JB || Disney || JB || Sheregheera || JB || The Most Precious || JB || Sheregheera || JB || Disney || JB
Title: The Most Precious – Worth a Fight
Fandom: Disney; The Jungle Book; The Jungle Cubs
Disclaimer: All rights reserved to Disney - wait, no. The ORIGINAL book is owned by Rudyard Kipling. The story in itself though is entirely mine. No money is made with this, though reviews are more than welcomed.
Warnings: shounen-ai, hurt/comfort, hetero, mpreg (mentioned)
Main Pairing: Shere Khan x Bagheera
Side Pairings: Hathi x Winifred, Balaraj x Bagheera (one-sided), Amari x Bagheera (one-sided), Roshahr x Shalimar, Bashiri x Batuuli
Jungle Book Characters: Shere Khan, Bagheera, Baloo, Louie, Kaa, Hathi, Winifred
Own Characters: Roshahr Khan, Shalimar Khan, Sheena Khan, Balaraj, Amari
Summary: The cubs hit their mating age and Bagheera seems to be the most popular. So what has one Shere Khan to do to get the panther all to himself?
The Most Precious
Worth a Fight
The sun burned down on them, turning the jungle into one big, heated place. No animal was willing to move even an inch. The ape and the bear laid lazily in the fountain of their lair, not fit enough to have a water battle or anything else even remotely fun. On top of the pillars laid a tiger, watching them only with mild curiosity. In the shadows below the fountain laid the snake, barely awake. Two elephants sat in the far corner of the lair where the largest shadows were cast.
"Guys, have you seen Bagheera today?", wondered Winifred.
"I actually haven't seen him in days", stated the bear with a yawn.
The girl and Hathi had become an item and the friends couldn't deny her to join their little group, because she meant too much to their elephant friend.
"Well, little peanut-ress, Baloo is right, Baghee hadn't been to the lair since the heat had started", mumbled Louie and took a good gulp of the by now hot water.
Shere Khan growled in agreement. It annoyed him beyond belief that he hadn't seen the panther for such a long time. Especially now.
~ Flashback, One Week Ago ~
The tiger had started to feel heated, unrelated to the heat of the sun. And strange dreams had started to haunt him. Dreams about a certain black panther. And these dreams were very foreign for the tiger. So he decided to ask his mother for advice.
"Mother... I wondered... I mean...", mumbled the otherwise bolt and proud tiger.
"Yes, Shere? What is it?", asked the older tigress softly.
"I have these dreams..."
The female looked at her cub with love and understanding.
"You have dreams? What kind of dreams?", encouraged his mother.
"About... that cat... And we are always very close and... cuddle and stuff... And those aren't things I would normally do! I mean, why should I dream about that? And whenever we are together, I want to... touch, or something else..."
"Ahaha, Shalimar! Our son finally reached his adulthood!", laughed a male tiger richly.
He strode near the two, other tigers parted the way for him and nodded respectfully in greeting. Shere Khan's mother smiled softly and nuzzled her mate once the tiger was seated next to them.
"So, my boy, who is it? Tell me! Which of our fine females caught your interest?", interrogated the king of the jungle.
"Female? What do you mean, dad?", asked Shere Khan with irritation thick in his voice.
"You reached the age in which we tiger normally start to seek our mate", explained his mother.
"A mate?", gaped Shere Khan with wide eyes.
"Yes. When I was your age, I couldn't think about anyone else aside from your mother", smiled his father fondly.
"You're so sweet, my dear", giggled Shalimar and rubbed her head against her mate's neck.
"Well, Shere, tell us who it is", wanted the king of the jungle to know.
"It's none from our pride", stated the young tiger and looked down nervously.
"Oh? Oh. But... these friends of yours, the only female is an elephant, right?", asked his father warily.
"Winifred is Hathi's girlfriend!", growled Shere Khan disgusted.
His father seemed at a loss and sighed, looking desperately at his mate.
