Description: When word gets out that the ironclad grip of Duke over Southtown was being broken, a howling power vacuum rips through. And in the heart of this Maelstrom, Jack Turner sits in Mac's Bar, weighing his future opportunities. But when Tairyu shows up seeking the hostage that Jack was holding, the future of both men and their gangs is held by a card game. Winner takes all.
Mac's Bar catered to a certain clientele.
The brick and plaster house out into the particularly scummy side of Southtown was squeezed between a flophouse and a fenced off alleyway, all on a pot-hole riddled street that was well worn. Motorcycles are lined up all outside on and beside the bar. There are no lights, except from the revved up motorcycles themselves, and the dim neon sign. It was popular tonight. Not with good folks, no. Gangsters. Bikers, specifically.
Inside, was worse.
It was filthy. Brick and decaying plaster line the walls of the interior, cracked azure tile line the floor. Fans twirl around, are all that keep it cool. In the winter? The watered down liquor behind the bar will keep you warm. A pool table sits amongst the tables, and locals of various criminal status wait in the chairs. The only real decoration that stands out between the rotten flyers is the neon sign of 'BAR STREET STARS'. Right now, a crowd of a dozen were all around the big table; a card game was running, as their kingpin was leaning back, watching the game unfold before him. A man, ignoring the game, was whispering to him.
"So the word is Duke's going to get tossed out, Jack."
The mulleted round man leans back in his chair, his booted feet up on the table, as his gangster shares the scuttlebutt. The leader of the gang, Jack Turner, was a big man. Garbed in black leather pants and only a jean jacket vest for a shirt, a headband sits on his forehead as he digests the news.
"We're thinking about the girl." Jack Turner glances up over at the gangster, a curious brow arched at him. "What, the Aizawa-Gumi-Insurance?" He repeats back, shifting his gaze upstairs. He shifts his gaze back towards the man. He nods, and continues. "We and the boys were talking, if Duke's going out, then the other bosses are gonna start moving in on his turf. We're his turf." Jack Turner lets out a groan of frustration. He used to be his own man, his own gangster. And then, the Syndicate consolidated him in. First Mr. Big. Then Duke. And now, another gang war? Great. Jack Turner sticks a finger to his head, and mimes pulling the trigger. "Hang on boss." The man quickly adds. "We know, and we were thinking, maybe we can start securing our side. Cause we got the girl, right? And Duke was blackmailing the Aizawa-Gumi, and getting their stuff in his territory? Well, why don't we do the same to them, and get our -own- territory, and let what's left of them work for us, or else the girl gets it?" Jack Turner mulls, rubbing his chubby chin.
And he snaps his fingers.
"That's smart. That's real smart. We find the scumballs that's part of the Aizawa-Gumi or whatever, and we start turning the screws. When Mr. Big comes in talking crap, then we can have -those- guys fight for their life, to protect the girl." "You know what I -really- like from her." The men all look to each other and nod. Jack Turner reaches out, and mimes holding a particularly curvy shape. His mouth waters at the thought of it. It was only just last night. He wipes the sweat from his brow, looking back over to the men. They all had almost the same look; after all, they experienced that same feeling, every night since she had been their prisoner. They all give their knowing nods with him.
"She is such a damn good cook."
The front door to the bar probably opens and closes up often enough to not warrant much attention. But the figure that happens to walk through right then stands out enough amongst the usual clientele to draw some longer looks after the first glance.
Certainly, the presence of the japanese man who has slipped inside is one that speaks of a more dangerous, if not outright criminal character. But not in the same way as the leather and denim clad bikers and color gangers that end up gravitating towards a bar like this. Rather than leather or denim, the man is clad in black suit pants, black blazer jacket and a partially unbuttoned red shirt with a popped collar. And yet, as he walks his ways through, his stride is that of a man who is perfectly comfortable where he is. Like he belonged there in the first place, or at least has no qualms about metaphorically invading it. A path through the bar decided immediately after a quick sweep of a green-eyed gaze through the interior, and an equally quick assessment of the people inside. Just based on that, he gravitates towards the poker table manned by the bikers, as if that was where he was headed for right from the start.
"Yo," Tairyu rumbles out, stopping just short of the table -- and right on the tail end of the bikers' conversation, with a barely-restrained anger in his eye.
"Who's this cook of yours?"
See, at first, the locals didn't really react too hard at the arrival of the stranger.
He just had that certain air, that certain men had, that you certainly didn't aggrevate. One of the dirty secrets of Mac's Bar, is that you don't start trouble with sharp-dressed men, or else you're throat will be cut open and tongue pulled through like a necktie, as a warning to others. So when the man cuts through straight to the table, it actually works as a -bluff- of all things. He didn't act like a man who had anything to worry about here. Which was just like what a Syndicate Agent would do. And yet, when the boss is approached, and when the brute is interrupted by the question, that gets a vibe of discomfort. And Jack Turner leans his head back, rolling it loosely. He was getting a thought now.
A rebel with a cause, thought.
"I thought I heard a someone mutter something." The burly brute rubs a tongue on his own teeth. "Ought to speak up louder in the Neo Black Cat's territory. Mumbling's a good way to get a misunderstanding, and your ass kicked." Some of the men step out to block the way out. "I heard you though." The brute sneers, as he drops his boots off the table. "She's just a young girl, barely got any figure on her, so we can't parade her around like some bar fly floozy." He glances around at the one or three floozies who work hard in this bar. "She got to be useful, and well, she's been working the kitchens. We figured, a good girl like that should have some good, honest work to pay for her education." The biker makes sure it doesn't sound that he is a good girl, nor is a robust education a young lady should receive. "Maybe in a couple of years, we'll be able to cover her for Seijyun High. Or maybe Lucy down there can teach her how to suck an hard boiled egg through a garden hose, same difference."
