A/N: Don't own; so don't sue. And a fair warning, I debated on whether to mark this as Lion-O/Tygra (the family part) or Tygra/Cheetara (the romance part), but since the focus is more the brothers' relationship, it won out when I marked it.
Now, on with the show…
The Better Cat
"You know, we're going to have to settle this someday, may the best cat win." – Lion-O (The Forest of the Magi Oar)
"You betrayed me!" Lion-O screamed at his older brother, bits of bark flying past his face as he struck at the tree again.
For weeks, it had been brewing. Lion-O had been upset since their time in the elephant village, but no one could quite figure out why. Part of Tygra was glad it was finally out in the open, but was still a little stunned it was all in his direction. He replied in a calm voice, "I'm sorry I pushed you into the well, but…"
"That's not what I'm talking about." Lion-O's voice no longer held a high volume, but still had an unmistakable edge to it. "I'm talking about what happened after."
Tygra still had no idea what his younger brother was talking about. He watched Lion-O continue to slash at the tree with the Sword of Omens. It would be hacked to woodchips soon. Tygra tried to remember what happened after their time in the astral plane. They defeated the lizard army and Mumm-Ra, bandaged Panthro, and then celebrated their victory. No betrayal involved. Tygra did remember leaving the party early, unable to watch his brother's retelling of his heroic exploits with the Wilycats and Cheetara hanging on his every word. And then Cheetara finding him later and kissing him.
Oh crap. Or as Lion-O would've said, whiskers.
"You saw." It was a statement, not a question. He and Cheetara had always meant to talk about it. With each other and Lion-O, but things seemed to keep happening. Gods, when would stuff stop happening, if only for a moment?
Lion-O continued to hack away at the tree, almost wishing it were his brother he was striking. He never allowed the sword to cut the tree in half (which it could've done easily), just wanting to take his anger out on something that wasn't Lizardmen or any of the other enemies he'd been battling lately. He took a deep breath. "Yeah, I saw."
Tygra nodded. Yes, they'd been busy battling and fighting for their lives, but it was really just an excuse. Tygra did not want to have this conversation with his brother. He could quip, snark and flirt with the best of them, but when it came to real emotions, he was always left tongue-tied. When he finally found his voice, it was softer than he would've liked, "I didn't betray you."
Still furious, Lion-O whipped around from his lumberjacking, "You didn't betray me? How do you figure that, brother?" He spat the last word.
Tygra took it in stride, trying to keep his temper under control. This did not need to become another yelling match. But as he tried to think of an answer that wouldn't anger his brother further, Lion-O interrupted, "You knew how I felt about her, and you stole her away from me anyway. Because you just can't let me win at anything! You always have to take what's mine!"
A bell should've rang because round one of yelling match #5,052 Lion-O vs. Tygra was about to begin. "I'm sorry, yours? I don't recall the wedding." Tygra avoided her name, knowing that saying it would only infuriate them both further. "She's not your wife or your girlfriend. I did nothing wrong."
"You knew I had feelings for her. A real brother would've stayed away."
The real brother barb stung hard. "You're just a teenager with a crush and limited options. If we were still in Thundera, you would've already moved on to some other pretty girl. As is, your only other real option is Panthro."
"Well, we're not in Thundera and we never will be again!"
Both cats softened for a moment, overcome with the sadness of their situation, and wishing for what was never to be. Lion-O commanded, "I forbid you to see her. It would ruin the group's dynamic. We need to function as a unit, and this would destroy that."
Tygra stiffened and snarled, "I'll do as I damn well please."
As Tygra began to walk away, Lion-O shouted at him, "I'm your king, and you need to begin treating me as such."
Tygra threw back, "I'll treat you like a king when you start acting like one."
With that, he cracked his whip and disappeared into the night, leaving Lion-O alone in the woods. Lion-O tightened his grip on the hilt of his sword and sliced what remained of the tree he'd been destroying earlier in half.
Exhausted after destroying another six trees, Lion-O collapsed against a newly made stump.
Damn his brother.
Lion-O wanted to forget it, wanted to put it out of his mind, but every moment he wasn't fighting, he remembered the sight of his brother kissing the woman he loved.
