Disclaimer: I do not own the Lion King or any of the canon characters in this story (Timon, Max, or Kavie, but I did make up her name), Disney does. I do own all characters I made up.
Ruth had offered, as she had so long ago for his grandmother, to have something more formal for Mel. Leo had declined, however. Leo felt that he should be the one to bury his father.
Joe had helped him some, but afterwards left so Leo could be alone. It had been coming, he knew. His father had been failing in health since even before Max had started in the tunnels. The whole mess with Molly, and especially his mother leaving, was what did it. In the days following what was now being called by some as "The Great Schism", Leo had seen his father just completely give up. He wished he hadn't, though. He also wished that he could talk with Max about this...about anything, really.
When Mel went, Leo felt that maybe, just maybe, his brother would talk to him again. He thought that maybe, out of respect for their dad, he might try to patch things up. But even now, Max avoided him.
It was slow work, but when he'd finished he looked over the mound of fresh earth. It amazed him how numb and cold he felt. Maybe it still didn't feel real yet to him somehow, or maybe there had been so much sadness lately that he'd barely any left to feel.
Either way, he waited for a while before he gave his father a goodbye.
As he was leaving the burial site he had chosen, Leo could swear he'd sensed Max approaching it, but it might have just been his imagination.
"Are you sure there where only two hurt?" Kavie asked her uncle. She sat with two injured meerkats in the largest burrow. Many meerkats were rushing by, attempting to fix the problem that had caused the cave-in in one of the newer tunnels.
"Yes, there were only about five or six digging that tunnel at the time." Lee answered.
There was the problem. The meerkats that had stayed were trying to get back to normal. Most of them knew things could never be exactly the same again, but that wasn't for lack of trying. There were just too few of them to continue their old routines, and these accidents were becoming more frequent.
Lee helped her tend to the two. Thankfully neither was harmed badly, and Kavie was able to send them both to their homes.
Giving a weary sigh, Kavie watched them leave before feeling she really needed to sit down. Clearly noticing the tiredness in the sigh as she sat, Lee looked more intently at her.
"Are...you ok, Kavie?" he asked. There were still pauses when he spoke. They were really out of habit. After so many times being interrupted or shouted at by Molly, Lee just wasn't sure about voicing his opinion. No one blamed him, but they were glad he was getting better.
"Yeah, I'm fine. I'm just a little tired, that's all. I feel like I've been on my feet for about a month." she said. She sounded good-natured enough, but she really did look pretty drained.
"You wanna take a break...for a bit?"
"If you think we can." She leaned her head back.
"I'd think that would be your choice."
She smiled and closed her eyes for a moment, just long enough for Lee to sit next to her. "It would be, if there weren't so many things I needed to in a day. You're my assistant, you should know if I've got time."
"...You've got time."
She glanced at him after she'd opened her eyes. "Thanks."
After a few minutes in silence, and watching the others moving about, Lee spoke again. "You may not have me too much longer though...as an assistant."
"So you've decided to go with that new female friend of yours?" Kavie asked. She managed a smirk.
He averted his eyes, looking embarrassed. "It's not anything like you're thinking...She just wants help convincing her parents to let her join our colony. I wouldn't be gone too long."
Her smirk didn't falter when he looked back at her. "That's great, and really nice of you to do for her."
Even if things weren't so good right now, plenty of meerkats did benefit from Molly's leaving, and the one who benefited the most was Lee. With her gone Lee was free to open up and spend more time with his family. Kavie didn't think she'd even talked to her uncle all that much, if at all, until now. Now he was out talking to others, and meeting new females like the one they'd been talking about. She had to be only a few weeks older than Kavie was.
He'd even been a pretty top-notch assistant so far. She was happy for Lee, even more than that.
"You know Uncle Lee, This may sound strange coming from your niece, but I'm proud of you."
"Thanks." he said honestly. "Me too."
"I'm proud of you, too." came Ruth's voice. Lee and Kavie looked around to see that she seemed to have snuck up on them as they were talking. Kavie gave a little jump.
"I'm sorry, Grandma. I know I should be making my rounds right now. I really just felt like I needed a break."
"That's fine dear. And it wouldn't be my place to say anything anyway. That's your decision."
She then looked very concerned when she saw how slowly her granddaughter stood up. "But by the look of you, I'd say you made a good one. Sit back down and let me take a look at you." She waved Kavie back down.