"Roshahr, love, I don't think our son is talking about a female", smiled Shalimar.
Shere Khan blushed and tried to hide his face, while his father seemed to consider this thought.
"Is it this panther you keep tal... Oh, of course it is the panther! You talk about him so much! Bagheera his name was, right?", grinned Roshahr.
Shere Khan's blush deepened and he mumbled some incoherent words.
"A black panther... That's quite... nice...", murmured Roshahr, remembering the beautiful panthress he had encountered in his youth.
"A black panther is quite the mighty cat and rare in our jungles. I'm sure he would make an excellent mate for our son", smiled Shalimar and looked at her son.
"But... I mean... He's a male, how could I chose a male as my mate? I mean, I'll be king of the jungle one day!", asked the tiger cub unsure.
He didn't like females – just like his friends. But he also knew he would have to chose a mate at one point, because a king needed a queen.
"Well...", started Roshahr cautiously. "It certainly is not very common, but I won't stand in the way of my only son's heart."
"I'd love to meet this black panther", smiled Shalimar. "How about you bring him along some day?"
Shere Khan beamed, but he still looked unsure.
"Of course, you can also bring your other friends with you, too", assured Roshahr.
"No buts, my son. A king needs acquaintances and your friends will be very important in your future", advised the queen.
Shere Khan sighed and nodded. He knew that he couldn't win a discussion with his mother.
~ End of the Flashback ~
"Guys, is everything all right? You look like you're going to die soon!", laughed a rich voice.
Shere Khan's head shot up and his eyes narrowed. There, in the entrance to the lair, stood his panther. Wait... his... Aw, darn it, his mother and father seemed to be right after all.
"Baghee! How can you walk upright?", moaned Baloo, too lazy to even lift his head.
"Seriously, what's wrong with you guys?", asked the panther again and jumped to the fountain.
"It's like a thousand degree", groaned Louie.
"Really now?", wondered Bagheera looked up to Shere Khan.
They locked eyes and the tiger wanted to never look somewhere else. These beautiful, deep yellow-green eyes, wide and curious, were captivating.
"Are you sick or something? How can you not feel this heat?", groaned the bear.
Shere Khan contemplated the options he had. One, he just stayed where he was and endured that heat. Or two, he invited his friends over to their territory and enjoys the coolness of their cave and lake. While he considered his options, the panther seemed to acknowledge the temperature.
"Oh... I hadn't noticed", mumbled Bagheera and tilted his head.
"How can you not notice that?", asked Louie irritated.
"I've been... busy", shrugged the panther and Khan was sure to see a blush beneath the dark fur.
"Busy? How can you be too busy to not notice the boiling heat?", wanted Hathi to know.
"I've just been busy – and it was cool where I've been", answered the panther.
"Where in this whole, darn jungle could any place be cool?", questioned the ape.
"Ah, for once I have to agree with Louie", hissed Kaa in confusion.
"Well, I know a place that's cool", grunted the tiger and stared at his friends.
"You're not talking about... the tiger cave, are you?", whispered Winifred wide-eyed.
She had heard tales from other animals. Tales about how the tigers were living at a beautiful lagoon, said to be the most beautiful place in the whole jungle, with shadows and a big cave.
"What else could I be talking about?", asked Shere Khan and rolled his eyes.
"Why, are you really inviting us to your place, or are you just boasting so you can now leave to enjoy the coolness alone?", wanted Louie sceptically to know.
"Not that you lot think I want to take you with me, but my mother wants to meet you looser."
Sometimes Khan felt strange about the way he treated the others. Something like... guilt? No, that couldn't be it. Why should he feel guilty about that? He shook his head and led the way. The other cubs followed him reluctantly at first, until Bagheera hopped over and fell into step with Khan.
"Say, how come you're so nice?", piped the black panther with a small smile. "Did you hit your head again? Do I have to be worried?"
"I don't know what makes you think I am being nice. I just want to introduce my future subordinates to my pride", declined Shere Khan irritated.
