"I can't believe they won't let me in the room."
"It's a tradition, little brother."
"Well it's a dumb one." Lion-O turned around in the long hallway and continued to make his way back to his originally starting point, which was next to his brother in front of a large door. "Keeping my out here isn't helping anything. And what if something goes wrong?"
"Well even if something did go wrong, I don't think you could do much considering you don't have the slightest clue how to bring a cub into the-." Tygra stopped midsentence when his younger brother shot him a glare. He cleared his throat, wanting to laugh. He could give his brother the hardest time in the world right now, but the anticipation of becoming a father was already doing the job for him. So he decided to cut him some slack. "Relax, she'll be fine. Besides, Cheetara is a tough woman."
Lion-O sighed and leaned against the wall. Of course she was; he had been constantly reminding himself of that since yesterday afternoon when one of the servants came bursting into his office babbling about how the queen had gone into labor. Lion-O, being ecstatic and frightened all at once, bolted towards Cheetara's and his bedroom, running into nearly every wall on the way and slipping on almost every turn. And when he did reach their bedroom, Cheetara was in the bed, perfectly composed and calm. She didn't seem at all nervous, but instead was more worried about Lion-O's disheveled behavior and the red knots forming on his forehead from when he had gotten up close and personal with some of the walls.
Regardless, she told him she would be fine and with that, she was allowed to give him one kiss before the midwives chased him out of the room.
That was eighteen hours ago.
Since then Lion-O had been waiting oh so impatiently outside of the bedroom, pacing back and forth. His brother would come and go to sit with him, but would then leave to attend to his own business, or rather, get away from his anxious brother.
They got a report every so often from one of the midwives, saying that the queen was doing just fine. But the process of childbirth was incredibly slow, and in Lion-O's twenty-four years of life, he had never been so impatient. He had tried to go back to his work to keep his mind occupied, but he couldn't focus. Instead he kept finding himself outside of the bedroom, taking small laps around the hall.
"It's been really quiet in there." Lion-O gazed at the door and then at the floor.
"The walls are virtually sound proof." Tygra scratched his ear and yawned. He hadn't been permitted to sleep much, either. "Besides that, all the women in there are just naturally calm and quiet." Tygra leaned his head back for a moment and blinked, "Now that I think about it, I don't think I've ever seen Cheetara in any kind of excruciating pain. Even if I had, she didn't seem to make a big deal out of it."
Lion-O dragged his hand down his face. His woman, the ever stoic. But he supposed that was something he adored about her. Always calm, always level-headed; down to earth, but still willing to dream a little.
She was something else, alright. She was probably the first girl he ever met that didn't think his dreams of technology were crazy. Instead she thought he was interesting. From there, they became closer by the day and he eventually got up the nerve to ask her to be his girlfriend. And being the awkward romantic he was, he totally fumbled his words; stammering and stuttering the entire time with his face as red as his hair. But despite his rough proposition, she said yes. She had thought it was endearing; rather than being a complete confident ass like so many other Thundercats she had known in the past, Lion-o was gentler and somewhat timid in a romantic sense, though he knew how to put on the charm. She thought he was sort of like a breath of fresh air.
Once they had defeated Mumm-Ra, Lion-O asked Cheetara to be his queen. She was the only person he would ever consider; the only person he would ever have. She agreed in a heartbeat and they began the long process of rebuilding Thundera.
Now they were expecting their first child; the heir to the Thunderian throne. Lion-O had been absolutely thrilled, but also incredibly conflicted. While the kingdom itself was ready for an heir, Lion-O himself felt unprepared as a father. But he came around after some time and began to feel more comfortable with the idea of becoming a father.
He paused his pacing for a moment and thought. He had been a lot of things in his life; a prince, an heir, a son of a king, a brother, a nutjob –or so people called him before technology destroyed their kingdom-, a doofus, an idiot, a leader, a lover, a boyfriend, a husband, a king, and now…he was going to be someone's father.