THere is a roar of laughter across the table at the boss's joke.
He gestures at the stranger. Suddenly, a chair is shoved right at his legs by one of the local barflies. "Why don't you pull up a chair, buddy." The hefty gangster asks with the faux air of someone who certainly doesn't consider this stranger a friend. "If you got time to jabber with me? You got time for cards. I think I feel like a game right now, and I got a lot on the line to wager." He snaps his fingers, and drops his boots. The other players, his men, quickly tithe their own winnings to the boss. "Name's Jack Turner. I'm the boss here, if you haven't figured it out." Jack Turner winks at the stranger. "You got some cash, some name, and some... lets start with those two first."
"Gotta have both, if you are gonna meet our stakes."
The japanese man doesn't seem fazed by the laughter-echoed words sent his way. Or the subtle shift of men around the bar that would, almost positively, come across as a slowly-forming trap. Or, at the very least, the man doesn't allow himself to appear fazed.
The chair gets shoved at him, and without even looking, he snaps a hand up to catch onto the corner of it's backrest, stopping it just short of thudding at his shins. The cards and the piles of cash both are eyed over for a few seconds, and then, all too casually, he says--
And as if it was completely normal for him to do so here, indeed, he smoothly turns the chair over so he might slide himself sitting upon it, facing the table, while his other hand slips underneath his jacket. "It's bad form to play in your own workplace, so I haven't had a chance at a table in a while."
His hand leaves the depths of his jacket, and with a resounding *THUD*, a small stack of bills is set down onto the table.
"Too bad, though. I didn't bring a lot of cash with me this time around." His shoulders roll slowly underneath the sharp jacket, but he doesn't sound or seem terribly worried by this. "I'm sure we'll both figure out a way to handle the stakes, regardless."
But there's still the second thing demanded of him. It's delayed, with his lean against the backrest of the chair while his hand brings a cigarette, having appeared seemingly out of nowhere between two fingers, to his lips.
The offer of the name comes all too casually, too, considering the circumstances. He must surely be aware of the possibility that the bikers did actually ask Miku what her last name was. And yet, he still doesn't hold any outward worry on himself. As far as any onlookers are concerned, the presence of Tairyu might very well appear as though he thinks he belongs there, in that bar, at that card table, just as much as Jack Turner does,
In other circumstances, the guy would be heading straight for the bar brawl.
And yet, the thug seemed almost enjoying the balance of power. Jack Turner picks his teeth with his pinky nail, as the stranger throws out the wad of bills. "That'll get you started." Was his response. He snaps his fingers at the men. Everyone else backs from the table, leaving it to the gang boss, and the stranger. It looked like it was going to be a one on one card game. And then he gives his name, as the cigarette comes.
The whole room goes wide-eyed, Jack included, when the name is dropped.
"Well batter and fry me up." States Jack Turner, as the dealer sends the first three cards out. "I guess there really is a big shakeup in the city. That's the only reason I can think someone like you poking your head in here." Jack Turner lifts them up, and smirks. "Let me guess. You think your debts have been settled, and you want to collect the girl. I can understand that. You're not the first guy who's been in debt, and you sure as hell won't be the last." He slides the cash on the table.
"Are you gonna call?"
While the proverbial weight of the name is falling upon the heads of everyone around, Tairyu merely lights the cigarette betwixt his lips with a lighter that seemed to have been produced just as quickly as the cigarette itself. His eyes don't even fully remain on the biker sitting opposite from him -- instead, flickering sharply towards the hand of the man dealing out the cards. Figures someone who alluded to a workplace that involves gambling would keep an eye on these things.
"I wouldn't know anything about that, or any debts," the sharp-dressed Yakuza claims past the lit cigarette between his teeth, fingers sliding along the edge of the cards set in front of him to tip them up, just enough for him to get a peek at them.
"I just finally knew where to come looking."
It's a hell of a statement to make. And one that speaks of more confidence than anyone sitting down where he's perfectly surrounded by potential enemies, with a hostage in the back, should have any right to hold. And the kind of sentiment that should suggest that his entry would have been heralded by fists, firebombs, bullets and blood. And yet-- he chose to simply step inside, without any immediately apparent backup, and have a seat.
Either he has a death wish, or...
A portion of his own cash is slid over towards the center of the table, while Tairyu's other hand guides it's fingers to curling along the cigarette, drawing it away from his lips as a puff of light-grey smoke is exhaled out. And his eyes meet those of Jack's, directly.
"You'll make this interesting for me, won't you?"
That was what made it so funny to Jack Turner.
If this guy came by yesterday? He would have had his men beat the shit out of him, and then Jack Turner himself would be right there to beat it back into him. Jack Turner didn't keep up with a lot of the politics of the Southtown Syndicate; the only important to him was his bar, his turf, his gang, and synchronized professional dancing. The dealer himself was actually keeping it legitimate though. For a -moment-, just the brief moment, he and Jack's eyes were meeting. The dealer, for the briefest moment, kept a fingertip on the second card. But a tell comes from Jack, and the finger shifts. It looks like it was ripe for cheating. Another unfair advantage. But right now, there was about to be a surging vacuum of power.
ANd Jack wanted to play it nice.
