The Gift Of Business


ace_icon.gif tsai_icon.gif

Scene Title The Gift of Business
Synopsis Tsai invites forward a member of the d'Sarthe Group to discuss their growing presence on Staten Island.
Date November 30, 2019

Nuojin He Jia

The Rookery

Staten Island

Someone had a sense of humor when they dreamed this place into being, Ace Callahan thinks to himself as he walks past the neon-illuminated entrance to a business. He turns and looks through the windows on the front of the Chinese laundromat anyway, like peering in might confirm the people within were in on the wordplay of their situation. The two masked workers inside don't so much as look up at him, much less offer a wink to validate his thoughts.


Ace hooks his fingers around the handle to the second door that leads into the Chinese restaurant instead, eyes half-lidded in a perpetual state of being unimpressed with his surroundings. It's as much intentional as it is actual distaste with the tacky decor, wondering how the people here dealt with their surroundings being so mundane. He pulls a card from his pocket when approached by a waitress, who ferries it back to someone sitting at a table next to the kitchen.

They consult his card then rise, waving a hand for Ace to follow. So he follows.

Back through the kitchen they go, through plastic strips hanging from the ceiling out to where the building opens to part kitchen, part loading dock. Ace only mildly arches a brow at how quick the facade has been torn through, guns being worn openly as soon as they pass from restaurant to kitchen. There's a quiet amusement that glimmers in his eye as he takes it in, pausing when his guide pauses on the back deck. The man looks up at the staircase leading to the second story, and on seeing the door still closed, gestures to an open door on the first floor instead, leading to a back office room that bleeds cigarette smoke.

"She's finishing up a meeting," Ace's guide directs him, as well-spoken as he is gruff. "Wait here." Ace lingers where for just a moment, studying the guide before sighing through his nose and heading into the smoke. He'll be lucky to get this awful smell out of his suit anytime soon, but that's the price of business.

Heading into the din, he immediately is greeted by the sight of four men huddled around a card table, drinking and playing and definitely the source of all the foul smoke. Two have cigarettes in their mouths while a third taps his ashes thoughtfully onto a repurposed saucer on regarding Ace. They give him a once-over and return to their game, conversing in Mandarin and appearing to ignore him entirely.

Fine by him.

Hands slide into the pockets of his slacks, dress shoes thumping softly with each step on the worn-down office carpeting while he observes the artwork in the room. It's numerous, speaking to a casual opulence he felt the front of house was lacking, even if he supposes it's wasted on this apparent staff break room that's shrouded in smoke. Ace lets his eyes wander over a printed painting with semi-interest, lets his pace slow in front of a statuette of a crane settled on top of an endtable.

He outright pauses as his gaze settles on a distinctly different type of artwork.

"Gentlemen," Ace voices over the conversation behind him, keeping well away from the thing he sees. "If you might be so kind, what is this?" He looks back at the group playing cards. His brow arches. There's an important follow-up he decides needs asked too. "Does it work?"

The man who had been tapping ash from his cigarette when Ace entered is the one who answers, only after sucking in a deep inhale that burns down the glowing end of the stick by a good degree. "It was a gift," he declares smugly, the other men around him quiet and staring intensely at Ace for his curiosity. "To signify a growing partnership."

He doesn't lean forward into his question, but breathes smoke out his nose in a lazy serpentine haze as he asks: "Have you brought a gift?"

Ace meets his gaze without hesitation, expression unreadable. Any thought given to that matter is interrupted as his guide returns to signal him to follow again. The suited man leaves without providing an answer, but he does look back one last time to look at the shiny piece of machinery that glints red and silver even under the vaguely blue smoke that clouds the room— getting one last glance at the label visible along its side.


The Staten Island air on the back dock feels clean in comparison to that back room when Ace emerges, and he takes a moment to clear his throat in it, resisting the urge to cough. He turns to face up the staircase he'd been stopped under previously, expecting to ascend, but his brow lifts in surprise when he finds his meeting partner descending to meet him instead.

"Mr. Callahan," the elderly woman greets him, her smile not unkind as she approaches. Deliberate, he thinks, an attempt to be disarming. Wai Ching Tsai didn't become the second-in-command of the Ghost Shadows Triad for having a kindly disposition. He notes Tsai's smile becomes a little more shrewd when she touches the ground. "Good you could make it. Come, let's talk." is a little more to the point, accompanied with a gesture at a simple wooden table pushed against the wall in the loading dock, joined by bench seating rather than proper chairs.

A visible breath escapes Ace as he quizzically regards the simple arrangement, his expression otherwise masked. "Yes, let's." he agrees, unbuttoning his jacket before he sits. It's then he notes the little votive candle sitting atop the table, flush to the wall to provide a touch of aesthetic. How curious.

When Tsai sits, she lifts a hand to gesture to one of the cooks of the restaurant. Her voice is soft, but it carries power as the man stops immediately to hear the request. "Gei wo pao yi bei cha ba."

Ace lifts a hand, the word cha catching his ear even if nothing else about what she says has. "That's all right," he tells her, force behind the polite decline. "Let's just get straight to business." He doesn't want to take in any mystery materials from the Triad's restaurant, he thinks to himself. He's heard about Tsai's ability, and doesn't want to potentially take in anything that could make him more susceptible to it. Ace flashes a small, charming smile to her.

Tsai returns it, her own a little knowing. She gestures with a light wave of her hand for the cook to be off to complete her request anyway.

"Yes," she tells Ace, appraising him and what he has to offer.


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