"If you say so", nodded Bagheera with a frown.
The tiger felt bad for being so harsh, but it just wasn't him to confess... feelings. Any kind of feelings. He had learned that early, as the prince. There were always those who would use his feelings against him. Shifting a bit in irritation, he looked over to his friends. He did like them, he just wasn't sure how to show it, because he didn't want to appear weak.
"I'm really curious how our Khany is living", mused the bear.
"I'm really curious if all tigers are as stuck-up as our Khany", snickered the ape beside him.
"Don't be mean, Louie", warned Bagheera. "It's very nice of Shere Khan to invite us over."
"Aw, Baghee, why do you always have to be so... so...", Baloo seemed at a loss of words.
"So diplomatic?", tried Hathi to help out.
"No! So boring!", grinned Louie and laughed.
Both felines huffed in annoyance at the childish attics of their friends. The other cubs followed them, watching in awe how the dry wilderness seemed to thicken into greenery, until they arrived at a large lagoon, with the freshest green and dark, cool shades from the tall grown trees. Tigers were laying all around it, dozing in the nicer temperatures. Some tigers leered at them like they were their next meal (which they easily could be, technically speaking), so the cubs tried to hide behind their striped friend, hoping that being with him was enough to save their furs and scales. Though still they all jumped in surprise when one tiger bounced at them.
"Shere!", cheered the small wild cat and circled them. "Who are they? What are they? Why are they here? What do we do with them? Why did you bring them? Where were you?"
"Sheena", growled Shere Khan annoyed. "Shut up."
"But brother! Answer me! Answer me, answer me, answer me!", demanded the tigress.
"Where's your flower?", asked her brother instead, sniffing her. "Did those idiots mock you again? What happened?"
She shifted uncomfortably and looked down in shame. "Just a little bit... No big deal, brother, really. Please, don't get into a fight again! I don't want you to get hurt!"
Big, pleading yellow eyes were turned on Shere Khan and the tiger huffed angrily, before turning his back on them. The other cubs blinked confused and looked down at the small female.
"Who are you, little one?", asked Winifred with a smile.
"I'm Sheena Khan! I'm the princess of the jungle!", announced the cat proudly.
"Oi, stripes, where are you going?", called Louie after Shere Khan's retreating form.
"Oh no! My brother is certainly going to do something stupid!", mewled Sheena.
"What do you mean?", wanted Bagheera to know.
"Ah, you see, there are those two dumb tigers, dad only lets them stay because they are still too young to be on their own, but they always pick on me to provoke Shere and then they fight, because they think that if they'll one day be able to win against Shere, they could become princes", explained the smaller cat and jumped after her brother. "Come, come!"
The cubs exchanged some glances before following the two royal siblings. Hathi and Winifred had their trunks linked, both looked scared by all the sharp teeth and claws around them. When they finally arrived at the scene, Kaa crawled up on top of Hathi's head, by now scared too. Shere Khan was facing a slightly smaller tiger, both growling at each other.
"See, that's Amari. He's really, really mean", said Sheena worried.
Louie and Baloo locked eyes, silently wondering if they should have stayed in the heat after all. Khany could be pretty scary if he wanted to, but they all knew that their striped friend wouldn't harm them. A tiger, who didn't even stop by their own, would certain hurt them, too.
Bagheera yelped when he felt someone sniffing his behind. A dark blush, barely visible through his black fur, spread over his cheeks and he turned around. Right there stood a tiger, darker in fur than Shere Khan, though mangier and meaner.
"Why, hello there", purred the foreign feline, circling Bagheera. "And who are you, pretty thing?"
"I don't see how that's any of your business", growled the panther, flexing his claws.
A leering sneer spread over the tiger's face as he came uncomfortably close.
"I can smell what you are", whispered the striped feline wickedly.
"So what? That doesn't make it your business", hissed Bagheera and swatted at him.
"Yo, Amari, stop wasting your time with that useless wanna-be-prince and come over here! I found something very interesting!", called the mangy tiger.