"They never told us why the girl mattered." Jack Turner begins, as the next card comes. He chuckles, red hair shaking as that toad-like grin spreads across his lips. "Just that we keep her safe, and keep anybody interested in her away. They had me do it, cause they figure someone like me is dumb. Well I'm not smart, and that's different. I figured it was someone's little sister." He tosses more cash up on the table, flinging it like loose change. "I'm raising." He adds. "Now I'm done a lot of wrong, but I know that when I got to take care of something, it's like taking care of a bike. You put a lot of work into it, but you don't let it fall to pieces." Was it a taunt? A promise? For a brutal biker, Jack was being awfully subtle. "I got a thought though. I still have the girl. And you don't have much of, well, anything." He leans forward a bit, keeping his cards to his chest.
"How about we renegotiate your terms."
The fact that Tairyu still keeps the conversation largely one-sided might be a curious thing. Even when Jack Turner starts laying down the facts on the table -- all facts that point towards the biker being in a superior position, at the moment. Surely there should have been some kind of reaction? Something to refute any of it? Contradictions? Even admission? But no, the Yakuza doesn't even seem particularly fazed. In fact, he doesn't even seem surprised when Jack makes that suggestion of renegotiation. A negotiation that the heavy-set man clearly seems to think to be a favorable one for him and his boys. Is the Yakuza just unwilling to admit his impending defeat? Or is he simply that confident in himself in spite of it all? Or is he completely locked up, even?
Then again, just like in Poker, one shouldn't show their cards too early in life, either.
Speaking of cards. With Jack having raised the wager, the japanese man is prompted to take a renewed peek at his own cards. And that? That's when theres a visible pause. Is it hesitation? Contemplation? Whatever it is, it is much too long of a timespan to provide a show of much confidence, anymore. And it begs the question. Is he really as good at these games as he claims to be? A professional gambler definitely would not allow a tell like that to come through.
The word is sighed out, when he slides a good portion of what remains of his previously-provided wad of cash over in order to meet the raise. He may survive with that money to the end of the round, but if he wants to play another hand afterwards, he's going to have to win the pot for himself now.
Or provide something else to ante up with next time along.
"And what are you thinking, then?"
Two more cards are handed out, one to each poker player.
Jack Turner felt like he had all the cards. Whatever the Yakuza gangster had, it was what Jack gave him. He had the girl, he had the man surrounded, and he had him all peaceful like, sitting down. He looks at the next card, and give a little bit of a frown. Not much of a poker face. But Jack didn't think he needed one. "Well, I'll make it simple. That instead of the Aizawa-Gumi working under the Southtown Syndicate, you guys work for me." It was not a generous opening offering. Well, maybe not to the stranger. "More freedom, less tribute. And once I'm happy with it? You'll get the girl back." That was generous, right? Of course, Duke gave almost the same deal, but Jack didn't know that. Jack also didn't know that he had the exact same idea and intentions as Duke. "Call." He says, not raising the pot. It was almost time to reveal their hands so far. Was the stranger going to call? Raise?
Or fold, at the first game?
The offer of terms has been made, and Tairyu does allow his nose to wrinkle over it. A moment of apparent consideration is spent in silence, with fingers rapping over the card table-- before the man's shoulders slump slightly.
"You know the worth of what you have, that's for certain..."
THat's the sound of a man who knows he is dreadfully close to defeat, and still stubbornly holding on. Even if he knows it happens to be entirely futile. Prolonging the inevitable, even.
Perhaps this really is how Aizawa-gumi's flight ends.
"...Mmmf. Raise." In an entirely ill-measured move, Tairyu's hand slides the entirety of his remaining money over to the center of the table. It's still not enough to match everything the biker has in reserve. Clearly at a disadvantage.
"You still wanna go another hand after this, too?"
What an utterly ridicilous question. He must know that if he loses this hand - and the nearly worthless eight-high hand he has doesn't hold much chance of winning either - he doesn't have anything to wager anymore. At least, nothing that's already on the table. Maybe he really is in a terrible position of skill, both in terms of cards and negotiation.
Or maybe he just needs Jack to believe he is in control, for a little longer. To believe that whatever comes next is his idea.
Jack doesn't let his face tremble too much. No, he only gives the brief flicker of uncertainty. Before it surges back with a smirk of arrogance. He needed to keep the offense on, he needed to keep that presence of control. "I got a real eye for talent, you know? You sound pretty new to this. I guess that's why the Aizawa-gumi got all messed up. I don't know the details, I just assume." He runs his hand through his red hair, letting the other go loose with the cards. He didn't even care now. It was too late for Tairyu. "Which is why I'm doing you this favor. Another crime boss, well, they would take advantage of your ignorance, your innocence. Me? I'm doing you a favor." He tosses the money back over. "Call." He doesn't waste time after the cash. He slams his cards down, revealing the full weight of his hand.
"We can keep going, until you got nothing left to offer." The large brute coos with an almost hoarse growl. "But if you are short money, I'd be happy to let the house, ah, loan some cash." He gives a sneer, sizing up Tairyu. Yes. Yes. He would be an excellent dancer. With training, of course. They would just need to find the right leotard for him... "As long as the collateral is worthwhile. Oh, that's dumb of me, you haven't even shown your hand yet." The sneer spreads across the lips of the brute.
"What do you got, bub?"
And just like that, the cards Tairyu flips over are nearly worthless. No doubles, no triples-- all he has to claim is that high nine.
"Oh, well that's unfortunate," he murmurs with a low huff. "And here I was sure you had even less than I did. I guess I read you wrong..." He really is turning out to be progressively worse at this. And this is supposed to be the would-be-leader of Aizawa-gumi. The apple must have fallen far from the tree. He looks like he'd be good in a fight, sure, but a good crime boss that alone doesn't make.
