Hello, hello, friends! Please don't ask where this insanity came from, I'm not quite sure. Well, other than avoiding my summer homework by watching remakes of 80's cartoons. So, yes, this is based on the 2011 version.
Apparently, I'm completely unable to write multi-chapter fics due to distraction. Sorry. I think I'll stick to one-shots.
Surprisingly, I haven't seen very much Tygra/Cheetara fanfiction out there. So I decided to make one! Except, it didn't really end up Tygra/Cheetara. It's more like "Tygra/Cheetara-if-you're-really-squinting-and-interpreting". Ehehehe...
I enjoy your reviews very much. I also take criticism well. (After all, if someone doesn't tell me what I'm doing wrong, how can I get any better?)
Thanks for taking the time to read!
"…The attacks have been few and far between, and have been dying off as of late. Still, I think we should keep a heightened watch of the walls, just to be safe," the young cleric finished her report to Jaga.
The ancient jaguar nodded sagely, considering her words as the two walked along the palace halls. A few months back, Lizards had begun to attack the walls of Thundera in an attempt to get into the great city of the cats. They were relatively minor, and easily fended off. However, almost every cat in the city was tired of waking up in the middle of the night to fight, or taking extra watch duties, or worrying if their loved ones were going to come back or not. A few weeks ago, the king had ordered the number of guards posted on the walls halved; a grave mistake, as that very night, a group of lizards had attacked and had nearly gotten through the western defenses before reinforcements arrived.
Cheetara was most likely right. Lowering the defenses at this point would be a terrible idea. However, as Jaga opened his mouth to tell her that she was right, an (unfortunately) not-so-surprising sight greeted his eyes.
Leaning against a wall, his form emphasized by the sunlight, was Tygra, the adopted son of the king. He was smirking, with his striped arms crossed over his chest, and speaking - or more likely flirting - with a pretty young cat. She did not appear to be completely interested, but Tygra was persistent. When he saw the two of them, he had the audacity to not even be embarrassed - instead, he turned slightly to grin at them before returning to what he was doing.
Next to him, Jaga could see Cheetara digging her claws into her palms. A sigh escaped her lips, and he could almost imagine a vein popping out slightly on her forehead. As soon as they were out of earshot, she let out a hiss under her breath. "Can't he even act like a prince?"
Apparently, his father was having similar thoughts, they realized as they passed by the throne room. "He needs to learn to take his duties as prince seriously!" The king's thunderous voice echoed out the slightly open door.
"Sire, keep in mind, he's at that age when he's going to want to rebel," came another voice, obviously trying to calm him. "He is not of your blood, perhaps he thinks these duties do not apply to him. Try to give him a little freedom."
"It doesn't matter that he's not my true son!" Always a touchy subject among the royal family, wasn't it? "He's going to have an important position here someday, and he needs to take it seriously! And what of Lion-O? No matter how much he may deny it, he looks up to his brother. What kind of example is Tygra setting for our future king?"
Slowly, Jaga began to smile, and a twinkle came into his eyes that made him look years younger. Automatically, Cheetara became wary.
"You are on the night watch tonight, aren't you, Cheetara?" He glanced down at the cloaked cleric.
"I am…" Came the careful response. What was he thinking?
"You had better get some rest before you leave, then. We can't have you sleeping on duty. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an idea…" With that, the old cat slipped into the throne room, leaving behind a very confused Cheetara.
The answer to her questions came when she reached the outer walls of the palace. As she went to climb the steps to the top to keep watch, a messenger from Jaga stopped her.
"He wants me to what?" She couldn't have really heard what she thought she heard.
"The king wants you to have Prince Tygra on the night watch."
The messenger held up his hands defensively. "I don't know," he replied, cowering slightly beside the wrath of a cleric. "I'm just delivering the message."
Cheetara took a deep breath and closed her eyes. It wasn't the messengers fault, he was only delivering the message. Slowly, she opened her eyes again, much less frustrated. "Isn't the king worried about his son's safety?"
The messenger only shifted his weight from one paw to the other. "I think the king believes that his son will be safe with a cleric."
Cheetara dismissed the messenger before turning to climb the stone steps. Wonderful. She didn't mind taking the night watch. In fact, in some ways, she enjoyed it. Unfortunately, now she was saddled with the job of babysitting the king's son.
Cheetara had a feeling that it was going to be a very long night.
The first stars were beginning to peek their heads out from under night's cloak when Tygra arrived. He was yawning and looked rather tired. Obviously, he was not taking the night watch seriously, and did not appear to have slept at all during the day.
Unfortunately, he perked up when he saw her. "Hello, there. I take it you're here to protect me?" He smirked and winked at her.
