Author: Cynthia Taz
"And you wouldn't be protecting her if you don't have strong feelings for her."
The words from Faith rang in Tara's ears. She was, under Miyuki the slut order, to go to the casino to get Willow to the condo as the redhead was having an online conference with the Yakuza in Japan and would not take any calls. And waiting in the redhead's office, having nothing but Faith's words replaying in her head for over an hour only added a pile of craps onto her crappy week serving as Miyuki's bell-girl.
Curiosity finally got better of Tara, and the blond pushed herself up from the coach, intended to nose around. After all, she was an undercover cop who was so not having feelings for one of the bad guys.
Reaching the table, Tara stared at the single object that was not office-related: the single silver frame that was put next to the computer and the piles and piles of paper.
A photo of Willow and an Asian woman.
"Is there something I can help you with?"
Tara almost jumped out of the skin at the voice. Willow was standing in the doorway with a blank face that contained only a hint of exhaustion. "I..." She took a step back away from the table. "I-I w-was-"
"Miyuki-san sent you?"
"There's something I need to discuss with her anyway." Willow moved towards the table, picking up the picture frame, and stared at it for a moment before putting it back down. "How's work?" She asked, moving herself behind the table and sat down.
"It is..." Tara paused, and couldn't help but sighed loudly before answering. "Interesting." She sighed again.
Willow looked up and raised an eyebrow. "You could have said it without the sighs."
Tara blushed. "Sorry."
It was Willow's turn to sigh. "It is only temperately, until I can find someone better to do the job." She explained. "Essentially, you're a Mafia, and you're here to help us take care of the Columbians, not taking care of Miyuki-san." Paused. "Unless you like this position?"
Tara could not shake her head fast enough.
Willow raised her other eyebrow, before her eyes grazing back towards the picture frame. "It is an easier job. You don't have to lift a finger except accomplishing her."
Tara frowned, feeling a bit insulted. "I can do my job just fine, Miss Kasen."
"I'm not saying you're incompetent. I'm just saying that it is..." The redhead's voice dropped a bit as she turned towards the window. "Safer."
"Oh." Tara studied the redhead for a long moment, before finally gathered enough courage to open her mouth again. "A-are you alright?"
The redhead closed her eyes for a long moment, causing Tara to start wondering if the redhead had fallen asleep when the door suddenly spun opened. Both Willow and Tara jumped up, and found TJ standing there, panting. "Willow-san, Miyuki-san..."
A murder look crept onto Willow's face. "Let's go."
Tara drove to Miyuki's condo in record time, but the speed did not help calming the redhead as she jumped out of the stinger before the car even stopped. A group of Yakuza, some injured, guarded the only Columbian alive. A burnt four-wheel drive was just around the corner with several bodies, indicating the fight that had ended not long ago. "Where's Miyuki?"
"We cannot find her, Willow-san." Yamada answered. "When we came back the Columbian's were already leaving. Masa-chan is dead-"
"'When we came back'?" Willow growled, grabbed the collar of Yamada's shirt and pulled him towards her. Other Yakuza immediately took a step back and bowed at the fury redhead.
"Miyuki-san ordered us to leave her alone-"
"So you leave her without protection?!"
"That's why Masa's dead, now isn't it?!" The redhead pushed the man down to the ground. "This is the Columbian you captured?"
"Yes Willow-san." Another Yakuza answered. "We think you may want to interrogate him..."
Willow turned towards TJ. "Go get the men ready. I'll call you once I got the location."
"Yes Willow-san." TJ bowed and jumped back into the Stinger and drove away, along with four other Stingers which had arrived not long ago. Willow cocked her figure, and Tara followed her into Miyuki's condo with other Yakuza.
"I don't have time to play, so I'll get to the point." Willow said calmly as she stood in front of the bound Colombian. Tara and Yamada were standing at the back, one watching with curiosity while the other watching anxiety. "Where's Miyuki-san?"
The Colombian spilled at her. Willow took a step back, skillfully and gracefully avoided the spill (as if she had practiced a thousands times), and moved towards the various objects on the table nearby. The redhead put on plastic gloves, picked up a small paring knife and a bottle of red chili paste, before smearing the paste all over the knife. "Last chance. Where's Miyuki-san?"
The Colombian swallowed, but said nothing.
"So be it." Willow suddenly slid behind the Colombian and kicked him on the back. The Colombian, bounded by hands and legs, kneed onto the ground by the force. Before he could push himself up, Willow pulled down his pants, and trusted the knife into his anus.
The Colombian screamed, almost in an in-human voice.
Willow pulled out the knife, calmly moved back towards the table, and applied more chili paste on it. Tara was too shock to stop her as she turned back towards the Colombian, pulled him up by his hair, and trusted the knife into the man's socket. The man screamed again.
Pulling the knife out, Willow dropped the man on the floor, ignoring the blood that had spilled onto her kimono. "Where is she?" She asked calmly as she moved back towards the table, applying chili paste onto the knife once again.