"Have you eaten much today?" she asked as she pulled open one of Kavie's eyes.
"Not a whole lot more than usual."
"Yes." It sounded more like a question.
Ruth then checked the color of her tongue, and listened to Kavie's heartbeat. She didn't say anything, but she looked her over intently. Kavie appreciated it, but she still felt she was just tired. She definitely thought Ruth might be going to far when she began pressing lightly on her stomach.
When a look of recognition had appeared on her face, she spoke. "I think you might need a longer break than a few minutes. You're exhausted, and I'm afraid that may get worse before it gets better."
"That's what I thought." said Lee.
Kavie smiled and nodded, she could handle that. A bit more rest sounded great, but she couldn't fall back on her obligations.
"And we certainly don't want you so exhausted in your condition." A wide smile replaced the recognition.
Kavie frowned. "I'm sorry, condition?" She didn't understand.
"Yes dear, I'd say you are about two weeks along." Ruth said.
"...Along?" Could she possibly mean what she thought?
At first Ruth looked surprised at Kavie's confusion, but then she chuckled. "You're pregnant."
Where Mel lay wasn't too far from home. Leo wanted to make sure he could visit, but he also wanted to make sure he was out of the way of tunnel expansion.
He didn't think about anything in particular on his way back. He'd have to start back on sentry duty tomorrow, but for now he could go back to his own burrow and try to sleep. He might feel like talking by the time Kavie came in.
He was pushed out of his numb, unthinking state when he saw her in there already.
"Kavie?" She seemed to catch the tiny hint of worry in his voice.
"Everything's fine." she said. Leo felt relieved. She led him to their little nest and they sat down. "I just thought you might have wanted me here when you came back. I'm still sorry I couldn't be there."
"It's alright." He slowly looked away from her. She leaned over, back into his line of vision.
"If you want to talk, you know I'm here. It isn't like I haven't been where you are now." She smiled. That was true. It was odd to think back to that night when they were younger. It didn't seem like that long ago.
But she had at least felt something then. He still hadn't even cried for him yet.
"I wish I felt sadder." Leo found himself saying. He knew it sounded stupid, like some little pup, but he truly felt unnerved at his lack of feeling.
She shook her head and put her paw on his. "Just because you don't feel it doesn't mean you're not sad. Your dad knows you miss him." She said it in the exact same way he had when he had told her that she would see her parents again. She had such confidence in her words.
"He's always with you, remember?"
That made him smile. He looked back up at her. There wasn't really that much else to say.
Leo sighed. "He was a great father. I don't know if I'll ever be as great." he said thoughtfully.
He noticed her eyes flash when he spoke, and her smile brighten.
"You will be, I'm sure." Kavie said. She seemed to be holding back something. This didn't help his suspicions. Looking down for a moment, she finally added, "And if you're not sure, than you should really start practicing now."
A thought was creeping slowly from the back of his mind as she stared at him. Leo felt he knew what she was trying to say, but he didn't want to get his hopes up. It might not be...she might not be...
"What do you mean?" He asked slowly.
Whatever she wasn't telling him, she continued to circle around it. "I mean, it may not be too much longer until you might have to step into that particular role."
He was right, he had to be. He felt stunned; this caught him completely off guard. "Are you saying...that you're...that I'm..."
Leo didn't need to finish. His eyes grew wide as she nodded.
"You're going to be a father."
Excitement boiled over inside him as he leapt to his feet. "This is so great! When did you find out?"
Kavie couldn't hold in a laugh. "Today. I'd been feeling strange for a while now, at first I just thought I was a little fatigued, but when Grandma checked on me today she realized it!"
Leo wasn't sure what word he could use to describe how he was feeling. Every single one he came up with didn't seem to do this moment justice.
He compensated by hugging her.
"I'm so glad you're happy. " Kavie said. "I wasn't sure if I should tell you now, right after your dad passed away. It seemed somewhat disrespectful."
"Are you kidding? Dad would have loved to have heard this!" he shouted. His thoughts then flashed to Mel. He pictured telling his dad about the approaching pup, and seeing his surprised, and hopefully proud, face.
If what they believed was true, then he had already heard. And he probably wanted them to name the pup Buzz.