The young king was tempted to get up and begin hacking away at trees again, but he knew it would be a pointless endeavor. Instead, he brought out the Sword of Omens and began to meditate with it, connect with it as the elephants had taught him. The sword was truly one with him, and Lion-O was learning how to fully wield it. With his meditation with it, it was beginning to speak with him.
He closed his eyes and cleared his mind. It took longer than usual because of his emotional state, but just when he'd almost reached that point of zen, an unwelcome thought burst into his head.
What if the Sword chose wrong?
But instead of coming back to the real world, Lion-O found himself being thrown elsewhere. Or more accurately, it felt as though he'd made the connection with the Sword of Omens, and it was pulling him into itself.
When Lion-O opened his eyes, he found himself in a place much like what the realm of Thundera once was. Though it was a little off, as there was a tension in the air, as if a threat was coming. It was the first time the Sword had ever done something like this, transported him to another time and place. It reminded Lion-O of his time in the Book of Omens.
"Are you really so surprised? We share similar names, should we not share other traits as well?"
Lion-O was stunned by the appearance of a companion. It was a silver, female ThunderCat. Long and lean, she had the sharpest teeth and claws he'd ever seen. "Who are you?"
The other cat smiled, "Do you really not know? I'm hurt, Lion-O. After all, I am a part of you."
Lion-O felt as though he'd stumbled into a dream. "You're the Sword of Omens."
The stunning cat smiled even wider, "And the others doubt your intelligence."
"Why are you like that?" He motioned to her (its?) stunning figure.
"Oh, I can take any form I wish in here." She deliberately posed in a manner that made her even more striking. "It seemed the best way to get your attention, to be an attractive female." Her red eyes glittered, "A lesson Cheetara seems to know well."
Lion-O blushed and the Sword of Omens laughed. She threw an arm around his shoulders to comfort him, "Don't be embarrassed, child. I've seen much in my many years. Now come, think of me as your guide here."
Lion-O followed, but asked, "Where are we?"
"A plane of existence, much like the ones you've visited before, only this one is mine, so only the bearer of the Sword, or me, can enter here. By the way, only you can hear and see me though everyone else here sees you as the Lion-O of this realm."
Lion-O looked down, and saw that we was garbed in his old royal attire though he appeared he was also far more grown. He also noticed they were headed to the palace. "Okay then. But why are we here?"
His guide smirked, as though she had a secret, "To reassure you that I never choose wrong."
Lion-O was confused, and growing tired of his guide's riddling answers. He was secretly glad his sword couldn't talk under normal circumstances or else he'd probably have constant headaches. "What does that mean?"
Now that they were in the palace, his guide stopped walking. She looked over her shoulder to answer him, rather than turning fully, "In this plane of existence, Tygra was chosen as king and it's been two years since the war against Mumm-Ra began. Though few died in the first attack, unlike in your world. So he has an army to fight with."
Lion-O's ears flattened. So he was a complete failure here and in his own world? If Tygra had been king after Claudius, their race wouldn't be nearly extinct now. The Sword noticed his change in mood and immediate set to comfort him with the truth, "Many things in this world differ from your own. It would be tedious and unnecessary to get into them all, but know this, your actions that day did not cause Thundera's fall, just as Tygra's actions here did not ensure its survival." She released from her hugging embrace, and crept towards the barely opened throne room doors. He walked without care, but she quickly quieted him and motioned for him to listen to the conversation within.
"I'm the king. I should be able to marry whomever I damn well please!"
Lion-O recognized the voice of his older brother immediately, but took a bit longer to see Tygra through his kingly appearance. Like him, his brother had aged a few more years, and here he wore stately robes and crown on his head with the Sword of Omens on his arm. Though Lion-O also knew how upset his brother must have been because he only prowled back and forth like he was currently doing when he was beyond frustrated.
The other cat in the room was a thin and worn-looking lynx who was holding several scrolls. Lion-O recognized him as the old keeper of the law. "I'm sorry, your majesty, but the law is very clear, clerics and kings are forbidden to wed. It is a cleric's job to protect the ruler of the realm, one they could not do properly as a wife or husband."
Tygra stopped pacing, looking out of the large window overlooking his kingdom. He laughed bitterly as he ran his fingers through his fur, removing the crown from his head. He said, "I'm the guy in charge and yet I have no control."
