Things continued much as they were for Bambi. He continued to catch prey and was getting used to being a lion. There was, however, one noticeable change. Ever since he found out Scar was king, the bigger lion had become much stricter with him. His language was harsher, he was less lenient than before and heavily pressured eating what he caught; and every time Bambi would make a mistake (at least in his eyes) he would swipe him. "You have no chance of being a king if you can't assert your dominance!" he would say.
Bambi never said anything but he was losing patience. One day, he made sure that Scar saw that he caught a mouse. But instead of instantly letting it go, he picked it up by the tail between two of his toes. Scar cracked a small smile. This was it. Bambi suddenly glanced at him and smirked. He flicked the mouse away.
Scar's smile melted into an expression of pure fury. "What was that?!" he roared.
"What do think it was?" replied Bambi.
"Mockery," growled Scar, "Mockery of me. No, more than that; you mock our very species."
"Your species," muttered Bambi under his breath.
"What kind of lion are you?"
"A new one!" snapped Bambi. Scar raised an eyebrow at this. Bambi realized what he said and quickly tried to shift topics. "I never asked for this. All I wanted was to know how to survive." He began to advance on Scar. The big lion didn't even flinch. "Now either you meet me halfway with all of this or I will leave and you lose your protege!" Again, Scar didn't even flinch. His expression never changed. Bambi's adrenaline drained sway. He'd never spoken to anyone like that before. He felt guilty. More than that, he was afraid of what Scar would do now.
Scar continued to stare at him. "Go ahead," he said at last, walking past the smaller lion.
"What?" Bambi turned to face him properly
"You don't get it, do you?" Scar smirked, "I don't care if you survive or not. I can always find another protege." Suddenly, Bambi lost what little control he thought he had. "But I'm nothing if not a sportsman," Scar continued, "Tell you what, you can have one last chance. If you catch something and bring it back to the den, that will be enough."
"That's it?" asked Bambi.
"That's it. No mice or birds, though. It must be, at least, as big as you. You don't have to kill it but it will make it much easier. Now, go on." Scar waved him away.
Bambi was surprised by this turn of events but satisfied with the way it turned out. He had asserted himself and it was enough to boost his confidence. He turned and was just about to leave.
"Oh, by the way," called Scar, "if I see you before that," he added slyly, "you won't have to worry about surviving anymore." With that, the big lion disappeared without giving the chance to reply.
Bambi didn't exactly know what he meant and he wasn't sure he wanted to know. With this in mind, he went to start his new task.
He didn't have much luck in the savannah. The only animals he could find were much bigger than him. Though he could land a hit, he couldn't exactly pin one down, let alone drag it away.
He ventured further and further away and eventually reached the oasis. "Maybe I'll have more luck in there," he thought. He wasn't thinking about the distance he would have to drag his prey back, he was getting desperate to find something. Even then, he didn't have much luck there either. He was about to give up when he came across a familiar pond. On the other side of the pond was a familiar forest. Bambi had a rush of nostalgia, it would be nice to visit at least once. Then he noticed something; a young deer.
Bambi smirked. "That'll work," he said to himself and crouched into position.
Days and Days had passed. Simba had developed a routine of exploring his home. Whenever he came across more animals, he would try to keep a low profile. Although he had accepted the fact that he was a deer, actually being a deer was still new to him and he did not feel comfortable showing it off.
It became more awkward when he woke one morning feeling odd. His head seemed heavier. Not by much but definitely noticeable. He quickly looked into some nearby water to see if anything was wrong.
"GAH!" he exclaimed. There were two... things growing out of his head. He quickly rubbed them against a tree, trying to get them off. But they wouldn't come off; they defiantly part of him.
"What are these things?" he thought. He thought of the other deer he had seen. The adult males had strange horns on their heads. Is that what those were? He tried to ignore them but they just seemed to keep growing, all the time. It just made his situation all the more real.
One day he was going through the forest, as usual when he spotted another deer; a young doe, to be specific. To Simba, this doe seemed familiar. He was preoccupied by this and didn't realize that she was looking right back at him.
"Can I help you?" she asked.
Simba snapped out of it. He tried to think of something to say but his mind went blank.
"You're not going to try to tackle me again, are you?" she ventured, her tone accusing.
It hit Simba like a ton of bricks. This was the doe he tried to "hunt". A familiar feeling began to build. "Oh, uh... no," he said at last.
"Oh, ok," replied the doe. She relaxed her tone and smiled slightly.
Both just sat there, not knowing what to do next. At last, the doe said, "Well, stay out trouble, ok?" With a cute smile, she turned and walked away.
Simba just stood there. He couldn't shake this feeling. When with her just then, nothing else felt like it mattered. It was then he realized what that feeling was. He was infatuated.
