tell them of her adventures.

"MOM!...MOM!" she called like a young human child.

"I guess a kid's a kid no matter the species." muttered Alex to himself in amusement. An adult lioness trotted over towards them from the direction of the rock, and Alex became aware of multiple others lying in the shade of nearby trees.

"Nala! There you are! We were looking all over for yo…." Nala's apparent mother froze as she made contact with Alex. Her eyes narrowed and her ears folded tight to her head. Alex tightened his grip on his staff, growing more nervous as more lionesses noticed this unwanted human in their presence.

"Mom" started Nala, talking too fast to be easily understood, "Iwaswalkingonthetrailand …

"Woah Nala, slow down." demanded her mother, never breaking eye contact with Alex, who was beginning to question the wisdom of taking Nala home. Nala took a deep breath and started again.

"Okay. I was walking on the trail by the waterhole and a bunch of Hyenas started chasing me. They almost got me, but Alex came out and beat them up! They were gonnaattack me buthecame ! It was awesome!" She paused to catch her breath again and Alex took the opportunity to explain himself.

"I just wanted to uh…. make sure she got home safely. If you…um…. could point me towards the nearest human village, I'll head out."

"My name is Sarafina and thank you for helping my daughter" began her mother, her posture relaxing a bit seeing that he didn't mean any harm. "As far as villages go, I don't know of any very nearby. Perhaps you could talk to our queen, Sarabi. Here, I'll take you to her."

Alex followed Sarafina and Nala who was entertaining herself by running in between both her mother's and Alex's legs, periodically making them stumble over her. Alex was very aware of the many lionesses staring at him as he walked toward the base of the massive rock. He was stunned by its many caves that ringed the base and was amazed at the depth of some of them. Nala ran ahead towards a large lioness sunbathing on one of the larger rocks.

"Hey Mrs. Sarabi?" asked Nala politely, "Is Simba back from the thing with his dad yet?"

"Not yet my dear." She responded just as politely. "And where have you been all morning?"

"Fighting hyenas!" Sarabi chuckled, not having noticed Alex yet.

"Did you get a bunch of the mangy things?"

"No, they were trying to eat me, Alex fought them all! Nala gestured towards me and Sarabi's face became a bit more pale, despite the fur, as she realized that Nala was not playing pretend.

"Sarabi, this is Alex," Sarafina introduced. "He fought off the hyenas that were attacking Nala." Sarabi's expression softened as she leapt down from her rock.

"Well you have our thanks Alex."

"It was no problem," he said, gaining confidence with her praise. "I was looking for a nearby human settlement if you could direct me to one." Sarabi frowned and looked towards the horizon.

"I think you may be out of luck young man. There was a small tribe of Swahili towards the sunrise, but they left many years ago. The closest village is over a week away and it isn't accessible this time of year. The River has swollen and is too wild to cross. I'm sorry." Alex's hopes sunk with her words and he struggled to find the proper thanks.

"Uh…. Okay. Thank you…. I'll… I'll just go I guess."

"Mom? Why can't he stay here?" piped up Nala. "He did save my life!" Sarabi and Sarafina smiled at Nala and then at each other. Sarabi turned to me.

"I don't see why he couldn't. After all, he is our guest. However, it's not up to me, it's up to Mufasa. We'll ask him when he gets back."

"Thank you very much... I really aprec…"

"Can Alex come play with me? PLEEEEAAAASE?" Nala interrupted.

"You are very welcome Alex, and yes Nala, you can go play." Sarabi smiled with the patience only a mother could possess. Alex followed Nala towards a shady group of trees and started thinking. He wasn't quite sure how he felt about staying with a pride of lions. They all seemed nice enough, but it just seemed dangerous. What if they got hungry in the middle of the night and wanted a snack? Would he stay the honored guest that he was then? Or would he become an entrée? One or two hyenas was fine, but he doubted he could even injure a lion if it came down to a fight for survival.

They played for some time under the trees, Nala pouncing on Alex's hand and repeatedly beating him in tag. Nala's bottomless pool of energy reminded him of his late friends and sent a wave of grieft over him. Nala must have noticed because she remarked on his change in attitude.

"Why are so sad all of a sudden? Are you crying?"

"It's nothing," he lied while regaining control, "My eyes just aren't used to the air around here." Although the memories were close to the surface, Alex chose to avoid them for Nala's sake. He didn't want to upset her, this was his problem. They continued playing for almost an hour until Sarafina called.

"Nala! Bring Alex up here, Mufasa and Simba are back!

Alex climbed the rocks, getting more nervous as he gained elevation. Nala's parents were nice, but Mufasa was a male lion who might feel threatened by another male in the area, even if the other male wasn't of the same species. He remembered reading how lions were extremely territorial and trespassing into one's domain could easily lead to the violator's death. He hoped he was wrong. As he pulled his body over the last ledge he became aware of Sarabi's voice.

"…was looking for a nearby human village but I told him there wasn't any for quite a ways. Nala was hoping he could stay with us." Alex realized she must have just finished relaying the day's events to Mufasa. As he rose to his feet his eyes met those of a massive red-maned lion. The beast was massive and Alex had no doubt that it could easily decapitate him with a single swing. Mufasa stared at Alex for a moment, studying him, and Alex did likewise. After he got over the sheer size of the lion, he noticed the subtle softness of his deep brown eyes that seemed to peer into his soul.

