Jane carefully made her way around the nest, high up in the air. She knew it to be sturdy and safe, so long as one paid attention while in it, but the rustle of leaves and occasional snap of twigs still kept her on the fence. Tarzan was perched on a large, thick, spindly tree branch, rough housing with a group of screaming babies. The thought terrified her —any one of them could fall at any moment— but such incidents were rare, she was learning, and so she tried not to let it bother her. "Tarzan?"
Tarzan grunted gently and looked over to her. A baby hung from his arm, another entangled in his hair.
"I wanted to ask you something."
"What?" he asked, setting one of the babies on the branch. Sensing that play time was over, the others raced off.
"It's probably nothing, although I'm certain I heard her use my name, and the last thing I want to do is rock the boat—" her eyes shot up, and in an instant, Tarzan was before her.
"Jane," he said, smiling and touching her arm.
She smiled back. "Right." She sometimes forgot that Tarzan was still learning English, and her speed-talking didn't help the situation much. It was much harder to teach him without visual aids, but they got by. What was even more astonishing was that he was beginning to pick up her and her father's accent. You barely noticed it, but it was definitely there. She shook her head and waved her hands. "Anyway, Terk said something along the lines of..." she looked down, trying to remember; her mouth working to recreate the sounds. "Ooh-ohh-ee-ooh-hee-eh-ha-ooh. She said my name, didn't she?"
Tarzan laughed and told her, "You learn fast." Probably a lie, but it made her feel good to hear it. After all, learning Gorilla was difficult-next to impossible. He had faith that she and her father would learn, and that was nice, but somehow she doubted she would ever be fluent.
"So what did she say?"
"Coming up!" a voice called.
Jane blinked and walked clumsily to the edge of the nest, leaning and looking over. "Daddy?" she asked, watching the man grab hold of a vine.
"Jane!" he greeted with a wave.
"Daddy you can't possibly climb that vine. Hold on and Tarzan will pull you up."
"Tarzan? Hello, my boy!"
"Hello, Professor," Tarzan replied, leaning effortlessly over the edge of the nest, a smile on his face.
"Now stand back, here I come!" He wiggled his hindquarters and furrowed his brow, knees bent and hands held tight around the vine. He leapt up and wrapped his knees around the vine, shoulders shaking violently to keep him off the ground. Moments later, he found himself on the jungle floor, moustache twitching gently. "Hm," he said to himself, stroking his chin. He got to his feet and attacked the vine again. "Perhaps if I...No? What about..."
Jane rolled her eyes and looked back to Tarzan. "That was another thing I wanted to talk to you about. Daddy has trouble climbing, and, well... it'll just get harder the older he gets. We were wondering if we could fashion together a kind of ladder or pulley." Tarzan thought for a moment and then nodded. "We were also wondering... well...I, was wondering…If we could start on someplace new to live?"
"Live? What do you mean?" Tarzan asked, crouching slowly and looking at her.
"Live. You know, eat, sleep. Not now of course, but in the future."
His eyes looked hurt. "You don't like it here?"
"No, no!" She shook her head, patting the nest. "We love it here. Really. It's just, he isn't getting any younger, you know, and if anything ever happened to him..."
"Hello?" Archimedes called up into the trees. "Is anyone there?"
Jane leaned back other the side of the nest. "We're still here. Take hold of the vine, Tarzan's going to pull you up."
And so, as Archimedes was resting comfortably in the nest, they decided to build a ladder of sorts to make things easier for him and Jane. What bothered her, though, was that Tarzan never did make a comment about her asking to have a tree house. When she thought about it, she could see why. Why had she decided to live in the jungle if she only wanted to be back indoors? Then again, it was always nice to have the option. After a talk with her father, she decided not to bring the matter up again.
She later found out that Terk had been talking about her hair, wondering why humans had it all on their head, and that if Jane took the hair from her head and put it on her body, she'd look just like an ape. Jane didn't know whether to take it as an insult or a compliment.
Months passed, and Jane and her father were slowly becoming part of the family. Oh, some of the mothers told their children to stay away from them, but from what Jane understood, something similar had happened when Tarzan was a boy. Even if they weren't ever fully accepted, it was still the chance of a lifetime. They were traveling with the group, learning how nests were made and how social interaction took place; her father was picking up Gorilla even faster than she was, and maybe it was her imagination, but Tarzan seemed to be at a standstill regarding English. He still spoke to them, but it almost seemed as if he were forgetting, so she made sure to keep on him about it. It helped immensely that he was keen to learn, and made her feel less like a heckling tutor.