Having already resolved to not let this night get under her skin, lest it be even longer than she anticipated, Cheetara merely quirked an eyebrow at him, even though he wouldn't be able to see it under her mask. "You should get that eye twitch looked at by a healer. It can't be healthy to have it doing that all the time." That mollified him for a moment, until she started moving into the city.
"Wait, where are we going?" the confusion was evident in his voice.
"Into the city." Obviously.
"Isn't it dangerous at night?"
Cheetara whirled on him, her cloak trailing behind her, and studied his expression. He did not appear to be afraid, but…there was something in his expression that made her feel sorry for him. He was a prince, sheltered from the world. How often did he come out here?
"Want a better look?" His expression changed quickly into a cocky, self-assured one. "You can admire me whenever you please."
Cheetara scowled at him. Self-centered, wasn't he? Still, her pity for him didn't diminish. He didn't understand the plight of the average cat. He didn't know what it was like to be afraid to walk the streets at night, to not know where his next meal was coming from. Still, if fears weren't as great in his life, didn't that mean joys and happiness would also be diminished? He would never know the kindness of a random stranger passing by, or how happy his family could make him in the darkest of times, because he had never had those dark times. He had been pampered and protected his entire life.
She turned away before he could see her pity. He wouldn't understand it even if she explained it to him.
"The city is always dangerous. Everything has the capacity to be dangerous," she replied to his question before turning and stepping into the square.
The night went on peacefully. Tygra was quiet, except for the occasional flirtation or attempt to get her to pay attention to him. There was one time when he said something about the houses being made of the husks of giant fruit, just to see if she was paying attention. She was, but didn't comment on it. After that, he lapsed into silence.
Cheetara was glad of the quiet. It left her some peace for her own thoughts. Though, the city was strangely silent tonight. Nothing seemed to move, except for the occasional cat rushing to get home to their family. The only sounds were of cats snoring in their beds, or of the breeze blowing something in the ground. There didn't even seem to be anyone in need to help. There were no pickpockets with their hands searching for coins, no ancient cats collapsed in the streets far from home. Cheetara marked it up to exhaustion after fighting the Lizards for so many weeks, and decided to take the silence as a gift rather than something to be wary of. Still, her guard was up.
The silence was broken by a piercing shriek when the moon was three-quarters of the way to it's zenith. Immediately, Cheetara was on guard, her hands gripping her staff as she tried to pinpoint where the cry had come from.
"This way," she was speaking more to herself as she broke out into a run, turning into the entryway to the slums. Tygra followed after her. Unfortunately, there was no way he was going to be able to keep up with her, so she turned to him.
"Stay here. Don't move until I get back," she ordered before whirling around and sprinting toward the sound.
The sound had originated near the center of the slums, and that was where she found trouble. Laying on the ground to her right, and if she had been tossed there, was a tiny, squalling cub, tears running down her round cheeks.
"Leave me alone!" The voice was scared, terrified, even. It came from a cat who was backed into a corner. A tom at least three times her size had his hand wrapped around her arm. Even from here, the scent of ale wafting off him was overpowering enough to make her nose wrinkle.
"Nuh-uh," he slurred. "Your husband's gunna pay a lotta money to get you and yer brat back." Then, he grinned to himself. "The boss'll be happy with me when 'e figers out all I did fer 'im. Maybe he'll even gimmee a reward. Now, come with me, an' yer brat'll be fine."
"No! Go away!" The voice rose in pitch as the cat began to panic. It was time to step in.
"Let her go!" Cheetara leaped forward to smash her staff against the side of the burly cat's head. The force of the blow was enough to make him stumble sideways and release the other cats arm. She quickly wrapped her arms around herself, eyes wide as she watched the scene unfold.
The tom stumbled back to his feet, swaying slightly. "Yer gonna regret that!" he roared, charging at her. However, inebriation made him slow and clumsy, and it was an easy matter to dodge out of the way and smack her staff across the backs of his knees. He fell to the ground and stayed there, groaning in pain.
At that point, Cheetara turned back around to the poor cat he had been attacking. "Are you all right?" she asked gently.
She didn't respond, her eyes fixed off in the distance, her pupils huge and round from fear. Well, she had just suffered a terrifying experience, there was no reason for her to be acting normally. Though, that cub was screaming louder than ever…Slowly, the horror of the situation dawned on her as she turned around.
There stood the cat, holding up the cub by the back of her neck, with a dagger pressed to her throat.
"Drop the staff," he growled. For a moment, her hand tightened around the polished piece of wood before letting it slip from her grasp. It fell in a clatter to the ground.
"If you do what I say, then we'll all be fine and walk out of this situation alive." This was it. She had failed. The cat and the child would be forced to go with him, and she would most likely be forced to do the same. The poor cat's husband would most likely pay the ransom for his wife and child, but her? A stranger? Doubtful. They would kill her mercilessly. Jaga had made a mistake when he had chosen to make her a cleric.
