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The Jungle's Heartbeat

Chapter Text

Deep in the jungle there lives a man. He swings from branch to branch, living as one with the apes and the creatures of the trees and rivers, the vines and rocks. And his name….is Greg.

 

**

 

“Does he look dangerous to you?“

“Was it alone?”

“Yes. Sabor killed his family.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. There are no others.”

“Then you may keep him.”

“Kerchak, I know he'll be a good son.”

“I said he could stay. That doesn't make him my son. We will nest here for the night.”

“So um, whatcha gonna call it?”

“I'm going to call him Greg.”

“Greg? Okay... he's your baby.”

The gorilla paused, and bowed her head, nuzzling the child in her arms. “Yes. He is my son...”

**

“ ...I knew I was born for Africa, and Africa was created for-- “ Clayton turned on the shaking bush, shooting off a round.

“Clayton, Clayton, there you are, what is it? What is it? Are we in danger?”

“I thought I saw something.”

“Saw something? Oh! A hippopotamus amphibious, or a rhinoceros-”

“Professor Holmes! Don't move!”

“Yes, yes of course.” Mummy halted, looking up at the trees.

“Mummy? What's all the hullabaloo about?” Mycroft huffed, beating back the bamboo from his face with a scowl.

“Clayton’s asked me not to move. He saw something.”

Mycroft sighed, walking past her. “Mister Clayton, excuse me. My mother and I came on this expedition to study gorillas, and I rather think your shooting might be scaring them off."

“You hired me to protect you, Master Holmes, and protect you I shall.”

“And you're doing a marvelous job of it, but we only have a short time before the ship returns. So if you don’t mind-”

“Oh! Mycroft, Mycroft, do you realize what you're standing in? A gorilla's nest!”

“ Mummy!” Mycroft’s eyes widened, and he knelt down, examining the muddled leaves and branches.

“At last! Our first sign in days! Do you think the beasts could be nearby?” Clayton gave a sly grin, glancing around.

“Well, they could be. There's the evidence, you know,” Mummy said, kneeling down alongside Mycroft.

“Yes. Evidence.” Mycroft looked up, examining the forest around them. “Over there!”

“Yes! More nests! I see them!” Mummy clapped her hands excitedly. “Oh this is wonderful! I must mark these on the map!

“Just as you predicted, Mummy, well done.” Mycroft stood, handing her the map from his journal. “Now then. Mark this, and let’s carry on.”

“Oh, Mycroft, I love you!” Mummy marked the map, mumbling to herself as she started to head off.

“There’s no gorilla here. Perhaps we should press on.” Clayton followed her, looking around suspiciously.

“Indeed. Now we should keep heading west,” Mummy said, altering her course.

Mycroft glanced up at the treetops and sighed, going to follow them. He paused at a rustle of leaves, and then gave a small chuckle, squatting down. “And are you what all the fuss was about? Mummy! Come back, look at what I’ve found.” He opened his journal, smiling at the baby baboon, currently blinking up at him.

“Now just you wait, and hold still for me. Not quite a gorilla, but you’ll do.” He cleared his throat, adding a last few lines. “Now. What do you think?” he asked, showing the drawing off. “Goodness, I’m turning into mummy. Speaking to animals. What will-Oh! Why you little--Well, this is absolutely peachy. Come to study gorillas and I get my sketchbook pidged by a baboon! Come here immediately! Return my sketch!”

He chased after the small creature, brandishing his umbrella. “Give me that! Oh come on now, enough of this. I want that paper on the count of three.” The baboon paused, and Mycroft smirked. “Yes. Now. One, two, oh look! Bananas!” The baboon bounced up, glancing around, and Mycroft snatched the paper.

“I can't believe you fell for that one. No, no, don't give me those crocodile tears.” Mycroft smirked as the animal gave a shriek and began to cry out. “What would your Mummy have to... say?” Mycroft gave a weak chuckle, backing away as one of the branches above him creaked with the sudden weight of a baboon troupe. “You see? I told you they'd be cross. Go easy on him, children will be children,” he said hesitantly. “Oh, what am I doing, you can’t even understand me.” He stepped back, and his boot landed on a branch, the crack echoing around the trees. “Oh damn!” Mycroft turned and ran, as the entire troupe came after him.

Panting, he rounded a corner, only to have his boots slip, sending him careening down into a deadfall. “No, no! I’m falling! I’m...flying? I’m flying?” Mycroft gave a little gasp, looking down as the trees rushed below him. “What?” He looked up, and gave a sharp squeal. “You! Unhand me! Put me down immediately!”

He smacked against the man’s wrist with his umbrella. “Do you have any idea who I am, you...you heathen! Put me down! I am Lord Mycroft Edwin Holmes! I-” Mycroft yelped again as he fell down onto a branch, padded by a pile of bouncy leaves. He rubbed his head, brushing off his suit with a scowl. “Honestly.” He glared at the man that landed beside him, head cocked. “Who are you?”

The man didn’t reply, simply edging closer, only to pause as a baboon jumped down beside him. He gave a little growl, and turned.

