Author: Cynthia Taz
Once upon a time Tara thought it was the redhead's usual business face. But now, she knew. It was more.
It was her mask. Or at least Tara hoped it was.
And it made Tara want to shout two little words:
She did not know where to stand, the relationship between herself and the so-called 'Yakuza monster'.
She did not want to see the monster as a monster, but with the death of the Columbian still fresh in her mind, it was kinda hard not to.
Just as it was hard not to remember she was living in the Liberty City.
Even so, Tara could not deny her strong feeling towards the redhead.
Strong feeling. Tara did not know if she was in love with her... if she was falling for her.
Crush, yes. Pain as it might be, she had a crush. Even love.
But in love? It was too big of a thing to make the conclusion. Not now. Or maybe not ever.
The hand hit the wooden table, making everyone except the owner of the hand jumped. Tara turned towards the owner, and found herself staring at a pair of green orbs. "Y-yes?"
"Are we boring you? Do you need some... entertainment?" The coldness in the orbs made Tara shake her head so hard that it almost fell off.
"The plan will proceed as we've discussed." Green orbs dismissed the group of Yakuza, and the men left without a word, leaving Tara alone with her.
"Plan?" At the raising eyebrow, Tara swallowed. "I... um... just curious."
"You do know what they say, curiosity killed the cat?" Tara could felt her face rapidly whitened, and it only served her some giggles from the redhead. Willow held up her hands in surrender, the cold edge that was surrounding her disappeared as quickly as the blood drain from Tara's face. "Kidding. I mean, unless you're really a cat who's imposing as a blond hot-mama."
The blood that was leaving suddenly made a U-turn and rushed back towards Tara's face, along with the bravely that Tara did not think she would have in front of the Yakuza's monster. "Don't you wanna know?" A small smirk appeared on her face.
It was Willow's turn to blush. She cleared her throat. "Well, you don't really have to worry about the others. Just some chores that need to be done. Nothing serious. I want you to do something for me though."
The smile on the redhead's face was lost again. "There's a container in the Portland Dock that I need you to claim for me. I've already prepared a line runner for you. Once you get it, drive the container to the Callahan Point. Someone will be there, waiting. Once all the cargos were taken out, destroy the car. Oh, and wear this." The redhead pulled out Mafia trade-mark black suits and a ski mask that interestingly enough, had a white yellow flower on the forehead. "This is more of a Mafia business. Besides, they won't know who you are if you don't wear it."
Tara nodded and moved away, feeling the green orbs that were staring at her butt as she left.
After picking up the line runner, Tara followed the GPS towards the Portland Harbour. It did not take long for her to reach the location, but she was surprised to find two men with blue boiler suits and black bandanas, the trade mark of the East-Asian gang the Triads, guarding the container.
Assessing the situation, Tara turned the line runner around until the tail was at the same line as the container behind. Stepping hard on the gas, she reserved the line runner and ran it straight to the container. The two Triads got barely enough time to jump away from the track and avoided being sandwiched. Hearing a loud click that indicating the container had connected to the line runner, Tara immediately changed the gear and drove towards the exit.
The line runner almost reached the gate of the dock when two police cars arrived, along with about a dozen of Triads. While the Triads would probably be hopelessly running after the line runner until they finally figured out that they could never out run the truck, Tara knew it would not out run the two police cars. Bitting her lips, Tara made a sharp turn, feeling the line runner almost roll over at the turn and drove right through the security fence and onto the road.
The blonde's mind went into auto-mode as she drove the line runner pass the China Town towards the meeting point. She could feel bullets hitting both sides of the line runner, watching as another group of Triads trying to reach for the side doors and pull her out of the track, but it did not worry her. At least not so much as being spotted by other police cars. Making another sharp turn, Tara finally reached under the Callahan Bridge and to the Callahan Point, a small dock that not many people knew of.
Stopping the track and jumped down from the driver's seat, Tara was greeted by five people with ski masks, each with a different letter on the mask's forehead. "Hi." The men with a 'V' ski mask and a hand full of blankets moved forward. "You're Bunny Hugger?"
