Quid Pro Quo
Synopsis:What happened between Mufasa and Scar and how close were they?
Genre: Drama, suspense, hurt/comfort, slash.
Rating: M for adult situations.
Length: 38 pages.
I saw this at Disneykink and decided to give it a shot. Hope you enjoy
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to Disney. I am just borrowing them for pure entertainment purposes only.
Author's note: I was inspired to do this after I read some work by some of the most talented minds in TLK fandom. I am old school Lion King fan who wanted to get back into the habit and I hope I do my best. Please enjoy! This will contain adult concepts and mature themes. I have never done this before but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. If you are against this then get out. You have been warned. Mature content. Reader discretion is advised.
Beta'd June 2012: I added some changes and fixed some parts. I am very sorry for the inconvenience.
Do you remember….?
"Life's not fair, is it?" Scar sighed as he watched the mouse wriggle and crawl throughout his paw. He studied the trapped morsel as it was desperately looking for an escape route after being winded violently. Although there was no doubt that he felt it belonged in the confines of his stomach, he nonetheless felt a sort of kinship with this small creature. Trapped in his clutches, Scar also felt that he was stuck in this position he was in. Born second, he was demoted to second status over his big brother who trumped him in many ways possible. Add to the fact that he and his wife were expecting a new cub, the second born prince felt ensnared in the present circumstances. His chances at becoming ruler of all that he could survey became remote now that he was bumped in line for the throne. As the thoughts percolated in Scar's mind, the rodent wandered to and fro between his claws.
"You see, I, well I shall never be King," Scar continued, toying with the small mouse. His paw was giving the effect of turbulent water, testing and teasing the poor animal who no doubt wanted an escape route away from those jaws. It was trapped in limbo.
It was a pathetic scrap of a meal compared to the rich courses his brother and royal harem would help themselves to. It was not that he hated such rich meals so much as it was just that he did not like the company his brother kept, particularly the way they would look at him sideways or with their eyes as they gorged themselves onto the feast. The silent looks and subtle glares were something he became used to. Such was the life when your brother is the living example of perfection whilst you lived in the shadows. Not much was expected of the second born prince. The comments about how 'sickly' he looked compared to his brother echoed in his brain. He was always being compared to his bigger, stronger and more handsome brother. Mufasa was the sunshine, the light, the good. Scar was the complete opposite. What's more, he had no choice in the matter. He was born into it and could not get out of the cards life dealt him. He was trapped.
It was no big secret that he envied his brother's position and unless he wanted to attract unwanted attention, he decided that it was best to let go of the issue. The last thing he wanted was to create unnecessary drama within the pride and add to his less than stellar popularity.
"And you...shall never see the light of another day. Adieu." Scar laughed sardonically as he opened his mouth to enjoy his snack, but not before a loud noise broke his place of peace. The sound was a combination between obnoxious and annoying. As a cub, Scar could have seen him as an annoying tattletale. As an adult, the hornbill was nothing more than a pest with feathers and was no doubt the most pompous brown-noser he had ever met.
"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to play with your food?" That stupid bird said loudly, breaking Scar's concentration. All his life he had been subject to the negative reinforcement of others. No matter what, he was always looked with an air of suspicion. That was the image that was stamped onto him and it stuck to him like tar. Eventually, Scar came around to believing that if he was not 'good enough' for one image, it was best to create another one. In his case, putting distance while wanting to maintain peace and sanity only labeled him antisocial. It was this stigma that he could not escape. Oh, they made comments and they made sure he knew. The worst stings came from his father who was more acute and less forgiving on Scar's shortcomings and at the same time, never lacked the energy to praise Precious Mufasa for every single stupid thing that he did. It was like he got the short end of the warthog leg. He was the 'bad seed' and Mufasa was the perfect Golden child and now, he was getting the same treatment from his brother's inferiors and that in itself was offensive.
"What do you want?" Scar hissed bitterly. Truth be told, he knew that the bird was only here to nag him for not being present at his nephew's ceremonial presentation. In his mind, there was no real reason for him to be present at the 'ceremony'. The way Scar saw it, it was like adding salt to his wounds. It was like catching a large animal all your own before finding out that it had been eaten by other scavengers. Why would he want to 'meet' the little usurper?
"I am here to announce that King Mufasa's on his way. So you had better have an excuse for missing the ceremony this morning!" The hornbill proclaimed proudly. Perhaps it was the fear of confirmation that his brother was actually making a 'surprise' visit or that he had to make up a quick reason as to why he missed the presentation, but he lost his grip and the rodent escaped from his grasp.
"Oh now look Zazu, you made me lose my lunch." Scar said sarcastically. The bird didn't care and made an off color comment about how his disappointment could not compare to the utter frustration Mufasa would be feeling. There he went again, it was always about Mufasa and how felt. It was always about Mufasa and never about how he would feel. If he had been run over by a herd of rhinoceros and survived, Mufasa would have expected him to show up in spite of a broken back and one less eye. This had gone far enough. He would take that power bit by bit and he would start with that bird. "Ooooh, I quiver with fear," the red pelted lion hissed. Quickly, the bird's proud stance was gone and he was in flight or fight mode now that he had become acquainted with Scar's incisors. It was far too close for his comfort.
"Now Scar, don't look at me that way! HELP!" The hornbill yelled before he snapped up by the thin lion's jaws. In one snap, he was inside of the cave on the southern end of Pride Rock. Now, he was between Scar's teeth and tongue.
It had proven to be a fair trade, Scar thought. Trade the mouse for the bird. He would have had Zazu in one swallow had that brute not caught him in the act.
"Scar," Mufasa said in a condescending voice not unlike the kind father used when he reprimanded him. HIM, not them. "Drop him." Scar did as his brother told him to not because of any 'respect' but more because he did not want to create any more tension between the two of them than there had already been. Scar greeted his brother in the most genuine way he could fashion but Mufasa could see through the act and he was not impressed.
"Sarabi and I did not see you at the presentation of Simba." Mufasa stated simply. With one swipe, Mufasa would able to tingle at the heart strings of anyone and guilt trip them into submission. Scar grew immune to these tricks long before and responded in kind. They both knew why Scar chose to opt out. The way Mufasa saw it, he had better have had a very good reason to have made this choice. Not only was it disrespectful but it only made Sarabi weary and the last thing he wanted now was family tension. He would 'listen' to his brother even if his reasons were flimsy at best. Even if he did not like the answer and Scar could wriggle his way out of a tough situation, which he usually did, Mufasa would let it go but not before a stern lecture or if he could in anyway make the other party have fear instilled into them. Scar explained that he had 'forgotten'. Mufasa sighed and decided it was best to let it be, for now at least. For now, that was the story he would take back to Sarabi but Mufasa knew the real reason why Scar opted out. It was because he was an ungrateful brat who lacked class and could not handle the word 'No'. As cubs, Mufasa remembered Scar feeling the sting of rejection. As an adult, he thought that the other would have gotten used to not having his way all the time. Apparently, some things never change.
"As slippery as your mind is, as the king's brother you should have been first in line!" The bird pointed out. Scar made a gesture with his teeth that frightened the bird. Pathetic little tail kisser, Scar thought.
"I was first in line….until the little hairball was born!" Scar said in a poisonous tone that made Zazu seek refuge between the King's feet.
"That 'hairball' is my son and your future king." Mufasa met his brother eye to eye. He did not like ungrateful types. He disliked those who picked on others smaller than them even more.
"Oh, I shall practice my curtsy!" Scar said sardonically before daring to show his backside towards him. Now that was the final straw. He could tolerate certain things. Tolerate. That did not mean, like, condone, or support. That meant that he chose not to act in an antagonistic way for he felt it was not worth his time or energy to pursue. Seeing his younger brother who was still technically a secondary royal show his back to him in the manner he did and after what he said tested Mufasa's lenience level to the highest degree.
"Don't turn your back on me, Scar!" The King warned, showing his teeth this time. It was a sign that his frustration levels were reaching at boiling points but even that was not enough to deter Scar from turning back and seeking forgiveness.
"Oh no, Mufasa, perhaps you shouldn't turn your back to me," Scar said in a warning manner. Now that was hitting below the face.
"Is that a challenge?" The King roared and ran up to his younger brother who still did not seem to care about the severity of his comments or actions. Scar acted like he was walking on water and that was inexcusable.
"Temper, temper, I wouldn't dream of challenging you." Scar cooed softly. In spite of his acerbic tone, he hoped that a little consolation would prevent a fight for if there was one thing that Scar could not win in it was in physical combat. Paws down, Mufasa would be the victor any time. Scar's strengths lay in his wit while Mufasa's lay in physical aggression. As King, one would have to possess both these traits and the way Scar saw it, Mufasa only had one and it was secondary to the one HE possessed. What was muscle without acumen? Look at the rhinoceros. It was all muscle, but it was not exactly the cleverest being on the savanna. To Scar, Mufasa was nothing more than a glorified small rhino with a mane on his stupid fat head. Mufasa saw things very differently. It was because of strength, they could eat Cape Buffalo. It was because of strength, he was able to ward off those pesky hyenas. It was through strength he was able to control the Pridelands.
