Part the Fourteenth—
“I found a love for me / O, darling, just dive right in and follow my lead”
—“Perfect Symphony,” Ed Sheeran & Andrea Bocelli
John Smith watched his son pack his bag for South America. He was so excited for his diplomatic mission—and it was all fabricated. His heart broke a little. He wondered how Helen would have handled this. She wouldn’t have been able to let go of their son, he thought. In this dark moment of his soul, he wished that he had Alexa beside him, that her hand reached into his larger one and their fingers entwined.
He knew he would be able to tell her anything, even though she would perhaps never be able to tell him her name. John had trusted her that much even when she had broken his heart when she had gone to that hotel to be with Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido. When he saw her with the smell of that yellow monkey still on her skin, he knew he could still trust her with his heart, because she hadn’t known that she possessed it yet. She hadn’t known that he loved her.
He had never told her.
John had never told himself.
Perhaps he didn’t love her, not truly, not like he’d loved Helen.
This was different. This was a lust and a want, but it was also a trust. Her life was placed in his hands and he would have placed his in hers, not out of mutual respect but out of—mutual secrecy. Was that fair to either of them?
However, that is what they would have had.
And she would have been good for Thomas, for the short time she would have been his mother. She would have come up to him now, drawn him to her, kissed his head and wished him well. Then she would have gone back to John with tears in her eyes and would have pretended they were tears of joy.
“May I write to Alexa?” Thomas asked, bringing John out of his musings. “It’s only, I think she’d like to know about my mission. I instilled in her a true love of the Reich despite—everything.” He shrugged.
“Now,” John argued. “What did I say about bragging?”
“It won’t be bragging,” Thomas argued in his wonderful childlike innocence. “It is only that I want her to be proud of me. I know she was never my mother. But she is the closest I’ve had to a mother that I’ve had in a long time.”
John looked at his son sadly. “Of course, you can write to Alexa,” he replied sadly, meaning the words. “She has an official title now so I’ll get you the address.” It was Agent Misaki Kido. Of course, he knew it by heart. He knew her every movement. She was a defector. That’s what he told his staff. She was also his former fiancée, although even he could admit that she had never actually agreed. Alexa had already been engaged to the monkey.
Still, John kept her engagement ring in the drawer in his bedside table. He never looked at it, but he knew it was there.
The latest photographs of her showed her heavily pregnant. He knew what they called women like her in the Pacific States: race traitors. She was a race traitor, and she not only warmed another man’s bed, she warmed a Japanese’s bed. The thought sickened him. Despite Thomas’s unparalleled abilities as a teacher, they had been unable to instill in her the proper Aryan pride.
John had failed her in that way. If he could have taught her that they were truly the Master Race, she would have left Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido. He could not guarantee that she would have married him. For all he knew, she would have continued to seek Joe Blake out and married him instead—or someone else, hopefully of good standing in the Reich. However, she would have had Aryan pride. She would always have been his ward. He would always have had a piece of her.
Alexa was completely gone to him now.
He remembered when he danced the polka with her. She had immediately fallen into step with him without any coaching.
“How do you know this dance?” he asked in complete confusion.
“Shh,” she teased after a moment. “We don’t dance this in the Pacific States.”
He smiled at her, taking in her beautiful auburn-brown hair and blue eyes. “How do you know it, Alexa?” he wheedled. “Tell me.”
“It’s a secret.”
They continued to dance and then went back to their table and enjoyed white wine until she was smiling languidly and watching other couples. Finally, she leaned forward and whispered, “Trudy taught me.”
“Trudy?” he whispered, looking around in an exaggerated manner as if watching out for anyone who might be spying on them.
She leaned back and giggled. “My sister. She was in the Resistance and she was apparently sweet on this—” her eyes looked up at the ceiling as she thought about it “—I think he was actually German. From the Fatherland German, German. You know what I mean, John?”
Terribly interested, he nodded. “Of course, Alexa.”
“Well,” she continued. “This German,” she exaggerated the word, “taught her the polka. Apparently, it was horribly romantic—at least according to Trudy. This was before I met—well—”
Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido. She meant Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido.
“So she taught me. She told me one day a handsome Resistance fighter would try to woo me with the polka and I better be ready. Of course, that has yet to happen and I hope it never does,” she assured him solemnly.
John thrummed his fingers against the table. “Whatever happened to this—German?”
“Heinrich?” she asked, looking at him. “Well, he came around to dinner a few times, disappeared for nearly a year, came back, and then—well—” she shrugged.
He waited patiently.
“I informed.” Alexa wasn’t looking at him anymore. “I’m not proud of it, but I found him constructing a bomb in our house. What was I supposed to do?”
