Clarity: Chapter 8: A Moment of

Discussion in 'ThunderCats Fan-Fiction' started by Tygrastripes, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. Tygrastripes

    Tygrastripes Barbarian

    A Moment of...
    takes place between episode Berbils
    Cheetara first notices upon stirring the quiet of the company and the stillness of the trees. It takes a few minutes to clear the blur of her vision, her eyes feel large and heavy and she isn't ready to wake but must.
    The cheetah notices immediately the wave of warmth is coming from the prone body next to her, so close her coat seems to fuse with her gold abruptly shifting to orange. Tygra is still sleeping sprawled long and lazily on his side in a heavy but quiet slumber in complete contrast to how she had found him last night.
    She herself had slept soundly as well and she knows it's much to do with Tygra sandwiched tight against her and she has no wish to rise even as she feels heat flush her ears and chest, her heart knocking against the wall of his armor. It's intimate and perhaps months ago deemed reprehensible.
    Clerics and unmarried princes did not snuggle, and definitely didn't nuzzle, the last thing she wanted would be to sully Tygra's virtue, at least by thunderian law anyway.
    She moves carefully withdrawing from the invisible blanket of body heat Tygra provided, one long leg coming clear over him finding it easier to maneuver herself over him than rolling round and trying to get clear.
    Cheetara is soundless but the prince snaps awake regardless and before Cheetara knows it the wind is knocked from her lungs and she's on her back both hands affectively trapped above her.
    Tygra's eyes, an orange flame in his fury, flicker brown when he spots his "attacker".
    Cheetara can breathe again, his greater weight nearly crushing her eases off her ribcage as he sighs in relief.
    "Sorry, I thought you were-"
    He doesn't finish, simply trailing off, he looks a bit embarrassed at his reaction, her tiny white wrists are faintly red and even redder round punctures where his claws had faintly bit into her.
    She turns each hand over; besides a very small ache in her left wrist it would seem Tygra hadn't done any lasting damage. "I'm alright."
    Tygra's peace offering is an outstretched hand that she takes coming to her feet. The easy pull is one of momentum shifting and she comes up too fast, nearly crashing into him, her mouth level with his jaw.
    Cheetara her nose brushes the line of his jaw as she regains her feet that have never been so clumsy.
    His hands have instinctively taken her spotted arms to prevent the cleric from falling backwards and she rights herself he still has her a beat longer than necessary, his hands slipping away smoothly.
    She looks surer in her stance now but there's frailty to her that's gotten worse in the last few days, shadowing her large rose-colored eyes and if he didn't know any better he'd say she was looking a bit thinner, her skin pulling tighter to her already thin frame.
    Food was getting harder to come by as they traveled, even taking the day to hunt and scavenge produced little more than fruit and questionable vegetation, and the bread had run out as well. Scarcely was their crew lucky enough to find a supply town or merchant.
    Or unlucky.
    They'd learned fairly quickly their noses would tell them what shifty merchants would not and it was soon agreed that meats, cheeses and fruits often looked deceptively delicious but much later their stomachs told a different tale of nutrients long spoiled, only their scent uncovering poor methods of preservation.
    Their last decent meal he'd guess weeks ago.
    He was faring fine under the circumstances, a bit of weight loss only obvious in the way his silver wrist band no longer hugged snug around him.
    His brother and their general were much the same way, very little weight lost and the kits seemed to be doing fine as well considering it was really an unspoken agreement of the entire team to keep the smallest fed first.
    With Cheetara often soft enough to give the bottomless cubs some of her own he watches their cleric most nights to make sure the kits don't con her of her meal as well, it isn't his job to mother her but he secretly notes her appetite anyway.
    But she's still looking in the last week thinner than he'd ever seen her and it's happening quickly, her hourglass shape pinched even tighter making her hip bones look like knife points and she's easily lost more weight than the three of them combined, he'd guess a good 12 pounds.
    "Feeling okay?"
    He isn't sure if this is the right opening, asking if she's ill or worse informing her of her lost weight may be even more wrong approaches for obvious reasons.
    Spots dance behind her eyes and Cheetara is quick to check her body into stilling so the ground stops spinning. But Tygra does not miss the disjointed step.
    "Of course." The cleric allows a tiny smile to touch her lips as she meets his eyes and she's all business again, straight shouldered and tall. "I believe, Prince Tygra, you're fretting unnecessarily over me. I'm not made of glass you know."
    It's playful and teasing and familiar but her use of his title brings with it a kind of disconnection, a reminder of the wall their duties formed but he manages a grin anyway.
    "Definitely not."
    Satisfied with his response they both finally note the large shadow above them.
    A shelter. Someone had built them a shelter in the middle of the night.
    Her lungs burn after the battle and she's winded. Cheetara can't remember the last time she felt winded after a run and her legs feel cold.
    The spots are back and she's still pulling in air through her nose in rapid inhales noting the edges of her vision are black.
    Lion-O's grin fades seeing the cleric's eyes slip shut next to him, she looks incredibly tired and pale.