"Um... no." Tara frowned under the mask, and turned towards the other four who had gone straight to the container. "I'm-"
V held up his hand. "Then I don't need to know." He moved towards the back of the container to join the others. Tara followed, and gasped when she spotted what was the 'cargo'.
Animals, locked in small cages, moaning and groaning as light reached their eyes. The smell of faeces and death filled the air, and it did not take a genius to notice most of them were dead. "My God." She whispered, but the others did not seem to be surprised at the sight in front of them, as they moved the dead animals aside while covering the living ones with blankets, shading the poor animals from direct sunlight before moving their cages out of the container.
"You didn't know, did you? You're just a hired hand." V commented as he picked up one of the cages covered by blanket and moved towards the boat packed nearby. Without another word, Tara reached for one herself and followed V. "When Bunny Hugger said the Mafia are helping, I thought he was kidding."
Tara could see V rasing an eyebrow even under the ski mask. "You really don't know anything." He shook his head, handing the box to the other man waiting on the boat. "Ever heard of 'Pets Overnight Dot Com'?"
Tara handed out her cage and moved towards the container once again. "'Delivering little bundles of love, in a box, directly to your door.'" Tara repeated the words of the advisement that she had heard in the radio over and over again. "They sell pets online." Paused. "Did they..."
"They figure it will be easier to pre-pack the 'bundles of love' and stuff them into a container than actually love them." V sighed. "We have been trying to stop their operation for couple of years now, but whoever runs the Pets Overnight is under the Triad's protection, and the LCPD wouldn't do a damn thing about it. Probably got braided before we even heard of the site."
"And Bunny Hugger offers help?"
V nodded. "We've been tracking down every shipment they got. Most of them are stopped before they reach the Liberty City, but there's still one or two shipments managed to get pass us. Bunny Hugger had been helping us online for almost a year now. When he told us he would get the Mafia to help us get the container, I thought he was insane. Who would have thought the Mafia are willing to piss off the Triads and LCPD at the same time?"
"So you never met Bunny Hugger before?"
He shook his head. "It'll be safer for both of us anyway. There are not many animal lovers in Liberty City." V answered before picking up another cage and moved away. Tara was about to do the same when one of the people in the container dropped the cage, the force breaking the lock and opened the cage door. Tara rushed forward and caught the black and white kitten that almost fell out from the container.
Hearing the noise, V ran back to the container, in time to see Tara cuddling the kitten into her arms. Nodding at the others to continue their work, V led Tara to the shade under the Callahan Bridge, pulling out a stethoscope from under his shirt and a small torch from his back pocket. "Here." He said, taking the kitten from Tara's arms and started examining the young animal. Surprisingly, the kitten tried to crawl back into Tara's arms, meowing softly as if asking for the blond Mafia.
"Seems you got yourself a fan." V's smile could be heard under the mask. After couple of minutes, V handed the kitten back to Tara. "She looks healthy enough, just a bit too thin and dirty."
Tara smiled as the kitten mewled softly and started licking her hand. "You're a vet?" She asked, smoothing the kitten's black fur.
V pointed at his forehead. "There's a reason I got a 'V', Flower."
Tara blinked, suddenly remember the flower that was on her forehead. "Right."
"V, it's done."
V and Tara turned, and found the others were in the process of moving the last cage to the boat. "Well, that's my ride." He turned back towards Tara. "Can I ask you something?" Tara nodded. "Do you like cats?" The blond was a bit confused, but nodded anyway. "Animal friendly house?" Tara thought for a moment, and nodded again. "Then I trust you will take good care of her?"
Tara's jaw dropped. "You..."
"I don't usually do this, but... she seems to take a liking to you. Who am I to say no to a cute kitten?" V shrugged. "Promise me though, if you can't take care of her, find her a good home?"
Tara nodded. "I promise."
V waved, and followed the others into the boat before it disappearing into the harbour.
No longer wearing the ski mask and black suit, Tara stepped into the taxi with the kitten cuddling in her arms. Just as she closed the taxi door, a loud explosion could be heard, and Tara closed her eyes. "Rest in peace." She whispered a silent prayer for the innocent animals that were dead in the container, before directing the taxi driver towards to her apartment.