DISCLAIMER: The following is of fictional work and should not be taken seriously or be accounted for actual facts in any way. It is not aimed to confuse or mislead anyone for that matter. It is not meant to offend or disrespect any of the artists mentioned in the work either. Its purpose only serves to entertain and share with other fans who also like those artists. Thank you for reading.
“Why must it be you every time?” Kristy’s words echoed back into his ears.
Andrew rubbed his forehead slowly, smoothing the stress lines making its way onto his face once more.
“A promise is a promise,” He muttered to the empty space around him, reminding himself of the mission that was bestowed upon his shoulders.
“I’m asking you for the last time, are you leaving with me or not?” Kristy’s voice continued in his mind, replaying their last conversation several hours before. “If not, then I’m staying with you and will follow you until the very end. You don’t have to say anything anymore. I’ve already decided. I’ll give you until tomorrow morning.”
He uttered out another sigh. How was he supposed to answer? Breaking a promise to save the one he loved the most in his life? Or follow a preplanned mission to save his honor?
A glint of light coming from the horizon told him he needed to make up his mind immediately. Fumbling for his phone, he decided to send her a message to delay her rash decisions. However, he stopped himself, knowing too well she would not buy it. Glimpsing at the horizon one last time, he finally made his move. He descended the wooden steps, exiting the deck, rushing past the garden and out to the main street. He ran until he reached the outskirt of town where he could see her car parking in front of the abandoned house. Stopping at the car to check for her presence, he was greeted with the empty space inside. He turned his vision back on the deserted road, wondering where she could have gone.
“Kristy!” He called out to her, panic overtook him.
He wished he was not late. He knew too well of her stubbornness.
“Kristy!” He called out again, increasing his steps toward the dark house.
He pushed the doors open to find more darkness surrounding him.
“Kristy?” He attempted once more, his voice shaking. “Kristy!”
He searched the house meticulously with his lighter being the only source of light. Sweats forming on his head, he stepped out of the house with a renewed source of nervousness forming inside him. Where could she have gone?
“Kristy!” He shouted yet again, standing at the corner of the road.
The sun was about to rise. He knew that he could no longer stop her if he could not find her in time. Feeling defeated, he dropped down at the edge of the road, waiting for the inevitable to come upon him. A lump formed at his throat and a coldness filling his heart, he finally realized hope had deserted him. Putting his head into his hands, he tried to cover the grief-stricken image his face displayed at that moment. Too late, he told himself silently. As if in mockery, a gust of windblown by, teasing him of his missed chance.
“You’ve finally made your decision?” A familiar voice asked from a distance.
Wanting to fool himself and letting his imagination taking over, he looked up to see Kristy standing across the path in a white dress with a peaceful smile on her face. The same one she wore when he first met her at the pier more than a year ago – though it had seemed so long. He leaped from his spot and ran toward her, embracing her, wishing it was real.
“Does this mean you choose me?” Kristy asked softly, hugging him back.
Feeling the illusion finally passing with her touch and bringing him back into the reality of the situation, he knew he had to say it. He did not want to regret it. He did not want to lose her again–like he thought he did.
“Yes,” He muttered, at last, tightening his grip on her.
“How will you answer to them?” Kristy asked as if testing him.
“They will have to rely on Ricky,” He answered, his voice determined.
They finally parted, but not quite. He held her at arm’s length, staring into her eyes with his unwavering look, proving to her that he was not lying to her. Not detecting contradictions of his words, Kristy finally smiled, nodding her head in agreement.
Taking her hands into his again, they made their way to her car as the sun began its journey up to announce a new day.
“I want you to drive out of town and…” He began when they were in her car.
“No,” She said, cutting him off. “I won’t leave alone.”
“Let me finish first.”
She waited in silence.
“Wait for me by the pier where we first met. I need to pack and leave them a message and I’ll meet you there.”
“Why not go back to your house together? I can wait for you to pack and then we’ll drive out of here.”
He shook his head. “They’ve already set up a monitoring system in the house. If they spot you there, the ones watching the house will know and alert the others. If I’m alone, they’ll think that I’m just getting ready to go to the site for the mission.”
“That is why you never want me to go into that house?”
He finally let out a smile. “The sun is rising right now so they’ll be there in an hour. Let’s hurry.”
Without another word, she started the car and drove him back to the beach house. She made sure to park out of range and let him off at a safe distance.
“Wait for me there,” He repeated his words again. “Even if I’m late.”
She nodded with a smile.
He reached forward and gave her a final kiss before turning to head back inside the house.
He’d done it. He could now answer to himself–even if he would eventually become the most inconsiderate person in this world.
