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Noticing her approaching, he ducked his head, snapping his eyes shut to give the illusion of being asleep. He didn’t know if she’d believe him or not, but anything was better than getting caught eavesdropping. Especially on such an intimate subject. He certainly wished he was asleep; would have saved him from learning facts he knew would forever plague his mind.

His mother killed Kopa. His father thought him unfit as an heir. And Tojo, the lion he’d taken in as a foster father, was abandoning him. Abandoning all of them.

He wanted to cry—indeed, sadness was building up in his throat—but he didn’t dare. For he knew what would happen if he did. If the interaction with Tojo was any indication, his mother as not in a very forgiving mood. Best to let her think he was sound asleep like the others—save himself any trouble before the long and difficult journey he’d just learned was ahead of them. Without a pride leader, it was up to him to prove to his mother that his father was, in fact, wrong about him. That he could be the strong one. That he could be the figure in charge, if only given the chance. And more than anything else—to get on her good side, in case she felt the need to dish out the same type of punishment she’d given his friend.

There was a shuffling of feet, then a soft ‘thump’ as his mother settled down beside him.

“Good night, my little prince.” He heard her murmur, with a fond and tenderness that was not directed at him.

Good night, mother, he thought, curling tighter around himself, trying not to imagine her fussing over his little brother. It was sickening. And it wasn’t fair.

I should be the chosen one, he told himself, bitterly, a single tear trickling down his nose.

Uttering a barely audible sigh, he rolled over so that he was facing the cave door.

He didn’t want to say he hated her for what she’d done; she was his mother.

But he would never forgive her. And he’d never forgive his father—both of them—either.

Holding back a sob, Nuka's eyes opened, taking the surroundings of his home one last time. He couldn’t prevent his father from looking down on him. Couldn’t prevent his best friend’s death. Nor could he stop Tojo from leaving.

But he knew who could.

The one who could have—should have—stepped up to the plate and stopped fate from screwing him over while he had the chance.

Simba.

The king of Pride Rock.

If he had been there from the start, none of this would have happened. Scar wouldn’t denounce him from being heir—he wouldn’t even be hier to begin with—Kopa would still be alive if he had gotten there in time….and Tojo would never had to make the choice of staying true to his childhood friend or sticking to his family.

Well, I’ll make him pay, the cub thought darkly, his eyelids growing heavy, someday….somehow….I’ll make him sorry.

With that last thought floating through his head, Nuka closed his eyes drifting into the last comfortable sleep he’d have for a good long time.

But I won’t let this build up inside of me.

I won’t let this build up inside of me

I won’t let this build up inside of me

I won’t let this build up inside of me….

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