All righty! Here's the third chappie! A big, BIG thanks goes out to my beta-reader, WilliamGladstone, for helping me with this chapter and the first two! Part of this story belongs to you.

So without further ado, I give you chapter 3

Disclaimer: "sigh" Once again, I do not own this. :(

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"Simba?"

The golden cub's eyes widened. He knew that voice.

Second Thoughts

Chapter 3: The Aftermath Of Guilt

"Simba, what happened?"

He backed out from under Scar's limp paw. "D-Dad, there were wildebeest. A stampede…he saved me. B-but we ran into the sa-ame hyenas I met at the grave…yard. He m-made me… hide. The hyenas a-attacked him. It…it was an accident. I didn't mean for it to happen. He's d-d-dead and it's my fault. I'm sorry." His father was going to be absolutely furious with him. Here was his father's own brother, lying dead on the blood-stained battlefield, and he himself was unharmed. The cub feared his father would blame him and never ever forgive him.

Mufassa pulled his crying son toward him with one gentle sweep of his paw. "Simba, understand this. What happened is not your fault. There was nothing you could have done to prevent this. Scar chose to fight. I'm certain he knew exactly what he was doing."

Zazu lighted down next to the father and son. He stared in shock at the king's brother, absolutely horrified. The russet lion lay torn and broken in the dust. Blood from the many wounds Scar bore stained the ground surrounding him. Bits of torn fur, both lion and hyena, littered the area beneath the tree. The ground had been trampled from the ferocious fighting that must have taken place here. What had happened to make the hyenas attack Scar? He had never been very fond of Scar. The lion was always so sarcastic and bitter towards everyone in the pride, including his own brother. Then he noticed Scar's flanks were barely rising and falling. "Sire, Scar he's…he's alive." Mufassa hovered over Scar, checking his brother over.

"But…how? One of the hyenas bit his neck," Simba sniffled.

"They did, but the bite missed his spine. He's not dead, just unconscious." Simba could just yowl his relief to the sky. He wasn't responsible for the death of his uncle anymore. His hopes fell though as Mufassa said, "But he's still gravely injured. The hyenas have done serious damage to him. We need to get him home. The question is how to do so without causing him more injury."

"Dad, can't you just carry him?"

The king shook his head. "That would cause too much injury, Simba. Zazu, fly above and see if you can find any elephants." Simba looked lost. What good would an elephant do? Mufassa must have seen his son's puzzled look. "An elephant would be able to carry Scar without having to drag him."

The hornbill nodded in acknowledgement. "I'll see what I can do, sire."

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Zazu came back surprisingly quick with the requested elephant and was now flying overhead, scanning the ground below for any sign of the hyenas. Scar now hung limply across the elephant's tusks with the trunk supporting his middle. Simba couldn't even bring himself to look at him. Never before had he seen anyone so weakened. The injuries were still oozing blood slightly. Dust coated Scar's pelt. When the elephant had lifted Scar up, Simba felt sick at the sight of his leg. The muscles had been torn and shredded from Shenzi's attack with a sliver of bone was showing. More injuries had been discovered. Scores of claw marks covered Scar's flanks. Even after what his father had told him, he still felt responsible for what happened.

"Mufassa!" Simba ducked his head down even lower at the sound of his mother calling out to them. "I was beginning to wonder what was keeping- what…what happened?" Sarabi choked off.

"Hyenas, Sarabi. I believe they caused a stampede, driving them towards Simba and trapping him in it. Scar rescued Simba only to be attacked by the hyenas. He risked his life to save our son." Sarabi said nothing. She looked at Scar, then to her son. Her heart broke for her young cub. He had been through the ordeal of life. The elephant stopped, setting the still unconscious lion on the ground.

"Thank you," Mufassa purred. The large animal just trumpeted in response, then turned away to leave. Sarabi leapt down to meet them. "Mufassa, the least I can do is help you carry Scar up to the caves. You can't do this alone." Both the king and queen crouched down, grabbing the russet fur and bore Scar between them, being careful not to let any part of him brush the ground, with the exception of his tail. As they came up to one of the many caves adorning Pride Rock, the rest of the pride filed out to welcome the king home, only to see his brother dangling between him and Sarabi. Whispers broke out almost immediately as the whole pride flicked their gaze between Scar and the young prince. Simba ignored the stares, even from Nala, and just focused on his uncle's tail dragging across the stone.

Mufassa led the way into an unoccupied cave, with Zazu hovering above and Simba bringing up the rear. The procession came to a halt by a flat portion of the cave floor, where they gently laid Scar down. "Zazu," Mufassa called out.

"Yes, sire?"

"Go to Rafiki as quick as you can. Tell him what's happened, that Scar has been attacked by hyenas and he's badly injured." The hornbill flew from the cave, leaving silence in his wake. Simba was still crying silently and didn't even look up at his mother, who had padded over to him. "Simba, you must be exhausted. Why don't you come with me to the den so you can rest? I'm sure Nala would like to visit with you."

"No," the cub croaked. "I want to stay here."

Sarabi nuzzled her cub, trying to comfort him. "Try to understand, son. Rafiki is going to need plenty of space so he can help Scar. And you need your rest as well. Scar wouldn't want you to stay awake and exhaust yourself."

