Author: Cynthia Taz
Tara stood on the balcony at the top floor of the Kenji's Casino, waiting quietly for the mysterious redhead to appear. She could feel the glares coming from the two Yakuza members behind her back, just as the glare she had felt since she stepped out of the Mafia trademark Sentinel or telling them she didn't have any weapon when they asked (actually, they looked at her like she was crazy but Tara decided not to think too deeply about that).
Leaning against the pole, Tara let the night cool wind caressed her hair. She could not remember the last time she was able to watch the city without spotting crime or violence on the street - she did not know if it was because she was living in the worst city in America, or simply that her professionally-trained eyes had unconsciously sought them out. The most ironic thing was the only time she could enjoy the view of the city after all these years was while she was standing on the balcony of a casino that belonged to one of the most powerful crime organizations in Liberty City.
Suddenly feeling the hair at the back of her neck stood, Tara spun around and face to face with a pair of fresh green orbs. Tara jumped, her back pressing hard against the bar behind her as her brain finally placed a name for the face in front of her. "H-hi." Once the word was out, she could not help but flinched at her own stutter.
The redhead blinked at Tara, stunned. By what, Tara did not know. The undercover cop did not spend time to wonder about that question either as she took in the woman. She was exactly the same from the photos Tara had seen: black kimono that looked way too depressed, red hair that just reached the shoulder, green eyes that were shinning under the city lights, pale skin that seemed so unhealthy. "I'm T-"
"I know." The redhead blurted out, and much to Tara's surprise, a faint blush appeared on the cheeks a second later. "I mean, TJ- um, the guy who bought you up, told me. So..." She cleared her throat, and let a polite but clearly fake smile slid onto her face. "Toni sent you?"
"Yes Miss Rosen-"
"Kasen. My name is Willow Kasen." The smile quickly crumbled as Willow interrupted roughly. "Never call me Rosenberg."
Willow shook her head. She turned and moved towards the chair behind her before sitting down, gesturing Tara to follow. A worker from the casino appeared and put down a tea pot and two cups on the table between them. "I hope you like tea." She picked up the pot and pouted some for Tara. "This brand is one of the best in Japan. It taste good, but it will be even better if the tea is made following the steps of Japanese tea ceremony. I took some classes back in Japan. Maybe I can show you some day?" Paused. "You like tea, right?"
Tara nodded. "I do." She accepted the offered cup and took a slip herself. "It's good."
Willow nodded. "I'm glad. Well," she stood. "Can you tell Toni that I'll meet him at Carson General Hospital at zero-one-hundred?"
Tara blinked. "Carson General?"
"I heard one of your guys is in the hospital. It gives him an excuse. Except police station, hospital is the best guarded place. Besides," the redhead smiled again, and the fake smile sent chills down Tara's spine. "What better place to get shot than hospital?"
Tara glanced at the back mirror for a second before turning back towards the road in front of her. Toni was now sitting at the back of the car, his eyes staring out at the window as the car drove into the Porter tunnel. Carson General Hospital was located at Staunton Island where Yakuza had no control of. It was the reason Tara had been so surprised when Willow had nominated that location: even if the hospital itself was not exactly controlled, it was extremely close to the turf that belonged to Colombian Cartel, the same organization that was believed to have murdered Yakuza former leader, Asuka Kasen.
Turning around the corner, the blond had no choice but stepped hard on the break while applying the hand break, causing the limo to spin to a stop. A truck had crashed not far ahead, effectively blocking the lanes on both sides. Not that there were other cars in the tunnel.
Toni smiled knowingly and stepped out of the car. "Hey kid."
Tara and the other two members of the gang also stepped out of the car as a figure wearing a blue generator uniform and hat appeared from the maintenance entrance at the side of the tunnel. It was not until the figure took off its hat that Tara saw the red hair and pale face. "Nice driving." Willow told Tara before turning towards Toni. "Hey."
"You're getting easy to predict, kid." Toni grinned. "And careless. Where's your men?"
"Around. You want to see me?"
"We don't need to fight, Yakuza and Mafia. We don't even stay in the same island."
"You should have asked for Miyuki-san. I'm not the head of Yakuza. Who we ally isn't really my decision."
"Who are you kidding? That little sushi ain't going no where."
"Knowing how you love to run your mouth, Toni, I'll let it slide." Willow raised an eyebrow. "But if she's really going no where, then same thing should have been said about you, don't ya think? You may be the Don of Mafia, but everyone knows one of these day daddy's boy gonna takes everything back. I wonder how your ma thinks of that..."
Toni narrowed his eyes. "Let's get down to business."
"Fine." Willow said, the little mischief that was shinning in her eyes disappeared. "Give us Colombians."
"What's in for me?"
"C'mon Toni. Don't lie. Daddy's boy's friendly with Colombians, and you know it." Tara side-glanced at Toni, suddenly realized that she had been underestimating that man. She had always thought that Toni did not know of Joey, or 'Daddy's boy' as they called, secret deals with Colombians. "You want them out as much as I do."
"I can't declare war against Colombians officially, not without a good cause. Same goes with making ally with you. There're still some who remember it's your man who wasted old Leone."
"Our man? C'mon now. Everyone knows he used to be working for Salvatore Leone, until Sal betrayed him, that was. Not our fault you Mafias don't know loyalty when it bits you on your ass." Willow shrugged. "And you don't have to worry anything. Give me two weeks. I'll make sure Mafia has more than enough excuses to declare war against Colombians, and daddy's boy won't bother you anymore."
"Two weeks." Toni agreed. He nodded at Tara, and they turned back towards the car.
When Tara stepped back into the car, the redhead was already gone, leaving only the wrecked truck in front of them.