A/N: I OWN NOTHING!
Taka was not looking forward to the conversations he knew were coming. Both his brother and his father were probably itching to talk to him. Which is why he was trying to make himself invisible at the moment.
"Taka?" Ahadi said and Taka sighed. So much for making himself invisible. He followed his father out of the den, thankful that he wasn't going to have this conversation in front of Sarafina. The sky was full of stars, showing the passage of time.
"Taka, I truly am sorry for my actions earlier," Ahadi said. "I know that there is no excuse for what I did but I apologize."
"It's okay," Taka said softly. He was just the second born after all.
"No Taka," Ahadi shook his head. "It is not okay, and neither is somehow coming across as if I don't love you."
"But I'm just a weak little thing," Taka said, trying to make his father stop feeling guilt for something which was his fault. "Mufassa is the stronger lion."
"There's more important things than strength," Ahadi told his second born. "There's honesty, and valor, and love. You possess these things Taka."
Taka looked at his paws. He didn't feel very honest; he'd been going to visit his friends in the Elephant Graveyard at least once every seven sunrises even though his father had banned both him and Mufassa from entering that place.
"Taka, your mother and I love both you and Mufassa equally," Ahadi said, ducking his head so that he was eye level with his younger son. "Yes Mufassa will be the king when I join your grandfather and great-grandfather with the other Great Kings, but that does not determine who we love."
Taka looked at him with such a look of hope in his eyes that Ahadi felt his heart melt. How long had his younger son felt as if he was only around simply because he was another heir for his father? It couldn't have been as long as Sarabi and Sarafina said. Could it?
"Taka, you know this now right?" Ahadi asked. "Don't let whatever Una says bother you. I could talk to his mother for—"
"NO!" Taka said quickly. Ahadi raised an eyebrow at his son's response.
"Taka? Is there something you're not telling me?"
"I can fight my own battles," Taka said stubbornly. Ahadi sighed.
"Sometimes seeking help proves your strength just as much as fighting your own battles does," he said. Taka shook his head.
"I can handle it."
Ahadi hoped that his son wasn't just saying this to get back to the den, even though he knew that his older son would want to talk to Taka as well. He sighed, feeling as if that he was fighting a losing battle with his son.
"Taka," Ahadi said. He had one last thing to say before they went back to the den.
"Yes father?" Taka asked. Ahadi sat down and Taka copied him.
"Let me tell you something my father told me and that I told your brother. Look at the stars. The Great Kings of the Past look down at us from those stars."
Taka nodded, knowing this because the older Mufassa had said that during the viewing of the future. He didn't know where his father was going with this though.
"Really?" he asked.
"Yes," Ahadi nodded. "So if you ever feel alone, just know that those Kings will always be there to guide you—and so will I."
Taka did not know how to respond to that.
"Father?" Taka asked.
"Yes Taka?" Ahadi turned to his son.
"You'll always love me? Even if I do something bad?"
Ahadi looked at his son and smiled softly. "Oh course I will always love you. If you do something bad, I will be disappointed but nothing that you do will ever stop me from loving you."
Taka smiled; maybe it wasn't such a bad thing to have to talk with his father. Walking back to Pride Rock, Taka halted when he saw his brother on the promontory.
"Taka?" Ahadi looked back to see his son standing still. He followed Taka's line of sight and smiled softly.
"Nothing bad's going to happen," he promised his son. "It didn't when you talked with me now did it?"
"No," Taka said softly. But you weren't the one my future self murdered and it wasn't your son that my future self traumatized at a young age.
Ahadi nudged Taka gently with his head and walked back up to Pride Rock .
"Be gentle," he whispered to Mufassa. Mufassa nodded and Ahadi went back to the den.
"Brother?" Mufassa said softly to Taka.
"Muffy, I'm so sorry. I never wanted you to die—"
"Taka, you're rambling," Mufassa said gently. "I know you'd never want to kill me."
"But I grow to want to," Taka said softly.
"Taka, we can prevent that," Mufassa said strongly, "and I'm sorry that I've made you so jealous of me."
Taka looked startled at that.
"Why are you apologizing to me?" Taka asked. "I should be apologizing to you!"
"For something you haven't done yet?" Mufassa asked. "For something that you now probably have no intention of doing?"
Taka made to comment for that, but Mufassa stopped him with a look.
"I am apologizing to you because I figure that I have made you jealous now. I've already done this."
"Taka, stop trying to deny it," Mufassa said. "I know that somehow I've made you jealous of me and I'm sorry."
Taka looked down and Mufassa growled under his breath. Where was the secure, confident cub he once knew? Had watching what the future would hold done this to him?
"Taka, I am not mad at you," Mufassa said and put a paw on his brother's shoulder. The fact that Taka didn't shake it off gave him some comfort. "I doubt Sarabi's mad either."
"Yeah, right," Taka scoffed. "She sure doesn't seem mad at all."
"All witty sarcasm aside," Mufassa said, ignoring his brother, "I am sorry Taka. How about after this you and I explore the caves by the southern border? Just the two of us?"
"Really?" Taka grinned. He rarely got to do anything with his brother now that their dad had begun his king training.
"Yeah, it'll be like old times," Mufassa grinned back.
"Taka, Mufassa! Bed!" Uru called. The two brothers entered the den; Mufassa curled up next to their parents and Taka went off to the side. It had been that way since Mufassa had turned ten. Mufassa looked over at his brother in regret. That night, both brothers suffered nightmares they had never had before. Images of each brother either being trampled by wildebeests or devoured by hyenas ran through their heads.
"Muffy?" Taka whispered to his older brother around dawn rise.
"Can I…I mean, would it be alright if I…?"
Mufassa scooted over and smiled.
"It's got your name on it brother," he said with a small grin. "It always has."
Taka grinned and scooted close to his brother. Neither son noticed their parents watching their actions with small smiles on their faces. The four of them slept soundly until halfway through the day.
"How did it get to be so late?" Uru asked, perplexed.
"I don't know," Ahadi said but then shushed his mate. Uru looked over and smiled when she saw her two cubs lying close to one another in slumber; one of Mufassa's paws draped over Taka in protection.
"I think we can let them sleep a little longer," Ahadi said softly. "Why don't we retrieve Sarabi and Sarafina?"
"That is a brilliant idea," Uru nodded. The two of them went outside to the waterhole where the other two cubs were sure to be. When they returned, they found Taka and Mufassa awake.
"Are you ready to watch the other future thing?" Sarafina asked.
"Yeah!" Mufassa nodded with a grin. Taka simply nodded; hoping beyond hope that he wouldn't be mentioned in this next one.