"Pity, why not?" Zazu said in his harsh tone, behind the safety of the King.
"Well as far as brains go, I got the lion's share, but when it comes to brute strength...I am at the shallow end of the gene pool." Scar said in a low tone before walking away.
"Scar!" Mufasa called out. The younger lion took a few extra steps before stopping. His head turned sideways. He did not want to give Mufasa the pleasure of knowing he got his full attention. Rather, he wanted to let him know that he had heard him, but that did not mean that he was 'listening' to him. Hearing and listening were two different things. When you heard, you acknowledged the presence of the other but that did not mean you respected them. Listening, on the other hand, meant submitting onself for the sake of the other. His profile was facing away from the King but his face was turned slightly. He did not directly look at Mufasa. This told the King that while he was not submitting to him, he was willing to consider what he was saying. It was better than nothing. The older lion decided that he had better use this time wisely instead of letting another opportunity pass them by. Scar was so fed up with submitting to the other male and the fights he almost started he had to come up with unique and covert ways to communicate with him without sacrificing his pride. If he had given him a fraction of his attention then he might as well be rich.
"Zazu, will you excuse us, please?" Mufasa stated simply. Scar's eyes widened. What did King Mufasa have planned? For certain he was not willing to pick a fight. It was after all, a very special day. What excuse would he have to give his wife and the other lionesses should he return to them with a bloody, shagged mane and cuts on his face? Even Scar knew that Sarabi would not approve of such behavior, especially on such an important day.
"I must insist, Sire, as your second in command, I must-!" Zazu protested before he was greeted with the King's condescending glance.
"Zazu, if you don't mind, please keep Sarabi company. I shall be there in awhile. I have to have a special talk with my brother." The crimson haired lion said calmly. It was a calculated manner in which he had chosen his words but the fact that he said 'special' told Zazu that this was a private and familial matter and that he had better be out of earshot within seconds lest he wanted to become dinner for the ruler and have his post given away. This was a sensitive matter and although Mufasa trusted him with his most confidential thoughts, this was something out of his range. Out of concern for King Mufasa's safety and his own life, Zazu took one last glance at the King before finally flying out of sight, giving the two brothers their privacy.
"Are you going to slap me? Oh, come now, dear brother, I know I misbehaved but I don't believe this warrants a blood shedding." Scar said with a low and bored drawl. As he did so, he was walking towards his older much stronger brother with a confident swagger.
"Scar, this is not about that. We are past that," said the lion with a golden pelt. His voice boomed like thunder, but his eyes bespoke a desire for another type of communication.
"Mufasa, I have no time for these games so unless you wish for me to starve, I suggest you leave me be." Scar said in a low purring tone and threatened to walk off again.
"Why must you be so difficult?" The golden pelted male tried again. At this point, he did not want to lose his brother. It had been a long time they had had a deep thoughtful conversation and any attempt to try and bridge the two was cut short by tempers flaring. This did not have to be. This was not always like this. Even beneath the skinny, lanky legs, and lithe figure, Mufasa could still see remnants of the cub he once played with under the warm savanna sun. It had been many summers but those memories never left the King's heart. The words were loaded but if there was a way he could keep Scar from leaving then perhaps it would prove to be an ample opportunity to fix communication and repair that connection that they once had."Now I know you think you are not popular, but that is simply not true. There is that one lioness that thinks mighty highly of you. The tawny one with the ragged ear," Mufasa said in a warm tone before leaning down and sniffing his brother's mane.
"Zira is a social climber." Scar scoffed and his green eyes rolled back dismissively. Mufasa let out a small but hearty laugh.
"You cannot always look at things through a negative lense, Scar." Mufasa responded in a reassuring manner.
"I am only difficult because it is the only way I can either get you off of my backside," Scar said softly before walking towards the King, "or get your attention." Scar's tail tuft brushed against the fair coated brother's nose which made him brush it off with a shake of his face. "The real question Mufasa, is why must YOU have to be so difficult?" Scar shot the words back to his brother before standing before him eye to eye.
They were complete and polar opposites. Mufasa demonstrated strength in body and spirit. His muscular build and sun colored fur was crowned by a rich, thick mane of russet toned hair. His image bespoke a King who was proud, bold, and confident. He was certainly beautiful and was every inch a fine example of royalty. Proud and majestic, he commanded the attention of those around him, from the swift cheetah to the powerful elephants, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope. Scar was everything Mufasa wasn't. His mane which was sleek and blacker than oil contrasted with his brother's. He was thin, almost skeletal, and he preferred the shadows to the sunlight.
"Because it is the only way I can get YOUR attention," Mufasa sighed heavily. "It does not have to be this way. It was not always like this," Mufasa said in a morose tone. This did not go unnoticed to Scar. Usually he did not give a real hoot about Mufasa's feelings; given today's example but the 'pleading' look in his eyes was something that the red pelted lion could not help but focus on. Seeing proud, regal King Mufasa on his feet and insistent for his brother's attention was the sort of turning of tables that Scar lived for. Now, the King was asking for a favor from him. It was small victories like these that Scar savored but even as sweet as this was, it was only a stepping stone to the ultimate prize. Mufasa's begging for communication was only a small morsel to the big meal he was craving. Still, it was best not to broach the subject too aggressively. Still, he was interested in what Mufasa would say not because he was the King or because he was his brother. At least that is what he wanted to tell himself. His curiosity was nonetheless piqued and if he could turn this to his advantage in any way, then all the better for him.
"No, it doesn't, Mufasa and you know very well what could make this little war stop," Scar said swiftly. He sat down in front of the older male. The way Scar saw it, this was not an act of submission but rather an act of consideration. Mufasa should thank for his lucky stars that Scar was giving him the time of day. After all, wasn't he the reason that Mufasa chose to stay and talk rather than leave and go about his day and forget about him? This was Scar's time and he knew he had to use it wisely.
"What, this? All of this?" Mufasa looked around them. It was no secret that the one thing Scar craved the most was the one thing he could not have. Lush, tall, green grass which provided perfect camouflage for hunting, trees that provided inviting shade under the hot sun, rivers and waterholes rich with water and various fauna; it was the crown jewel of territories as far as lions were concerned. "You could not last a day nurturing and protecting all of this." Mufasa said with a small smile on his face. It was a small but silly attempt to lessen the tension but at the same time serve to speak about the truth of the whole situation.
"Are you actually challenging me, Mufasa? Because if we are going to play that game, let's not forget who was the one that needed help into getting where he was today." Scar said before brushing up against his brother. Whether the gesture of affection had merit or if Scar was being sarcastic, Mufasa chose to not overanalyze it and instead turned his attention to Scar's words. He knew exactly what he was talking about. It was a long time ago but the memories were as fresh as yesterday's buffalo kill.
"And if I recall correctly, I tried to teach you how to catch your meals, but you were terrible at that, even with small and slower creatures." Mufasa countered Scar with a secret of his own.
"Very well, that is my cross to bear." Scar smiled and both lions shared a small laugh. It was a warm brotherly kind of expression of amusement that no one would have suspected between the two. It cut through the tension and created another type of mood between them.
"Walk with me. Not as King to subject but as equals. As brother to brother," Mufasa said in a gentle tone. It was a complete one hundred and eighty degree turn from where he was only moments before. Scar was hesitant to accept this little invitation but the look on his older brother's eyes suggested that he meant serious business and that he meant no harm. Scar considered it under the pretext that if he could get on his brother's good side then perhaps this would lead to another opportunity.
They stopped at a small watering hole and shared a drink between the two.
"Do you remember those times before father sent us away for that vigorous training?" Mufasa started and gazed up at his brother. He was of course referring to moments long gone, back when things were not as cutthroat and more peaceful between the two of them. It was a time when they actually talked as two brothers and not as King and lesser noble.
"Remind me which one. There were so many of them." Scar replied without looking up, still sipping.
"The one just before he…made his final decision." Mufasa stated carefully. He chose his words cautiously for he knew that Scar was sensitive about their father's verdict about who would succeed him. He hoped that Scar would focus on the training and not the fact that it was made just before their father made his last wish known.
"Very much so. What of it?" Scar stated sharply and stood over his brother. His face was showing neither complete disgust nor positive reinforcement which frustrated Mufasa. Either way, he had to use this to his advantage.
"I was just remembering how things used to be…..before all of this." Mufasa stated carefully, his rich brown eyes carefully surveying his brother for any reaction, but Scar had nothing that would suggest anything bad on his countenance. He just sat there, calm, cool and collected. Scar was a lion of very few words and was secretive about his true thoughts. To Mufasa, this made him incredibly frustrating and yet in an odd way it also made him completely fascinating. He learned a long time ago that Scar was certainly mysterious in a lot of ways.
"I seem to recall that you were quite the ruffian. Especially with me," Scar gazed over at his brother.
"As is typical for all cubs, Scar," Mufasa said with a smile but Scar was having none of it.
"Oh, no, dear brother, I have seen how cubs play. You did not know your own strength. You still don't," Scar corrected him. He of course was not just referring to his brother's brute strength, but the fact that he could mentally command anything and anyone without letting someone else have a word in. That was not fair.