Mycroft’s eyes widened as the pair began to speak in a series of yips and grunts. “You...you’re communicating.” The man turned, snorting. He advanced on Mycroft again, and Mycroft backed away quickly, thudding against the tree trunk. “Now, just a mo-” He froze as the man sniffed a line down his body, and then snatched the drawing he’d tucked into his waistbelt, handing it off to the baby baboon. The creature made a noise of success, and the baboons disappeared almost as quickly as they’d come.

“Well. Thank you for that I suppose, but I really must be going now,” Mycroft said, standing slowly, and sliding away from him, boot slipping. “Oh! Mummy will be quite concerned, and I just don’t think that-eep.” He froze as the man pressed up against him, snuffling against his throat. “I'm trapped in a tree with a...a practically nude man...who talks to monkeys. I can’t do this...this is...oh. Oh, this is rather.” He gave a small, breathy whimper as the man’s torso met his. “I...oh. Oh. Oh! How dare you!” Mycroft shoved the man away, going over to the other end of the branch, straightening his suit once more. “Explain yourself! Before this situation gets any worse!”

The man cocked his head at him, just as there was a loud thunderclap.

Mycroft gave a low groan, sinking down onto the ground. “Rather too late,” he muttered, as rain began to pelt them.

The man came a little closer, reaching out and touching Mycroft’s chin, tipping it to the side in interest.

“Stay back,” Mycroft muttered, swatting half heartedly at him. The man gave a noise of concern, and then trailed his hand down Mycroft’s arm and chest, examining him curiously. “What are you doing? Stop that! I say, that-oh!” Mycroft gasped, flushing and slapping at the man’s hand. “Stop it! That tickles!”

The man jumped back as Mycroft snorted, copying the noise he made.

Mycroft froze, eyes widening. “Do that again.”

“Do that again.”

“You can speak?”

“You can speak?”

“Stop copying me,” Mycroft scowled, leaning forward.

“Stop copying me.” The man moved to Mycroft. “You can speak? Do that again.” He grinned, and leaned forward, pressing his ear to the man’s chest. “Do that again,” he said softly. “Again? Again? Again? Again? Again?”

“That’s my heartbeat,” Mycroft said, watching with wide eyes.

“Heartbeat?”

“Yes. It’s-oh!” Mycroft gasped as the man tugged his head to his chest.

“Heartbeat,” the man copied, petting Mycroft’s hair in fascination.

“Yes, thank you. It's a lovely heartbeat,” Mycroft pulled away. “What’s your name?”

“What’s your name?”

“My name? Mycroft. Your turn.”

“My name? Mycroft.”

Mycroft sighed. “No, look. I am Mycroft.” He pointed at himself. “You are….?”

The man paused and then brought his hand to his chest. “Greg.”

Mycroft laughed. “How very English! Gregory? Gregory what?”

“What?” Greg cocked his head. “English?”

“Perhaps that was a bit too much. Gregory will do for now.” Mycroft shifted, wiping the water from his face. “How am I going to get down?”

“Down?” Greg asked.

Mycroft pointed far below. “Down.”

Greg stood, and reached out, grabbing Mycroft. “Down.” He jumped down, Mycroft clutching tight as he let out a wordless yelp, eyes squeezed shut.

“Mycroft.” Greg nudged him. “Down.”

Mycroft cracked one eye open. “Well. It would seem so.” He straightened up, sighing at the state of his suit as he tried to fix the sopping fabric. A shot rang out, and he gasped, looking up. “Ah! Clayton!”

“Clay-ton?” Greg imitated the noise of the shot.

“Yes, Clayton. Oh, Mummy will be terribly worried. Can you take me there?” Mycroft said, pointing in the direction that the shot had come from.

“Clayton.” Greg nodded, and lifted Mycroft in his arms again, reaching for a vine.

“Wait, wait! Can’t we just walk!” Mycroft yelped once more, clutching Greg as they swung through the forest.

“Clayton,” Greg said, setting Mycroft down only a few moments later.

Mycroft cleared his throat. “No. This is camp.” He turned around, and then gasped. “Gorillas!” He stared around, seeing the miscellaneous animals currently destroying the camp.

Greg dropped down onto the ground, making his way over, making careful noises as he did. One of the gorillas moved forward, responding in kind, and giving a huff, gesturing away as she sat back on her haunches. Greg went to reply, only to pause as a large silverback came into view from the trees, giving a low growl. Mycroft took a few paces backward, gasping as he did. The gorillas all backed away, disappearing into the trees with worried noises. Greg replied with a growl of his own, raising up to shield Mycroft, giving what seemed a loud explanation. The silverback snarled, and jerked his head toward the trees. Greg snorted, and fell back to his fists, bowing his head, slowly following the gorilla away.

“Gregory?” Mycroft said quietly. “You...you’re one of them.”

Greg paused, and looked over his shoulder at him. “Heart-beat. One of them?” he asked, cocking his head.

Mycroft simply blinked as there was another loud rifle shot. Greg quickly hurried into the trees, lost in the shadows of the leaves and vines once more.