"Eh? What did you find, Balaraj?", asked Amari curiously and jumped over to them.
Shere Khan growled and followed tail, not liking how close those two useless idiots were to his panther. He jumped between them, shielding Bagheera effectively from their view.
"Stay off of my sister and stay off of him", warned Shere. "Or else you'll meet my claws."
Even though they always had big words, they still gulped at the very valid threat and retreated hastily, cursing silently underneath their breath.
"Why, those must be two really dumb morons if they're messing with our Khany here", observed Louie with one raised eyebrow.
"Yeah. And what was that about Baghee?", grunted the bear confused.
"That was nothing", replied Bagheera hastily.
Shere looked at him in wonder. Something was off with that, but he left it be for now.
"Shere, can we go home? Mommy just arrived with her hunt", suggested Sheena. "And I'm sure we can find something for your non-flesh-eating friends there!"
"Food sounds good!", agreed Baloo. "Well, princess stripes, lead the way!"
And she did. Sheena brought them into the den, where even more tigers were sleeping. On a rock in the middle of the cave was a couple seated. A beautiful female and a strong, tall male.
"Mommy, daddy! Shere brought his friends!", announced Sheena and jumped up onto the rock.
She tore right into the deer that laid in front of her parents. The mighty male stood up, looming intimidatingly over them. He walked down to them and circled the cubs, sniffing them curiously, before a broad smile broke onto his face.
"Well, well, you are my son's friends, then? I've heard I owe you my son's life after the red dog incident. I thank you for that", smiled the male. "My name is Roshahr Khan. And you are?"
The two elephants, the biggest of them all, tried to hide behind the others and make themselves as small as possible. A snake was wrapped around a bear and an ape, who both looked a bit frightened. The panther was the one to step up to him and have the bravery to face the king of the jungle.
"It's an honor meeting you, sir. I'm Bagheera of the shadow clan. Those are Louie, Baloo, Kaa, Hathi and Winifred. Thank you for welcoming us here."
"Bagheera of the shadow clan, you say?", interjected the queen curiously and stepped down to them, too, circling the black panther. "I'm Shalimar Khan. I've heard of the shadow clan, they rule over the mountains. But I haven't heard of them in many winters."
The panther averted his eyes. "The clan is long gone now."
"How come? I remember the clan, they were powerful. My father's father had allied with them and shared his kingdom with them to hunt", wondered Roshahr.
"The humans chased us away from the mountains and killed most of our clan."
"How come I've never heard of this?", grunted the king in wonder.
"There is no one left aside from me."
"Poor dear", cooed Shalimar and rubbed her head against the smaller feline.
"You never said something, Baghee!", exclaimed Baloo wounded.
"It was shortly before we met for the first time, Baloo", sighed Bagheera and rolled his eyes. "And really, I've been living on my own ever since we met. Why did you think?"
"Well, cubs, you're invited to join us in our meal", interrupted Roshahr and nodded them over.
The vegetarian cubs enjoyed the fruits some of the other tigers had brought at Shalimar's command, the royal family sat down on their stone again. Bagheera stood around a bit awkwardly.
"Come and join us, little panther", smiled the queen.
An unsure look passed over the panther's face, he saw some envious glances from other tigers – it was obviously not common for other animals to join the royal family during meals. Another indicating glance from Shalimar was enough for Bagheera to jump up to them.
"Uh... Thank you, ma'am", muttered the black panther with a slight blush.
"Don't mention it", hummed the tigress and teared into her deer. "Tell me, little panther, you have stayed all by yourself since back then? And taken care of yourself?"
"I... yes, ma'am", nodded Bagheera with slight sadness in his yellow eyes.
"That's quite admirable", nodded Roshahr.
They ate in silence, Shere Khan throwing curious glances at his panther. He hadn't known. He hadn't even asked. How come he never knew? After they finished dining, they went outside to the shore and enjoyed the coolness and the shadows, until night arrived.
