Strangers Like Us
Author's note: This is actually a joint-project. My sister and I were on a huge Tarzan kick my senior year of high school, so we bought a spiral notebook, started a fic, and switched back and forth. I recently founded and decided, "why not?" and posted it. Hope you enjoy!
Jane couldn't believe how well she'd adapted to her new life. Of course, the captain had been sympathetic and brought back most of their things, so she was still cheating a little. She didn't think real jungle live included cooking wear, cloth clothes, and medicine. Either way, it was in no way, England.
She carefully pinned her hair up into a messy bun, took her sketchbook, and set off into the jungle. Her book was nearing full, filled with sketches of various plants and animals, and she had resorted to using the back pages of previous drawings, and even the back of the book itself. It didn't bother her, though. Drawing was enjoyable, therapeutic even, but it hardly put a dent in the rest of recreational time. Jane was part of the jungle now, and the jungle offered so much more than models for pencil sketches.
Back in England, Jane had felt so confined, trapped even. Her father had educated her solely for companion purposes. After the death of her mother, he'd needed someone to bond with on an intellectual level. Jane, however, had still been expected to live in a social bubble outside of her home and her father. She couldn't act silly, she couldn't argue her theories, she couldn't be a person. She had to be a prim and proper lady. She had to be dainty and stiff all the time. Here in the jungles of Africa, she was completely free, and she loved it. She loved getting muddy, trying crazy things like vine swinging, and even sampling different plants insects. What she loved most, however, was being able to love him.
"Jane is going out to draw?" Speaking of him, he'd landed right in front of her, just outside of her tent.
"Mm," Jane nodded, smiling. " I'm going out to the pond to sketch some of the elephants." She cocked her head slightly. "Would you like to come, Tarzan?"
Jane also felt bad about having lied to Tarzan. After she'd kissed him, he'd asked about it, all smiles. Embarrassed and panicked, Jane had quickly explained that she'd fallen on him. She knew that he knew it was an obvious lie, but just happy to have her around, Tarzan hadn't questioned it further.
They traveled down to the pond together, and Jane couldn't help but notice how hard Tarzan was trying to walk upright and not revert to his crouching. Walking was obviously not the quickest way for him, and pigeon-toed, he impatiently traveled beside her.
"It was kind of your mother to gather fruit and plants for my father and me," Jane commented. "She seems very nice."
"Mom likes…" He paused, furrowing his eyebrows. He'd called Kala 'Mom' in his native tongue, and he wasn't sure if he'd just utterly confused the human girl. "Jane." He felt proud, sure of himself that he'd picked the correct English word.
Jane grinned at his mistake, but was proud of him, and herself for teaching him. She was also flattered by his constant attempts to apply them. Tarzan grinned too and was stopped short when he was tackled. Jane merely rolled her eyes because it was only Terk. If she'd gotten used to any gorilla, it was that one.
"So what are you two hairless chimps up to today?" The ape asked her cousin, casually examining her fingers.
"Jane's going to draw," Tarzan explained. "I decided to tag along."
Terk glanced at Jane, who was fidgeting with her red skirt, and then back at Tarzan. "Is drawing where she goes and stares at stuff and copies it with that bad-tasting stick?"
"What's she saying?" Jane asked, crouching down beside the pair.
"She's not just copying stuff." Tarzan rolled his eyes. "She's making art."
"Oh yah?" Terk cocked an eyebrow. "What's art, Mr. Smarty-pants?"
Tarzan cleared his throat awkwardly, unsure of how to answer. What was art anyway? Jane had showed him a million pictures by other…drawers…like her. Some of things that meant nothing to him, and even bored him. Still, after all he'd seen, what was it exactly? Jane looked between the two, aware of Terk's victory and Tarzan's discomfort, and asked the other human, "What's going on, Tarzan?"
"She's asking what art is," Tarzan muttered, rubbing his calloused palm on the back of his neck.
Jane smiled and sat down before Terk, smoothing out her skirt. She held out her sketchbook. The small gorilla took it, sniffed it, and skimmed through the pages, showing little interest.
"How do I say it's creative?" Jane asked Tarzan.
" 'Creative'?" Tarzan repeated, cocking his head, unfamiliar with the word.
"It's unique, it's expressive…" Jane trailed off, knowing the explanation meant nothing to him. She sighed. "It's special. Something you enjoy because it means something to you, even if others don't understand it."
Tarzan smiled, like he'd had an epiphany. "So Jane is creative to Tarzan?"
The young woman blushed. "Well, not exactly, but, um, thank you…" she tucked some hair behind her ear. "Creativity is something you do."
Tarzan translated this to Terk the best he could, and the gorilla rolled her eyes. This made Jane laugh out loud, and she said to the wild man, "Tell her I'll draw her, if she likes."