Mufasa had seen the other lionesses' cubs play and the way he saw it, that is how he was with Scar. It was typical child's play. It was no big secret unknown taboo that Scar did not exactly possess any feats of strength. Father and mother argued that it was good that cubs, especially males, to engage in play for it would teach them how to protect themselves. Scar never took advantage of such advice and preferred the company of his mother or his favorite quiet secluded spot. Scar liked to think that he was polishing his psychological strengths by not going on hunting practice. Why should he do it when the lionesses were already there? Mufasa saw it as a lost opportunity to become self sufficient. What was wrong with practicing and polishing one's mental and physical qualities?
Then suddenly, it came to the King.
"Are you referring to that incident by the termite mound?" Mufasa queried. Scar walked behind him.
"There's too many to mention but yes, that was one of them." Scar retorted sharply.
"What of it, Scar?" Mufasa asked. From what he recalled, he played roughly with his little brother because, well, what cub would not get euphoria from beating their sibling at a game? Mother nursed and nurtured him and at one point, Mufasa suspected that she played favorites but upon playing with Scar, then called Taka, it was just normal cub play. What chip on his shoulder would Scar have about such an incident? There were plenty of times when they played like this. How would this be any different?
"Do you remember what you said to me, Mufasa?" Scar said in a low and bitter tone.
"I do remember something about me telling you that your tail looked like hyena dung and you started crying. Father never let me forget that one," Mufasa reminisced with a generous laugh. Scar let out a low growl.
"No, I am not talking about that!" Scar growled in an annoyed manner. "I am talking about that time just a little after that incident with the elephants."
"Hey Taka! Lemme show you something cool!" Mufasa called his little brother over. He was surrounded by a bunch of holes in the ground.
"What is it, Muffy?" Taka asked his brother. He always looked up to his big brother. He saw him as wise, caring and very protective and he was always showing him really neat things.
"Check it out!" Mufasa looked into the empty hole. "Ostrich feathers. Maybe they left an egg behind. You wanna look?" Mufasa said with a wicked smile. Taka's eyes widened when he saw his brother reach out for him and stuff his face inside the whole. There were no ostrich eggs but there were plenty of ants and lots and lots of eye stinging dust.
"NO! Mufasa stop!" Even though Mufasa knew were all the cool spots were, he could still be a little mean. He was the pride and joy of his parents, especially his father, who dropped heavy hints about him "doing great things one day." Mufasa was extolled but Taka was ignored. He did what he could to get to his father's good side but nothing was ever good enough for their father. It was VERY rare for him to actually show paternal care to the dusty colored cub. Mother loved them both equally but it was father who ultimately decided who would succeed him.
"HA! Made you look!" The golden coated lion cub with a red tuft on his head and tail wrestled the dusk pelted cub beneath him. Taka managed to wriggle out from beneath the other cub and run towards the safety of a termite mound. Taka sat on top of the mound, panting and trying to keep an eye out for his older brother who was not exactly aware of his own strength. Taka glanced around the mound. It was quiet. Too eerily quiet.
"Mufasa! Mufasa? You better stop it!" Taka mewed in a scared tone. All he could hear were the crickets beginning to sing and the sound of grass rustling as the wind caressed it. Taka waited a few more seconds before walking down the termite mound and began walking towards the center away from the grass, looking forlornly at Pride Rock. It was time to leave but he did not want to leave his brother out here alone. If he returned home his father would scold him for he stressed cooperation and the need to 'watch out for each other'.
"Mufasa?" Taka called out again.
Suddenly, with a great big burst of force, Take fell to the ground. Something big and heavy landed on top of him. He could barely breathe for whatever was holding him down was crushing his tiny little lungs.
"Pinned ya!" Mufasa said with a proud laugh.
"Stop it! Father told you to stop it!" Taka cried out. He tried to push big brother off but Mufasa would not budge. In fact, the more Taka resisted the more pressure he applied to the small cub.
"Nu uh, not until you say the magic words!" Mufasa said with a proud smile. Taka looked up at the brown cub with terrified eyes.
"Fine! Please stop!" Take pleaded.
"Nu uh, that's not what I meant." Mufasa replied proudly and pinned his brother down. Although they were born minutes apart, Mufasa was blessed with the gift of extra strength. Of all the male cubs, Mufasa possessed a generous show of muscle for one so small and for that he was the jewel of his father's eye. Taka inherited a sickly body, a thin frame and not much else. He was only extra mouth. Even if his mother loved him dearly it was enough to make him feel like an extra stick on a tree: useless.
"Please Mufasa, lemme go!"Taka said, this time gasping for breath.
"Nope, not THAT word." The red haired cub said with an air of arrogance.
"No, Mufasa, no! I won't say it!" Taka said with desperation.
"Say it!" Mufasa said while pinning down his younger brother. This time he added more pressure to the chest of the smaller, weaker cub. Taka felt like his lungs were on fire. He whimpered.
"L-l-loo-" Taka began.
"What?" Mufasa pressed his ear down Taka's mouth. "I can't hear you."
"L-long live the King!" Taka said finally.
Even if the moment had occurred when they were tiny cubs, Mufasa had to agree that this was not his finest moment. He had completely forgotten about the incident until Scar had brought it up. Had he been harboring the bitter fruit for all these years because of this? If it was, there had to be necessary precautions needed to mend this.
"I thought I was going to die." Scar said bitterly. Mufasa let out a small laugh. The dusky skinned lion's eyes narrowed at the gesture.
"I admit, I was not aware of my own potency, Scar but rest assured I never intended to kill you." Mufasa consoled his younger brother who did not exactly seem to be buying the story.
"You did not intend to steal my opportunity for glory. That does not make it any less painful." Scar hissed angrily.
"I had no control over that. I did not put a claw in father's eye. If it is any consolation, I apologize." Mufasa responded back. Scar sniffed bitterly. Whether that was a positive or negative answer, Mufasa dared not to push it for as far as he was concerned he was offering his say of peace. He was willing to admit that he was imperfect and was willing to put himself down a notch. If Scar chose to ignore it, that was his prerogative. This was going to be a stalemate. Mufasa began thinking of moments that were less painful, moments that were more pleasant and if he could spin this into a positive experience for the both of them then that was worth it. Both brothers began to walk across the savanna, surveying the large land that surrounded them. "Do you remember when father sent us away to see if we could survive two seasons without the pride?" Mufasa asked Scar. They both stopped in front of a large rocky monument that was surrounded by grass and sand.
"Ahhh, yes. The ultimate test of wills. Father was still unsure about us so he sent us on this little quest." Scar looked at the barren fortress morosely.
"It was here where we….got to know each other a little more, didn't we?" Mufasa pressed on. Their faint smell was still present but it had been used by other animals as a haunt. Most recently, a leopardess just used it to have her cubs. It was a good stronghold for an evening's rest but once upon a time, it belonged to the brothers. "He wanted to see which one of us could stand the most extreme of elements and he entrusted us to be one another's support."
"And one another's critics," Scar finished him off.
The brothers were told that while they both had their gifts and were talented in a multitude of ways, they still had one final quest to complete. It would be their final step from cub hood to adulthood. It was decided that they would be both be sent away from Pride Rock and live near the borders for a couple of seasons. They would have to learn how to hunt on their own, find their own water and support one another. All this had to be done without the help of the lionesses. This was supposed to teach Mufasa and Taka the importance of self sufficiency and character. They would have to build one another up. The King also saw it as an opportunity to take a break from the quarreling brothers and hoped that this would create some sort of resolution. Little did he know that although he decided that only one king should lead the pride, Mufasa and Taka made a secret pact: They would share the leadership. The reason why their father chose to end the Rule of Two Kings was because of territorial purposes. It was easier to manage a smaller piece of land than to be gone for days at a time. Both brothers saw this as an opportunity to best one another. Even if there had been a decree between the two brothers, neither could resist a challenge to see who could last in the rains the longest or who could go the longest without drinking from the cool pools of water by the western borders.
"Are you sure it's actually abandoned and not temporarily evacuated?" Taka asked Mufasa as he surveyed the outer corners of the rocky citadel.
"Oh, they are gone. There haven't been any tenants in weeks and the last ones were gazelle." Mufasa assured his younger brother. "Speaking of which…" Mufasa licked his lips. Taka scoffed.
"Again, Mufasa?" Taka asked in an annoyed tone. He was smaller and more angular than the other. His dark colored fur which matched the shadows contrasted with his brother's more brightly colored outline. It was if they were polar opposites and yet they were very much part of the same litter. It was also a different time, a better time. A bittersweet time faded away into the past like the winds.
"One has to keep up one's strength and you never know when a famine will hit." Mufasa responded proudly to his brother.
"If you get any fatter, you will look like a golden hippo!" Taka shot back at his more robust brother. Even as a cub, Mufasa had a slightly bigger build than Taka. Now at an older age, Mufasa had definitely filled out. Soft pudgy fat was now replaced by muscle and thick limbs. A rich red mane encompassed his face which gave him a proud and noble image.
"You need to eat. I don't understand why you never took hunting practice seriously. How do you expect to catch food?" The red haired lion looked at his younger brother. They were no longer cubs but young adults. Even as a baby, Taka was thinner but he still had some baby fat. Now it was all gone. His body was long and lithe and his mane was as black as the mud around the waterhole. Because of his thinner frame, many remarked he looked more like his mother than their much larger father whose traits were passed down to proud masculine Mufasa.