"It's a pleasure to meet you Alex, welcome to our kingdom." began Mufasa with a deep booming voice that made Alex think of Darth Vader.

"Likewise your majesty." answered Alex, unsure of how to address the lion king. It must have been appropriate because Mufasa smiled gently and introduced his son who could'nt have been much older than Nala.

"It's nice to meet you Mr. Alex, can I go find Nala now Dad?" Alex admired Simba's golden fur while Mufasa dismissed his heir.

"Let's take a walk." Mufasa stated simply to Alex after Simba ran off. They headed off into the savannah with the sun still high.

"I really don't mean to intrude; I just was looking for some sort of direction."

"Don't be apologetic, you saved my future daughter in-law and kicked out those poachers. If anyone is to be gracious it should be me." Mufasa's logic was hard to refute so Alex didn't press it further. "What I'm really curious about is how you got here. There aren't any villages nearby, so how did you get here?" The painful memories resurfaced as Alex contemplated the question. He took a deep breath and began.

"I was traveling with some friends…. and there was an accident a couple miles to the north. All three of them died. I should have helped them… but I wasn't able too." He sighed as tears began to well up in his eyes.

"I'm sorry. It's always difficult losing someone you care about." Mufasa gazed far off into the distance as if remembering some long ago event. "Always thinking of how you could have done something differently, something to change how things turned out. But in the end there is nothing you can do except pray for them. Accept that you did your best under the circumstances and move on. Look to the future." Alex was shocked by the lion's wisdom.

"I guess you guys deal with death a lot out here."

"More than we'd like too, but it's a part of our lives. We could not live if we didn't kill the antelope, nor could they live without killing the grass. We live in a careful balance of life and death; living to kill other creatures, and dying to keep them alive. If any one species in the kingdom becomes too large, or takes in too much, it compromises the well being of the entire Pridelands. We have to keep the balance, or let the kingdom die." Alex was fascinated by Mufasa's philosophy and waited for him to tell more about their way of life, but he didn't. Instead he steered the conversation back towards Alex. "What do you think about life and death Alex? You fought those hyenas without mercy and risked your life to save a little cub. How do you explain that?" Alex was silent for a while before he answered. He wasn't used to people asking him about his core beliefs on life and death.

"The way I see it, we all have a responsibility to help each other no matter the risk…. I mean, no one wants to die, but sometimes it's necessary for someone to sacrifice for the good of others. I'm not afraid to die, and I'm not afraid to stop someone who wants to hurt someone else…." Alex sighed, carefully piecing together his next words. "I'm okay with being the guy who's called on to do the more dangerous stuff because I can handle it better than most. Besides, I'd rather die for something meaningful than live knowing that I could have made a difference but didn't." I felt I had explained my beliefs well and Mufasa smiled.

"You would have made a very good lion, had your parents been a bit furrier." His comment made Alex laugh as they walked alongside a gently flowing river. The vast beauty of the Pridelands was stunning to the foreigner, and he asked many questions regarding the animals and the land. Mufasa was very patient with all of his questions and seemed to be enjoying himself as the sun started to set. The human and lion duo were on their way back to Priderock deep in conversation when Zazoo showed up.

"Sire! I've been looking all over for you!" exclaimed the bird with stressed impatience.

"What's the matter Zazoo? Is everyone alright?" Mufasa's casual attitude had been replaced with a new authoritative demeanor that Alex assumed made him a good leader.

"They're fine for the moment sire, but the elephants are waiting for your decision regarding their new trail! You need to get back to them immediately!" Mufasa sighed, obviously annoyed by Zazoo's urgency, and Alex laughed to himself at the hornbill's fretting.

"I'll deal with that tomorrow; right now I'm heading home."

"But sire!"

"Not now Zazu, I'm tired. Go fly back to Priderock and tell Sarabi to prepare a spot for Alex tonight." He turned to face the teenager and continued. "You can sleep in the main room with the pride tonight; tomorrow we'll find you an unoccupied cave for you to have a more permanent residence in." Zazoo flew away reluctantly and disappeared into the dimming light.

"Thank you Mufasa, but I can't stay long; I need to find a village or somewhere to contact my family."

"When the west river calms at the end of the season I'll show you to the village, but until then I insist that you stay with us." It was obvious that Mufasa had made up his mind about the matter, so Alex simply accepted his terms and thanked him.

Shortly thereafter, they arrived back at Priderock and found Sarabi and the cubs waiting for them. Nala jumped to her feet at the sight of Alex and pranced towards him. Simba followed a little behind her, more interested with his father than Alex.

"My mom said he can sleep next to us! This is gonna be soooo much fun!" Nala exclaimed, obviously ecstatic over having gained a new playmate.

"Go ahead and follow her, she knows where to go." smiled Mufasa. "And goodnight."

Alex responded "Thank you, I'll see you in the morning." and turned to follow Nala. She led him to the main cave in the massive spire of rock and showed him where she and Sarafina slept. It was surprisingly warm and Alex began to relax his tensions as he lay on the smooth stone. These lions weren't going to eat him. In fact, he might just gain some really close friends. "This might actually be kind of fun." He thought right before he fell asleep.