Cruel Punishment

Secret Suspicions

Bryan lazily rested on the couch and flipped through the television channels looking for something decent to watch. It was early in the morning. He would have to go to the mansion soon. But he was still feeling too lazy to get up.

A few days have passed since Lee's mental breakdown. He had finally discovered Anna's dirty little secret and needless to say, he didn't take it too well. He lost his composure and took his anger out on everything in the mansion.

There was nothing Bryan could do to stop him. He stayed a while and watched the destruction unfold but ultimately, Lee ordered everyone to leave, including him. Lee's been very quiet and despondent ever since. He refused company and didn't speak to anyone. Only a few guards and his secretary were allowed around him. Bryan tried repeatedly to go to the mansion and talk to him but he was always turned away.

Bryan felt a bit weird. He thought that he should be happy and elated witnessing Lee's misery, but for some reason, he wasn't. He actually felt a little pity for the man even though he deserved everything that happened to him. But his pity only went so far. Even though he felt sorry for Lee, Bryan was still determined to obtain his freedom even if it meant that he would have to betray him as well. In a way, he already has.

Bryan sighed dismissively as he turned off the TV. He couldn't find anything good to watch. Most of the stations were still obsessing over the attack on Violet Systems and he thought it wasn't a good idea to watch any of it since Anna was there.

Bryan burrowed into the couch and closed his eyes; he wanted to take a short nap, but he was quickly reminded why he had turned on the TV in the first place. He heard Anna quietly sobbing in the bed across the room. She had been crying nonstop ever since he had informed her of Lee's mental outburst.

Bryan didn't know what to do. He left her alone to cry thinking that she would eventually get over it. It was understandable at first, but now it was getting on his nerves. She was curled up in his bed sobbing like a wounded animal for days. It irritated him. It was a sign of weakness and at times like this you have to remain strong.

Bryan looked at his phone to check the time. It was still a bit early but he decided to get up anyway. He got off the couch and stretched. He walked towards his bed where Anna was covered up in the sheets, hidden from view.

He rummaged through his dresser to look for a change of clothes. He had a little difficulty finding something decent to wear. Most of his clothes were dirty since he had to share them with Anna. He made a mental note to address the problem later. Bryan's eyebrow suddenly twitched with anger as he heard Anna sobbed loudly again. He quickly stood up and looked at the covered woman.

"Just get over it already." Bryan irritably grumbled.

He heard Anna sniffled a few times from under the sheets before she spoke.

"B-but look at what I've done… Everything happened because of me…" Anna whimpered.

Bryan let out a frustrated sigh. "Yeah, but you can't cry about it forever… Your tears are not gonna change a fuckin' thing. So stop moaning about it and move on."

"…You don't understand how I feel…You make it sound so simple…" Anna muttered somberly as she remained covered in the sheets.

"That's because it is." Bryan said sternly. "Besides annoying the shit outta me, your crying is doing nothing but showing how weak you are. At times like this you have to remain tough and face your problems head-on. It's the only way you get things done and it's the only way you'll get stronger."

Anna sniffled some more and remained quiet as Bryan resumed his search for clothes. He eventually found something and was about to walk away but Anna spoke again.

"Thank you… Bryan" She murmured from under the sheets.

Bryan grunted in acknowledgment before heading towards the bathroom to change.

Lee lay quietly in his bed, under the sheets. He was wide awake and hadn't slept much over the past few days. It was hard for him to sleep; he couldn't stop his mind from thinking about Anna and her betrayal. It angered him beyond words or reason.

He had spent the few days destroying and getting rid of anything that reminded him of her. But no matter what he did he couldn't wipe her existence completely from his mind or his house. There was always something around that reminded him of her. It was too painful for him to bear.

He eventually locked himself away in his bedroom. He had drawn all the curtains preventing most light from entering the room. He wanted it to be dark. He didn't want to risk seeing something that reminded him to the woman he once loved.

Lee was mad at her, but he was mostly mad at himself. He had allowed this to happen. After his terrible childhood and upbringing he had learned to shut people out. It was the only way he could protect himself. However, that tactic only led to his loneliness. He decided to change that and was betrayed the very moment he had let his guard down. He ignored all logic and reason when he decided to keep Anna after they had that huge argument and now he was paying the price... a terrible price.

Lee sighed solemnly as he reached over and picked up a small bottle of Whiskey from a table on the side of his bed. He took a few mouthfuls. He quickly put the bottle down and hid it from view when he heard someone knocking on the door.

"Come in." Lee said quietly as he wiped remnants of liquor from off his mouth.