"That's women's work." Taka snorted bitterly. "I would rather spend my time learning how to acquire larger territory or create enterprises with other creatures than learn how to choke a smelly wildebeest." Mufasa laughed.
"Did it ever occur to you that father might look upon you more favorably if you brought home something, even just once, brother?" Mufasa asked.
"I wouldn't be so quick to point out other's flaws without looking at one's own, Mufasa." Taka hissed back. "Look at yourself! Look at your walk!"
"What's wrong with the way I walk? I don't limp." Mufasa replied as he sauntered forward. As he did so, he made large paces. It was a very pompous and arrogant walk and it made Taka sick.
"Your walk, it looks more like a trot than a proud walk one would expect from a King." Taka responded. He walked towards his brother in a slow and methodical manner. "How do you expect me to respect someone who walks around like a pompous oaf?" Mufasa ignored his brother's criticisms and began to trot-walk around him, teasing him.
"Are you saying that I am in dire straits and am in much needed help to fix this oh so very important ailment?" Mufasa said with a smile.
"You don't know your own strength and you walk as if you are crushing ants. If you are going to be King, I suggest you stop embarrassing yourself, especially me." The darker skinned lion growled lowly.
"Very well, I teach you how to hunt and you teach me how to walk like a sophisticated ruler." Mufasa shot Taka's own words back to him. And so it was decided. The brothers slept in the small makeshift cave, each sleeping in his respective corner. They both lived off of small mammals and birds that Mufasa was able to catch. In the meantime, Taka was teaching Mufasa how to present himself with less rustic and boyish flair and with a more royal attitude. One foot in front of the other, he stressed. Take the time to feel the grass under your feet. Taka walked next to his brother to ensure the proper pattern. Not too casual but not too forceful either. Mufasa noted that Taka's walk had a certain manner to it. He wasn't sure if he liked it or not but it was rather distracting. He could not replicate that and instead remembered how their father walked when he patrolled. Even he had a controlled manner of walking. Taka was right. Even on his days off, father walked in a manner that bespoke grace and commanded attention. Taka walked right next to his brother. Although it was not uniform, eventually Mufasa got the feel of what his brother was asking of him. Even Taka was impressed and it was very hard to please him. If it wasn't for Taka's mane, some would have thought that they were the royal couple taking a quiet stroll throughout the plains.
Finally, when Mufasa got the feel for the march that Taka harangued him about, it was now time for the younger brother's first lesson: ambush. Mufasa had caught the site of a lone impala. He told Taka to watch him first. If he did not catch it, then Taka would have to try. This would not stop until they caught it.
"Now, stay low to the ground." Mufasa whispered. Taka merely yawned. He hated rules and he hated being told what to do. TELLING him what to do was an offense to his intelligence for he believed that some things were not learned by being taught. They had to be experienced. He did not need to know the protocol for staying quiet nor did he care about knowing the finite details about separating the sick and old animals from the healthy ones. Those were no brainers. He once caught a healthy springbok but Mufasa killed a sickly old wildebeest. Guess who got more praise? That's right. For Taka, it was a rare moment. It was a precious attempt to finally see acceptance in his father's eyes and for those brief seconds he finally did. That was until Mufasa brought home his catch. Taka's smaller, more feminine body was actually an advantage to hunting. Males, especially large ones, could not stand a chance because they would stand out in the plains grass. The fact that Taka brought down a healthy animal after so many failed attempts only to have that moment of glory be taken away by that big fat idiot soured him. It was a wound he never completely got over. He stopped hunting after that and instead chose to rely on small animals for his meals.
"Now, watch." Taka rolled his eyes. This was so boring. He would rather watch rain dry on the back of a buffalo's butt. Although Mufasa had mastered the art of a regal walk, he was still sturdy in the art of subtlety. A twig snapped underneath his paw which caused the antelope to leap away from their grasp. Mufasa followed the animal for a few yards before settling down.
"Okay, your turn." Mufasa prodded onto his brother.
"Must I?" Taka sighed.
"After calling me all those names I think it is only fair that you do this, Taka. It's for your own good." Mufasa said in a paternal fashion.
Taka stalked the impala, carefully analyzing and anticipating its next move. The antelope was a few yards in front of the dark colored lion. Taka added a few more paces but stopped abruptly when he noticed something in the tall grass. It slithered past him. It was an Egyptian cobra. Taka's gasp was loud enough for the impala to take heed and leap away.
"This bores me. I'll be inside." Taka said in an arrogant manner. Mufasa shook his head and let out a slow smile. This was going to take awhile. He went in pursuit of the impala.
"You were always a terrible hunter, Scar." Mufasa observed.
"Some were meant for that sort of sport. Others are meant for greater things." Scar said in a cutting tone.
"You act as if it is below you to do that sort of thing, Scar. The lionesses cannot do everything by themselves which is why they need our help with certain game." Mufasa reflected. "You cannot expect everything to be handed to you."
Scar turned to his brother and gave him a nasty glare before turning away. As he did, Mufasa took extra note of the wound that marked his brother's eye. Although everyone had been used to it by now, especially Mufasa, the reminder of how Scar acquired such a mark was still as fresh as ever. Never would he forget that day. That mark served as a reminder for the carelessness of one's own choices should they not use proper foresight.
"Then again, you cannot change the past, but you cannot punish yourself forever either." Mufasa said in a soft tone that Scar himself had not heard in such a long time. The red haired brother looked at a small spot near the front of the rocky fortress. A deep red mark was still there. It was small but its permanent marker never left.
Blood dripped profusely from his eye. He was half blinded by that stupid beast.
"Taka? What happened?" Mufasa asked with the concern a loving father could muster. If it was their actual father, he would have scolded him for taking such a stupid risk. That was the day that Taka died and Scar was born. It was an ill-fated attempt to thwart the throne from Mufasa but it only ended up hurting the one who thought of its inception. The injury was so bad that they returned to the pride so that Rafiki could administer some sort of ailment using herbs. Their father, King Ahadi, felt that as proper punishment Taka would live a fortnight by himself but Mufasa refused and instead said that he would take the punishment with his brother, citing that he was distracted and that he too was 'careless'. The punishment was rescinded and changed so that they stayed an extra season outside the Pridelands.
It was the day that Scar became the pariah in the pride.
It was the day that Mufasa's beliefs in his brother were seriously challenged.
When father found, out he displayed such fury unlike before or ever seen again. Mother cried. Mufasa wasn't sure which one was worse.
"You gave everyone quite the scare, myself included." Mufasa said warmly. He sat next to his brother. Scar looked ahead and away from Mufasa, pretending he had not heard the confession. "As ugly as that moment was, it still was not the most frightening thing I had ever seen."
Scar turned to his brother, genuinely curious as to what Mufasa had been referring to.
"Don't make it worse than what it is, Mufasa. I don't need to be reminded." Scar said with an air of dark sarcasm to his voice.
"I am quite serious. Do you remember that incident just before the fires?"
They had been spending less and less time together after that incident with the buffalo. Scar would leave earlier in the mornings and he would come back just before sundown. Their conversations were stilted and they barely spoke. It was more like a transaction than a conversation. Mufasa still trusted his brother because although he had made some grave errors, Scar was a lot more intelligent than father gave him credit for. Scar was a little too proud for his own good but he was a quick learner. He was also fast and had a silver tongue which upon retrospect could be a dangerous combination should he say the wrong words to a large and angry herbivore. Still, even with all these talents, there was one animal that Mufasa, and most other lions feared.
This strange creature was a lot smaller than an elephant but taller than a hyena and it was hairless. It also walked on two legs. That did not mean one could undermine these strange creatures. According to their father, other prides had referred to these strange animals as 'hunters'. They did not have sharp teeth or claws but their main source of protection relied on long sticks. These same long sticks were used to hit and control their herds which consisted of these bizarre looking antelope. Sometimes, some of these sticks sprouted out thunder and lightning. It was a cardinal rule that no lion was supposed to eat from this herd for it belonged to these outlandish looking animals. Eating from this herd would result in dire consequences. Mufasa had warned Scar about these extraordinary beings for an encounter with them would mean certain death. It was best to stay away.
Then one day, it would all change. Scar had been gone for a long period and the sky was purple-blue. Judging by the position of the sun, it was not yet evening and judging by the smell in the air, something had happened. Mufasa worried profusely. Where was his brother? Mufasa took to the refuge of their rocky bastion and waited for Scar by the entrance, sniffing the air for his faint scent. The smell clouded his nose with this foreign substance. This came from the bright red flower these 'hunters' called 'fire'. They usually did this to keep warm at night for they had no protective hide and were practically hairless. This was not created by thunder for there had not been any rains in several weeks. Finally, out in the fields, he saw something and it made his heart skip.
It was Scar but there was something off. His walk, it was not smooth. It was broken. He was limping. Mufasa waited until Scar got close and that was when he noticed the wound on his brother's side.
"Them, they did it….." Scar said faintly.
