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Galapagos Islands

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[backdated to Fall, 2019; follows a couple days after this]

"The sea lions are very curious creatures," their guide says in thickly-accented English, pitching his voice to be heard over the boat's engine. "They may swim right up to you while you're snorkeling. If they do, don't worry. Just stay still and let them check you out, and they'll swim away on their own. Do not try to touch them."

"No touching, got it," KJ murmurs to Logan with a flash of a grin. He's excited. They've seen so much fantastic wildlife on their trip already - including that unplanned close-up encounter with the dolphins - and today is sure to be another gem of an experience.

Logan grins back, snorkelling gear in hand, equally excited at the prospect of swimming with the sea lions. "And stay clear of the bulls," he murmurs to his lover.

"Right." KJ is a little nervous about the bulls, just going by some of the stories he's heard. But here in a supervised group they should be fine, he knows. He looks over his shoulder out at the water as the boat slows its approach, taking them into a small inlet teeming with fish.

Logan fits his mask and snorkel into place and pulls his fins on. He sits up on the side of the boat, gives KJ a thumbs up and rolls backwards into the water.

Getting his own gear on, KJ pauses only to watch Logan surface. Then slips in too with a splash. The water is a little warmer than he was expecting, and he dives down through a school of colorful fish.

They're only in for about two minutes when something small but definitely not a fish flashes past Logan. He rights himself, watching for it, and sure enough it passes again and he almost squeals in excitement. Christ. He looks around, taps KJ on the shoulder and points.

KJ's eyes widen with delight behind his mask. The penguin isn't even two feet long, and it zooms back and forth in front of them like it knows it's putting on a show. Part of KJ wishes he had an underwater camera with which he could capture this. But the rest of him is happy to fully dwell in enjoying the moment.

They watch the penguin until it disappears before surfacing, Logan pulling his snorkel from his mouth. "That was incredible. He was so close," he enthuses. "We could have reached right out and touched him." Not that they would've but god it's tempting.

"They're so fucking cute!" KJ says quietly, wary of some kids swimming nearby. "I didn't know they'd be so little!"

"I think they're the second smallest kind and they're the only ones north of the equator," Logan says before realizing that once again he's giving away what a fucking nerd he is at heart.

But KJ just grins, adoring as always. He looks past Logan's shoulder and the blood drains from his face. "I think that's a shark."

Logan turns to look, staying as still as possible. "The guide said there's only white-tipped reef sharks here, they shouldn't have any interest in us," he says, hoping their guide was right. "But our penguin friend had better made himself scarce."

"I reckon." KJ fits his mouthpiece back into place and ducks underwater once more. The shark is maybe five feet long, and further away than it first seemed in the crystal-clear water. It darts into what looks like a cave in the reef, and he decides that's just fine with him.

Logan follows suit, happy when they get to see another two or three penguins - it's hard to tell if they're the same ones or different - and a whole bunch of fish. The water's cold though, cold enough that the chill starts to seep through their wetsuits, Logan's fingers and feet having lost most feeling before he finally surfaces for good.

KJ is disappointed, though. He'd been holding out for some curious sea lions... But their guide is calling everyone back to the boat, so with a last dive underwater, he swims back over to board once more.

"Now we will go to the beach," their guide tells them. "Leave your flippers and snorkels here, do not touch the sea lions, if a bull chases you, leave the water, and we have forty-five minutes until we have to return to the boat."

Pulling off his gear, KJ glances back over his shoulder to see if there's a last peek to be had. "It really is so beautiful here," he murmurs to Logan, marveling at the gorgeous clear day.

"It's incredible," Logan agrees, taking a few pictures before he puts his phone back into his dry bag. "I wish we could spend longer. Do another week on the other side."

"Yeah, but... Next week, Peru," KJ reminds him with a grin. "Machu Picchu, Lima, the rainforest... It's hard not to be excited about that."

"True," Logan says. There's always something equally fantastic to move on to. "Maybe we can come back someday..."

"Definitely," KJ agrees. He ducks his head closer to try and give them a modicum of privacy. "Have I mentioned lately how happy I am that I'm not touring South America on my own? You're my favorite traveling companion."

"Have you had other travelling companions?" Logan teases, smiling.

"Not many. But you know that," KJ murmurs. "My mum, my mate, and you."

"And I beat both of them?" Logan's eyes sparkle as he continues the tease.

"Yes," KJ says softly, as if it's a great secret.

Logan stares at KJ for a moment. "God, I wish I could kiss you right now," he whispers.

