First off, I would like to thank the people who read and take care to leave a nice review. Really helps my mood (Which I assure you is not the best right now.).

R.I.P. Stanley, 2012-2012 :'(

So, to all you faithful reviewers, here's to you!

Chapter 5: Friends

Taka woke early the next morning, his limbs feeling stiff and unresponsive. Man, I wish I had known what I was getting into when I started that patrol. he thought, grimacing as he finally managed to get up.

"Finally awake I see." Simba's mischievous voice sounded from behind the small cub. Taka jumped at the sudden sound. "Daad! Don't do that!" he whined, batting at Simba's tail playfully.

Simba chuckled at his son's attempts to catch his tail. Every time he would jump up, Simba would pull it away just far enough so Taka couldn't catch it.

"Hey… Where did… Kopa and the others… Go anyways?" Taka asked between jumps.

"They went out earlier this morning; I have no idea where they are. But you're welcome to look for th- OUCH!" Simba answered, letting out a loud yelp as Taka bit down hard on his tail. Out of reflex the larger lion thrashed his tail trying to rid himself of the sharp pain, almost sending Taka flying across the den. "Ow! Kings above, Taka. That really hurt!" he exclaimed, his tail now sporting a set of cub sized bite marks.

The cub gave a nervous smile. "Oh, sorry! I got a little carried away there…"

Simba shook his head in a fatherly manner, nudging Taka toward the den exit. "It's okay Taka. Why don't you run along and go play with your friends?" It was more of a statement than a question; Simba needed to attend to the kingdom's needs. Taka happily nodded and left his father alone.

Simba stared after his son's receding form with a distant look in his eyes. Being the smallest cub, it was no surprise that Taka was picked on by his older brother. It started off harmlessly: just a couple of brotherly name-callings and friendly taunts. Nobody had really paid attention to it then, but lately Kopa had been getting more and more hurtful.

Hopefully it was just a phase and Kopa would get over it as he got older.

As Taka made his way down the slope of Pride Rock his mind wandered. He took off towards the waterhole, looking for Kopa, Kiara and the others.

Taka spotted his mother lying in the sun on some rocks near the waterhole. Bounding up to her happily, he nuzzled her and purred.

"Hello, Taka." Nala said, licking her son's cheek. "What are you doing out here? Shouldn't you be with your friends?"

"I dunno where they are, mom! I was hoping you'd know, actually." Taka explained, lounging on top of the light-beige lioness.

Nala smiled at him. "They left a little while ago, Taka. Knowing your brother and sister they're off exploring who knows where."

Taka slumped down, his ears drooping. "You mean they left? Without me?" he muttered dejectedly. "Huh… I guess I have to go out on my own then."

With that, the cub hopped down off his mother's back and headed out into the African wilderness. So they left without me. Fine, I'll survive. He thought. First stop: the waterhole, I'm parched!

It was oddly quiet as Taka reached the waterhole. He was the only animal there, opposed to the usual congregation who lounged about and socialized for the greater part of the day. Taka shrugged it off and leaned down to drink.

The water felt cool and refreshing to his dry throat as he gulped down mouthfuls of water, finally finishing with a satisfied sigh. Feeling very self-aware, Taka listened attentively to his surroundings. A loud rustling of the bushes behind him drew his attention away and he spun around to investigate.

"Hello?" he called out, head tilted to one side in curiosity. "Anyone there?"

Just then, a head poked out of the brush, making Taka jump in surprise. It was Nia, the cub who he found in the Outlands! "Hi, um, Taka." She said, rather meekly.

"What are you doing in there?" Taka asked, relieved and confused as to why she was the one hiding in the bush. It suddenly dawned on him. "Were you following me?"

Nia coughed nervously and stared at her paws. "Uh, no. I-I was just coming to tell you something." she replied. Taka just rolled his eyes.

"Whatever… Let's say I believe you. What did you want to tell me anyways?" he said dismissively. "It better be important."

"I just wanted to say sorry. About your friends, you know? I didn't know what I was saying! I hadn't had any food or water for days, and I wasn't thinking straight. Please, can you forgive me?" Nia pleaded.

Taka looked at the rusty-colored lioness cub and smiled. "Well, I guess so. You did say you were sorry, and that's more than my sister or brother did."

Nia cheered, happily padding over next to Taka and shaking his paw. "Alright! We're gonna be the best of friends, I can tell!" she exclaimed. "Hey, quick question; why'd your friends get so worked up over your name anyways? Is it really that big of a deal?"

Taka chuckled at his new friend's attitude. He sighed and opened his mouth to speak. "Well, I'm the youngest of our family, so the only reason they brought me along was because my parents told 'em to. Nobody else seemed to mind me, but Kopa's kind of a bully. So, when he laughed at my name, they did too."

Nia smirked, cuffing Taka on the shoulder. "You sure have a weird definition of 'friend' Taka." She raced forward and turned back to look at him. "Well, you wanna go do something or are you just going to stand there all day with that goofy look on your face?"

Taka rolled his eyes. She's certainly different… He mused to himself, following Nia. But still, all in all, she's way nicer than my old friends. Maybe this isn't so bad.

Hey look guys! It HASN'T been a month since I uploaded!

:| … Okay it's been like 25 days but point is, it's not a month. I really wish I'd stop procrastinating as much as I do. *Sigh*

As always, please review!