Stage two? A dreaded feeling pulled at me when I heard that coming from my brother’s lips. How many more stages had Cuán planned for me? Would I ever clear all of those stages? It seemed an impossibility to me.
“How many stages have you prepared for me?” I asked.
I heard Cuán chuckling. “Dear stepbrother,” he said, “why would I ever share such important information with you? Besides, isn’t the fun of it all, to leave you in suspense?”
I frowned. He liked playing with my mind, and it was working effectively too, I had been losing my calm several times in this hour already. I balled my fists. Despite the hopeless situation, I had to keep my head cool.
“How do I play stage two?” I asked.
“It’s quite simple.” I heard the sound of wood being dragged over laminate and then I was pushed onto a seat. “You don’t need to walk for stage two, you just need to handle the control panel.” With that said, he bound my feet to the chair.
“So, how does this control panel work?” I was starting to lose my patience. I wanted to get out of this place already! Cuán, however, took his sweet time before replying with a soft laughter: –
“That’s for you to figure out in this game.”
Something was placed onto my nose, and suddenly the blurs became shapes.
“These glasses look much better on you than your own ones.”
I snapped my head around and in the darkness my eyes could make out a slender neck. Slowly my sight adjusted to the darkness. Lifting my gaze, I stared into ice-cold eyes that were hidden behind bangs. It was definitely my brother’s face, but those eyes were not Cuán’s. Even when Cuán was furious, his eyes were never cold. Cuán was never cold. What had happened to him?
I broke our eye contact and inspected my surroundings. Looking around, I realized that I knew this place. As I rightfully guessed before, the floor was covered in laminate. One side of the room was covered in a row of mirrors, and on the far end the keys were still hanging from that wall – there were only six of them left.
“You locked me up in your own basement?” I growled.
He smirked. “You don’t like Cuán’s little hideout?” he sneered.
I shot him a nasty glare. He would know how much he was getting into me. I turned back to the control panel and realized that it was very similar to a computer. Perhaps it was a computer; albeit, a more advanced one, a supercomputer maybe. At the corner of the panel there was a label which said ‘DowersElectronics’, and as my eyes ran over the slick gadget, I almost had the urge to roll my eyes.
Of course, it had to be my father’s company… Was there any scientific or technological project from either legal or underground branches that my old man did not invest in? I highly doubted it. Dowers Inc. was vastly becoming the most lucrative incorporation on this planet.
“You stuffed your basement full with father’s toys,” I stated, rather than asked.
I silently cursed myself. I should have begged father to be part of the family company, despite his objections. Due to a certain event at a social party wherein I had apparently embarrassed the President’s daughter (the fault of which was my own ineptness where the other sex was concerned) my father and elder brothers had deemed me as incompetent in the ruthless world called business, and consequently they had cut me off from Dowers Inc. to protect me from further danger. It hadn’t really mattered to them though, seeing as I was only the fifth son of the Dowers family, it wasn’t as if I had much influence to begin with. However, since I was not involved in Dowers Inc., I knew naught about any of their more complex products, which was posing to be the biggest problem right now.
“You keep calling it my basement,” Cuán pouted, “but it was your basement too.”
I glared at him, before stiffly jerking back towards the giant screen. This basement had been our place of cease fire. When we were still living under one roof, Cuán and I had often fought each other; but always, when Cuán ran away in tears, when I had gone too far and made him cry, I would follow him into this basement; and without saying anything, I would sling an arm around him, and we would sit until he was ready to face the world again. We never admitted these occurrences, but I had an inkling suspicion that Cuán’s mother knew about it. Having been my nanny since my own mother died giving birth to me, she knew me through and through.
Thinking about Sarah, made my thoughts return to that story my father had once told me. Father had hired Sarah as my nanny, because he thought her to be an honest and hardworking woman. On my tenth birthday, when father had left home for business, a security guard had taken his chances and raped Sarah. When the incident had been found out, this security guard was fired immediately, and soon after, he disappeared under questionable circumstances. Sarah, in her anguish, sought solace from my father, and father, who had been a lonesome man ever since my mother’s death, found new love in her. It was in this same basement that father had asked for Sarah’s hand in marriage three years later and accepted Cuán, the child resulting from the rape, as his own. Since then, Sarah had been my official stepmother.
