Disclaimer: I do not own ThunderCats.
Author's Note: This was co-written with bronwynn. She has been the driving force behind this fic. Thank you, friend!
A Matter of Trust – Epilogue
After their marriage, Lion-O and Cheetara still continued their riding. Sometimes they would take Saya on a morning ride or venture out in the afternoon for a ride and stop for a picnic out in the meadow by the lake.
Evening rides, however, were theirs—their time to spend together, just the two of them.
On this particular evening, Lion-O and Cheetara kissed Saya goodbye and turned her over to Kit for the next hour or so.
"Will you read me stories when you get back, Momma?" Saya said as she gave Cheetara a fierce hug goodbye.
"Of course I will," she reassured her daughter.
"And can I take a bubble bath in your big tub?" Saya pressed on.
She squealed with delight as Lion-O scooped her up in his arms. "Your momma will draw you a bath filled with bubbles as soon as we finish our ride. I promise."
"Okay, Daddy," Saya said as she hugged the lion for their temporary goodbye. For as many times as Lion-O heard Saya call him daddy, it still melted his heart every time.
The newlyweds walked hand-in-hand down the steps outside the palace doors where a stable hand was waiting with their mounts. "Thank you, Toby," Lion-O said as he helped his wife mount.
The grey and white striped cat bowed his head to his king. "The wind is really picking up, Lord Lion-O. Best to take a short ride tonight because it feels like there's a storm coming." Concern was evident on his kind face.
"We'll be mindful of the weather and make it back here in plenty of time, Toby. Don't worry," Lion-O tried to reassure him as he settled himself on his mount.
Cheetara looked at her husband, her eyebrows raised in question. She tried to look serious but she couldn't hide the subtle smirk on her face at his remark.
"What?" Lion-O chuckled and flashed her a handsome yet snarky smile. "Don't you trust me?"
"You know that I trust you with all that I am." She gave him a playful smile in return. "You are many things, my husband; but being mindful of the weather is not one of them." She giggled as she urged her mount forward.
Lion-O couldn't help but laugh. She was right, and he would never regret that day when they had been caught in that downpour. They had shared their first kiss and confessed their feelings for one another during that storm and for that, he would always be grateful.
As they traveled further away from the palace they reined in their mounts down to a slow trot so they could talk. "Did you realize that this is our anniversary? We are married exactly two months today." The lion king reached into his cloak and produced a perfect red rose, holding it out to her. "Happy anniversary."
Cheetara beamed at him as she reached out to take the flower, bringing it up to her nose to breathe in its lovely scent. "Thank you. I love it. And I love you."
"I love you." Lion-O reached over to grab the reins of her mount, pulling both of the animals to a stop. He leaned over, brushing some tendrils of her silky blonde hair off her cheek. Cupping her face in his hand he gently brushed his lips over hers.
Cheetara immediately pulled him closer and kissed him, not a soft gentle kiss, but a one that was deep and passionate. Lost in the heat of their kiss, they failed to notice the turbulent wind whipping around. Even the lightning and thunder seemed to escape their notice. It was only when they began to feel the insistent pelt of raindrops on their faces that they reluctantly broke apart.
Cheetara smirked. "Mindful of the weather, my love?"
"You can tease me about it later. Let's head back," her husband quipped, unable to hide his smile. They turned their mounts around and urged them into a steady run, but before long visibility was diminished due to the pounding rain. Lion-O veered off of their usual riding path, slowly making his way across the muddy ground with Cheetara following close behind on her mount.
"Let's head inside the old stables and wait out the storm." Lion-O called to her, his voice barely audible over the bedlam of the rain.
Once they neared the old structure, Lion-O slid down from his saddle and led both animals into the stable. Cheetara stayed on top of her mount as her husband guided them out of the rain and quickly shut the wooden doors behind them.
He reached up and gripped her slender waist in his hands, lifting her off of her saddle and placing her gently on the ground. They were soaked to the bone and their wet clothes felt heavy on their bodies, adding to the discomfort. They removed their drenched cloaks and hung them on the empty tack hooks on the wall of the stable.
Lion-O looked thoroughly around the old place. Bad memories surfaced as he glanced at the empty stall where Patagon had kept Saya bound when he had kidnapped her. Shaking that thought away, Lion-O surveyed the rest of the stable. With the resurgence of tech, fewer steeds were utilized than years ago and the palace now only used a fraction of the existing stables to house their livestock. Fortunately, there were still some supplies left that could be of use while they waited out the storm.
Lion-O procured some lanterns and lighter fuel along with some dense towels that must have at one time been used for grooming the animals. Cheetara found some tack blankets and was already spreading them out over a scattering of hay on the side of the stable opposite from where they left their mounts.
Once the lanterns were lit, Lion-O turned to look at his wife. She had placed her rose down on the tack table and was wringing out water from her long strands of blonde hair—even soggy and shivering, her beauty took his breath away.
