t e n .

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It turns out that the Guard was extremely fun to hang out with.

Despite Taka's absence hanging over your head, you were having a reasonably good time. Utafiti was getting along well with Sarafina, the two sitting by the watering hole that you and your friends had visited so often while growing up. Every so often you could hear the female snorting a laugh, and the male smiling proudly to himself.

Kucha, the fastest and quietest of the group, was laying off by himself on a rock nearby. Being by himself listening to the water and his friends from a distance seemed to make him genuinely smile.

"So," Busara turned to you. You, him, Mufasa, and Sarabi were laying on a rock just overlooking the watering hole. The two lovebirds were having a conversation amongst themselves, which just left you and the bravest. "You've lived here all your life then?"

You nod, closing your eyes and allowing the sun to beat against your fur. "Sure have, with the two princes, the drama queen, and the o' wise one."

"Ah, I wouldn't call her a drama queen," he replies coolly, glancing down at Utafiti and Sarafina blushing at each other. "She seems to be getting along with him well, right? I smell romance blooming."

Opening your eyes, you look down at the two and chuckle, "Wow, I've never seen her act like this before. She's not being a brat for once!"

The conversation was cut short when the male beside Sarafina saw something coming toward them from behind a bush nearby. He turned to the other Guard members and each of them stood up and bundled together in a group, almost shielding you, the girls, and the eldest prince in a way. "Umoja!" Rabsha called, and they all got into a fighting stance...

...When the bushes parted revealing Taka walking toward them at a lazy pace. The Guard members breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed their bodies.

"Why is everyone laying around here like a bunch of buffoons?" The youngest prince asked in a hostile tone, his eyebrows drawn in a glare. "We have a territory to protect, and you're all pretending like you don't have duties!"

The fastest glanced at the other nervously before opening his mouth to speak, "B-but you said yo-you were going on patrol b-by yourself..."

"That doesn't mean you can all shirk your duties!" Taka replied, breathing out his nose in anger. You sat up and caught his eye, smiling, which seemed to ease him a little, but then he noticed Sarafina hiding behind Urafiki and his shoulders hunched once more, "Oh, I see. All the females have returned and suddenly everyone is in love and planning for cubs."

Busara glared at his leader and rolled his eyes, "Prince Taka, c'mon, we just met them today. And I know for a fact that Rabsha has no interest in females, so you know that's not what's going on here."

The lion with the raven mane seethed and bared his teeth at the lion who had dared question him. His growl was low and throaty, and he looked like he was debating with himself. Eventually he turned, scoffing, walking off in the opposite direction.

Sarabi glanced at him as he became smaller with distance and frowned. "You weren't kidding," she mumbled to Mufasa.

"I need to go," you suddenly announce, standing up and hopping down from the rocks you were perched on. Busara looked like he wanted to convince you to stay, but you gave him an assuring smile, "It's okay, I grew up with him. I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if he did something rash out of anger."

"Very well," the bearded lion reluctantly accepted, turning back to the others. You run in the direction the young prince had fled, hoping to find him and have a genuine discussion.

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