Damian was an acrobat, spending some time with the trapeze artists as a teenager. So he was swift and knew a lot of aerial moves. He showed Conner how to be better at the staff and use it well to his advantage. He even showed him how to spin-off of it to kick the opponent in mid-air.
However, that was a move Conner could never really get right. Usually, he ended up falling flat on his butt. Other than that, Conner grew to be faster, stronger, and much more skilled than ever before.
Like normal his physique changed along with his skillset. Gaining better muscle mass and he grew to have a broader chest and shoulders as he entered further adulthood. Growing larger and well-toned limbs as well as torso. All alongside Damian, who was more physically, to begin with.
Still a little younger, he surpassed his age group and moved to the higher range. Which was a lot faster and much more intense, regardless Conner did everything he could to keep up with the pacing.
He soon learned rather than holding back his anger, he would use it to his advantage. Making him work harder in training as well as out in the field. He would train until he was bloody in the face, exhausted, and every muscle in his body was sore. Yet he kept going to keep up with the others. Even when told to stop, Conner would refuse and keep going.
All of it bit him back in the ass many times as per usual. It was physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. There were days where he lost it and his temper went haywire. There were days where he wanted to quit everything, and there were days he almost walked right out.
Nevertheless, he stayed throughout everything. Not at all wanting to leave Damian all alone in the dark twisted place that was known as the New York CIA Base.
Damian was always someone Conner could always count on. He was there for him his first day and stayed by his side for the following five years after that. The two became fast friends, and before he knew it Conner grew to feel much more than that. It was a feeling that never faded, however, he never once came clean and told Damian the truth.
Honestly thinking that over time he would get over it. But he never did and it stayed as strong as it ever was. There were even times where it was even stronger than before. Even so, Conner kept all of that to himself. Unsure what that would even mean, Damian's safety and well being were far too important to Conner and he never wanted to jeopardize that.
He, of course, didn't mind being just his friends. He was glad to even know the guy, let alone become his best friend and the only person Damian knew he could trust with his everything.
Conner's personality also went through a change. He was much sterner and serious, not so much playful and childish. He grew to be more mature and take things seriously whenever need be. He could still play and joke around, but he knew when to set that aside for work. He was no longer as nervous getting out there on missions.
There wasn't really any time for any of it so he stayed firm and focused a lot more than he used to.
As for his temper, given his situation and lifestyle, it only grew worse. He became on edge more frequently and caught himself irritated a lot easier than ever before.
Luckily, Damian knew how to calm him down to focus, another reason Conner cared for him so much. Never in his life could anyone 'tame the beast' but Damian thought fast and knew just what to do.
It wasn't easy and there were many different failures before Damian had it all figured out. And no matter how angry he got, Conner never once hit Damian. He just couldn't ever bring himself to do that. He was his best friend and valuable, so the very last thing he ever wanted to do was hurt him.
Missions also grew to be more difficult and a lot to handle. Yet again Conner was willing and pushed himself. Doing all he could to keep up and of course to keep himself alive out there. All easier said than done.
Regardless he managed and gotten better at it. As much as he hated it, he also has gotten better at shooting. Only using it absolutely necessary, however, as if a gun was pointed at him. Otherwise, he still tried his best to hide it whenever he used one. Not at all wanting Jones to see him become the 'killing machine' she wanted.
He did all he could to avoid her, yet there were still times he got treated differently. Conner kept his tendency of getting himself in trouble, not really listening to what he was told. However, he was still pretty much let off the hook. Having punishments not as bad as they should've been. Which annoyed him at first but soon got over it. He didn't lose as much time for training and going out on the field for missions.
The Executives and everyone continued to treat him like some prize they've been waiting for. Poking and prodding at him, over fascinated by the way he physically changed. Enjoying watching his temper flare up to the point of no control. He grew numb to all of it and paid no attention to any of it anymore.
