Redemption

A spinoff of In His Shoes

By Fuuko no Miko aka Kenumi

Part 3

Atonement

Author notes:

This was originally inserted in the third installment of "In His Shoes" but since I owe Tygra one…

Tygra: Yes you do! You owe me big time.

As I was saying, eherm, since I owe the snarky prince one, I spun it off into an entire story. Hopefully it isn't going to take more than one chapter.

Tygra: And don't forget my scenes with Cheetara.

Goodness! Aren't you demanding? You're not even sure she's going to be in this one!

Tygra: Of course she will be. Like you've said before, she's in all your stories.

Anywho…I own nothing of Thundercats or any of its original characters. That honor and privilege belongs to the good folks at WB who I hope finally give us dang season 2.


It was one of those days that rarely came, but did. The torrential rain had been its precedent, now a dense fog covered most of Thundera. It was late and Cheetara had just returned from a journey with King Claudus to the far-flung kingdom of the Siberian cats in the mountain regions. As Jaga's right hand cleric she served in the most important of missions. This one had involved establishing diplomatic ties with other kingdoms.

The fog had been so thick she could barely see her hand in front of her face. She stifled a yawn as she uncharacteristically slowly walked up the steps towards the cleric headquarters.

She almost stumbled as her foot hit an object directly in front of the door. A big object it was too.

"What in Thundera's name…"

She adjusted her vision as parts of the fog moved to allow her to see what she almost tripped on.

It was a cat. A sizable one.

She used her staff to poke the seemingly sleeping figure. "This isn't a place to rest your head." she declared as she tried to push the subject to wakefulness. "Please move. You're blocking the door."

The figure let out a barely audible groan. When Cheetara lifted her staff she saw smudges on its tip.

Is that blood?

She carefully bent down on one knee and tried to turn over the figure slumped by the door. She felt something wet on her hand as she touched its shoulder.

More blood.

The figure finally turned over. He was covered in injuries, his wounds actively oozing. If he hadn't moved his lips in an attempt to speak, she would've thought he was dead.

Cheetara took off to get Jaga.

"He's heavy." Leda said as she and two other clerics tried to roll the injured cat unto a pallet. They took the unconscious subject to the Infirmary, a short distance from the clerics' quarters. Cheetara followed them and dismissed the other two who helped them carry the injured cat to the treatment area.

Cheetara was about to leave when Leda called her.

"Hey, aren't you going to help me Tara?"

The cheetah raised a brow. "Where's Alaric?" she asked, referring to the puma's fellow medic and partner-in-crime.

"Home. Food poisoning." the other feline replied. "Told him that squid was undercooked…but does he listen to me? Noooo…." she motioned her head towards their patient. "This poor soul needs a lot of help."

Much as she was tired, the cheetah decided to help the other cat. They've been friends for a while and from the looks of this cat's injuries, Leda could use all the help she can get. Only she and Alaric worked the night shift at the infirmary and there was no one else there for assistance.

Leda went to the supply room to get additional bandages and cleaning solutions. Cheetara was left to watch the patient.

He was a tiger. There weren't too many of those around Thundera. A whole village of them had been slaughtered decades ago by invading enemy troops. He was wearing what appeared to be a soldier's uniform, but it was in tatters. He didn't have any insignias so she wasn't sure if he was even from around here. She wasn't aware of any wars going on nearby. Maybe he was attacked coming home?

His wounds appeared deep and grave. They were relatively fresh too. He had so many of them she was surprised he was still alive.

"Catch." Leda tossed her some large, cutting scissors. "We've got to get this nasty uniform off of him." she said. "So we can evaluate all of his injuries." The puma started hacking away off his clothes from the leg up while Cheetara was tasked to do the upper body one.

The duo efficiently discarded their patient's clothes, save for his underwear. Leda started preparing the cleaning solution as Cheetara took a visual inventory of the tiger.

Under all that blood and dirt, she could tell he was a good looking cat. No, not just good looking. He was handsome. Very handsome, even with the scar on his right cheek. He was in good shape too. His shoulders were broad, as well as his chest. The muscles on his arms appeared firm, and his legs and thighs appeared strong and well-shaped.

"Eherm." Leda cleared her throat, breaking Cheetara of her reverie as she handed her a warm cloth. "Clean-up time! Be gentle…" the puma reminded her. "Much as he's not conscious, he might not welcome rubbing vigorously on his wounds."