The redhead once again moved towards the fallen Colombian, who was in the edge of losing conscious, when Tara finally shook herself out from the shock. "Stop!" Yamada tried to stop Tara, but the blond pushed him away and positioned herself between the Colombian and Willow. "Just stop!"
Willow narrowed her eyes at Tara for a moment before turning back towards the Colombian. "Not until he tells me what I want to know."
"You're killing him!"
Tara's eyes widened. The woman in front of her did not care anything except getting what she wanted. "Monster..."
Willow laughed. She was laughing so hard that her hands were holding her stomach. Tara looked at her as if she was crazy, while Yamada looked even more nervous. "Not too far from truth, Mafia. Yamada-san, do tell our dear Tara-chan here what they call me back in Japan."
"Yakuza-no-Bakemono. It means monster of Yakuza, Tara-san."
Tara shook her head. "I can't let you hurt him."
Willow cocked her head. "Oh?"
Any reply was lost when a Yakuza entered the room with a phone. "Willow-san. It's TJ-san."
Willow's eyes did not leave Tara when she took the phone. "Hello?" Paused. "Yes?" The redhead strengthened herself as she heard the words from the other side. "Is she okay?" Tara could see the redhead's tightened her hand around the knife, a murder look once again crept up on her face. "What do you mean? She sneaked out before the Colombian's attack? Where is she now?" She turned around, her back facing Tara. "I see. Takai's with her?" Paused. "Good. Tell her I'll come by later. You know what to do?" Paused. "And once you finish there, take the boys out and clean them up."
Willow finally hanged up and handed the phone back to the Yakuza, but the young gangster was too busy staring at the fallen Colombian to notice. The redhead raised an eyebrow at the Yakuza and poked him in his stomach, causing him to jump out of his skin. "Wanna play?" The Yakuza shook his head without a second thought.
Willow shook her head and turned towards Yamada. "Do take care of him, will you? I'm sure the Colombians would like something back... and send someone to clean up the room. Miyuki-san will be staying at my place for a night."
"Y-yes, Willow-san." Yamada bowed and immediately scrumbled away.
Tara watched the other two Yakuza ran away, before looking back at the redhead, who looked down at her kimono with a frown. "I'm going to change." The redhead announced before walking away, leaving Tara with the dying Colombian.
Tara had expected Yamada to take the Colombian to hospital, but instead she had watched the Yamada shooting the man in the head. And his death fueled Tara's resolve - to stop these crime organizations at all cost. That was why she was now standing in front of the room where Willow had disappeared into - so she could leave and contact Angel, might be getting the department to arrest the gangsters before they could destroy the evidence.
When no one answered her knock, she opened the door and stepped inside. The room was bigger than Tara had imagined, facing the harbor. What caught Tara's attention though was the photo at the nightstand - the same one Tara had seen in Willow's office. Turning the attention away from it, Tara moved towards the door at the other side where the sounds of water hitting the shower came from. Moving forward, she was about to knock on the door when she heard something she could not imagine herself hearing, not after witnessing what she had seen an hour again. Taking a deep breath, she knocked, and opened the door.
The bathroom was filled with stream, but it did not take Tara a second to notice the shadow behind the shower glass. Closing the bathroom door, Tara moved closer to the shower. "Willow?" When no one answered, Tara slid opened the glass door.
Willow was sitting on the tiles, her knees drawn together as she hugged herself tight at the corner. The hot water heated her skin, causing it to become almost as red as her hair. The redhead's body was shaking, and the sound of water wasn't enough to cover the sobs from the Yakuza's second-in-command.
Tara sighed. "Willow." She whispered and turned off the over-heated water.
The redhead looked up, noticed the blond for the first time. "Tara."
"C'mon." The blond reached for the towel nearby, covering the redhead's naked body, and pulled her towards herself, slowly drying her off.
Willow closed her eyes, and let herself fell into Tara's arms. "I'm not." She mumbled.
"I'm not alright."
Tara sighed. "I know." The blond picked up the bath robe nearby, ignoring the nakedness and helped the redhead to put on a robe, before leading her into the room onto the bed, covering her with a blanket.
The redhead, still refused to open her eyes, smoothing her cheek on the cool pillow. "I'm tried... Goddess I tried... But I'm just so tired... Everything's falling apart, but I can't do a thing about it..."
"You don't have to be strong all the time."
Slowly, Willow opened her red-shot eyes, and stared at Tara who was slowly smoothing her hair. "I'm the Yakuza-no-Bakemono."
Tara merely shook her head and continued smoothing the redhead's hair.
"Toni will be laughing his head off, won't he?"
"I won't tell him."
"Why?" Willow frowned. "Why are you helping me? I don't understand..."
Tara turned towards the window, looking out at the harbor, silently searching for an answer. Finally, she whispered: "I don't understand either."