An ominous mist as grey as ghouls hung over the bewitched purple sky. The long stretch of savanna after the Outlands was that of a dull gold and yet, to someone who had been a desert rat for months at a time, such a sight it was! It could be the start of a new life , a more stable one, a better one.
She poked her head above the tall grasses at the edge of the Pridelands. The skunk-patterned mammal had finally made it to the beginning of her homelands; and she hadn't had an easy time of it. Between lions and hyenas, the young badger was lucky to be alive. She picked up the only thing she had left in the world and hurried at a rapid pace, feeling excited.
Nala lifted her head back as she eased out of her crouch. It looked like the few lionesses she had taken with her to run a sweep of the border – routine patrol, of course – were the preoccupied sort. She scrunched her muzzle as she recalled how Scar had taken in his "fair share" of lionesses. Only a few hadn't been banished and, because they didn't care at all so long as they could eat, they were posted as sentries.
Well, Zira's pride and the hyenas kept sneaking back in, so apparently the job wasn't getting done! She rolled her eyes at the wayward stragglers and gasped as she caught sight of movement. The lioness grunted to her motley crew and the three assumed their positions, forming an arrowhead design.
Asali continued her way through the thin, yellow mini forest when she saw something that stuck out from the dreariness of the post-Outlander border. She hissed and crouched over the little bundle that was her son. Bader looked up at her with navy blue eyes. She clenched her teeth together as eyes flickered, Asali stood up tall as she prepared to fight the pair of green eyes that bore down on.
II. Mid-day, near Pride Rock...
"This stinks!" Timon kicked at a termite mound.
"What stinks Timon?" Pumbaa asked in concern, joining his friend after viewing Simba's new cub. "Simba has a new son! Isn't that what we wanted in the first place? Hey, if you think about, with him we're coming out first place."
"Oh, don't be such a romantic, Pumbaa!" Timon threw his arms up in the air. "With a neurotic father, a passive-aggressive mother and a killjoy for a sister, do you really, honestly think the odds are good that this kid will turn out any differently? I mean, what if... what if he's responsible?!"
"Timon!" Pumbaa gasped. "Such language!"
"There's no beatin' around the bush here, pal. We raised a lion who turned into Mr. Responsible. We've tried to raise his daughter and look how she's turned out." he sighed and rubbed at his neck. "I'm tellin' ya, pal, this whole "let's find someone to teach Hakuna Matata to" thing is played out. I'm done. I'm finished. I... I, I wanna go home. Back to my little jungle home, back to Ma." Timon saw Pumbaa's expression.
"Leave... the Pridelands? Leave Simba?"
Timon looked away, rubbing his arm. "You can always stay if you want to, buddy. And if you remember, Simba left us once without a goodbye," he felt his eyes start to sting a bit.
"No, Timon." Pumbaa rested his hoof on Timon's shoulder.
The merekat met his eyes as he explained.
"We came together, we leave together." Pumbaa smiled.
Timon sniffed and swiped at his eye, smiling back.
"Who's leaving?" Simba said from behind.
"AH!" Timon jumped back ten feet in the air. Pumbaa met Simba's eyes guiltily. Before they could explain, the looming silhouettes of four lionesses appeared over the hill. Nala led the three back and met Simba's eyes critically, something in her mouth made him start. He turned to his befuddled duo.
"You guys mind meeting me back at Pride Rock?"
Timon huffed a breath and trudged away, Pumbaa looked after him and then smiled limply at Simba. For some reason Simba couldn't pinpoint, whatever was going on with them felt more like a pressing matter then Nala's dilemma. Not that he would ever let her know that; or them.
She sat something dark down as she approached him and sighed.
"I accidentally..." The lioness looked away as a small head poked up at her. "I just couldn't leave him," she explained to Simba, "With Kion so young and... well," They watched the baby honey badger unfurl himself. "I just feel guilty, I feel like I should have been more careful because I usually am. But, I didn't want to leave Kion in the first place."
