Author's Note: Hello everyone. So, this idea popped into my head when I heard this song on the radio. The song is called Unwell by Matchbox 20 (lyircs in bold). In the Lion King, we are never really told how Simba adjusted to having the responsibility of rebuilding a destroyed kingdom put on him. In my opinion, I don't think it was at all easy for him, but I don't want to give away the story before it's even told. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy. :)


Shadows of Doubt: A Tribute to Simba

All day staring at the ceiling

Making friends with shadows on my wall.

Simba quietly slipped away from his two pals as they took their daily stroll around their jungle home, scaring off most of the other inhabitants of the area with their loud and somewhat off key singing. Neither the warthog nor the meerkcat saw the young lion disappear into the dark foliage, a sad expression upon his face.

The red-maned lion gave a sigh as he slumped down on the jungle floor. And amidst the darkness the huge trees around him provided, a single, pearl-drop tear made its way from his sad amber eyes to the cool undergrowth. He missed his home, he missed his mother, he missed Nala, he even missed Uncle Scar.

But most of all, he missed his father.

The father that had done everything to protect his son, the father that loved his wife and child with all his heart, the father that shared with his son words of wisdom to carry him through the darker days, the father who had given everything to save his child.

Simba knew it was his fault. His carelessness had been the reason Mufasa had died.

Simba had spent many a night trying to convince himself that it had only been an accident. It hadn't been his fault and nothing he could have done would have changed anything. But then the image of his father's dead body would fill his mind and words that haunted his worst nightmares would echo in his head,

The king is dead. And if it weren't for you he would still be alive...

And Simba would know, deep in his heart, that it was his fault. He had killed his own father.

The guilt was something Simba couldn't escape from. Even in the moments that he spent goofing off with Timon and Pumbaa, the sickening feeling in his stomach hung over him like a gray cloud. Sure, they thought he was happy enough, because Simba never showed his grief to them. Because if he did, he knew he would have to share his past with them. And that was too painful. It was easier to pretend that his past didn't exist, it was less painful to try and forget all that he had destroyed and left behind.

It was easier to lounge around with his pals, soaking up the good life than think about what he had taken away from his pride. He had taken away the greatest king the Pride Lands had ever known. He had taken away the kingdom's wisdom and the pride's strength. He had broken his mother's heart and stole away the only father figure Nala had ever known.

Simba took a deep breath, trying to rid his system from the almost choking grief that was suffocating him. He lay his head on his paws, closing his eyes, but as he tried to allow his mind to escape from the pain of reality, he heard an angry growl in the distance and Timon and Pumbaa's desperate screams.

oOo

All night

Hearing voices telling me

That I should get some sleep

Cause tomorrow might be good for something.

Simba was exhausted. He had spent the entire day from dawn till dusk patrolling the border of the Pride Lands and chasing off hyenas who had the audacity to stick around. He had only been king for a week and already he felt like giving up. But he knew that he couldn't, he would just have to grin and bear it.

The sun had now completely set and the moon cast an silvery light over the land. Simba made his way into the den, navigating around lionesses who were peacefully sleeping. He saw where Nala lay next to her mother, a small smile on the corners of her mouth as she dreamed. Simba knew he loved her, and when they had spent time in the jungle, he thought she felt the same way, but they had not had much time together since his return. She was busy hunting, attempting to find what little food there was, and he spent every waking moment attending to the constant problems of the still decaying kingdom.

As he slumped down on the raise platform he had slept on as a cub, he felt someone give his head a small nuzzle. Opening his eyes, he saw his mother giving him a warm smile.

"Hang in there Simba. Tomorrow will be better. I promise."

oOo

Hold on feeling like I'm

Headed for a break down

And I don't know why.

Finally, he was able to see the outline of Pride Rock. Simba had returned from a neighboring kingdom in hopes that he would be able to negotiate with the king there so that his own pride would have access to food and water, two necessities that were still scarce in the Pride Lands. Unfortunately, the king had stubbornly refused and wouldn't hear Simba's pleas. Apparently, Scar had established ill relations with this kingdom and the king's majordomo had told Simba that the king had had his fill of Pride Lander kings to last him a lifetime. So, Simba had sadly returned home, with only his lioness escorts for company.

When he had reached Pride Rock, the entire pride had gathered at the foot of the stone mountain in order to welcome their young king home and receive what they were sure would be good news. Simba always got nervous when he had to address the pride, and upon seeing their expectant faces, that feeling was amplified.

"I am sorry to say that my mission was unsuccessful, King Hamari will not be allowing us into his lands. Apparently Scar committed some crime against him, a injustice that can never be reconciled. That is all."

Simba didn't stay to hear the buzzing chatter of the crowd or to see their disappointed faces as they realized they would have to hear their cubs cry from hunger for many more nights. Instead, he turned and headed toward the open savannah hoping he'd been able to come up with another idea to save his starving pride.

oOo

But I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell

I know right now you can't tell

But stay while and maybe then you'll see

A different side of me.

Nothing.

No matter how hard he tried to think up a plan to find food for the pride, absolutely nothing could work.

He could try negotiating with another pride. No Scar had offended all of them within reasonable vicinity.

He could talk to the leaders of the herds that had hesitantly come back to the Pride Lands. No, the viciousness of the pride's former overhunting was still fresh on their mind, they did not trust the king.

He could ask the lionesses to hunt further away from Pride Rock. No, they were already doing that for the most part and it just left them exhausted for nothing.

With a roar of frustration, Simba took a swipe at a nearby tree, taking out a good chunk of the tree's thin bark.

"Whoa. Simba, you alright?"

Simba whipped around to see a creamy lioness looking at him with a shocked expression. It was Nala.