Cheetara nodded as she took the cloth and started cleaning him down. Leda worked from his legs up while Cheetara worked from his face down to his waist. They were silent for a while as they cleaned off the debris and blood on their subject. He was unconscious and breathing shallowly. This was the only indication he was still among the living.

"He's pretty hot."

The cheetah raised her brows as Leda broke the silence. "I'm sorry?"

Leda giggled. "Oh Tara, just because you're sequestered in that monastery doesn't mean you don't appreciate a nice specimen when you see one." she winked at the other cat. Cheetara felt the red creep up her cheeks to which the puma laughed. "He's quite the looker. We don't get that often around here." Leda shrugged. "Maybe it's just my weakness for tigers."

Cheetara just laughed nervously in response to the puma. Maybe she had been caught looking too long at their patient. She scolded herself for doing so, but there was something about him that seemed to beckon to her. Something magnetic.

They continued to clean up his wounds of blood and debris. Leda started grinding some herbs to place in his injuries. Cheetara was tasked to place some antiseptic on the wounded areas to which he flinched. He attempted to open his eyes when she dabbed a particularly nasty looking area on his chest.

He barely opened them as he weakly turned his head to the source of the pressure on his chest. He faintly registered a golden-haired figure trying to sanitize his injuries. She smiled tentatively at him when his amber-colored gaze met her rose-colored ones.

"Cheetara?"

The cheetah's eyes widened when the tiger mumbled her name. He closed his eyes again as he felt too weak.

Leda's head turned so fast her hair flew right over her shoulders. "You know him Tara?"

"No." the cheetah denied. "I've never met him in my life."

"How'd he know your name then?" Leda turned to apply some of the medication to the tiger's wounds. "Unless you have it emblazoned on your forehead…which you don't." she put her hand on her waist. "Although…I'm sure you'd remember a stud if you met him right?" she teased, to which Cheetara turned a bright red.

"He can hear you." The cheetah reminded her friend.

"I doubt he's never heard women gush over him before." Leda dismissed her nonchalantly. "Besides, I'm taken."

Cheetara nodded. Leda and Bengali had been together for as long as she could remember.

"You'd look cute together though." The puma chuckled when her friend turned an even brighter red.

"Do you want my help or not?" Cheetara pretended to be upset as she put the medication bottle down and motioned to walk away.

"Fine…fine!" the puma continued to apply the pounded medicines to the tiger's injuries. "You know I'm just giving you a hard time."

Cheetara grumbled as she picked up the rest of the herbs Leda had prepared and restarted applying them on the patient. Though deep inside, she smiled a little. Truth be told she didn't mind Leda's teasing too much.

Just a little bit.

She tried not to be too self conscious as she cleaned and dressed his wounds. She tried to ignore the fact that he was, indeed, quite a looker. His arms were firm and felt strong under her touch, as was his chest. It was a good thing Leda did the lower half of his body, as the medic was so used to these things she didn't show an ounce of embarrassment. Cheetara wasn't sure she could do the same thing.

"He's pale." Leda said once they finished bandaging him. "Luckily there's some tiger blood in the reserves." She marched to the cooler and pulled out two units of blood. She patted his arm to find a vein. "I'm going to give you some blood." She spoke to the tiger's ear. It twitched so she knew he can somewhat hear her. "You're going to feel a little needle prick okay?"

He nodded weakly and barely flinched when the puma stuck him with a needle, administering him some fluids while warming the blood unit needed to replace what he had lost.

Cheetara figured she was done and set out to leave.

"You're not going to leave alone with this stranger, are you Tara?" Leda raised a brow when Cheetara motioned to head for the door.

"Well…"

Cheetara sighed. Leda was right. They still have no clue who he was, but Jaga had decided to have him treated and not let him die on the steps of the House of Clerics. Leda was more medic than warrior and would probably be unsafe to be left alone with a cat they didn't know.

"You owe me." Cheetara decided at last as she plopped on the floor next to the treatment table. She leaned and rested her weary head against a huge roll of gauze by the wall.

"Thanks!" the puma hugged her friend and went back to supplies room. "No need to sleep on the floor though!" Leda pulled out a makeshift cot and placed it a few feet away from the tiger.