Lion-O attempted to lean in closer to better hear, but lost his footing and stumbled in the throne room drawing the attention of both men and amusing his guide. (King?) Tygra spoke first, "Lion-O, I'm glad to see you." Lion-O returned his brother's truly affectionate smile, wondering when he last saw such affection from his true brother. Then Tygra turned to the other in the room, and pointed accusingly, "You can leave."
The keeper of the law obeyed his king's command with a bow. After he'd left, Tygra replaced his crown but removed his stately robes with disgust. Underneath he was wearing armor, similar to what Lion-O often saw him wear. "I hate wearing those damn robes." Tygra began to walk to the next room and Lion-O followed naturally. Tygra continued in a voice that greatly resembled that their old instructor, "But you must look as a ruler would to inspire others to follow you, your majesty." Tygra snorted. "Yeah, I'm sure they all listen to me because I wear an uncomfortable jacket."
Lion-O chuckled at his brother's mumblings. His brother really was quite funny, when his barbs weren't aimed him. Lion-O questioned, "Being king not all it's cracked up to be, brother?"
Tygra bent over a map of Thundera and sighed deeply, clearly exhausted. "You truly have no idea."
Lion-O bristled. He had a very good idea of how hard it was to be king. At least Tygra didn't have an older brother constantly questioning his every move, stealing Cheetara from right under his nose. Lion-O tried not to let it get to him; those were not the problems of this Lion-O's world. He stayed quiet, letting Tygra direct the conversation.
Tygra took off his crown again, resting it on a far corner of the table, and ran his hands through his hair once before he said, "Okay. So how do you propose we do this?"
Lion-O wasn't sure what his brother was referring to, but looking at the map, he thought it looked like a plan for battle. He swallowed. "What do we know?"
Tygra pointed to one section of the map, "Mumm-Ra's forces will be concentrated here." He moved his finger to another section, "But his more technologically-advanced forces will be here." He pointed up to the outer wall of the Kingdom's defenses. "If this wall doesn't hold, Lion-O, all will be lost." Tygra sighed again. "It's days like this I wish Father were still here."
So he was gone in this realm as well? Lion-O's head dropped, feeling the loss of his father once more. He looked to his brother and noticing the sword on his brother's arm, his own twitched, feeling naked without it. He tried to concentrate on the task at hand. "What do we have?"
The King pointed at where he said the main force would be, "I was planning on leading most of the ThunderCats and other troops here." He pointed to the other spot. "And have you hold the wall." He looked up, "Are your troops ready, you've shown them how to use the bombs we created?"
Lion-O didn't know how to answer. He looked to his guide, who still in her female form had snuck into the room with him. She nodded. "Yeah, they're ready."
Tygra studied the map again, nodding, "We have a chance, Lion-O. But this could work." He stood up completely, and began to rub his neck. "How are we on supplies?"
Lion-O wasn't used to seeing Tygra like this. It'd been minutes since he'd made a snide comment or a joke. It unnerved him, almost more than being treated as an equal. He turned to the guide again, who nodded again. "We're ready to go, your majesty."
Tygra's lip curled, "Don't call me that." He spoke again, but quietly this time, "I hate this, Lion-O. I hate every minute of it."
"Being king?" Lion-O questioned, but Tygra didn't reply, it almost seemed like he'd dozed off since his eyes were closed and he wasn't moving. Lion-O looked at the Sword on his brother's arm. He barely whispered, "I would want to be king."
Amazingly, Tygra had heard him. "You would want this?" He questioned.
Lion-O thought about it. The responsibility, the sacrifice… But he answered the only way he found he could, "Yes."
"I'll remember that, brother."
Suddenly, someone burst through the door. He bowed to the King and the Prince. "Your Majesties, Mumm-Ra approaches."
On the wall was not a great place to be before a battle. All that hung in the air was the nervous tension of the upcoming battle. The enemy could barely be seen, but it was still enough to cause the warriors to tremble.
Lion-O hated that he was impressed by his brother's strategy. Many of the animals had united together under the ThunderCat banner, and he kept every group just separate enough to sure there would be no chance of switching of sides. The king had even sprinkled clerics throughout the ranks.
"You look nervous, Prince Lion-O."
She was wearing her cleric's mask, but Lion-O recognized the voice, "Cheetara."