    Within earshot the twins and berbils are bounding for the tank in cries of victory leaving him to focus on the out of sorts cleric.
    "Cheetara? You okay?" he wonders coming to her side.
    Tygra's own attention is caught and he stoops to allow the robear cub down from his arms. The little one rolls away with a grateful whirring noise.
    Cheetara nods resolutely at her king as she sucks in more breath. "I'm fine Lion-O, just a bit winded."
    She attempts to straighten but her legs refuse and she buckles and when her claws reach out to catch herself a large hand locks her forearm in its grip stabilizing her.
    "You're not," Tygra argues once he has her upright. "You've seem a bit off for days."
    Lion-O can't help shooting Tygra a questioning look that his brother doesn't notice, he's too busy looking concerned at the cleric wrapped in his arms helping her keep her feet.
    What would Tygra know about Cheetara seeming off? They'd only known the cleric for months, hardly long enough to find anything she did habitual or not.
    But Tygra's expression is what digs at him, he's never seen him look that way. Really the tiger only had a handful of expressions Lion-O was used to seeing with the incredibly familiar ones being smug, bossy, bossy-smug and irritable.
    Tygra's expression is…kind. Concerned.
    Lion-O finds it's a strange look for him and he's even disturbed by it, further disturbed by the fact it's directed at Cheetara.
    "Tygra," Cheetara warns in an attempt to stop his pressing but it's a soft, whispered thing. She's still holding onto Tygra's broad shoulders for support, his brother draws the cleric in closer perhaps attempting to stabilize her swaying movement but he holds her in a way that seems intimate, his hands securing the sides of her ribcage and she doesn't seem to mind either.
    "Again with the fretting," Cheetara says, her voice not its usual quality of confidence and serenity but tinged with amusement.
    And perhaps…demure.
    He knows he isn't wrong about that part because of their own will her cream-colored ears shift backwards in loud declaration of her placidity.
    "Good thing too, you can barely keep your feet."
    Cheetara looks almost offended and the tiger and lion watch her steel herself, her jaw tightening in a cutely defiant way that Lion-O is completely caught off-guard by, how breathtaking she is and stunned that such an expression would ever grace her face.
    He's watched her become vulnerable, shy and proud within the span of a few minutes, a different cat entirely to the measured cleric he was used to Tygra seeming to orchestrate those changes and he himself doesn't seem surprised in fact he's as comfortable with her as with his strange energy pistol, easily adjusting to out of the norm factors as if they were everyday happenings.
    "Yes, I know," Tygra interrupts Cheetara dryly, "You're fine."
    Lion-O would guess he'd missed their conversation as they are moving off towards the village Cheetara without the support of Tygra momentarily. They still aren't more than a few feet apart, side by side ignorant of abandoning their king.
    It isn't the first time and he had guessed in the beginning of their journey the easy companionship based on a mutual sense of discipline and peer group more than friendship.
    But like everything else he notes them doing he's questioning this too.
    Lion-O jogs ahead to meet them.
    "We should have the berbils check you out, make sure it's nothing a good night's sleep won't fix, I'm sure someone could get you right as rain again," Lion-O suggested.
    Cheetara nods in approval of his idea but Tygra doesn't even seem to care to listen, he wordlessly picks up the clerics hand placing it palm to palm with his own examining each finger without bothering to explain.
    He seems to find what he's looking for applying a bit of pressure to the bed of her claws the action causing them to unsheathe fully.
    "Blood pallor, pretty severe too, it's a wonder you're even standing," Tygra remarks.
    "Blood pallor?" Lion-O asks.
    Tygra catches his hands slipping up the sides of her face, her pale, delicate face, cupping her jaw before he has conscious thought of it. She's cold and the pulse of her throat is hard to find but she remains still, her neck and the side of her face trustily resting in his claws. He had been prepared for her to resist but she allows his exam without any protest and though she's cold touching her is still beyond pleasant she is softer than he'd imagined and the span of her neck feels as delicate as the shell of an egg.
    "She hasn't been eating the best and it's catching up with her," Tygra explains.
    His tone seems to suggest Lion-O is a particularly simple child to which Lion-O immediately crosses his arms and retorts, "we all haven't been eating well you know. That's your best guess?"
    Tygra turns him full attention to his brother to stare hard Lion-O's direction to which Lion-O simply raises an eyebrow coolly.
    His brother is clearly not as clever as he would like to believe. Tygra's answer is definitely not an ingenious one, a simple excuse to shamelessly paw the cleric really.
    "You should sit a while it'll help a bit with the shakes and dizziness," Tygra suggests. "His Majesty can take you someplace to rest and relax."
    Cheetara makes a murmur that sounds agreeable and Lion-O is surprised when Tygra unwraps her arms around him to place neatly onto the top of Lion-O's left shoulder.
    "Think you can handle that little brother?"
    Before Lion-O can answer the tiger is gone over the hill they came and disappearing into the grove of mushrooms, he can't wonder too much on it as Cheetara's close proximity makes concentration hard.
    His mind goes a bit fuzzy with her scent surrounding him.
    She give him a kind, apologetic smile that he meets with one of his own, a more awkward, silly grin he can't seem to hold back.