Terk smiled when Tarzan translated that part, and eagerly plopped herself in front of Jane. Tarzan crawled behind the woman and carefully studied her hand and she magically transferred Terk onto paper. He smiled slightly, watching the other human squint and bite her lip in concentration, and he wanted to touch them, like when they'd first met. Of course, and unfortunately, he knew personal space now, and did no such thing. Jane drew up her knees, and asked Tarzan without looking at him, "How do I say, 'sit still'?"
Tarzan made a series of grunting sounds and Terk frowned at him. "You sound like my mother."
Jane mimicked the sound and Terk scowled. Tarzan laughed and shrugged helplessly.
"It's sweltering hot, Jonathan!" Anna Norton shrieked as she unsuccessfully tried to wipe sweat away that poured down her forehead. "And I can't believe we're here! How could you do this to me?!"
The man in front of her sighed as he stopped, giving the struggling woman time to catch up. "I didn't make you come, Anna. You chose to go." He grinned, glancing ahead. "Just think if it's true."
"That Professor Porter and his daughter are still alive?" Anna spat, finally catching up. "Get real, Branwell! They were nuts to begin with, and they were probably eaten by gorillas!" She stopped to catch her breath. "And we'll be done for sure too. We're journalists, not explorers."
Jonathan Branwell was not listening anymore. Instead, he was examining something he'd picked up off of the ground. It was a torn sheet of sketch paper with several drawings of gorillas on it. He squinted, making out the sketch of a human arm on one of the worn and ripped corners. He turned to Anna, "If they're alive, it'll make headlines everywhere."
Anna rolled her eyes and fanned herself. "Whatever!" She trudged along back to the camp, griping as she did so. "When I get back to England, I'm taking a long hot bath!"
She wiped away more sweat. "Gorillas! Hideous, ugly, scary things! Eww!" She shuttered, and then, into the jungle she yelled at the top of her lungs, "I HATE ALL OF YOU! EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS PLACE!!!!"
It was then that she heard a low growl and heard rustling in some nearby brush. Slowly, a leopard slinked out and stared at her. Anna's face drained of color and she screamed again.
Jane sat with Terk, and only Terk. Tarzan had left to go run an errand for Dr. Porter. Jane watched and listened with interest as Terk tried to teach her how to sharpen her foreign language skills. She picked up random things, slowly speaking each sound for the object's name. Jane copied her clumsily, not quite understanding without Tarzan around to guide her.
"Ooh eeh eeeee oh…!" Terk dropped the fruit she was currently holding, and her eyes widened.
Jane's brows furrowed, and she turned around to see what had Terk so spooked, and she nearly wet herself. A leopard stared back at her, merely centimeters away from her face.
Meanwhile, as he traveled closer to the sound of water, Jonathan heard a woman scream. A woman that wasn't his business partner. He picked up his pace and quickly started towards the sound of the scream. "That's not Anna," he muttered as he awkwardly made his way through the thick vegetation. As he struggled with a particular sticky bush with lots of insects, he caught sight of a brunette woman running from a leopard.
"AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!" The woman ran with more success than he did, occasionally turning to hit the animal with a big stick. "TARZAN!" She cried.
Jonathan finally got loose and quickly joined at her pounding the wild cat with another stick he found. Of course, it wasn't very successful, as Jane was too confused to speak and Jonathan had no clue about fighting leopards. The leopard clawed him across the chest, and leapt for Jane.
But alas, Tarzan's battle cry rang through the tree tops, and he suddenly swooped down and tackled the beast. After several minutes of brute struggling, Tarzan managed to make the cat howl, and it disappeared into the brush, limping. The wild man made his way over to Jane and began examining her, looking her over for injuries. After deciding she was not physically hurt, he opened his mouth to say some affectionate ape-man words, but stopped. He slowly turned and jumped when he saw Jonathan.
"AHHH!!!!" Anna, unfortunately, was still running for her life as the second leopard chased her around. "Stop chasing me! Someone help!!!!"
Tarzan tensed up and he whipped around, pausing in examining the new human. He heard a scream that sounded like Jane's but wasn't Jane.
"Anna!" Jonathan's face paled and he took off running, feebly. Tarzan turned and pointed to Jane, motioning for her to stay put, and then zoomed off ahead of Jonathan, who had tripped over a thorn-filled weed.
Anna ran until she came to the edge of a cliff, and then looked around helplessly. The leopard jumped to pounce on her, but Tarzan flew forward and grabbed her just in the knick of time. They both watched from a vine as the large animal went tumbling over the cliff's edge. Tarzan then carried Anna down as she screamed and finally made his way back to Jane, still half-carrying the shrieking woman. He set her down and plopped down himself, scratching his head. He was so confused by all of this.
Anna was on the brink of hyperventilating, and Jane stared at everyone. Suddenly the silence was erupted by everyone talking at frantically at once. Anna alternately screamed at Jonathan, introduced herself to Jane, and marveled at Tarzan. Jonathan alternately tried to defend himself to Anna, bombarded Jane with questions, and stared dumbfounded at Tarzan. Jane kept trying to answered them both, while keeping Tarzan at bay, and Tarzan frowned curiously at the trio, wondering what was going on.
To Be Continued…