Southernmost Murder -

Gachapon Coda

Jun crouched beside his rolling suitcase. "I brought you something."

I crossed my arms and smirked. "Really? Weren't you in Tokyo for badass government work? I don't think your SAC would be happy knowing you were shopping for your boyfriend while on the clock."

Jun stood and offered a small plastic bag. "Hush. I wasn't shopping. I ran into a konbini to grab something for dinner late one night. They had a capsule machine that caught my attention."

I gave Jun my best skeptical expression, but took the bag and looked inside. It was full of those plastic egg containers like from American vending machines—you know, after begging mom for fifty cents, your prize turns out to be some really screwed up and creepy cheapo toy, or plastic jewelry that's broken before you even get a chance to put it on.

But still. I'd humor Jun. Maybe they were different in Japan.

I reached inside, removed one of the containers at random, and popped it open. Inside was a printout written in Japanese, featuring pictures of half a dozen toy octopuses in different colors, all performing unique acts. I looked at the actual toy inside the capsule then, and distantly acknowledged the childish cry of delight that'd escaped me.

It was a blue octopus on a keychain holding a sushi tray and knife in its tentacles.

"I wanted to get you the napping octopus," Jun explained, leaning close to tap the picture in question. "It's cute."

I looked up, grinning widely. "Because I nap a lot?"

The corner of Jun's mouth upturned a little. "And because you're cute."

I held up the bag and shook it. "How many are in here?"

"Seventeen."

I reached in for another, popped it open, and revealed an octopus with happy eyes, holding a fish. I put it back in the bag and started rummaging around, realizing there were several duplicates. "You... couldn't get that one to come out of the machine?" I hazard to guess.

"I did eventually. It's in there."

"How much money did you spend on this endeavor?"

Jun was thoughtful, calculating. "About forty dollars."

"Holy shit, Jun."

"They're two dollars each. And there's the currency exchange rate to consider."

I lowered the bag, reached out with my free hand, and took the back of his neck. "You're so sweet." I pulled Jun down to kiss. "Thank you. They're fucking adorable."

"I may have gotten a bit carried away."

"I wish I could have seen a big man in a suit frustratingly handing over fistfuls of money to a toy box at midnight in a convenience store."

"It was a show for the clerk."

"I bet."

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