Part the Twelfth—
“I’m free as a bird when I’m flying in your cage // And I’m bleeding your love, and you’re swimming in my veins / You got me now ”
—“For You (Fifty Shades Freed)”, Liam Payne & Rita Ora
Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido disembarked from his flight with barely contained impatience. He had concocted a reason—or rather the junior ambassador had—for his presence in the American Reich. He wanted to desperately see his wife who was now carrying their child who would come to full term and be born with honor and with his name.
He knew there were children—born of mixed race—in the Pacific States—primarily just after the occupation. Children of rape and immediate desire. These children were anathema and Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido would not permit any child of his to be branded. It had been a blessing when Juliana had lost their first child, although she had mourned and he had lit a candle for his lost child every day since. The second still haunted him. The third filled him with anger.
The Aryan said “three’s the charm.” Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido meant to prove them wrong. The fourth time would be the charm for him and Juliana. The fourth pregnancy would bear fruit.
He loved her. He loved the woman of the white man.
Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido remembered that day at the tea importer so well. Juliana had been standing at the counter, speaking Japanese with a slight accent, stopping occasionally as she searched for a word. Her voice was so lovely, so fluid. Although she often blushed at her mistakes, she did not try to slip into English to get her point across, but instead used her hands, approximated her words, and smiled when the proprietor spoke a little slower so that he might understand.
When the proprietor saw him, he bowed low and greeted him and Juliana had politely stepped aside, bowing as well, although she had remained silent. Her hair had fallen in front of her face, hiding her eyes which he had briefly caught a glimpse of, that startling blue of the Aryan woman, and Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido was entranced despite himself. He made the transaction quickly, not thinking anything of the fact that the tea he required was already waiting on the counter.
That night he could not get the beautiful young woman of the white man out of his head. He imagined what she would say if she spoke to him. What tea she might prefer. If her impeccable manners extended to the tea service.
When there was a lull in his paperwork the next day, he picked up his hat and took a walk. It was an impulse and Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido did not take to impulses.
Still, he went back to the tea importer. “The woman,” he stated without any form of pleasantries, “the woman of the white man—the one who spoke Japanese.”
“Yes,” the man agreed. “I remember her well. She comes every week or so after her aikido classes.”
“This woman of the white man is a practitioner of our arts?” Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido stated in surprise.
“Indeed,” the proprietor replied, bowing. “I have seen her come in with one of her classmates, asking for his opinion. Her mother likes Japanese tea and sometimes Miss Crain likes to surprise her with a new blend or try one for herself.”
For some reason, the idea of a classmate assisting Miss Crain disquieted Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido. He did not let this show upon his face, and instead he questioned, “What tea did she purchase yesterday?”
If Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido was not adept at reading people, he would not have noticed that the proprietor was mildly uncomfortable at the question. “She was about to purchase the very tea you did. She informed me she would come back next week and inquire after it again. I understand it is her mother’s favorite.”
Without a second thought, Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido produced his business card. “You will telephone me at this number as soon as you receive a shipment. Do you know Miss Crain’s address?”
The man bowed again. “No, Chief Inspector,” he responded regret. “I know that she is Miss Juliana Crain. I have seen her walking in this neighborhood. She is always polite and greets me even if she is with the white man.”
Shifting, Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido nodded and then left.
A few days later he received the call. He went to the tea importer and purchased the tea. He had already discovered the apartment Miss Juliana Crain inhabited with a man named Frank Frink. He was a suspected subversive but from the short time that Miss Crain had been observed, it was clear that she did her best not to associate with the white man despite her living arrangements. He waited until he was informed that this Frank Frink was gone and then he approached her door and called on her, presenting her with the tea.
Juliana Crain was pleased. She was polite and elegant as she arranged the table in the small apartment, brewing the tea with the efficiency of a Japanese lady.
Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido was enchanted despite himself. Her Aryan blue eyes fascinated him as they were unlike anything he had encountered in the Japanese Pacific States. He knew by the time he left that he desired to possess Juliana Crain.
When he learned she had left the apartment she shared with Frank Frink just an hour after his visit, suitcases and the roses Kido had given her in hand, he allowed himself to feel pleasure. Perhaps the feeling was mutual. However, he would not allow himself to hope. He had always been a man of honor. Now he doubted the need for that honor when he was so far from Japan, so far from his wife, so far from his son. He sat late into the night, reflecting on the matter.
Still, images of Juliana Crain in that tea shop ran through his mind, of her moving about her home where she sought to make him comfortable. The natural smile that crossed her face. He desired to make her smile again.
It was a strange inclination, Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido admitted to himself. He possessed it nonetheless. He would observe her at aikido, certainly. Then perhaps he would have enough information—more information, certainly.
Now, all these years later, as he moved through the airport of the American Reich, Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido found he could regret nothing. When he moved through customs, however, he was stopped.
“One moment please,” the undoubtedly Aryan official stated. She was pretty, certainly, but she did not catch Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido’s attention.
She picked up the telephone and spoke into it quickly. Then he was directed to a closed room with no windows.
He didn’t have long to wait.
A Nazi officer soon joined him.
Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido stood. “I am traveling on a diplomatic visa,” he stated, “and I have business at the Imperial Embassy.”
“Yes,” the officer agreed, looking through his folder. “You wish to see Agent Misaki Kido—formerly Alexa Smith. Is that correct?”
“I am here to see the junior ambassador,” he corrected. That was his official reason for visiting. He had been invited for the Winter Festival—which he now had the pleasure of spending with Juliana and their unborn child.
The officer glanced up and then reviewed the folder again. “Your papers, Chief Inspector?”
They were immediately provided. Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido knew they were all perfectly in order, signed by the junior ambassador himself.
“How long are you staying?”
“Through the Winter Festival,” he told him succinctly. “I am the junior ambassador’s personal guest. We fought in the war together, you understand.”
“And you will see Agent Misaki Kido,” the officer pressed.
“I imagine,” Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido agreed. “She works at the embassy and she is my wife.”
“The Greater Nazi Reich does not recognize this marriage although we do not deny that Miss Alexa Smith’s citizenship has transferred to the Japanese Empire at large.” Green eyes that were sickly almost in their particular shade of the color stared into his. “You realize that she was under the protection of a powerful Nazi officer and did not have his permission to marry. We are choosing not to cause an international incident.”
“I placed her under Obergruppenfuhrer Smith’s protection,” Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido remarked. “I think I had prior claim over Agent Kido—and as she married of her own volition there could be no international incident. I could charge the Obergruppenfuhrer with murder as he gave my wife a controlled substance without her knowledge, which caused an abortion. Abortions are illegal in the Greater Nazi Reich, are they not, officer?”
The officer was obviously surprised and hid it poorly. “There are no witnesses,” he argued badly.
“I would have to refute your claim. I know of three apart from the Obergruppenfuhrer and my wife. Four, if you include the housekeeper.” There was the son, the friend, and the friend’s girlfriend, from what Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido understood. “Now,” he stated calmly, “I would like to proceed to my embassy.”
He picked up his suitcase and, without another word, left the room. He was not stopped again as he exited the airport and entered a waiting diplomatic car.
At first he believed he was alone, until he heard a treasured voice murmur, “Surprise.”
He looked to the left and saw Juliana. “Misa-chan,” he greeted. “You look in health.”
She smiled and looked down to her protruding stomach, which she lay her hand on. “Well, this little one seems to have settled down a bit. You can’t imagine how much I’m eating, Takeshi-san! He may only be five months along, but he certainly has made himself known.”
Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido looked toward the front and saw that the driver’s eyes were glued to the road. Carefully, he reached over and lay his hand over his wife’s, wishing to feel his son. “Have you chosen a name?”