He shifted his weight and scratched the back of his head. He laughed a little.
"What?" Tygra asked.
"Nothing. I just had a realization is all."
"I'm gonna be a dad."
"It took you nine months to figure that out?"
"Shut up, you don't understand." Lion-O chuckled and sat down on the bench next to Tygra. His heart beat was gradually slowing down and his relaxed as he stared at the door across the hall.
After what felt like hours, Lion-O finally spoke, "…She's gonna be just fine."
"Yeah. She'll be just fine. And I was worried about your sanity, but it looks like you're gonna be just fine too."
"Was the sarcastic or were you being sincere?" Tygra glanced at him from the corner of his tired eyes.
Lion-O smirked, "Both." As snarky and annoying as his older brother was, even he deserved decent thanks once in a while. After all, Lion-O probably would have worn a hole in the floor if Tygra hadn't told him to sit down a couple of times.
"Whatever, little brother." Tygra stood up, passing Lion-O a classic smirk, "But I gotta go take care of some more work, and if I'm lucky, maybe get some sleep."
"See you later." And with that, Tygra disappeared down the hall and around the corner, leaving Lion-O to himself.
Another hour passed without any word from any of the midwives, but Lion-O managed to remain calm. If anything had gone wrong, they would have told him. He told himself not to let himself worry unless there was reason to worry, this had become his mantra in the past hour.
The young king's head jerked up when he saw the door open and a midwife pop out, wiping her hands on her apron. "Congratulations, my lord! It's a boy!" For a split second the lion's nerve endings shot out and he was numb, only to start back up again in a frantic excitement. He let out a breath he didn't even know he was holding and smiled. "And what about-?"
"And Cheetara doing just fine!" she patted her king on the back as the rest of the midwives began to exit the room, giggling at the site of the relieved expression on their ruler's face.
"C-can I go in and see her, uh, them?" He stood up, trying to catch his racing mind.
"Absolutely. One of us will be back in check on you all in a little while." The midwife smiled and then left.
Lion-O stood still in the hall for a moment. This was it, the moment he had been waiting for for the past nine months and nineteen hours. All of the commotion was over and all that he could hear were his own thoughts echoing in his head. "This is it. Everything has changed. And the minute I open that door, there will be proof." He took a first timid step forward. "I have a son…" a smile came across his face and his timid footsteps became livelier. He grabbed the door handle and quietly pulled the door open enough to squeeze his head into the room.
Cheetara was in their bed, gazing down lovingly at a small bundle wrapped in a blanket. When she saw the door move and saw her husband peering in shyly, she smiled and laughed a little, "What are you doing all the way over there, Lion-O?"
Well when she asked it like that, he honestly had to question it himself. It was his room after all, and his wife and son. There was no real reason to be loitering in the doorway, head caught in the door. "Huh…I guess I don't know." He smiled and let the rest of himself into the room. He gently closed the door behind him, so as to not interrupt the peaceful scene in front of him. Quietly, he padded his way over to the cheetah and the blanketed being swaddled in her arms.
At first, he looked at her to make sure he was okay. Her hair was braided back, but her bangs still hung over her forehead and her tired eyes. And in a way, he could have sworn she had a different feel about her. Maybe that was what people called a 'motherly glow'. But his eyes soon trailed down her arms and to the small face peering out from the blanket.
A breath caught in his throat and a soft smile came upon his lips.
The cub in Cheetara's arms was absolutely stunning in his eyes. The child had the same facial markings as Lion-O, only he had the same markings around his eyes as Cheetara, only they were brown, rather than pink. A little tuft of the red hair could be seen on top of the cubs head, just below the blanket; it would someday become a symbol of power and prestige amongst his kingdom, but for now, it was just a symbol of simple genetics.
