Cruel Punishment


The morning sun rose. Its rays passed through the windows and illuminated the dark, cold, room. The light and the warmth it provided landed on Bryan's face as he slept. Bryan squinted his eyes; the bright light stirred him from his slumber.

Bryan slowly awakened and looked around the room to get his bearings. He realized he was sleeping on the floor of his apartment. He wasn't sure how he got there. His memory was a little fuzzy at best.

Bryan groaned and cursed as he sat up from his uncomfortable resting spot. His body ached and he still felt a little buzzed from the liquor he drank. Bryan sighed tiredly as he passed a hand through his hair. He tried to recall what happened last night.

As Bryan tried to regain his memory, he noticed that there was a comforter covering his legs. He thought it was strange of him to grab his comforter from off his bed for the sole purpose of sleeping on the floor. It seemed very stupid of him to do that. He was about to laugh it off; blaming it on his intoxication, but he suddenly remembered something.

Bryan slowly stood up and looked around his apartment. He was surprised to see Anna sleeping on his couch, covered in his blanket. The mere sight of her infuriated him. Bryan clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. He badly wanted to wake her; to give her a morning she won't soon forget. How dare she come uninvited into his home after what she done? Why is she even here? He wondered if the woman had come to mock him and laugh at his misfortune. It was possible, but it was odd of her to spend the night in order to do so, Bryan reasoned.

He felt perplexed by her presence but figured that there must be a good reason why she is there. Bryan sighed and relaxed his fists as he tried to calm his nerves. He decided to quell his anger for the time being, until he heard what the woman has to say.

Bryan felt dirty and decided to shower. He picked up the comforter from off the floor and tossed it on his bed. He entered the bathroom, leaving Anna to sleep peacefully on the couch. He needed some time to think.

"… Lee?" Anna mumbled drowsily. The sound of the shower had disturbed her sleep. She snuggled deeper into her comforter that was laced in cologne. At first, she thought it was Lee's but she soon realized the scent was unfamiliar to her.

Anna slowly blinked her eyes open. She felt a little disoriented. For a moment, she thought she was at home in her mansion with Lee. But woke up and realized she was sleeping on an old, tattered leather couch. She gasped and quickly sat up on the couch when she remembered where she was.

"Bryan?" She whispered nervously as her eyes darted towards the bathroom door.

Anna nervously bit her lower lip. She knew Bryan was angry with her, but to what degree, she wasn't sure. She was tempted to grab her things and quietly leave, but that would defeat her whole purpose in going there to begin with. She needed to talk with Bryan, regardless of what mood he is in. It was now or never, she thought.

Anna heard the faucet closed and the shower turned off. Her heart raced in her chest as she waited for the scarred man to exit the bathroom. Moments passed by before the door finally opened.

Bryan exited the bathroom and noticed that Anna was wide awake. Anna saw him and blushed; she quickly turned her head away. Bryan was dressed very inappropriately. He wore only a towel that was loosely wrapped around his waist. He had another towel draped over his head which he used to dry his hair.

"What happened!? You ran out of clothes to wear?" Anna said disdainfully as she continued to look away.

"Hey, this is my apartment I can wear whatever the fuck I want." Bryan grumbled as he dried his hair. "Hmph! You should be grateful I even bothered to put on a towel."

"Ugh!" Anna grunted; disgusted by his response.

Bryan began to walk to the corner of his studio apartment that was designated his 'bedroom.' He walked right into Anna's line of vision. Anna let out a shrill yelp as she saw the nearly naked man again. Bryan shook his head and sighed dismissively. He thought she was acting like a little school girl.

Anna quickly turned around to face the opposite direction. She stared at the large, flat-screened, TV mounted on the wall. The TV was off but she acted like she was watching an important program. She felt embarrassed and blushed at what she saw. Despite all the scars, Bryan's body was more chiseled and well defined than Lee's. She hated to admit it, but his body… it was much more appealing to look at.

