Author's Note/Disclaimer: What can I say about this recent interest in Osamu Tezuka's "Jungle Emperor Leo?" It's a bizarre story at times and no dubbed versions are consistent with each other, and yet I can't help but love a story about animals striving to find peace with human beings. Here's my first attempt at a fan fiction for it.
Notes for fellow fans: 1. I am using the names of the 1965 NBC English dub. I find them more catchy and creative than their original counterparts, despite the fact that they were only used for one version. 2. I've made it so that Kimba didn't admit his feelings to Kitty as a cub. That never made much sense to me anyway since they were both so young at the time. 3. I reference an event that only happened in the original, Japanese story arch, which actually bridges the gap between Kimba as a cub and Kimba as an adult. Hopefully it won't confuse anybody.
I do not own "Jungle Emperor Leo/Kimba the White Lion." The story created by Osamu Tezuka in his 1950 manga and has been adapted several times over since his death.
Kimba the White Lion
Deep in the heart of the jungle, the white lion paced back and forth. At long last, his cubhood friend was visiting from her jungle, and her presence sent his heart spinning around in his chest. As much as he had harbored a crush for the lioness in his younger days, he could swear that now she was more beautiful than ever.
The years had flown by for the two lions. He had changed from a happy prince into a more cold, cautious king. She had only changed from being pretty to downright gorgeous. Her caring personality shone more with her beautiful, adult lioness body.
"I've just got to tell her," he thought aloud. "I can't let her go back until she knows."
"Kimba?" a female voice called from the tangle of ferns behind the white lion.
The white lion nearly jumped out of his mane before the tan and brown lioness that had been bounding through his mind emerged from the forest and into the light of the clearing.
"Who were you talking to, Kimba?" the lioness asked.
Kimba tried to smile the kingly smile he used with everyone, but he couldn't bring himself to be completely regal around her.
"Nobody, Kitty," he said.
The lioness chuckled. "I told you, I go by Katherine now."
"You're still Kitty to me, and you always will be," the white lion said sentimentally.
Katherine paused to take a better look at her cubhood friend. She always had something of a crush on the lion that vowed to protect her from danger, even if she didn't ask for it. This lion was different–more somber–than the lion she once knew. He had witnessed the deaths of too of many jungle friends, and had turned away from humans in order to protect them. Still, his blue eyes shimmered in the starlight, just as always. Only now his beautiful white mane made those eyes glow like the moon.
She blushed and turned away as she realized that she had thought too much about his eyes. "Well, thank you," she replied to his comment.
Kimba's grin wavered as Kitty's amber eyes stared back into his. He knew that it was foolish to be so nervous around her, and yet every second that the lioness remained in his presence, his nerves were out of control.
"Kitty, listen. There's something I need to…to tell you," he started, trying so hard not to look down at his paws, which were clawing at the soft jungle earth beneath his feet.
"Yes?" she asked sweetly.
"I…I always wanted to tell you…ever since we were cubs, I…" The white lion stopped again, wanting to strike himself with a paw from acting so dumbfounded.
"Goodness, Kimba! I've never seen you nervous in all my life," Kitty said. She then laughed for seemingly no reason.
"What is it?" Kimba asked.
Kitty paused her laughter for a moment, only to chuckle intermittently while speaking. "Remember how scared we were of that train? The one that almost ran over us when we were looking for Uncle Specklerex?"
Kimba chuckled then. "That train was awfully big."
"–And you were terrified," she added with a soft giggle. After a while though she sighed. "I miss those days."
Kimba nodded solemnly. "I do too. There was always some new adventure to be had back then."
Kitty tried to shake off her frown, and decided on letting her friend finish telling her his thoughts. "Please Kimba, tell me what's on your mind. I'd like to help you if I can."
Kimba took a deep breath then, trying to regain confidence. The lioness was, after all, his cubhood friend. She had just proven that with her memory of a childhood adventure. Maybe she would at least hear him out.
"Promise me you won't laugh or run away?"
Kitty smiled, but she couldn't help feeling a little nervous about why Kimba would think she would run away from his words. "I promise," she said.
"Well, I…I've always felt a strong…need to protect you."
"I know that."
The white lion swallowed then. "And I've known for a long time that that need was because of s-something…more. A-and now I know that it's b-because I…I love you."
"What?" Kitty exclaimed, sure that she had heard him wrong. Surely the great white lion had many options for a mate besides her. Why would he want her, of all lions?
"I said…I love you," he repeated.
Kitty merely blinked, stunned at Kimba's confession. However, as a few seconds went by, all she could think was, He loves me! He loves me!
However Kimba took her silence as disapproval. Kitty must have chosen another lion from her homeland, or if not, she just wanted to remain friends. His heart sunk as he said, "I understand."
"What?" Kitty said, still dazed while it seemed as though butterflies danced in her stomach.
"Why did I even bother to tell you?" he said. "I should have known."
"Kimba!" the lioness yelped, realizing that he believed she wasn't interested. Her cry had caught his attention, as it always had.
The lions paused and looked at each other for a long time. Then Kitty made a few lightning fast steps toward the white lion and nuzzled his chin. She looked into his blue eyes and whispered, "I love you too."
Kitty's touch already had his heart racing, but her answer made it pound away in his head. "You do?" he asked.
The lioness merely nodded and nuzzled his mane gently. She wanted to stay there, nestled in his soft, white mane forever.
Unfortunately for her, Kimba was so filled with joy that he couldn't just sit there. He had to run and release that joy. And so he did, springing into a leap and bounding away with a mighty roar of triumph.
Kitty smiled at her new mate's happiness and roared in reply. She took off running after him, following him deep into the jungle. She kept up with him, even running ahead of him at times, until they reached the rocky view that looked over the river, and lay down side by side for the rest of the night.