Terk sighed and covered her eyes with her hand, an overt sign of embarrassment. Jane quickly learned that Terk was the easiest one to understand without the use of words; her body language gave away everything, which was very helpful. Tarzan was out on some sort of business while Terk took it upon herself to educate Jane on how to properly walk. It wasn't enough that she was swinging from vines and sliding over mossy branches high above the ground; Terk decided her posture needed some work, if she was ever going to be one of them.
"I don't quite—oh now I see! Like this?"
Terk nodded and slapped her on the back. Hard. Jane winced but managed to smile. Tarzan was a full grown man, used to this kind of thing, but she was a petite city-woman. Taking a hit from a gorilla, even a relatively small one, was no walk in the park. Terk spun around in a circle and raced off, waving for Jane to follow. Her back hurt and her knuckles might as well have been white, but she somehow managed to follow. She very much doubted she would ever acquire the strength to move like this through the jungle, but for social gatherings, she supposed it couldn't hurt.
Terk intentionally lead her through the group nesting area, so that all the young ones could point and laugh and squeal and spin in circles, while the mothers looked on silently. Jane tried not to let it bother her. After all, they were only children, and what did the others expect? It had already been made clear that they weren't going anywhere, that they were to stay in Africa, with the group. She did her best not to whine or complain about the sharp pain shooting up her spine or the cramp in her pelvis. She didn't even try to keep up with Terk; it would be impossible. Thankfully Terk was being a good sport about her slowness, not teasing and taunting her every couple of feet. Not to her face, at least.
"Terk!" she called at last, dropping to her knees. She winced and straightened her spine out, hearing pop after pop. "Terk! Stop! I need to rest." Terk, who at least could recognize her name in English, slowed to a stop, turned, and headed back. Her expression said it all. "I'm not a gorilla, you know, this is hard for me." Terk rolled her eyes again and sat in a pile of brush, picking through leaves boredly. "How much further is it?" she asked, trying to show distance with her hands. Terk looked on in confusion. She tried a few more times, until she eventually nodded and copied. They still had a ways to go. Jane sighed. "Can't Tantor take us the rest of the way? You know, Tantor?" she used her arm as an elephant trunk and made a pitiful imitation that made Terk burst out into laughter.
Terk rolled around in the brush, laughing hysterically while Jane sulked, rubbing her sore shoulders.
"I'm glad you find this so amusing," she said beneath her breath. Just then, Terk let out a series of high-pitched screams. Birds fluttered out of trees, branches shook and columns of sunlight reached down to the jungle floor. Minutes later, Jane became aware of a low rumble. She paused, listening hard, and then realized what was coming their way. Tantor would never intentionally hurt a soul, but the idea of a 13 foot high, 15,400lb elephant charging her way still put butterflies in her stomach. She quickly scrambled up into a tree and watched as leaves and branches parted.
He slowed to a stop, trunk coming up to scratch his head as he looked around. Terk wasted no time in hopping onto his back. She said something to him (what, Jane had clue) and motioned for Jane to join them. Since coming down was very different than going up, Tantor eventually had to rescue her and gently place her on his back, and just like that, they were off. Tantor moved surprisingly fast for an elephant, and he and Terk conversed the whole ride. Feeling a bit left out, but not so much bothered by it; Jane studied the beauty around her as they traveled.
Not long after, they came upon a clearing, and what she saw blew her away. It was magnificent. A large, beautiful structure, build into a large tree that seemed to go on forever. There were landings to walk on and ropes to climb, pulleys, sun decks- it was marvelous. She stared in wide-eyed awe as Tantor came to a stop and helped her down.
"What...what on Earth is this?"
She spotted her father waving to her, calling, "Jane! Oh, Janey Jane, you won't believe it!"
It took everything in her to shout back, "believe what?" no sooner had she spoken, Tarzan appeared beside her. She squeaked and pressed a hand against her chest, letting out a deep breath. "Tarzan, you scared me."
He just smiled.
She threw her hand out. "What is this place?"
"You like it?"
"I love it. But how did it get here?"
"My parents built it," he said slowly. "My human parents...before my mother found me."
"Oh,..." she said sadly. It was all she could say.