"We'll take turns watching him." Leda said as she prepared the unit of blood. "I'll take the first few hours. Get some rest."

The cheetah nodded before taking the spot the puma had set out for her. She fell asleep relatively fast as the activities of the day took a toll on her.


Tygra opened his eyes with a start.

He expected to be in hell.

But when his vision adjusted to the faint lights on the ceiling, he figured he was still alive.

He vaguely remembered the events of the last few hours.

He remembered escaping the palace, taking off for the woods, battling Lion-O and being on the receiving end of Panthro's laser gun. Then there was an explosion. That was the last thing he recalled.

He looked around with weary eyes. He was bandaged and cleaned. His uniform was gone and he was undressed down to his britches. On his arm was an IV unit that was connected to a bag of blood.

Somebody had the pity to save his sorry behind.

He wondered who would be so charitable to a wanted criminal.

Much as his neck and back hurt he tried to turn and look around some more. He figured he was in an infirmary seeing all the medical supplies on the wall. The bed he was in was a treatment bed, not the most comfortable in the world but good enough for fixing up injuries. At the corner of his eye he saw a sleeping figure wrapped in blankets, laid in a bed a few feet away. From the top of her head he identified it as Leda, one of the palace medics. She was snoozing quite heavily as she did. He figured she was the one fixed him up. But why she would aid him puzzled him. She was as faithful to the crown as any Thunderan was and saving his life was probably the last thing she would do.

"Identify yourself."

He turned to the source of the voice and was met with a staff within a breadth of his face. His gaze moved to see who held the weapon.

He knew that voice from anywhere.

He knew that scent from anywhere too.

The look in her rose-colored eyes, however, didn't register an ounce of recognition.

"Cheetara?" he asked tentatively, although he knew it was her. She furrowed her brows at his calling her by first name. Perhaps she did know who he was?

"You didn't answer my question." She evaded his identification of her. "Who are you? And where did you come from?"

"My name is Tygra." He answered slowly, gauging her reaction to his name. There was none. "I am from Thundera."

The look on her face showed suspicion. "What happened to you, Tygra?"

"Just got into a scuffle." He replied, attempting to sit up and wincing with the pain that came from the movement. "I bit off more than I could chew."

He sat up as straight as he could. Cheetara's staff was still trained on him.

"Don't try anything funny." She warned as she sped off, returning with chains and chaining him to the bed. She did it so fast before Tygra could register what she was doing.

Not these again…he thought to himself as he looked at the bindings that she placed around his hands and legs. He did manage to smile at her, though.

"I am your grateful captive." He tilted his head, flashing a come-hither smile that typically sent other felines on their knees begging for a marriage proposal. She responded with a scowl.

"Thank you for saving me." Tygra clarified when she didn't reply.

"Leda did most of your saving." She motioned to other sleeping cat. "I just had the fortune of tripping on your almost lifeless body."

He nodded. "I was the fortunate one." He acknowledged, still trying to win her over with what charm he could muster. It wasn't working.

"Get some rest. You need to get better." She all but dismissed him as she turned around and put her staff in a less defensive position. She marched out of the treatment room, resisting the temptation to look back at him. She could feel his amber eyes burning a hole in her back and she just about snapped at him for making her feel uncomfortable.

Even his voice had an alluring quality to it.

Stop it, Cheetara. She scolded herself again. Who knows what secrets this stranger holds? He could be a wanted criminal from another kingdom! She tried to dismiss the thought of the handsome patient in the infirmary and concentrate her thoughts on anything but.

She took a spot behind the infirmary door and stood guard. Her body was tired but her mind was wide awake, wondering if he was who he said he was and why he knew her name.

His smile almost made her knees buckle.

It was a good thing Leda was asleep, otherwise Cheetara knew she would never hear the end of it.


Alaric took his sweet time getting better. Apparently the squid that got him sick was not only undercooked, it wasn't that fresh either. Leda had thus enlisted the cheetah's help to care for their patient when her shift came at night time. Jaga had allowed her to do so, as they didn't have too many activities going on at the clerisy. Their patient slept throughout most of her shift, from time to time he would wake up and eat something. He slowly regained his strength and his wounds healed beautifully. He would talk to her a little, but Cheetara did her best to avoid him anyway. She would clean and dress his wounds and walk away as soon as she was done.