He wanted to think she smiled, but couldn't know for sure. She hopped onto the edge of the wall with perfect grace and looked out towards the approaching enemy, who could now be heard. "I hope you made your peace with Tygra before the battle. It would be a shame if one of you perished without the other's forgiveness."
They'd been fighting? Tygra hadn't given that impression, but Lion-O guessed that being on the verge of war made whatever their fight was about seem insignificant. He looked to his guide, who was sitting to the left of Cheetara. She sighed before answering his unspoken question, "As his heir, you were the only choice for the second command, but Tygra was worried that you were too young so he assigned an older General to lead with you."
Lion-O could see why that would upset him – he hated when his brother treated him like a cub. Though more removed in this situation, Lion-O could see it was just Tygra's way of caring. He shook his head and answered Cheetara, "We wished each other luck in the battle, though you know Tygra, he couldn't resist a jab before riding off."
Cheetara's eyes softened, "Yes, I know Ty well."
It was the first time Lion-O had ever heard someone call Tygra that name. He didn't like it. "I'm surprised you're not with him in battle. I would think he'd want you as close as possible."
Cheetara stiffened and leapt off the ledge. She snorted, "He says I'd be too much of a distraction for him."
Looks like Lion-O wasn't the only one Tygra had argued with before the battle. He felt a small part of his broken heart leap at the thought. He took her hand gently, "He's an idiot then."
"Stop flirting, you two." Lion-O smiled at the gruff voice, so that's who he'd be sharing his command with?
Lion-O turned with a grin. "Hello to you too, Panthro."
The big cat looked the same as always, with his numb-chucks thrown over one shoulder. He looked out to the army in the distance. "They'll be here soon." He turned Lion-O and motioned his head to the others on the wall. "I think it's time for you to give these men a rousing speech."
Lion-O saw that the other defenders all looked nervous and unsettled as they waited. Panthro was right – they needed a rousing speech. He just wasn't so sure he should be the one to do it. But he gathered his courage and spoke loudly and clearly to those he may soon be dying with, "Brothers and sisters in arms, you know that today we fight a great evil. It's why we came together. Why we could put aside our many differences and grievances. I may not know you and after today I may never even have the chance. But still you are all my brothers, all my sisters, for the bond joined in battle is one that isn't easily broken. And here, on this day, Mumm-Ra and his forces shall learn the price of trying to enslave this family!" He raised his sword, wishing it were his real one.
Lion-O finished to the sounds of echoing roars and cheers even as the enemy was mere moments away. Panthro looked torn between impressed and amused. "I'll never understand how you can deliver such a speech on the spur of the moment."
Lion-O smiled at the other cat, as the enemies' ladders and hooks latched onto the walls, "We all have our talents."
"Let me show you some of mine." Panthro cried as he lunged at the nearest foe. Lion-O followed suit.
The battle raged and Lion-O felt both tired and exhilarated by the fighting. He would occasionally fight as a duo with Panthro and then feel Cheetara speeding by. He defended his comrades and defeated his enemies with precision and focus.
And the wall did not fall.
That was when Mumm-Ra arrived.
Cheetara was the first to react, "Tygra was so sure, Mumm-Ra would seek him out."
The guide whispered in Lion-O's ear, "You are the one to challenge the 'great' Mumm-Ra. You embarrassed him the last time you met him in this world and defeated him in many others as well. We can do this, Lion-O."
Lion-O wondered about the we, but held his tongue. Together, the three ThunderCats charged Mumm-Ra, hoping that not giving him a clear target would allow them to slip past the transformed mummy's defenses.
It didn't work. Panthro tried his luck and was tossed aside. Cheetara tried as well, and despite landing a few blows, she was taken out quickly as well. Lion-O was quick to rush to her side. She passed out in his arms.
Furious, Lion-O took his own shot at Mumm-Ra, who chuckled, "You really think you can defeat me?"
Lion-O was thrown to the ground, but it wasn't long before he was up again. "I don't know, but I will try!"
Mumm-Ra threw his magic at Lion-O again; causing him to fall again and this time lose his sword over the edge of the wall. Mumm-Ra roared in amusement again, and Lion-O looked around desperately for a weapon, finding only a dagger with a broken hilt.
How could he defeat Mumm-Ra, the ancient evil spirit, with only a broken knife?