“Itsuki,” she whispered, “because I first realized I was with child when I was sitting under a tree in the gardens of the Embassy.”
“A name of honor of a son born of the house of Kido,” Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido responded. “I will write to Akihito immediately and write of the development in our house.”
She looked down at their joint hands and entwined their fingers. “He wrote me—your son,” she admitted. “I—never told you. Somehow he got the number of Obergruppenfuhrer Smith and called me when I was living there. I’m almost positive it was him. He was asking for me by—by my name back in the Pacific States and he was looking for his ‘esteemed father’.” She took a deep breath. “He never called back. But upon our marriage he wrote me a letter with one sentence—asking me if I was—her.” Her blue Aryan eyes sought his. “I was uncertain how to respond and I thought it was better not to put it in writing.”
“I would like to see the letter,” he told her, “and I will call him. He is with his aunt. At least I only have one year left of my tour and then I will see him again.”
Juliana nodded. “It seemed like he missed his father. His mother was—sick—when he called me.”
“You worry about Itsuki,” he told her plainly, the only emotion he allowed to show shining from his eyes. “I will deal with Akihito.” He pulled back and glanced back at the driver, who was looking at him through the mirror before he returned his attention to the road. “How is the junior ambassador?”
Immediately, Juliana seemed to understand the switch in conversation. “He is well. I see little of him as I am usually with my partner, Hayato Matuno, and we do not report directly to him.”
“You find your work rewarding, wife?” Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido questioned.
She nodded. “Indeed. It is quite different from my duties with the Trade Minister, I admit. At first there was resistance to my presence because I am a woman of the white man, but I soon proved that I was both efficient and of use to the embassy.”
“That is well. Your mother and stepfather believe that you have escaped to the Neutral Zone.”
Looking out the window, Juliana nodded once. “Perhaps that is for the best. I wish they had not lost two daughters in such a short amount of time, but I suppose it was inevitable.” They were silent for a few moments before she spoke again. “Do you suppose it is strange, Takeshi-san, that my sister was a member of the Resistance and yet I am a race traitor?”
“I do not like it when you use that term,” Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido immediately responded. “You are a loyal subject of the Emperor.”
She smiled at him, her blue eyes shining with undoubted love. “You are right, of course, Takeshi-san. It is just difficult when one becomes used to the prejudice of others.”
“You are an honorable wife,” he affirmed. “Remember that, Misa-chan.”
They then arrived at the embassy and Juliana smiled at him. “Welcome home, Takeshi-san.”
In that moment he realized the truth of her words. Home was wherever Juliana was and no matter the fact that she would most likely have the barest of accommodations at the embassy, of which he was well acquainted from his previous visits to the American Reich, he was glad to be there.
“The Winter Festival?” Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith checked. “I suppose they’ll have their holidays.”
Erich swallowed and shifted. “The Chief Inspector accused you of murder, Obergruppenfuhrer.”
John Smith stilled. Unfortunately, he knew exactly what the man was talking about. “Alexa Smith,” he stated resolutely, “was not a citizen of the Japanese Empire at the time. She was a citizen of the American Reich and it was racial purification. That is what you will say if the matter ever comes up again, Erich. Do you understand me?” His eyes held the young man’s resolutely.
“Yes, Obergruppenfuhrer.” He stood to attention. “Sieg Hile!”
“Sieg Hile!” John Smith returned in distraction.
Damn that yellow monkey. This could cause problems diplomatically as Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido was clearly the father and Alexa had never given consent.
Joe Blake had been ordered to the Fatherland, but had postponed his flight. He had kept in touch with Alexa even after she had married her Japanese lover and become a citizen of the Japanese Empire. They never met at the embassy, but occasionally the two would go to “their” diner and have strawberry milkshakes.