A snapping sound disrupted her thoughts, and her head darted up. A length of cord had wrapped around the attacker's wrist, the one that held the cub. All of a sudden, it went taught, and the cat was pulled forward, forcing him to drop the cub. Cheetara darted forward and caught the child, rolling to take the shock of the fall. Only when she was on her feet again did she turn to find her savior.
The assailant had become completely off-balance after the surprise attack. He gave a drunken, "Huh?" before turning wildly, trying to find who had wrecked his plan.
He quickly made himself known. The shadows that hid his striped form like a cloak slipped away as he stepped into the light. Royal clothes, a whip coiled in his palm…Tygra! Didn't she tell him to stay back in the market district? Apparently he hadn't listened. She figured she would forgive him just this once.
Unfortunately, he had put her in a terrible position for fighting. She had dropped her staff on the other side of the drunken tom, and she had a shrieking child in her arms. That left Tygra as the only one between the attacker and the original victim.
Thankfully, he could take care of himself, as she soon figured out. As the other cat charged at him, slashing with his knife, Tygra grabbed his arm, pressing down on the wrist to force him to drop the knife, and twisted his arm behind his back. He then turned him and pressed him up against the wall of a nearby building. Unfortunately, the other tom was not expecting the sudden movement and bashed his head against the stone, effectively knocking him out.
For a moment, the street was silent. Then, the mother stepped forward, shaking and wiping tears from her eyes, to take her cub back from Cheetara, thanking her quietly. She hushed the child until she quieted her screaming into frightened whimpering. Then, she turned to Tygra.
Still shaking, she approached him carefully. Then, in a sudden movement, she grabbed his paw and kissed the back of it before pressing her forehead. "Thank you so much, prince. Who knows what would have happened to us if you had not been there," she whispered before standing and turning to hurry home.
For a long time, he stared after her, a strange expression on his face.
After a moment, Cheetara walked up to him and rested a hand on his arm, waiting for him to look at her. "She's right. That situation could have been very bad if you had not been there. Thank you."
Strangely enough, he didn't give a cocky remark or wink. He just stared down at her and nodded, seeming almost dazed.
Cheetara wasn't quite sure what to do with this strange, new, quieter Tygra. So, she patted his arm and beckoned him toward the exit of the slums.
The rest of the night was much less eventful. They had to break up a bar fight, reprimand a couple of pickpockets, help a lost cub find his home. Thankfully, nothing as serious as the first situation of the night.
Throughout it all, Tygra was quiet. Not quiet like he was earlier, which was more of a sulking quiet. Instead, he looked to be deep in thought. Cheetara decided to leave him to his thinking, only speaking to him when he began to fall behind.
Finally, when the moon had finished three quarters of its journey, they returned to the palace.
"You did well tonight. I'll let you get some rest," she told him. Tygra seemed almost shocked to be back.
As she turned to return to the city Tygra spoke. "I want to thank you."
This surprised her. She turned back to him, confused. "Why?"
For a moment, he was quiet. "I've realized why Father wanted me to take the night watch. Every cat…no, every creature in this city…they depend on you. For all you know, you could be the only thing that stands between them and danger, possibly. Even if I'm not going to be king-" a slightly bitter subject, by the tone of his voice, "-these cats are going to depend on me, are going to need me. And I…" He paused for a moment, searching for the words. "I want to be there for them. I don't want to fail them."
And then, he smiled at her. Not grinned, not smirked, there wasn't even a flirtatious wink in there - just a genuine, warm smile. And, somehow, she couldn't help but smile back, even if he wouldn't be able to see it under her mask.
"Maybe, someday, you will understand…" she murmured before turning to leave.
She could hear him calling after her, though. "Wait! What's your name?" She just chuckled to herself and pretended she couldn't hear him, slipping back into the shadows of the city.
The night watch really had changed Prince Tygra for the better. As far as she heard, he was never late to anything again. He began to respect his father, as well as Jaga, and take their teachings to heart. The cats of Thundera loved him. Cheetara had a feeling that, though they were growing apart more and more every day, some of the ideas Tygra had learned had rubbed off on Lion-O, and occasionally she would hear a rumor about the younger prince defending some poor cat in a back alley. The very thought made her smile.
Of course, she would still come across him in the halls flirting with some cat or other, which led to a lot of head shaking and sighing in exasperation on her part. She supposed some things never change.
In a few months, everyone had forgotten who the old Tygra was, and could only see the shiny, new, beloved one. It was probably for the best. Still, though everyone else would not remember, she would. She would remember who he used to be, and she would remember the night that changed him.