Part the Fourth—
“And, love, if your wings are broken / Borrow mine ‘til yours can open, too / Cuz I’m gonna stand by you”
—“Stand By You,” Rachel Platten
Every Saturday, Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido would leave work at exactly three in the afternoon to meet Juliana Crain after her aikido practice. It was her one day off from the Nippon Building and she took full advantage of her training, and he would always meet her. They had been seeing each other for two months and since that day in the alley, they had done nothing more than share looks and exchange small gifts.
A hair comb, red lipstick, flowers.
Small tokens of affection that could be explained away.
“I have located,” he stated carefully after a few minutes of silence, “an apartment in a favorable district that I think would meet your approval, Misaki-chan,” he told her, using his nickname for her. She had come in one day with flower petals in her hair and the name had struck him.
“The Trade Minister is generous,” she answered, “however, without a roommate I doubt I could afford even the most inexpensive of apartments.”
His lips curled, “Mr. Frink, it would appear, afforded that hovel he called a home on his pay from the factory. I am certain you are being more than adequately compensated. However, Juliana, I did not mean that you would be financially responsible.”
She looked up at him in shock. “Chief Inspector—”
“I think, for this conversation, I must at least be ‘Takeshi-san.’ I am asking you to be my mistress, Misaki-chan.”
Juliana stilled and then took a careful sip of tea. “Takeshi-san,” she began carefully. “I have not had favorable experiences with men.”
“You mean Mr. Frink,” he determined solemnly, looking away from her. “We are a hard race, it is true. We conquer other nations, other empires, as easily as you breathe, Juliana. I will not pretend. That does not mean that we are not respectful to our women.”
“I would never think you were not respectful,” she answered in a calm voice although her hand was shaking. She quickly hid it in her lap, but not fast enough. Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido noticed it.
Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido considered for a moment. “Do you wish to be reassured, Misaki-chan? Do you wish me to take you to my home this once?” He leaned carefully toward her to try to read her expression.
“I would never presume,” she began, but he cut her off.
“Presume.” His voice was unyielding and she looked up at him, her hair with that odd red sheen falling in front of her eyes.
She blinked at him and then nodded.
It had been raining when they left and when they passed an alley, she had pulled him in and pulled him up against a wall, their eyes locking. His umbrella was tilted at an angle as her back was up against the bricks and so her hair was being soaked by rain, but she didn’t seem to mind.
She leaned forward carefully, her eyes searching his, and then he had kissed her. At first it had been hesitant, but then he had dropped the umbrella, and he was pushing her shoulders against the wall, his lips seeking hers as he kissed her again and again, sloppily and in a hurried way he had never before experienced. As she reached up on her toes, he let his right hand slide up her long neck and tilt her jaw up.
Soon her mouth was opening invitingly and he slipped his tongue between her lips and they were warring for supremacy and she was the epitome of wanton beauty—there—in the rain. His wife had never kissed him like this: Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido had never experienced such passion, and all this with a girl from the Pacific States.
Even if he hadn’t had offered already, he would have urged her to come home with him that night. When he entered his apartment, he immediately called the office and said he was working on a lead out in the city and would be back at work the next day.
Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido could tell she was afraid when he first stripped her of her wet garments, but when he ran his hands over her and kissed her shoulder, she shivered, and soon she was turning in his arms and her bare breasts were pressed against his naked chest. Within a few hurried movements they were a tangle of limbs and heated touches, and Juliana laughed when they almost fell before they made it to his bed.
When she slept and he could finally drag himself away from her, he called and secured the apartment. Juliana had moved in less than a week later.
He made love to her for days to the point where he knew her family would be looking for her although she showed up promptly for work each day. If the Trade Minister ever suspected anything, he never remarked on it.
And Juliana was beautiful. Her skin flushed pink when she blushed. Freckles spattered against her stomach and he loved to trace them with his tongue, which made her giggle. Her blue eyes were entrancing and sometimes he would just stare into them, wondering at the secrets they held.
He breathed in her natural smell and bought her cherry blossom perfume that she sprayed on her wrists and in her long hair.
Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido kept their affair discreet. He did buy her dresses in the finest silks, imported lipsticks, and would go to dinner with her when both their schedules would allow. However, he never took her to government functions. The kempeitai kept records of government officials and their mistresses and, with annoyance, he assigned his own case to his direct subordinate.
His wife would never know. His life with his family and his life in the Pacific States was separate. Apart from the first time he was with Juliana, he never brought her to his home. He met her exclusively at her apartment or at a neutral location.
He would sometimes see her when he visited the Nippon Building and they would not acknowledge each other except for a meeting of the eyes. He would always come visit her those nights, tracing the scars on her back to remind himself that she belonged to him and that he would keep her safe from all outside forces.
Now, all these years later with Juliana an empire away, a request came across his desk and he picked it up. It was from a kempeitai employee, Arnold Walker. He had put in a request for any information on his stepdaughter, Juliana Crain.
That would prove difficult.
He set it aside to be denied—for now. The less said about Juliana with Trudy Walker, a suspected Resistance member, in the family, the better.
Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido took a deep breath.
He looked at his calendar. Within three months his wife should be dead. Juliana just had to survive until then. Kido had already packed her personal belongings from her apartment and moved them to his own home for when she returned to him. He hung up her dresses, put out her cosmetics. He knew he was being sentimental, but he had finally admitted to himself and to her that he loved her. This was also, he believed, a love that the great Japanese poets wrote songs about.
It was with this in mind that he had a photograph he had found in Juliana’s apartment—that he hadn’t even known had been taken—placed in his personal office. It was of the two of them taking tea together a few weeks after he had first taken her as his mistress as she was not wearing the bracelet, and they were looking at each other over their cups of tea. There was an unmistakable affection in their gazes that could barely be hidden by his professional façade. He thought, perhaps, that Juliana had paid another customer to snap a photograph of them. It was the type of thing she would do. Without having to pay rent or buy her own clothes or cosmetics, she would certainly have enough for that particular indulgence.
He was glad now. He had this small piece of her.
Soon they would be together, he promised himself. Soon.
Joe Blake sat in the living room as Obergruppenfuhrer—“Call me John”—Smith handed him a whiskey. There seemed to be a strange chill in the air that he couldn’t quite identify. When Joe had met Alexa, John had clearly been fond of her. Joe couldn’t figure out if it was as a daughter or as a potential wife. If he was confused, he was certain the poor girl was as well considering that she wasn’t even from the American Reich.
Now they were polite but Joe would say that John was almost angry.
“We got a call from the Pacific States,” Thomas, the son, told him conspiratorially. “Something happened all over some Japanese phrase Alexa used.”
Oh, well, that only partially explained it. “Was it ‘God save the Sun God’? That’s a bit redundant, come to think of it.”
“No,” Thomas added, but then Alexa came over and sat down with her glass of wine.
The doorbell rang and Joe looked at Alexa in confusion. “Do you have another guest?”
“Not that I know of,” she answered.
John had gone to the door and he looked honestly surprised before accepting what seemed to be a box holding a bottle. He came in with it and then put down his glass of scotch. “It seems, Alexa, that someone has sent you a bottle of plum wine with compliments of the Imperial Embassy. I think we might guess who the sender is considering just a few hours ago.” He certainly sounded disgruntled.
Alexa instantly smiled and stood up. “I love plum wine,” she exclaimed. “I think I’ll have a glass with dinner to mark it as a special occasion, and then at whoever’s birthday is next.” She opened it and her smile grew.
“I take it it’s your favorite,” John drawled. “Is this what we are to expect? Telephone calls from government officials on National Holidays? Private deliveries of Japanese delicacies? Am I going to be receiving visits at my office checking up on your welfare?”
The two were staring at each other.
Joe took a sip of his whiskey to hide his embarrassment.
“Why don’t you just forbid him, then?” she questioned. “What do you care what my position is in the Pacific States? It’s honorary at this point as I’m no longer there.”
“You were sent here to be a proper Aryan wife. That cannot happen if one of the most powerful men in the Japanese military is sending you gifts and love notes.”
That was certainly a twist. Joe had no idea that the Japanese fell in love with Aryan women. He would imagine they found Aryans as repulsive as Aryans found them. Mixing of the blood was disgusting as far as Joe was concerned and he really didn’t believe in what the Reich stood for.