She was avoiding prolonged contact with Tygra. Not because he was being inappropriate, but mostly because she felt odd every time she was around him.

Particularly when he smiled at her and tried to meet her eyes with his.

Her heart would race, sometimes skip a beat or two. She would start to feel a flush in her cheeks or fluttering at the pit of her stomach. Other times she would feel a lump in her throat or that her mouth would feel dry.

It was the weirdest thing.

For a while she thought she was getting sick.

She had mentioned it to Leda one time, to which the puma laughed heartily.

"Tara, that's what's called attraction." She explained, the conniving smile not leaving her lips. She winked at Cheetara before continuing. "Can't blame you though, he's very attractive. I think he likes you too."

Cheetara had to hold her tongue from either agreeing or snapping at Leda. She was not going to get teased! She kept everything to herself from then on.

Finally Alaric got his health in check and took over for which the cleric was thankful for. At least she didn't have to sleep a few feet away from Tygra anymore. Thoughts of him never escaped her though, as his presence invaded her dreams.

Her dreams were not exactly appropriate either.

She would wake up from them, feel her heart palpitate, her breathing fast and feel her body quiver, the images still fresh in her mind as though they were real.

This has got to stop, she thought.

She just wished she knew how to stop them.

When Jaga learned that the injured cat had been feeling better he made a visit, bringing Cheetara with him.

"Good day Jaga!" Leda greeted the head cleric as he arrived at the infirmary.

"I'm glad Alaric is better." he said as he entered the treatment area.

"So am I." Cheetata mumbled under her breath.

Tygra slowly sat up when Jaga and Cheetara entered. He was still sore from head to toe but at least he was not as weak and dizzy as he was the weeks before. The blood transfusion had helped him tremendously.

"Take it easy, young cat." Jaga motioned for him not to straighten up as he was still obviously in pain. "I am but a mortal like you."

Tygra nodded in acknowledgement of the elder cleric. He smiled at Cheetara when he saw her standing behind her senior.

Jaga pulled a chair to sit right across Tygra. He studied him with his experienced eyes, observing every wound, every scar. Tygra felt he was being read like a book.

"What brings you here, Tygra?" the head cleric inquired. "I sense a weary soul within."

"I am…" the tiger replied. He met Jaga eye to eye. He wasn't going to sugar coat his past. "I've lost my way…metaphorically…" he paused to see the older cat's reaction. There was none. "I thought I was going to die…but now that I've survived, I feel the need for redemption."

Cheetara's eyes narrowed suspiciously. She examined Tygra, watching for any signs of deception.

"Redemption…" Jaga spoke, "Is earned, not granted."

"I am more than willing to earn it." Tygra answered with determination. "I have done my fellow cats a disservice…and I wish to make it up…however long it takes…whatever it takes."

"And how would you like to redeem yourself, young cat?"

Tygra made sure he had good eye contact with Jaga before he spoke. "I wish to become a cleric and serve the crown."

Leda audibly gasped in the background, making Cheetara turn and glare at her and shoot her a hushing look. She motioned for the puma to be silent.

"Allow me to think about that, Tygra." Jaga said as he stood up. "I am glad you're feeling better." The head cleric then turned to the two female Thundercats. "Good job, Leda, Cheetara. This young man owes you two his life."

"And for that I am eternally grateful." Tygra said, acknowledging both the female felines, though his gaze lingered longer on the cheetah.

Leda tried to stifle a giggle as the two clerics made their exit. She turned to Tygra with whom she had now actually cultivated a bit of a friendship with. "You like her, don't you?"

A sheepish smile found its way to his lips. "Yeah…she's not taken is she?"

The puma smiled back, "Not as far as I know. You better be gentle with my friend though." She eyed him warily. "You look like the heartbreaker type."

He drew a cross on his chest. "Not when I have my sights set." He winked.

Tygra made a full recovery four weeks after they had first found him on the steps of the House of Clerics. It was also then that he had arranged to meet Jaga there for a decision on whether he would be accepted into the clerisy or not.

"Thank you very much." He gave Leda a friendly hug when she finally took off all his bandages. "You don't know how grateful I am."

"Just watch my dear friend for me." Leda whispered in his ear. "She thinks she doesn't need anyone to take care of her, but she does."

It was that very second when Cheetara stepped in to fetch the tiger. She didn't react when she saw him give the puma a hug but inside she felt an unfamiliar feeling of possessiveness.