Of course, Joe knew they were being watched. Although they never met on a clear schedule, Obergruppenfuhrer Smith was a possessive bastard and wouldn’t just give up Alexa, even if she were married. He wouldn’t approach her—not yet at least, but he would watch her.
In his nicest suit and with his suitcase in hand, he walked up to the embassy and approached a guard. “Ah, yes. I’m a friend of Alexa Smith—Agent Misaki Kido. Joe Blake. I was hoping she was free, I have a flight to catch to Germany.” He smiled winningly. “It’s rather sudden.”
The guard looked over him and asked for his papers, which he handed over. Looking them over, the guard then checked a list over and used a radio, barking in orders. He was then, surprisingly, allowed to pass. Alexa must have put him on the approved list of visitors.
When he entered the waiting room, he only had about ten minutes to wait.
Alexa was as beautiful ever but she was dressed in trousers and was clearly pregnant. “Alexa!” he greeted. “You look—wow!” He stood up and hugged her, probably surprising all the Japs around them. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Oh,” she replied, waving him off. “I didn’t want John to find out. I’m sorry about canceling our lunches, but you know how those Nazis talk among themselves. I knew it would get back to him and what with his ideas about ‘racial purity’, I just couldn’t risk it.”
“Well,” Joe stated, scratching his neck. “This probably doesn’t matter anymore, but my father has ordered me to the Fatherland and I thought that I couldn’t possibly go without the support of my best friend. I’m sure you have diplomatic status and—well—”
Alexa’s eyes lit up. “Lucky for you my husband left for the Pacific States just yesterday. I’ll put in the request and pack. I should find out within the hour. I’d love to go to Germany and frighten everyone with my Japanese name and ways.”
“Are you sure it’s all right?” he checked. “With the baby?”
She nodded. “Yes. Definitely. No, I’m a bit stir crazy since I can’t really leave the embassy because of John Smith. This is just what I need. Even if the news makes it back to him, they might be too terrified of me to do anything. Who is your father?”
Joe shrugged. “No one’s ever told me.”
“An adventure,” she replied as they walked through the halls and they came up to a clerk. Alexa spoke rapidly in Japanese and was given a form, which she filled out quickly in Japanese.
It happened in a whirl. He was in a small apartment on one of the top floors. Alexa was packing more of the wide trousers and long shirts, cosmetics, a book. She made a quick phone call (“it’s about my cat,” she explained) and then a longer one (“my husband”).
When they made it downstairs she received a large stack of papers, which she flipped through. “No rest for the weary. I have duties at the embassy there, but I’m there for you, Joe, every step of the way. Now, where are we staying?”
“I’ve been given a hotel room. I figured I’d convert it when we get there to two hotel rooms or one with two beds.” He shrugged. “I hope that’s all right.”
“Well,” she laughed as they made their way to a diplomatic car. “As long as you can stand a pregnant woman getting up to use the bathroom several times during the night. Whatever happened with Rita? After—well—after she called John that one time, you said you moved, but nothing about her.”
The car was already driving through the streets, undoubtedly headed to the airport.
“We’re done. I’m not even seeing Buddy, which is hard, but I couldn’t forgive her after what Obergruppenfuhrer Smith did to you. But—wow—you’re pregnant again. Your husband, he doesn’t waste any time.”
Alexa smiled, her dark red lips as enchanting as ever. “No,” she agreed. “He doesn’t. I would say he’s more virile than any white man I’ve ever come across, but I wouldn’t want to insult you, Joe.”
He smiled at her wryly. “So,” he said, changing the subject. “Agent Misaki Kido once we’re over there?”
She nodded. “I hope that won’t be a problem.”
“I’ll do my best not to slip up. When I first heard about you, Obergruppenfuhrer Smith called you ‘Misaki’ so I’ll just hold onto that memory.”