Timon and Pumbaa exchanged a loaded look. Of course.
Simba pressed his face to hers. "It's okay," he assured her. "I know how you feel about the hyenas coming back." The King nodded at his queen's real worry. "Look at me," He smiled at her and so she did. "What happened out there was just because you want to be with Kion. We'll find some way to patrol the Pridelands more effectively." The lionesses huffed as they headed home; he ignored them. "As for the badger..."
"We'll take him!" Timon piped up. Him and Pumbaa came out of the green grass and sized up the adorable little infant.
"Timon and Pumbaa... raising a honey badger?" Nala said dryly. Her and Simba looked at each other a moment and then burst out laughing. "Timon and Pumbaa... mothers?!"
"Well, maybe more like uncles." Pumbaa clarified naively.
"And what's wrong with two guys raising a baby?" Timon looked directly, pointedly, at Simba. The lion's grin froze, re-molded into an embarrassed grimace and then he sighed.
"Okay, guys." He eyed the little badger doubtfully before turning to leave with a chuckling Nala. "Since Mom came home for the week, you can watch the honey badger for a few hours while I find him a new home." Simba said to his wife in an aside. "Besides, I think Kiara likes having my mom watch her better anyways." Nala stifled another loud laugh.
"No," Timon told them. Simba raised a brow at his defiance and smiled challengingly. Nala just looked miffed. "I..." he turned to Pumbaa. "We want to raise this honey badger." In his arms was the blue-furred, dark-eyed baby that had come to rest at his feet. The baby sniffed and grunted after having scurried over to them. Timon looked at them, oddly serious.
"We want to raise this honey badger," he repeated, grave.
Simba frowned, no longer joking. "Guys... badgers, um..."
"They're mean little spits," Nala tried not to smile as she explained. "I mean, they take on scorpions for lion sakes. Rattlesnakes... you guys would be torn apart by this baby."
"Oh," Timon placed the fidgeting badger on Pumbaa, who smiled confidently at his friend. "You mean like how a lion cub tore us apart? Like how the hyenas were able to tear us apart when we came to help you defeat Scar." He saw Nala flinch, knowing how she felt about her babies. Timon, in his defense, became more irate. "Like how you were able to..."
He looked away again. Simba's eyes widened in realization, Nala just rolled hers. What Timon had meant to say to her, to Simba, was all too clear. The lion took a second and then cleared his throat. Everyone, even Timon, gave him their attention. Simba looked at the tiny baby resting on Pumbaa's snout and something in his eyes turned longing. It was such a thing that even Nala turned away in pity. If in a sense of renewed guilt or admittance, she did not say. The King smiled at his loyal subjects, his friends, his parents. A flicker of anticipation came into Timon and Pumbaa's eyes.
"You guys can adopt the badger." He said humbly.
Nala was left flabbergasted as he headed home to see his mom and her granddaughter and grandson. The new trio looked after him fondly and stiffened a little as the cream-colored lioness passed by. She folded her ears back and looked down at the uncertain threesome, understanding it seemed came to her now, "I'm sorry," she told them softly.
Timon and Pumbaa understood the double meaning... oddly enough. They both smiled at her and even the baby badger managed a tiny one. Something was forged then that would foreshadow the near future. Nala smiled back and followed Simba home. Timon took down their new little nephew and sighed in relief, cradling him close.
"So," he said casually, rocking him, "Got any names?"
"How about... Hakuna? Like Hakuna Matata."
"Or, how about Cowa, like Cowabunga?"
"Maybe just Bunga," Pumbaa sighed.
Timon looked at his delight and dropped his shoulders.
"Yeah, Pumbaa. I think "Bunga" will work out just fine."
"Timon, this is the first idea I ever came up with on my own!"
The merekat used one paw to pat his warthog chum and the other to cradle Bunga to his side as they finally went home. "Yeah, buddy. It had to happen sooner or later." He smiled down at his young son. "It had to happen sooner or later."