The guide watched him with a tilted head, as though she was curious and confused as a housecat. Lion-O would've growled at her if hadn't been trying to starve off his own destruction, dodging another attack. She quipped, "Must you relearn every lesson each week?"
He chanced a glare for that comment. She appeared to be even more amused and gave him some advice, "It's not the sword, but the one who wields it that's important. You know that the stones are the source of his power and you know how to use them against him. Now pick up that knife and use it."
Lion-O saw what she was saying and took careful aim before attacking Mumm-Ra again. When he pulled away he'd chipped one of the stones from Mumm-Ra's wrist. He placed it in the knife's broken hilt, which immediately absorbed it. "That's one."
Mumm-Ra scoffed, "One stone. It means nothing."
Lion-O attacked again and came away with another stone, which was also absorbed within his knife. This time Mumm-Ra growled, "It matters not. You will be defeated. All fall before the mighty Mumm-Ra."
The final stone was the hardest to get, and Lion-O nearly died in the attempt, but finally he got it. Forcing Mumm-Ra into his withered form. Lion-O stalked his prey, but Mumm-Ra cried out, "You are the better cat. So why is it that your forced to bow to that arrogant brother of yours? Join me Lion-O, and together we can rule and you will have all you desire."
Lion-O spoke the absolute truth, which he finally saw fully, "I compete with my brother, but I've never been against him." And with those final words, Lion-O finished off Mumm-Ra.
His guide sword bowed to him with a flourish in a sign of respect.
Lion-O was barely able to take a breath between victory being declared and the King's arrival. After practically leaping off his stead, Tygra immediately asked, "Where is Cheetara?"
When Lion-O didn't answer in the breath Tygra allowed him, the King jumped to the worst conclusion, "She died. Oh gods, was it horrible? Don't tell me. No, tell me. I should've been here. I could've protected her. Somehow."
"I'm right here." Cheetara said, awake again, though she was supporting most of her weight on Panthro's helping frame.
Tygra wasted no time, taking her and embracing her quickly, not caring they were in public. "You were right. I should've never separated us. It was ten times worse, but I was so sure Mumm-Ra would seek me out. I just wanted you away from the worst danger."
Cheetara just smiled, "When will you learn I'm always right?"
Tygra frowned, "Now, don't get cocky."
Lion-O sensed whatever had come between them before had been forgotten.
Tygra looked around and smiled at his brother and looked around at the beaten, but held wall, "I'm impressed, Lion-O. You really have grown-up." He lowered his voice, "You would make a great king."
They were the words Lion-O had so longed to hear from his brother. Many others began to praise Lion-O for his defeat of Mumm-Ra and it felt like hours before he spotted his brother and Cheetara again.
They were hidden away, whispering softly to each other and embracing gently. Lion-O snarled his lip and let his tongue hang out in disgust. He spotted the guide and was curious despite himself, "What are they saying?"
"Secrets whispered between lovers aren't meant for the prickly ears of the nosy." She answered, her back straight and her eyes looking off into the distance.
"I'm beginning to hate you."
The battle won, Tygra took his place as king before his subjects. He raised his arms for quiet and almost instantly the joyous crowds grew silent. Their king smiled, "The day is ours and Mumm-Ra is defeated."
Cries of joy filled the air once again. Tygra let the moment continue until the roars quieted again. "The Evil Demon shall haunt us no more. Thanks to the sacrifices and bravery to all of those here and those no longer with us." He paused for a solemn moment. "A new age has dawned as a dark chapter of our history closes forever. And as we stand here together, there is one I would like to thank above all others, Prince General Lion-O. Join me, brother." He stretched out his hand to Lion-O, who nearly stumbled making his way to the King.
Tygra began to circle around his younger sibling, still crying out to the gathered crowd. "But how should I reward you? One who without whom we would've never defeated Mumm-Ra? What gift would you desire? What gift do you deserve?"
Lion-O couldn't help where his eyes drifted to, the Sword, seeing his, still in the form of his guide, standing behind the one on Tygra's arm. The look didn't escape Tygra's sharp eyes. He continued, "The Sword of Omens?" Lion-O prepared himself for the mocking, for the public humiliation he was sure would follow, but Tygra surprised him by shrugging, "Very well."
