"Okay," Simba panted, "I think we can stop now." He and Nala had been running for a while. "We need to think of what to do now," he continued, "Scar 'got' that potion from Rafiki so I say we go to him and plan from there. What do you think Nala?" There was no response. "Nala?" He turned back to her. They had stopped by a body of water and she was looking at her reflection and hyperventilating.
"Oh Nala, I'm so sorry," sympathized Simba.
"He... He..." she said, "How did he...? Look what he did to me!"
Simba rubbed up against her. "I know, Nala." was all he could say.
She did appreciate his attempt to comfort her but it didn't shake the feeling of unease. Her eyes began to water.
"Don't worry," said Simba after a few moments, "If one of Rafiki's potions did this to you, then I'm sure he can reverse it."
Nala gave a small smile when the moment was rudely interrupted.
"You know the monkey?" said a voice.
Both turned in surprise. There, standing beside them, were Timon and Pumbaa but they looked very different from before.
"Timon? Pumbaa? Is that you?"
"Yeah," said Timon, "Who wants to..."
"Wait," Pumbaa cut him off. "How do you know Rafiki?"
"He's a friend. He tried (and I guess is still trying) to help me turn back into a lion!"
Timon and Pumbaa were dumbfounded. "It's you, isn't it?"
"Hakuna Matata," replied Simba, simply.
That did the trick. Timon broke into a huge grin. "It is you!" The three embraced each other, happy to be reunited.
"Look at you!" said Pumbaa as they broke away.
"Look at you!" retorted Simba.
"What?" Timon asked. Then he remembered their alterations. "Oh right, we were helping the monkey try to perfect his, eh... elixirs, I think he called them."
Simba was touched.
Nala broke in. "Uh, Simba, who are these? What's going on?"
"Right. Nala, this Timon and Pumbaa. Timon, Pumbaa. Nala."
"Hi, I guess." Nala really wasn't sure what to make of all this and stared at the two creatures before her.
"So, found yourself another little girlfriend in that forest of yours?" asked Timon teasingly.
"What?" asked Simba and then realized they were talking about Nala. "Oh, she's not from the forest. She got..." Another realization struck him. "Wait, another?"
Timon and Pumbaa both answered at once. "The monkey (his name is Rafiki) sent us to find Bambi (or whatever his name was) after he finished the elixirs to change to back. We couldn't find him but we did find the forest. At least that she called it."
"I think she said her name was Faline. Anyway, she said you were going back to see the monkey (Rafiki!). When we saw that the place was a mess, he sent us to find you."
Simba was worried. "He's not...?"
"Don't worry, he said he'll be fine," assured Pumbaa. Simba sighed with relief.
He sucked the air back in with a gasp as Nala said that word. But she was smirking. Simba's relief returned. She was only teasing.
"Well," finished Timon, "he sent us to come find you to make sure you're okay and tell you to..."
"Don't worry," said Simba, "He can tell me himself, when I see him."
Timon and Pumbaa exchanged a look. "Simba, I don't think that's..."
"No, we need to see him anyway, it'll be fine."
Without giving the chance to reply, Simba quickly ran in the direction of the baobab tree with Nala, Timon and Pumbaa close behind.
When they arrived, Rafiki was up and clearing the mess. "You should not have come," he said in a serious tone.
"There is nothing I can do to help you."
Simba stared. "But Timon and Pumbaa said you made..."
"Yes, I did," interrupted Rafiki, he turned to face them, "And you saw what Scar did. He destroyed my research and what he did not destroy, he used for evil." He directed his attention to Nala. "I am sorry. My work was not made for this."
Nala was mad but not at Rafiki.
"But why?" asked Simba, "Why would he do all of this?"
"He wants you." Rafiki pointed at Simba. There was a shocked silence.
"Yes. When he found out you were alive, a fear awakened within him. A fear that he would lose the throne."
"But..." Simba looked over himself. "I can't..."