The door opened and his secretary, Samantha slowly entered the room. She was one of the very few people Lee still trusted. She was carrying a tray of food for him to eat. She carefully walked across the dimly lit room towards his bed. The room was a mess so she was careful to step over and walk around any obstruction along the way.

"Good morning Mr. Lee, I hope you are feeling better." She said cheerfully.

Samantha felt deeply sorry for the man. She had known and worked for him long before Anna or Bryan came into the picture. He was kind of a mentor to her. But out of all the years she'd known him, she had never seen him in this state before and it bothered her dearly. She was trying her best to cheer him up and make him feel better, but nothing seemed to work.

Samantha placed the tray carefully on the table besides the bed and immediately began to frown. She smelt alcohol. She opened her hand in front of Lee and gave him a disappointed look.

"Cough it up sir… I know you have it." She said sternly.

Lee pulled out the bottle of whiskey from under the sheets and placed it in the woman's hand. Samantha smiled thoughtfully as she put the small bottle in her back pocket. Lee stared at her; observed her through drunken eyes as she did it. Odd thoughts began to race across his mind.

"So how are you feeling this morning sir?" She said and smiled, but received no response. Lee remained quiet and continued to stare at her which made Samantha feel increasingly uncomfortable.

"Well, um… Please try to eat some of the food I've made for you. It'll help you get better." Samantha said nervously and began to leave.

Lee quickly grabbed one of her hands to stop her. Samantha nervously turned to face him. He looked desperate.

"Please…" Lee muttered solemnly as he stared into the woman's eyes. "Please help me forget about her."

"W-what do mean sir?" Samantha asked nervously; feeling thoroughly confused by his strange request.

Lee suddenly pulled on her arm causing the woman to tumble into the bed beside him. Samantha gasped in shock as Lee rolled on top of her. Lee quickly planted his lips firmly against hers. Samantha recoiled in disgust as she tasted the bitter alcohol on his tongue. She desperately pushed against his chest; wanting to get the man off of her. She quickly decided to bite down. Her teeth caught his bottom lip.

"Ow!" Lee yelled in pain as he quickly got off the woman and rubbed his wound.

Samantha hurriedly got off the bed. Her heart raced feverously in her chest. She stared at him wide-eyed and in disbelief over what had just happened.

"I'm sorry…" Lee said quietly as he wiped the fresh blood from off his lip. "I just- I just want her out of my mind." He said desperately as he cupped his hands over his face, feeling too ashamed to look at her.

Samantha's shocked expression softened. She hated seeing him like this. She felt sorry for the man and somewhat guilty. She too has held a secret from him. It seemed rather small and insignificant, but it was a secret nonetheless.

"Um, Lee…" She said softly as she spoke to him informally. "There is something I want to tell you…"

Lee looked at her curiously; wondering what the woman had to say.

"The day after the dinner party, when Anna stayed home… she had called the office number." Samantha said nervously. "I thought it was strange that she didn't call you directly, but it turned out that she really wanted to talk to me."

"Why?... What did she want to speak with you about?" Lee asked anxiously.

Samantha hesitated for a moment. "She wanted me to keep it a secret, but now I think that you should know…" She said apprehensively. "She wanted to know Mr. Fury's address."

Lee's mouth hung open in disbelief; he couldn't believe what he had just heard. "A-are you implying… that she is at Bryan's home?" He asked carefully.

"No, no, no!" Samantha said nervously as she shook her head in protest. She didn't realize the implications of her confession. "I'm not implying anything! I just didn't want to withhold any secrets from you! It may be nothing at all!" She rambled nervously. "Mr. Fury seems trustworthy! That man who had caused all that havoc is his friend, but he still chose to remain loyal to you!" She reasoned.

Lee sighed dismissively as he looked down at the sheets. It bothered him that Bryan may be a traitor as well. He didn't know what to think or what to believe, but he knew he had to approach the situation more cautiously and more wisely. In order to do that, he must keep his emotions under control; he cannot be too passive or brash.

"Thank you Samantha… you may leave now." Lee ordered quietly.

Samantha looked at him nervously before exiting the room. She felt guilty. Her confession did nothing but complicate things even further.

Samantha slowly walked down the steps and entered the kitchen. She had prepared a sandwich for the prisoner in the basement. She knew it was wrong to feed the enemy, but she couldn't stand by and watch a man starve. It was in her nature to help those in need no matter how frightening or dangerous they may be.

She placed the sandwich, a bottle of water and an apple on a tray and carried it out the kitchen. She was walking towards the basement but stopped when she saw Bryan walking through the front door.