The crowd was stunned as their king moved to remove the scabbard from his arm, but Lion-O stopped him, whispering for only Tygra's ears to hear, "You can't do this, it would mean you'd be giving up the throne."
Tygra didn't hesitate, removing the scabbard completely. He answered just as quietly, "I know, but this was always yours, I was just holding it for you while you took the time to grow up." He smiled softly, "Which you have."
Lion-O continued, "But it's all you've ever wanted. What you wanted above all else, to rule."
Tygra met Lion-O's eyes and Lion-O was shocked by the despair he saw within the brown orbs with only a glimmer of hope in them, "No, I've always wanted her the most."
Lion-O didn't need to ask who she was, but he still felt the shock of it like a punch to the gut. Tygra turned to the crowd again, calling to them, "I give you the Sword of Omens, Lion-O." He turned to the other cat. "If you accept."
Lion-O yelled clearly, "I do."
Tygra smiled, and behind him so did the guide, and the King gave the Sword away. "Then, free peoples of Third Earth and subjects of Thundera, I give you your new king." And with that Tygra kneeled before Lion-O, arm over his heart.
The entire crowd followed suit and Lion-O was almost overwhelmed by the sight of it. After a while, Tygra rose and told his brother, "Well, I must be going."
Still reeling, Lion-O called after him, "Where are you going?"
Tygra turned, "To a wedding." He noticed how worried Lion-O looked so he came back and took the other cat's shoulders, "You'll be a great king, Lion-O." He smirked, "Not as good as me, but nobody's perfect."
Lion-O laughed at his brother's out-of-control ego. And with Lion-O settled, Tygra moved to leave once again, but Lion-O had one more question, "Whose wedding?"
Tygra winked, and he answered, "Mine."
Lion-O turned back to the crowd that seemed to be holding their collective breath in anticipation. Lion-O, with as great ceremony as he could manage, put the scabbard and the Sword on his arm.
He closed his eyes as it felt like he was whole again. When he opened them again, he was with the guide again and they were following Tygra.
The guide smiled at him, "Don't worry, he can't see us."
Lion-O watched Tygra age as he walked along. At least ten, maybe fifteen years, had passed before he'd finished. He smiled as he approached a fairly simply house with two boy-cubs playing in the front yard. They ran to him once they'd spotted him, calling out, "Father!"
Tygra picked them up in his strong arms, swinging both around, to the laughter of all of them, and Lion-O's heart gave a tug. These were his brother's children, and one good look at the younger one's spots and coloring told Lion-O who the mother was. He put them both down, "How are my boys?"
They both tried to answer at once, and got upset that the other interrupted. They begin to argue and run around (they'd both inherited some of their mother's speed) and Tygra felt his anger begin to rise. "Would you two stop fighting? I swear I've never seen brothers fight as much as you two."
"No one? They certainly remind me of two brothers I knew well." Cheetara appeared from seemingly nowhere, still as beautiful as ever. She wrapped herself around her mate and Lion-O tried not to feel jealous. "They take after their father in that regard."
Tygra smiled at his wife's sudden presence, "We were never as bad as them, and our fighting was just a healthy and ultimately constructive sibling rivalry."
Cheetara smiled, "Oh really?"
"Yes. Without it, I would've never developed into the perfect specimen standing before you today." He said it with his trademark smirk.
She laughed and hit him lightly. "You and your damnable ego."
"You like my damnable ego." Tygra grinned and he lowered his head to kiss his mate thoroughly.
Lion-O did not enjoy this. "Can we leave yet?"
His guide didn't move, "No. Not yet. It isn't finished."
The boys' arguing broke up the kiss, as they ran past again, nearly knocking their parents over in their carelessness. Tygra rubbed his head, "They do it just to annoy me, don't they? They're probably well-behaved kittens when it's just you."
Cheetara groaned, "Actually, I think they're even worse when you're not here."
The couple looked at their children run and fight, in a strange form of play, and Tygra sighed, "Our monster children. I'm so glad I gave up the throne for this."
Cheetara's head dropped, serious now, and she asked quietly, "Do you ever regret it?"
Tygra turned to her, serious, "Never."
She arched an eyebrow, as though she didn't believe him. "Never?"