Rushing back inside, he entered from the deck like he left earlier as not to bring suspicion toward himself. Only a few more steps and it would all be over. He glimpsed the house briefly before rushing upstairs to pack.
Half an hour later, he returned to the living room in black attire, ready for the road trip–having shed off his white outfit from earlier. Dropping the duffel bag on the floor, he grabbed a pen and a piece of paper from his desk to compose his apology letter.
Fifteen minutes later, he descended the front steps and headed for his car. The sun was now higher than before. It was announcing the ending of his past life and a new page to his new one. He could feel the heaviness lifting off his chest slowly. Just one more stop, he thought.
Five minutes later, he arrived at a familiar luxurious house of his old friend, knowing he would have to say a word before leaving. He stared longingly at the two envelopes in his hand, almost wanting to start the engine again and escaped from the responsibility of this last meeting. However, he knew he had to do it. It was the last time. Getting out of his car, he could see his friend descending the steps.
“You’re early,” Ricky said with a half-smile.
Andrew did not say anything. He just stepped forward and shoved the two envelopes into Ricky’s hand.
“Wait!” Ricky yelled out upon seeing the words on the envelopes.
“It’s all in there,” Andrew said passively, making his way back to his car without turning around to face Ricky.
“Do you think I’m that good of persuading others?” Ricky asked.
Andrew knew Ricky was right. It wasn’t about techniques anymore but about the parties involved. He turned around to face his old friend once more, feeling that he had burdened Ricky with the letters. He gave Ricky a smile of encouragement. “I know you can do it.” And that wasn’t a lie because, despite Ricky’s threatening exterior at times, he’d always been the one doing all the persuasions in the past for their missions. He was the negotiator between the two of them–hired gun or not.
Ricky smiled finally. “If you have so much confidence in me, I’ll do it.”
“Thank you,” Andrew said with his last smile before turning to leave again.
It was almost over, Andrew thought as he entered his car again. Almost there.
Ricky watched Andrew’s car disappeared behind the morning’s dust before turning his attention to the two letters in his hand. He read the first letter that was addressed to him more carefully than before. He merely skimmed the contents earlier because he wanted to make sure Andrew was sure of his decision. Glimpsing at the second letter, he knew Andrew must have taken a long time with it. He turned back to his house to get ready for the mission.
He arrived at the designated location fifteen minutes later seeing the sun shining on an angel by the pier. Dressed with confidence, his mind told a different story. He hesitated twice before cutting the engine and getting out. He dragged his footsteps all the way to the edge of the pier. Just as he was about to step forward, he spotted a little boy walking toward him. It might be better to let this innocent kid do the job. After all, he could not bear to leave if he saw her cry. But if he stayed any longer, he would be too late for the mission. And after working his charm to persuade the little boy, he only stayed until he saw the kid approaching her. He was in his car by the time the letter transferred hands. He drove off afterward, not wanting to look back–or he would change his mind.
Kristy felt anxiousness creeping up by the minute as the wind lashed at her harder. She had to reassure herself many times in the past hour that he would not get caught. Just as she turned around to check the streets once more, she saw a little boy holding a big stick of cotton candy walking toward her. She smiled at the innocent kid, not realizing that he was looking for her until he came closer. After some polite exchanges, the kid handed her an envelope and left. Knowing that she could not hold the messenger liable, she concentrated on opening the envelope. She unfolded the paper inside carefully, trying to remain calm. However, she could no longer maintain her composure after she glimpsed the first few words. It was really a letter from Andrew. It read:
When you received this letter from Ricky, I’m probably no longer in this world. Forgive me for lying to you. But I promise you this will be the last time. A promise is a promise after all. I know I would break your heart by doing it. I know you might never forgive me but I still must say it. Leave this town immediately like you never knew of its existence. Take good care of yourself and live every day the best of how you know of. And most of all, forget me.
Tears had brimmed her eyes the moment she read the first few lines. She could not believe that he had lied to her. He was so sincere, so… Then she remembered. The brief goodbye kiss was meant to be the last kiss they would ever share in this lifetime. How could she have been so careless?
Her knees gave way, pulling her body down toward the wooden ground. She was suddenly brought alive by the pain of the fall. Gripping tightly onto the letter in her hand, she pushed herself up and made her way toward the street. She had to take every single chance she had. She could not give up at that moment. She was never the type to give up in a race before. She would not give up on this race either. The race for time.
Andrew stepped onto the gravel road, slinging the duffel bag onto his shoulder. He knew that in half an hour, it would all be over. And then Ricky would deliver the letter to Kristy. He would comfort her and bring her out of town along with Asuka.
Then everything would be back to normal liked it had never existed.
