Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
With apologies to Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Jungle Love 1
He hid in the branches, and watched.
She walked alone through the jungle, fighting her way through the thick underbrush. She wore a thin garment, but it hung in tatters from her, exposing large amounts of pale skin. Golden hair tumbled down her back, tangled and snarled with leaves, yet somehow still managing to glow in the sunlight that filtered through the dense canopy of trees.
He was impressed by her courage, the way she walked with her chin up and her shoulders squared, despite the myriad dangers of the jungle. He'd discovered long ago that Sabor's claws couldn't penetrate his skin. But he also knew that he was an exception to the rule, that the apes he'd lived with for so many years could be injured or killed. And the red, raw scratches and welts marring her skin bore mute testimony to the fact that she was like the apes, not like him.
She was fragile.
She was like him, and yet... she wasn't.
He watched her through the dense growth of leaves. She had no idea he was up here. He could leap on her like Sabor, leap on her and bear her to the earth and...
A strange, shuddering sensation went through his body at the thought, for no reason that he could discern. Impatiently, he pushed it away.
He would not leap on her like a predator. Even so, he couldn't possibly let her get away. She might not be exactly like him, but she was the closest he had yet found, so much more like him than the apes were. She might, perhaps, be a clue to his origins.
At any rate, he wanted very much to speak with her.
And to touch her.
Drawn by an impulse he couldn't fight, he leapt gently to the ground, right in front of her.
She froze. Her gaze roved over his entirely naked form, from head to toe, and her eyes widened.
"Oh, my," she said.
No one had warned her that there were gods in the jungle.
Wild animals, yes. Savage men, yes. But she hadn't expected to meet a god.
She supposed her father would categorize this... this apparition... as a savage man. Certainly no civilized man would show himself to a woman this way, as naked as the day he was born and utterly unashamed of it. But then again, gods were noted for going about unclothed, too.
He was a giant, taller than any man she knew, and his dark hair fell, tangled and matted, past his shoulders. His skin was bronzed, and beneath it bulging muscles rolled and rippled with every slight movement of his body. He loomed over her, huge and imposing.
She should be afraid. She knew that. But one look into his gentle green eyes reassured her that this man-god meant her no harm, despite her own disheveled and near-naked state. Her heart pounded rapidly in her chest-- but, she thought, with excitement rather than fear.
"Uh," she said, and then tossed her head impatiently at her own stammering. "I am Chloe Sullivan."
He stared at her, unblinking, and made no response. Something about the look in his eyes-- not lustful, but very aware-- reminded her that she'd left her ankle-length gown behind in the ocean, having struggled out of it in order to not be pulled down by the heavy folds. She wore nothing but a flimsy, tattered shift, much of which had been torn away by thorns and branches. She had the sudden desire to cover her breasts with her hands, but she resisted the impulse. She sighed, and held out her hand.
"Chloe," she repeated.
He reached out, hesitantly, and took her hand, which was all but swallowed up in his. He turned her hand over, looking at it, studying it, as if he'd never seen another human before.
"Chlo. Eeee," he repeated.
She smiled despite the nervous pounding of her heart. "That's right. What is your name?"
He blinked at her, cocking his head on one side, and she sighed again. Of course he didn't speak English. One would hardly expect a naked man-god in the depths of the African jungle to speak English. She pointed to her chest, and repeated, "Chloe."
He looked at her thoughtfully for a moment. She could practically see the intelligence glimmering in his eyes. At last he placed his own hand on his chest.
"Kllllrrrrk," he said.
It was a strange sound, something like an animalistic growl, the sort of noise a dog might make while crouching over a bone. She couldn't begin to reproduce it, so she chose the closest equivalent that she knew. "Clark," she said, pointing to his chest.
He looked at her a moment longer, then broke into a brilliant, beaming smile.
"Clark," he agreed.
"There was a mutiny," she said, walking beside him. She knew he couldn't understand her, but she had never been one for silence. She'd been here alone all day, and the vastness of the jungle, the lack of human voices, frightened her. She felt the need to fill the emptiness with words. "The sailors took over the vessel we were traveling to Africa on, and put my father and I onto one of the lifeboats. I should be grateful they didn't kill us, I suppose. But..."
She heard her voice quaver, and paused, trying to regain control. "A wave overturned the boat during the night," she went on, more steadily. " I swam until I found land, just as the sun rose this morning. I don't know what happened to my father, but I suppose-- I suppose..."
She trailed off. The giant beside her sent her a look of sympathy. She guessed that her grief was evident in her voice, and that he understood her tone, if not her words.