"Good morning Mr. Fury." She said and smiled uneasily.

He scoffed. "That sounds so fuckin' weird… Just call me Bryan." He smirked as he approached her. "Does Lee feel like talking today or is he still actin' like a hermit?"

"I don't know Mister Fu- I-I mean Bryan?" She said nervously. "I'll go and ask."

"Alright, good." Bryan said as he turned to walk towards the living room… or what's left of it. The house was a complete mess. He had to carefully walk over things to get there.

"W-wait!" Samantha called out. Bryan turned around and she nervously walked towards him.

"I have a favor to ask." She said quietly.

"What is it?"

Samantha felt a little hesitant. "Um… Can you take this tray down to the man in the basement?"

Bryan chuckled. "Feeding the enemy? That's interesting?" He teased.

"That man is so frightening; I can't stand to do it."

Bryan frowned. "Hmm… I'm assuming that he is scarier than me… you know… since you are so comfortable with asking me for favors." He mocked.

"Was that an insult!? I'm sorry! I didn't mean that! Honest! You both are scary! No! You're scarier than him Mr. Fury! I swear! " She rambled; nervously trying to correct her words. She was mad at herself for giving the wrong impression yet again.

Bryan grinned and chuckled making her feeling completely confused.

"Heh, I'm just fuckin' with ya." He said as he playfully patted her on the shoulder.

Samantha sighed in relief.

"What kind of sandwich is this anyway?" He asked curiously.

Before Samantha could respond, Bryan quickly picked up the sandwich from the tray.

"Hey, wait!" She cried out but it was too late, Bryan took a huge bite out of it.

"Mm… Pastrami, that's pretty good." Bryan said with his mouth full of food. Samantha was speechless.

Bryan placed the sandwich back and took the tray from her. "Alright, I'll take this too him. You go and ask Lee if he wanna talk." Bryan instructed as he walked away.

Samantha silently nodded before turning to walk up the stairs.

Bryan slowly walked towards the entrance to the basement. There were two guards standing at either side of the door. They both stepped aside to let the man through. Bryan slowly descended the staircase and walked towards the steel door that held the imprisoned man. There was no one else in the basement except for him and the Russian.

Bryan turned the lock and entered. He smirked and chuckled upon witnessing the condition his friend was in. Dragunov slowly lifted his head to look at him. The Russian was in bad shape… very bad shape. It looked as though Lee had released some of his anger on the man during his rampage that day.

Dragunov sat shirtless with his legs sprawled across the cold, hard, cement floor. His back was pressed against the wall. His hands were cuffed together in front of him and were shackled to a nearby wall with a long, heavy, chain. He looked filthy, bloody and bruised. His hair was loose and dangled in front his face caked in blood and sweat. Despite all this, he gave Bryan an emotionless stare as he entered the room. However, Bryan saw a hint of defeat in his eyes.

Bryan walked over and sat on the floor besides the Russian. He haphazardly tossed the tray in front of him, between his legs. The plate with the sandwich clattered upon impact and the bottled water rolled off the tray.

"I see Lee hasn't been easy on you…" Bryan said and chuckled. "He's a cruel bastard… Trust me, I know."

Dragunov looked down at the tray of food. His attention was particularly focused on the sandwich. He then looked at Bryan from the corner of his steel-blue eyes.

Bryan sensed that the man was angry and grinned. "Hey, it looked pretty good so I wanted a taste…" He joked as he explained the odd bite mark on his meal.

Dragunov glared at him for a moment longer before returning his attention on the sandwich. He silently picked it up and took a bite.

Bryan chuckled as the man calmly chewed his food. "It's pretty good, huh?" He asked knowing that he will never receive a response.

"I don't know what Lee plans to do with you." Bryan said quietly. "He knows everything, so you are kinda useless to him now."

Dragunov took another bite out of the sandwich as he quietly listened to the man.

"It's very possible that he will kill you… You know, for revenge and shit." Bryan said flippantly. He looked at Dragunov to gauge his reaction.

Dragunov stopped chewing, but for only a brief moment. He then simply took another bite of his food and continued eating. The Russian still looked emotionless and unfazed when he did it. However, Bryan sensed that the man was concerned. He was slowly getting the hang of deciphering his small and seemingly unimportant gestures.

Bryan quietly smirked. Even when faced with death, the Russian still maintained an emotionless façade and an uncaring demeanor. He found it admirable. He was truly a man built for war.

Bryan began to rummage through his pockets until he found a small pocket knife. He tossed it in front of the Russian. Dragunov slowly placed the sandwich on the plate. He picked up the knife and examined it. It was small enough to pick the locks.