"Collateral, huh..." A long drag is taken from the cigarette, while his hand slides the losing cards over towards the dealer. "I know you want more than just money, obviously. But I don't know, Turner-san... I don't know if I am comfortable in betting things like that *just* for a cash payout."
He must be joking. He doesn't actually think he has any kind of chance to turn things around here, like that, does he? When he is the only one present without any power for enforcing the results results of the wagers, and Jack has a dealer ready to cheat for his benefit. Especially when the Yakuza plays his cards like a child.
And yet, he still looks on over to the biker, with lips slightly pursing up after tugging the smoking cigarette away from his mouth.
Jack didn't want a leader. He wanted a good fighter, and more importantly, one pointed away from him than at him. When Tairyu shows how hands, Jack saw what he wanted to see. Piggishly, he takes in the winnings. As Tairyu plays coy, he snorts a bit, giving a shrug. "I am just trying to help you out. Cause I got a lot of money here. And I know someone who would be more than willing to extend collateral for your sake. It's not cash, either, but..."
He eyes cast towards the dingy swing door, that must lead off to the kitchen.
Speaking of." He states as the next round of cards are dealt. Jack buys in almost instinctively. He doesn't seem to mind if Tairyu made his buy in with cash or... Collateral. "Would you like a bite to eat, some beer?"
"Won't cost you anything yet, bub."
Tairyu's brow quirks up, slightly. "Hoo?" That did catch his interest, now. "And who and what would that be, then?" He might know the answer already, but it needs to come from the other man's mouth, too.
For the time being, though, there's already a hand dealt. And he has to respond to that even before he gets his answer. So, the left sleeve of his jacket is pulled up, just enough to reveal a sleek, expensive-looking wristwatch. The strap undone, the thing is unfurled from around his hand, and tossed carelessly to the table.
"The offer's tempting, Turner-san," says Tairyu then. "But I make a point of keeping myself sober for negotiations." That's what he's calling this?
"The girl, bub."
There was an uncomfortable weight in that statement. He glances back to the kitchen, as the minion walks back there to place the order. How he used her. Was she there right now? Did she even know Tairyu was here? Was it just another gangster, another order, another card game, another long night working over a hot grill? Jack Turner was more than willing to make sure she had a good life. But when it came to bullying a man into working for him? Ends, means, justifications. He had some plans already. Ideas, really.
But the watch comes out, and Jack grimaces.
"What's that worth, about?" He mutters, looking aside to the gangster who shared the news of Duke. The gangster mutters in his ear. Jack's eyes go wide. He tosses more money on there. The unlimited wealth he had piled around him looked much smaller. "I didn't think you had the means for those kind of baubbl- bab- those things." He commits. He looks at his cards, and -continues- to grimace. A bottle is placed down by him. "I'll call." He groans. He stares at his cards, before looking up at Tairyu. It seemed the momentum had shifted, where he was reacting to his cards. He mindlessly reaches for the beer. Negotiations. Now the word has hit him. He snapped out of his daze, and pulls a hand away from the bottle.
"How much manpower do you have." He growls firmly, trying to get control again.
"The girl," Tairyu repeats after Jack, his eyes lidding for a moment. "That'll have to be the next hand if I'm out of my on-hand valuables, I suppose..." His nose wrinkles at this, unpleasantly.
The biker's surprise at the presence of the watch makes him tilt his head to the side slightly, however. "WHatever do you mean, Turner-san?" He asks, innocently. "I told you. The cash was just what I happened to bring with me today. Surely you didn't think the Aizawa-gumi businesses and operations only produced enough money for one hand of poker in a bar on the bad side of town?" Another loaded statement. Another suggestion. Another seed tossed in."
His own cards are given a peek when the other man calls the combined buy-in and raise, with a thoughtful frown -- followed by a much subtler glance sent to the dealer preparing to hand out the next cards.
"You mean, in total?" Asks Tairyu for clarification over the question presented to him then, rumbling thoughtfully in the back of his throat. "Oh, we're not among the larger end of Gokudo families in the country. I'd say... give or take hundred fifty, two hundred, men, plus the hired help on the direct business."
'Not that much', claims his tone. But the actual content of the words gives proof to all the reasons for why The Syndicate wanted Aizawa-gumi under their direct control after Old Man Aizawa was taken out of the picture.
And now, regardless of wether or not the dealer actually cheats for Jack's benefit, Tairyu accepts the additional guards without any complaint.
Jack Turner did not have 200 men.
He was bluffing. That's what the brute thought. He had the understanding that the Aizawa-gumi was broken. The Syndicate had made sure of that. They should have been broken, right? Because if they weren't broken, why wasn't 200 men here, ripping apart this building by the foundations. The next cards are dealt, one apiece. The dealer was looking for a tell from Jack, a cue. But nothing was from the red-haired brute, as he stewed in the answer. What did he want?
Unless, of course, Tairyu wanted exactly what Jack wanted, except for himself.
"Call." He says coldly. He stews a second, as he looks back to the kitchen. "So about half of what I have." He quickly lies. It used to =not= be a lie. Once upon a time. But a struggle as a Syndicate puppet was the attrition. Most of his best men were eaten up by the Syndicate, promoted up into bigger, more global affairs. And unlike some others, he didn't have the strength, nor the charisma, to keep them in line. At least he had the girl. "The Neo Black Cats keep a tight hold on this territory. It was smart of you not to come with your men. The girl would have gotten hurt if there was a war." That was almost a threat from the biker. His jaw was tense.