    It's hours later and Tygra has still not arrived back at the Robear village.
    "Tygra! Tygra!"
    It's both deep dark and quiet in the middle of the mushroom grove and he still hasn't a clue to where his brother was in the clusters of foliage and now he can't even begin to guess as he's combed through most of the area by now and heads into the woods just on the other side.
    His calls are only met with the rustle of a blackberry patch and a buck that springs past him.
    Right after comes a larger rustle and from above him drops Tygra landing smoothly behind him in a crouch.
    He glowers, his claws sheathing from the impressive hollows they'd made in the dirt.
    "Just checking on you, you disappeared and she wanted to make sure you were okay..." Lion-O explains feeling uncomfortable with the way Tygra remains quiet.
    "So you'll be playing the part of the cleric for the evening?" Tygra supplies. He grins wryly, "your stealth needs work. You're terrible at this."
    Ignoring the poke Lion-O announces, "thought I'd help you too, with whatever you're up to."
    Tygra yawns. "Don't need it, thanks."
    Definitely an expected response but still Lion-O isn't sure where to go next.
    "Something you want little brother? Now that you've scared Cheetara's meal away?"
    The accusation immediately causes guilt to rise in Lion-O's chest. The buck was long gone by now and with it any chances of a good meal for Cheetara and any of them really.
    He feels foolish and even more so as Tygra stands still frowning at him as he picks away twigs in the ridges of his armor.
    "So you were serious."
    Tygra is still more interested in picking away at twigs in his fur. "About?"
    "I still hardly think food is her problem, we've all eaten less and I've never noticed feeling anything like Cheetara does, besides she's a cleric, the best of Thundera, I'm sure something so simple wouldn't have her nearly off her feet when we're still standing."
    Tygra stops and stares with his full attention on his little brother but he doesn't utter a word until he's turning and walking the other direction deeper into actual woods and trees.
    Lion-O follows unsure why they are even moving still deeper into the woods.
    "Really?" Tygra dryly responds.
    "She'd hardly be this sick if lack of food were the problem."
    Tygra still doesn't answer back he has a deeper interest in scenting something.
    Lion-O does the same curious as to what has Tygra's attention only smelling trees and assorted berries and a rabbit that passed by days ago.
    They reach a patch of trees with high branches that web and look rather spongy, the trees themselves wide based and covered in prickled bark.
    Tygra pauses at the one with the largest trunk and most spiny bark.
    Lion-O immediately recalls one just like it in the memorial grounds of Thundera, a xiopolobre, more commonly called a common scarlet crier due to rain fall causing its bark to soften and leak red sap and any cub foolish enough to climb one bloody pawed and teary eyed for their trouble.
    "Perfect," he says simply before unsheathing his claws and digging them into the cutting lumber, his face twists into a grimace when the barbs of the trunk met his palms but hoists himself up with the help of his clawed feet digging into the trunk as well.
    "What are you doing?"
    Tygra only grunts continuing to climb as spines bite into the calloused flesh of his palms, he pushes himself up and over a sturdy enough looking branch where the trunk becomes smooth and soft under his claws. He begins rending the trunk with steady rakes of his claws, the bark easily yielding, before adjusting his balance and grabbing a knife from his holstered hip cutting a long slit into the soft middle of the tree, it spills forth a thick brownish-red fluid that Tygra catches into his waterskin. Once the fluid slows to a trickle he secures the top before leaping down.
    "Come on," Tygra says.
    Lion-O follows staring at the strange goo we knows is enclosed in the container. "What in Thundera is that?"
    "Naligouche, at least that's what the clerics call it, not really sure if that's an official term," Tygra answers.
    "And what does it have to do with Cheetara?"
    Tygra side-eyes the lion with a look that questions if Lion-O knows anything at all.
    "Didn't you pay any attention at all in your studies when Clans and Customs were covered?" Tygra raised a brow and shakes his head in exasperation, "no, don't suppose you would have since it didn't really touch on your wonderful world of tech."
    "I'd say it's more yours than mine, I don't think I've seen you without that 'thing'" Lion-O spat gesturing to the energy pistol his brother had holstered. "At your side since all this started."