The time of Kavie's pregnancy was an incredibly progressive period for the colony. The meerkats were realizing that they would have to adapt to their much smaller population.
While each individual needed to take on more work, things seemed to be going well. The colony was not back to normal, not by a long shot, but it really started to look like someday it would be.
Only a few weeks after Kavie learned she was pregnant, Joe and his mate Sky announced that she was expecting too. Indeed, Kavie's and Sky's seemed to be the first in a meerkat pup boom.
The only one who hadn't offered any sort of congratulation, or any recognition at all, was Max. Kavie would try her best to pretend she didn't notice when Max would avoid talking to her and Leo, or even looking at them.
It was all so juvenile in her eyes, and her mate was not any better. He would often avoid Max just as much, even avoid talking about him.
She wanted to know when, and if, this would end.
"Kavie, it isn't my problem. He's the one who has the problem with me." Leo told her one day after her last patrolling of the perimeter of the day.
"I would gladly speak to him again, he's just too proud to initiate it. It would be like admitting he was wrong, and he would never do that." Leo began to pace slightly around the burrrow, possibly in an attempt to avoid the conversation.
"So you're not going to even try? You think fighting fire with fire really works?" she asked him.
"Why does our first fight have to be about Max?"
Kavie rolled her eyes. "Don't change the subject, and we're not fighting."
He didn't want to talk about it anymore, she could tell. He had actually begun to walk out of the burrow, but she gently placed a paw on his arm and he turned around. She tried not to raise her voice.
"Think of it this way, Leo. Our pup will be born soon, is it going to be able to talk to its uncle? Or will it have to avoid him as well?"
Leo paused for a moment. "That depends on if Max wants to talk to it."
She exhaled loudly. She supposed that this was just a losing battle. No one else said anything to Max or Leo about any of this; maybe she should do the same. Every time she tried though, she always thought back to how they used to be. They had been even closer than her and Laita.
The last few months had been pretty lonely for Max. Since his mother had left and his father died, Max now lived alone. He'd moved to a smaller burrow much farther down the tunnel system.
He didn't let anyone know, however. He still got up before the sun and worked all day with a smile on his face and an off-key tune on his lips.
No one who worked with him would ever know how conflicted he was beginning to feel.
The same thing went through his head practically every day. He would think about one of the last big conversations he had had with his dad. He had tried to remind Max of how important family was, and he had barely even looked at him. The weird thing was, he had been right. Leo was the only family he had left now. Boy that was hard to think about for him.
His dad didn't understand it that was about pride. Leo didn't want to admit he was wrong, so neither did Max. He would be glad to talk to Leo again, if only he would come up and talk first. He knew that's what would happen, he was almost sure of it.
Max finished his digging for the day and began to leave for his small burrow. He didn't pay much attention as another meerkat almost ran him over running past him in the opposite direction.
Although he was convinced that things would be fine, that pang he got every time his thoughts drifted back to Mel's words was very unsettling. It was far too reminiscent of guilt.
Only a few weeks later, the sun rose on what was the first day of spring, and deep within the labyrinth of tunnels a small cry announced the arrival of the colony's newest member. The cry may have been small, but it lasted for about five minutes.
His parents finally getting him settled down, the tiny baby meerkat began to doze softly as his mother passed him to his father. Completely wiped out from giving birth, Kavie slept quite well, the only one awake in the burrow was Leo.
Leo took the time to really look at his new son. The little guy's red tuft of top of his head stood out against his normal tan meerkat coloring, and his small tail was wrapped around his leg. It was simply astounding that this pup had come from them. He knew that he had, Leo had been here when he was born, but it was still amazing to think of.
He heard someone approaching and looked up to see Joe.
"Hey." he whispered to his friend. "If you want to visit, you might want to come back later."
"I was actually coming to tell you that Sky gave birth." Joe whispered as well. "But I guess you guys are pretty busy too."
Joe looked down at Leo's son. "Wow, she's a cutie."
"It's a boy." Leo said, only mostly faking insult.
"I knew that." he said. "We've got a girl though. Sweetest little thing ever. Sky was surprised at how fast her delivery was."
"Good for you two." came Kavie's whisper from the nest. She sat up, clearly deciding that she would not get any more sleep for now.
Leo handed their pup back to her. He yawned slightly and stretched.
"Well, I'll leave you three alone, sorry if I bothered you."
