Chapter 11 - Homecoming
When the first rays of the morning sunlight flashed into their bed, they rose without delay, dressed, and secured the treehouse as best they could, storing the bed in its storage box for future getaway, so it would not deteriorate or get eaten by bugs. Tarzan rolled up the plank and rope bridge so only humans could go there again. Archimedes engineered that for them, and only a man with Tarzan's climbing skills would be able to actuate the release mechanism. The construction nearly disappeared into the tree's foliage. As a result, the entire treehouse structure was well-camouflaged until you were right on top of it.
With a long kiss before they left, Jane hugged Tarzan as tightly as she could, "Thank you for giving me the best honeymoon a wife could ever want, Jonathan. This three weeks together would be the envy of any English newlyweds."
Tarzan smiled broadly, and just said simply, "Thank you Jane, for showing me how wonderful life is being married to you."
They took their time returning to the family by swinging by vine and by hiking, stealing hugs and kisses from each other along the way, and noted the family had moved to a new nesting place they found easily by the trail clues Terk and Kirok had left for them. Upon their arrival, they had a joyous reunion with everyone.
"Well. Look what we have here. The two lovebirds finally decided to come back to the family!" shouted Terk with a big grin and hugged them both fiercely.
They were inundated by well wishes and welcomes by all the family. It was a great feeling, and they embraced all of their family members.
Kirok admitted, "I'm sure glad you're the leader, Tarzan. Being leader was really hard."
Tarzan praised Kirok, "I am sure you did well, my friend."
There was a chorus of appreciation for Kirok from all the family.
"See? What did I tell you Kirok?" grinned Tarzan.
"Just the same, I am very glad you are back."
Archimedes noticed immediately that Jane and Tarzan had left as two excited but uncertain starry-eyed lovers, and came back an intimately loving couple that moved and anticipated each other's thoughts and actions. The honeymoon did what it was supposed to do. Archimedes thought she looked lovely in her new handmade jungle outfit, despite how scant it was, and that she had such a dark tan from their hours on the sunny beach. Her auburn hair was even somewhat bleached. The pair matched each other beautifully. She was so much like her mother at that age, Archimedes noted in somewhat melancholy reflection.
She ran to him and gave him a hug and a kiss on his cheek, "Oh Daddy, it was so wonderful. Thank you for everything you did to give us the best honeymoon ever!"
"You're very welcome, Jane dear. You and Tarzan look like you were made for each other."
"Thank you Daddy," Jane blushed, knowing her outfit and clear signs of her full body tan were a surprise for him, but he put it to her as complimentary and graciously as he could. Her father was still trying to adapt to all of this too.
The entire family was intrigued by their wedding rings that glinted in the filtered jungle sun, and even more intrigued by the tradition that the rings would never come off their fingers. Most of the mated gorilla pairs wanted to put natural 'rings' on their ring fingers, made from sliced sections of bamboo or hollowed bone sections that Tarzan happily carved for them with his knife. Archimedes was fascinated how fast and how often gorillas emulated human behavior with only the slightest nudge of cultural influence.
Amidst all the attention around the newlyweds, Terk came over to them, amazed at Jane's new clothes and complimented her, "Wow, Jane. That's quite the outfit you are almost wearing there. I'm gonna definitely call you 'Jungle Woman' from now on. Does Tarzan like it?"
"Oh yes, very much so, Terk. But he likes me out of it better," Jane admitted with a knowing smile.
Terk guffawed, "Hoo-eee! Girl, you are smokin'!"
The two females had a great laugh together, and Jane realized that she had no better human friend who was as fun and as honest as Terk. 'Civilized' English society could learn much from these simple creatures.
Tantor and his girl friend were grazing in the area and so they joined the family and offered their congratulations. They also had happy news to share as Tantor announced, "Tarzan, with all the old gang 'pairing up', Habika and I decided we'd be mates too!"
Habika and Tantor intertwined their trunks, nudged each other gently, and exchanged loving looks. Tarzan and Jane and Terk gave their gigantic friends a hearty hug of congratulations.
Habika teased Tantor as she explained to Tarzan and Jane, "Yeah, someone had to make the sacrifice for female elephantkind and accept Tantor as a mate. He was getting all mopey-eyed over me anyway. I decided to 'take one for the herd'."
While everyone else laughed, Tantor was clueless, "What? What?"
"Join the club Habika. We all have to 'hang tough' to be martyrs for these impossible males, Habika," Terk added.
Jane carried the teasing further still, "I knew I liked you ladies when we first met. As a zoological scientist, I am fascinated to discover that males of every species are inferior to 'us girls'!"
The three females laughed heartily at the expense of their mates, but gave them all loving looks during their bantering. Jane blew a kiss at Tarzan and winked.
The boys laughed politely along with their mates, but it dawned on Kirok, Tarzan, and Tantor that they were on the wrong end of a losing battle and Tantor realized, "Guess there is no hope for us ever again, guys. Just whose idea was this to get a mate, anyway?"
All eyes were on Tarzan, but he defended himself, "Excuse me, but Kirok and Terk mated first, thank you. And besides, at least we aren't like praying mantis males. The females bite off the heads of their mates, especially when they…"
"Hmm. Don't give us any ideas, guys!" interrupted Jane, overhearing the boys trying to second-guess their way out of their irreversible predicaments as mates.
"Hey!" complained Tarzan in jest.
That night, after a much celebration with the family, and lots of story-telling, including the drama of the caracals and the branch maze accident, Jane and Tarzan settled into their freshly made nest that Jane expertly made for them.