"I thought..." he paused, as though searching for the correct words. "you and your father would like it."
She felt tears springing to her eyes. "I don't know what to say." Tarzan looked confused. "Never mind. It's beautiful."
Tarzan nodded. Something about him seemed off... distant, almost. "You live here now."
Jane blinked. "Well, um, that is to say-we would love to, but it's so far. How ever would we make it here and back to the group? And you... would you...?"
He shook his head and took her hand, leading her closer to the tree house. "I have to stay with the group. But we will visit. See you often."
Jane bit her lip, wishing she'd never said a thing. There was no way Tarzan would choose to live with them, here, when his family needed him. It wouldn't be right, and although it was selfish, the thought of being away from him for so long made her anxious.
"Jane, isn't it wonderful?" Archimedes said to her, sitting with his legs hanging over the deck just above them.
"Yes, it is," she answered as Tarzan led her inside. They had seen to it that the place had been tidied up, but it would still need work. There was an area where the floorboards were stained orange. She decided not to ask about it. Her eyes roamed the room until they fell upon a picture frame sitting atop a small table. She walked over to it and picked it up. The glass was cracked, but the photo inside was fine. She instantly locked on to the man who looked so much like Tarzan. His father, undoubtedly. Then his mother, and finally, him. He looked very much like them, and yet, as strange as it seemed, he also looked very much like Kala. The same couldn't be said for Kerchak, on her part, as she'd only "met" him a handful of times before he'd passed.
"But what made you—?"
"I thought you would be happier here." He looked down at the floorboards. "You miss London. You need a home to live in."
"Is that what this is about? Daddy and I stayed because we wanted to."
Tarzan looked like a confused child. "But you said—"
No matter what she said now, she ran the risk of insulting him. "I know what I said. I wasn't thinking. I sometimes still forget where I am, and we're still getting used to things here. This isn't London, and I need to realize that."
Archimedes joined them, mopping sweat off his brow with the rag. "Well, what do you think? I rather like it."
"It's perfect, but daddy, we won't be able to keep up with them, and we can't possibly expect them to stay near by forever."
"I'd thought of that," her father said slowly. "We wouldn't be shut off from them completely, but it would be a bit of a journey, that's for sure."
"I can keep everyone close," Tarzan offered. "But we can't stay in one place. You will have to learn to travel in the jungle. Tantor can help."
"And what about you?" Archimedes asked.
Tarzan thought for a long moment. "Stay here when close, stay with the group when far?"
Jane asked quietly, "Tarzan, you don't really want us to stay here, do you?"
Tarzan averted his eyes. He didn't answer. He almost looked…sad.
"Hmm. A quandary, indeed. We came to study Gorillas," Archimedes said, arms folded behind his back as he paced. "If we're here, we can't possibly do that to the extent that we could if we were actually with the group, and Jane, you'd be a mess without Tarzan."
"Daddy!" Jane cut in, cheeks red.
"Oh, hush. It's true. I've an idea—what if we make a compromise?"
"What's that?" Tarzan asked.
"A compromise, my boy. An agreement. Everyone gives something up so that we can come to an agreement for easy living."
Tarzan looked at Jane warily and said, "Okay."
"What if we use this place for a vacation home of sorts? We can stay with the group for the majority of the time, but come here when, say, they travel too far, or during monsoon season. And beside the point, it would be a shame to leave such a place to the elements and time."
Jane spoke first, trying to gauge Tarzans reaction. "...I could deal with that. Tarzan?"
"So...you come with us, but stay here only sometimes?"
Jane nodded. "That's right."
Tarzan smiled and slid an arm around Jane's waist. "I like it."
Archimedes clapped his hands together. "Fantastic! I'll give you two a little privacy now," he said, and walked out the front door, grinning.
"You didn't really want us to stay here, did you?" Jane asked when her father had left.
Tarzan paused. "No," he said. "I want Jane to stay with Tarzan, always. But...I can deal with this," he said, imitating her.
Jane smiled and kissed his cheek. "Thank you. I'll try not to be so difficult from now on."
I always thought it a bit silly that Jane and Tarzan would move into a tree house, what with the gorillas moving every so often and all. And didn't she come to the jungle to, well, be in the jungle? Anyway, this is just my take on what could have happened. First Tarzan fic, hopefully not the last. This place could use some life. Comments, critique, and flames all welcome.