"Scar! What happened?" Mufasa surveyed the wound around Scar's ribs. He was furious that Scar would go near the area where he was not supposed to.
"Wanted to bring you something….to shut you up….for once." Mufasa's eyes narrowed. Even without a thorough and detailed explanation he knew what had happened. Scar wanted an easy meal and tried to stalk and catch a sickly cow and bring it home to them. He had to give his brother points for the attempt but the consequences cancelled that. Scar was weak and he had to rest. Mufasa prodded Scar inside, begging him to rest.
"How far did you go?" Mufasa asked sternly.
"Past the kigelia trees," Scar moaned.
"You know that is beyond our borders. You should not have done that." The red haired lion said dimly. He could not believe that Scar could be so careless and stupid and yet he knew that now was not the time for punishments.
"Forgive me for wanting to try something new. Isn't that what you wanted, you big lummox?" Scar said in a low tone, lying on his back and smiling back faintly at his playmate. Even if Scar had made a bone headed move, he had to give him props for trying. If only he had paid extra special attention. Scar put his head down. Mufasa looked over him. He looked so peaceful and quiet in spite of what had happened. It was as if it was no big deal. Mufasa was not sure if this was careless or if this was Scar's way of preserving his dignity. Father stressed the importance of maintaining control in the face of adversity.
Either way, this was not the time for lectures and put downs.
Scar placed his head on his forepaws, trying to rest. His head tilted to the side. Mufasa could not help but notice how peaceful Scar looked just lying there. For years they had traded barbed jabs and fought with Mufasa usually winning. Now, Scar was at a weak point. He could not help but feel sorry for him. He knelt down and sniffed his brother. Scar had a distinctive scent. The scent could tell Mufasa whether Scar was around or not. It was an aroma that Mufasa found welcoming. As cubs it would mean that Scar was around and that he would play. As adults, the smell told him whether Scar was around and if he needed help or if he was safe. He could not imagine life without it. It was a distinctive smell that gave him some sort of comfort in spite of his brother's huge flaws. He had come to associate the smell with the need to protect. Even if it did not look like it, Mufasa cared deeply for his brother. He was not sure about Scar but he liked to believe that underneath that cocky attitude and sass tongue that the feeling was mutual. He wanted to believe that underneath the sibling rivalry and competitive streak that there was a bond that no one could break.
Usually when he was stressed he would go for a stroll, do some marking or hunt. Those thoughts were far from his mind. He did not want to leave. With Scar in such a state, the idea was alien to him now. He wanted to protect his little brother. And yet, he knew that his little brother did not take kindly to having his personal space being invaded. Scar put distance between himself and others as a way to control them. He liked to be seen as 'mysterious' and untouchable and yet, as practically his own twin, Mufasa knew it was Scar's way of healing the emotional scars of rejection as a cub. Now, he was not sure what to do. Would he be disrespecting his brother if he didn't give him his space and heal? Was it wise to leave him here or was it abandoning him? Scar was hurt and although he lay down on his side looking straight ahead, his stony face most assuredly masked pain. With this recent retreat, their relationship had evolved yet again. Mufasa was not sure how to approach it. Perhaps this was a sign that he had to take the first step. It was risky but he could not afford to take chances. There was only one way to find out. He leaned down.
Scar tilted his head. He glanced up and saw his brother look at him with a warm gaze. He then felt a warm tongue run across his cheek and mane.
"What are you doing?" Scar said in a low tone. His grassy green eyes were looking up at his brother.
"Nothing. Just…..basking in your presence, comforting you," Mufasa said proudly as he continued his administrations. "Enjoying your company." The larger male said coyly.
"I don't recall giving you permission to do such a thing." Scar said bitterly, his eyes closing when Mufasa moved close. He did not want to admit it but this contact was certainly not unwelcome. He felt his muscles lessen in tension and his breathing became more relaxed.
"Can't someone express affection for their brother without being interrogated?" Mufasa smiled with his eyes closed. A grimace crossed his face.
"I am just not one for public displays of affection." Scar countered. He let out a deep throaty purr as he breathed out. He did not flinch when he felt Mufasa's paw relax on top of his thin waist.
"This isn't public." Mufasa replied back. He stopped and looked down at his brother. He noted the look in those eyes which shared the same hue as the mysterious and untamed jungle. They were not expressing a hint of Scar's dry wit. There was something else behind those beautiful eyes. It was something secretive.
"Why are you doing this, Mufasa?" Scar asked quietly. He closed his eyes, letting out a small grunt upon feeling the other's tongue touch him. He could not remember the last time someone had done this for him, save for mother when she gave them baths. This was a different and new element and Scar was not sure about it.
"I beg your pardon? Is it wrong to show affection, brother?" Mufasa said lowly, nuzzling his brother. He noted Scar's quick reaction to his touch.
"Why are you doing this? This isn't me. This isn't us." Scar said solemnly.
"And why shouldn't it be?" Mufasa said warmly. It seemed as though any gesture of kindness was completely foreign to Scar. "Are you afraid of my touch? You don't want me looking at you?" The deep voice graced the smaller male's ears. Mufasa pressed his nose into the black mane, savoring the scent. Scar was quite the paradox. He said he was not sure of this and yet he did not move. On the contrary, his body language suggested that he was quite relaxed and it was not because Scar was in any sort of pain. Judging by his breathing pattern he had become relaxed. That was until Mufasa established contact.
"It's been too long, I am afraid..." Scar finally confessed.
It all made sense. Mufasa himself had been so coddled not just by mother and father but by the other lionesses. Little Taka was given the tough love treatment at best or ignored at the worst. He was taken care of by his aunts and grandmothers but he did not receive the warmth that Mufasa got. That did not seem fair. Everyone deserved the encouragement he did but to be denied such contact, much less affection, even Mufasa could not understand. He knew he was 'the favorite'. He could not forget the words of praise. He knew that Taka did not receive as much praise as he did and at the time Mufasa attributed it to laziness. To be denied such affection was an alien concept. Every cub, every lion deserved to know that they were loved. Was that not the significance of all prides, family and community? Was it possible that affection or the concept of love a very foreign concept to Scar that that was why he reacted the way he did to such a friendly and personal gesture? Scar's body suggested that this was not unwanted but his words said otherwise. This was backwards. This did not have to be this way. The future King was already training in handling complex matters such as sharing the watering hole and dealing with other predators. He was not sure if he was capable of managing such private matters, especially if they came from someone who wanted to scratch your eyes out one day and yet depended on you for food. There was only one way to find out. There was only way to discern Scar's true sentiments on the matter.
"Do you want me to stop?" Mufasa asked finally.
The dark skinned lion gazed up at his brother with concerned eyes. He was asking him for permission. He was asking him for his opinion. It had created a bridge between the two brothers and Scar was not sure if he wanted to cross it. He was used to being on the side, ignored, not taken seriously and if one wanted his attention it was usually because there was an ulterior motive behind it. Father would ask him questions about what he thought were small matters but it turned out that he was 'testing' him for the right answers. He wanted to see if he could answer his queries the way a King should. He was tricked. Mufasa was also guilty of this. He was the worst offender. He was not sure if this was a genuine question or if this was another way for Mufasa to tease him. Scar then felt his brother's tail brush against his. Even through the fighting, the competition, the favoritism, there was a link between them. A bond so strong not even an elephant could crush it. It was a mixture of all sorts of emotions and sentiments that no one else could understand but the two of them. Usually Mufasa would pull off the act but as of now, he was still calm and warm. Perhaps this wasn't a show but this was authentic. Scar closed his eye when he felt Mufasa nuzzle him on the cheek.
"Just stay away from the eye." Scar warned.
It had been one of the few rare incidences that were peaceful between them and Mufasa treasured them dearly. They could have had more had Scar not been so stubborn and bitter about everything. Because of the hunters, the Rule of Two Kings had been disbanded. It sheltered them. Should he have given Scar his piece of land he would have certainly lost him. Scar not getting his share of land was not done out of control or spite but for his protection. If he did not see it that way and that was his choice. There was no point in fighting about it anymore for Scar would only see it his way. This was done to prevent contact with the foreign beings. Scar's wound which had mostly healed by this point was proof of that. Mostly. It was still there but it did not bother him, at least the King liked to think that it did not.
"Does it still hurt?" Mufasa asked his brother. The sky had turned from a brilliant blue to a cool purplish and orange hue.
"I hardly even notice it." Scar shot back.
"So tell me, why is it that the physical wounds can heal but the emotional ones don't? Is it because you don't let them?" The golden toned male asked. Even if the wound above his eye did not go away it did not stop Scar from living. He hardly even remembered it. If he could do that, why could he not do that with the self imposed ones in his head?
"That's like asking me why the leopard has spots or why there is a gorge over a clean space of land." Scar observed bitterly. Mufasa's eyes widened.
"Actually, that is not the same. A leopard does not choose its spots. It chooses how it uses them. Likewise, a gorge or a cut in the land can serve a positive purpose." Mufasa observed and turned Scar over to a rich watering hole. "You can turn something ugly into something better." Mufasa stated warmly. "You can utilize a weakness to make you stronger. It might even save you if you utilize it to its potential."
Just then, the two brothers noticed a plump red warthog run across them.
