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The Tiger and the Wren

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Ren stood at the front door to her grandparent’s house feeling like she was seven again. Her mother and grandmother had been extremely close, but Ren had never shared in that relationship. Maybe it was her western coloring, or that her grandmother blamed her father for taking her daughter away. She could never tell her grandmother what she did for a living, so she simply said she was a secretary for a law firm in Norway. Obviously, she should have been married by twenty-two to a wealthy, respectable Japanese man and pushing out babies.

Ren fidgeted.

She had never lived up to their expectations. Her hand hovered over the door, not knocking. Shingen finished paying the cab driver and walked toward her, Ren turned to face him. They had found a shop to fit him for a suit in Kofu earlier in the week. Shingen had his hair cut and styled this morning into something still medium length but more professional looking. She was in a stylish dress and low heels, Shingen absolutely loved her in attire that showed a lot of leg, and she was happy to indulge his tastes. The heels, however, were getting lower as the pregnancy wore on.

“My Goddess, you are staring.” He grinned, leaning down to kiss her. Shingen’s large warm hand rested gently at her expanded waist, fitting to the curve of her belly. She loved that he was always touching her. And christ, if he didn’t look like he just stepped off the cover of GQ.

She raised her hand to knock on the door again, but it swung open before she touched it.

There stood her grandmother, looking stern as ever. Ren bowed politely.

“Ren, it is nice to see you have decided to grace your family with a visit.” The woman gave her a slight bow back and gestured them in. She eyed Ren’s belly with a raised brow of disapproval while Ren removed her shoes and put on the house slippers provided.

“We are currently on vacation, and I know it’s been years. It’s good to see you, Soba.” Ren smiled.

“This is my husband, Takeda Shingen.” Ren didn’t miss the look of shock from her grandmother before her features smoothed out.

“Is that my Ren I hear?” a wizened elderly man came forward from the kitchen.

“Sofu!” Ren moved forward and embraced him. He hugged her back tightly, he’d always been her favorite.

“My girl, you have been gone too long…and what is this?” He gazed down at her belly in surprise.

“Sofu, this is my husband, Takeda Shingen. Shingen, my grandparents-“

“You married a Takeda!?” Suddenly her grandmother’s entire demeanor changed, Ren was a bit taken aback. The woman looked positively gleeful. “How very honorable Ren, I never would have expected this of you, come in, you must tell us how you met. Is this our first great-grandchild?” She patted Ren’s belly in an overly familiar way as she led her to the kitchen. Ren glanced back to Shingen in confusion, what the hell was going on? Her Sofu bowed low to Shingen and led him into the living room.

“Yes, we married privately last year. This is our first child I’m about six months along.” Her eyes flashed to Shingen in panic, she didn’t want to be separated. Luckily, she saw with relief that there were food trays for a casual lunch already set in the kitchen, she helped the older woman take them into the men already seated in the living room.

She leaned down near Shingen, setting the tray on a low table. “Something you want to mention, dear?”

Shingen grinned, whispering, “The Takeda’s are basically second only to the Imperial family and hold one of the wealthiest business corporations in the world. I lead the foreign acquisitions department.”

“Good to know.” She shot him a look that said there would be hell to pay later. 

“Please excuse me a moment, it was a bit of a cab ride from the hotel, and I need to use the facilities.” Ren glued a polite smile to her face and headed toward the bathroom. That was one thing about pregnancy that she was happy she wasn’t in the Sengoku era. She had to pee constantly. Shingen was already drawing her grandparents into conversation with his smooth charisma. He was the least of her worries. 

The house looked exactly how she remembered it the last time she had visited. She wandered to the bathroom, took care of things then looked at herself in the full-length mirror. She had to say the pregnancy was giving her amazing skin and hair as the tradeoff for being as large as a house. She’d never imagined hair could even grow this fast, it was going to be the same length as the high-born ladies soon. Ren checked her eyes and teeth in the mirror, then stood sideways, looking at her belly.

Why don’t you stall some more?

She could hear Shingen’s deep laughter from the living room.

Ren sighed if anyone could charm the world, he could. 

She stepped back into the living room, where everyone was laughing and relaxed. Ren took her seat, and Shingen gave her a wink. He had this under control, she was just going to let him be himself. Her grandmother was falling all over herself for him. It was pretty amusing to watch.