He held her chin with his fingers, forcing her to meet his eyes as he answered, "I would not live my life without you as long as you'd have me. And you worked so hard to be a cleric, wanted it so bad, I couldn't ask you to give that up." Cheetara began to speak up, but Tygra stopped her with a finger from his other hand. "Shh, my love. I know you would've done it for me, but you would've been miserable as queen. I didn't want that either. There was always only one choice for me."
They kissed again, even more passionately than before. It wasn't until they heard the sound of their cubs' disgust they broke apart.
"Now we are finished."
A bright light flashed and when Lion-O found his sight again, he could see he was back in the forest. But his sword was still not on his arm but sitting across from him. He groaned, "Can you take other forms now?"
She smirked, "No. We're still within my world, Lion-O. I'll return you shortly, Tygra will find you soon."
Lion-O snorted, "Doubtful. He can nurse a grudge for days."
"Cheetara persuaded him to make peace with you. Our brother has a darkness within him, and will require her brightness to turn him from paths best not taken."
Lion-O raised an eyebrow, this wasn't the first time the sword had referred to them as one,"Our brother?"
The guide shook her head. "I confuse pronouns sometimes. But I'm losing my place, I wanted to make sure you learned the correct lesson before I returned you."
He spoke in a deadpan, "Jealousy is bad, and I should be happy for my brother and Cheetara."
"This is not an episode of guess the morality lesson, Lion-O."
Lion-O took another moment to consider it, more seriously this time. "You chose me because you knew Tygra would ultimately reject the role of ruler."
She laughed lightly, " A bit simplistic, but closer." Her attention was suddenly diverted. "Perhaps this would go quicker if just I spelled it out for you. You see, Lion-O, the key difference between you and your brother, is that given the choice between the throne and the love of Cheetara, you'd both always pick the same but never match the other's answer. That's why I chose you and she chose him. We both picked the better cat."
Lion-O heard a noise as his guide retreated and the world began to slip away.
"Your brother comes."
Cheetara had been the one to talk him into looking for his younger brother and trying to explain again. She'd insisted that the brothers needed to repair their relationship, and that as the elder Tygra had a responsibility to take the first steps. And here he was, doing exactly as she'd asked. Tygra cursed, that feline would be able to talk him into taking on Mumm-Ra single-handily if she wanted to. He shouldn't think about it.
When Tygra finally did find the Lord of the ThunderCats, he was immediately worried. Lion-O was sitting in the middle of a group of stumps, sitting against one, looking at the Sword of Omens as though he were waiting for it to begin talking. "Lion-O?"
He turned his head slowly, "Brother?"
Tygra was glad to hear that the malice was gone. Perhaps that would make that easier. "We need to talk…" He hesitated. "…about Cheetara."
The name caused Lion-O's head to dart right back to his sword, and he asked, "If you had to pick one, the throne or Cheetara, which would you choose?" Tygra began to speak, but Lion-O stopped him, "Never mind, why I'm asking or why you'd have to pick, just answer the question."
Tygra seriously considered for a moment, before looking down at his feet, kicking up some dirt. His answer was so quiet, Lion-O barely heard it, "Her." When he raised his head to meet Lion-O's eyes, he had his confidence back; "I've pined after her for over ten years, Lion-O. Don't you remember me always getting in trouble for trying to sneak into the clerics' quarters? Until I learned to become invisible, of course." Lion-O nearly laughed at his brother's suggestive leer, only he could insert such humor into such a confession. "It was crazy, still is, but no other quite caught me like her."
Now that he said it, Lion-O did remember it. He'd even teased his older brother about it, every time the elder cat would stumble trying to get a better look at a cleric and every time he'd get distracted when one entered the room, Lion-O would tease Tygra about his secret cleric lover, which always got him smacked. Such light-hearted fun seemed so long ago.
Lion-O stood and put a hand on his brother's shoulder, speaking in a loving tone he rarely used with Tygra, "You deserve some happiness, brother."
Tygra returned the embrace, answering seriously, "So do you, brother." Then he smirked, "We'll just have to find you another woman." He wriggled his eyebrows, "Or you could just wait for WilyKit to grow up."
Lion-O sighed, slightly disgusted by the thought. Gods help him to survive his brother. "Or I could always take the Panthro option you mentioned before."
Tygra threw his head back in laughter, and it wasn't long before Lion-O joined him. "Good luck with that one. I just pray you'll wait for me to be there when you do it."