"That does not matter!" Rafiki interrupted, "No matter what I do, so long as you are alive, Scar will never stop trying to destroy you." He breathed deeply. "Simba, the best thing for you to do is flee. Flee and never return."
Everything went silent. He looked at those around him. Rafiki's words, those eerily familiar words, echoed in his mind.
At last he made his choice. "No."
"Simba, you will be...!"
"I'm not just going to leave again. Bambi is still back there and I'm not leaving him or the kingdom with that monster!"
Everyone was impressed. Rafiki chuckled. "You still have the heart of a lion, don't you?" asked the baboon.
A collective groan erupted from the group.
"You had to ruin it, didn't you?" asked Timon.
"Oh, forget it!" sighed Nala, "So what's the plan, Simba?"
"We'll...!" Simba realized he didn't exactly have one. He looked at the spilled liquids. "Maybe we could 'cure' him too."
"He destroyed everything, Simba," Rafiki reminded him, "By the time we got what we needed, I fear it would be too late."
"Well, there is another way to 'cure' him," said Simba.
"No there is not. Unless you mean..." Rafiki stared. "Are you crazy?!" he burst out at last, "That would never work! No one would agree to do that!"
Simba knew he had a point. Then, "Agree to what exactly?" They all turned to the direction of the voice.
"Faline?" asked Simba, surprised, "What are you doing here?"
"I followed them," she said, referring to Timon and Pumbaa. "I'm not sure who this 'Scar' is but from what you just said, he doesn't sound like a nice guy. I want to help you."
Simba smiled gratefully. "Thank you." He laid out his plan for the others. It was exactly what Rafiki was expecting.
"That's the idea anyway," Simba finished. "Do you still want to do this?" he asked Faline.
She thought for a moment. "Will it hurt?"
Simba smiled again. "It shouldn't," he said knowingly.
Bambi had regained his full strength and stood himself up. It took him a minute to get his bearings and he found himself in the make-shift cage and there, on the other side of the cage, stood Scar, waiting.
"Good, you're awake," he said.
"You know, when I brought you in, I thought I was getting a lion," Scar continued, "How sorely I was mistaken."
Bambi considered his next words carefully. "How are you any better?"
Scar, furious at the question, reached towards him. Bambi backed up as far as he could, intimidated by Scar's claws. He was just out of his reach. "I don't have to answer to you."
"You'd might as well tell me."
Scar breathed heavily. "I know what you are. You could never be a true lion. I should end you right now."
Bambi's pupils shrank.
"But you are not the prize I want," Scar continued.
"Then what is?" ventured Bambi nervously.
"Simba! The only one who could truly take away my thrown!"
Bambi was surprised. He knew differently. "He's a deer, you know..."
"He's my ultimate failure!" roared Scar, "He's supposed to be out of the picture and yet that little worm has managed to squirm his way back here! I. Will. END HIM!"
Bambi was taken aback. Scar was already intimidating enough when he was stable. The bigger lion paused to compose himself. As if on cue, Bambi's attention was turned to something else before snapping back to Scar.
"That's where you come in. I don't care how you wound up with that brat, the point is you did. And if you value your life, you will tell me where he is."
Bambi hesitated. "Well, I don't really..." He glanced in all directions, as if unsure. If his gaze lingered, Scar didn't notice.
"Don't lie to me!" roared Scar.
"Okay, okay. If I had to guess..." His gaze lingered again. "There's this Oasis... He might be there." His words were slow and very forced.
Scar's expression softened somewhat. "Good," he said simply. And with that, he turned to leave. If he hadn't been so hellbent on "ending Simba" then he might have left Bambi guarded.
As soon as he left the den, Nala scurried inside. "Nicely done," she said impressed.
"But why?" asked Bambi, "He'll..."
"Don't worry, there's a plan. I'll explain on the way but right now, let's get you out of there."
Bambi sighed. "I hope you know what you're doing."