KJ's eyes widen, and he smiles. Glances around at their fellow tourists and murmurs, "Me too."

"They're nice people and they probably wouldn't care but I don't want to risk it," Logan says. Not when they still have three more days with the folk. He nudges his knee against KJ's instead.

With a smile, KJ nudges back, and feels warmer than just the beautiful sunshine is cause for. He stashes his gear in a mesh bag to be dried properly later and stares over his shoulder for a last glimpse of the reef.

It takes them a couple more minutes to reach the beach, crowds of sea lions parting to let the boat through. From there it's a jump from the prow onto the sand, several of their fellow tourists stumbling despite help from their guide. Logan and KJ, used to disembarking in all sorts of conditions, make their exits with ease and Logan turns to help the guide with the last few members of their group.

"Okay, wow, now this is amazing," KJ says with a look around. A bull bellows out and another returns the call, and KJ laughs. "Holy god, they are loud."

"And big," Logan says, hoping they can stay far, far away from the bulls. "Really big," he repeats, eyeing the animals as they make their way into the water, several pups frolicking nearby.

KJ keeps a wary eye on the bulls as well, stepping into the shallows. He turns to float on his back, squinting against the sun and reflecting that all their sunblock is probably long gone by now. But it's worth it.

Logan follows suit, floating happily on his back, his fingers brushing the tip of KJ's occasionally, when suddenly something passes under him, moving fast and hard enough to lift him up from the water. He yelps - Christ, it can't be described as anything else - then laughs as he realizes it was only a pup - a big pup, but a pup nonetheless - flipping to his feet, his heart racing. "Holy shit..."

"Wha--? Whoa!" KJ snaps to his feet as well, and cracks up as much at the look on Logan's face as at their sudden predicament. "Oh my god!" Totally charmed, he lets himself sink up to his neck, watching the pups play with each other.

"If they're that strong, I really don't want to get anywhere near one of the bulls," Logan says, amused, glancing at where one of the bulls is making his way into the water.

"No. I think even for you that would be a short contest," KJ says with a grin. He bursts into laughter when another calf nudges his feet, and blinks to find himself face-to-face with it.

Logan laughs too, watching the pup check KJ out, thoroughly enjoying the interaction before a bellow comes from behind him, the bull headed their way. Christ. "Get out," he yells at KJ, motioning him towards the shore.

"Oh shit." KJ risks only one look back before taking Logan's advice and hauling ass to the sand, his lover right behind him. For a long moment it seems it's not good enough, and the bull is still coming after them -- but with a last warning bellow he finally slips back into the water. KJ collapses into the sand and dissolves into laughter, the adrenaline rush slow to dissipate.

"I'm glad you found that funny," Logan says, but he's grinning too. "I thought for sure he was going to take a chunk out of my ass."

"This whole thing is awesome!" KJ exclaims, smiling at his lover. He sits up and very nearly throws his arms around Logan before he catches himself. And shoots him a wink instead.

Logan grins back, nudging the leg of KJ's wetsuit with his toes. Whatever contact they can make. "Do we dare go back in?" he teases, already rising to his feet,

"Absolutely. Just don't try to compete with them this time, you dominant male, you," KJ teases right back. He stands up and brushes sand from his damp suit, then wades back into the shallows.

"You were the one playing with the babies," Logan points out, kidding, following KJ into the water, the bulls now busy terrifying other members of their group.

They swim out a bit again, but have no more encounters quite so close. It's fun just watching the sea lions though, and KJ feels his face ache from all the smiling he's doing. Their tour guide gives them a good thirty minutes, then herds them back to the boat, and KJ finds himself reaching for Logan again. Pulling back self-consciously and with a flash of envy for the het couple with their arms wrapped around each other. He doesn't mind their PDA, really, he minds... Yeah, he minds.

It's easy enough to guess what KJ's thinking and Logan feels the same way. Thank god most of their trip is by themselves on their own boat where they can touch each other all they want. But to be able to touch each other in public, just to hold hands or kiss, and not have to worry about someone freaking out on them or worse... Logan suspects it's not something they'll see in their lifetime.

* * *

Back on the boat, dinner is waiting for them, and KJ blesses gods large and small at the aromas as he hadn't even realized how hungry he was. They freshen up in their cabin and then join the other passengers in the dining room set off the galley. Since the first night KJ and Logan have been paired with two other couples at the table, one from Germany and one from Korea. KJ isn't certain whether his "just friends" vibe has really played off at all, but at any rate, the other couples don't seem to mind that he and Logan are together in any suspicion-raising friendly capacity.