He had told Ricky to take her further away, telling her that he had told Ricky to do so. Then Ricky would stall for more time before giving Kristy the letter. By the time she realized what had happened, it would be too late. Ricky would stop her if she wanted to go find him. He knew he could rely on Ricky.
Clearing his mind of the distractive thoughts, he focused on the road ahead again. He had abandoned his car fifteen minutes earlier so he would not draw suspicion toward himself when he arrived. He would be there with an hour to spare. He had estimated his time well. He would be there, waiting for sunset before making his move.
When he was finally at the site, he spotted several cars parked next to the house. He backtracked to the dirt road–where the gravel had ended several minutes earlier–and hid behind a tree. He waited silently until the cars left. He also waited until he was absolutely sure no else was around. He waited for darkness to arrive. The wait was the most torturous part during missions. He had often hated it in the past. But he was glad to have the wait at that very moment. He knew his life was at its end. Having the wait was the reward he got this time around.
The wait finally ended when nothing could be there to stop him. He had dropped his duffel bag down earlier. Now, he slung it onto his shoulder again before stepping out behind the shadows of the trees. He walked with precision toward the house ahead, preparing his mentality.
“It’s about time you decided to make a move,” A familiar voice said in the dark.
He turned in every direction, trying to locate the person who had spoken before. In his attempt to hide, he had forgotten there was no source of light to track anyone. Before he could reach into his pocket to bring out some light, a small dot of light made its way to him. Then he could see a familiar smiling face in front of him.
“What are you doing here?” He asked, alarmed.
“What kind of a friend am I if I let my friend die alone?” Ricky asked back, still smiling.
“What about the girls?”
“They will never forgive us anyway.”
“What if they come here?”
Ricky smiled. “They won’t. The girls don’t know the real location, remember?”
“She won’t make it.”
“Let’s do it.”
Andrew knew Ricky was right. He could not waste any time. He resumed the walk to the house, still feeling unnerved. He reached his hand out to grab the door handle when they arrived at the house.
“Are you sure?” Andrew asked Ricky one last time.
“Are you delaying your death?” Ricky teased, clapping Andrew’s shoulder and smiling.
Andrew knew Ricky would not back out no matter what. He should not delay the mission any longer either. He sighed out and pushed the door in–since he had opened it already. Ricky slipped in after Andrew and closed the door.
“Half an hour tops,” Ricky said.
After that, both guys went to work, setting up explosives everywhere.
Like Ricky predicted, they were done half an hour later. In fact, they had ten minutes to spare.
“This is it,” Ricky muttered when they reached the control room.
“You go first,” Andrew said, turning to Ricky.
“I wasn’t coming to be the cleanup crew,” Ricky said, determined.
“This is your last chance, Ricky,” Andrew warned him.
“I made up my mind by coming here.”
Andrew sighed out, opening the door to the control room. He saw wires connecting everywhere, running toward the center of the room to its main control. He knew this was the key to the weapon – like they have been told these past days. He stepped forward with the last bag of explosives in his hands. Ricky offered the source of fire when they were done setting up. They were going to attach the last string connecting the explosives to the center control and then it was left up to fate or luck to carry out the rest.
“I’ll do it,” Ricky volunteered, taking the string from Andrew.
“But…” Andrew protested.
“I’ll let you hold the string later,” Ricky negotiated.
Andrew finally let go his end of the string, allowing Ricky to finish the task.
Andrew scanned the sealed up room once more, wanting to take in the surrounding and experience his last minute alive. He would never have dreamt of having such an ending. Suddenly, Kristy’s image came back into his mind. He had tried to push her image out of his mind to focus on the tasks he had to finish this past hour. But since he had already done everything, her image resurfaced in his mind.
“Hey, wait a minute,” Ricky’s voice spoke up from the center of the room, breaking through his thoughts.
“What?” Andrew asked passively, knowing that Ricky was just delaying their ending for a few more seconds.
“Come over here.”
Andrew did as instructed. He was ready. Ricky did not have to cheer him up. Did Ricky not know they were closer to their death than ever?
“What?” Andrew repeated his words from seconds earlier when he was standing side-by-side with Ricky.
“Look at this,” Ricky said. “It seems like our man missed this spot.”
Andrew looked at where Ricky pointed. He noticed the metallic sticks surrounding the rim of the center piece. He turned toward Ricky again to see Ricky smiling.
“It’s our only chance to get out of here,” Ricky said.
Before Andrew could say anything, they hear a car engine coming closer.
“No time!” Andrew yelled out. “Probably they’re coming back to check. I’ll light it up. You try to escape before it hits the center.”