"We will never warm up with these wet clothes on," she said matter-of-factly as she began to unbutton her frock and strip off the saturated dress. "We can wring out our clothes and hang them up until the rain lets up."
Her husband nodded his head in agreement as they began to peel off their outermost layers of clothing, wringing out the excess water before hanging them on the tack hooks. Even their underclothing was damp, adding to the chill they both felt.
She couldn't take her eyes from him as he hung their clothes, bare-chested and beautiful in the dim lantern light. They dried themselves as thoroughly as they could with the coarse towels before finally relenting that they would get no drier until they were back at the palace.
They crawled onto the blankets Cheetara had laid out and sat together, pulling another blanket up to cover them. The lion felt the nip of chill in the air, but his wife was actually shivering with cold. Lion-O wrapped his arm around her, pulling her close—trying to warm her with his body heat. She snuggled into his embrace, her fingers absentmindedly tracing across the planes of his muscular chest.
Cheetara loved being close to him. He had been her rock—her strength. She still marveled at his quiet fortitude—understated yet obvious to anyone who spent time with Lion-O. She loved him—needed him—wanted him. Her heartbeat quickened as she realized that her trembling was no longer caused by the chill in the air.
Cheetara leaned down and placed a soft kiss on his chest, feeling his muscles tense as her lips brushed against him. She smiled against his chest before moving her mouth higher and placing another kiss and then another. She felt his heartbeat quicken and his breathing increase, his reaction encouraging her to continue.
She brought her hands up and slid them onto his shoulders as she continued trailing her mouth slowly up his chest to his neck. He swallowed deeply and closed his eyes, reveling in the feeling of her mouth on his body.
Her kisses continued up to his throat, his chin and finally reached his lips. Their mouths fused tightly together, instantly deepening into a kiss that was pure passion. At that moment, Cheetara let out a squeal as the old leaky roof poured cold rainwater down her back. She rolled away from Lion-O who lurched to his feet ready to attack the unknown intruder.
"The roof is leaking," she panted, shivering in the chill air of the storm. Lion-O tugged her against his bare body, wrapping her with his warmth.
"I'm sorry I didn't pay more attention to the weather," he apologized, the romantic mood now broken.
Cheetara giggled against his chest. "I suppose I am at fault as well," she admitted.
"Sounds like the storm is letting up." Lion-O peered through the sagging wooden doors as the clouds began to move off into the distance. "Do you want to head back home? I promised Saya a bubble bath and a story before her bedtime," Lion-O said with a smile on his face. "I can't break my promise to our girl."
Cheetara leaned up and placed a light kiss on his lips. "Yes. Maybe after we get Saya settled into bed we can try out a bubble bath of our own?"
"Now you have me hoping Saya picks a short story for tonight." They chuckled together before getting up and redressing. Cheetara picked up her rose smiled as Lion-O helped her onto her mount. They rode together silently back to the palace, their thoughts already wandering to their time alone together later that evening.
Even from a distance, Lion-O could see relief wash across Toby's body when he spotted their approach. As they neared the palace, he noted that Toby's clothes were wet and he felt a twinge of guilt, realizing that the loyal stable hand had waited outside the palace for them during the storm. Judging from the soggy appearance of Toby's pants, the palace overhang had offered him little protection from the rain and wind.
"By Thundera, Lord Lion-O, you are both soaked to the bone." Toby quickly took hold of the bridles as the king dismounted.
"We're fine Toby. We were caught too far out when the storm hit so we rode to one of the old outlying stables and waited out the storm," the lion explained as he helped his wife dismount. "I'm sorry that you were worried. You should have waited inside."
"I'll take care of the animals, Lord Lion-O. You both go inside and get out of those wet clothes. I know Cook has some warm tea waiting."
"Thank you, Toby. Goodnight." Lion-O took his wife's hand as they climbed the steps to the palace.
As they neared the entrance, the door swung open and Saya came sprinting out, jumping into the lion's arms. "Daddy, why are you and Momma so wet?" The little girl's eyebrows furrowed, indicating that she was thinking about what to say next. "Did you and Momma get caught out in the rain again?"
Cheetara tried, without much success, to rein in her laughter. Even their five year old daughter realized that getting caught out in the rain was becoming a habit of theirs.
"We did, Saya, but don't worry; Momma and I won't break our promise." Lion-O reassured their little girl.
"Just let Daddy and I get out of these wet clothes and I'll draw you a bath in our big tub," Cheetara promised as they made their way to their bedroom suite.
"Okay!" Saya squealed with delight, "But Momma, don't forget the bubbles!"
That made both parents snicker. "I won't forget, my sweet girl," Cheetara reassured her daughter as images of her and her husband relaxing together in a hot bubble bath danced through her mind.
Cheetara slipped out of her soggy clothes and slid into a warm robe before making her way into the master bathroom and drawing a bath for her daughter. She made sure to add a large amount of the bubble liquid and Saya was quietly jumping up and down clapping her hands as she watched the bubbles grow.
