/ˈpōtnt/ Having great power, influence or effect. It's not a very good love potion but a purpose is served nonetheless.
A one-shot that just had to be written, takes place mid "Recipe for Disaster". Enjoy!
Cheetara isn't sure what exactly happened after Tygra left her side at their camp but before she knows it Tygra is acting…strange.
Well strange being an understatement, the tiger was acting downright crazy in just a span of ten minutes. And when he cheerfully tells them he's fine, even going as far as to call Panthro a "silly goose" she's worried. Thankfully Panthro is willing to dismiss it before adding something about being too old to be surrounded by hormonal cubs before he's disappearing into the tank.
When Cheetara approaches Tygra just a few paces away from the center of the campsite he's standing at the tree line of their camp grinning in an absent sort of way at the tiny creature in his hands before gingerly opening his large claws to allow the caterpillar to inch away onto the safety of a tree branch.
And he's still grinning, that goofy, sweet little grin and if possible his large brown eyes get even wider. "Cheetara!"
Before she knows it she's being pulling into a bone crushing hug and she squirms to find some measure of comfort in his tight embrace, an embrace she usually is happy to have. He's much stronger than her and that much is clear as crystal right at that moment.
She's debating giving him a good knock of her staff if she can reach it, the edges of her vision darken as she squirms and it does nothing to call his attention to her breathing issue.
When she wheezes out his name his hold loosens. "Oh Cheetara, gosh I'm sorry! Are you alright sweetheart?"
She's nearly frozen with a new start of the tiger pulling her into his arms again, though this time gentler it is still just as odd when he rains kisses on the bridge of her nose, the points of her cheekbones and eyelids.
It wasn't the peppered kisses on her face, nor the too tight embrace she received from the usually gentle tiger, no, the most disturbing part it's that look he has. His eyes are dark as pitch from his enormous expanding pupils and they look wild.
She blinks in stunned surprise when he abruptly ceases his amorous attentions; his smile fades at her blank look. "I didn't hurt you did I?"
"I'm all right," she assures him. Her look is laced with suspicion and concern. "Are you?"
And the grin is back instantaneously.
"As rain!" His attention is suddenly fixed on the night sky as though some sharp noise has perked his ears. "Which by the way those clouds look close, you need a cloak! I'll be right back!"
Her companion scampers off after placing another peek on the tip of her nose and for a moment Cheetara can't move, her mind working and her eyes sweep the camp to find Panthro gone from his spot at the fire. Pumyra is taking up the big cat's place with a look of disinterest to the happenings around her. Her gold-green eyes are fixed on watching the flames dance, the firelight making them glowing green slits. But Lion-O is much closer at the split of the trees only feet away from Cheetara looking straight at her with a sunken expression and bright blue eyes that do nothing to hide guilt.
Cheetara sighs, frowning; "now I don't suppose my king knows anything about why Tygra is acting so strangely all of a sudden?"
Lion-O's expression wilts and his ears flatten in a complete show of submission and regret, "he may have drunk one of Ponzi's potions."
"And…just how did that happen?" she wonders.
"I'm sorry Cheetara, I didn't mean it," he confesses running nervous claws through his red mane. "Tygra wasn't supposed to have gotten any."
Cheetara is confused. "Tygra took one of Ponzi's potions from him? Why would he-"
"No, no," Lion-O assures her. "He didn't take anything, well yes, but he didn't take it. It wasn't for Tygra but he didn't know and right after I put it there he picks it up and I couldn't exactly stop him, he already drank it before I could, well…"
Lion-O watches Cheetara's expression shift from concern, to confusion and now despite herself she looks very worried, it's a very subtle change that a cat that didn't know her would never notice but he can always tell by just the tiny crease between her short blonde brows.
Before she can add much more they both turn to the sound of hysterical laughter and off at the dirt trail a distance off is Tygra chasing fireflies.
The crease between her brows deepens. "And what exactly did he take?"