It was a threat.
The cards are taken, quickly peeked over, and Tairyu echoes Jack with his own "Call," emphasized by a tap of a finger on the table.
And then, that claim from the biker. Both of the Yakuza's brows lift upwards. Bluff it might be, but he at least looks like he'd be inclined to believe it, judging from his first reaction. But then...
"So four hundred men? That's impressive, Turner-san!" He claps his hands together, and smiles widely. Why... why does he look *excited*?
The cards are turned over. Two-pair, sevens over twos. It's better than what he had last time, but hardly a strong hand, regardless.
"Probably," Tairyu agrees to Jack's assessment in the meantime, with a slow shrug. "But that goes two ways, doesn't it?" His eyelids droop down, slightly. "Neither of us have *all* of our boys around here. But it's still enough that, no matter who makes the first move - me on you or you on me or Miku - that this entire building will be stained in blood. Best case scenario there is that just a handful of people get to claim survival, surrounded by the corpses of their friends. Worst case scenario... no one walks out alive."
The mostly-expended cigarette is, then, ground down onto the top of the table, snuffing it in a smear of ash.
"So it's much better we... negotiate. Isn't it?"
The last card is dealt.
Jack Turner was tensing up, his muscles tight. It was a tell. Jack Turner was feeling the pressure. The only thing keeping the biker from folding and slamming the Yakuza gangster to the table, in his mind, was the fact that he apparently fell for the bluff. He could win that war, yeah. He was convinced of that now. Well, the be honest, only Jack Turner really -saw- that Tairyu was falling for the bluff. The truth was more clear to the rest of the gang. They heard what Tairyu was really saying. And looking to the boss, and to Tairyu, they were doing their own calculus.
They weren't so sure a gang war would work out in their favor, either.
That might be what makes the cards what they are. Jack Turner looks at the hand, and scowls. "... I see." He rumbles, as he squirms in his chair. He didn't know what he was reading on Tairyu anymore. He thought he knew, but he started to feel like he was falling in some kind of trap. He didn't know -what- kind of trap. And he didn't know how to get out of it, if it was there. He looks around warily. And he flips his cards over
"Seven over Fours."
Was it cheating? He looks to the dealer, trying to understand if it was fortune or trickery. The dealer had no read. Jack Turner turned to his bottle, and guzzles down the beer. Finally, the hamburger comes out. It was a sloppy, greasy thing. The lettuce was wet; the ketchup and mayo oozing out. He gobbles it before the plate comes to the table, before washing it down. And then, with gluttonous rage, he claws back the money. "You got any gold teeth? Maybe a pacemaker?" He growls, uncomfortable. "Because I want you, Tairyu. You and your gang. That's something money can't win over." He finishes the heap of cash around him.
"Or you gonna to keep trying to bleed me out!?"
"Aaah, well, that's a shame, I kind of liked that watch, too..." Tairyu rumbles in... apparent disappointment, with the result of the cards.
He has the patience to wait while the other man feasts upon the burger, at least. And his expression doesn't change much once the feast is done, and the ultimatum is made. Although...
The faux innocence is now gone.
"I know you do, Turner-san. Just like you know I don't want your money. So, since we're already playing cards here, and we're on a large-scale... what do you americans call it? Mexican standoff? Either way..."
There's a sharp sound of plastic on wood with two of Tairyu's fingers getting jabbed down onto the tabletop. Of all things, there's a single poker chip there, pinned underneath him. Did he slip it out of his pocket at some point when no one was looking?
"I will wager the command of my soldiers," he declares in a voice loud enough that everyone in the bar can hear. "In return..." A flick of a single finger, and another chip bounces across the table to Jack. Wasn't there just *one* just now? "...For the payout of Miku. The results? Guaranteed by all the witnesses of both parties and unaffiliated alike, and the promise of immediate, mutual destruction."
He slides the chip left over on his side towards the center of the table, before he props his elbow upon the wooden top, chin rested lazily upon his palm.
"Would you rather play for keeps or have everyone here drown in a sea of red, Turner-san?"
He didn't even try to put on the watch.
Jack was so exhausted. He tosses the bottle across the room, letting it shatter against the wall. It wasn't even empty yet. When the poker chip comes out, he leans over, staring at it. He was breathing hard. Sweat was building over his eyebrows, underneath the headband. He was turning pink. He needed to intimidate him. And it wasn't working. He had to beat him. But to what end? To be broken so badly, that some Mr. Big or White comes in to take over the Neo Black Cats? And yet, he needed Tairyu and his men. He needed the power, the control. So what was he going to do? Play for keeps? Drown in blood? All eyes were on him.
It was a growl. A snarl. The room was hot. All his men, loyal men, to a point, all their eyes are on him. "Yeah. Okay. That's the opening bet. The girl. Your men." He had all the cards. How did he get like this? Where he had just a few tools. How did he lose so much over -nothing-. And yet, it wasn't nothing. The men around him, those losers, those bums, those bikers. They were afraid. They were so weak and soft. Another beer was infront of him.
He downs it, as the dealer flicks the cards back and forth.
Three cards each. He finishes the bottle. He doesn't look at his cards. He pushes a wave of cash as they land. The dealer gives a hard swallow, eyes bugging out. He doesn't waste time, as he leans in hard at Tairyu. "I raise." He snarls, leaning over. "You gotta meet that bet. You've given up all your soldiers. What else do you got?" He snarls, staring across with piggy eyes. He was backed in the corner. And yet, he practically bellows at Tairyu, as he stands up, the three cards face down in front of him.