“What are you talking about?” Ricky shouted back. “I’m not leaving here without you, man.”
Andrew ignored Ricky’s words. He lit the rope attached to the string and pushed Ricky out of the connecting door that led back into the rest of the house. He knew there was a window nearby. Ricky could make it.
“Do it!” Ricky shouted again, still standing by the door.
“Go!” Andrew ordered, shoving Ricky further from him and closer to the window behind them.
Ricky felt the heat making its way toward him. He looked back toward Andrew once more. The room was in flames already. He tried to get up and make his way back into the room.
“Go!” Andrew shouted again.
Before he could make a move, he spotted the flames coming toward him. He dodged out of the way and realized that the flames had cut through the path between him and Andrew. He turned toward his friend one last time, seeing Andrew being engulfed by the flames. He knew it was just the flame blinding him because it would take about a minute more before it would engulf the room completely. He was running out of oxygen himself. He had to finish the task. He reached into his pocket to retrieve his lighter and flicked it once, tossing it toward his left to create a bigger fire before leaping out the window behind him.
It was only seconds later that the explosion finally told him of his friend’s fate.
Kristy reached the secret house at long last, feeling relief that it was still in one piece. She was on time to stop him. She shut off the engine and climbed out of her car in time to see the house lit up. She approached the house slowly, not wanting to alarm any uninvited party. Just when she was about twenty feet from the house, she heard some crackling sounds inside. She knew what was about to happen, but could not pull herself away from it. She tried to increase her pace but was too late. She saw the house blew up, sending lights everywhere into the sky. Crashing down on the ground, tears showered her face. She knew it was done. The mission was finally over. And so was her life. After all, what was even more painful than losing the last person she cared for in this world?
Kristy was not sure how long she stayed there. She did not acknowledge the time or circumstance. She almost wished that the uninvited parties would just come and take her away or execute her right there so she could be with him. She did not care for the heat from the flames either. She stared through her tears at the house as the fire continued through the night. She stared until the orange flames ceased itself and gave way to the yellow-ish colors. Then she let her imagination wandered on its own, bringing her a silhouette of a man dressed in dark clothes walking toward her from the far right side.
“Kristy?” The familiar voice uttered out weakly when he was in front of her.
Fresh tears made its way down her face once more. She did not reply. She was infuriated with her imagination for not letting her lie to herself. She knew at that moment it was only Ricky. His face was bruised and his clothes were tattered at various places but he was alive.
“Kristy, come on,” Ricky urged, helping Kristy up from the ground. “We have to get out of here.”
Kristy did not budge from her spot. She shrugged Ricky’s hand off, shaking her head furiously.
“We can’t do anything now,” Ricky begged. “Let’s go. Let’s get out of here before the others arrive. They’re probably on their way here right now.”
Kristy shook her head again.
“Could you please help me by fulfilling his wish?” Ricky begged again.
Kristy looked up at Ricky, seeing the grief on his face. She finally realized that they were in the same situation. She was not the one losing someone important. He just lost his friend. If they stayed any longer, they would lose their lives as well. She knew that was her wish. But what about Ricky? She knew Andrew probably wanted Ricky to have a good life.
“Please,” Ricky repeated.
Kristy nodded at last. She let him helped her up. Then she could see a silhouette coming from the far left of the flames. She pushed Ricky aside to get a better look since he had been shielding her from the view.
“Kristy,” Ricky called out, grabbing onto her arms to guide her out of there.
She shrugged his hands off like earlier, taking a step toward the flames. She rubbed her eyes, trying to get a clearer vision of the silhouette. She stared unwaveringly at the smiling person walking toward her, knowing that it was not her imagination. He walked slowly toward her. His steps were slow, lacking energy, but he seemed to be just fine. Some minor scratches and torn clothes just like Ricky.
“I’m still alive,” Andrew announced, extending his hands out to Kristy.
“You scared me to death,” Kristy said, fresh tears rolling down her cheeks.
Andrew hugged her to him, rocking back and forth slowly. He did not know whether he was trying to calm her down or himself. But he was glad he survived. It was the first time in his life he wanted to bargain with the unknown force. And that unknown force had listened. He let Kristy cried into his shoulder as Ricky made his way toward them.
Ricky did not say anything – just like the typical Ricky. Ricky just clapped his shoulder and gave him a smile.
“Let’s get out of here,” Andrew said at last.
Kristy finally pulled away from him and tried to brush her tears away.
“Retrieving your cars?” Kristy asked both guys as they were making their way toward her car.
“No,” Andrew replied, shaking his head. “They installed monitors in there too. Let’s take your car.”
“You’re not going to tell them the result?” Kristy asked, surprised.