Shaking myself from old memories, I decided not to waste any time on freeing myself from my handcuffs. There were three buttons present at the side of the enormous screen. I randomly picked one of these buttons and silently prayed that it was not a self-destruction button which I had pushed.
The touch screen of the control panel flickered to life, while at the same time I heard the clanking sound of metal falling on the floor behind me. Shit.
“Ah, those were the last six keys…” I heard Cuán’s cruel voice dripping with amusement.
“I never touched them,” I protested, but he simply let out a short bark of laughter.
“Touch them? I had it programmed that all the remaining keys were to fall the moment you hit the start button of the control panel.”
I should have known. He had planned this entire scenario from the start, so I was not surprised at this turn of events. Considering the circumstances, the possibility that he would let those keys fall in due time had already crossed my mind, and right now, I had been proven completely right. I intended to tell him this, but he covered my mouth with his right palm in that moment.
He bent forward and whispered, “Don’t try to be smart-mouthed, it will ruin my mood.” Then he let his tongue travel the rim of my right ear, leaving a tingling wet trail, and he took special care to play with the little diamond stud that was adorning my lobe.
I felt a shudder deep inside at the sensations coursing through me. The more this game continued, the more aroused I got. Cuán was building it up slowly though, as if he wished for this to last forever. Maybe he did.
He reached down and I heard a soft clicking. Then, I was freed from my handcuffs. “One key, two purposes… You should be grateful that I feel kind enough right now to give you this one on the house,” he murmured and continued kissing my sensitive earlobe.
It was a move of benevolence from him. Yet, something was off the marker. Well, everything was off the marker when your own little brother had you tied up in his basement… but still, as far as I had known – Cuán, despite his charming looks and gentlemanly character around girls, was not a very merciful person. When we fought each other in the past, he had often exploited whatever weaknesses he could find in me to his advantage, to hurt me. He was the type that would strike the moment he saw an opening, he would never back down from a chance, let alone help me get rid of my weaknesses. Of course, back then, I was usually victorious in our fights, mainly because I was older than him.
Another strange thing was that Cuán had never shown interest in any kind of men before, so the last person on earth he would want to bed should be me, the big brother he hated and with whom he always fought. Or was I wrong on that account?
One more thing I realized was that I had never guessed Cuán to be so extremely intelligent and manipulative. He always did strike me as a clever teen of sorts, but this Cuán was more of an evil child genius. He knew of Dowers Inc.’s most advanced technologies and how they worked; and he knew how to read me like a book. That was not something the Cuán I had known could have done before. In fact, was it not the miscommunication between us that set off all those fights we had in the first place?
I was shaken out of my thoughts, when I felt Cuán’s hand slip into my pants and squeeze my member. Instantly, I let out a low moan.
“You’re thinking entirely too much,” Cuán chuckled. “You should be more wary of me.”
For a moment, I contemplated on whether I should just overpower him or not, now that he had freed my hands. I was physically much stronger than him, the chances of success were reasonable. I decided against it. It was very likely that I would still need him to get out of this place.
He unbuttoned my pants and ordered for me to stand, then pulled the garments in one swift movement down to my ankles and pushed me back to sit on my naked butt. “I think that should count as four,” Cuan grinned. “So what should I do now, Connor?”
“Do what you want,” I managed to get through my gritted teeth, as he went back to fondling my private parts.
“You sure about that?” he teased me, but he kissed my cheek and let me go. “Continue,” he ordered.
I took a deep shuddering breath and looked at the screen before me. In the dim reflection, I saw Cuán, but I couldn’t help feeling that something was off with him. He simply looked too different. It must be those eyes, those cold and lifeless eyes, I thought, but there was something else too, something that I couldn’t quite remember, but it kept nagging at me.