Letting them do and say as they please, treating him like some object. Out of the missions, training, and non-stop having to fight. It was what the Executives and higher-ups did that wore him out the most. He would rather fight for the rest of his life than ever be treated as a mere object to the people he was supposed to protect and look up to.
Early in the morning once again. The agents were all gathered in the training room. As usual, Conner was beside Damian while Baker stood in front to both show and teach them the next moves. He whipped out staff and opened it up, holding it out in front of himself.
"Okay, let's try that nifty trick Adler taught a little while back."
Saying aloud as he handed the staff over to Damian who took it in hand. He took a few large steps back, then rushed forward. Planting the staff to the ground and lifting himself up with his upper body strength.
Moving his feet up to the air and spinning around, kicking the training dummy in the air before pressing his feet back on the ground. By no surprise, he did with the move without flaw. Conner clapped dramatically as Damian told him to shut up and pushed the staff on his chest. Conner chuckled and caught it.
"Hey, remember your first day with the thing? Cracked yourself right in the face and gave yourself a black eye?"
Baker playfully remarked outcrossing his arms.
Conner let out as he moved back before rushing forward and planting the staff down. He managed to lift himself up on the staff, but only for it to rock to the side and have him fall. Damian failed at holding anything in and instantly burst out laughing.
Still cackling a little he went over and extended out a hand for Conner to help him up. Once he was on his feet again he stopped laughing and shook his head.
"That is the one thing you can't get right. The thing hates ya."
Damian said as he took the staff and handed it over to Baker who then retracted it.
"That's break boys. I mean it this time McAlister."
Baker said before heading over to the table and then out of the room. Conner placed his hands to his hips and looked around.
"Hey, you c'mon. Just this once could ya not stay behind and take a break? You could use it y'know."
"You ain't stayin'?"
Damian shook his head. Turning around and going over to the table to grab a water bottle, after that he left the room as well. Leaving Conner alone. Going over he grabbed another staff and opened it, stepping back and redoing that move over and over. Continuing to fall he only picked himself back up and did it all over again.
Fall after fall, Conner would get back on his feet and do it over and over and over again. Finally, he stepped back and ran forward, planting the staff on the ground. He lifted himself up with his upper body strength and spun around, kicking the training dummy. Just like Damian did. After that once again he kept doing it, over and over again. All until everyone came back from break and then he set it aside.
Preparing himself for the next technique, after of course getting scolded by Baker...again.
It didn't last and again they were back in training for the rest of the day.
After everyone was gone, however, Conner stayed back and kept training. Working over everything they have gone through time and time again. He used to never stay back and was usually the first one to leave the room but the older he got the more determined he became. He wanted to master a skill to the best of his abilities.
Not at all stopping until it was perfected and could do it with his eyes closed.
He went over the staff moves again, as well as some other hand to hand and weapon moves. Once he was finished with that he went over to the gym and worked out there.
Running a few miles on the treadmill, lifting on the barbell and hand weights, as well as taking a few swings on the heavy bag. He moved about all through the late hours of the night. Not stopping for a moment and working at everything until he knew he could perfect it.
Heading back over to the training room, he got startled as the lights turned on. He was sure it was just him awake. Furrowing his brows he looked around and spotted Jones at the other end of the large room. Avoiding her was becoming more difficult these days. Blinking Conner just stood still as she entered more into the room.
"You never cease to impress me, McAlister."
Saying as she slowly strolled into the room. Her hands were behind her back so instantly Conner's guard shot up. The closer she came the farther he stepped back.
"Everyone else is fast asleep, even good ole Baker. Yet here you still are, working intensely to perfect everything."
Conner still kept his distance, it felt unsettling and kinda creepy. It was well past two in the morning and she was still wide awake. Watching Conner in her lair probably. It almost made his stomach turn, regardless he stayed stern.
"Oh y'know, just practicin' is all.."
Jones shrugged and stood still in front of Conner.
"Well, if you say so."