"It's harmless," Lion-O reasons, "it's just got him a little more…in touch with his feelings."
She thinks to interrogate Lion-O further but Tygra's quick bouncing stride past her is distracting, as is his twirling and spinning and laughter, its erratic and rings of the kind of intoxication one would experience after drinking whiskered milk weed, he doesn't even seem to notice Cheetara and Lion-O who he nearly tramples in his silly play.
When he collides into the spotted cleric a second time he wraps her into a hug lifting her clear off the ground and spinning her. "Hi beautiful, I missed you! And I found you a cloak!"
Cheetara is pretty sure she's going to be sick with all the twirling and hopes to stop him with a distraction. "Really? Where is it?"
As she'd hoped he releases her only to grasp her small hands into his own instead.
"At the lake where we can watch the stars," he sighs.
Cheetara shots Lion-O a look of disbelief and the young lord can only shrug at a loss as to what to do.
And he's off running to the bouncing glow of an errant firefly, he's soon surrounded by them, spinning and laughing like a madcat.
"Tygra, maybe you should sit, you're going to be sick spinning around like that," Lion-O calls out before groaning, "listen to me I sound like his mother."
Tygra does stumble this time falling to the ground in a mess of dirt and dry grass, blinking languidly.
Cheetara kneels at Tygra's side catching his jaw in her hand, "hey, you okay?"
Her hands immediately feel heat, higher than normal and moisture at his pulse point and a light sheen of sweat is at the edge of his mane. She presses her palm underneath the thick green chest plate of his armor to feel his heart pattering with the speed of a wild regaraghos.
"Uh-huh," Tygra answers with a fuzzy far look to his dark eyes.
"He's burning up and his heart's racing," Cheetara notes. She's calm on the outside but she can't lie to herself that her own heart isn't hammering in fear of his symptoms.
Lion-O swallows suddenly feeling sick and guilty watching Tygra fight to keep his eyelids open and Cheetara's struggle to keep him upright.
She isn't sure allowing him to sleep is wise yet.
"I'll get Panthro. Or maybe Pumyra?"
"No, Ponzi, if anyone can help with Tygra it's him."
Lion-O exhales deeply before coming to his feet fully. "Right, good idea."
He's off and back only moments later with the little wallow trailing behind and Ponzi's wearing the same sheepish expression Lion-O was.
"Oh dear, your fellow certainly doesn't look so good," the old merchant remarks.
"Lion-O says he took one of your potions by accident," Cheetara fills in.
She pulls Tygra closer hoping to use her slight body flush against his own to prop him up better, she's quite strong for her size but her muscles are protesting from the awkward position of Tygra slumped practically over her. "Is this normal?"
The wallow takes one look at Tygra who's eyes are snapped open now in interest to the tawny neck before them, his gaze goes half-lidded and his nose begins scenting down the span of the cheetah's throat as he pulls her tight to him, Cheetara, as the cheetah is called, looks concerned and abashed by what is surely supposed to be a rather private affair but cannot seem to do much else.
"Mm, you smell like flowers," he gushes.
"In cats? Fairly with mated couples." A bit of pink coming to the old creature's cheeks when Tygra begans to purr loudly, nipping her pulse. "The love potion provokes tenderness and the need for closeness and loving care even-"
Lion-O snaps a warning look Ponzi's direction but the little creature doesn't even notice.
If it's at all possible Lion-O shrinks back even more, he's sure he's never seen Cheetara look so upset.
"Yes, but only a mild dosage, he should be back to normal in a day or so."
No sooner after Ponzi's reassurances Cheetara feels heat searing her throat and Tygra is panting, he looks dazed again and completely unaware of their presence, just breathing harshly into her neck.
"How did a love potion—" She'd guess her question answered for the most part when Lion-O's sapphire eyes go wide as a kitten's and avert from her.