Bryan smirked at her behavior. Surely, a woman of her stature must have seen plenty of naked and half-dressed men throughout her career. But now she is acting all bashful and innocent as if it was her first time. Bryan had a sudden urge to toy with the woman who was clearly uncomfortable by his nakedness. However, he decided to pass up the opportunity. He was angry with her. She had basically ruined his life and right now he wanted some answers.

"So why are you here?" Bryan asked bluntly as he put on his boxers.

Anna sat straight and upright on the couch. Her head faced the TV as her eyes darted about nervously. "I-I wanted to talk to you." She said apprehensively. "I know you're mad at me… but I wanted to… I wanted to tell you the truth."

"About what?" Bryan said feeling a little irritated as he put on his clothes. "You're gonna tell me why you got Lee to give me the death sentence!?" He said a little more heatedly.

"I didn't' do that!" Anna yelled pleadingly as she turned to look at the man. She instantly turned back around when she saw that Bryan was still dressing. He was putting on deodorant. "I didn't ask Lee to punish you… He did that on his own."

Bryan was silent for a moment. He wasn't sure if she was telling the truth. "Why should I believe you?" He asked gruffly as he finished putting on his clothes. He walked over the where Anna was sitting and lazily plopped himself on a couch to the side of her.

Anna glanced at him. He was wearing a pair of loose fitting, blue track pants with a white, raggedy sleeveless shirt with holes in it. His pants loosely hung off his waist; exposing part of his boxers.

Anna felt awkward and slightly uncomfortable. Being in his apartment with him dressed like that felt rather intimate to her, but Bryan didn't seem troubled at all. He gave her an intense look, waiting for her to respond to his question.

Anna timidly looked down at the wooden floor. "I don't have any good reason why you should believe me… but I'm telling the truth." She said quietly. "That's what I came here to do…"

Bryan sighed indifferently. He still wasn't convinced by her words. "Then what is the truth?" Bryan questioned calmly as he cocked his head curiously at her.

Anna worriedly glanced at him for a moment before returning her gaze onto the floor below her. She was hesitant to speak but she knew it had to be done. Maybe, just maybe it will be enough to persuade Bryan to withhold her secret.

"I-I was hired… by a client to steal data from Violet Systems and search for information." Anna said nervously as she wrung her hands in her lap. "In return… the client promised to reunite me with my sister."

Bryan was intrigued by her confession. But quite honestly, he had figured it out a while ago. He just didn't know the details or motives. "Who's the client?" he questioned as he sat up in his chair.

"I can't tell you that..." Anna said quietly. "No offense… but there's no need for you to know."

"Bryan sighed disappointingly. She was somewhat right. "Fair enough." He said simply as he leaned back in his chair. "But why do you want to reconnect with your sister?"

"Isn't it obvious!?" She said a little anxiously. "I spend most of my time alone in a loveless relationship. Even though I have wealth and own many expensive things, everybody still looks down on me. I'm always disrespected and treated as if I am a simple-minded fool!" Anna yelled feeling a bit frustrated.

Bryan calmly looked at her as Anna took a moment to breathe and calm herself. His assumptions of her being lonely were finally proven true.

"And worst of all… worst of all is being labeled a whore." She said quietly.

"I've tried to ignore it all. I just hoped that my luck would change for the better. Regardless how Lee treated me I stood by his side hoping that he will change. That… he will love me…" Anna said solemnly. "The last straw was forgetting the anniversary. All the neglect and disrespect I've received… I-I just couldn't take it anymore!" Anna said loudly.

"I'm tired being stepped on. I'm tired being weak." She spoke her last words with angered determination as she looked at Bryan and reflected on the conversation they had in the car days ago.

Bryan smirked, feeling impressed by her last remark. "Interesting… So you're really doing this just to get revenge on Lee, huh?"

"Well... that's part of it." Anna said; carefully choosing her words. "Quite honestly… I'm just tired of living this lifestyle… I want something more… I want to change." She confessed. "I wasn't sure at first… to take the job I mean." Anna clarified as she glanced at Bryan. "That is why I wanted to talk to both you and Lee that day... Your words and the big argument I had with Lee helped me decide whether I should take the job or not."