Dinner's delicious but Leon jokes that whatever they don't eat will be turned into the 'punishment soup' of tomorrow, the boat only able to carry so much food for a week and unwilling to waste a scrap. Logan laughs and nudges KJ's shoulder, the two of them exchanging a smile that's maybe a bit more of a giveaway than they intend as he looks back to see Chul watching them closely. "Did you guys enjoy the snorkelling today?" he asks him.

"Yes, very much. We saw a penguin," Chul says, beaming at his wife.

"We did, too! Weren't they cute?" KJ exclaims, and sips at his water. "One of my favorite things about this trip is how much wildlife we've been seeing."

"Galapagos is all about the wildlife," says Ji-Woo, Chul's wife. "What do you want to see the most?" she asks.

"The sea lions were high on my list. That was pretty incredible today. Thought I was going to lose Logan for a minute there," KJ says with a grin for his lover.

Logan grins back.

Her eyes widen. "Yes, they chased us too."

Andrea chimes in. "The one was so close to us, I could feel his breath on my backside."

"Last week we got to swim with dolphins," KJ tells them. "It wasn't planned, they found us."

"Dolphins!" Andrea looks to her husband, Leon, like it's his fault they haven't seen any. "I'm so envious. This was right off your boat?"

"Yeah. It was a real stroke of luck. I'm looking forward to seeing the tortoises tomorrow," KJ replies. "Are you all headed back home after this week?"

Chul nods but Leon volunteers that they're here for another week, doing the other circuit of islands. "What about you?" he asks. "Where to next?"

"South," KJ answers, "we're going a ways more south. Then we'll sell the boat and fly to New Zealand to see my family," he adds, not even thinking about the intimacy he's revealing with those simple words.

Andrea nods. "Have you met his family?" she asks Logan, familiar enough with the boat to know the two men are sharing a cabin with one bed. Which could be all they were able to get but with the glances and 'vibe' between them, she's fairly certain they're a couple.

"I've met his sister," Logan answers, steeling himself a little when he adds, "She came to visit us in L.A. a little while back."

"Yeah," KJ agrees. What? he's thinking, because that clue was obvious even to him.

"What do you do for work that you're able to get away this long?" Leon asks bluntly, unable to contain his curiosity.

"I'm retired military, private security," Logan supplies. It's not the first time they've had to field the question.

"And I'm on holiday," KJ explains. "I'll have to find work soon." He smiles. "But not until after Christmas."

The rest of dinner goes smoothly, followed up by an hour in the lounge with drinks and a small talk about the next day's itinerary, it becoming quite clear that the rest of their travelling companions have at least guessed at their relationship status and don't seem to give a shit. It really shouldn't matter either way but Logan finds himself feeling more relaxed and he doesn't bother trying to keep the usual amount of space between him and KJ where they're sitting on the couch. It also makes him look a lot more forward to the rest of the week. He might not be able to out and out kiss KJ or even hold his hand but at least he doesn't have to worry about giving them away or coming to blows with someone.

KJ's well aware of the shift in Logan's mood. He's not looking for a big display of PDA either. But this, the closeness, the acceptance -- he surprisingly finds himself choking up a little.

"You okay?" Logan asks softly, aware of the change in KJ.

"Yeah. Yeah, of course," KJ says and manages a smile.

"Want to call it a night?"

The agreement this time is more genuine, KJ's heart in his eyes.

"It's another early morning tomorrow," Logan says, rising to his feet, nodding at the couples in turn. "We're going to grab some shut-eye."

KJ gives the general room a smile, right behind Logan. His lover unlocks the door to their small cabin and KJ steps inside, waiting only until the door is shut before he reaches for Logan.

Logan wraps his arms around KJ and kisses him thoroughly. "It was driving me crazy not touching you," he whispers.

KJ agrees with a little whimper of need, rubbing himself against Logan. His emotions are a convoluted mess right now, but he's sure of Logan, of desire and physical need.

Logan draws back just enough to pull his shirt off and do the same for KJ, pressing skin against skin as he kisses him again and again, backing him up against their bed.

God, that feels good. KJ smooths his hands over Logan's shoulders, down the powerful muscles of his back to his waist. He slips his hand inside Logan's shorts to cup his cock, beginning to stroke.

"Oh fuck," Logan breathes, biting at KJ's mouth, his cock speared through the circle of his boy's fingers.