Ren started in on her lunch, she was ravenous. She swore some people said pregnancy made them sick. All it did was make her hungry…constantly. She was going to be elephant sized by the time this was done. She hoped Shingen still loved her at 500 lbs.

“Actually, the baby is due in early September, and we are planning on staying here in Japan until spring. After that, we’ll be moving around quite a bit, isn’t that right, my love?” Shingen touched her hand.

Ren snapped to attention with a smile. “Oh yes, we’ll be sure to visit though before we leave Japan so you can have some time with your great grandbaby.”

“Do you know the baby’s sex yet?” Her Soba had her eyes trained on Shingen.

“Yes, a son.” Shingen smiled proudly.

“Oh! How wonderful, and on your first try too, Ren. Good Job.” She had never been praised in her life by her grandmother, and now she was being praised for something she had zero control over? Ren’s eyes went to Shingen in disbelief, he was choking down laughter.

“Ren has been a model wife, so obedient and demure. It’s easy to tell she had impeccable upbringing and is well-schooled in our culture despite her split heritage. I am certain she will make an outstanding mother.” Shingen gave her a smooth wink. 

She was going to murder him, after sex…praying mantis style…chomp.

“I did try my best; with her father, it was always an uphill battle. Ren, I’m just happy to see you married a nice Japanese man. It’s good to see that one could overlook your unsightly albino coloring to take you as a wife. Hopefully, your son will take after his father.” The older woman nodded sagely. Shingen choked into his drink.

“Sofu, since Soba is so enamored with my husband, why don’t we take a walk in the garden. I could use the fresh air.” Ren stood stretching, she’d had about all she could take of her grandmother for the moment, and as usual, her grandfather quietly smiled and sat in the corner, watching everything. Ren offered him her hand, helping him to his feet and, with a smile at Shingen, stepped through the house to the tiny garden beyond.

Ren settled herself by the small koi pond after helping the older man sit on a bench.

“To be honest, Ren, I didn’t think you’d be back.” He patted her shoulder. “You were so far away.”

“You mean Norway?”

He chuckled.

“Ah Ren, you’ve been in Japan the last four years. Just not this Japan, yes?”

Ren glanced quickly at the man. She caught a glimmer of gold to his eyes that quickly faded. It could have been the reflection of the water off the pond. She shifted.

“What do you know, Sofu?” her voice was guarded.

“I know what your father was, Ren. I know what you are, I’ve always known.” He gave her shoulder a soft squeeze.

“I’ll be going back to that Japan in the spring,” Ren replied softly.

“Are you happy there, Ren?”

“I am, it’s a hard life but good. Shingen loves me, and I’d do anything for him.”

Her grandfather nodded. “He’s the Takeda Shingen, isn’t he? Not a descendant of?”

“Yes. How do you know?” She turned to face him, having to awkwardly move her entire body instead of just twisting. Her Sofu took her hands in his, they seemed to glow softly, she blinked her eyes.

“Ren, do you remember? Anything?” His soft brown eyes searched hers, she saw that glimmer of something other in them again.

“What are you trying to tell me?” Ren squeezed his hands gently.

“You are different, Ren, different like me. Your son will be different. You hold the old spirits in you, and so will the blood of your blood. I’m getting old, my girl, you need to remember.”

“Sofu, you aren’t making any sense. Are you saying we are spirits, like kami? Not Soba, though?”

The old man chuckled. “No, your Soba isn’t like us, but your mother was. Her power was so strong and so old she called your father to her across continents. She desired the strength of the wolf as a mate. Just as you desired a tiger. The women of our line have always been warriors, fierce creatures. A force of nature itself.”

Ren chuckled. This conversation was as wild as anything else that had happened in the last few years.

“You laugh, but you fell back in time to find him, didn’t you.”

“Well, it was all sort of an accident.”

“Ren, you know by now, there are no accidents. I’ll miss you when you go. But I will listen to the whispers to hear the tales of you.” He leaned down, kissing her cheek. “When it’s time, you’ll remember. Now let’s go inside before your Soba eats poor Shingen alive.”

She stood slowly then turned to help her grandfather to stand. “You underestimate how charming that man is to women, Sofu. She’s likely eating out of his hand.”



