The atmosphere was intense. Takeru and the man stared at each other, ignoring the people that began to surround them en masse. They knew such confrontation would only attract law-enforcers, but they did not care. Right now, it was their pride as an assassin that was more important.
"Failure? I already anticipate it," Takeru chided.
"If you realize you would fail," the man continued asked and prodded the handgun against the boy's forehead, "why you let yourself diverted from this mission? As your superior officer, I am utterly disappointed."
"I have found something more important than this entire mission," calmly Takeru replied. "I will not have regret if have to pay the consequence."
"Now tell me, Takeru, how important that woman to you is? How important she is that you're willing to disobey the last order?" the man questioned.
Takeru paused. He stared at the man for a long time, before he stooped. "Miss Widuri is… Miss Widuri is the only person in the entire world that never looks at me as a heartless assassin," he answered. "She treats me as how it's supposed to be. She gives me what I thought to have lost forever: my heart."
"Ah, I see now. You're defunct. There must be something wrong with your parts."
Takeru sighed. "It doesn't matter now. I have found my life. I'm not planning to return to the team either."
"So be it."
He opened fire. The 9mm bullet flew straight toward Takeru but it missed his head. It, instead, brought down a gunman hiding behind the pillar. Chaos ensured as people screamed in panic and rushed out of the wet market, leaving the two operatives surrounded.
"You misfired on purpose," Takeru spoke and took out the M24 out of its case.
"I never intend to kill you in the first place," the man replied and loaded the handgun. "Who would have wanted to kill his own livelihood?"
"I can see that." Takeru glanced at each of the gunmen whilst his crept inside of his trench coat. "Got anything about these people?"
"Mafia," the man replied. "It seems they want us dead for what we did at Naples. Though I never thought to see them following us all the way here."
"Yeah, they were responsible for Frieda's death."
Takeru took a deep breath. He had no time to mourn over his past, and he had to as his hand finally reached the stun grenade. "Ready?"
The man nodded. "I'll follow you."
"On my count." He released the safety pin. "One, two…"
The stun grenade dropped.
She woke up. Stirred by the radiant glow of morning sun, Widuri walked off the bed and approached the window pane. She pulled the curtains apart and sighed in enjoyment when the morning ray of Mother Nature shone over her body.
She headed back to the bed. She noticed that half of the mattress was neatly arranged. "I didn't remember doing this…" she wondered before she giggled. "Oh, it must be Takeru. But where is he?"
She later smiled. "Maybe he's out doing something," she whispered and headed out of the room. "I know he will come home soon. I want to cook something for him."
They were cornered. Ammunition was running out, and so did time. The gunmen were relentlessly firing at their hideout, and Takeru and the man was given no space of retaliating. Already the wet market turned into a battlefield: spent cartridges were scattered on the floor; walls were riddled by bullets fired by both sides; the whole structure was weakened and waited time to collapse under its own weight.
"I never thought to end our mission in this way," the man uttered and groaned at the biting pain on his arm.
"These people are insane," Takeru replied and shot down a gunman. "They'll stop at nothing until they're satisfied with our death." He reloaded and fired another gunman. "We won't be able to survive this last stand."
He heard the man laughing. Curious, he looked at him. "What's so funny?"
" Thermopylae," the man answered. "When odds were stacked against them, the Spartans held their ground and endured the unstoppable march of the Persian Empire. They fought to their last breath. They lost the battle, but not the war."
"What does it have to do with this situation?" Takeru demanded.
"Takeru, what drives you to go this far? What motivates you to reach this level? Tell me; is it worth fighting this war?"
Takeru leaned against the wall. The sniper rifle was held between his arms; there was only one bullet left inside the clip, and he was unsure whether to use it or just keep it. "To tell you the truth… uncle," he spoke, "I don't know if everything I have fought until now worth it. I don't even know if it's the right thing to do, but…"
Takeru closed his eyes. His hands held the whole rifle tightly. "But I do know," he continued and opened his eyes, "that I have to come home. I have to live. Because… I can't afford to make her wait."
The man chortled. "Uncle… it's been five years since you called me uncle. Alright." He groaned as he took out final set of H.E. and stun grenades from beneath his coat. "I see if I can help you."
"What about you?" Takeru asked.
"Don't worry about me," he replied. "It's not that I can survive this day for a bit longer. Okay?"
Takeru nodded. He put the M24A2 back into the cello bag. He glanced at the man. "I'm ready."
The man pulled all of the grenades' pins. He tossed the stun grenades at the gunmen. "Fire in the hole!" The incendiaries exploded, and the chaos that followed was used by Takeru to escape. He jumped out of cover and knocked down several blinded gunmen with the cello bag.
"Takeru! Go! Don't ever think about heading back!" the man shouted from behind and lobbed HE grenades at the gunmen. There were cries of pains as the grenades set off, and the man took the chance to gun down some more gunmen. Takeru was struggling to find the exit way amidst smokes and debris, and he was forgetting the inferno behind him.
Takeru halted. A bullet pierced through his shoulder blade. He turned around; one gunman had somehow survived the explosions, and was aiming his MP5 at him. There was no pain, but his heart was infuriated.
The boy withdrew a combat knife.
He charged at the last gunman.
Widuri was waiting for Takeru. Dinner had been prepared, and it was getting cold. She was not worried about the meal; she was only concerned that it was already late at night. She already heard from the radio news that a gunfight had taken place at the wet market, and she was worried whether the boy was involved.
The bell rang. She immediately stood up from the couch. "It must be him. Thank goodness."
Widuri approached the door. She opened it, and was greeted by a grin sight she could not see. There he was, standing before her, soaked in blood, battered with bullet scars. His dresses were all but ripped apart, and the cello bag was punctured with holes.
"Yes? Who is it?"
The bag dropped. Without even answering her, Takeru fell onto her. Too tired after surviving the gunfight that claimed his instructor's life, the boy could only cling onto her, arms weakly wrapped about her waist. The woman was stunned at the scent of blood, and was terrified when she realized the hands that were holding her were coated in blood.
Finally, "Miss Widuri…?"
Widuri gasped. "Takeru? Is that… you?"
Takeru nodded. Weakly. "I'm home, Miss Widuri… did you cook something tonight?"
She warily nodded. "Yes. It's chicken soup with rice for dinner."
He grinned. "Chicken soup… I wish I could have dinner with you… right now, but…" His eyes closed. Shut. "I want to sleep…"
The boy was silent. Widuri waited for him to speak, but heard nothing. She waited in patience, hoping that he would wake up and say anything, yet it was of no avail. He was sleeping.
Gently she cradled him, giving the boy her warm, motherly embrace. Tears flowing down her cheeks, she bent down and softly kissed his scalp.
She smiled. "Welcome home, Takeru…"