"If anything happens, I'll come and get you," Mufassa added.

"All right, Dad. But can…can I see Uncle Scar tomorrow?"

"We'll see, Simba. Now go and get some sleep." Mufassa watched them leave, lost in thought. An attack on any member of the pride had never happened before. Hyenas just didn't go and attack fully grown lions. It was unheard of. Scar should have been strong enough to fight off any attacker, but battling his way through the stampede would be just enough to tire him out so he would be at a disadvantage. The hyenas must have been watching, waiting for the right moment to strike. If Simba was right and the same three hyenas that had attacked his son before were the same ones that had attacked Scar, a real problem might be forming. A plan to take over the kingdom may be what the poachers had intended. What Scar had done was heroic. Mufassa had been near Pride Rock when Zazu found him, far away from the gorge. If only he had been able to reach the gorge sooner the hyenas might never have attacked.

A low moan brought Mufassa away from his thoughts. Other than himself, only Scar was in the cave. He couldn't possibly be waking up, could he? Mufassa turned around as another moan came from behind him. Could it be?

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A sharp stab of pain shot through him, jolting him awake. He tried opening his eyes, but they were too heavy to lift at the moment. Scar tried to move, which turned to be a big mistake. His muscles screamed in protest and a horrible pain racked his entire body, forcing a moan from him. The very last thing he could remember was his former cohorts attacking him. For some reason, it seemed they had halted their attack. But why? Concern began to creep through him as he remembered his nephew. He needed to find Simba and know he was safe. Scar attempted to move again with disastrous results. White, hot pain rang through him, making him moan even louder than before. Now the pain was a constant throb, refusing to die down. What had the hyenas done to him?

Then from somewhere nearby, the sound of paws moving against stone reached his ears. Wait a minute. Stone? Hadn't he been by the gorge when he blacked out? There was no stone there, only dust and dirt. If he wasn't by the gorge, where was he now? Scar knew he was probably going to regret moving again, but he needed to figure out where he was so the lion attempted lifting his head. Yet again agony went through him, even worse than the previous times. Whoever was nearby was moving closer.

"Scar?"

The voice was a little more than a whisper. Scar's eyes fluttered, trying to see who was speaking to him.

"Scar?" a concerned voice said, a little bit stronger this time. "Brother, can you hear me? Please, say something."

Brother? Who on earth would be addressing him that way…unless. No, it couldn't be him. How did he even find him? If this truly was Mufassa, Scar must be at Pride Rock. And if he was at Pride Rock…that meant Mufassa would have to have carried him there. A lump grew at the back of his throat as shame and a touch of guilt washed over him. Mufassa had carried him here. The brother he had made plans to kill had brought him home. But did he even know where Simba was? Scar went stiff as he felt someone gently nudge his head.

"Please Scar, answer me."

He didn't want to see his brother. Not know, after all the plans he had made and especially in this state. Still, he needed to know Simba was safe. He slowly opened his eyes to see Mufassa crouched down beside him, concern written all over his face which was quickly replaced by surprise. Green eyes met brown for a split second before another wave of agony came on. He shut his eyes, panting and trying to ignore what he was feeling. Tremors swept down him all the way to the tip of his tail. Scar could sense the blackness was slowly coming back. No, he couldn't slip back into unconsciousness until he knew for certain that Simba was safe and unharmed.

Let's get this over with. Scar barely opened his eyes and shifted his gaze on his brother. "Mufassa?" His once strong voice was now barely above a whisper. Even Scar could hardly hear himself.

"Scar! You're…you're awake!"

Obviously I am. Otherwise I wouldn't be talking to you now would I? Scar thought to himself. Instead he said, "Where…w-where is he? Where's Simba?" He ended in a small coughing fit, writhing on the cave floor.

Mufassa moved closer to his injured brother, bringing his head up against the other's. As much he wanted to, Scar didn't have the strength to move away. He couldn't stand this. He hated showing any form of weakness in front of anyone let alone his dear brother. Mufassa licked the ruffled fur smooth in an effort to try and offer some comfort. "Scar, hush. Try not to move too much. You're gravely injured. You need to save your strength."

"But…where's Simba? The hyenas?"

"Simba's safe. He's unharmed. Right now, he's with Sarabi." Scar heaved a sigh of relief. His efforts to save and defend the young cub from his own plans hadn't been in vain after all. He had forced himself to stay awake long enough to learn the whereabouts of his nephew. Now that he knew Simba was safe, Scar could feel himself gradually losing consciousness. Another bout of coughing shook him. Mufassa began to lick the side of Scar's face again. The king could only guess at how much pain his brother must be in. He didn't know how to comfort him and ease his suffering, but he tried in the best way he could.

"It's all right, brother. Everything's going to turn out okay. I promise." Mufassa could see him slipping away; his eyes were beginning to droop. Knowing he only had moments left to express his gratitude, Mufassa quickly said, "Scar, thank you. You saved Simba's life. You didn't have to do what you did, but you chose to do so anyway. And for that, I owe you my thanks. Words cannot express how grateful I am." His voice changed, lowering to a threatening growl. "And when I find the hyenas responsible for all this, I'll tear them apart." Mufassa looked back to Scar, only to see that he had blacked out once more, and he feared Scar had not heard his thanks. But Scar had heard it. Every word.

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