"Uh, yeah, I'm fine." he said his anger dying away.

Nala came closer, casting her sapphire eyes into his own, almost as if she were searching for something.

"No you're not." she said after a moment.

Even though they had been separated for many years, it was odd how Nala could still read him like a book.

Simba gave a sigh,

"Should I be Nala? Nothing that I've done has been successful. Nothing is getting better no matter what I do. I mean, can you honestly say things have changed much since Scar was king?"

Nala looked at the male in front of her. She had sensed what he was feeling before he even said it.

"Simba. You have no idea how much things have changed since Scar was king. You're doing a good job, whether you want to see it or not."

"How Nala? I still hear cubs crying at night from hunger, I see exhaustion on everyone's faces, and I see disappointment. Nothing has changed."

"Simba, no one expected everything to suddenly get better overnight. Sure, we are still facing the same challenges that we did when Scar was king, but this time, we have something we didn't have before."

"What?" Simba asked.

"Hope." Nala replied.

oOo

I'm not crazy I'm just a little impaired

I know right now you don't care

But soon enough you're gonna think of me

And how I used to be.

Me.

Nala's words had helped Simba get through the next few days, but unfortunately, warm words often lose their weight when challenges feel overwhelming. Simba had still been unable to come up with a plan to improve living conditions for the lionesses.

As he was making his morning rounds, he heard someone approaching him. It was Akila, one of the lionesses.

"Good morning Akila. Is there something I can do for you?" he asked.

"Good morning sire." she said giving him a small bow before she continued.

"Myself and a few of the other lionesses have decided to try our chances in another kingdom. I'm sorry, but we've all got small cubs to feed."

Simba looked at lioness, she was older than he and he knew that she had two small cubs. Looking over her, he saw that her ribs were showing and lines of exhaustion were etched on her face. He couldn't tell her that she and the others couldn't go, not when she was trying to find a better life for her children.

"Of course Akila. You may leave whenever you wish. And if you cannot find refudge, you are always welcome here." he answered.

"Thank you King Simba." she said with a bow.

As she left, Simba gave a sigh and looked off into the distance.

He could see the neverending expanse of the horizon, he wished he could leave too. He wished he could take off into the horizon, leaving his problems behind him. But wasn't running away what he's told himself he wasn't going to do anymore.

Still, at the moment, Simba couldn't think of anything better than returning to the peace of his former jungle home. Or better yet, returning to a Pride Lands that was still glorious, a Pride Lands where his father was by his side guiding him down life's path.

oOo

Talking to myself in public

Dodging glances on the trian

And I know

I know they've all been talking bout me

I can hear them whisper

And it makes me think there must be something

Wrong with me.

Another failed attempt.

Simba had once again tried to convince on of the neighboring kingdoms to persuade herds in their territory to migrate to the Pride Lands. And once again, another king had refused to cooperate.

Despite the fact that the Pride Lands was beginning to flourish again, herds were still weary of returning to the reborn land. And the small herds that had moved in, were not enough to sustain the pride without the lionesses being forced to overhunt. A mistake they all swore to never make again.

"Shanni, he's young. You have to give him credit. He's doing the best he can."

"I don't care! My cubs are starving and he isn't capable of simply convincing some more herds to migrate here? What kind of king is he? He's worse than Scar!"

"Shanni, you're being very unfair. He is so much better than Scar and you know it."

"Yeah well, maybe he isn't a ruthless tyrant, but he's certainly no Mufasa."

The lionesses continued walking unaware that Simba had overheard most of their conversation.

Pangs of guilt went flooding through him as he realized how terribly he was failing at being king. Simba had tried his best to follow in his father's pawprints, to make decisions the way he thought his father would. But he wasn't Mufasa. His decisions always seemed to fall apart or backfire. Why didn't he have the wisdom and strength to support his kingdom?

Maybe it was all punishment. Punishment for abandoning his pride and yes, punishment for the part he played in his father's death.

Sure, he now knew that Scar had been his father's murderer, but Simba had played the bait. If he hadn't been so blind, so trustful, his dad might still be alive.

oOo

Out of all the hours

Thinking somehow

I've lost my mind.

Simba had lived with the guilt of his father's death for most of his life. And even if he had discovered the truth, that pain, that guilt was something that just wasn't going to go away.

oOo

I'm not crazy I'm just a little unwell

I know right now you can't tell

But stay awhile and maybe then you'll see a different side of me.

I'm not crazy, I'm just a little impaired, I know right now you don't care

But soon enough you're gonna think of me

And I used to be.

It had taken nearly a year for the Pride Lands to recover enough to even become a shadow of its former self. Luckily for Simba, things began to improve. Relations with neighboring kingdoms were better, herds were returning in large numbers, and his pride was well-fed and healthy. Lionesses no longer looked beaten and worn and the cries of hungry cubs was no longer heard in the darkness of the night.

And speaking of cubs, Simba had finally plucked up the courage to ask Nala to be marry him. Nala had immediately said yes, and all the other lionesses had wondered what had taken him so long. And now, the happy couple was expecting a child.

Simba smiled to himself as he looked over the flourishing land, things were finally started to look up. He had learned an important lesson from his struggles, that even when there are shadows of doubt, the future is always worth fighting for.

A warm breeze blew his thick red mane and the young king turned his face to the sky and smiled.

I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell...


A/N: Thank you so much for reading. This wasn't really meant to be a story with a big plot, it was more of an exploration of emotions. And how Simba was able to grow as a king through the challenges that he had to face. Please let me know how I did and if you thought the song fit. And I didn't really have time to proofread, so if there are any mistakes, please let me know!

And if you're interesred, click on my profile and check out my other stories.

*Nantsingonyama* (The Lion Comes) :]