"You call, fold, or RAISE!?"
Is Tairyu pleased or disappointed that Jack took up the bet? It's hard to say. He just watches the other man, expectantly.
The sudden outburst that comes with Jack making the raise is, likewise, met with a calm that really should not be warranted. Tairyu is gambling with the fate of his entire clan here, over one girl. And still, the bellowed challenge is met with a calm pause in the form of a long drag from a cigarette.
...Wait, when did he even light that one? The last one is still wafting faint smoke where it was crushed against the table.
The smoke's tugged away from his lip, and with a backward tilt of his head, the Yakuza blows a faint cloud of nicotine-fog into the air above them.
The single word may be a calm one, and yet it holds a knife-like decisiveness to it. A decisiviness that, even if it doesn't show in his tone of voice, comes across in the satisfying THUD of another poker chip getting slammed onto the table.
"Direct ownership of the Aizawa-gumi holdings and businesses."
The chip is slid over to join the pile of two other chips and the pile of cash, while Tairyu's green gaze, sharp yet calm, looks expectantly to the biker. And just like Jack, he hasn't so much as given a glance to his cards, either.
"You must know that kind of thing doesn't come just for cash. So... What do *you* have to even it with?"
".... You raise..."
Jack Turner sits down, as his expression remains agape. "You can't put a price on that... Except like and like." He was more talking to himself. He knew what it meant. "So the Neo Black Cats business holdings are on the line." He exhales, as it is anted up. He stares in distant terror. It was more than the girl now. The very business they ran was on the line. Jack was showing his ambitions to his men. But were they really his ambitions?
Another card is flicked to Tairyu and Jack, each.
Jack hesitates, as he looks from a cigarette butt to the freshly lit one. He couldn't let himself lose his composure. He runs his finger into his headband, and pulls it off. Then, he slams a fist on the table, the chip clattering. He doesn't even look at the card, the dealer now sweating bullets. He felt so far away, so distant. But he was there, as a hollow terror rattles in the souls of the bikers. And he hurls more cash, all the cash on the table. He bellows, rising on his feet. "I raise again!' He stares down at Tairyu. "You have given me your men, and your territory, your stuff!"
What do you have left?!"
"Hmmm." It's now, with his raise having been called, that the corner of Tairyu's mouth twitches upwards, ever-so-faintly. "Very good." The hand holding onto the freshly-lit cigarette turns itself over, and his pinky flicks out-- sending yet another mysteriously-appeared poker chip flying over to Jack, in another all-too-blatant show of sleight of hand. Was his piss-poor performance with the earlier hands just a big bluff, afterall? "You can use that to mark it."
Otherwise, he watches Jack. The cards are dealt, and he doesn't bother looking at them, even if he does throw a glance to the dealer's way when they are dealt. It's a knowing look. "You're pretty good with those cards, brother," he rumbles, with an amicable smile. "If you ever need a part-time side job, I could use some more dealers with sharp fingers and eyes at my place."
Cigarette stuck between two fingers again, Tairyu eyes over the cash pushed over. He looks almost disappointed. "It really is all about money with you, isn't it?" He rumbles, the cigarette bobbing lightly with every syllable while he leans back lazily in his seat, arms loosely folding over his chest. "Guess that's how you put the lives of your men and the places they work in so easily on the line, mm? Well. THat's fine. I'll have to write an I-O-U to meet that cash,"
"But I still have something to raise with."
His eyelids don't so much narrow, as their lids droop lazily while the green orbs shaded by them stare intently at Jack.
"One very important thing. One thing that ensures smooth transition of everything else. One thing, when given in front of all these witnesses that can spread the story through the whole city, ensures complete and total ownership to everything else."
He lets those words simmer just long enough for him to lean his weight forward again, and raise one hand high up. "And that thing..."
The hand slams down, and there's an almost thunderous sound booming out when something collides with the table. But it's not just his hand, no. Not even another poker chip.
It's a dagger.
A japanese dagger, disturbingly similiar to ones seen in use by samurai and yakuza alike in popular media, to either cut off their own pinky finger... or commit seppuku with. The blade sunken two inches into the very center of the table.
Keeping his fingers still curled on the handle of the implement of death, Tairyu maintains his stare on the biker, as sharp as the blade itself.
"If I lose this hand, then your boys, my boys and civilians all will witness Tairyu Katashi cutting open his own stomach, right here, in this bar, at this table, to signal the complete transition of everything that makes up the Aizawa-gumi to the Neo Black Cats."
Slowly, his fingers unfurl themselves from around the dagger, and he pulls his hand away. Leaving the weapon there, right in the middle of the table, in hand's reach of both players. Standing upright there, the sharpened steel reflecting the dim light of the bar off of it; a reminder of what has come to be at stake now.
"Will you meet the stakes, Jack Turner? Will you call it with your own life?"
The final stake is made.
Jack Turner's blood goes cold when the Yakuza makes his defiant offering. His eyes lock on the dagger. He didn't want this. He didn't want to -kill- a man. He just wanted to make an example. When Duke Burkoff took control of the gangs of the city, before he drove off The Scarlet Dahlia, the crime boss had forced one of the heads of the Yakuza gangs into committing suicide just like this. Was it this man's father, even? He didn't know which gang, they were all the same to him more or less. So when Tairyu makes the ultimate offering, Jack Turner realizes that there was only one thing he could offer to match the stake. He could call. Or fold. He opens his mouth.
And nothing comes out.