Focusing on what exactly the touch screen was displaying, I frowned. “Why is there a key at the corner of the screen?” I asked.
He leaned over my shoulder and from the corner of my eyes I saw his cold smirk as he explained, “It’s the counting system. See the hologram projector above those three buttons? For every single program you manage to open, it will display one holographic key dropping down… You know what a dropped key means by now, don’t you?”
I chose to ignore his last sentence, and instead focused on what he first said. “What do you mean by program? I have to open them?”
Cuán nodded, his eyes glittering coldly in delight. “There are quite a lot of programs installed on this baby for the purpose of sidetracking you, or hiding and locking down the right program which you must find. See it as a puzzle you have to solve. You must unlock and open the correct set of programs in order to get the code which will be your ticket out of here.”
“Software… I hate technology,” I muttered under my breath, but apparently he heard me, because he yanked my hair harshly as a means of reproach.
I yowled in pain. “That fucking hurt, damn it!” I cried out.
“Get back to work,” he sneered and backed away from me.
Did I touch a nerve again? I rubbed the back of my head to sooth the pain. What did I say that set him off so badly this time? Maybe he was in love with that control panel? I would not put it past him, not any more, now that I know that he’s a psychopathic genius in reality.
I shook my head and rid myself of those thoughts; I was not supposed to trample upon Cuán’s image, I was supposed to save him. I took a deep breath and looked at the touch screen and the wallpaper it supported. How fitting. It was of a bird caged in a white egg. Words making up a seemingly nonsensical poem accompanied the picture. They read:
out. One key.
I am free.’
Mulling over the words, I frowned. They were likely a clue as to where my next key was. Sighing, I shook my head. It was time for me to play with this new gadget.
I opened a program called ‘DowersCC’, which I knew to be a simple hacking program, and the first holographic key dropped to the bottom where it was caught by a small yellow basket which had suddenly been formed with the beams of light that were projecting from the hologram projector. I ignored Cuán’s grin which I saw reflected on the touch screen in favor of the window which had unexpectedly popped up above the basket and was asking me for a security code.
I didn’t know what the code was, because it was decided on by the person that had installed the software. This person was obviously Cuán.
What kind of code would that kid think up? Birthday dates maybe?
I tried Cuán’s birthday, but that didn’t work. Another key fell into the basket. I didn’t give up yet, and instead tried my own birthday, but that too led to the same results. Finally, I tried entering the birthdays of all my brothers, that of my stepmother and that of my father. Yet all failed.
“How the hell am I supposed to do this?” I growled.
“Hmm… I might tell you…” Cuán teased, “but you owe me nine right now…”
“Get it over with!” I snarled and with a yank I twirled the chair around to face my brother. “Hurry up and do what you want!”
He smirked and slowly leaned in for a soft kiss on my tightly closed lips. “One,” he whispered into my ear and then let his tongue out to play with that diamond bud at my right ear.
My brows knitted together as I remembered where exactly I got that diamond ear piercing from. It was on my fifteenth birthday that I received this gift from Cuán. The little brat had been no more than four years old back then, but it had been the first time he was deemed old enough and allowed to pick a gift for me by himself.
That day, when he picked that gift for me, was also the first day ever that we, officially as legal brothers, went shopping together along with stepmother after her marriage to my father. Of course, he pointed to a lot of toys during the trip, but I refused each and every one he tried to pass off to me. I was a bratty teen by then and, trying to act more mature than I really was, I deemed toys of any kind to be utterly childish, the same way I deemed shopping with my little brother to be an embarrassment to my dignity.
All of a sudden, Cuán surprised me when he pulled on my sleeve and pointed with his chubby finger towards a window filled with jewelery. “There!” he had said. “That one! I want to give you that one, Connor!” When I took a closer look, I saw it was a set of ear piercings he had pointed at. They were simple diamond studs that sparkled in the lights of the display window, but they had a hint of a light blue hue to them.
I smiled. “Yes, I like that one,” I had said. I noticed that behind us stepmother had been smiling warmly at our little display of affection and I felt slightly uncomfortable under her scrutiny.