The young king had been spending a lot of time on the heels of their resident puma who was proving to be as aloof as she was beautiful, even with Lion-O who seemed if she didn't know any better trying his best to court her.
Now she was certain but she has no time to feel a sense of happiness for her king nor protective concern for his feelings, his actions having caused perhaps serious side effects to Tygra and he is her focus at the moment.
"Ponzi he has a fever and a pounding heart, that can't be normal."
"Hmm…" is the wallow's only utterance for a moment. "Well that is concerning and I don't believe I've ever seen it before. Well perhaps just once with a fellow, a sailor, poor dog had a slew of problems least of all love. Nervous disposition, bad back and prone to seasickness, he got very ill after taking some, but he was the only one. I've sold it for years after with no further concerns."
The two cats share a look of horror having the same idea of Tygra's sensitivity to the love potion.
"And the dog? What happened to him?"
"Dizziness, hyperactivity, fever, mood swings and erratic heartbeart came within a few minutes after ingestion, but cleared up fine in a few hours. Best thing to do is get him to sleep somewhere cool and quiet, try to get his temperature down and slow his heart rate." Ponzi fiddles momentarily within the old grey coat he wears, his hands empty after emerging. "I usually have a little something to help to slow the heart rate, a sleep aid, but I'm afraid you'll have to think of something."
His tone is entirely sympathetic and apologetic and Cheetara finds she can't be mad at the bumbling little creature nor Lion-O who seems helplessly fixated on Tygra's distressed breathing and its punishment enough.
"But he will be okay right?" Lion-O asked.
Ponzi gives a firm, sure nod, "the potion remains effective for 24 hours but is at its peak within the first few hours, if you can get him to rest it'll help clear up any ill effects, I'm afraid if you don't, well I couldn't say as I've never found out."
Cheetara is already moving to untangle herself from Tygra's hold and the tiger only manages to groan and fall over without the support of his companion, his eyes snap open from the impact, he's quiet for only seconds before cackling until he's gasping for breath, face flushing.
"Best get him to a tent," Lion-O says.
Together Lion-O and Cheetara get Tygra swaying on his feet and to a tent. From the discarded water skin and familiar brown pouch Lion-O is sure they've made it to the two's own tent.
He doesn't know why he expected the two cats would be camping within the tank; they'd been spending their night together for months, discreetly sharing a tent only a week or two after their kiss. Lion-O often found himself waking in the night and finding Tygra no longer sprawled at the edge of the fire greedily soaking in the warmth of their only heat source and he'd imagined his older brother was now spending his nights far away from the rest of the camp soaking in the warmth of Cheetara just as greedily and it once was too much to bear.
He wonders now when the pain once so tender and raw became nothing more than a mild niggle his mind absently mused on.
Lion-O's inner thoughts are interrupted by the clicking and clanking of Cheetara's claws working at Tygra's armor, she snaps the hard locking clasp of the red center with such ease Lion-O is sure she's done it before many times and an involuntary heat of embarrassment at the unchecked implication flushes his cheeks, but she isn't really paying Lion-O much attention at all as she undresses him.
Cheetara works quickly and as she reaches the dark green armor of his hip Tygra sputters with laughter. "Hey that tickles! Hahahaha!"
The tiger tries to right himself from his position on his back with an awkward kicking roll that makes her want to smile at how silly and cub-like he looks but it doesn't quite make it to her face she's far too concerned with his still rapid heartbeat and those panting breaths that keep coming in intervals.
She places her hands upon his chest to still him and he gives one last futile rock to roll over before stilling with a clouded, confused look. Seeking to wipe away the distressed expression she bends and places a kiss on his cheek right at the point of one long black stripe across his cheekbone.
The thumping of his heart that had been beating a rhythm in the cleric's ear was slowing and Tygra's panting breaths become whispered noises that slowly lose any signs of distress before he sighs and his eyes flicker closed. She eases the long sleeve of armor the rest of the way down his forearm before removing the glove of his right; she leaves the silver band on his wrist placing all of it into a neat little pile in the far corner at the foot their tent.