Lion-O's smile only got bigger when he saw his son open his eyes to look at his father. Despite the teal colored eyes that had run in his family for generations, this cub defied tradition and carried his mother's fuchsia eyes. Perhaps those eyes would hold a symbolic power over his kingdom someday as well, but to Lion-O it served to give him pride. This child was his, theirs. His heart swelled as he sat down on the bed next to his little family, all the while his son never breaking eye contact with his father. The cub gazed up at the larger lion in curiosity, while the lion only stared back.
"Lion-O," Cheetara spoke softly, a smile playing at her lips. "Would you like to hold him?" she knew he was too absorbed in the moment to fully comprehend everything, but maybe things would start to fall into place once he actually held his son.
"Um… Oh, uh yeah!" he chuckled at himself. He almost forgot he had the right to hold the being who shared his genes. He leaned over and gently took his son from his wife's arms and leaned back against the headboard of the bed next to her. He held the cub just like they had practiced and he took a closer look at him; his son taking the same advantage. The cub made the first move by wiggly his arms out of the blanket and reaching up towards his father.
At first, Lion-O was taken aback, but smiled and followed his son's lead. "Hey there, little guy." He gently brought his clawed fingers to his son's exposed arms. He let out a small laugh, "I guess I'm your dad." He glanced over at Cheetara, who retained a small giggle, as to not interrupt the moment before her.
The cub reached out a little further and Lion-O caught sight of his upper arm. Gently he pushed the blanket back a little and he laughed.
"What is it?" Cheetara leaned over to inspect her child, hoping nothing was wrong with him.
"He has spots!"
Cheetara leaned forward a little bit more to inspect her child, and grinned, "I guess he does!" She leaned back then shot her husband a playful glare. "And what's so wrong with spots?"
"Nothing!" he tried to muffle his laughter, "It's just- it's so unexpected, but it's cute!" he brushed the blanket over his head back to see little flecks of black spots in his hair, which only caused the cub's father's melodic laughter to continue.
The baby didn't know what was so funny; he didn't even know what funny was. But he was in tuned enough to know what laughter was a jovial thing, and in turn, he began to giggle along with his father.
After the laughter died down, Cheetara reached over and stroked the cub's arm. "So what are we gonna name him?" he exchanged a look with the lion next to her. "We talked about some boy names, right?"
"Yeah." He gazed at his son in thought, hoping to recall a few of the names they had considered. Since the child wasn't just a lion, but a cheetah as well, lion based names were out of the question. They had considered names that could fit any kind of cat; names involving fangs and claws. But they had also played with the idea of mixing names from both heritages. Which, after finally seeing their son, it only made sense to honor both sides.
"We came up with some names for mixed heritages, right?" Lion-O looked over at his wife, hoping she could remember what the names were.
"We did, but I think we only liked one." She paused and brushed her thumb over the cub's cheek, "Lio-Tah."
"Lio-Tah…Yeah, I liked that one." He readjusted his son in his arms and repeated the name again out loud while looking at the infant. "Lio-Tah…I think that sounds about right."
"I think so, too." Cheetara scooted a little closer and rested her weary head on Lion-O's shoulder. The lord of the Thundercats looked away from his newly named child and to his wife. She was definitely tired and worn out. While he wasn't there to witness the birth of their child, much to his chagrin, he knew it must have taken a toll on her.
He buried his face in her spotted blonde hair and exhaled, "Thank you." He blinked tiredly, his eyelashes brushing against each blonde strand, then he glanced down at Lio-Tah. The cub was beginning to feel the side effects of fatigue as well and his eyes were slowly drooping along with his mother and father's.
"And thank you, Lion-O." she lifted her head momentarily to receive a soft kiss from the husband. "You go ahead and rest." He whispered in her hair as she lay her head back down on his shoulder. "You've done great."
As his wife and son drifted off to sleep, Lion-O stayed in the company of his little family.
Lion-O had been a lot of things in his life. He had been a prince, an heir, a son of a king, a brother, a nutjob, a doofus, an idiot, a leader, a lover, a boyfriend, a husband, a king, and now, he was somebody's father.
And that was a title Lion-O would gladly take.