"Fuck me," KJ whispers, jerking his lover to hardness. "Please. Fuck me. It doesn't have to be rough. Just..."

"I know," Logan nods, groaning at how good KJ's hand feels and brushing their lips together. He pushes KJ's shorts down. "Bed."

Letting him go, KJ kicks off his shorts and scoots back on the bed. He lies back and stretches his arms out, welcoming Logan into them.

Logan's shorts join the pile on the floor and he crawls onto the bed, draping himself over KJ, making room for himself between his lover's thighs.

Yes yes yes, KJ thinks, because he's gone without since yesterday, god, and he needs Logan inside him.

Even though KJ's prepped, there's not a chance Logan's going to risk hurting him. He reaches into the small bedside drawer for the lube he stashed there earlier and slicks his fingers and cock, slicking KJ's hole with his fingers before lining up and slowly pushing in.

KJ sinks his teeth into his bottom lip, barring a groan from escaping. It feels so good, so good, as his body adjusts around his lover's girth, filling up a hole that ached with emptiness. "Please," he whispers again, wrapping his arms around Logan.

"Please what?" Logan whispers back, licking into KJ's mouth, sinking deep, as deep as he can go.

"Please... this," KJ answers, and moans lowly when Logan starts to move. Each thrust spills a shower of sparks through him. "God yes, exactly this."

"You have permission," Logan tells him, kissing along KJ's jaw and down his throat as he sets up a steady rhythm. "Whenever you want."

"And ever and ever and...?" KJ inhales sharply at a kiss. "Oh, god. Logan," he whispers. Snakes a hand between them to drive his fingernail into his nipple. He bucks beneath his lover, coming in a hot rush and quaking around Logan's cock.

The clench of KJ's body puts him so fucking close but Logan waits until his muscles ease and starts moving again, taking things nice and slow, rocking into KJ again and again. "I love you," he whispers. "I love you so much."

KJ whimpers softly, lifting his legs to wrap around his lover. "I love you," he gasps, slipping his hand into Logan's hair and holding him for a kiss.

"You're mine," Logan whispers, licking into KJ's mouth. "You're my everything." His soul laid bare as he buries himself in KJ's body.

"Everything," KJ whispers, clinging tightly as his lover moves deep inside him. He arches beneath Logan, scratching down his back.

"Oh, god," Logan breathes, his cock throbbing violently inside KJ. "I'm gonna come."

Lifting his head, KJ fixes his mouth to Logan's throat and sucks.

Fuck. That does it. Logan's climax slams into him and he floods KJ's hole with his seed, his groan muffled in his boy's hair.

Goddamn KJ loves this, loves feeling that searing wet rush deep inside him, like Logan can really reach out and touch his core. He wraps himself around his lover, cradling him, feeling last shivers of pleasure move through Logan's body.

"Jesus," Logan whispers, shattered, burying his face in KJ's hair now. "You're incredible."

KJ smiles and strokes Logan's back. "You make me feel that way," he whispers.

Logan lifts his head, staring down at KJ, the moonlight peeking through the blinds. "Marry me," he says softly, heart beating a mile a minute. "In New Zealand, or when we get home, or wherever you want, but I want you to be my husband. I can't imagine my life without you and I don't want to."

KJ's breath catches in surprise. "Marriage..." he says quietly, trailing off and trying to think. "That's not a big change in level of commitment for me," he says honestly. "What does it mean to you?"

In the face of that question Logan stills. "I don't know," he says softly, after a moment, the whole thing having come from emotion not logic. "I just... I want the whole world to know we're together and I want us to have all the rights you get when you're married and I just..." fuck. "What I feel for you is so big and maybe it's stupid, but I want the piece of paper, I want the recognition."

"It's not stupid," KJ demurs, stroking Logan's hair. He catches his lover's eye, feeling the sea shift beneath them. "Yes," he says firmly. "I'd love to marry you."

And with that Logan kisses KJ, everything he's feeling poured into that meeting of mouths.

KJ could melt into nothingness, he's sure, so hot is Logan's kiss. He splays his hand across Logan's back, trying to tell his lover how he feels with everything he is.

"I love you," Logan whispers, needing KJ to hear those words as well. Wanting to shout them from the nearest rooftops. Let the whole world know.

"I love you too," KJ whispers back with a smile. "But maybe... you could ask me again?" he suggests. "Sometime when we haven't just had sex, maybe."

Logan laughs and kisses KJ again before easing out and dropping down beside him. "Definitely. I'll do a proper proposal next time."