Disclaimer: I own nothing but the thoughts in my head. WB and company are the lucky ones where ownership is involved.
A/N: This epilogue comes from a very dear friend of mine, Prairie24. Many readers are probably familiar with her other works of art but if not, I suggest checking them out; you won't be disappointed.
Feel free to leave a review or a PM; love to hear what the readers think.
Also, if anyone else woud like to draw up an epilogue to be posted, please let me know.
Now that the formalities have been addressed...
On with the show.
Seeing Things For What They Are
Lion-O sank wearily onto the edge of the cot in his tent. The day had been a long one-hunting, fighting the beast to save Dobo's life, and then coming back to hear his brother's embellished story. Cheetara's kiss had then stolen all rational thought from his brain. Finally, the evening had concluded by cementing an alliance with the dogs. Lion-O was exhausted, but Cheetara's heated kiss had ignited a fire in his veins that overshadowed all of that. His mind refused to stop whirling as he wondered about the meaning of her kiss.
Now it was late and he sat alone in his tent unable to settle down.
He had tried sleeping, but ended up pacing instead. When he thought of the cheetah's warm ruby gaze and the pressure of her lips against his own, he was tempted to go out into the camp and find her. But no, she said she would come. Besides, he didn't want to seem too eager.
The lion king buried his head in his hands and expelled a sigh through his lips. He wasn't quite sure what to think. He had been smitten with Cheetara since the day he'd met her, but had totally fallen in love with her once he'd seen what a kind, compassionate, and amazing feline she truly was. When she had chosen Tygra, his heart felt as if it had been ripped out of his chest. Lion-O was a novice with women, so maybe he had misread the cheetah's signals. Anger at both her and his brother had simmered in the pit of his stomach for a long time. Then, up until this afternoon, he had felt dead inside.
Now he was confused-excited, but confused. How could Cheetara's feelings change so quickly? How could she transfer her affections from one brother to another?
"Lion-O?" Cheetara's soft voice filtered through the tent flap.
The royal lion's head jerked up and he jolted to his feet. "Come on in," he called, quickly running his claws through his untamable mop of red mane.
Cheetara slipped through the opening, a small smile curving her lips. "I wasn't sure if you'd still be awake. I was meditating, trying to make sense of things." She shrugged her slim shoulders.
Lion-O gave her a sheepish grin. "I couldn't sleep."
The pretty cheetah titled her head to one side and regarded him quietly for a moment. "It's been a long day, a busy day."
"Yes," Lion-O admitted. "It's been rather full." His heart was pounding in his chest and the palms of his paws were sweaty.
Cheetara crossed her arms nervously. "I've been thinking about everything that has happened." Serious crimson eyes met Lion-O's blue orbs. "Lion-O-," she started and then stopped, beginning to pace the confines of the tent.
The lion king watched her, sensing her tension. Finally, he caught her arm in a gentle grip as she passed him. He had to know. "What was this afternoon about Cheetara? That kiss..."
The cheetah's cheek's flushed pink beneath her fur. She forced herself to meet his blue eyes. "I finally admitted to myself what I've known for a long time now."
"What's that?" he asked - her arm warm to his touch.
"Tygra considered me a prize in a competition. It wasn't about me at all; it was about besting you. He never loved me." Sadness crept into her tone. "I broke things off with him tonight."
"I thought you had," Lion-O admitted, his heart aching for her pain. "You deserve so much better, Cheetara. You aren't some prize to be won."
The cheetah forced a smile as Lion-O released her arm. "How are you feeling after bringing down that cave bear?"
He shrugged. "I'm fine. It was just a reflex action, not a big deal."
"You saved Dobo's life, Lion-O. That's a big deal." Stepping closer to the lion king, she traced gentle fingers over a fading scar on his upper arm.
Lion-O's breath caught in his throat at her touch and he felt as if he could barely breathe.
"All this time you have to have been hurting and you've never said anything." There were other scars on his arms and who knew how many more were covered by his clothing and armor.
He felt his cheeks warm at her attention, and he shook his head. "I'm fine."
"Lion-O," Cheetara began hesitantly as her fingers stopped their movement and rested over his healed wound, "I'm sorry."
The lion frowned. "What are you sorry for?"
"For hurting you and for letting you down," The cheetah sighed and studied his expression carefully. "I haven't been the cleric you needed me to be."
Lion-O sucked in a deep breath. "Cheetara, no, you-."
Cheetara cut him off, stepping so close that they were nearly touching. She pressed her lips against his. "I'm so sorry," she murmured against his mouth before pulling back.
Lion-O, unable to stand the thought of her hurting, wrapped his arms around her waist. She relaxed into his embrace and buried her face into his neck but didn't cry. She just enjoyed the strength and warmth of his arms.
"Let's take things one day at a time," Lion-O murmured after several long moments. "I think you need time to sort things out; we both do."
He felt Cheetara nod against him without pulling away. "But we can begin to move forward from here, rebuild our friendship, and maybe even see what develops in the future.
Cheetara pulled back but left her arms looped around Lion-O's neck, a small smile hooking her mouth upward at the corners. "I think that sounds good."
"Really?" he asked, his old insecurities suddenly rearing their ugly heads.
"Really," she replied, this time with a full smile that reached her crimson eyes. Her arms dropped from Lion-O's shoulders and he released her waist, but her paw slid into his. "How about we go for a nice walk while you tell me all about the new alliance with the dogs?"
"Sure," Lion-O replied easily, tightening his fingers around her paw.
"And maybe, if you'd like," she added cautiously, "I could help you with any future treaty talks."
The lion king flashed her a huge grin as he felt some some relief from the heavy burden he had carried all alone. "I would like that," he assured her.
"Okay, it's a deal then," Cheetara promised, playfully swinging their hands between them as they exited the tent into the cool night air.
Their voices faded into the darkness as the lion king led the cleric cheetah on a moonlit walk, the harshness and worry of the day fading away.
A/N: Hope everyone enjoyed that; I know I sure did. Again, please send in those reviews and PM's. I will make sure Prairie24 gets any that don't make it to her directly.
Like I said, if anyone else would like to try their hand at an epilogue, don't hesitate to contact me; we'll chat about it.