“I did not ask him to fall in love with me,” she answered carefully. “If I were being ungenerous, I would say that he stalked me in the beginning.”
John pinched his nose. “Given his line of work, I can certainly imagine that. Go put your wine away. I don’t know if you need to chill it.” He placed his hand on her shoulder. “I know he cares for you. He sent you here because it wasn’t safe for you in the Pacific States. However, I will be telling him this needs to end.”
Joe took another sip of his whiskey and glanced at Thomas who was staring at Alexa in fascination. “It seems,” Joe commented, “that your father’s ward inspires admiration wherever she goes.”
“Oh,” Thomas said, coming back to himself. “Yeah. She’s pretty wonderful.”
The kid had it bad.
Joe smirked. He was rather fascinated by her himself.
It had been four months since Juliana had moved out and Trudy and her friends in the Resistance were almost positive that she was some Prawn’s mistress. Juliana had always embraced Japanese culture, but outside of work where she wore Western clothing, she wore Japanese dresses and stayed exclusively to Japanese dominated districts of San Francisco.
Every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday she met Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido for tea. When she didn’t, they would either reschedule for a dinner or, sometimes, they would catch him going into her apartment building. Saturday was their best bet.
Juliana came out of aikido, her hair towel-dried and her clothes perfectly in place, and she would make her way to the same tea room. The hostess knew to give her a specific table. However, usually Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido was already waiting for her.
He was a high profile target.
She was more than just collateral damage. Juliana, although she was Trudy’s sister, was to be made an example of. This is what happens when you become a Prawn’s mistress.
Sitting at the table half an hour before Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido and Juliana were meant to arrive, Trudy skillfully set the bomb with the help of Janet. While one drank tea, the other felt with their hands as they secured the bomb. As they got up to leave, they hit the trigger. There was a forty five minute timer.
They waited across the street.
Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido arrived first and went in. Trudy couldn’t see into the windows but she knew he would be taken to his usual table. He would bow, he would order the tea to arrive when Juliana did, and he would patiently wait.
Three minutes later, Juliana appeared.
Thirteen minutes after that, the building blew up and Trudy left with an ache in her chest at the thought that her sister was now dead.
Little did she know that on that particular day Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido was giving Juliana the bracelet with the flag of the sun on it, and had asked for a private table in the back. Juliana had been admiring her wrist, smiling up at him, when the bomb went off. Kido had thrown himself over her in desperation and when the dust had settled, he pulled away to see his eyes meeting her blue ones. Although the stench of explosives was in the air and he could hear people move under the rubble, he nonetheless swept forward and kissed Juliana, his heart singing at the sight of her being alive.
It was then that he first began to suspect that he was falling in love with this girl who was from a different culture, a different world, and yet whose heart beat against his own.
Six months later he learned that Juliana had been carrying his child and had lost it in the explosion. He had caused her to become a target. It was no coincidence they had chosen a time and a place when they would be together. For the honor of his house, he could not father a child by his mistress and he was often so impassioned that he did not take precautions, but he had killed his own child—and its blood was on his hands.
Juliana liked Central Park. She took a train into the city some days and just walked among the trees, breathing in the fresh air. A hand touched hers and she paused, looking into the face of a man she almost recognized.
“I’m sorry,” she greeted, “can I help you?”
“You’re a defector from the Pacific States,” the man stated and she pulled back in fear. “Woah, I don’t want to hurt you. I was wondering if you wanted to serve your people who have been trampled upon by the Japanese, the people who are being silenced by the Nazis.”
Her eyes widened. These were the people who had blown her up, who wanted her dead, who had sent her here away from the only life she had ever known and the man whom she loved although she could never call him hers. Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to remain calm.
“I don’t know what you want—” she began and when he seemed to be about to speak again, she added “—but I cannot help you.”
“I have been watching you,” the man stated, “you seem to be trapped.”
She threw his hand off of her when he touched her. “I’m adjusting culturally, though I need not explain myself to you. Leave before I call the kempei—the police,” she corrected.
“You’re in a position of trust and power in the Smith family,” he stated. “I know you don’t believe in what the Reich stands for.”