"SORRY! EXCUSE ME!" The fat juicy pig yelled.
"Gang way! Coming through! That rhinoceros beetle didn't agree with his stomach!" The small animal on the warthog's back yelled. It was quite an unusual sight.
They smiled at one another and considered using him as an afternoon snack until they caught wind of a strong smell emanating from behind it.
Mufasa scrunched up his nose trying to make sense of the foreign and toxic smell. Scar wrinkled up his nose and face turned into one that made him look even more arrogant, if that were possible.
"I do believe it is time that we take our leave." Mufasa declared.
"For once, I agree with you." Scar nodded. "Save for that sordid mess you do make a case." Scar responded in a low drawl.
"Really, now?" Mufasa asked proudly. He was content that he had finally reached an agreement with his brother.
"Oh, yes and no one has proven to be a finer example of that than you." Scar said in a proud manner as he sat down across from the other male.
Two seasons had passed by then. According to the King's messenger, they were told that they needed a few more before father could come to a complete decision. They had survived droughts, famine, and if it had not been for Scar's carelessness, or rather his arrogance, run-ins with 'hunters'. There was one last obstacle that they had to deal with. Though it was rare and highly unlikely, it was significantly taxing, especially if you were a young male in the prime of his life.
It was a late afternoon. Mufasa and Scar had managed to find a watering hole and shared it with the other animals in the vicinity. He had also been marking more than usual. This was to tell other males that this spot was taken and that it would be unwise to take it away from him. It told other males to keep their distance because this land was theirs and if it they wanted it, it would not be taken easily. It told other lions of their presence and special precautions would have to be taken if anyone ventured into his strip of precious land. During this time, Mufasa had blossomed into a healthy young rugged male worthy of a king sized pride. Even before he and Taka had been sent away, he had a burgeoning popularity amongst the females and father dropped a hint that Sarabi, the loveliest of the lionesses, would be promised to him. But first, he had to do this. At first, this trial was easy but as time progressed, the young prince found himself increasingly desperate for female companionship. Sarabi's voice and Sarafina's touch were like mirages now, sweet dreams forever lingering in the recesses of the young royal's mind.
Then, one day, he saw her.
Mufasa was enjoying a quick drink from the pool when he saw a reflection in the water. He ignored it at first, believing that it was an effect from the sun but the figure moved. Mufasa looked up at the direction and that is when he saw it.
Or rather, he saw her.
She had a light cream colored pelt and her eyes had the same blueish-green tinge as the waters from a rich forbidden paradise. She was certainly attractive and her smile hinted at something more promising other than small talk. Mufasa stood his ground. It could have been a mirage for it had been a few days since his last meal and drink. Her laughter on the other hand confirmed to him that this was not a trick of the eyes. Mufasa smiled and acknowledged the attractive female.
"Hello," he greeted her warmly.
She smiled and let out a sensuous laugh. It was the song of the siren. She certainly had a lovely voice. Mufasa still stood his ground. He had promised himself to Sarabi and this last test called for complete self-control. This meant no contact with outside females. The reason for this training was to stress discipline and to not fall into temptation. Father said that it was important to resist all types of temptations and he was especially stern about this one. However, there was no rule about SPEAKING to one.
The female was young. She did not say a thing. She seemed more interested in teasing the young male heir. That was until she turned around and presented herself to him. It was then that Mufasa caught wind of the female's true intentions. Underneath her tail, she promised him the kingdom of Heaven. Her fragrant scent ensnared Mufasa and his disciplined self was at a crossroads. Her sweet heat tested his mental strength to the highest degree. His heart raced as he savored the scent. She wanted him and she wanted him badly. He had heard about these types of females. She had no sisters surrounding her which told Mufasa that she was a nomad. These were the ones that young males from well off prides had to especially watch out for. Lionesses with a pride were seen as low and dirty and no prince worth his salt would dare touch one of them.
A lioness without a pride was a lioness without honor.
A lion with royal blood would dare not mess with any of these types of females for it would produce complications if his seed successfully mated with hers and produced offspring. They would be considered dirty offspring for they were born from rotten, dirty fruit. There were some especially crafty ones who would 'trick' poor unsuspecting young males and lead him to an area where a much larger male would be waiting and that would be his last day spent breathing. The rule of celibacy especially applied here for it was considered careless if cubs were produced during drought or famine.
Mufasa followed her for a few paces. She then went into a clearing. She kept looking back to see if he was still following her. Then, she disappeared into a thicket. Mufasa knew better than to follow her. She was certainly real and not a figment of his imagination. Still, better his pride than his life. Still, she would lurk in the inner recesses of his mind.
It had been several days but the female aroused a deep and primal interest in the young prince. Mufasa sprayed more frequently as a way to distract himself from her memory or at least that is what he tried to tell himself. Perhaps it was a dream, a dream so strong that he could still smell her scent. He had gone back to the body of water where he had the encounter with her but she never returned. He could have sworn that he heard her sweet laughter. It was like a song that tempted him. She could never escape his mind. He never told Scar about the encounter. Even if nothing had happened, this was a secret he would have to keep to himself. One day, he was pacing around the stony fortress when Scar returned from his stroll. Immediately, the smaller male stopped in his tracks.
"Mufasa, what are you doing?" The smaller male asked.
"Protecting our boundaries, brother," Mufasa replied quickly. Scar sniffed the air.
"I see." Scar said in a suspicious tone. "Then why is it that I detect a hint of 'eu de desperation' in the air?" Scar asked sarcastically.
"I am not sure what you mean." Mufasa shot back, hoping that Scar did not pick up anything unusual. Truth be told, he was still thinking about that lioness and how badly he wanted to feel her soft fur beneath him. He decided to distract himself by picking up the scent of any resident males and marking, trying to rid himself of the competition.
"Oh, come now, Mufasa. Do not insult my intelligence." Scar said as he walked forward. "You have bathed this space with yourself so many times over I am afraid your odor will be very hard to wash off."
"I heard about some rogues on the other side of the crater. I am giving them fair warning." Mufasa said hurriedly. He was usually good at coming up with quick excuses but lately he had been slipping up. He wanted to believe that Scar would let the matter drop but the look on his face said otherwise.
"I see. Well, if that was the case, why didn't you do it outside near the southern end of the watering hole? I am sure the entire place could use your stench. Don't spray me and tell me that it is raining, Mufasa." Scar said sarcastically. Mufasa was being pushed into the wall and he did not like that. He didn't want to get aggressive and push Scar away for that would only arouse suspicion.
He didn't understand it. Usually he was very good at controlling his urges but for some reason, Scar being there did not help. He was right, he could have taken his business further out but even then, Scar would have picked up something. The way he saw it, he was only marking. At least that is what he tried to tell himself, to convince himself. Scar's face however indicated that he was seeing through his mask.
"Oh dear, brother. I am so highly offended." Scar said softly. "I don't know whether to be slighted because you thought you could hide it from me or because you never thought to tell me about your little secret. You say you are telling others that you are five hundred pounds of bone and gristle and yet I can also tell that you are saying 'I have royal blood and I can tear a hyena in two. Call me if you are interested'." Scar said with a soft purr in his throat. He brushed himself against his older brother from one side before turning around and greeting him with a small lick on the chin.
"I am not sure what you mean, Scar." Mufasa said with a very masculine rigor in his voice. Whether it was a poor attempt to hide that insecurity from earlier or an attempt to regain composure, Scar laughed at the failed effort.
"Oh, come now. You insist on spreading your perfume as a way to warn others and yet, I don't quite believe it. You say you are keeping others away but why do I feel that you are doing the exact opposite?" Scar said with a raised brow. Mufasa looked to the side, pretending that he had not heard Scar's words. "You are a young buck coming into the prime of your life and you never saw the opportunity to tell me about it, much less seek my advice?" Scar smiled. As he walked forward, the tip of his tail brushed against Mufasa's chin. The larger male didn't dare brush off the tuft. On the contrary he found it very relaxing. He did not want that feeling legitimized and he tried to repress it. One would have to be pretty deaf, dumb and blind to deny that Scar had unique traits. His walk was slow and calculating. And yet, there was something oddly inviting about it.
"Since when do you know about these sorts of things, Scar?" Mufasa asked in a concerned tone. Mufasa knew about these strange urges and feelings. He just did not have the right means and resources on HOW to get rid of them hence why he did what he was doing. Even rubbing himself on the grass was out of the question for he did not
want that going back to his father. Apparently he did not hide it well enough for Scar caught wind of his little conundrum.
"There is a lot you don't know about me, big brother," Scar said in a low and very sensual tone. "You have no idea".
Mufasa watched as his brother walked towards the other end of their stronghold. He had a distinctive saunter that Mufasa could not help but notice. As he watched, Scar stretched. His front legs stretched back while his hindquarters arched up, giving him a full view of that long, lithe body. Scar had a distinctive quality that cancelled out his less than desirable attributes. For one thing, that soothing voice and those beautifully shaded emerald colored eyes added to his mystique. He had clearly inherited mother's best qualities. Strong, proud, regal and majestic were not features Mufasa would not associate with Scar. If anything, especially now, sinuous and strangely tempting were adjectives that would appropriately describe him, even if Mufasa thought that thinking those terms and applying them to his baby brother were inappropriate.