He trusted the dealer. He trusted his men. He trusted himself. ANd yet, all this was to intimidate a man. A man, who Jack Turner clearly underestimated. Who likely set this up, so he would be a matter a life or death. He just needed to call. He just needed to put. His. Life on the line. He had to. He had to show himself up to his men. He casts his eyes around. He had to make it. He tries to say it. "C-C-c-c..." He sputters. Keeps sputtering. And finally, he shuts his eyes. Swallows hard. Body was wet with sweat.
Four letters to make the word. Call. The cards are all yours. The bar is all yours. Everything is all yours. Call. "C-" Is all Jack Turner could muster. He rubs his throat. He was sweating buckets now. He tries again. "C-c-c-" Another stammer. His throat blocks up. He was choking on those words. He was going to win. His men wouldn't let him down. They couldn't let him down. And now he needed to show them all just how much of a bad ass he was. Call. He was going to call, and he would show his cards, and this man would kill himself right in front of him. He would even bring the girl out, to watch him die. That would be it. That would be everything. He just had to call.
But what if Tairyu was tricking him to let his guard down.
He suddenly grabs his chest. He keeps making that choking sound, as he looks around. What if Tairyu was unleashing the ulitimate bluff, to let his guard down, just to make sure he would kill himself. He could just- he could just ignore it, right? But what would the men say, when Jack Turner would make a man promise death, and he would be unable to do it himself? What if he was putting -everyone's- life on the line. How many men Tairyu said he had again? Where were they now? Why was it so quiet outside? "Boss?" One of the men ask, as they look to Jack Turner. His tongue was stuck out, his eyes bulging. He was clenching at his chest. "C... C..." He sputters.
And he collapses from his chair, the bottles and plates shattering all around him.
Two men rush at their boss, trying to figure out what's going on. There was no call. There is a tension now, as the delicate rattle of chains, the soft murmur of knifes drawn against leather is heard. The man on his right calls up, as everyone else is still. "A heart attack? Did he kill our-" But he is quickly cut off. "No, he's alive he's... he's..." There is a long pause, as every eye and face turns back to Tairyu. There was a frigid chill in the air, as there is realization. "He's...." The man stands up, and bows his head, eyes casting downward in respect. His boss- his former boss had put everything on the line after all. Well. Almost everything.
"He's not going to be able to call, sir."
The whole time Jack Turner is working himself up towards that all-ending 'call', for better or worse, the young Yakuza sitting opposite from him sits ever-calmly there. HIs face might be painted in an idle scowl, but it has been there since he stepped through the door.
And thus, his expression is unchanging.
With the exception of one dark brow quirking upwards, eventually. In that fateful moment, when his opponent... slumps over so violently that one might wonder if Tairyu had assaulted him with some kind of invisible psychic force.
But that subtle arch of a brow alone might well be enough to point out that he is just as surprised by this turn of events as the bikers are.
"So it would seem," he states in a perfect deadpan to the biker's assessment of their boss, past the cigarette he's taking the final, long drag out of, before stamping it onto the table.
In one smooth, casual motion, he stands up from his seat then, as if the poker game he had just come out on top of had been any other regular game with dispensable cash. But, when his posture straightens out, and he shifts on the heel of one foot to cast his gaze out to the rest of the bar, there's something different in the air about it all. His gaze had been sharp from since he first stepped in through the door, sure, but now it's not that of an intruder. It is leagues more authorative.
"You have a choice to make," he declares. It's not a yell, but the natural strength to his voice alone seems to make it boom through the whole bar, and ensure it reaches the ears of all and sundry. "You can walk. You can leave this all behind and find something different, elsewhere. Alternatively... You can stay. Keep working your turf, work the holdings Turner-san just gambled out. Just don't be difficult about either."
A slow breath taken in, and let out again. A deliberate pause, to let the words sink in, to let some thoughts stir in.
Of course, the thoughts would inevitably come with doubts. Doubts he doesn't intend to fester entirely on their own:
"Know that I am not Syndicate. Aizawa-gumi will be expecting things of you and your turf as well, and failing these expectations will not be... seen kindly. But. Work with me, willingly, and I will ensure that every last one of you will have a future to work for. You will have a place to belong."
His foot shifts again, this time turning him back towards the table. Sweeping green eyes to where the fainted Jack Turner lays. "As for your him... well. How you decide on your internal leadership is your own concern. But either way... Tell Turner-san he can keep the knife. As a reminder of what it means to deal with Gokudo."
And from there, his eyes SNAP to the biker still crouched besides the large would-be-biker-boss. SOmehow, that motion alone seems forceful enough that to create an illusion of being *heard*. And the last four words he has left for the bikers are spoken, in a deep, rumbling growl of command.
"Bring me my sister."
The nature of the leadership going forward was going to be complicated.
Tairyu makes his pitch, as he takes control of the gang in the same rhythm he had arrived in the bar. They didn't even quite recognize what was going on. What about Jack Turner? Would he stick around? Would he work with- for- with Tairyu? The whole of the bar was paralyzed in shock. Some of them -liked- Jack Turner. Some of them were only here because they had to be, under the weight of both the red-haired brute and the Syndicate. It certainly says for the show of leadership that -nobody- steps out. When Tairyu looks at the delirious, stunned Jack Turner, they knew just how much was being brought to bear now. They had a new boss. They would decide how much they would like it or not another time. Right now, Tairyu had an order.
Bring him his sister.