"That's ok, I'll come bother you later." Leo said.
There was a small point when neither new parents spoke, they just sat and looked at the small sleeping figure.
"So Leo, what do you think of him?" Kavie asked.
Leo smiled as he thought of his answer. "He's got a big nose."
Seeing her expression, Leo started to laugh as quietly as he could. "I'm sorry, Kavie. It's just that I remembered the story of Max's birth, Dad used to tell us that one a lot. That's what he said when he saw Max for the first time."
Kavie managed a small laugh. "What did he say when he saw you?"
""Are you sure you're not holding him upside-down?"
Kavie had to cover her mouth then to stop from laughing out loud. They both looked down at their baby; he was still sleeping now, even snoring a bit.
"I hadn't really thought about names. " Leo said. "I wanted to be sure of what he'd be."
"If he'd been a girl, I would have wanted to name him 'Clea', after my mom."
"I'm not quite sure that would work very well now."
"I guess not...What about "Bami", after my dad?" But right after she suggested it, they both shook their heads. A nice idea, but he just didn't look like a "Bami".
They tried a few more, including "Buzz", but none of them seemed to fit.
"How about "Timon"?" Kavie tried.
"Where did that one come from?"
"My mom was named for her grandmother, and that was her grandfather's name."
"Does it need to be a family member?" asked Leo.
"It's a tradition in my family."
"Hmm...maybe." Leo murmured.
They were silent again, pondering the new name for their son. Then something clicked, and they both knew that it was right.
"Timon it is." said Leo happily. Kavie then gave tiny Timon a hug.
"Oh, my little Timmy."
"Giving him a nickname already?"
Kavie just shrugged. They were both tired by that point, so Leo, Kavie, and Timon all lay down in the nest, with Timon in the middle.
After a few days both Leo and Kavie needed to get back to their duties, so they were forced to leave Timon with a sitter. Sky was the best choice, since she had her pup that was exactly Timon's age. Joe and Sky had named her Swifty, and her name showed in her speed. Kavie could see that even as she was dropping Timon off.
Beginning her rounds again was hard for Kavie, since she was still very tired, but she made sure she addressed every problem and tried to was going through the far end of the tunnels when she spotted Max. He hadn't even come to see Timon after he was born, she didn't even know if he knew Timon had been born.
He was almost out of sight before she decided to invite him. It was a long shot, but she thought that maybe if she made an effort, that he just might talk to Leo, or vice versa.
She called out to him and he actually jumped, then turned around. As she made her way to him he still looked very confused.
"Hello, Max." she said as casually as she could.
"...Hey." he said. Still not sure exactly sure what was going on.
"I'm not sure if you know, but your nephew was born a few days ago. I wanted to invite you to come see him."
"...Thanks." He then began to leave again.
"It would mean a lot to us." she said to his back as he walked away.
After that awkward encounter, Kavie was sure he wouldn't come. She was surprised, therefore, when he came to see them that night.
It didn't go exactly like Kavie had hoped. Leo took one look at Max, then at her, and walked out of the burrow, not returning until Max had left.
After Leo left Max said. "He does that a lot. Maybe it's just me."
Kavie had Timon on the floor. He didn't seem to want to crawl or scurry or anything. He sat and felt blindly for his mother. Kavie touched him to let him know where she was. He moved closer to her.
Max bent down to look at him closer. "This is him, huh?" Kavie picked him up so that he was closer to eye level.
After he stood up he looked intently at Timon's face. "Y'know he'd be cuter if he didn't look so much like Leo."
Kavie decided to take that as a joke, although she wasn't sure if it was.
Before Kavie even had time to say anything, Max was already heading for the entrance. "I better get going. Don't want anyone to wait for me to leave."
Just before he left he turned quickly, looking awkward. "And...thanks. For Y'know...inviting me."
"You're welcome." Kavie said. She wasn't sure he heard her, though.
Once Timon's eyes were open, Leo was eager to take his son out to explore. They didn't usually get far since he was still so young, and especially with a mother who was also the matriarch, but he did get to enjoy the stars with him. That was something special for their family that he could share with Timon. He may not have been completely old enough to understand, but he seemed to enjoy himself all the same.
Leo would lie on his back like he used to with Kavie, but Timon wouldn't want to sit still for very long.
