Zira’s Past Part Four: All You Wanted Preface Haunted by the image of the lie, Zira had been torn with doubt and fear.... yes, fear, though she was loathe to admit it to herself at the time. She had tried to act naturally, but she her words to him always sounded forced and insincere whenever he began, as Kitana called it, “circling” her, and that was the tip off....... something in his eyes..... she could not lie to him. Oh, she could do it with words, but everything else about her betrayed the truth of her perceptions. Since the charade couldn’t go on much longer, she had two options: leave the Pridelands, or confront him. She wasn’t scared...... she was not scared....... Body The sun was setting. Zira shivered. How is it, she thought, that the day can be so hot and the night can grow so cold? She was not scared. Scar had been in a fowl mood lately..... there were no more scouting missions. It didn’t matter. There was nothing to scout for anyway. More and more these days, Zira was wondering why she bothered to wake each morning; there was no one to confide in, and they had been going without food for..... well, she had lost track of how long, and that was a dangerous sign that starvation, with all its savage desperation, was close at hand. Already she found that even the sweet tempers of Safarina and Nala had started to rot under the dry, thirsty days and the cold, hungry nights. Would they all start tearing each other up soon? You never know. You can never trust anyone..... Ever. She swallowed her salty grief with bitter anger, and found the taste far more palpable to her willing mind, distracting her from the burning behind her eyes and rousing the fire of her spirit. She was not scared. She looked carefully about her. All of the lionesses, many on the verge of collapse, had retired early, hoping to build up or at least conserve energy for the next day of hyena-fighting and buzzard trailing. On quiet paws, she crept up to Scar’s cave. The silence within was ominous. She paused. She was not scared..... just cold. Just very, very Cold. Scar lay facing away from her. For a moment she though he was asleep, but she saw the slight tensing in his shoulder muscles as he realized someone was there. She wasn’t, she was not......... Zira found her voice: “How did you get that anyway?” Scar’s head turned sharply, but he didn’t look surprised to see her. “Ah, Zira,” he said, his voice dripping with scorn, “so nice of you to drop by. Please, don’t bother to say hello.” Zira advanced upon him. She wasn’t she wasn’t ...... “I asked you a question!” she snarled, and Scar stared at her, taken aback by this unexpected reaction. Then his temper quickly rose to the surface. “How dare you address me in such a manner! I am your king!” he snarled back in his low, dangerous voice, moving in on her aggressively. The pretense of his sarcasm was gone; now there was nothing but his eyes burning into her mind. She struggled to keep her ground. She was not scared. She had met his glare before, she could meet it again. But this time his eyes did not waver as he asked “And just what did you mean by your precious question??” Zira took a breath and struggled to find her voice. “Your namesake.” For a moment Scar did not understand her, but he quickly realized what she meant. His eyes fell to the ground, his jaw worked silently, and Zira waited through the tense silence that seemed like an eternity. Finally the answer came, in a much softer voice than she expected “I don’t remember.” “Liar” she hissed. Zira did not know how she had discerned this; she just knew it was so. “You do remember.” He looked up at her with burning eyes. It hurt just to look into them. “Is it all you ever wanted?....Being king I mean,” Zira continued as casually as she could manage. “Is it everything you hope it would be?” His eyes remained on her. Slowly, her circled in on her, his eyes pinning her down so that, almost unconsciously, she crouched low to the ground. He looked down at her. She did not, could not look away. “No. No, it isn’t everything I hoped for.” Scar whispered, leaning ever closer to her. “It isn’t ........ all ......... I ever wanted.” Zira’s eyes widened, and her taught limbs tensed underneath her. She must escape the darkness of this fascination. “I know what you did. You killed them both! He......They were your own blood! How could ..... how could...... and then you lied to all the others, just like you lied to me! Don’t you dare try to ........ I’ll tell! I’ll tell. I’m....not.....afraid.....of....you.” She was certain he would strike her, but she didn’t care. Scar scowled as she stood up slowly but defiantly. “Who will believe you?” he snarled back, “You, the outsider among us, and an enemy to the Queen. And who else do you think would lead this pride, my dear, hmm? You?” he jeered. “It is as you said.” That black grin. “I make evils necessary. I always have. I came out of the darkness that betrayed me, and I haven’t trusted or cared for anyone since. I haven’t thought twice about what I’ve done, and I won’t think twice about doing it again. You see,” his claws edged out, and he sneered cruelly at her, “I don’t care about anyone. Pity. I thought you understood that.” “Betrayed!? You!?” Zira forgot to keep quiet. “You,” Zira’s eyes burned, “you....you are the image of the lie! You are the outsider, in your own land, in your pride!” Her words tumbled out, uncontrollable, “And all because of this great, nameless pain - it’s nothing, it’s nothing! You didn’t even have the dignity to challenge your brother outright, no, you had to creep like the coward you are, you -” With a roar Scar rushed at her. She felt herself back up, stumble, land hard on the ground outside the cave. She lay still, and waited for him to come and finish this. Just get it over with. Now, truly, she was not scared. She did not have anything worth getting up for. No blow was forthcoming. He was standing over her, she knew. Just looking. Don’t look don’t look, don’t open your eyes............ She felt a paw poke her, roughly, but with sheathed claws. Don’t ................... But even as she told herself this, Zira felt her eyes open. No, she thought. Why couldn’t it be hatred, anger, leering triumph...not....... Oh, anything, except for that look ............. it wasn’t fair. “I thought you said didn’t care who you .... that you didn’t care about anyone,” his eyes would not let her spit it out vehemently, the way she wanted to. “You’re not anyone,” he whispered. He was near. Too near. “What am I then?” “You........... are mine.” Zira felt him caress her roughly. She buried her face in his mane as her body shook. “I will never hurt you, I will never hurt you,” he kept whispering as each new spasm wracked her body. She rubbed the side of her face against his with a fierce affection. “Oh....oh, why didn’t you leave this place?” She whispered to him, their heads bent together as they looked into each other’s eyes. “Why didn’t you go far, far away? And how is it this gentle darkness hurt you so?” Both their eyes dropped. “I ......... can’t say... it’s just.... flashes of memory... jumbled images... but I couldn’t forget how it felt...... I learned my lesson that night. At least, I thought I did,” he whispered, and she could hear the small smile in his voice, “But apparently......” Zira found the familiar place under his chin, where the purr pulsed the deepest. How wonderful it is to be too close again, she thought. And how terrible is night and night alone. “Zira.....Zira,” something about him stiffened. “You can never go back. You understand that, don’t you? If ......this continues...if it, if you......I won’t let you go...” Zira’s own purr became louder, and she nuzzled him reassuringly. “Oh, you are fool,” he whispered, even as he responded to her, “Zira, don’t you know I’ll destroy you?” “I don’t care, I don’t care,” Zira sobbed fiercely, “you have given me all I wanted. You’ve saved me in so many ways. I’ll never, never let it go. I don’t care what you have done. I’ll keep all your rage, I’ll forgive all your sins.” “It’s not for you to forgive,” he said, “nor for me to regret.” “But.... don’t you? At all?” “I never loved him, if that’s what you mean.” Scar’s voice grew cold, distant. “But.... I never thought one creature..... could have so much blood in him.” Zira shuddered. Then his voice warmed close again, “I never loved anyone,” he whispered “until you. And I will never love anyone else.” The cold of the night was forgotten. He had given her what she had never had before in her entire life, even as a young cub. Nothing else, no one else mattered now. Zira followed Scar back into the cave, and they lay down together. Zira felt a rough tongue as Scar soothingly licked down a stray piece of fur for her. She nudged her head underneath his throat; she felt, heard his deep purr, and it was the last thing she remembered as she gave in ever so willingly to sleep.