Taka hasn't been able to find the peace all night long. Not even in his sleep. Heck, he hasn't even slept. He should have, though, since he's supposed to rescue his older brother today, in a few hours. He hasn't even established a strategy or anything. He was way too angry to even think about it.
He hasn't talked to Sarabi since he heard her conversation with Mufasa. Taka's brother has definitely figured his friend out. She'll never walk away if he changes for her. She'll never be able to walk away from this. No matter what Mufasa did to Taka, no matter what he did to everyone else. She won't be able to turn him down if he keeps his word.
Honestly, Taka doubts it. He doesn't think that his brother will be able to be the one that Sarabi wants him to be. He doesn't think that Mufasa will be able to be the one he vowed to be. That's too much change for one in that time.
But there's still this little voice in the back of his head that keeps telling him that maybe Mufasa could manage. And what if he does?
What if he does succeed?
The fateful day, Taka is up before everyone. He's even awake before Ahadi, his father. Well, that's easy since he didn't sleep last night. Even though he didn't rest, he feels stronger and more alerted than he's ever been.
This is going to be easy. He'll make it right, and things will go back to the way they were supposed to be. Taka doesn't know when Shenzi, Bonzai and Ed will attack. Shenzi didn't say. She just told him to be prepared. That means that he'll most likely have to follow Mufasa around like a little lost puppy.
Maybe he can suggest that they bond together. He can tell him that he can help him become the better version of himself for Sarabi. He doesn't know whether Mufasa will buy that, but he might as well will.
If Mufasa got the strength of the lion, Taka definitely got the spirit.
Waiting for his brother to wake up felt like forever. Or maybe it was because Taka felt more and more eager every single second to see his plan set in motion.
Once Mufasa is up on his paws, Taka walks to him before any of Mufasa's friend can get ahead of him. It's brothers' day today.
"Mufasa," Taka calls.
His brother turns his golden head to him, yawning. "Yeah?"
"Do ... Do you want to play with me? Show me the Kingdom? Talk about this bride of yours?"
Mufasa's eyes immediately lighten up when Taka mentions the word "bride." It takes everything in Taka not to cringe or to move. He can't make Mufasa suspicious about the way he feels about Sarabi. That would be wrong to do so.
"Of course," Mufasa accepts immediately.
Not once does he look at one of his friends to mock his little brother. Not once does he suggest that someone else comes with them. He even seems eager to spend some time with Taka.
If that could have had Taka's heart melt in a second, his heart remained unmoved. He had accepted that his brother would never treat him the way he did with everyone else. He might as well make the best out of it. That's what he intended to do, whatsoever.
Subtly, Taka leads them to the water hole. He doesn't know where the hyenas will attack, but he's assuming that it'll happen close to the Pride Rock. The water hole isn't that close, but everyone can hear what's going on there. It shouldn't be too hard to get someone's attention while they'll be roaring to "save" their lives.
Mufasa still hasn't said a word when he leans down to drink. Taka still keeps an eye on him while doing the same. He won't be the first one to break the silence.
"So," Mufasa says, sitting down. He keeps a distance between he and his brother, but it still feels closer than he used to. "About Sarabi. What do you have to tell me?"
Taka shrugs and looks away for a while, trying to see if the hyenas are coming. He really doesn't want to talk about Sarabi with his brother. In fact, he'd rather not talk about her at all. She hasn't even tried to see him when he didn't show up at their usual spot yesterday. She didn't even try to see if he was okay. So maybe she doesn't care for him as much as she pretends to.
"What do you want to know?" Taka says reluctantly.
"Everything there is to know," Mufasa tells him. "You know, I spoke to her yesterday. I thought that she hated me, but she just hates my attitude. Maybe ..." He glances at his brother. "If I were more like you, maybe she'd like me more. You know, down-to-earth, and . . . just sympathetic, I guess." He pauses. "How do you do it, exactly? How can you manage not to get into a fight with the other cubs or even I when we make fun of you? I wouldn't stand it for a second."
Taka groans, "That's because you're the heir, Mufasa. No one will ever make fun of you."
Mufasa shakes his head, not believing that for a second. "You're the heir, too. You just won't be King."
Being the heir and not being King. That's not what Taka wants. That's like being forever the second. He doesn't want to always be a second choice. He should deserve better. And he does.
"Mufasa," Taka snaps. "I don't want to talk about this. You'll be King. I'm not going to be. And they're your friends. Just tell them to stop." When he doesn't get any answer, he adds, "I'm sure that Sarabi will like that if you stopped being such a tyrant."
His big brother's head snaps to the right as he eyes him carefully, "You think so?"
Taka nods his head. "Yes, I'm sure. She hasn't said much about you," he informs him. "But I think that it would make her happy."
Mufasa stays in silence for a moment and Taka doesn't do anything to break it. It's not like he really wants to speak to his brother anyway. It's more like he doesn't have the choice. Looking right, the wind blows on his face, bringing him the scent of multiple animals. Somehow, he's not even hungry even though he hasn't eaten yet. He'll eat after. Definitely after. Waiting for some sort of reaction from his brother, Taka starts licking his left paw to clean it up. Bringing it up to his left ear, he starts to rub it, itching the spot.
"Do you think she'll ever want to marry me?" Mufasa suddenly asks.
The question takes Taka by surprise. He wants to say no. He wants to yell that she can never want to marry him, that there's no way she'll ever want to, but he just keeps his mouth shut. After what he witnessed last night, she might as well want to be Mufasa's Queen.
"I don't know," Taka answers instead. "If you prove her that you can be a good King, just like Father, maybe she will."
Mufasa's about to answer when out of nowhere comes out three shadows. Taka hears them barking and he immediately recognizes them, but he can't say that he does.