“They will never stop calling us if they knew we’re alive,” Ricky answered.
“We’re done,” Andrew said, smiling and slipping a hand around her shoulders.
Kristy stopped walking and turned around to see both guys smiling at her. She smiled back at them, seeing that they were determined to give up their dangerous missions. All three of them continued to Kristy’s car.
“How did you escape?” Ricky asked, turning to Andrew.
They were driving out of town after picking up Asuka at Ricky’s house. The guys did not have time to change since they did not want to risk being seen by either one of the parties involved in the whole situation. They had let Kristy come inside Ricky’s house earlier to pick up Asuka since it would make sense that Kristy wanted to leave town with Asuka. No one would be suspicious of the girls who just lost their lovers. The difference was Asuka was actually Ricky’s wife, but she had always posed as his maid whenever they were to reduce attention from herself and not becoming the target if anyone wanted to threaten Ricky by kidnapping her.
When Asuka stepped into the car, she was happy and shocked at the same time upon seeing Ricky alive. They had signaled for her to stay silent until Kristy drove safely out of town. The girls had sat in front while the guys stayed in the back seats so they would not draw attention toward themselves if they were stopped.
“After I pushed you out, I tried to tie the rope around the metallic sticks we saw a minute before that,” Andrew explained. “I didn’t give up. I just didn’t want you to risk your life when you can escape in time. After I was done tying it, it was too late to go through the door since the flames had already separated us. I was running out of air too. I found a window far back behind the seats by accident because I was hitting on the wall. I jumped out and barely made it. The explosion pushed me away from the house. Then I was unconscious.”
“I was unconscious for a while too,” Ricky said. “I woke up and found Kristy kneeling a distance from the house. When I finally persuaded her to leave, you showed up. Just in time too.”
“I guess someone out there was listening,” Andrew said with a smile.
“Someone sure did,” Kristy agreed.
When day broke through again, they arrived at the familiar town they once dreamt of living in. It was actually the place where they met Kristy unofficially because they only saw her enter the bank to ask for directions while Ricky and Andrew were doing the same on the other side of the street.
Ricky had told them several hours back to drop him off when they arrived. Andrew stopped the car as soon as he found a suitable spot.
“Where are you guys heading then?” Ricky asked after he and Asuka were standing by the roadside.
“Wherever Kristy wants,” Andrew replied.
“Good luck then,” Ricky joked, saluting to his friend.
“Same to you,” Andrew returned.
After that, Ricky and Asuka stepped back to give them space. Ricky stared after the car until it was no longer visible. Then he turned to Asuka with a smile. She returned his smile and they made their way into town hand-in-hand.
While Ricky was staring at them, Andrew and Kristy were exchanging some words between them as Andrew merged back into traffic.
“Were you serious when you said it to Ricky?” Kristy asked, looking over to him.
“Of course,” Andrew said, smiling. He reached one hand over to take her hand into his. “I will use the rest of my life to fulfill your every wish.”
Kristy smiled, knowing that he was trying to reassure her that he would never leave again. She gave his hand a little squeeze to seal their promise.
Four months later, they received a postcard from Ricky and Asuka. Ricky and Asuka had left that town already, claiming boredom. They were on a new adventure. Andrew smiled upon looking at the postcard in his hand. He could not help but felt his friend could never live peacefully at one place for a long time. However, he knew that at least his friend was far away from the action just from the scenery in the postcard. At least they were enjoying life.
“What are you smiling about?” Kristy asked, placing a hand on his shoulder.
He turned around to see her all ready. He smiled and got up, taking her hands into his. “Ricky and Asuka are back on their adventure again.”
“I’m not surprised,” Kristy said. “Maybe we will meet them again.”
After that, they walked out of the door together, still hand-in-hand.
Two hours later, they were setting anchor and staring out into the blue ocean. They stood at the front of the ship, gripping onto the rail and enjoying the air. The sun was above their head. It was another new day and a new adventure. It seemed like they were not any better than Ricky.
“Where are we heading this time?” Andrew asked, turning to his wife.
“I’ll decide in a bit,” Kristy replied.
“Yes, ma’am. Take your time.”
They laughed out after that. Andrew slipped a hand around her shoulders and turned his eyes toward the horizon ahead, feeling the breeze blowing at him and waiting for his wife to deliver her next command.
© Tuesday, July 7th, 2009
– The title was named after the song “Men Don’t Cry” sung by Andrew Yuen for ATV’s series The Snow Is Red, NOT having anything to do with TVB’s series’ title.
– The story was inspired by somewhat of the song and then because of the pairing.
– It wasn’t posted until now because it wasn’t supposed to be a one-shot in the first place.