"No hard feelings about that fight we had… Alright?" Bryan said as he stood up and slowly walked towards the door. Dragunov looked at the man intently as he still held the small weapon.

"Well, I guess I'll see ya around." He chuckled as he exited the room and locked it once more.

Bryan walked up the stairs and exited the basement. He noticed Samantha was by the door waiting for him.

"So what did he say?" He asked as he approached her.

"I'm sorry Bryan…" She said glumly. "Lee doesn't want to see anyone today."

"Well… I'm not surprised." Bryan said jokingly.

"He's still very depressed… But maybe he'll be better tomorrow." She tried to reason.

"Alright…" Bryan sighed as he passed a hand through his hair. "I guess I'll come back in the morning."

Bryan waved goodbye as he quietly exited the mansion.

Lee stood by his bedroom window and peeked through the curtains. He glared at Bryan as he entered the car and left. He was determined to find out the truth and to test the man's loyalty.

Bryan exited the elevator and quickly walked towards his apartment. Now that his morning routine of visiting Lee was over, he had a new task that needed to be completed. An important one.

He quickly unlocked the door and entered his apartment. He was genuinely surprised to see Anna sitting on the couch and watching TV. For the past few days she's been moping around in bed crying her eyes out. Perhaps the words he spoke that morning were getting through to her somehow. However, they didn't address all the problems he had with the woman.

Anna looked at Bryan as he entered the apartment. Her eye's and cheeks were red due to her crying and she still looked very sullen and glum. But Bryan was at least a little happy to see her out of bed.

Bryan walked over to the couch and tossed a plastic bag in her lap. Anna looked down at it feeling puzzled before returning her attention on the man.

"Get dressed, we are going out." Bryan said sternly.

"W-what!?" Anna said; feeling surprised. "Where are we going?"

"Shopping." Bryan said bluntly as he walked towards the fridge and pulled out a beer. "I'm tired of you wearin' my clothes." He explained as he leaned against the counter and took a long sip of his drink.

Anna turned her attention on the bag that rested in her lap. She slowly reached inside and pulled out a cheap, black, curly, wig.

"It's a disguise." Bryan clarified.

"A very cheap one at that." Anna quipped.

"Hey, I don't have deep pockets like Lee." Bryan said irritably. "So don't expect me to buy any designer shit." He warned before finishing his beer.

Anna was inwardly happy to get out of the apartment and get some fresh air, but she worried about her well-being. "Are you sure it's safe?" She questioned as she examined the wig.

"Yeah, yeah…" Bryan said passively. "Just get ready and let's go." He said as he placed the empty bottle on the counter.

Anna closely followed Bryan as he walked down the streets of his neighborhood. He was taking her to a small shopping area that was close to his apartment.

Anna felt a little embarrassed by what she wore. The cheap wig hung just past her shoulders; she wore one of Bryan's caps to make less obvious. She also wore a brown, leather coat and a pair of blue jeans. Bryan's clothes fit big and baggy on her small frame. She thought she looked like a common street thug. If they were in the apartment, she would have felt comfortable and even enjoyed it, but outside, she felt plain ridiculous.

Worst of all, she wasn't wearing any make-up. No eye-liner, mascara, lipstick, blush, concealer… nothing. It was very awkward and uncomfortable for her. She couldn't remember the last time she went outside in the 'nude.'

Despite all of this, Anna was a little happy. She was beginning to feel a lot better. It was nice to be outside again, especially after being locked up in Bryan's apartment for several days. The cold, wintry air felt good against her skin as she walked down the busy streets. She was still afraid that someone might spot her, but she felt safe as long as Bryan was around her.

Anna thought it was strange how her feelings towards this man had change. At first she was frightened and hated him, but that fear slowly dissipated as she gotten to see and learn more about the man.

There was a lot more to Bryan than she initially thought. It was hidden behind his tough and crude exterior. He was actually more caring and thoughtful than she imagined and she often wondered why Bryan was ashamed of this side of himself. He always considered those sentiments as a sign of weakness. But Anna wondered if there is something from his past had made him believe so.

She still felt uneasy around Bryan from time to time but that uneasiness wasn't contributed to fear; it was something else… something that she couldn't quite put her finger on.

"Well, here we are." Bryan said as he stood in front of a large department store.

Anna looked at the store and sighed disdainfully when she saw the cheap clothing inside.

"Like I said… my pockets ain't deep girlie." Bryan grumbled.

"No kidding." Anna said sarcastically as she entered the store.