He just pretends to be frozen, to be so scared that he cannot move while the three hyenas, obviously targeting Mufasa, run toward him, making their fangs chatter.
Taken by surprise, Mufasa just lets out a growl. He might pretend that he's quite the fighter, but honestly, he's never fought for real. It's always been just for fun. It's never been anything else.
The hyenas are getting closer and closer. Both of the cubs still haven't move. Taka's waiting for them to jump on his brother so he could legitimately save him. If no harm is done, it's not a real save.
All three of them, they jump on Mufasa. Taka recognized Ed, trying to bite his left paw while Shenzi is trying to get on his back and while Bonzai is aiming for the neck.
It takes Mufasa one second to react. Before Taka knows it, he's fallen on his back, hurting Shenzi while doing so. She lets out a shriek of pain and immediately backs off.
Glancing Taka's way, she seems to be oblivious to her pain and attacks again, biting the hollow of his knee. Mufasa groans, in pain as he tries to get a hold of Ed's neck to snatch him away. But they're quite small and rather agile. Plus, they're three.
That's when Taka decides that it's time for him to do something about it. He doesn't even hesitate. Not one single second, before jumping straight on Bonzai's back. He's careful not to hurt him, though, his claws aren't even out. He makes his teeth chatter right next to his neck, realistic enough to make Mufasa believe that he truly bit him.
Barking in fake pain, Bonzai just runs away. Ed and Shenzi look up, seeming worried by the runaway of their friend. Their attention is elsewhere and it's rather easy for Taka to "take them down". He starts with Ed who doesn't even bother putting up a fight. And then, it's with Shenzi. She's the only one left and even though she looks tough, Taka knows that she's hurt. Her right paw is bleeding and it looks rather painful.
But when Taka fake aims for her neck, she snaps her teeth in his shoulder, leaving a bite mark. Roaring with pain and surprise, his jaw closes on Shenzi's leg. She yelps and moves, trying to free her leg from the grasp of the lion. Noticing it, Taka opens his mouth to let her go.
Turning his head, he realizes that Mufasa is looking rather taken aback. Did he see that Taka willingly let Shenzi go? To try to ease any doubt his brother could have, Taka starts to run, chasing Shenzi.
Once they're far enough, Shenzi just looks over her shoulder and tells him, "Come by tomorrow," before fading away.
This time, Taka doesn't even try to catch up with her. Instead, he tries to catch his breath while heading back to where Mufasa is.
He still hasn't moved and he's bleeding. Ed, Shenzi and Bonzai haven't been ... very nice with him, to say it like that.
There are a couple of bites that will probably leave marks on Mufasa's skin. For one tiny little second, guilt overcomes Taka's mind as he wonders what the heck has gone through his mind. But when Mufasa flashes him a thankful smile, all the guilt fades.
Since Mufasa doesn't seem to be able to walk on his own, Taka helps him back on his paws and to walk back to the Pride Rock.
Too bad there were no other witnesses, but Mufasa is the only witness that Taka needed.
So when they're back, Ahadi and Uru rush to their side as soon as they smell the blood in the air. Both of them are out of their mind, wondering what got into the hyenas, why they didn't keep going, why they ran away.
When Mufasa is secured—Uru made sure that his injuries weren't that bad—Ahadi gathers everyone around him. The whole Pride seems to be worried about Mufasa. Even Sarabi's here, looking worried. She didn't come close to Taka who stayed next to his mother.
That's when Mufasa blurts out how much of an hero Taka has been, saving him, risking his own life chasing down the hyenas.
"How come you didn't beat them, Mufasa?" one of his friends ask, knowing how strong Mufasa pretends to be.
Mufasa shrugs. "They were three. They were everywhere. I didn't even have the time to think before they attacked me. I took one of them down, though. I think I broke her leg or something. It cracked. And I scared the other one, too." He pauses before glancing at his brother.
Will he lie? Taka wonders. That would be something his brother could do so he'd be the hero.
But Mufasa surprises Taka. He looks at Sarabi before saying, "But I wouldn't have made it if it hadn't been for Taka. He's been amazing." Eyeing his brother, he continues, "I didn't even know he had it in him, but you should have seen the way he aimed right for the hyenas, trying to bite them, even chasing them down."
For the first time, Sarabi turns her head to look at Taka. She looks surprised and horrified at the same time. To think she could have lost him in just a few seconds is making her sick. To think that he could be dead today makes her sick with herself. She hadn't even tried talking to him since last night. What if he had thought that she didn't want to be his friend anymore?
Some friends of Mufasa have hard time believing that Taka has been this courageous, but Taka has some proofs of his own, too. Shenzi bit him quite meanly on the shoulder. That's why she did it. So he'd be "scared" too and it would look like an accident.
When Mufasa's done telling, Ahadi turns to Taka with a wonderful smile. He licks the top of his second born son's head before saying, "Well-done, son."
Taka just smiles a little at his father. If he opens up his mouth, he might as well blurt out that he doesn't want Mufasa to take Sarabi away. And even though Ahadi might be really proud with Taka right now—he called him son!—Taka can't ask that of him. At least, not right now.
22teamplayer: I could have made this go badly. But ... you'll see why I decided to make it work. And of course, it's not easy for him. Hence, he should at least have some things work for him. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed that chapter!
BLACK CAT: Wow, that's ... violent? I'll try thinking about you when I'll write that conclusion as to who will win Sarabi's heart. Sorry for the long wait. Hope the longer chapter kind of half make up for it!
I'm not promising anything since that's definitely not working, but I'll try to have the chapters longer! I feel quite inspired these days. Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope that you enjoyed!