Lion-O, who was now wearing a pair of loose-fitting pajama pants, came into the bathroom with one of Saya's nightgowns as well as her hairbrush, Snarf following close on his heels. His wife turned off the faucet and helped the little girl out of her dress before slipping her into the warm bubble-filled tub.
After watching Cheetara bathe their little girl and wash her long blonde hair Lion-O couldn't help but feel a pang of guilt as he found himself hoping that Saya's bath was nearing an end—thoughts of Cheetara sinking into a hot bubble bath with him were swirling around in his mind.
Snarf kept an eye on his young companion while he sat a comfortable distance from the large tub, his stiff posture indicating his poor opinion of baths. After rinsing Saya's hair, Cheetara lifted their little girl from the tub and wrapped her in a plush towel, gently patting her dry. Cheetara slipped the nightgown over Saya's head then took to the task of towel drying her daughter's long blonde tresses.
Once Saya was dry and ready for her bedtime story, Lion-O scooped her up and carried her to her room. Her mother pulled down the covers and Lion-O carefully placed the little girl into her warm bed. Cheetara fussed with the blankets, tucking Saya in snugly as Snarf jumped up and took his customary position directly next to the little cheetah's legs.
They both sat on Saya's bed as Lion-O read her a bedtime story. Is he reading a bit faster than usual? Cheetara wondered to herself. Maybe he is as anxious as I am?
When the story came to an end Cheetara and Lion-O kissed their daughter goodnight, told her how much they love her, and wished her sweet dreams. After they each gave Snarf a loving pat on the head they exited the room, quietly pulling the door closed behind them.
Lion-O put his arm around his wife and pulled her close as they walked together down the hall. "Toby said that cook had hot tea ready for us. Would you like some?"
"I would love some," Cheetara began and then seemed to be considering something, "Would you mind bringing it up to our room on a tray? I'm in my robe and must look a fright."
"Well, you may be a bit damp, but you are still gorgeous," he said as he kissed her lips lightly. "But seeing as how you aren't dressed, I'll go get the tea and bring it up. I'll be right back." He kissed her once more before heading down to the kitchen.
A few minutes later, Lion-O made his way back upstairs to the door of their bedroom suite. He opened the heavy wooden door and stepped inside, softly closing the door behind him. Then he set the tray down on a table in the sitting area and looked around.
The room was dark except for the light from the fireplace. Lion-O felt a twang of disappointment, figuring that exhaustion had set in and that his wife had crawled into bed. He ambled over to the large bed only to realize that his wife was not in it.
The room was quiet save for the crackling in the fireplace and he wondered if Cheetara had gone back to check on Saya. He turned around, intending to head back in the direction of Saya's bedroom when he noticed a flickering light coming from the bathroom door, which was now slightly ajar.
The lion walked over to the door and slowly pushed it open, his breath hitching as he surveyed the scene before him. Softly glowing candles lined the vanity and the steps leading up to the large bathtub, which was once again filled with steamy water and bubbles.
Cheetara was waiting for him in the bubbles, leaning back against the side of the tub. Her robe was draped over the vanity chair and she was giving him a slow sexy smile.
"I believe I promised you a bubble bath." She purred.
Lion-O could barely keep his heart from leaping out of his chest. Seeing his wife like this—exuding confidence, flirting with him—he had dreamed of a moment like this for some time. He was so in love with this woman. Seeing her waiting for him in the tub, sweetly smirking at him was enough to make his breathing quicken and his heart pound loudly in his chest.
"Will you join me, my husband?" she coaxed, stretching out her hand to beckon him closer like an invitation to heaven.
Lion-O didn't need to be asked twice. He snapped out of his dreamy stupor, immediately slid off his sleep pants, and strode up the steps to the tub. He stepped in and sank down next to her, pulling her into his arms. The hot water was soothing, but not nearly as much as the feeling of having her body next to his.
Cheetara cuddled into his chest with a contented sigh. She leaned against him and lightly ran her fingers along the hard planes of his muscles. A smile stretched across her face as she felt a shiver run through him despite the hot water. She leaned up to kiss him, gently at first but then more urgently as she playfully stroked her tongue against his lips.
"I have news, Lion-O," she murmured as she pulled back.
The lion king struggled to focus on what his wife was saying. "Oh?" he choked out as his lips left a heated trail of kisses down her neck.
Cheetara pulled back and cupped his face in her hands. A smile curved the corners of her full lips and her crimson eyes sparkled with happiness. She took one of his hands and placed it over her flat stomach leaving her on hand over his. "I'm pregnant," she said softly.
Lion-O's breath caught in his throat at her words as his hand cupped her womb. He leaned his forehead against hers. "I love you so very much," he murmured against her lips. "A cub." A grin tugged at his lips as his hand stroked tenderly over her belly causing a shiver to run through her.
She slipped her arms around his neck. "Show me how much you love me, my husband," she purred as Lion-O tugged her onto his lap.
"I like the way you think," the lion king growled as he proceeded to love his wife in the way intended from the beginning of time.