Anna took her time as she shop from store to store. Bryan waited near the entrance of each store she entered just as he did when they went to the mall. This time she did not spend money recklessly, she only bought the things she really needed. Even though the clothing was cheap, she inwardly appreciated what Bryan was doing for her and felt grateful that he was spending money on her in the first place.

Anna eventually finished shopping and they both were heading back to the apartment. Bryan walked a little ahead of Anna. She stopped to look at the display windows occasionally as they walked. Bryan pulled out a cigarette and began to smoke. He was relieved to see Anna in a better mood. Perhaps he can get a good sleep without having to hear her cry throughout the night.

Anna quickly ran to catch up with Bryan and instantly hook her arm around his. Bryan was taken aback by her gesture. So much so, that his cigarette almost dropped out of his mouth.

Bryan felt slightly irritated by the intrusion of his personal space. He was about to pull away from her, but stopped when he looked down and saw how happy she was. Bryan sighed dismissively and decided to let the lonely woman be. It seemed like his days of being her pretend boyfriend were not over yet, but he wondered how long this will go on for.

Suddenly a black car pulled up beside them. The car screeched to a halt. Bryan and Anna stopped and watched in horror as Lee Chaolan exited the car.

"Shit." Bryan cursed under his breath as he saw the man approach them.

Anna nervously let go of Bryan's arm and stepped back. She cowered behind Bryan; trying to keep herself hidden from view.

"Good day Bryan, I was looking all over for you." Lee said in a pleasant tone.

"Wow, you're actually outside." Bryan said and chuckled. He effortlessly kept a calm and cool demeanor despite the nerve-wracking situation.

"Indeed I am." Lee concurred. "I thought it was time for me to stop mourning my losses and to face my problems." He said and smiled.

"That's good to hear." Bryan said simply.

"I need you to come with me Bryan. I have some important business that needs to be addressed." Lee said coolly.

"Right now!?"

"Yes. I'm sorry for very short notice, but this is important." Lee said bluntly. "A-are you with someone?" Lee said as he tried to politely peek behind Bryan.

"Uh… Yeah." He felt Anna gripped the back his coat in fear. "She's a little shy though." He explained.

"Well it'll be rude if I didn't introduce myself." Lee said gleefully. "Come on miss, there's no need to be afraid." He cajoled.

Anna's hand shook as she let go of Bryan's coat and stepped out besides him. She kept her head down and didn't dare make eye contact with Lee. She could feel his eyes watching her; probing her. She fluttered like a leaf with each passing second. The man could clearly see her face.

"My, my… she is beautiful." He smiled. "What is your name?" He asked.

"Amy… Her name is Amy." Bryan interjected.

"What a beautiful name." Lee said pleasantly. "Do you mind if I borrow Bryan for a little while?" He gently asked.

Anna timidly shook her head no.

"Excellent! Well, it was very nice meeting you." Lee said and smiled as he looked at her. He quickly turned his attention to Bryan. "I'll be waiting in the car." He said curtly.

Lee wiped the smile off his face as he quickly turned around and walked back to the car. He sat in the backseat and swiftly shut the door.

"Is that her sir?" The driver asked.

"No." Lee said flatly. "She is too homely."

"What are we gonna do, Bryan?" Anna whispered nervously as she looked at him.

Bryan rummaged through his pockets. He pulled out his keys and some money and gave it to the frightened woman. "Don't worry. Just go back to the apartment and stay put. I'll be back soon." He said calmly and left.

Anna watched nervously as Bryan quickly entered the car and sped off.

Anna nervously walked back to the apartment. She couldn't remember the last time she felt that frightened. She was grateful that Lee did not recognize her… but she was sad and angry as well. He should have known it was her… especially after they had spent an entire year together. He should know her face like the back of his hand. He should have been able to point out every blemish or mark that was there, but he did not. So much for love, she thought.

Anna finally reached the apartment building and entered. She took the elevator to the appropriate floor. She silently walked towards the apartment as she carried her shopping bags. She stopped when she heard some noises coming from around the corner.

Anna silently walked to the end of the hall and peeked around the corner. She gasped when she saw the door to Bryan's apartment wide open. Two men exited the apartment and shut the door. Anna recognized them, they were Lee's bodyguards.

The two men turned and began walking towards Anna's direction. Anna shuddered in fear. She quickly turned and ran towards the elevators. She nervously pressed the buttons to summon one of them, but it was taking way too long to arrive.

She quickly entered the stairwell that was right next to the elevators and waited. She fearfully hoped that the men will not find her.

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