Then again, this behavior was not considered unusual for lion brothers. It was necessary for bonding. Their great great-grandfather had banned the practice for the very same reason he had banned engaging with strange lionesses; it was for discipline and control. And yet, even without her around, Mufasa found that he was still stimulated by Scar's presence which never happened. Was this a side effect from the unknown lioness? Did Scar pick up on Mufasa's innermost thoughts and tried to pry them out?
Scar laid down on his side. Mufasa could not help but gaze a little too strongly at his brother's long and beautifully sculpted body. He found it nearly irresistible when he saw the younger male turn onto his back and tease him in a way females did. Mufasa wanted to strangle Scar for doing that.
"Come now, Mufasa. You know you need it. You know you want it." Scar said finally. Mufasa shook his head and coughed loudly.
"I…excuse me?" Mufasa said in a concerned tone. He had not said anything all night that remotely hinted at what he felt and Scar read him like a map.
"Spare me your innocent schoolboy rhetoric. You stare at me like I am a piece of meat and yet you do not even take a bite?" Scar said with sensuous smile. Mufasa coughed. "I am practically insulted."
Mufasa blushed. Was his brother actually OFFERING himself to solve his 'little problem'? As far as he knew, Scar was antisocial personified and yet here he was willing to engage in such activity. What did he gain from it?
"What are you getting from this, Scar?" Mufasa asked loudly. He was not falling for it. There had to be something that Scar was getting from this but he was not sure what. Scar was not an alpha male type, but he still exerted control in the most subtle of ways. It was maddening. He would rather have the other yell out his inner thoughts than keep them covert.
"Nothing much, except for the pleasure of helping you with your little issue." Scar smiled sinfully. He crouched down onto his stomach. "You need help and I am giving you a bridge. Fair's fair is it not?" Scar said finally. And there was the crux of it all. To Scar, the way that Mufasa had deciphered it, this was no different than 'teaching' him how to walk. It was his way of trying to control the situation without looking overt about it. Mufasa was not going to fall for it. At least, that is what he told himself.
"Even if I did take you up on your offer, you would still find a way to exploit the situation." Mufasa said with a smile, retaking control from Scar.
"Very well, but remember this. I offered you a crossing and you refused to take it."
Scar's words stung at Mufasa's very chord. It was a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. Truth be told, he would love nothing more than to get rid of this itch that he had to scratch and that was it. He never expected Scar to 'help' him. Was it because he was afraid of reaching at a deeper level with his brother? Had he gotten so accustomed to walls that this was one he was not willing to cross? They had made attempts to mend that bridge. The other day was a perfect example. Not long after Mufasa had expressed affection to his brother by licking his mane, Scar returned the favor and as far as he knew he wanted nothing in return. He even stopped pestering him for his embarrassing walk. This was another level that he was not sure he was willing to break and cross over. Still, the truth of Scar's words haunted his mind. When Mufasa offered a 'bridge', Scar would not take it. Here, he was doing the exact opposite. Was it unwise to ignore it?
He was like this before Scar had said anything and yet, these strong thoughts and desires were only highlighted by him. Was this a latent feeling he was not sure he had and Scar figured him out? Had he discovered a side of himself that he was not aware of and was not sure he wanted to acknowledge?
Mufasa's concentration broke when he felt Scar brush against him except this time he was taking his time and he made sure that Mufasa knew that. He came back around and gave him a soft nuzzle. Now THAT was completely unexpected. Mufasa was not completely sure if it was all an act by this point. As far as he knew, Scar was not the affectionate type, even if he was 'pretending'. This was a new field and he was not sure if he wanted to embrace it. When Scar was hurt, Mufasa did not mind those moments because he felt he was protecting his brother and in return Scar sought comfort. This was different. Scar's approach was more active. It was still passive and yet it was very much active.
More acutely, the kind of affection Scar seemed to be looking for suggested something beyond a brotherly bond.
"You look so foolish just standing there. You are acting as if I told you to count every single grain of sand." Scar said sensuously before running a gentle lick on Mufasa's cheek.
"You might as well be. I still don't understand what you get out of this." Mufasa said nervously. He watched as Scar crouched down. His heart began to race when he saw the other position his hind legs.
"Nothing but your undivided attention. You think you are the only lion ever to hit puberty?" Scar said as he looked up. And that was when the last piece of the puzzle fit. Mufasa knew that Scar was a little 'different'. This 'difference' was beyond the way he looked or his sulky nature. This certainly explained why he had disdain for the lionesses as well as his other attributes. It certainly explained that devastatingly gorgeous walk that Mufasa could not help but notice, especially in recent days. He stood over Scar, wondering if he was about to make the biggest mistake of his life or indulge in one of life's sweetest escapes.
No one had to know.
"If it's any consolation, you get to lead." Scar stated simply. They were words that helped calm Mufasa's nerves, if only marginally. Scar positioned himself, ready to receive his him. He was deadly serious about this. The warm inviting smile did help to alleviate the anxiety that permeated in his brain. Scar's throaty purrs tugged at Mufasa's heartstrings and lust.
He positioned himself on top of Scar, pressing down on his back gently, careful not to crush the smaller figure beneath him. It took a few tries and a few angry quips from Scar before the future King found his rhythm. It was very, very awkward for the future King was once sure that he was going to sow his wild oats with ANYONE but him. And yet, being in this moment, it did not seem strange. There was an invisible force between them. Both kept their distance and yet in spite of the heated charges that would cause chasms between them, their bonds were equally as strong. Mufasa remembered how he would play with Taka for hours, how sad he felt when the other got in trouble and how he consoled his little brother when father was angry. Their link, their connection did not sever after all these seasons. They were connected like the links on a spider's web. This was another layer to their complex bond.
It was rough at first but eventually he found his pace. As Mufasa thrust passionately, Scar arched his back and let out loud throaty moans and on occasion a few angry growls. It was obvious to the younger prince that he was such a novice. To keep him contained, Mufasa bit Scar's ear or mane. Eventually Scar would tire and bat him off either because he was a little too 'excited' or because the other began to hurt him. It was usually a combination of both. The process would continue when Scar said he was ready and let his brother get on top of him again.
Mufasa closed his eyes in deep concentration, savoring the reactions his body had as he pushed himself into Scar. His muscles tightened and his heart raced. He tried very hard not to be so rough on Scar but the pit of his stomach could not contain his excitement as he felt that he was about to explode. It felt incredible. His claws retracted, dragging dirt underneath them. The crimson haired lion expressed his lust by letting out soft and loud roars, depending on the severity of his passion.
Meanwhile, Scar tolerated Mufasa's…..ardent expression by encouraging or discouraging him in a direct and cold tone. It was never loving. He had to have a say in this somehow. In the beginning he was such a novice. Scar knew from observing other animals what had to be done. He closed his eyes and pulled with his claws upon feeling that intense sensations of desire breach his body. His heart was beating quickly and his breathing was becoming labored. Scar would get very annoyed when he could feel Mufasa's hot breath on his ears. Scar hissed and told the other that he was not Sarabi and that it was best to tell her THOSE things when he was with her. He preferred to keep their communication during these 'encounters' limited to orders and responses of affirmation.
"Do stop that."
While Mufasa enjoyed these encounters, he felt it was wrong. Though this was natural, even expected in some circles, he broke his creed against family code. This was a grave mortal sin, a sin that went into the back of his mind and down the riverbank as he indulged. Scar on the other hand saw this as an opportunity to exploit his brother's weakness and at the same time, rebuild a relationship that was rocky at best. No longer was he 'useless' or an 'extra mouth'. He had provided his brother with some help. He had taught Mufasa some very important things and for that he would be in his debt. This wasn't a mistake or an accident for ever since that day, Mufasa came back again to get a taste of the forbidden fruit.
When they had finished and reached their climaxes, Mufasa pulled out and lay next to Scar, licking his nose and face in an affectionate manner. Scar lay down and tolerated the touches. Sometimes he would return the favor if he felt like it. Even if he hated Mufasa for being such a fathead and being the pampered prince who had his way, he was still the only one who understood him. He was the only one who knew his innermost thoughts and vice versa. Sometimes this would be a dangerous thing for they would know the other's weaknesses as well. They knew how to push the other's buttons and at the same time, would know how to make the other listen, submit. Melt.
They would sleep, wake up, eat and repeat the whole process again for a few days. Although there was a clear delineation between who was dominant and who was submissive between the two brothers, these intimate acts blurred the line. Yes, while Mufasa was on the one on top and therefore the Dominant, it was Scar who decided the pace and if they should stop. Likewise, while Mufasa maneuvered the speed, it was Scar who was at the mercy of his touch. The line between who was dominant and who was submitting was fuzzy at best when they shared these private, passionate and painful encounters.
Mufasa closed his eyes in deep thought. It was a moment he wanted to keep private between himself and the other party. He wanted it to stay in the alcoves in their minds. True, they were only ones present but upon revisiting that moment, he was not sure if he wanted to remember it. At best, it was the ultimate expression of bonding between the two brothers. At worst, it was a youthful indiscretion that was not entirely taboo but remembering that he broke the celibacy vow that his father stressed made Mufasa feel tainted. It symbolized his fall. He did not want that cut on his pure mind.