Immediately, John reached out and took her hand. “Alexa, you did the right thing.” His eyes caught hers and he tried to show his sincerity through her gaze. “You absolutely did the right thing. He was a terrorist. He could have killed you, your sister, your parents, anyone else living with you—”
She nodded and bit her lip.
“Is that how you met—our mutual friend?”
Alexa shook her head. “No, we already knew each other. That’s how I slipped him the information. No one thought anything of us me going to that particular tea shop, on that particular day of the week, at that particular time. It was so simple. Heinrich sat down to dinner with us and then the kempeitai stormed the apartment during the meal and—well—I was left with Trudy crying on my shoulder. And it was all my fault.”
Of course, John offered his hand after that and danced the polka with Alexa, but her heart wasn’t in it. He walked her back to his car and she had fallen asleep on the ride home and he had carried her up to bed. Taking off her shoes, he left her in her dress and stockings. He pushed her hair behind her ear and leaned down and kissed her.
“Takeshi,” she breathed out in her sleep, and his heart sank.
Perhaps in that moment he should have realized he would never possess her heart. It would always belong to another man.
Juliana walked through the abandoned hospital behind Joe as the program of the Lebensborn was explained. It was absolutely horrifying. The idea of children born to progress the Master Race. She hated the fact that she was presumed Aryan in that moment.
As Joe walked into a room and leaned against the remnants of a crib and broke down, Juliana rested a hand against his back, only to have him turn into her arms and start sobbing.
“Hush,” she whispered. “I’m here. I’m here for you.”
“Never leave me,” he begged-sobbed into her shoulder.
She brushed back his hair but held him close. “I can’t promise that, Joe. I’m so sorry, but I can’t promise that. You know I can’t.”
Still, he held onto her and cried and she comforted him as if he were a child. She turned her eyes to the door and saw Reichsminister Heusmann and she stared at him accusingly. He was not welcome here. This was a private moment for Joe and it should not be violated.
The Reichsminister nodded and left, going down the hall.
In the end, Joe and Juliana ended sitting next to the crib on the floor. Juliana’s legs were stretched out as she couldn’t really manage much else as she was pregnant. Joe had his knees bent and was hugging his legs to him, trying to get as small as possible, which Juliana imagined was difficult given how tall he was.
“What are you thinking?” she asked into the silence. “You can tell me anything, Joe. It’s just you and me.”
“I’m thinking I wish you were my wife.”
She smiled at him sadly, having suspected something of the sort since he kissed her. “Well, since that’s not a possibility, what else are you thinking?”
“I’m wishing that—I’m not sure what I’m wishing.”
Juliana nodded. “All right. That’s progress. I guess you no longer hate your father?”
After a long pause, Joe shook his head. “No, I don’t hate him.”
“Well,” she breathed. “We can get him to rebook our hotel suite if you want to stay here a few extra days to get to know him better. I’m not really doing anything at the Embassy, but I seem to bring some sort of status just by showing up pregnant. It turns out Takeshi is some sort of an Admiral. I had no idea! Imagine not telling me! No wonder he was allowed to have a niece!”
Joe looked at her oddly.
“Right. Mistress. I was my husband’s mistress. We’re called ‘nieces’ because that’s how we’re snuck into buildings. We pretend to be relatives. Generals and Admirals are often older men while we nieces,” she gestured to herself fluidly, “are younger and prettier.”
“I hate to break it to you, Alexa, but you can’t pass for any Japanese general’s relative.”
He began to laugh and it was clearly infectious because Alexa began to laugh, too. Soon they were in stitches, screeching ‘niece’ and ‘Japanese’ at the top of their lungs and it took them several minutes to realize that Reichsminister Heusmann was standing in the doorway, looking at them oddly.
Juliana had better luck controlling herself and she glanced at Joe. “I was one of two nieces who weren’t Japanese, Joe. And I was the first in San Francisco. No one thought it would be a problem when they came up with the deception.”
This caused another round of giggles and soon Juliana was lost again.
Joe was the first to his feet. Helping her up, he exclaimed. “I’m just imagining it. You going up to some Japanese guard, declaring yourself the niece of—what’s his name?”
“Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido.”
Laughing for a few seconds and stifling the sound with the back of his hand, Joe looked up at his father. “I think we’d appreciate your hospitality until—until—” He looked at Juliana.
“It’s up to you, Joe. I’m here until my husband calls me back or the New York Embassy decides it needs me.”
Joe nodded and then turned to Reichsminister Heusmann. “For now.”
He looked carefully. “Joseph, I would be happy to have you in my home—you are my son.”
“Agent Kido is my dearest friend,” Joe interrupted harshly. “I’m not going anywhere without her. I trust her with my life. If you want to get to know me, then Misaki will be coming with me.”
