"Terk, all you have to do is keep Kerchak away!"
"I'd be happy to keep Kerchak- " Tantor was cut off as Terk grabbed his trunk and gave it a tight squeeze, sneering at him in frustration.
"- Shut your trunk and get me out of here!"
The pair walked away, as Tarzan rolled his eyes fondly, listening to Terk rant and rave.
"Can you believe the nerve of that guy?!" She growled, "Drops us like a new-born giraffe, KERPLOP, and then waltzes back here and expects us to just- "
Tarzan took this opportunity to interrupt, feeling a little guilty over Terks' words, dropping down in front of them, landing on Tantor's tusks. "Terk… I'm asking as a friend."
He widened his eyes, which only made Terk groan in exasperation.
"With the face, and the eyes and- AH! Fine!" Terk snapped, "But you better not make me do anything embarrassing!"
She was going to kill him.
Knowing that Terk and Tantor were leading Kerchak away, Tarzan practically ran to the camp, dropping down in front of Clayton, Jane and the Professor as they continued to pack.
"See gorillas now." He exclaimed, smiling when they all made exclamations of shock and surprise.
Tarzan glanced at Clayton, who frowned.
"You're not joking are you?"
"No!" Tarzan shook his head furiously, "Promise!" He reached out and grabbed Clayton's hand, almost bouncing up and down in his eagerness, "Come on! Come on! We don't have much time!"
It took time, but soon, they were approaching the gorillas' nests.
Clayton knew he should be taking notes, notes that could be used again in the future.
But he couldn't… he just couldn't.
/Yer a damn weakling boy! \\
Clayton pushed that voice to the back of his mind, continuing to follow Tarzan as he helped them higher and higher into the trees. Eventually, they reached a small clearing, where a lone gorilla sat, picking at the flowers in front of her.
She turned and slowly started to make her way over, only to stop at the sight of them.
"Daddy, look!" Jane whispered, as her and the Professor gasped in amazement.
Being careful not to crowd around the female, Clayton went to stand over to one side instead. "She is beautiful." he couldn't help but whisper, as Tarzan turned to face him.
"She's… my mother."
"Your moth-" Clayton stopped, nodding in understanding. This must have been the gorilla who raised Tarzan from a baby, "Your Mother."
Tarzan nodded, lowering himself and making soothing noises, only for the female gorilla to back away.
"What- what's going on?" The Professor asked, as Jane darted forwards, prompting Clayton to grab her arm and pull her back.
"She's scared enough without having you shrieking in her face!" He hissed, as she protested, "Take a step back Jane." When he let go of her, he groaned as she and the Professor got to their knees, trying to imitate the noises Tarzan was.
"What do you think you are doing?" He resisted the urge, "You're making fools of yourselves, now get up, get up!" He then glanced up, his eyes widening in surprise, "Don't… get… up."
All around them, in the high branches, gorillas were peering over the side at them, all looking just as curious as them.
The Professor actually ended up fainting.
The map in his pocket felt like it was burning, but he still refused to remove it from his pocket.
Hearing a soft noise by his feet, he glanced down, spotting three baby gorillas cautiously making their way over to him. "Hello." He moved to his knees, smirking when one of them tried beating on his chest as a show of intimidation, so eager to the point that he fell back into Clayton's hands.
"Atta boy." Clayton couldn't help but chuckle fondly, "You'll be a strong one, one day."
He didn't notice the pleased beam Tarzan was giving him behind his back. He was only vaguely away of Jane and her Father eagerly discussing 'social grooming'. As older gorillas started to paw at him slightly, he was glad he hadn't brought his gun with him.
That would have been a disaster.
After batting the older ones away, Clayton watched the younger one all rushed over to Tarzan, leaping at him and batting at him playfully.
And the only reason he was smiling, was because everyone else was smiling too, not because the sight was, dare he say it, adorable?
Slowly, he moved over and sat next to Tarzan. "Can you… teach me?" He asked, mentally scolded him self for the nervous tone.