He tried to bring Timon's attention to the twinkling bugs flying around them. "Look Timon, fireflies."
Timon looked where his father was pointing, grabbed one and popped it into his mouth.
Leo chuckled. "That's my boy."
After eating as many fireflies as he could catch, Timon got tired enough to sit beside Leo and listen to him.
"Now, do you remember what we talked about last night? About the stars?" Leo sighed. "Yeah, I know you probably don't quite understand yet. Don't worry though, Timon, we'll talk more about them when you're older."
Timon nodded, and then yawned before looking back up at Leo.
"Gettin' sleepy? Its ok, you can sleep. We'll stay out here a little longer though if that's alright with you."
Little Timon nodded and closed his eyes.
Leo looked down at him, and then back up at the night sky. "You know you're mom and I used to do this all the time. We haven't in a while. You know Timon, I miss it."
He felt Timon move closer, trying to get comfy.
"You know your uncle Max? I remember him taking me out here at night for training. Oh, those were good times." He went quiet for a moment, and became thoughtful. "I know you're mom means well, but I don't think just inviting Max over will really help anything."
He looked back at Timon, he opened his eyes for a few seconds, and Leo smiled again, pulling his son closer to him.
"That's one thing I hope you'll learn to avoid, son – A feud. That's not exactly what I'd call what Max and I are going through, but whatever it is, I'd hope you would learn to avoid it. Not just with siblings either, but with anyone."
When Leo looked at Timon again, he was fast asleep curled up against him.
He lowered his voice to a whisper. "Remember, Timon. Whatever your dream is, go for it. Don't let anybody tell you what you should be. Ok?"
Timon gave a little snore.
"Ok." Leo answered for him. He gave his son a small squeeze, before softly picking him up and carrying him back to his nest.
Leo thought about that night even when he began his latest sentry shift. It was himself and Joe today. Leo wasn't sure if Joe should be working today, he had recently worked every day for three weeks. Sentry was a stressful job as the best of times; he certainly hoped that if his friend should snap that it wasn't while he was on duty.
For most of the day everything seemed secure. Joe looked pretty tense, but otherwise things were fine.
Suddenly, Leo was having a very big deja vu moment. He sensed something in the grass. He wasn't sure how Joe would react, so he waited for a bit to make sure it hadn't been a fluke.
When he saw some of the far grass rustle out of the corner of his eye, he signaled to Joe, who came over from his post.
"Ok, Joe, I don't want to alarm you, but I think I saw something out in the grass. I'm pretty sure I can handle it, I just want you to get everyone underground."
"Right." said Joe.
Leo didn't even get to turn back towards the grass before Joe was off yelling for everyone to go down into the tunnels.
He had done this plenty of times before now. It wasn't as big as the first time he'd done it, but he managed to keep the predators he discovered away.
As he was selecting his pointy stick though, Joe was running back yelling for him.
"Leo! I know that you've done this before, but that last few times were jackals and hawks. Those sound like hyenas out there."
"I can handle it. I've chased hyenas away before...sort of."
Joe flinched. He'd been doing that a lot lately. "What do you mean, sort of?"
"It doesn't matter, just get down to the tunnels, ok?" he gave Joe a reassuring smile and pat on the shoulder before he turned to begin sneaking quietly into the grass.
Max was underground when he heard everyone begin filing into the largest burrow. He figured it must be a predator precaution. It didn't really affect him since he was already underground.
For some reason he then heard his name being called frantically from one of the holes leading up and out.
He followed it and found Joe.
"Oh Max! There you are, come up here!"
"What?" he asked, sounding more than annoyed.
"Max, I'm worried about Leo."
"Oh, is he fending off another jackal? Well, if he didn't get killed last time, what's so different about this time?"
"We're pretty sure that they're hyenas."
"And you come to me?"
"You are his brother. I thought maybe you could help him."
"Yeah, or talk some sense into him. Y'know? I think I might take this opportunity to tell him that this little thing of his has gone on far enough."
"Yes, yes, whatever, just go and hurry!" Joe pushed Max forward. Max frowned.
"Wait, why aren't you coming?"
Joe's eyes searched around, like he might find the answer to Max's question somewhere nearby. "I...uh...need to stay with the colony."
"Right." Max said sarcasitcly.