He responded in a long stream of growling that she imagined might be a language, of a primitive sort. But she couldn't understand it, any more than he could understand her speech.
"My mother told me I came to the jungle in a green rain," he said. "A rain that tore down trees and cut great gashes into the jungle. My mother was a great ape, and she wasn't my mother, not really. But she protected me from Kerchak, the leader of the apes, and that allowed me to grow up. As I grew up, I developed great strength and speed, until I could defeat anything in the jungle, even Kerchak. I no longer had anything to fear from any creature. I could have been the leader of the apes, but when my mother died of old age, I discovered I had no stomach to remain amongst the apes. And so I ventured out into the jungle to seek my own kind. I have wandered far, and you are the first I have seen. The very first."
As he finished his speech, he glanced at her and saw her staring at him blankly. Of course she did not speak the language of the apes. He hadn't expected her to. He simply wanted to talk. It had been a moon and more since he'd had any company at all.
And he had never had the company of someone like himself.
He looked at her for a long moment, admiring the bright, inquisitive hazel eyes, the wide mouth that smiled so readily, and the curves of her body, unlike his own and yet somehow very attractive.
"You are beautiful, Chlo-eee," he said.
She caught her name, at the end of his growled words, and offered him a hesitant smile. Something in that smile, in her eyes, caught at his heart.
He had never cared overmuch for any of the apes besides his mother. He had never formed an emotional attachment to any living creature other than the gentle she-ape who had cared for him. But this girl, so like himself, made something deep inside him come alive for the first time. Suddenly he could not bear the thought of ever losing her. He wanted her beside him, always.
But she was fragile, far too fragile to survive alone in this wild jungle. She was utterly defenseless, and could not hope to protect herself against Sabor, or the apes, or any of the other wild creatures that populated the area.
He realized that for the first time, he had a true purpose in his life.
"I will protect you," he told her.
Working together, they made a rough shelter of vines and sticks. Clark, as she'd dubbed him, had no need for such a thing, but he could see that she did. The many scratches and scrapes marring her pale skin were a clear reminder of her fragility. She would never survive a night in the jungle unprotected.
When the shelter was completed, he brought her a dinner of mushrooms and fruit. She devoured it eagerly, smiling in thanks, and then lay down in the shelter as the night fell. The moon had risen, casting a silvery light over the world. He stretched himself across the open front of the shelter, protecting her, and she stared at him as if surprised.
He wondered what she had expected from him, if she had feared that he would attempt to rut with her as the bull apes did with their mates. Deep inside, he wanted to do just that, and yet he also knew that she was no ape. They were neither of them animals, and he would not treat her so.
He offered her a gentle, reassuring smile, then rolled over, facing out into the jungle.
Chloe couldn't fall asleep. The strange, almost alien sounds of the jungle seemed much more frightening in the darkness. She occasionally hear the purring growl of a great cat, stalking its prey, and the sound made her shudder.
She looked at the massive back of her protector, his heavy musculature gilded by the moonlight, and tried to reassure herself. She was safe. He would protect her.
And yet she was afraid.
She was, she thought, more than just afraid. Her home was lost to her, she would likely never see her father again, and she was alone, all alone, in this thick, dark jungle, with only this man for company. A man who couldn't speak, who could only growl and gesture.
A man whose green eyes spoke as eloquently as any spoken language could.
She closed her own eyes as tears welled up. In one terrible day, she had lost everything. Since struggling out of the water and rising unsteadily to her feet on the beach this morning, she'd been too busy, too focused on survival, to weep for all that she had lost.
But now, she had time to cry.
Tears rolled down her cheeks, and she sobbed, almost silently. But as quiet as she was, it wasn't quiet enough. She'd thought him asleep, but he rolled over and looked at her. She saw the concern wrinkling his forehead.
"I'm sorry." She forced the words out past the constriction in her throat. "My father-- and my home--"
He stared at her for a long moment, then moved toward her, very carefully, and put a comforting arm around her.
She buried her face in his chest, and sobbed for all she had lost.
Asleep in his arms, she felt more fragile than ever. He was aware of his body's automatic response to her nearness, but he refused to let it dictate his actions. She had trusted him enough to fall asleep in his arms, and he would not betray her trust.
Like him, she was all alone here. When he'd found himself alone in the jungle, so long ago, his mother had taken him in and protected him until he was strong enough to protect himself. He could do no less for Chlo-eee.
She was his now.
And he was hers.
He closed his eyes and slept, Chlo-eee in his arms.