Jasiri woke up to the smell of something burning. She lifted her nose into the air and took in a long, deep smell. She stretched out her legs, and got up off the hard, rocky ground. The sky in the Outlands looked darker than usual. She took a look toward the volcano located near the center of the Outlands and noticed that it was smoldering. Well, of course- that’s what the burning smell was. The volcano was active, and she hoped that when-or if it ever erupted-that she and the other Outlanders would be safe. I wonder, Jasiri thought, if anyone lives near that volcano. Then, she giggled. Why not go check it out? She thought.
Meanwhile, inside the den of Janja's clan...
“NO FUR-BRAINS!” came a loud shout. The hyena leader once again found himself frustrated with his so-called ‘friends’, Cheezi and Chungu. “We’re NOT going back to the Pride Lands today!”
“Don’t you remember?” Chungu asked Cheezi, “The Lion Guard acted all mean to us! They're scaaary!”
Janja rolled his eyes.
“But I’m huuungggryyy” Cheezi whined.
“I don’t wanna hear your whining,” said Janja, “We’re all hungry. Let’s just sit tight and wait until some of the other hyenas get back. We’ll see if they managed to get anything.”
Chungu and Cheezi nodded. “Sure Janja,” Chungu said.
“I sure hope they bring back something,” said Cheezi. “I’m overdue for a meal.”
Janja sighed, “I need a break you guys. Man the den for me, kay?”
“YEAH!” Cheezi shouted enthusiastically. He jumped up and down excitedly.
Janja rolled his eyes. For being extremely hungry, Cheezi never failed to surprise Janja with his bursts of energy. Janja walked outside the den, his nose taking in the ever-familiar burning smell of the volcano. It seemed, for some reason, heavier today. Oh well, he thought, if the volcano erupts with those fur-brains in there…He couldn’t help but laugh.
Aww, who cares? Janja thought. Not like they’re much use anyway.
Suddenly, he caught a glimpse of a figure in the distance. He squinted his eyes and tried to get a better look. It looked like another hyena. Good. Maybe one of the others had found food. Janja looked harder, but didn’t get a glimpse of any food. In fact the hyena wasn’t from his clan at all. As the strange hyena moved closer, Janja recognized that it was female.
Ooh, a female, Janja thought. Wonder what she’s doin’ all the way out here?
This was exciting. Janja always had to put up with males. Not to mention very foolish males. “Hee hee hee,” Janja giggled. “Maybe she’ll know where some food is.”
As Jasiri got closer to the volcano, she picked up a scent. She lowered her nose to the ground. It smelled like another hyena. A male.
Hmm, interesting, Jasiri thought. There really are other hyenas living out here. Then-out of the middle of nowhere-Janja leaped into the air from behind a rock and landed in front of Jasiri. Jasiri gasped.
“A visitor,” Janja said, as he walked around Jasiri. “What brings you all the way out here?”
“Just lookin’ around. My name’s Jasiri. And you are?”
Janja laughed, then nonchalantly threw his paw out, saying, “The name’s ‘Janja’, haven’t you heard of me?”
“Actually, I wasn’t even sure that anyone lived out here,” said Jasiri. “But it’s nice to uh, meet you Janja.”
“Yeah, you too,” Janja said, “So what are ya doin’ then? Wanna do anything in particular? You see, I get tired of my clan. They’re just so, excuse me for saying so, but they’re so DUMB sometimes. Urgh..”
“You have a clan?” Jasiri asked. “Where?”
“Oh inside the volcano,” said Janja, “But you don’t want to meet them. Trust me.”
“Okay,” Jasiri laughed. “Well, we could, uh, look for food I guess? I’m hungry, coming all the way out here.”
“Hungry? Oh, tell me about it!” Janja exclaimed. “I could go for a whole herd of gazelles!”
“Janja, isn’t that kind of overdoing it?” Jasiri asked. “We’re supposed to only eat our share of food.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Janja said, “but it’s fun to break the rules sometimes, right?”
“Well,” Jasiri muttered skeptically, “I don’t think-“
“Come on!” Janja said, motioning for Jasiri to follow him, “Let’s go spy on the jackals!”