She backed up away from him and screamed, “Help!” at the top of her lungs.
The man looked spooked and she kept on screaming, “Help!” as loudly as she could. The man took off running and soon men and women were hurrying toward her and she broke down crying.
Half an hour later she found herself in a police station. “I’d like to speak to Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith,” she requested. “I’m his ward, Alexa Smith. He’ll want to know what I have to say. Please. I’m not lying. The Resistance are the ones who approached me, and—” Images of dead patrons with teapots smashed around them flitted through her head. “Please,” she begged.
It took less than twenty minutes for John to arrive and without thinking about it, she threw herself in his arms.
“I’m going to take you back to my office,” he promised, stroking her hair, “get you some tea, and then you can tell me what happened.”
She was wrapped in a blanket and she found herself in his office for the second time. After drinking her tea and fortifying herself, she described the man and what he had proposed. “He had no idea who I was—other than some defector who was somehow close to you. But I’ve seen him before. I know I have,” she said almost to herself. “I just can’t place him.”
A recording machine was on and Erich, John’s aide de camp, was taking notes.
“Was it in the Pacific States? Was he a terrorist there?”
She chewed her lip. “I don’t know,” she whispered desperately. “I don’t know who he is. He obviously didn’t know me, otherwise he would have tried to blow me up. They tried that a few times back in San Francisco.”
John took a long drag of his own tea. “Chief Inspector Kido didn’t mention that.”
“It was routine,” she admitted, shrugging. “All American women who associated with Japanese officials were targets. We had to be moved at one point to guarded buildings; even the Japanese mistresses were placed there just before I defected.”
“I didn’t know the Resistance was so prevalent.”
“It wasn’t so much that they were prevalent, only that we were considered ‘race traitors.’” She sighed and placed her face in her hands, careful not to ruin her already smudged make up. “I can never go back, can I?”
Reaching out, John touched her knee. “No, Alexa, you can never go back.—And,” he added, standing, “you would be considered a race traitor in the Reich. I understand the Pacific States are an entirely different world, but you must know that we are the Master Race.”
Juliana wanted to roll her eyes but simply nodded her head. “I am learning that, thanks to Thomas’s help.”
“What you need,” he suggested, “is marshmallows toasted on the fire and hot chocolate. I’ll call Rose and have her get everything we’ll need and I’ll try to get home early despite this new development in the Resistance. We’ll take care of you, Alexa. You’re family now.” He went over to the tape recorder and turned it off. “I think that’s enough for today, Erich. Get a car for Miss Smith and send her home. We’re not going to make her take the train out to Long Island after her trying day.”
Joe Blake wasn’t sure what he was expecting when he rang the doorbell, a bouquet of flowers in his hands. It was over a month since V-A Day and he was hoping that the business with the Japanese government official had been sorted out by now.
Rose, the housekeeper, opened the door and smiled politely.
Suddenly feeling stupid in his nice black pants, white shirt, and leather jacket, Joe nonetheless pulled it together. “Is Miss Smith in?”
“Yes,” she answered, stepping aside. “Please come in.”
He was shown into the Living Room and he began to look at the photographs. There were several of Obergruppenfuhrer Smith and who Joe assumed was his wife with their son Thomas, who was a small child. Then there was Thomas older with his father. On the mantle, all the way on the end, there was one that was obviously new. It showed Thomas sitting in a chair, Obergruppenfuhrer Smith standing directly behind him in uniform, and Alexa at his side. The Obergruppenfuhrer and Alexa were looking down at Thomas who was smiling widely up at them. They looked like the perfect Nazi family, Thomas in his Hitler youth uniform, Alexa wearing Nazi red.
If it wasn’t apparent before, the Obergruppenfuhrer’s intentions were clear now. Joe’s hand tightened on his flowers and his mouth set in a line.
His decision was made for him when Alexa entered the room. “Joe,” she greeted. “I didn’t know you were coming. I was studying—I have my ACT tomorrow.”
“Oh,” he answered. “I’m sorry to disturb you. I know how important that is.”
