Southernmost Murder -

Physical Proximity Coda

“Jun!” I exclaimed, waving excitedly and seeing my image in the lower corner of the computer screen blur.

“Hey, Indy,” he answered, smiling that totally cute, lopsided smile of his. Jun raked a hand through his black hair, briefly leaned out of the frame of his webcam, and appeared again with his glasses. He put them on and asked, “How’re you?”

“Fine.”

In all actuality… I was fucking devastated to not be in New York City for the holidays. I’d wanted to spend my first Christmas with Jun together. Not that we weren’t together—but I meant, in regards to physical proximity. The sad reality was, between Jun’s vacation to the Keys in March, and my brief visit up there in August, he’d used up most of his annual leave. And I’d already dipped into my sick days, which the board wasn’t too happy about. Jun could have probably gotten a few days approved to hop down for a quick Christmas with me on the island, but he had refused to inquire with his SAC.

“Let the agents with families get approved leave for the holidays,” he’d said.

And I hated that he was damn thoughtful.

“Aubrey?”

I shook my head and looked at the video on my laptop. Jun was staring, in that way he did when he didn’t believe a word I’d said but was giving me an opportunity to come clean.

“I miss you,” I said. I looked away and tugged absently on my gauged ear.

“I miss you too.”

“I wanted to be moved back to the city by now,” I continued. “If I’d known how big of a flop August was going to be… I would have saved those days for December. You know?”

“Life happens,” Jun said quietly.

“Shit happens,” I corrected, looking at the Skype feed again.

Jun leaned back in his bed.

Damn it. That was my bed.

I mean like, our bed.

At least it should be our bed.

“I want to be there with you,” I said, abhorred by how whiney that protest sounded. I smacked my forehead. “I’m sorry. I sound like such a crab.”

“Need a smoke?”

“No….” I sighed a little. “I’m just around tourists all day—being together. Makes me want to punch someone.”

The corners of Jun’s eyes crinkled as he smiled. “That’s not a typical response most people have.”

“Most people aren’t dating a guy like you,” I answered. “Who I only get to hug and kiss a few times a year.”

Jun’s smile softened—then disappeared completely. “Aubrey—”

I waved both hands. “I don’t mean it like that. I can do long distance. We’ve been doing it, right?”

“Right,” he said, very quietly.

“And once I can square away a job in New York…. It’s only, I don’t want some dead-end, soul-sucking—”

“Hey,” Jun interrupted. “When you find a position that can utilize your skills as a historian, that’s when you make the move back to New York. Don’t you dare settle for less.”

“Okay,” I murmured, looking down at my hands. I fiddled with the tentacle ring Jun had bought me back in March.

We were both silent.

But after no more than a minute, Jun asked, “What’s that sound?”

“Hmm?” I glanced at the computer, then at the window over my shoulder. “Oh. I’ve got a rooster nesting in the tree at night.” I waved my hand nonchalantly.

Jun chuckled. “Are we still on for movie night?”

“I guess….”

“All right.” Jun adjusted his laptop a bit. “Put on Die Hard—”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, Mr. FBI. Put on what?” I protested.

Jun cocked his head. “Die Hard. The first one. The only one that matters.”

“That is not a Christmas movie. How dare you.” I pointed accusingly at the screen.

“What did you have in mind, then?”

A Christmas Story! Come on. ‘You’ll shoot your eye out,’” I quoted.

Jun shook his head. “No.”

“Oh my God. This is the Indiana Jones argument all over again.” I crossed my arms and leaned back against the couch cushion. “Die Hard is not—”

“Sure it is. It’s Christmas Eve. Holiday party. Stopping the bad guys. What better gift from Santa than throwing Hans Gruber off the roof of the Nakatomi building.”

“You are such a man.”

Jun arched a brow and smiled that closed-mouth, sweet smile again. “Last I checked. Or I’ve been doing this gay thing all wrong.”

I grabbed a throw pillow and scream-laughed into it. He was still smiling when I looked at the computer again.

“Pick whatever you want, Indy.”

A Christmas Story.

We streamed it—laughing, eating snacks, and sitting in the dark not together—but almost so. The twinkly lights of my tree glowed from behind the couch, and while Jun didn’t have any decorations in his bedroom, he did have a lamp that shifted in subdued colors and almost gave off the same effect as Christmas lights.

When I fell asleep, Jun paused the movie and waited for me to wake up—quiet and patient as always. We’d rewind a bit and start over so that I never missed a scene from my favorite holiday movie. And when it ended, Jun said goodnight, that he loved me, and couldn’t wait to hold me again.

It wasn’t a perfect Christmas.

But still.

As Ralphie said, all is right with the world.

© 2015-2019 C.S. Poe