He's snoring lightly and she wonders if she can manage to remove his last layer, the long greyish black thermal uni, without waking him up. His temperature is still a tad bit high, but he is sleeping and for the most part her worry has eased.
Tygra groans stirring and she decides to it best to wait, if just for a few minutes, until his sleep is deep before finishing her task, she stands slowly slipping away from the sleeping tiger with Lion-O following her out of the tent.
"Anything I can do to help?"
Cheetara turns and Lion-O is surprised to see not a trace of ire on her face when she shakes her her head. "Thanks but I think I can handle it from here."
The light is dim from the lantern flickering at the foot of their tent, but it doesn't matter as his night vision is more than adequate to see around him.
"Right," Lion-O says. "I'm sure he'll be mad enough at me when he comes to his senses about that potion, undressing him would probably earn me his temper for a whole year."
"And how long does my king suppose drugging him will earn?" Cheetara questions lightly.
The cleric's words are quiet and easy even now when she has every right to be angry, and he supposed she probably is in some small way but he's even surer if she is it's quickly outweighed by something deeper that he can't figure out completely. Perhaps an understanding stems from knowing he's but a desperate fool heading blind into the journey they'd already taken, full of uncertainty, miscommunication and the awful sense of longing in the hope for a happy culmination.
Or perhaps its pity knowing his sibling would have more than enough grief to give him for the both of them once he came to his senses.
Either way he's almost sure she's holding back.
Sometime ago, when the veil of confusion and anger had lifted he'd been able to make some observations of both the cheetah and the tiger in their quiet moments where neither is the wiser to anyone else. The way they sit together in comfortable silence, sometimes for hours at a time, their twin frowns of displeasure at something unpleasant and even their distance from each other when he's sure they've argued, their passions of love, anger and even sadness are always such quiet moments as if words are barely necessary to both fight and make up.
He wonders how he missed it before, when this all started, because now the comfort and familiarity they have is easy enough for a blind cat to see, as though they'd always been that way and always would be.
He wants to insist Tygra share the responsibility in his own part of the mix-up especially when he recalls the helpless, distressed look to her face when Tygra first fell into panting hysteria but he knows the blame is mostly his own and he doesn't want to be responsible for causing it.
But he is.
"Not my best idea huh?"
Cheetara is genuinely surprised at her king not for his words but his openness that is hesitant but willing, like a paw timidly outstretched in fear of claws but braving for the hope of a touch. A gesture that is second nature to Lion-O and what she had loved most about her king and friend, she had been denied any access to such gestures months ago with a misunderstanding.
She doesn't question and will readily take it.
Cheetara's look is a knowing one. "Probably not my king."
Lion-O nods and for a moment there is quiet and it isn't awkward and he realizes how much he'd missed this, missed her company.
Cheetara was often full of wisdom and understanding and when other's patience ran dry hers remained as plentiful as ever, her support stronger than a mountain side and he thought about Jaga often when with her. But when he looks at her now his eyes are much more open and he's able to pull away those layers and see her core.
She's really just a she-cat like any other when she looks at Tygra, a stunning she-cat, but a she-cat none the less with love in her eyes and a smile in her heart for his arrogant, pig-headed brother and he's...glad for them this time truthfully.
"I'm sorry; you know I'd never, if I'd have known… I guess I just didn't think."
"While I can't speak for Tygra as long as you've learned not to tamper with Ponzi's stuff anymore without a cat's consent you're off the hook with me at least."
"Don't think I want to see any of us like Tygra anytime soon," Lion-O remarks.
The cleric folds her arms against the bite of the cold wind and the king decided it is perhaps his cue to leave.
"You should go," he suggests. "It's getting pretty cold out here. Can I grab you a blanket or something?"