She shrugged it off. “I need a short break. Fifteen minutes won’t kill me. They may give me renewed focus, if you can bear to have me kick you out or leave you to your own devices after that.”
He smiled at her then. “I don’t mind being kicked out by a beautiful woman, as long as she lets me say what I came to say first,” he flirted. Joe held out the flowers. “I didn’t know what you liked, so I thought iris perhaps.”
“Oh,” she stated with a small smile, taking them and lifting them to her nose. “How thoughtful. This is just what I need. I’ll put them on my desk. I’m afraid I only have a photograph that was smuggled out of the Pacific States with me.”
“Well, I’m glad I could help.”
The two just stood there, staring at each other, and so he glanced at the sofa and she laughed. The two moved to sit down after she set down the flowers.
“I know you’re still getting used to New York,” he began, “and I was wondering if you’d like to see how the other half lives. I’d like to ask you to dinner—to a diner, specifically, to show you some of American culture.”
“Well, I certainly haven’t been to a diner in years,” she agreed. Alexa glanced over at the flowers. “Joe, are you asking me—?” She left the question hanging.
“Yes, Alexa,” he said, placing his hand over hers. “I am.”
She bit her lip, looking down at their hands and then at the flowers. “I think I need to ask permission.”
He took a deep breath, wondering how he should approach the situation. “Alexa, how old are you? I know you are now a member, however unofficial or not, of the Smith family—and I’m not blind. I have eyes. You don’t need Obergruppenfuhrer Smith’s permission to go on a date even if he may want to marry you—unless you want to marry him.”
Alexa’s mouth opened in shock or confusion—Joe wasn’t really sure. “John’s never even suggested,” she finally murmured.
“A picture’s worth a thousand words,” he stated, tipping his head to the mantle and she stood, his hand slipping from hers.
She went up to the mantle and picked up the photograph and looked at it for a long moment before setting it down.
“That’s not the only one like it? Are there others with just the two of you?”
“And of me and Thomas,” she added, turning back to him. “They’re around the house in various places. I think one disappeared to Headquarters. John said it was time to celebrate the vitality of the Smith family and not mourn the past.”
Joe stood and put his hands in his pockets. “Surely you must be able to read between the lines.—But that’s neither here nor there. What matters is us. You and me. Come? We can have milkshakes and we can maybe go out dancing later.”
She moved away from him and brushed him off. “I think I would get confused if I dance with yet another man. We don’t dance in the Pacific States. Well, the Japanese don’t dance. I don’t understand what it means to dance here.”
“I doubt the Japanese don’t dance,” Joe suggested, coming up to her from behind.
“If they do,” she countered as she turned back toward him, “then it’s in the privacy of their own home and it’s never spoken of. The Japanese do everything not to touch other people. They bow instead of shaking hands, for example. For the first twenty-one years of my life, the only way I touched a Japanese person was through Japanese martial arts.—So, no dancing.”
“Then,” he suggested, “if you don’t like dancing, we don’t have to dance. A diner. Milkshakes. We can get to know each other. I’m very respectful to women.”
Joe had been so focused on Alexa, he hadn’t heard Obergruppenfuhrer Smith come in. “So respectful that you live with another woman and her son and seem to be asking Alexa on a date.”
He was standing in the door, unbuttoning his top button, his hat in his hand.
“How is your studying, Alexa?”
“It’s coming along well, thank you.”
“I think I need to speak to Joe alone. You can take your flowers if you still want them, though the idea that he wanted to have you as the second woman in his life might have soured the gift.”
Joe looked between them and saw that they were sharing an odd look. Alexa nonetheless took the flowers and left the room.
Obergruppenfuhrer Smith listened to her go and then closed the door. “Joe, I am disappointed in you. Alexa is meant for greater things than a double agent who can’t give her a home or respectability.”
“No,” he agreed, “she’s simply the kept woman of some Jap scum.”
Smith’s eyes burned. “That is purely your supposition. Now, if your situation changes, Rita is out of the picture, and your prospects alter, then come back. However, she may no longer be available.”
Something burned within Joe, but he simply nodded his head. “Can I take her out to show her New York as a friend?”
“As a friend, you have my blessing, though I’d imagine it would blow your cover.”
And with that, Joe left.