And yet, he could not deny that the moment brought him and his brother closer. It had been such a long time since the two were close and this bridged the gap between the two. They had found a resolution, had they not? Is that not what father wanted? With a renewed sense of relief their father was proud that both his sons had discovered the benefit of cooperation and putting aside differences. Little did he know that rutting played a significant part in this game of kiss and make-up. Mufasa recalled that incident with a hint of regret for this was a spot that would forever taint his mind. And yet, things were a little better than before. That was until father made his announcement and chose Mufasa as his successor. Scar returned to his old habits and it was as if their experiences together never occurred. Father never found out exactly what happened.
"Did I strike a nerve, brother?" Scar said in a breathy voice.
Whether Scar was teasing him or not, Mufasa was not sure.
"Let me ask you something, Scar. And I want you to tell me the truth." He would do his best to take whatever Scar's answer was at face value, even though he knew that Scar would somehow twist it. He wanted to believe that Scar's attempts were legitimate but given the complete reversal of his position, now he was not sure. Upon revisiting that moment with Scar's words, he was not sure if he wanted to remember it anymore. "Did you use that moment as a way to get back at me? In other words, did you exploit my weak moment for your personal gain?"
Scar's eyes widened at the words. He looked as if Mufasa had just told him a dirty word.
"I am not sure what you are getting at, dear brother. Are you suggesting that I offered you my body and made myself vulnerable for personal profit? I may be a lot of things Mufasa but one thing I am not is desperate." Scar said pointedly. Mufasa caught the irony in Scar's words. Was intentionally missing the ceremony because he could not get over the fact that his being passed over as ruler not an example of desperation? Scar was brilliant, dangerously so. He was also very, very mysterious and to the King that was worse than facing your worst enemy. At least one knew that an angry buffalo was not something you would mess with. Scar was like a snake. He was fluid like water and because the King could not contain him, that was very, very dangerous.
"Just answer the question." Mufasa said with a growl in his voice.
"What do you want me to say? No matter how I answer you, you will not like it and therefore accuse me of doing something insidious. Instead of taking accountability for your choices, you would rather pin the blame on me. You made your choice, Mufasa. You took a bite and now you are blaming me. I was only offering you something to quench your thirst." Scar knew that he had struck a nerve. Though Mufasa would try the self righteous route, there were some truths that Scar would use to his advantage. For one thing, the King could be such a hypocrite it was almost laughable.
Mufasa looked down and took deep breaths to control his rising anger. It had been late and it was best to save the stress for another day. He had more important things to tend to.
"It's getting late. We will discuss this at a better time." Mufasa said finally before turning around.
"One last thing, Mufasa."Scar said softly. "If it wasn't for me, you would not have had Sarabi." Scar hissed.
Mufasa stopped, digesting the words that Scar had just said. They were like darts. He turned back around and faced the thinner and smaller lion face to face.
"Do you mind repeating that?" Mufasa said in a low growl. Scar's eyes widened. He knew he had power with words whilst Mufasa dominated via strength. He knew that with the right suggestions he could bend anyone to his will. He also knew that this gift also had dire consequences and sometimes his pride would blind him to that.
Scar knew that he had touched a nerve and while he prided himself on testing his big brother, now he was not completely sure if he had moved to soon for Mufasa was not one to let things go easily, especially if he was tired and had a lot on his mind. Still, he was not one to apologize for speaking his mind. Saying sorry for something like that was beneath him for that would mean imperfection. That would mean admitting some sort of failure.
"I'm so sorry dear brother, but I must be off to get my beauty sleep," Scar said darkly. It was time to verbally abuse some hyenas.
"You did not answer my question," Mufasa pressed on.
"Can't it wait until morning?" Scar said angrily. "At least then I will prepare a whole essay for you. If you want, I can give you power points." The thinner lion began to walk away.
Just then, he was greeted by a thunderous roar and then his brother's eyes that bespoke a very dangerous kind of rage. Scar's eyes widened and stopped in his tracks.
"You think it's that easy, don't you?" The King said in a very dark and angry voice.
"Do keep it down. I am sure your wife and your son need their rest," Scar said in a warning tone. He looked back above to see if anyone was coming. Mufasa ignored his protest.
"You think you can just say things and not expect to be questioned? Maybe those disgusting flea bitten vermin I see around you might not question your motives but you cannot fool anyone, Scar. I have let a lot of things pass." Scar sat in a poised manner before trying to get around. "One more thing, brother."
Immediately, the King leapt the younger lion and pinned him beneath him. Even if he was bulkier, Mufasa was swift.
That was a form of power and Scar savored it. The feeling of his older brother losing control was the sort of power that Scar relished. He waited patiently and smiled when he felt the other mount him but instead carefully positioning himself so as not to crush the smaller lion, Scar felt a full weight drop on top of him. His eyes widened. He could barely breathe. Mufasa placed his giant paws in top of Scar's thin ones. Scar's heart began to beat but not because of excitement. It was because of fear.
"I really want to believe that you were at least honest and have at least an ounce of decency in you." Mufasa growled into Scar's ear. The other didn't talk and just listened so as to prevent the possibility of any broken bones. He growled and tried to remain quiet so as to maintain pose. "I am going to take what you said at face value but I don't appreciate being a made looking like a fool." The King said angrily. Scar was gasping at this point. His claws dug into the ground but not before he felt Mufasa's paws press down. Scar exhaled loudly when he felt Mufasa's claws draw at the skin on his paws, tracing blood along them. "I hope this teaches you a lesson, Scar." Mufasa said in a very angry tone.
Scar's face contorted. It was a good thing that his brother did not get a look at his face for it was twisting into a painful one and the last thing he wanted was to give his brother that ounce of satisfaction, that he had dominated him. He writhed underneath his brother's much larger frame. Flashbacks to that incident at the termite mound flashed before his eyes. His tail whipped free from underneath the other's, lashing around. His body was going into panic mode. This was one of the most humiliating positions for any lion to be in, especially a male. He then felt his brother's teeth sink into his mane, trying to maintain him. Scar gritted his teeth and hissed loudly when he felt Mufasa's claws trace along his skin. This was a different kind of hurt compared to when they were intimate. That kind of pain was caused by passion and burning desire, out of want. This was done out of control, humiliation, to punish. Had he not been dealt that card enough in his life?
"And one more thing, Scar. The only reason father chose me was because if he had gone with you, he would have to sire the cubs himself." Mufasa said with a growl worthy of the most dangerous foe. Scar's eyes narrowed angrily. He would have rather that he spit in his eye than to whisper a cold ugly truth that Scar himself wished to be buried and long forgotten. He hated being reminded of that little detail, a bitter truth that he was a 'dead end'.
"Good night," Mufasa said finally before letting Scar go. "I'm sorry." He said atop of a high rock.
"You are forgiven," Scar said bitterly and licking his wounds.
"No, I am sorry for that day. It was a mistake." The King said finally.
Rejected, spat out, ignored. Any sentiments that were remotely complimentary towards the King were gone, like the waters during a drought with no hope of them ever returning. The only one to ever understand and connect with him rejected him like a piece of rancid meat. Scar got up, shook himself and proceeded the opposite way, his face doing very little to hide the resentment that permeated in his mind.
As Mufasa strolled away from Pride Rock and the King make his way to the lioness grotto, Zazu had tried to make sense of what he had seen. He knew that Scar and Mufasa had a history but it was never magnified as this. He was not sure if he wanted to process and register the things he had just heard. They had completely twisted his impression of both brothers. Could it be that Scar was someone who deserved sympathy? King Mufasa, a bully? Impossible. His beliefs were nearly tested when he saw the King nearly crush his brother and speak to him in a manner that was below that of a dung beetle. Even Zazu found that nasty. He had broken his promise of keeping distance from the brother's and for their sake, as well as his life, it was best that he keep their secret within him. The look on Scar's face when he saw that stupid bird still at the upper corner made him extra weary for if he should say anything, he would surely become a toothpick in either the King or his brother's jaws.
Scar's muscles tensed as he rose up, trying to maintain composure. The words Mufasa uttered into his ear stung at his soul. It was not the fact that they were ugly truths that pierced at Scar's heart. Rather, it was the manner in which Mufasa had said them for they were like spiked barbs stabbing at his mind. They were a reminder of how he was a 'dead end' and a broken line. No fruit would be borne from him. It was his way of reminding him of how 'useless' he was.
No, he wasn't useless. The problem wasn't with him but HIM. Him and THEM. His talents were being aimed at the wrong direction, the wrong audience. He was underappreciated. THAT was the crux of the problem. No matter, his day would come. One day, he would be noticed, be respected and saluted. One day, his name would shine and it would be written in the stars. That day would come and it would start with that little hairball.
End note: The part where Taka says "Long Live the King" was inspired by a piece of fanart I saw the other day. The piece is called Mufasa and Taka childhood by Juffs.
Recommended readings: "A matter of pride" by Christine Morgan and "Injustice Deliciously Squared". Warning, they are both for mature audiences. Hope to hear from you!
I plan to work on a sequel. Stay tuned!