A Part of Growing Up

By Seniya

There is no great deficit in the written world of poetry and prose dedicated solely to the memory of a first love. Poets, those soft hearted fools, have peddled heartbreak onto paper for centuries. With the dip of a pen, and the clenching of a wounded heart, they've immortalised hopelessness into a beautiful memory that reeks of wonder and youth.

Lion-O wasn't a poet. Rather, he was a dreamer cum warrior king, who had never given more than a second's thought to the riotous feelings buried deep within his being.

Couplets and ballads didn't matter when all this came down to, was that it hurt.

It boiled through his gut and seared at his heart, while twisting the air from his lungs until he was a soulless shell, incapable of doing anything but glaring through unblinking eyes at what he prayed was a hallucination.

Behind him, the sounds of merriment collided with the symphony of the evening bells, creating a chaos that hadn't seemed so intrusive mere moments before. He kept staring at the two cats, drenched in the silver moonlight, locked in an embrace that seemed far too intimate for his own eyes – and yet he couldn't tear himself away.

And it still hurt.

All of that wounded pride and startled rejection rose within him in a single second. Lion-O turned and rushed away, past the crowds of Elephants celebrating, far past the two lovers consumed in their private moment, deep into the cluster of trees at the edge of the settlement.

That was where he lunged for the first thing he saw, a tired fruit tree, easily a dozen years his senior. "I'dneverbetrayyou,notthen,andnotnow." He was a blasted fool! So gullible and naive!

And now, he was a terrible mess of rising self-pity and shame – because he'd loved her. That was what broke him. That knowledge was what tore at the seams of his self control until they slipped apart. He'd thought ... sworn ... with all of his untested knowledge of the world of romance, that she'd loved him back.

The tough bark of the tree fought resisted his vengeful claws, but he tugged at it until strips fell away, leaving the poor tree open and vulnerable to the horrid night- just like he was. It wasn't enough; the pain was still there, stronger even with every thud of his broken, racing heart.

Lion-O automatically reached for the sword resting at his side. The hilt was warm to the touch, and even in his frazzled mind he sensed the less than subtle increase of power that came with the accumulation of the Spirit Stone.

Well, this was it wasn't it? His bitter mind spat, this was what Tygra had wanted. This is what he sworn he'd deserved, always making Lion-O out to be a pampered prince. As if he hadn't spent his entire life in his brother's shadow. As if his pride hadn't been consistently attacked every time his father overlooked him in favour of Tygra.

His entire being shuddered with the blade's first collision with the tree. The poor old thing was no match for his rage. It stood in astonishment for only a moment before it collapsed with a healthy thud onto the leafy floor.

It wasn't fair.

"Ah," Another voice slid into his space, and his mind immediately rejected the idea. The last thing he needed right now was company. "Have you come looking for ... hmmm, well, I can't recall what I came here for."

"Anet." His voice was taunt and clipped over the rush of his unsteady breath. "I want to be alone."

"Alone?" The Elephant's breathy voice seemed to signal understanding, yet he refused to move. "Whatever in the world ..."

"You were right! What you saw ..." With all of the anger, and embarrassment and confusion bubbling within him, it was a wonder he could speak at all. "The betrayal you told me about. I saw it. He was with her. She chose Tygra."

Saying it aloud only reinforced the emptiness. He wanted to strike something again.

"What I told you about?" The voice was puzzled although not perturbed. Lion-O shook his head. It was better to have a conversation with Snarf. "I see you're upset. But," he indicated the fallen tree, "our food supply cannot bear the brunt of your anger."

"You don't understand!" Everything slipped out his mouth, "he's always gotten everything! He's always had to prove that he was better than me. He couldn't ever just let me win!"

"Win? I didn't realise we were speaking about a contest."

"Everything is a competition my brother. Ever since we were cubs ..." He trailed off, lost into the endless races, the countless arrogant remarks and snide smirks – and now this. "He's beaten me again."

"Beat you at what?"

"Forget it," Lion-O grumbled. The rage had faded a bit, now it was a constant throb, rather than a searing burst. He intended to wander further into the trees to spend the night alone with his broken heart and wounded pride. "I want to be alone."

"You are young. I don't remember much of when I was your age ... but I do remember love. A terrible thing ... a wonderful thing." There was the hint of a smile in Anet's voice.

"Not when it feels like this."

"What feels like this?"

Lion-O shook his head. "You were telling me about love."

"Ah, yes." Anet sighed with some great secret thought, "Love," although he didn't elaborate.

In the dank heat of the trees, a thick aroma rose from the silent earth. It was green and sweet. A hymn of grasses and fallen fruits; heavy in the darkness.

"You can't have love without pain. In the same way you cannot have war without sacrifice. Heartbreak is a part of growing up, and becoming a man."

Anet shuffled slowly beside him, his movements lethargic and easy. Lion-O turned to watch as he walked away. "You may not always see it, but everything in life has a purpose." The first heavy footfall collided with the passive earth. "And ... I think you should know, not many women like to think of themselves as a prize to be won."

Now that he was alone once more, Lion-O immediately scowled at the suggestion that this could ever be anything more than the fates having a terrible joke at his expense. He wasn't a child. He didn't need to grow up.

The distinct signs of his temper tantrum seemed to contradict him, so he turned away. "Why does everyone always choose him?" Everyone that mattered anyway.

The outrage had faded into the ever expanding flood of self-pity. He really couldn't imagine facing either of the two cats, but yet, standing in the forest until morning seemed foolish and weak.

He didn't have a choice, did he?

Lion-O replaced his sword and straightened his back. He'd die before he gave Tygra the satisfaction of knowing that he'd hurt him.

"I'm already grown up." He said to the rustling trees.

He'd be certain to act like it.

Author: My first Thundercats fan fic. Awww. It was truly inspired by last week's episode. I didn't think I cared who ended up with Cheetara until I saw the foolishness the writer's had dribbled and called it romance. I have no problems with Tygra and Cheetara being the main couple, however, it was poorly executed and I feel misled.

Anyways, I love Lion-O, I have a soft spot for him so I wrote this. It's no real resolution or anything, just him being hurt, acting out, hearing some advice and deciding whether or not to act on it.

I imagine the writers will spend the second season attempting to rectify those last 30 seconds, but we will see.

Reviews are always appreciated. Thanks for reading.