He left Joe and headed towards the grasses. He sniffed the air, and recognized Leo's scent. He followed it quickly and quietly. He was just beginning to admire how far out Leo had gotten before he caught the hyenas' scents as well.
As he was nearing them, he began to wonder, why was he doing this? Why was he risking his life to help his brother, who obviously didn't want to have anything to do with him anymore? If Leo wanted to try and beat up some hyenas, why should he stop him? It was his life right? And Leo wanted to live his own life, right?
He was starting to convince himself that he should just turn around when he moved a patch of grass and there they stood – three full-grown hyenas, and one very small-looking meerkat.
The second he saw them he sprung back behind the grass, more afraid then at any time in his life, but he suddenly remembered why he was doing this, why he was really doing this, and he knew he wasn't leaving without Leo.
Max stared, horrified, as the hyenas cornered him.
As they moved in, the one at the forefront gave a slight pause. The hyena sniffed the air around them curiously.
"Hey...I think I recognize that smell." He then turned in Leo's direction, a look of recognition dawning on his face. He continued to sniff, pinning Leo against the rock. "I remember that same smell from when I was stabbed in the face!" He then bared his teeth at Leo. "You must've done it! Guys, it was this meerkat!" He turned back to the other hyenas.
"What, you mean a measly little meerkat is what attacked you?" asked the female.
"Exactly what I always thought, Fred's a wimp, such a wimp that a meerkat can beat him up!" The other two began laughing as Fred scowled.
While the hyenas weren't paying attention, Leo slowly crept out from against the rock and tried to make a break for it. He nearly got to Max before they spotted him.
Max was frozen in terror as one of the hyenas lunged at Leo. For a brief second he could see the matching fear in his brother's eyes, but then as the hyena swiped him with it's paw, Max looked away. The sounds he heard then would haunt him for the rest of his life, and he would often wonder if it would have been better or worse to have looked.
When he looked again Leo was slumped onto the ground, a red trickle was coming from somewhere near his head, but he made the mistake of trying to move. The hyena saw this and came back around. Max did the only thing he could think of. He closed his eyes again, took a deep breath, and ran as fast as he could towards Leo.
He scooped Leo up within centimeters of the hyena's nose. He then kept running in the opposite direction, trying to lead the hyenas away. Thankfully, they followed him. He kept them going for a long way, and eventually they gave up. He waited even longer, holding his bleeding, only slightly-conscious brother.
When he couldn't hear them anymore he dashed back to the colony.
It was only a few seconds, but it seemed like forever to Max until he finally made it to the tunnels. Joe was still there at the sentry rock, zipping here and there in a panic. It would have been disturbing to watch if he didn't have his injured brother to think about.
"What the heck are you doing!?" he screamed back at Joe, not bothering to stop. Joe saw him and followed.
He seemed to be rambling incoherent apologies to him and Leo, but Max was still not paying a bit of attention to him. Without thinking, he took Leo to their family's old burrow.
Once inside he set Leo down gently on a nest. Finally noticing that Joe had followed, he turned around.
"JOE! SHUT UP! If you want to help then go get Kavie!" Joe nodded and ran out the entrance, Leaving Max alone with his brother for the first time since their argument.
That felt like such a long time ago now, almost like something from a different life. It had even happened in this very same place. He watched his brother slowly breathing, his eyes closed, and the realization of it overwhelmed him.
He was glad when Joe returned with Kavie and Ruth. He exited when Kavie pushed past to get to Leo.
Once he was outside he didn't know what he was going to do. He did not want to go back in, but he knew he shouldn't leave. Something inside him told him to stay put.
He resigned himself to listening to them from the outside.
He could hear Kavie sobbing, and Joe beginning to babble again. Ruth was apparently checking him over.
"Is he alright?" Kavie managed between shudders.
"Well, he's alive. Be grateful for that." he heard Ruth say. "Joe, is anyone with Timon?"
"yeah-eah, he's with Sky and Swifty."
"Good. Would you please go and check on him for us?"
Max hid as Joe came out and left down a side tunnel. How could Ruth be so calm? Her granddaughter, the matriarch, was falling to pieces, so how could she keep it together? He wasn't even calm, he was beginning to shake.
"Kavie...please stop crying. I need you to listen." the crack in her voice Max heard startled him. So, she wasn't so composed.