Later, it had become February, and Valentine’s day had come up.
As expected from a child his age, Cuán had no idea what Valentine’s day was and he had come to me for explanations. “What’s Valentine’s day?” he had asked and I had snickered at that innocence.
“It’s a day when people who love each other give each other presents,” I had told him.
“Will you give me a present too?” Cuán asked me.
I blinked, a little taken aback. “It’s… not exactly like that…” I tried to explain, but my words left Cuán with a heartbroken face, his bottom lip trembling ever so slightly.
“You don’t love me then?” he asked.
I sighed deeply then – who was I to deny him when he looked at me with those eyes? “Fine,” I grumbled, “I’ll give you a present.” I took out my left piercing, and gave it to the child. “That’s for you,” I said, “You’ll have to make a hole in your ear first before you can wear it though.”
Cuán had looked at me then with the most brilliant smile he had ever given me. “Thank you, Connor!” he had said, and he had leaned in to kiss my cheek. He had urged his mother to let him pierce his ear that very same day.
That was the first time something had sparked within me. A seed of a poisonous flower had been embedded in my heart. Following that day, my indifferent attitude towards Cuán slowly but surely changed into antagonism as I felt my feelings slip further and further from brotherly love into something much darker and sinister: I desired him.
I gasped as Cuán brought me out of my thoughts by harshly biting into my ear. “You shouldn’t let your thoughts wander to him when you have me,” he hissed.
He lowered himself and knelt down before me, the palms of his hands resting on my bare knees. “It was your birthday yesterday, wasn’t it…?” he drawled as he looked me straight in the eyes. “And I didn’t even give you a present. Perhaps, I should do that now?”
Those lustful eyes ogled me and I knew what he was suggesting. But that was not the thing I cared about now. I could not have cared less if he were to fuck me hard and painful at this very moment, because my mind and eyes were occupied with something much more outrageous, a factor so important that it could rewrite the entire scenario I had in my mind up until now, and I had not even noticed it until this moment.
All I could see was his left earlobe where no diamond stud could be found. There was not even a hole.
Slowly, Cuán encircled his slender hand around my manhood. I shuddered. This was wrong. Everything about this whole thing was wrong. Whose eyes were those that this boy was staring with? Whose ear did he have? Whose mind was it that the face of my brother supported?
He moved his hand up and down, toying with me, cruelly stretching my resolve to my limit.
“Where… is… it?” I wheezed out.
It was torture for me to even speak as he patiently pleasured me. And he knew this. The proudly erect manhood in his hand spoke volumes of my inner desires. My shameful secret was now fully visible in the open air.
“Where is what?” he asked me playfully. He carefully licked his lips and pouted them slightly, all the while never breaking eye contact with me. His eyes were lustful, as they had been from the start, but something else, something I could not place, was in there too. Again, I noted that there were several layers of emotion present here, cautiously schooled behind a mask, but slowly, if one were willing to carefully observe, the mask would give way and the emotions would reveal themselves.
“The – gift.”
He smirked. “I was planning to give it to you now, my dear impatient Connor…”
That was not what I meant, and he knew it!
He, however, dived in at exactly the moment when I opened my mouth to protest. Instead of words, a strange mixture of a squeal and a moan left my lips. Damn, he was good at this!
He slowly bobbed his head up and down and used his tongue to explore each and every inch of my flesh. His touches were at once meticulous and sensual, and his careful movements almost fooled me into believing that he himself was hesitantly experimenting. But then I firmly reminded myself that this could not be the case, as no first timer could ever be as skilled and knowing in the art of sex as he proved to be. It must have been my own wicked desire for Cuán to be the experimenting teenager that he was supposed to be at age fifteen that made me think like that.
“S-stop!” I moaned out breathlessly, but he paid my protest no heed and continued steadily. He did, however, lift his eyes back up, all the while continuing his sinful ministrations, and stared at me penetratingly, as if he were trying to assess me, to read and calculate my reactions.
