"Here, Jack?" Dr. Maturin cast his eyes around the sloping boulders. "We'd be hidden well enough."
"Oh, no, it's much too rocky. How about further down along that way?" Captain Aubrey held out his arm, pointing across to a patch of sand hidden in the brush.
Maturin reluctantly tore his eyes from the dashing, windblown figure before him and followed the pointing finger. "What--down in the mud? There'll be no excuse for the condition of our garments when we return to the ship."
"Nonsense, Stephen! We'll just say I fell, and you tripped over me."
"Young Lord Blakeney won't believe that."
"So?" Aubrey began to walk towards the spot he'd selected. "He may be an inquisitive little fellow, but he's in your pocket, Stephen. He'll come to you if he has any questions, and thank God for that."
"You think I have all the answers?" Maturin, despite his preference against intimacy in places that might result in dirt invading one's personal regions, was following his captain and dearest friend over the rocks anyway.
"In this case, you have the right ones, the ones he needs to hear," Aubrey explained, "so that he does not grow up with the prejudices against the act of love as we perform it that so many of our countrymen believe."
"It is a foolish law," Maturin grumbled meekly. "Oop!" He had tripped over the rocks and was careening sideways.
Aubrey caught him, of course, and was reluctant to let go. Instead, his arms tightened around the doctor possessively. In a soft, tender voice, he joked, "I thought you were supposed to be the one who's more comfortable on land."
"I'm fine," Maturin protested calmly. "I was only distracted."
"Distracted?" Aubrey turned his head from side to side in a mock search. "Why, dear Stephen, I see nothing here that could be of interest to you--no tortoises, no iguanas, not even a beetle. Whatever were you looking at?"
"A fine specimen of... male Homo sapiens."
Aubrey leaned in and kissed him. His mouth was rough and he tasted of salt, but it may well have been the caress of honey, so much did Dr. Maturin love him. He did like the roughness; Jack would not have been the same without his callused fingers and gruff voice. They were a product of all the other things that made him who he was. Maturin clung to him, rubbing his arms and shoulders as he kissed back heartily.
"Now, down in the sand before anyone sees us," Aubrey commanded. With the exuberance of schoolboys, they darted beyond the remainder of the rocks to the secluded patch of sand.
Maturin arranged himself as comfortably as he could upon the ground, and let Aubrey climb atop his body. He sighed as he felt Jack's weight bear in on him, and teased the back of Jack's neck underneath the tail of hair. "If you like, you can be on top, so your clothing won't get as dirty," Aubrey offered jovially.
"No, that's quite all right," Maturin gasped, quite in heaven. He wasn't moving out from underneath this delicious embrace for anything.
Aubrey began kissing him again, and he gave back with full ardor. Never mind that dear Jack was devouring his face with the inelegance of a hungry crewman at supper. Maturin held him close and savored the rare moment alone.
But then, through their passionate daze, the sensation crept up on them both that they were not alone at all. Aubrey froze instantly, and closed his eyes, praying to God that he was wrong. He could only hope that whichever crewman had stumbled upon the captain and doctor deep in a lover's tangle would be sympathetic enough to keep their secret. Even though their clothing had yet to be unfastened, His Majesty's Navy had rules forbidding such activities...
Stephen was chuckling. "Jack! Jack, look up. Will you not open your eyes? Whatever are you afraid of?"
"We have not been discovered?" Jack asked in an infinitesimal whisper.
"Well, that we have, Joy," Stephen said with a smirk, "but not by any who might have reason to care."
"What?" Jack opened his eyes. His mouth followed, stunned with the sight that greeted them.
Surrounding them were three giant land tortoises, lumbering about like boulders come to life. They circled the little patch of dirt, slowly investigating the newcomers. "Are they of any danger to us?" Aubrey asked.
"No, not at all; they are the most docile of creatures," Maturin answered distractedly. He was staring at the tortoises in rapt attention.
"Good! Then we can return to the pleasures of the afternoon." Aubrey began nuzzling Maturin's jawline.
Maturin managed to tear his attention from the tortoises. "Well, I suppose it's only natural that, after all the observations and measurements I've been taking on them, that they should be just as curious about us," he said, before his mouth found other employment.
Author's note: The ironic thing is that today, I have to hand in a statistics assignment in which the data set was all about land tortoises in the Galapagos. Weird! ^_^