They then sat back and enjoyed the short ride. It was easy enough for Alexa to get a diplomatic ticket on the same flight and then they were off to the Fatherland. A car was waiting for them, though the driver was obviously surprised to see that Joe had brought a woman in clearly Oriental clothing with him. Joe argued with the hotel staff for several long minutes about the hotel room. Alexa waited patiently, clearly not understanding a word. The manager had to be called, and Joe explained that he had brought a dear friend, who was a diplomat from the Japanese Empire, and that they needed a suite. This resulted in a telephone call to the Reichsminister of all people before they were finally upgraded. Unfortunately, the Reichminister was informed that Alexa was pregnant. Joe just knew that would get back to Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith.
“This is heaven,” Alexa declared as she sank back onto her bed. “I’m sleeping on a mat in the embassy. The Japanese apparently sleep on mats. I miss my bed back in the Pacific States.”
Joe laughed as he stood over her and set her suitcase down. “Well, I’m glad the Reichsminister could oblige.”
“I’ll be sure to thank him when we meet him. When are we meeting him?”
Joe sighed. “Well, we were supposed to meet him this morning, but I delayed my flight so I could come see you at the embassy. Obergruppenfuhrer Smith was probably upset, but I frankly don’t care. What would I do without Agent Misaki Kido?”
“I know,” she moaned in obvious happiness. “This feels so good on my back. Do you know how much my back hurts and I’m only about five and a half months pregnant! Just imagine how much worse it’s going to get!”
Laughing, Joe began to walk out of the room. “I’m in the other room. We need to be ready by four this afternoon for our interview and it’s near ten in the morning now.”
“No rest for the wicked,” she quoted. “I’ll set my alarm and unpack later.”
“Great idea!” Joe shouted before going into his room and undoing his tie. Closing the door, he sat at the bed and put his face in his hands. He was wondering if this had been the best idea, after all. He was desperate for Alexa’s company. Joe loved her with a passion he couldn’t explain, but she was another man’s wife. She was carrying another man’s child. First, she had been the property of John Smith and now she was the property of some Jap. Would she never be free? “Snap out of it,” he told himself. Joe had to content himself with being her best friend and confidante. He only had about a year before she returned to Japan, and then he would have to content himself with letters and the occasional telephone call. Joe would have to go on with his life—without her—but for his short stay here, whether it was a day, a week, a month, he could at least pretend that she wanted to be with him. Joe was willing to delude himself, even for a short while.
Juliana had barely slept and was already awake when her alarm sounded. It was three thirty in the afternoon. It was nine thirty in the morning back in New York. She got up and stretched, rubbing her hands over her stomach, and breathed in deeply. Time to get ready for the day.
It always took her a little while to get dressed. Her stomach always seemed to protrude over her trousers and it was difficult to get her shirt just right, with the sash running between her growing breasts and stomach. She tried to convince herself she was pretty as she brushed her hair and clipped it back before putting it up loosely in chopsticks before powdering her face. She applied liner and mascara and then her signature lip color. She was ready for her day.
When she exited the bathroom, Joe was waiting in a suit.
His tie was a little off.
Coming up to him, she centered it as she often did for Takeshi. However, with her husband, she suspected he did it on purpose so that she would show him the attention. He was far too precise to leave his clothes less than impeccable.
Joe took a deep breath and then looked her over. “You’re beautiful, Misaki.”
She smiled widely. “You remembered.”
“I’m trying,” he responded as they moved to the door. “Do you have your papers?”
Picking up her purse and then her cloak, she responded, “I wouldn’t dare go anywhere without them. Your father knows I’m coming?”
“If you’re not on the list, then I’m not going to make our appointment,” Joe growled. “He can check the plane manifest. He can check the hotel register. The manager called him about our rooms. He knows who you are.”
She inclined her head. “If you’re sure, Joe.” When the door was closed behind them, Juliana took his arm. “This should be interesting.”
“It could be worse.”
“Yes,” she agreed. “We could be in Japan meeting my stepson whose mother just died a few months ago.”
Joe looked at her in shock and Juliana only laughed.
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