There is a painful silence amongst the biker. Uncertain who or what the sister was, now. But the numbers man, the former right hand man senses the confusion. "The cook." He explains to his counterpart over Jack Turner. The big, burly man looks dully. The number two repeats again. "Get the cook, she's the sister!" "But that's a dude a thought." The brute states. The number 2 rubs a temple, and gives the bigger thug a quick slap. "His sister. The -teenager- that is in the kitchen all the time." "Oh, you mean when the one in the cuffs and the ankle bracelet that always looks sad and is crying-?" Another slap comes. "IX NAY. UFF-CAY. And get those off." The thug nods dully, and turns around towards the kitchen. The sycopath turns back over to Tairyu, and bows his head. "I apologize sir, Roger is a little slow, but I promise you, everything going forward will be fine. We are all eager to be working for the Gucchikodo-"
An alarm is heard from the kitchen.
The alarm continues to blare as the thug comes out, hoisting what looks like a distressed teenage girl over his shoulder. Her hands are in cuffs, clutching a spatula, and the spot above her ankle has some raw looking cuts, as if it had a practicularly cruel band around it. Like what looks like the yowling alarm bracelet that the thug was holding in his hand. "I COULDN'T GET THE CUFFS OFF!" He yells over the howling alarm. "I THINK THE BOSS- I THINK THE OLD BOSS HAS THE KEY!" The number 2 looks ready to throw up, as he glances at Tairyu. Bowing his head submissively, he tries to justice this treatment. "I am sorry sir, he- he's- I-" He turns back to the brute. "Let- let her down gently, and- and we'll figure out the key." He commands in a soft tone, trying not to go berserk. The big guy seems to understand that part, at least, and as the alarm continues to ring out, he swings the teenager up from his shoulder, and places her squarely on her feet. "OKAY! THERE YOU GO! THE BOSS WANTS TO SEE YOU!" Nobody seemed to have taken the time to explain to the poor girl what was going on.
It will be up to her to look up, and see who had finally come to save her.
". . ."
Tairyu barely has the chance to say anything, while he watches... well, everything, unfold in front of him. By the time the young, black-haired girl has been set down on her feet, Tairyu himself is left pinching the bridge of his nose between two fingers, eyes squinted shut.
Yeah, he's not amused.
But perhaps thankfully for the blood pressure of the Numbers Guy, the only thing he decides to growl out in answer to everything he has witnessed is, "I sincerely hope you will get your shit together by the time I send someone here to handle the details. Just get the key and shut that noisy thing down."
While the bikers flail to figure the situation with the cuffs and their key out, he steps over to the girl. While her head is still tipped down, his hand reaches over, and just... gives a little ruffle over the now-ungroomed hair. Can't imagine the bikers would have given her much opportunity to get a haircut or style it for a while now.
Those two words, along with the familiar touch, are enough to bring her finally lifting her eyes up from the floor, up along the Yakuza's legs, across his chest to his face.
Hope likely flickers for the very first time in such a very long time in the big blue eyes. Different color than Tairyu's. Funny that.
"We'll talk later. Just wait a minute longer."
To be frank, there would probably be a lot of hygiene issues while Miku was captured by the bikers.
But the reunion was in place. There is a groan moan like a beached whale, as Jack Turner is rolled over, and the key is quickly grabbed. "Don't worry, sir! Our shit will be shelved and sorted like a public library! Sir." The Numbers Guy rambles, as he struggles with the key. Struggle being the key word, because he was doing everything and everything to -not- touch the girl. He feels like Tairyu might be ready to break his spine when the matter of family. The fact they didn't require them to draw and quarter Jack Turner with their bikes was already a miracle of miracles. It was not wise to bank on miracles. The cuffs are finally removed, and finally, finally, he goes back to the alarm. "See! She is safe and secure sir, and everyone is happy with your sister back to you!" And yet, when the alarm is shut off, with three more bows, the large brute rubs his face, and suddenly says something out loud. "Huh. I wonder why their eyes are so different-"
The thug is cut short when he is slapped again by the numbers man.
Who quickly bows three times to Tairyu.
"The shit! LIKE A LIBRARY! I PROMISE SIR!"
There's a sigh that nearly soudns long-suffering. Tairyu's left distinctly unamused by both the slow-witted brute and the groveling Numbers Guy.
Once the leave the girl's wrists, she immediately stretches her hands out in front of them, dainty fingers rubbing along the reddened skin on the other hand.
Tairyu looks even less amused. ANd he's not at all hesitant in sending that look to the two Bikers. But, fortunately for them, he elects to place his hand on his sister's shoulder, and gently tug her closer and turn her to the direction of the front door.
"I would hope so."
The parting words are rumbled over his shoulder, while he guides his sister out of the bar. Finally. After all this time, she seems almost in disbelief of being allowed to make way there. Even less so with her brother. Maybe it's the pure shock of it all that keeps her from even saying anything.
At least not until the two siblings are well out of the bar, on the street, where fingers grasp at the side of his jacket. Like she's trying to make sure that he's really there, whimpering little sobs that are meant to come out as words while she's guided to where the two - just two rather than the two hundred he had claimed - Aizawa-gumi loyalists waiting with a vehicle. Likely more than a little exasperated by the adopted son of their Late Oyabun making such a ridicilous play in enemy territory. But the repeated complaints can come later. The Tairyu siblings need to be carted out of there.
And in the safety, of the provided extraction, Katashi finally allows the ever-present scowl to fade away, the sharp eyes to soften and every other measure of a hardened Yakuza to make way for the concerned Big Brother. There may be work to do still, a war to fight. But for now, come the tight embraces, assurances of things being alright and apologies for taking too long.
Everything else will come later.
Log created on 14:08:15 09/21/2020 by Jack Turner, and last modified on 11:13:16 10/31/2020.