My reactions were obvious, I had completely surrendered the remains of my shattered dignity and self-discipline by then in favor of the pleasure I received. My voice continued to object, but the force behind it had since dwindled to non-existent. I was like an open book to him. I had utterly lost to him.
Suddenly, I cried out. “Fuck!” I shouted.
Out of the blue he had started sucking me – harshly. He grinned, his lips curling slightly around my erection, and then he started a teasing game of suction, alternating between soft and hard sucking.
It was sinful. Utterly sinful, how his mouth worked on me. In fact, his whole being embodied sin. He was Sin itself, come to earth to destroy me – a temptation brought to me by Satan himself to lure me away from redemption.
And now I was shamelessly embracing this temptation, casting aside all my previous goodwill as I momentarily lost myself in his sweet mouth. I moaned and cried and begged, blabbering all sorts of nonsense, until my voice felt hoarse and then I felt that moment of complete euphoria.
I released myself within his mouth and felt it as he eagerly swallowed what he could. Upon releasing my member a small pearly river trickled from the corner of his lips towards his chin. That was the image of the hell which I realized I had just brought onto myself.
Salvation… had I really thought such blasphemy?
I pushed those feelings of guilt into the back of my mind. I could redeem myself later, but there was something more pressing at hand now.
“That counts as much more than nine,” I said. Bargaining.
“True,” he agreed.
“What will I get in return for it?”
He smirked. “My game, my rules. I can grant you something, if you ask me very nicely. And I want an extra kiss from you.”
“Fine,” I agreed immediately.
He got up from his kneeling position between my knees and leaned over me. As his lips touched me, I opened my mouth for him and let him explore me. He was good, very good, and everything that I should want, as I had been lusting after him for years now – but I did not want him.
He looked the same, and he was sexually much more pleasing than the Cuán that I had always had in mind. He was the hot, sexy little Cuán that I had always fantasized about and he turned me on like no one had ever before. But still, deep in my heart I knew that he was not the Cuán that I desired. I had finally come to that conclusion. I wanted the brat, not the psychopathic child genius.
When our lips parted, I asked him straight out, “Where’s your piercing?”
“Piercing?” He blinked and seemed almost confused.
He didn’t remember…? But that was the one thing I had given Cuán that he still treasured even after more than ten years had passed! How could he have forgotten!
Unless he… didn’t know? And he had never referred to himself as…? Not even truly acknowledged and sometimes even denied himself to be…? He was not…?
“You’re not Cuán.”
I stated this rather than asked it, and I suddenly knew this to be true. There were simply too many things that did not add up. His personality was not the same; his eyes, cold as they appeared, were not the same; even his body, which was almost identical to Cuán’s, was different in at least one area – his earlobe. It simply couldn’t be my brother, but why did he look almost exactly like him?
He gave me a little smirk and said, “Really? Again I’m not Cuán anymore? Which one is it? Am I, or am I not him?”
“You’re not him,” I replied firmly, with conviction. I was certain of this – the brother I knew was not him.
“You still haven’t given me what I wanted,” I continued, “so I’ll ask you now, and I hope you’ll keep to your end of the promise. Who are you really?”
The boy stared at me with those cold eyes again, but this time I could detect a hint of uncertainty. I knew that at this moment I was the one who had outplayed him. And he knew this too it seemed, for he did not know what to do. I wondered, had I finally gotten the upper hand in this game?
He closed his eyes and let out an almost unnoticeable sigh as if defeated. Then he reached up with his hands and started unbuttoning his shirt.
I frowned. “What are you doing?”
His smirk immediately returned upon hearing my question. “I’m not someone who doesn’t keep to his words,” he said and he opened his eyes to look at me. “I will give you the answer you have asked for.”
The last button of his shirt came undone, and he shrugged his shirt off. On his midriff, the logo of Dowers Inc. was unmistakably imprinted, and turning around, his back revealed a combination of a letter and a number: C2. “I am one of DowersBioTechs’s experiments,” he declared.
That piece of information blew my mind.