“I did try my best; with her father, it was always an uphill battle. Ren, I’m just happy to see you married a nice Japanese man. It’s good to see one could overlook your unsightly albino coloring to take you as a wife. Hopefully, your son will take after his father.”

Shingen nearly choked on his tea. This was what Ren had to grow up with? No wonder she escaped with a strange man to Norway rather than stay with family in Japan after her father died. He was a bit shocked that ‘men are better than women’ beliefs were still prevalent in this day of age. Unsightly coloring? Maybe attractively exotic, with her pearlescent skin and those stunning eyes, was the woman blind to the ethereal beauty her granddaughter possessed? If anything, he was the lucky one that finally achieved the blessings of his chosen goddess.

Shingen sighed internally, happy that Ren would have some time with her grandfather. He’d entertain this shrew of a woman until it was time to leave. This type of female was easy for him to handle. Just smile and layer on the compliments. He leaned back in his chair, loosening one more button on the collar of his pristine white dress shirt. He longed for the comfort of a kimono. Perhaps he could talk Ren into finding a traditional shop and purchasing some to wear around the house. He found modern clothes to be too tight with a tendency to chafe. He also felt naked without a sword, but Ren had explained they were illegal to carry in this country and would get him arrested. She offered him a knife, but he declined. If the country was now safe enough that no one had a sword, then he would trust that he did not need one.

“Don’t you think?” The woman fawned on him. Shingen gave her a smile so warm the older woman flushed and batted her thinning lashes. He hadn’t been listening…at all.

“Well, what I think is that Ren and I have had a long day, and she does need her rest with our baby, so I’m going to go fetch her.”

“Of course.” The woman started cleaning up the plates as Shingen moved toward the garden.


“You are different, Ren, different like me. Your son will be different. You hold the old spirits in you, and so will the blood of your blood. I’m getting old, my girl, you need to remember.”

“Sofu, you aren’t making any sense. Are you saying we are spirits, like kami? Not Soba, though?”

Shingen paused at the door listening carefully to the conversation.

The old man chuckled. “No, your Soba isn’t like us, but your mother was. Her power was so strong and so old she called your father to her across continents. She desired the strength of the wolf as a mate. Just as you desired a tiger. The women of our line have always been warriors, fierce creatures. A force of nature itself.”

He smiled softly, leaning into the doorframe. Her grandfather was confirming what Shingen knew in his heart. Those visions he had when sick were real, not just the result of a fever dream. He didn’t care what she was, as long as she was his. He stood quietly, waiting for the conversation to end. Ren stood to help the older man up. At that moment, Shingen stepped forward to help.

“My goddess, let me help you.” Shingen nudged his wife to the side and took the old man’s hand in his, assisting him to stand. 

He chuckled, “see Ren, Shingen knows what you are.” 

Shingen gave the old man a conspiratorial wink. 

“How could she be anything but?”


They took a cab to the downtown area and strolled around a bit until Shingen noticed Ren’s steps getting slower. A glance at her ankles showed them swelling slightly. 

“Would you like to take a break.” His arm wrapped gently around her, he bowed his head his lips to her ear.

“No, Shingen, I’m fine.” Her voice was a bit sharp. Stubborn to a fault, he grinned.

“Well I could use a drink, why don’t we stop at that coffee shop there?” He nodded, guiding her toward it.

He pulled a chair out for her, and Ren sunk into it in relief, half sliding her feet out of the heeled shoes.

“Little bird, why are you so stubborn?” He stretched his long limbs before him unbuttoning another button on his shirt. He saw those pretty violet eyes glance to his bare chest.

Ren pulled the menu studying it briefly. “Well, …you just saw what I grew up with.”

“Mmmhmmm, your grandfather seems pretty wonderful.” Shingen perused the menu, a pot of calming herbal tea would likely be best, and something with chocolate.

“He is….” She bit her lip, then sputtered out “a model wife, so obedient and demure. Really Shingen?”

He could see this one coming miles away. He’d actually been reading what to expect during pregnancy blogs so he could be better prepared. Her mood swings were at least somewhat predictable for him. He was thankful she no longer carried anything sharp.

“My goddess, I was only saying what she wished to hear. In a few months, we will be gone. Why not leave her with a favorable impression?”