    Tygra shrugs again not bothering to grow defensive, his focus seems elsewhere. "Comes in handy, sometimes better than a whip or a sword, discarding anything useful is foolish. But to answer your question I don't suppose you've ever wondered about cheetahs, how they run as fast as they do."
    Lion-O shrugs at a lost to if there was even a point to Tygra's questions, "can't say I have really, in fact I can't say I've seen another cat like her in Thundera at all."
    No cat is like Cheetara.
    Tygra has to stop himself from adding this simple fact, but he knows what Lion-O means, cheetahs were as likely to be spotted in Thundera as tigers.
    Not at all.
    "Cheetahs have bigger lungs than any of the clans and bigger hearts for more air, their bones are lighter too, no fat stores anywhere it'd slow them down. Running at high speeds all the time without certain foods, like meat available shuts them down. That shut down is called blood pallor."
    "So what does the goo have to do with anything?" Lion-O wonders already guessing.
    "Clerics eat at least three times a day and with every meal they offer naligouche, a preventative and treatment for blood pallor, their super food. A cat can go long months without meat eating it."
    Lion-O wrinkles his nose in disgust at the idea of the sap being eaten willingly, its scent is strange and makes the prince's stomach turn.
    "That's disgusting."
    Tygra shrugs, "No it's survival. When do you suppose what the last time the palace went without meat?"
    Lion-O thinks to remind his brother Thundera is long gone and of its people only their company remains, hence why they were now nosing around in the woods in the first place instead of asking a healer, when Tygra rolls his eyes at Lion-O's blank look.
    "I meant then at the palace, when was the last time you could remember we'd gone without meat on our bellies?"
    Lion-O thinks hard for a moment before being sure of his answer. "Never that I know of. What does that have to do with anything?"
    "There's a reason the lizards always showed up in the market square when they'd manage to enter the city. Our mounts, chickens and cattle pinched and picked at every time those scavengers came around, we've had a meat shortage for decades, not much notice from anyone since the clerics are the first to go without."
    Lion-O feels a sense of guilt and sadness at the idea of clerics going without the simplest comforts they should be afforded, Cheetara should be afforded.
    "Can't say I understand why. The luxuries of good food should at least be given to the clerics above ourselves, surely father knew that."
    "Jaga's clerisy served us, you especially," Tygra notes with a twinge of disdain, "father, myself and our kingdom above themselves, their meat shares given to the people, they're grateful for any meal and any way to give. So try not to pity her too much, she would have had something much better if you hadn't come stomping through the woods screaming."
    If the bristle of orange fur on the back of Tygra's neck is any indication Lion-O would say Tygra is irritated, unnaturally so. It was only one spoiled hunt and they have still found something suitable.
    He recalls the gentle attentive way Tygra had seen to their cleric and the way they'd easily spoken, like old friends, no, no that's not quite right either because understand all of the louder signals Tygra's almost hesitant, unsure.
    Lion-O suddenly understands Tygra's mood, he'd wanted to give Cheetara something better than her usual meal, something that would show of his effort and thoughtfulness. Something that would tell of affection as he powerfully carried in the captured buck.
    It hits Lion-O hard and sudden.
    Tygra liked the cleric!
    Really liked the cleric.
    Lion-O is quiet as Tygra moves past him, glinting blue eyes narrowed at his brother's back as he crosses his arms.
    It wasn't fair. Lion-O had liked her first. Had wanted her far longer than Tygra had and their connection, how much she cared for him refreshing and beautiful after long being met with so much ridicule.
    Tygra just had to have everything, ridiculous talent, charm, by Thundera standards Tygra was perfect. Far more than Lion-O.
    Lion-O feels his heart sink before his teeth grit.
    No, he refused to let Tygra have this.
    Not her too.
    Lion-O stares fighting not to hit Tygra, suddenly angry, furious even.
    But Tygra must sense him because he turns, "you gonna stand there staring at me all night or what?"
    Schooling his expression to normalcy takes a moment but Lion-O follows after his brother both eager to see to the cleric.
  2. Lady Ocelli

    Lady Ocelli Shadowspy

    I like how you incorporated your knowledge of the cheetah's high metabolic rate into her dilemma. BTW, I just added a little more to part 3 of "Unexpected".

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