Cheetara shakes her head and a high gust of wind sends her blonde tresses flying in wild spotted tangles. "Thank you but we're fine."
The king nods stepping away, "goodnight then."
He's walking away looking every bit as awkward and lost as before and she's sure she knows where his mind has already wandered to.
"Lion-O!" she calls back.
The young king turns and she's struck by how much he has changed in just a matter of months of their journey, he's aging before her eyes into a king and that weight on his shoulders will only get heavier and harder to carry even as he grows stronger and smarter the burdens of his people will always weigh and more so as Lion-O's heart extends not just to his people but of every people with breath on Third Earth. She wonders how he will carry it and hopes her suggestion will lighten the load, at least, on his heart.
She comes carefully down the path to where Lion-O has paused. His expression uncertain but hers is sure and unshakable in its truth. "Pumyra sees you for the same reason everyone else does, you are a great king and more than that, a great cat. I've never known a cat in less need of a love potion as you Lion-O."
The gratitude upon his face is immense. "Thanks Cheetara."
She simply nods before turning to retire to the dimly lit tent.
She turns but doesn't make her way back down, but it doesn't matter as she's no more than fifteen feet or so back.
He's not sure how to begin as it's all so awkward for him, even now, but the night isn't getting any warmer and he's long overdue for his words with her.
"I'm sorry," he says. "I know it's pretty long overdue but I am, for before when I didn't understand. I think I do now."
He doesn't have to explain and Cheetara is warmed so much by his words she doesn't even feel the next gust of cold wind that cuts through her fur. "I am sorry as well, for not being clear."
A happy grin lifts Lion-O's face, it's speaks or relief and peace and she is happy to have helped create it. He nods, "take care of Tygra."
Cheetara nods before slipping into her tent.
She is surprised to see he has awakened and even managed to sit up but its an obviously difficult task just looking at his slow, struggling rise and fall of his chest.
"You weren't here I couldn't sleep," he tells her.
The look staggers her, she's sure she's never seen him look exactly that way since they were cubs, it's the widest window of love and need she's ever been able to look through into him without the tiger's humor or pride triumphantly glowing in the forefront of it and it's as fragile as a spider's web.
He's unable to shy from it now with Ponzi's elixir racing through his blood.
She sits, coming close and smiles in a way she hopes is reassuring. "I'm here now."
Tygra does not smile back, he looks wounded even in that sleepy expression. Those brown eyes don't falter in his doeish expression, "I thought you were leaving, please don't leave."
Obviously no smiling or laughing matter and she's pretty sure they've entered the mood swinging part Ponzi spoke of.
"I won't I promise."
Cheetara's hand sweeps across his cheek and jaw and he smiles dreamily easily losing that raw expression with her touch, her other hand finding the zip of his remaining uniform at his neckline, he's still hot to the touch and now she's warm too with his heat pouring off him.
He watches her, puzzled but trusting and even helpful in rolling his broad shoulders to aid in the removing of his clothing, she rewards him with a light lick of his nose.
"You'll sleep better without it," she explains rolling the covering down to his hips.
He seems to get the idea scooting backward in a clumsy, graceless way that is so far from Tygra's usual spry self she wonders if he can even stand now.
As if to answer Tygra yawns before slumping over sideways and rolling flat to his back.
She's unable to help the way her throat tightens once he's nude before her and his scent, both sharp and sweet like sandalwood, pine and musk, is heavy in the enclosed space. He's like carved marble, full of sharp planes and rippling musculature wrapped in a soft dense pale orange and black striping with a wide white expanse of fur from the top of his neck to extend much, much lower.
Lower to places she's surprised she's even thinking about given Tygra's erratic state of mind and body.
She's pretty certain Tygra would be extremely amused if he knew of his influence on her, perhaps she will tell him when he's normal again as he's sure to be both furious and irritable in recalling his "undignified" behavior.