The table had a floor-length cloth on it. Shingen knocked his napkin to the floor, then on the way up slipped her foot out of its shoe, placing it on his lap.

“Now then, what would you like with our herbal tea?” He massaged her foot slowly, and she sighed with a grin.

“How are you possibly this good?”

“Chocolate it is. How about that seven deadly sins chocolate cake?”

“I hope you like me fat.” She muttered.

“Little bird, I love you no matter what. And frankly, your body right now is incredibly sexy, and every little change is just that much more enticing. You carry a life we made together inside you.” He dropped the first relaxed foot and picked up the second. “As witnessed right now, I can’t keep my hands off you.” 

“I’ll split one with you.” She conceded with a grin. He knew she couldn’t stay mad at him.

“I’m not sharing my chocolate with you. “ He teased, knowing she would devour the whole piece leaving him only with a taste. The waiter came, and he ordered for them both.

Ren smiled.

“Better?” Shingen placed her foot to the floor

“Yes, I adore you.”

“And I adore you, I’ll be back in a blink.” Kissing her forehead, he wandered off toward the restrooms.


Ren paused a moment watching him walk away. She wasn’t sure what she did to deserve someone as wonderful as him, but she was happy to have him. Curiously she pulled her phone out, doing a google search for the name Takeda.

Her jaw dropped. Holy hell, it was not like that before. Takeda Corp had their fingers dipped into everything and was a worldwide powerhouse. The current CEO looked like Shingen plus a few decades. Nice preview of what was to come, she smirked.

Ren paused, tapping her fingers a few moments. She really hadn’t looked up anything, she typed her husband’s name into the search bar. Scanning the information quickly. 

Disappeared with his wife a few months after unification. One of the Takeda brothers married Shion. The clan moved forward into prosperity.

Hmmm, it didn’t seem to matter if they reappeared in Sengoku?

Ren glanced over her shoulder. Then quickly typed into the search.

Oda Nobunaga

Her eyes skimmed the passage, he lived well into his seventies, she breathed a sigh of relief. Nōhime…he married a beautiful, intelligent woman skilled in martial combat.

That was barren.

Ren winced.

Her finger skimmed a long list of sons and daughters. Confusion wrinkled her brow.

Then Ren saw the list of concubines.

“What is it, my goddess?” Shingen arrived back at the table, sliding smoothly into his seat.

“Oh, I just looked up the Takeda name, that is remarkable.” Ren closed her phone. The desserts and tea arrived, she was ravenous again. It felt like she was never going to be full.

“And that made you frown?” He took a bite of the cake and moaned. “They do have the best desserts in your time.”

“Well, no…I looked up Nobunaga.” Ren felt her cheeks flush in embarrassment.

“He marries and has heirs.” Shingen nodded, his grey eyes studying her while he took another bite.

“You looked him up?” Ren sipped her tea.

“I looked up everyone, information is kind of my thing, little bird.” He winked, continuing to enjoy his cake.

“I was hoping he’d find a partnership like ours. But it doesn’t seem like that happened.” Ren finished her cake off in a few bites, then scooped some chocolate drizzle off her plate with a finger.

“I was happy to not see your name on the concubine list,” Shingen replied softly. He put his fork down. “We both saw your braid sewn into his obi, Ren. It obviously will happen.”

“Maybe it’s not my hair, history states we disappeared.” She licked her finger off, then went back for more. Shingen rolled his eyes in disbelief. “Alright, with that color, it most likely is mine.”

“I was concerned,” he tapped his fork against the plate “that if I died, you’d go to him. I asked Sasuke to promise me you’d stay here in the future if I died. He declined but said he would make sure you were taken care of…that you were happy and wouldn’t fall to darkness.”

Ren leaned forward, wiping her chocolate-filled finger on his lower lip then kissed him.

“My Tiger, you know my heart is yours. Even if you pass before me, you still carry it with you.”

Shingen pushed away from the table, pulling her into his lap. A few people from surrounding tables glanced at them.

“Ren, I just love you that much. I’m sorry I am such a jealous man I swear I never knew I was before you.” He kissed her softly, his hand resting on her rounded hip, holding her snug to him.

“Shingen, everyone is looking.” Ren flamed red.

“Let them look.” He kissed her again like she was the air he needed to breathe. His arms held her tight, and everything in their world was perfect.