With that, she took her hands out from behind her back and help up a gun right to him. His heart nearly jumped right out of his chest, but he quickly reached in the holster over his shoulder and took out his own gun. At first, it wasn't making any sense and he felt himself getting a little nervous. Until he came quick to realize what was going on. It must've been some kind of twisted test.
All to see if he was willing to actually shoot her and do it with no remorse. Indicating him as becoming the killer she wanted. That was more than enough to anger Conner. Hearing her cock her gun he did the same. Moving over and placing his other hand onto the gun as well. Staying firm in the standoff and not moving at all. Just like her. When she inched closer, he did as well, she kept her stance, and so did he. Irritation was evident in his face and eyes, but he remained still.
Keeping his stance and breathing slow yet steady. Limbs as hard as a rock and eyes dark and serious.
After a little while, Jones finally broke the tense silence and slowly dropped her gun.
He pointed his gun to the cameras in the corner of the room. Shooting them down and dropping his gun.
"No. Temptin' as ya make it. It ain't gonna happen."
"Oh yeah? And why's that?"
"Why? 'Cuz then that'd only make me exactly what you want me t'be. I'm no fuckin' machine I'm a person!"
Tossing the gun aside he removed the padded gloves he had on from working out and turned around. Hearing a gun cock again, he spun around but before anything else could happen Jones had gotten tackled down. Blinking in surprise Conner looked over to find Baker pinned her down to the mat. Grabbing her arms, he grabbed a rope from his utilities and tied it around her wrists.
She called out, he then took out a taser device and shocked her neck. Knocking her out right on the spot.
"M'only regret is I ain't got handcuffs."
Conner watched the whole thing, yet he didn't flinch nor cower that time. However, he would be lying if he didn't feel relieved that Baker came just in time.
He nodded and breathed out.
After that, he was sent back to his room and for once he actually listened and did so. Heading down the halls to his room to try his best to get some amount of sleep.
The next morning, the agents were all sent down to the main lobby of the base.
Getting informed that Jones was to be forced to resign and that they were going to be out of a Director for a while. An amount of pressure felt lifted off of Conner now knowing that Christina was no longer going to be at the base ever again. He still had the rest to deal with, but it seemed like doe a little while he had some time to have a break. Everyone stayed and watched as they took Jones into custody. Then listened to the Executives and even one of the CEOs discuss what was to happen.
All of the agents seemed to be well behaved and under control well enough without Jones. So they weren't in any hurry for a new Director. They did ask Baker if he wanted the position but he was quick to deny it. Leaving it at that, they apologized for Jones' misbehaviors saying they didn't know her intentions fully and then they were off.
The apology didn't feel sincere in the slightest, but Conner shrugged it off and everything gradually went back to how they were before.
Sooner or later everyone went right back to it as if nothing happened. They went into training and working out like usual. Baker still remained the man in charge and looked after everyone. The only difference was, everyone seemed to breathe a little easier. Conner no longer had to try and avoid Jones at all costs daily. Damian and Baker no longer had to try and contain Jones from getting her hands on Conner.
Still being treated sort of like an object by the higher-ups, he no longer had to worry about being transformed into some kind of mindless killing machine. Or at least he hoped.
Conner still stayed a little more on edge. Staying back after training to continue on getting better. Keeping his promise and not leaving Damian's side. The special treatment was still something Conner had to deal with, but not as bad as before. He got punished fairly, as Baker was the one to do the punishing at times.
He only had to deal with the higher-ups kissing his ass that time. But back at the base, he was starting to see himself being treated just like anyone else. It was a breath of fresh air in some ways. The other agents still wanted nothing to do with Conner and remained to bully at him by saying awful things and not helping when he needed it. But it became something he could handle.
No longer having to deal with Jones going easy on him. If a fight broke out, he got in trouble for it. Soon enough they became less frequent.
Things were going back to the way they were, and there no longer was that annoying extra pressure on Conner for being so 'special'.