"Hmm… I get all of that, but I still don't understand why you want to reconnect with your sister." Bryan said curiously as he scratched his head. "If you're lonely, why don't you just look for another guy? Why her? Considering your hatred for each other, it just doesn't make any fuckin' sense to me."

"I'm really not interested in getting into another relationship." Anna said scornfully. "I've had more than enough bad experiences with men."

Bryan grinned and chuckled at her response.

"I don't know what Nina told you but our relationship is a lot more complicated than you think." Anna said wearily as she looked at him. "Believe it or not, I never hated my sister. How could I? She is the only family I have left." She reasoned.

"Really?" Bryan said disbelievingly; feeling more puzzled than before.

"She is the one who hates and despises me… I simply played along with this whole rivalry thing since it's the only chance I get to spend time with her." Anna said hesitantly. "I know it sounds weird, but it's true."

Bryan sat up in his chair feeling totally perplexed by what she said. "Yeah, I agree… That's fuckin' twisted." He said incredulously.

"I never want to hurt or maim my sister… Even though I know she doesn't feel the same way." Anna said quietly. "Honestly, I actually admired her. She was always the better assassin. I knew this from the very beginning." She spoke truthfully. "I was never cut out to be one but our father forced us into the family trade…" Anna sighed glumly. Everyone in the Williams clan was a hired killer… every one of us. Now, there are only two of us left." Anna looked down solemnly.

"I don't want to complete with her. I already admit defeat. I simply want to have a normal, functional, relationship with her... as sisters should." Anna said quietly.

Bryan was amazed at how dysfunctional the sister's relationship was. He was a loss for words. He simply couldn't wrap his mind around it. "Why do you think she hates you so much?" Bryan asked curiously.

Anna was a little hesitant to respond. "…She has her reasons." She said bluntly.

"Which are?..." Bryan pressed curiously.

"I really don't want to speak of it." She said quietly.

Bryan sighed resignedly as he leaned back and slouched in his seat. He thought about what Anna had said. At first he didn't believe her, but based on her mannerisms and how passionately she spoke, Bryan was somewhat convinced she is telling the truth. There were still some unanswered questions, but he decided to leave it alone for now. He well get the answers soon enough.

"So what do you have to say… after I told you all of that?" Anna questioned curiously. "Do you believe me?"

Bryan rubbed his chin as he thought of an answer. "You're doing all of this… and sacrificing so much for a person that probably do not want anything to do with you." He said thoughtfully. "It' just seems too unbelievable to me." Bryan said quietly as he continued to ponder over what she said. "You just don't seem like the type of person to do such a noble and risky thing." He reasoned.

Anna was getting nervous. From the looks of it, it seemed like Bryan was going to tell Lee everything. "Please Bryan… Please believe me! I'm telling the truth!" She pleaded. "Why else would I come here?"

"To do what you do best…" Bryan said glibly. "Manipulate."

"I am not!" Anna said defiantly as she looked at him. Tears were gathering at the corner of her eyes. She quickly looked away; she didn't want Bryan to see her cry.

"You're a good actress." Bryan quietly mocked.

Anna calmed herself and silently wiped away her tears. "Don't you want to see her again?" Anna questioned. Her voice was shaky. "I know there is something between you two… Remember I caught you in the conference room at G- Corp.?" Anna said as she tried to resurrect an old memory.

He remembered the event. It was the last time he saw Nina. Bryan sighed dismissively as he rested his head on the back of the couch. He quietly stared at the ceiling and wondered what he should do. He didn't know whether he should believe her or not. He wasn't sure. Anna seemed like she was being honest and he secretly wanted to trust her, but Anna's key talent was manipulation and seduction and the last thing Bryan wanted was to be played a fool.

But then again, he had nothing to lose. He was already on bad terms with Lee. If he helped Anna, he would at least get a chance to see Nina again. It was a chance he was willing to take.

"Fine Anna, I will not say a word." Bryan said gruffly as he looked at her.

Anna's face lit up. She gave him a timid smile. "Really?" she said skeptically.


Anna's smile widened. "Thank you… Thank you so much."

"I just hope you're not screwin' with me." Bryan warned as he stood up from the couch.