She lies next to him making sure to leave a wide gap lest she be tempted but close enough to watch him sleep and sleep is trying it's best to claim the fighting tiger.
The brown of his eyes is disappearing more and more with each blink. He murmurs: "come closer."
Cheetara shakes her head, "You'll sleep better with me over here as well."
Tygra yawns snaking closer. "I want to hold you, we always snuggle."
Cheetara obliges unable to help herself and they are chest to chest and thigh to thigh and a rumbling purr begins as well as Tygra's questing nose against her hair and his arm manages to snake around her waist closing any space between their bodies.
Cheetara often feels like a small mouse in his strong embrace despite knowing as a trained cleric it is a hold that is easily broken, he's so large and she is so small.
He's still lazily scenting her and licking her forehead contently dragging his warm rough tongue against her hairline and temple, grooming any place he could possibly reach even dragging pointed teeth against her skin to comb through her coat.
"You taste like candy fruit and strawberries and sunshine," he purrs groggily between licks of her collarbone.
"You can't taste sunshine," Cheetara points out amused and contented.
"I can and you taste like it," Tygra insists.
Cheetara answers him with a kiss, just a brush of her lips to his, a tingle warming her lips when they meet his. She savors for moments too long and she doesn't even leave the first kiss complete before she goes back for another, a slow heated thing of mingled tongues.
A delicious, comfortable sort of fuzz has covered her senses as they kiss and she's suddenly aware of that tingling sensation, it's an unfamiliar but still pleasant taste to Tygra's lips and tongue, a sharp tingling sweetness like braunbury wine that only makes her slid her tongue and mouth more firmly against his until she's suckling at him and answering his purrs with one of her own.
With the press of his arousal against her navel she's snapped from her spell and her claws involuntarily sink into his flesh.
Tygra hisses quietly and makes a small grumbling sound of discontent and she apologizes with a caress against the red wounds.
"Sorry," she says.
Tygra merely blinks dumbly coming a bit more awake with the poke of her claws. "It's okay," he answers in a disjointed sing-song kind of way.
But it's not because he's panting again.
But so is she.
She doesn't know how much of it is the trace amount of potion ingested or her own desire that's fueling it but she knows it best to lower Tygra's heart rate before her own as he's clearly in more serious need.
Tygra frowns even when she finds the back of one pointed ear and caresses that spot that always makes him limp with relaxation. Even through his confusion he seems to understand their passionate moment is broken.
"Thought we were mating," he wonders aloud.
"Not tonight," she answers.
The question is a whine that's almost funny as she's certain Tygra has never had to ever whine about her willingness to mate with him.
"Shh," she murmurs raking her hands through his thick mane her claws dragging lightly across the back of his neck.
She licks. Her tongue making a wet heated trail from the long line of his shoulder to the bottom of his ear and immediately Tygra begins to purr her tongue smoothing over the jumping pulse of his throat before dragging along the bottom of his jawline.
She grooms him, careful to avoid any "hot buttons" that will do the opposite of what she hopes to accomplish, taking her teeth and claws out of the equations being a fine start.
All mated cats groomed one another, after mating sometimes before and sometimes just for the sake of comfort and easing tensions of the body, she hoped to ease him enough to get his heart to relax.
The tiger quiets his harsh breathing in minutes, limp and helpless to her sweet assault. She stops to observe him drifting off and resolutely places a kiss upon his lips.
And whispered with the last bit of conscious breath he sighs. "I love you. So very much."
And just like that he's asleep leaving Cheetara in the warm dimly lit tent to muse on the events of the night with only the sound of her striped lover snoring lightly.
Tygra's words were not new and yet the swelling joy does not dissipate, to be the focus of his last conscious breath was always more than she'd ever need and with her king and friend as her side once more now ready to go forth with a new found confidence in pursuit of their newest comrade she's sure she will rest the best she has in a long while.
She thinks to thank Ponzi.
…Right after she asks him to never sell the stuff again.