Simba's routine shifted slightly. As he explored, he was thought of how to approach the doe.
"Hello, there. I'm Simba... I guess that's a good place to start. So we're both deers... deer, deers? Huh? Anyway, I'm a deer, you're a deer maybe we can do... stuff? No that's stupid...
"Hey, have you ever met someone who used to be lion or...?"
He stopped. He hadn't been paying full attention to what he was saying and the words poured out. It was then he realized exactly where he was; at a familiar pond and a familiar oasis. A flash of the initial shock and horror of his transformation washed over him. He looked over himself intently. He could survive like this but could he make it like this?
He didn't have much time to think. His ears flicked as he heard rustling. He could see a shape looming in the foliage. He recognized the pose it was in and he knew what it was probably seeing. Prey.
In a flash, a brown lion leapt from the foliage towards him. Simba scrambled away just in time and ran into the forest. "Home turf advantage!" he thought to himself. Both deer and lion were so concerned about the chase that neither noticed how familiar they were and that the lion knew the forest better that what Simba had first thought.
Simba was giving Bambi a run for his money. The deer tried to use the forest to his advantage, navigating awkward rocks, zig-zagging through clusters of trees and everything in between. Bambi, of course knew all these landmarks and maneuvered around them easily. Whenever Simba thought he had shaken him, he would look back and see a lion still trailing him. But he never slackened his efforts, he wouldn't let this lion to catch him.
They went around in one big circle and ended up back at the oasis border. At that moment, Simba had an idea. "Can't keep up with me, can you?" he taunted.
"I haven't lost you yet!" replied Bambi.
The pair were so caught up in the chase, they didn't recognize the other's voice. "You can't even pounce me! Some predator you are!" He flicked his tail teasingly. Bambi had had enough. Quickly, he pounced at Simba again. This was exactly what the deer wanted. He knelt down and Bambi, who was very surprised, flew right over him and back into the oasis.
Simba was feeling very proud of himself when a thought struck him. 'Wait. The pond disappears whenever someone goes near it. Except for...' Simba was interrupted as Bambi lunged at him. "Bambi?!" he asked quickly.
Realization flashed as Bambi pounced Simba, knocking him over and pinning him on his back. Simba had never felt so helpless. He closed his eyes, turned his head away and braced for whatever came next.
"Simba?" The deer opened one eye and looked at the lion pinning him down. Bambi quickly released him and Simba stood up right.
"I'm sorry," apologized Bambi, "I didn't know. Well I didn't realize..."
"Hey, I get it," said Simba, "You remember when we met, don't you?" The pair chuckled. "So I see being a lion is going well," continued Simba.
"Not really. I almost got kicked out of the den because I release my prey as soon as a catch it. Now I'm out here 'trying to prove myself' by bringing something back to the den."
Simba stared. He was supposed to be the prey.
Bambi sighed. "I can't even get that right."
"If it means anything, I'm grateful," said Simba, reaffirming, "I never thought what would happen if I stepped paw (hoof?) in my old den like this." Bambi gave a slight hint of a smile. "Think about this," continued the deer, "yes, you pinned me and let me go. If you were hunting for survival, that would've been stupid. But this wasn't for survival, was it?" Bambi was intrigued. "I was told once that you should respect prey. After all, when predators die, they become the grass and... we eat the grass," finished Simba.
Bambi felt better. "That does make sense, thank you."
Simba gave an agreeable grunt.
"Well, what about you?" asked Bambi.
"What about me?"
"How's life as a deer? I see your antlers are coming in."
Simba glanced at them. "Is that what they're called. I don't know, every time I start to get comfortable, there's something new to adjust to. I don't even feel like I can approach anyone. I don't know if I'm prey to them or not. Of course, there are some I want to..." He quickly caught himself before he went any further.
"Are you ok?"
"Huh, what? Yeah, I'm fine."
"Well, there's wolves for a start," replied Bambi. Simba gave him a confused look. "Predators? Just trust your instincts when you see one."
"Right, instincts," said Simba thoughtfully.
"Another thing to adjust to?"
There was an awkward silence.
"Well, I'd better go," said Bambi at last, "I've still got to prove myself."
"Yeah, I get it," said Simba knowingly. Both turned to go.
"Hey!" called Bambi. Simba looked back. "Good luck!"
"Thanks," Simba smiled, "Good luck to you too."
With that, Bambi and Simba disappeared into the oasis and forest respectively. It wasn't said as such but the two hoped that, unlikely as it may be, they would run into each other again. Neither of them noticed their reflections in the pond as they left. Bambi's now a lion and Simba's now a deer.
Characters belong to Disney
Original art and concept by Sirzi (https://www.deviantart.com/sirzi)