"Well, cubs it's time to leave", announced Louie with a glance into the stars.
"Yeah", agreed the bear.
"Uncle will be worried, we should really get going, Hathi", nodded Winifred.
Kaa rolled himself together on top of Hathi's head and yawned widely. The cubs gathered to leave and the royal family came to bide them goodbye. The queen stepped forward and nudged them all. The children turned to leave, though the king stopped them.
"Wait, Bagheera", called the mighty tiger.
"Uh...", the panther turned and looked confused between the tigers and his friends.
"You others can leave", smiled the tigress and nodded them off.
"It's alright, guys", said Bagheera reluctantly.
Baloo and the others left and the panther walked up to the king and the queen.
"What is it, ma'am?", asked the black feline curiously.
"A jungle cat like yourself belongs into a pride", answered Roshahr. "And you are welcomed to join our pride. You are a cub, you shouldn't have to take care of yourself."
Bright yellow eyes shone with something akin to hope. "Are you... I mean..."
The queen smiled softly and walked up to him, rubbing her head against his and whispering lowly into his ear. "You're special and you've reached a certain age... It's not safe for you alone anymore."
Bagheera's eyes widened and he gaped at her. "How do you know?"
"I can smell it", chuckled Shalimar. "And Shere told me what had happened with Balaraj and Amari earlier. If they should harass you again, just tell me. You should choose your mate yourself."
"I... Thank you, very much", purred the black feline and rubbed his head against hers.
The queen nodded and walked back into the cave, indicating for Bagheera to follow her. He looked back at Shere Khan who nodded encouragingly. The black panther followed her to the shore.
"What is it you want to talk to me about?", asked the black feline.
"I thought maybe a bit privacy would be better", mumbled Shalimar. "I wanted to know if you may already have chosen a potential mate and if you know what exactly you are."
"I... Uh... My mother used to say that I'm special and for some time now there had been... other cats, male cats, following me around... But I'm not really sure... She never had time to explain..."
"Then let me explain", offered the tigress. "Your mother is right. You are special. You're a male with the ability to bear cubs, it's something very rare. That's the reason the males are after you."
"Oh... Great...", sighed Bagheera exaggerated. "And what can I do to make that stop...?"
"You can't stop it per se, little panther", smiled Shalimar. "You can stop others from chasing you by choosing a mate, though. It's the same as it is with females. If you have a mate, said mate will protect you from others and others wouldn't dare to touch a mated female."
"But... I mean... Hathi and Winifred are very much in love, how am I supposed to find something like that, too?", moaned the black panther and hid his face behind his paws.
"Well...", drawled the queen. "Who makes you feel special? Your heart flutter? Your stomach flip?"
Bagheera blushed and looked up at her shamefully. "I guess... There is someone..."
"Ah, and who would that someone be?", smirked Shalimar knowingly. "Go on, it's alright."
Her eyes locked with those of her son, who stood at the entrance and was eavesdropping.
"Uh, well... It's... your son", mumbled the panther blushing vividly.
"Ah, then I think I should leave you two alone some", hummed the tigress.
"Us...?", asked Bagheera confused and tilted his head, though then he spotted the other cub.
Shalimar went back inside and Shere Khan emerged from the semi-darkness of the cave. Ashamed of his confession, the panther turned to look away, until he felt someone nuzzle him.
"I—I... Shere Khan...?", stuttered Bagheera confused.
The tiger was purring and still nuzzling him, humming questioningly.
"What are you doing there...?", asked the panther slowly.
"You said you like me. I promise you, I'll protect you", purred the prince of the jungle.
"Does that... Do you mean... you like me back?", gasped Bagheera surprised.
Shere Khan nodded and licked the smaller feline's cheek. The panther mewled and snuggled into the firmness of the tiger, who curled his tail around Bagheera possessively. His parents and sister were watching them from within the cave, pleased grinned plastered on their muzzles.
~*~ The End ~*~