He heard Kavie give another little shudder, then a sniff. "...Alright." she answered breathlessly.
"Darling...there's nothing we can do."
"NO!" he heard Kavie scream. Then he heard Ruth shushing her. She was probably holding her, trying in some way, to calm her.
"Shh, shhh. I'm sorry, I am so sorry. I wish there was something I could do. He's just lost too much blood, I was just surprised he was conscious"
He could still hear Kavie. Her muffled crying clearly meant she was holding tight to her grandmother.
Max didn't want to hear anymore. He finally managed to get his legs to work, and he rushed away to his burrow.
He may have escaped from hearing any more, but he couldn't erase what he'd already heard. Nothing she could do? Of course there was! There had to be. It had all happened so fast, he couldn't quite comprehend any of it. Maybe it was a dream, things go really fast in dreams sometimes, Max franticly thought.
He tried to sleep, but the fact that he couldn't only proved how wide awake he was.
It may have been only minutes, but time was all messed up today, so there was no way of knowing, not for Max, anyway.
Kavie appeared, her eyes red and her voice quiet.
"You need to come see Leo."
She didn't tell him what was wrong, and he didn't ask. He knew. He followed her wordlessly.
Time was acting loopy again, because now they were there, and Max had to go in this time.
Leo was breathing even slower than he had been, his eyes were open but not focusing on anything. Max decided that he wouldn't go near until he absolutely had to.
He watched Kavie hug him, tell him she loved him, and he returned the sentiment. He watched Ruth, and even Joe, who had returned say a few things to him. Then it was his turn, and Max didn't know what to say. What do you say to your brother, when you know it's the last thing he'll hear from you?
Leo's eyes focused on him, and he carefully turned his head. "Hi, Max." his voice didn't sound bad, it sounded more like he hadn't slept in two days, exceedingly tired. If only his face matched his voice.
"Max...please take care of Kavie and Timon...for me."
Max didn't interrupt; he couldn't make words come at that moment if he'd wanted to. He continued to listen to Leo.
"Timon will need a male figure...a role model."
The laugh he tried to bring out brought tears with it, he wasn't expecting that. "I may not be the best kind of male to be modeled after."
Leo then gave him the weakest smile imaginable. "You'll do fine."
He was sure that was the most Leo had spoken to any of them there. At the very least it was the most they had spoken in a while.
At that moment, he thought back to why he had gone looking for Leo that day. No matter how long they had been fighting, no matter how much he hated to admit it lately...Leo was his brother. This guy...in the nest...about to die... was his brother.
What could he do but agree?
"I will, Leo." he said.
The next morning they buried him, right next to Mel. It was a quiet ceremony, not very small though.
Max didn't really pay attention to what anyone said at it, all he could think about was his promise.
He now sat on the floor of the burrow with little Timon. Kavie was with her grandmother, who had come out of her retirement temporarily, to give Kavie time to grieve.
He hadn't said much all day, he had watched them. He'd watched Kavie as she played absent mindedly with Timon's hair, and rocked him in her arms, until he'd started squirming to get away.
Now it was just him and Max. Little Timmy and his Uncle Max.
He continued to watch him play on the floor. Every time he looked at Timon he remembered the promise. That made it that much easier to keep. He would do his best with Timon, teach him all he could, and hopefully he wouldn't make the same mistakes that his father...or uncle had.
This really felt like an ending to Max, even though he knew it wasn't. Remembering that there was still life and time made the world feel so uncertain.
As his mind filled with so many questions, so many thoughts, he couldn't help but wonder, what would come next?
Scurry, Sniff, Flinch
Final Author's Note: I have to say, I think that I have improved a bit since I started this. I actually learned a lot while writing it. I really hope that you all enjoyed it, it was a joy to write. Maybe not all the time, but most of it.
I'd like to thank all of you who have reviewed; Narfy, Ramens, Pichooi, Flacks, Agent Nintey-Nine, Safi Kittykat, and Dragon Spirit Fighter. Also I'd like to thank my awesome proofreader buddy Maudiebeans, especially for putting up with all my meerkat ramblings.
I am pretty proud of this one. A tiny bit moreso than my others. If you have liked my LK stories, I'm planning on another soon. It isn't exactly a sequel to this one, but it connects this one with Times of Change.
Thank you again for going all the way through! See you around the sea of stories! :-)