"Thanks Leda." Cheetara said in a harried voice. "Jaga awaits." She then turned to Tygra.

Leda waved goodbye, smiling to herself as she saw the two walk side by side towards the cleric house.

"They look so cute together." She spoke to no one in particular. "Good luck making her let her guard down."

"You are just the cheesiest." Leda heard Alaric comment behind her.

"And you're just jealous because you're too chicken to ask her out." She stuck a tongue at him as she sashayed away.


"Who's that?"

"He's hot."

"Do you think they're together?"

"He would look better on my arm."

Cheetara tried to ignore the not-so-subtle comments of the other female cats they passed on the way to the cleric quarters from the infirmary. From the corner of her eye she could see Tygra smiling nicely at the ladies who kept trying to get his attention. He has recovered well that the previous wounds on his body were no longer visible. One of the male clerics had given him an old set of clothes for him to wear to replace his tattered uniform. It fit him well to a tee, showing off his muscular frame. The dark green hues seemed to enhance his coloring and his gentle eyes.

He could wear a paper bag and still look attractive in it.

Stop it, Cheetara. She mentally berated herself. You don't know him.

They reached the House of Clerics and Cheetara led him in. Jaga was standing to a corner, observing the trainees as they sparred with their staffs. He turned and acknowledged the arrival of the two cats.

"Still determined to join us?" Jaga asked the tiger who vigorously nodded.

"More than ever." He replied, bowing his head in respect to the elder cleric.

"I see." Jaga motioned to one of the clerics who was standing by. "Show me your skills."

Cheetara recognized the other cleric as Juris, one of the mid-ranking clerics and a very able fighter, though he has never had the fortune to beat her.

Tygra prepared himself as the cleric threw him a wooden sword. He wished he had his whip with him but he knew his skills were just as good with the sword. He met the cloaked cleric in the center of the ring as they started to circle each other.

Concentrate.

Tygra made the first offensive move as he charged with his sword, Juris promptly jumping out of place to avoid him. The other cat swung his staff across Tygra's back which he avoided narrowly by moving sideways. They faced each other again, calculating each other's move. Juris took to attack this time, leaping in the air with his staff twirling above his head. Tygra held up the sword to defend himself when the other cat struck with the tip of his staff striking the tiger's weapon and sending the sword flying away. Before the tiger could respond he was greeted by a kick on the chest by the cleric. This spot happened to be where his injury was and he felt the air kicked out of his lungs.

Cheetara tried not to react when Tygra fell on his back with a loud thud.

He's probably still smarting from his old wounds, she thought, not allowing herself to look concerned.

Tygra struggled to sit up as Juris beckoned to him with a hand. He decided against trying to retrieve his sword as that would mean turning his back against his opponent. He was just going to have to do with hand to hand combat. The tiger got on his knee and charged again, head first. The cleric leapt out of the way but Tygra jumped at the last second too. He gave him a spinning kick that sent him flying across the room.

Juris was just about to stand up when Tygra tackled him. The cleric managed to hold on to his staff and used it to break the full impact of the tackle. The tiger appeared to have hurt himself on the staff and rolled sideways but managed to grab the cleric's leg. The two of them both fell on the mat. Tygra made for the cleric's staff and kicked it away.

The cleric flashed Tygra an annoyed look and put his claws up in preparation for hand to hand combat. He charged and tried to nail the tiger with a swing. Tygra ducked as the cleric kept coming at him with blows using his arms and legs. Juris was fast and several of them connected with Tygra's chest and face. He still managed to avoid most of the attack blocking them as much as he could. Deciding he couldn't be just defending himself forever, the tiger figured out a strategy. For a while he allowed the other cat to hit him, whilst he calculated his speed and pattern of attack. When he found an opening, Tygra seized Juris' ankle when it tried to kick him in the head and twisted it. A loud yelp was heard as the cleric fell to the ground. Tygra followed this with a rapid chop on his opponent's knee, eliciting another cry of pain as Juris curled over the mat in defeat.

Jaga nodded as Tygra helped his opponent stand up. Limping, Juris apologized to the head cleric who just replied to him under his breath. He then turned to the tiger, "Well fought, Tygra." He spoke. "But you have much to learn before you are allowed to join our ranks…if you make it."

Tygra bowed his head. "I will do whatever it takes, Jaga."