"To speak gorilla?"
As one of the babies started to climb all over him, Clayton nodded, watching as Tarzan placed the babies back on the ground and turned to face him.
"Oo, oo, ee." Tarzan grunted, nodding at Clayton, waiting for him to repeat it.
Clayton did, feeling a little silly. Languages were never his area of expertise, having been raised by his Father.
His Father's method of speaking to anyone who didn't English, involved speaking loudly and slowly, often with hand gestures.
"Oo, oo, ee."
Tarzan beamed encouragingly, "Eh, ooooo." Was the next step.
Honestly it took Clayton a little bit longer to get this bit, batting Tarzan's hands away from his cheeks when the other man tried to help. He didn't need his cheeks smushed in order to master this sentence.
After perfecting the sounds, Tarzan gave him an encouraging nod, prompting Clayton to say the whole thing at once.
"Oo, oo, ee, eh, oooooo."
Suddenly, the baby gorillas went nuts, whooping and bouncing up and down in glee, as Clayton frowned in confusion.
"What did I say?"
"I stay with Tarzan."
Clayton stared at Tarzan for a few moments, before realising exactly what Tarzan meant… these babies actually though he was going to-
"Tarzan." He started sternly, "We've talked about this."
The smile from Tarzan's face dropped instantly, as he tilted his head to the side. However, before he could say anything, there was a commotion to the right of them, as a gorilla dressed in a familiar looking yellow dress, and an elephant crashed through the trees, landing in a heap beside them.
"Is that my dress?!" Jane shrieked indignantly.
"Oh no…" Tarzan whispered, reaching out to grab Clayton's arm and pull him back, as there was an even bigger roar, the Alpha of the gorilla family charging forwards, teeth bared, raised to his full height.
And then he saw the humans and stopped dead in his tracks.
If Clayton didn't know any better, he'd say that the gorilla looked almost…. Betrayed.
"Tarzan…" He whispered, "… Tarzan, what should we- "
"- Sssh." Tarzan hopped forwards, meeting the Alpha in the middle, making soft cooing noises, almost like he was trying to justify why other humans were here.
The Alpha looked stunned, glancing between the human and Tarzan…. And then Jane fainted.
"Jane!" The Professor hissed, thankfully smart enough to keep his voice low and non-threatening, "Jane!"
"Get her out of here." Tarzan ordered softly, glancing back at Clayton, "I can handle this."
"But Tarzan- "
Slowly, Clayton nodded, moving over to Jane and lifting her into his arms and slowly backing away, being sure not to look the gorilla in the eyes.
Tarzan would handle this.
He was sure of it.
They were just getting ready to head back to the ship when Clayton saw Tarzan again. The man was dressed in an outdated, but well-fitted suit, looking very unsure with himself.
Tarzan looked up at him, grief and sorrow written all over his face as Clayton moved closer.
"… Kerchak threw me out." Tarzan admitted eventually, "Mother… she told me about my human parents." He smoothed his hands over the suit, "This… this was Father's."
His Father must have been an equally fit man, Clayton concluded. Had he been a lean gentleman, Tarzan would never had fit in that suit.
"So… you're coming back to England with us?" Jane piped up, not seeming to notice the look on Tarzan's face, or the tension all over his body.
When Tarzan nodded, she beamed in delight.
"Oh, I can't wait to introduce you to all my friends! Just wait until they hear that I met an actual wild man! Everyone is going to want to meet you! Kings, famous scientists and writers! Like Darwin and Kipling and- "
Clayton sighed, climbing into the tiny row-boat as they set off towards the large ship.
"It'll be alright." He found himself trying to reassure the younger man, "You can move in with me, and we'll get you settled in as best as we can."
"… Thank you."
They reached the ship, where a rope ladder was waiting for them.
"England will be strange." Clayton sighed as they climbed up, "I can only hope you will get used to it."
Spotting that Tarzan was staring back at the island, Clayton sighed and made his way up the ladder, giving Tarzan the privacy he needed.
And then everything went black.