Juliana was quite touched by his speech and touched his arm in appreciation. “Separate rooms,” she clarified. “When I spoke to the Chief Inspector he was quite put out that we had a Suite.”
“Who knew the Japanese could be possessive?” Joe quipped.
Looking at him, Juliana smiled. “You have never come across a Japanese man when he’s being possessive, Joe. The last time Takeshi was possessive, I understand, he had someone executed.”
“The Semite,” she agreed as she moved past the Reichsminister out into the hall. “Are you coming, boys?”
Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido took the key out of his jacket pocket and unlocked the door. The building was in a good part of town, primarily Japanese, and the Chief Inspector knew many of them. It was why he had chosen it. He knew Juliana would be safe here.
“There is three thousand yen on the table,” he explained, “so you can begin to furnish the apartment to your specifications.”
Juliana stepped in behind him as he turned on the lights and she took in the living space. She breathed in when she saw the yellow walls, the small round table near the kitchenette. Quickly poking her head in, she opened the fridge where he knew there were several dishes he had had his housekeeper prepare for her so that she wouldn’t have to worry about it for a day or two.
She came out again and smiled. “You didn’t have to do that.”
He was uncertain if she meant the money or the meals, but he was gratified nonetheless.
Next she turned toward the bedroom which had Japanese sliding doors. The room, he knew, was basic. It had a closet, a bed, a small side table, and a lamp. Again, he had his housekeeper make the bed for Juliana so she would not have to worry about it.
“Takeshi-san,” she breathed. “My very own room.” Turning, she smiled at him and she took her suitcase from his hand and placed it next to the closet.
He followed her, pausing only to close the door and take off his hat. When she turned back around, she looked directly into his eyes.
“You are beautiful when your hair is down,” he commented.
Her brows furrowed, perhaps because her hair was in what the woman of the white man called a ponytail. After a moment, she reached back and took out her hair, swishing it from side to side. Her intense eyes looked directly into his and he took another step closer to her.
Juliana didn’t move.
In an instant she was in his arms and he was kissing her, his hand in her glorious hair, his other arm pressing her against him. She breathed out against him, her hands winding around his neck and into his hair. “I’ve never done this before,” she whispered, and he paused, looking at her. “I mean,” she clarified. “I—I didn’t want it when it happened—I fought or I just lay there—do you want me to just lie there? Last time I didn’t—but now, that we, do you prefer—?” Her eyes were slightly fearful as she looked up at him.
His hand left her hair and he reached over to stroke her cheek. “Juliana,” he murmured, stressing the use of her name over his pet name for her. “I want you to be yourself.”
A tension he didn’t realize was in her frame eased out of her and she nodded.
Cautiously, Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido leaned forward and captured her lips again. He watched as her eyes slid shut and then he was holding her again.
She fell asleep in his arms, her hair tangled around her face. The Chief Inspector watched her sleep in wonder, tracing circles on her upper arm. He never quite knew that the act could be like that. He had been surprised when Juliana had asked him if he wanted her to lie still. It hadn’t occurred to him that there was any other way that she might act. The idea had excited him.
Everything about Juliana excited him from the taste of her skin to the feel of her tongue against him to the slight sloppiness of their joining to the cries she muffled against the pillows that he hadn’t expected. He had been careful to use protection. She was now his but there could be no dishonor to his family and he would not bring dishonor to her. Juliana was too precious to him, and he would not discard her with a child when he returned to Japan at the end of his tour.
As he continued to look at her as she slept, he wondered at this strange emotion that caused his chest to tighten at the thought of one day leaving her. It was too painful to even consider. No, he would not consider it. Not now, when he held her in his arms.
“Juliana,” he whispered, the sound barely audible, more the movement of lips than actual sound. He just wanted to be close to her, closer than he was now even though they were lying beside each other in her bed.
She moved in her sleep and he leaned forward and kissed the corner of her mouth.
Moving slightly in her sleep, her hand reached out and touched his bare chest. A moment later her eyes flew open and she looked about her until her eyes connected with his and, as if she had awakened from a nightmare she had been trying to repress, she calmed. “Takeshi-san.”
“Misa-chan,” he replied.
It was all the reply she needed as he leaned forward and he kissed her again and she accepted his embrace gladly. He reached for the bedside table where he knew a stack of condoms were, and she laughed a little as her hair folded over both of them. “Let me,” she whispered. “I’m sure I can figure it out.” Then she pushed him back against the pillows and tore open a package before sitting up, her lithe figure on full display, looking down and smiling.
Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido barely made it to work on time the next morning. He suspected the same of Juliana when he sat at his desk during a quiet moment and imagined when he next might lie in her arms.