"Very well."


The head cleric was not exaggerating when he said Tygra had much to learn.

For while it only took Cheetara a few days to be allowed into the clerisy, it took Tygra almost ten times as long.

Jaga put him through the ringer.

For six months.

He had to undergo a "cleansing of the soul" to atone for his past wrongs. While he never revealed anything about his shady past, Tygra felt Jaga knew his misdeeds. He was sentenced to hard physical labor, was not allowed any "earthly comforts" and was allowed to speak only when spoken to. The first week of it would have broken any cat who dared, but Tygra was determined to show Jaga and Cheetara he was more than a one trick pony.

Ironically it was Juris who spoke to him the most. They hit it off quick after an initial animosity. They had become friends within a week of their initial meeting, however limited their contact was. They had developed a hand signal where Juris would pat his chest three times, signaling "Hang in there."

Tygra tried to, as hard as he possibly could.

Cheetara watched him on the sidelines. She was quite amazed with his tenacity and perseverance. His sentence didn't allow him to speak to her much, but when they did he was always so polite yet would throw in some flirtatiousness from time to time. He has certain charm about him that she couldn't quite put her finger on.

He had not just gotten into her head. He stayed in it.

There would be a stretch of days where she wouldn't see him as he was confined in an isolated room for meditation and he still managed to be on her mind.

In the nights when she would lay in her bed, thoughts of him would creep in her mind, no matter how hard she tried to block it.

She was certain he had bewitched her.

For how else could he be constantly in her thoughts and even in her dreams?

Leda once told her you can't always help who you fall for.

She wondered if that was what was happening to her.

Is she falling for their new recruit?

Thundera forbid!


"I will be gone for ten days, Cheetara." Jaga told her one day during the last stretch of Tygra's initiation. "We need to address these insurgent lizards before they get out of hand."

The younger cleric nodded. "Do you want me to come with you?"

The elder cleric shook his head. "If it all comes to a head the clerics need an able leader to carry on." He told her. "I know you are more than capable to take over the helm."

The cheetah was horrified of the thought that Jaga may not return. "You can't leave us, Jaga!" she insisted. "I don't think I'm ready."

"I know you are ready, Cheetara." He reassured. "You are more ready than anyone else."

Jaga started down the hallway towards the main halls of the castle when Cheetara called after him. "Tygra…is not done with his initiation." She said. "What do you want me to do with him?"

The old jaguar smiled. "Whatever you wish."

He disappeared in the blink of an eye.

The cheetah was stumped.

She turned to the Book of Judgment that was used as a gauge to see if one is fit for the clerisy. She leafed through it to see what stage he was at. As far as she could remember he was close to finishing the preliminary testing. He had been placed through the toughest of the rites, one saved for those who needed a thorough cleansing of the soul.

Has he done a great wrong to have to go through this process? As far as she could remember they had only a handful of cats that had been put through this trial and no one had made it through.

He was almost at the finish line.

She spent some more time reading the last few pages before deciding the next course of action.

Tygra was cleaning the cleric sparring room when Cheetara found him. Not being an official cleric he wasn't allowed to wear the cat's head cloak. He was on his knees, scrubbing a particularly stubborn stain on the floor, his top off and wearing only his borrowed pants. There was a thin sheen of sweat on his back, his muscles, now more well-defined from all the physical labor he had been doing, rippling with every movement he made.

The cheetah tried to banish the thought that first came into her head when she first saw his well-toned form.

Tygra turned about, sensing her presence. He got up and bowed his head in respect. He was not allowed to speak to her unless she talked to him first. She was wearing her cleric's cloak but he knew it was her.

She set her focus on his face as she evaded looking at his heaving chest. That didn't make her heart palpitate less. His gaze had a probing quality to them that made her feel that he was looking through her soul.

"I will take over your initiation rites." she declared. "Jaga is engaged in other matters."

Tygra nodded in acknowledgment.

You can take over me anytime, he mentally added, trying not to smile at that sentence.

"I will be in the library." she told him. "Meet me there when you are done."

"Yes Cheetara."

Cheetara made an about face and headed for the library, breathing a sigh of relief. She's really got to get over this silliness she felt whenever she was around him. It wasn't like he was a complete distraction, as her mental strength was better than that. There was just something about him that drew her to pay more heed than what she usually does with other cats.