“Janja, wait! I don’t think-“ Jasiri started, but it was too late. Janja was already running ahead of her.
“Hee hee hee hee hee,” Janja giggled, as he stared down from a rocky hillside into the jackal dens below. “Look at ‘em all sleepin’. Man, they’re lazy.”
Jasiri caught up with Janja and was panting heavily.
“Whoa,” she exclaimed, “Look!”
Jasiri pointed at a litter of puppies who had emerged into the clearing. They were running around chasing each others’ tails and yipping happily amongst each other.
Janja laughed. “Theyr’e so little!”
“I like pups,” said Jasiri, “They’re cute.”
“Yeah, they are kinda cute,” Janja said. “Until they grow up. Then, they’re annoying.”
“You think you’ll ever have a family, Janja?” asked Jasiri.
Janja’s eyes widened. “Guess I never really thought about it,” he told Jasiri.
“Really?” asked Jasiri. “Surely you’ve thought about it once before.”
Janja shrugged. “Eh, I’m a loner,” he said. “I’m not too worried about it.”
“Well, I’d like a family someday,” Jasiri said. “Life’s more fun when ya got others to enjoy it with.”
“I got an idea!” Janja said excitedly, “let’s race back to the volcano, ‘kay? Bet I could totally beat ya!”
“No way,” Jasiri said.
Janja lowered his front paws and kicked up some dust as he prepared to sprint. “You ready Jasiri?”
“Yeah!” Jasiri shouted.
“GO!” Janja exclaimed.
The two hyenas took off faster than the blink of an eye. In only a couple of minutes, they were back at the place they had originally met. “That was exhausting!” Janja exclaimed, between fits of laughter. He plopped to the ground hot and sweaty.
“Sure was!” agreed Jasiri, falling on the ground beside Janja.
There was a moment of silence, save the loud pants coming from both the hyenas.
“Thanks,” Jasiri said, breaking the silence.
“Thanks?” Janja repeated, “For what?”
“For a fun afternoon,” said Jasiri; “maybe we could do it again sometime.”
“Sure, I guess. I wouldn’t mind that,” Janja replied.
Jasiri reached over and licked the side of Janja’s face.
Janja’s eyes widened. “W-what was-“ he started.
“I kinda like you Janja,” said Jasiri, “figured I might as well just tell ya right away. I’m not much for beatin’ around the bush.”
Janja blushed. “Well, I-uh,” he stammered. “Thanks, I guess?”
“You guess?” asked Jasiri. She slapped Janja’s shoulder playfully. “You really are shy aren’t you!” Jasiri rubbed him underneath his chin.
“Would you stop!” he said, laughing. Janja began to raise himself up but Jasiri pushed him back down onto the ground, and rubbed her paws across his belly.
Janja laughed hysterically. “JA-SI-RI!” he said, in between cackles.
Jasiri just laughed. Then, she backed off of him. “I’ll see ya later, Janja,” she said, winking at him.
She skipped away a few feet before she heard Janja coming behind her.
“You’re not gettin’ away that easily!” Janja exclaimed. He pounced onto Jasiri.
“Get off me Janja,” Jasiri said, throwing fake paw swings at Janja’s face.
Janja smiled. “Allright, allright,” he said, backing away from Jasiri.
Jasiri got up off the ground.
“At least now we’re even,” Janja said. “Y’know, I kinda like ya too Jasiri.”
Jasiri smiled. “Well, I gotta go Janja. See ya!”
“See ya Jasiri!” Janja called after her.
Janja began walking back to the volcano, a smile on his face. That was the most fun he’d had since…well he couldn’t even remember how long. It was moments like these that made him forget about being hungry. He realized that she was pretty cute too. He’d never really felt that way before towards anyone. He gazed over his shoulder to get one last glimpse of Jasiri but she was gone.
Janja sighed. Gosh, I miss her already, he thought.
Jasiri climbed up the rocky ledges slowly and carefully. She picked up some interesting smells coming from below, but she brushed them off. She couldn’t stop thinking about Janja. She turned and looked back toward the volcano. He wasn’t there.
I miss him already, she sighed. Oh well, I hope we can be together again soon.
She turned back around and walked home, having had one of the best afternoons she’d had in a long time.