He walked over to his fridge and took out two bottles of water. He gave Anna one before returning to his seat. Anna thanked him as she opened the bottle and took a sip. Bryan did the same.

Bryan looked at Anna as she sipped on the water. Bryan thought if this little partnership was going to work, they needed to put the past behind them.

"You know… what happened at that dinner party was only a joke… You women are just too sensitive sometimes." Bryan said uneasily as he passed a hand through his hair.

"Huh!?" Anna quickly stopped drinking and looked at Bryan with a shocked expression on her face. She carefully thought over what he just said and smiled. "Is this your weird way of apologizing to me?" Anna asked timidly.

"It's as close as it's gonna get." Bryan grunted irritably as he looked away.

Anna giggled quietly to herself. She knew Bryan was not the kind of man to flat-out say 'I'm sorry.' He would dance around the subject as he did just now. However, Anna wasn't troubled by this… She was just happy the atmosphere around them was changing. It wasn't as tense as it was moments ago.

"Well I accept your half-hearted apology." Anna said feeling a lot more relaxed. "I know my behavior towards you was less than acceptable… It's just that you always caught me in a bad mood. So don't take any of it to heart okay?" Anna said mockingly; offering her own half-hearted apology.

Bryan looked at her and smirked as he took another sip of his water. Anna giggled quietly. She was happy to have Bryan's odd company once again.

"You know… I should have said this earlier but, the reason why Lee punished me was to prove his love for you Anna." Bryan said considerately as he looked at her.

"Really?" Anna said; feeling a bit surprised. "Well that's a weird way of showing it. I'm convinced that man is absolutely clueless when it comes to love."

Bryan chuckled. "Do you still have feelings for him?" He asked curiously.

"I do." Anna said quietly as she looked down at the floor. "There are times where I actually question the decision I've made. But ultimately, I've decided that Nina is more important to me than trying to save a failing relationship. As they say, blood is thicker than water."

"So how are you going to handle the situation with Lee since you agreed to keep the secret?" Anna asked curiously as she looked at him.

"I'm just gonna lay low for a while." Bryan said simply. "No way am I going there after he threatened to gut me like a fuckin' pig." He said angrily as he removed a box of cigarettes from his pocket.

"…But what about your perpetual generator?" Anna asked with a concerned look on her face.

"I still have some stimulants." Bryan said calmly. "It's enough to last me a couple of weeks. I'll party everyday as if it's me fuckin' last. Then I'll return after I run out." He explained as he stuck a cigarette in his mouth.

"You're only delaying the inevitable." Anna reasoned.

"I know, I know…" Bryan said dismissively. "But what you want me to do? You want me to just give up now or should I enjoy my last few weeks of freedom before Lee and his scientists dissects me?" He questioned.

Bryan stood up and walk to one of his windows. He opened it, lit his cigarette and began to smoke. Anna grew concerned. She knew Lee would quickly retract his punishment if Bryan told him her secret. It actually made more sense for him to do so.

"Why did you agree to help me? It makes more sense for you to tell Lee everything."

Bryan took a drag of his cigarette. "The truth is… I want to see Nina as well." He said as he exhaled the smoke. "If what you are telling me is true, I don't want to pass up the opportunity to see her again."

Anna was surprised by his response. She didn't expect him to have such feelings towards her sister; let alone anyone for that matter. She wondered what happened during that Brazilian mission that left Bryan feeling this way. How could he possible like Nina's cold and distant demeanor? Anna hated to admit it, but she actually felt a little envious. She wished she had someone that cared for her so much.

Anna suddenly felt guilty. Bryan was sacrificing so much just to help her out. She felt obligated to return the favor. And she knew exactly how. Anna quickly put on her shoes, grabbed her purse and headed towards the door.

"Where are you going?" Bryan asked curiously as he turned to face her.

"To see Lee." She said bluntly as she hurriedly gathered the last of her things. "I'm going to try to convince him to call off your punishment."

"Really?" He was shocked by her statement.

"Yes, it's the least I could do since you've agreed to keep my secret." Anna said and smiled.

She zipped up her fur coat and exited the apartment.

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