Tygra finished faster than he had started, eager to meet her in the cleric library. He hadn't seen her much and the little time he did get he had very limited verbal contact. It was as though she was trying to avoid him. That didn't discourage him, however, if anything, it made him more determined to win her over. She was the force that kept him going through these trials he was going through. He swore he had cleaned every nook and cranny of the House of clerics, washed every stinking piece of laundry in the "punishment pile" and peeled more vegetables in the last six months than he had eaten in his entire lifetime. But her presence motivated him, whether it be physically or mentally. If this was what he had to do to be with her then he would do it again ten times over.

The experience was very humbling as well. As a prince he never had to do any of these chores. He had servants at his every beck and call. Even when he served in Mumm-Ra's army he had slaves that catered to his every whim. Here he had to do everything himself from making his bed…which was not much really other than a blanket on the cold floor, to making his own meals. He was also sent out to the community to help out those in need as part of the clerisy vow of service to Thundera. He's fixed roofs, tore down walls and rebuilt broken furniture for the poorest of the poor.

"You just wait 'til you pass this hard labor." Juris had told him one time he was so spent he could barely keep his eyes open. "Jaga makes you do these things to teach you humility and service. Its part of the vow we take."

"If it doesn't kill me first…" he mumbled in response.

"The next stage will take you to the inside of the palace." The other cat encouraged. "Much nicer in there, less hot, more pretty girls to ogle, and if you're lucky enough, you get to rub elbows with the royals."

Tygra thought he didn't need to ogle pretty felines in the castle. The one he wanted lived right here in this very building.

Plus, if the ladies of the court here were anything like the ones in the world he left behind, then he's already done more than ogle a good majority of them.

Cheetara looked up when he entered. He had changed into a new set of clothes and by his scent he seemed to have cleaned up quite a bit. Not that it mattered but the thought that he might have wanted to be presentable to her tickled her thoughts.

The tiger thought he saw her smile a little when she saw him.

That was extremely encouraging.

Cheetara had him sit directly in front of her. It was just the two of them in the whole library, the place lit by the numerous lanterns on the wall which cast a sleepy glow. Tygra thought it was quite romantic.

The cheetah thought it was too, except that she didn't really want to go in that direction right at this moment.

She leaned over to go over a sheet that outlined the rest of Tygra's tasks for the next week. The tiger picked up her feminine scent as she did. It reminded him of wild flowers and spring blooms, needless to say it was intoxicating. Had he not been thinking of what consequences it may bring, he would've let bad boy Tygra take over, latch his lips upon her sweet neck and make her feel things not even her imagination could make up.

"Any questions?" she spoke up, breaking him from his momentary trance. She straightened up and raised a brow to see his inquiries. Tygra registered most of what she had relayed to him but he couldn't get his mind of some of the imagery in his head of all the things he wanted to do to her.

He shook his head. "All clear."

She closed the book of judgment and put it back in its place. "Come join us for supper." She invited him as she headed towards the door.

Of course that meant he would do all the dishes afterwards too.

But how could he resist?

Mess hall was one of the places where wearing your cat head cloak was optional, mostly because it wasn't practical to eat without making a mess. Tygra has never been to this area as we was mostly delegated to eat after everyone else was, and he ate typically leftovers if there were any, in the kitchen after he finished doing the dishes. As he entered behind Cheetara, a dark grayish cougar motioned him to come over. He had recognized him as Juris without his cloak on.

"Moving up in the world, hey?" Juris chided as Tygra took a seat next to him. Tygra wasn't allowed to sit near the cheetah because of his rank but was allowed to mingle with the middle rank and lower ranking clerics.

"You could say that." He smiled at his friend. He looked at the gracious amount of food in the middle of the table. This was certainly an upgrade from what he was used to.

They began eating, with the tiger savoring every bite he could. He realized how much he took for granted when he was in his royal stature. This was certainly a wake-up call for him. His gaze would wander to where Cheetara was, as she dined with the higher ranking clerics. For a moment or two he caught her looking his way too.

It was very encouraging indeed.

"Good luck if that's who you're hankering for." Juris chuckled when he caught him looking at Cheetara one too many times.

"What do you mean?" the tiger lifted a brow. "Is she with someone?"

The cougar shook his head. "No. But she's devoted to her position more than anything else. You won't be the first to try you know."