"This may be your best nest yet, Jane," he praised her, and she blushed happily.
"I've only made two, Tarzan," she scoffed.
"So who's counting?" he shrugged with a grin.
"I believe it is the same ape man who ran out of clothes first last night," she chuckled, grasping a certain area of his loincloth for emphasis.
Tarzan just gave his tease of a wife an eye roll, but couldn't help blushing deeply. Jane's affectionate wit was so entertaining.
They skipped reading, and she hadn't drawn anything since the wedding portrait, so they really just thought about sleeping, reunited happily with the family. Kala and Archimedes were already asleep. As the newlyweds relaxed and snuggled close, they suddenly felt nearly a dozen, innocent, curious stares of all the mated adult pairs and the young adults considering becoming mates. They were all smiling expectantly at Tarzan and Jane.
"Uhh… Tarzan?" Jane asked, feeling oddly like a paramecium being viewed under a microscope in front of a class of behavioral biologists.
Tarzan realized what was going on, and actually felt uncomfortable himself, and explained in a whisper, "Umm… Jane… It's a… how do I explain this… a custom. No…that's not right. Your father would call it a 'behavior'. They want to see the newly mated leaders of the family… uhh… mating for the first time so they know it is true. Now I understand why the English like their privacy at home. Should we tell them 'no'?"
This was one of those moments Jane knew she'd face upon their return: the delicate balance between retaining her humanity – with some shred of human privacy - and yet be completely a member of Tarzan's gorilla family as his mate as well as his wife. In their numerous times together learning about the culture of the English, Tarzan understood that now, also. This is what 'two worlds, one family' was all about. Jane made the willing choice for Tarzan.
She smiled demurely at him and gave him a soothing caress on his cheek, "Please don't worry, dear. It's all right. This is our home, and we honor all the family customs at home. No matter what. They are all our family. Before meeting me, you didn't know human ways were very different from gorilla ways, and what might be 'normal' for gorillas isn't normal for humans."
"Thank you Jane, for being so understanding," said a relieved Tarzan.
"Besides, after you kiss me, it's going to be like we are the only married people here anyway. You know what your kisses do to me."
That sweet, half-lidded, dreamy-eyed look with her contented smile that always melted his heart flashed immediately across Tarzan's mind.
"But Jane, we are the only married people here," he smirked and winked.
She giggled as she patted his chest, "Life sure is going to be a lot of fun with you, Jonathan.
As they began, in the adjoining nest, Terk whispered to get her attention, "Psst. Jane. No. Not that way. They all want to see the 'people way'."
Hearing that revelation, Jane interrupted their lovemaking momentarily. She pushed herself up to kneel from being on her hands and knees. Tarzan also knelt close behind her, waiting patiently with his arms still encircling her waist at her insistence. Jane caught her breath, soothed Tarzan's interlaced fingers around her waist, and narrowed her eyes at her friend Terk.
Jane asked in a somewhat accusatory tone, "Soo… tell me, Terk. Just exactly… how do they all know about the 'people way'? Hmm?"
Terk got a very guilty look on her faced, and fumbled an explanation, "Um. Ah. Well, Jane. It's like this… Kirok and I have been doing the 'people way' since I saw you that first night."
If gorillas could blush, Terk would have.
Tarzan and Jane exploded in laughter. When they'd recovered, wiping their eyes, Tarzan shot a mock disdainful glance at Kirok, and his gorilla friend just got an embarrassed, nervous smile on his face, and shrugged his shoulders at Tarzan, "Terk made me do the 'people way', Tarzan."
"Uh-huh, Kirok. I know better," retorted Tarzan, and both couples had a good chuckle.
Tarzan whispered to Jane with a sly grin, "Before we start again, should I ask Terk and Kirok which 'people way' they want to see?"
Jane's eyes and mouth flew open, she quickly bit her lip to suppress an outright guffaw, poked Tarzan's nose, and quietly scolded him, but with a very broad, pleased grin, "Tarzan! Don't complicate things."
But she added with a wink, "Besides, they will all find out soon enough…"
"I like that thought, my dear Jane," Tarzan observed wistfully in anticipation.
Jane joked, giving him an affectionate look, and shook her head, "If only Darwin could be here, Tarzan. Tonight we'd make him rewrite his book."
"Who's Darwin?" puzzled Tarzan.
"One of Daddy's old college professors. We'll discuss that book tomorrow night, dear. Oh, the things we do for love!" she smirked, she pressed her lips against Tarzan's with considerable urgency, and pulled him down to her as she lay on her back against the soft nest.
Tarzan knew, in spite of her brave words, Jane was still a bit nervous about this very public coupling. It was one thing for her best female gorilla friend to 'peek' during their wedding night, but quite another to have all those eyes of the rest of the adults in the family upon them. So he whispered to reassure her between breathless kisses, "Close your eyes and pretend we're back in our canopy bed, and everything will be all right."
"It'll be fine Tarzan. Let's just go visit our bed on our six month anniversary," she winked.
"How about the three month anniversary instead?" he responded.
"I like that offer even better! I love you, Jonathan."
"'Love you too, Jane."
They didn't hold back anything from their amazed, wide-eyed family. In slack-jawed astonishment, Terk realized this couple had come a long way from the tentative steps of their first night together.
After that night of discovery, all the mated gorilla pairs in the family never went back to their traditional means of intimacy, and the three young gorilla couples who were thinking about being mates consummated their commitment to each other that very night.