The housekeeper definitely thought that Alexa was his mistress. Joe thought it was slightly funny if it wouldn’t cause an international incident. He was inspecting the many breakfast options when Alexa wandered in and took a deep breath.
“I don’t know what that smell is—but it’s amazing, and I hate Western cooking.”
“You hate Western cooking?” he asked as Hilda came in and started arranging everything. “However did you survive living at the Smiths’?”
“Perseverance,” she answered simply as she found a place to sit. Before she could pull out her chair, Joe did it for her, and Alexa smiled up at him. “I mean, I grew up on my mother’s cooking, but she’s rather obsessed with Japanese food despite the fact that my father was killed in the Pacific Theater.”
Joe thought that was odd and hummed, taking a seat himself and making sure that his tie didn’t get into the food. “That’s where your love of everything Japanese comes from. Now, what would you like?”
“Is there rice?” she asked, and Joe couldn’t help but laugh.
A second film was brought out and Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido attempted to keep his calm. He did not wish to see whatever this showed.
Unfortunately, however, his position required him to see all such propaganda pieces.
Once again the numbers regressed, skipping across the screen, five, four, three, two, that might have been a one. There was an explosion and San Francisco was gone. The sight was shocking. Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido had no idea how such an image could possibly be fabricated but he had just seen it before his very eyes.
A moment later he was looking at some sort of transport vehicle. There was a young Aryan officer, handsome, riding at the end and rows of what seemed to be prisoners in the back. The officer had a rifle on his back. Clearly he was guarding them. There was a bump in the road and the prisoners swayed.
It was just for a second, but Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido saw Juliana. He watched in horror as his wife was transported through gates made of metal and barbed wire and into some sort of camp.
The young officer jumped out of the vehicle along with another who had been sitting opposite him, and the prisoners disembarked. They formed a line, being pushed and shoved into it, before they were marched into a building.
Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido recognized the building—not the exact building, of course, but he had seen diagrams and photographs of such buildings. They were used to exterminate the Jews during the Second World War in Europe. It was part of the Aryan master plan to become overlords as the Master Race.
Dispassionately, he watched as his wife was led forward and then left with dozens of other prisoners before she was gassed. Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido saw his wife dead on the floor of the building before the officers came back in and started shooting the already dead bodies, poking them with their rifles to make sure they were dead. He looked into Juliana’s lifeless eyes and his heart clenched again.
In a moment of absent insanity, Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido wondered where his unborn child was. Itsuki. Where was his child? Where was he himself? Why was he unable to protect his wife?
A horror washed over him as he saw that same young soldier and then the film ended and he thought he was going to be physically ill.
“What is this?” he whispered desperately. “Where is this Man in the High Castle?”
One of the generals peaked his fingers and looked at Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido. “Have there been attempts on Agent Kido’s life?”
“Two,” he admitted as calmly as possible. “She is currently wanted by the Resistance for being a race traitor, killing a prominent Resistance operative who was also her sister, and for turning over one of these very films. She is currently posted, as was said, at the New York Imperial Embassy.”
“Can we verify her whereabouts?” This was asked by a younger man, possibly an operative.
Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido took a deep breath. “She is in Berlin. I understand she is the guest of Reichsminister Martin Heusmann and his son, Joe Blake.” His voice had an edge to it which belied his aggravation with the entire situation.
Finally, a man in the back finally spoke up. He was thin, with a straight face, and was in uniform. Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido could not make out his rank, but he was undoubtedly a man of importance to be in the room. “I had reason to read the file on Agent Misaki Kido. She has done exemplary work in New York and is highly recommended by the junior ambassador. I can say with no hesitance that despite her Aryan descent, she is a true asset to the Empire. This is a clear threat. Agent Kido must be secured. Immediately.”
The generals and other officials began to speak rapidly among themselves.
“She is a race traitor,” someone finally said.
“She purifies herself,” Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido sneered. “It is apparent. She speaks Japanese instead of English. At every opportunity she has proven herself a loyal subject of the Emperor.” He left out her attempted escape to the Neutral Zone and her defection to the Reich, although that had been necessary for her safety.
With that he stood and bowed low to the room. He would see the rest of the films later. He was discontented. Takeshi Kido wished to speak to his wife immediately despite the time difference. It would be better to have her extracted immediately from her current whereabouts. It would probably be frightening, but she would understand.
He would never risk the life of his wife and he would not risk the life of his unborn child.
When he got back to his office he had his aide de camp give him a line directly to Berlin where he spoke with an attaché. “I am Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido. Is my wife, Agent Kido, in the embassy?—No?—There has been a threat against her life. I require an immediate extraction. It is a matter of her life and the safety of the Empire.” His mind flitted to the bomb. “Call me when she is safely on Japanese soil.”
And he hung up.
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