Tygra winked at his buddy. "You don't know me that well."

Juris laughed. "True." He said. "But you don't know Cheetara that well either." He chewed on some vegetables before adding. "Besides, she's going to be assigned to the castle soon after. You might get to see her less and less. I hear Jaga may have her keep an eye on Prince Lion-O."

Now more than ever was Tygra determined to win her affections.

Lion-O's already one-upped him in his world, he wasn't going to let that happen again.


The last week of his initiation was spent in the obstacle courses. Tygra had to undergo tests for speed, for patience, for strength and cunning. He passed all of them with flying colors, his determination to be accepted in the clerisy his main motivation. That he had extensive military training when he was younger and during his stint with Mumm-Ra helped him tremendously. A few days before Jaga was to return, he was woken up early from his 4 hour slumber by a poke on his side.

"Rise and shine." The cheetah's familiar voice spoke above him. "Judgment day is here."

Tygra got up, still sore from the previous day's events. He didn't let it show and rolled his sad excuse for a bed away.

"Pack up some clothes and food." She stated. "We're going on a trip. I'll meet you outside in a few minutes."

The tiger acknowledged her and quickly packed a small satchel. He's never had much of anything anyway, placing some mismatched hand-me-downs from the clerics who were his size (or used to be his size) and a few scraps of kitchen leftovers. When he stepped outside he noted it was still dark, he guessed it was a few hours before sunrise.

"Follow me." Cheetara motioned to him. She wasn't in her cleric cloak but had a regular cloak on with a hood. He figured they were going to go to somewhere a little colder. She threw him a similar outfit to stay warm in. She led the way and Tygra silently followed.

It took well over three hours of hiking that they finally reached their destination. It was at the peak of one of the mountains that bordered Thundera. Tygra knew she could've hit the area sooner if she used her speed, but she had been considerate enough to wait for him. At that moment, the sun had begun to peek through with its bright orange rays.

Cheetara put her own backpack down, lowered the hood of her cloak and savored the warmth of the rising sun's rays. She was a vision in red gold and orange, and that took the tiger's breath away as he watched her take a deep breath.

It was a few minutes before she finally spoke. She turned to him as she did. "Welcome to Mount Panthera." She said. Tygra was familiar with the mountain but he's never actually been here. He had read about it in his studies. It was one of the most beautiful of the mountains that surrounded Thundera, but one of the least explored due to its treacherous cliffs and steep pathways. It was a common place for those who had wished to end their misery, for which the mountain has gained notoriety.

"Normally Jaga would bring cleric trainees up here." She stated. "Although on several occasions I've had the honor to." She turned to him, a more serious appearance on her face. "This is your final test, Tygra."

Cheetara pulled out her staff, twirling it in her hand. Then and there Tygra figured out his last challenge. He was going to fight for his life, atop Thundera's most notorious peak. He didn't even have the sense to bring a weapon with him.

"Don't worry." She seemed to have read his thoughts. "I'm not going to let you battle me empty handed." She kicked her own backpack towards him. Out spilled a staff, a sword, and luckily, a whip. Tygra made the obvious choice. While this was not the whip he was used to, he knew how to manipulate it better than the other two weapons.

"Prepare….to fight for your life."


7/21/2012

Author Notes:

See, Tygra isn't the only one who needs redemption, lol. I do too, after the depressing story that was chapter 2.

This chapter is dedicated to all the wonderful folks at FFN Spots and Stripes and TyChee'rs Unite on Facebook.

You guys rock the casbah! Jas, Dominique, Blanca, Phyllis, Lotor and everyone else I hope I didn't miss.

This is also for every single Tygra x Cheetara fan in existence. Love our ship without attempting to sink others!

As for my other friend who is not a Ty-Chee fan but who might be reading this out of morbid curiosity…don't kill me :-P. I told you you're going to hate me after this. But I know what to bribe you with, ^_^;;;.

Tygra: You know you don't have to bribe him with anything. I can take of that part if he tries to….

Nikolia: You are not touching my boss without going through me first.

Me: Hey quit it you two. Nikkie you can't make an appearance here, you're in another dimension…and possibly dead.

Nikolia: I am? *blinks repeatedly* but…but I thought you liked me.

Me: Doesn't mean I can't kill you in a fic. Heck I said "possibly', now run along before I change my mind.