⚔︎❝But They Love You❞⚔︎
He managed to fall asleep for a little bit, only to wake back up at the early hour of six in the morning. By then he was used to waking up much earlier, yet again his sleep was disturbed so it felt much harder. As if there was a large weight bearing down on him. Figuratively there had been for a little over a year but now it felt literal.
Rubbing at his eyes, he pulled off the covers and slowly pushed himself onto his feet. Going over to his wardrobe he looked in and found nothing at all really that seemed appropriate. He wasn't at all someone who was 'fancy' or put together. Rolling his eyes he walked out of his room and up the hall and over to Damian's room.
Letting himself in, he knew he was off in training. So he went over to his wardrobe and opened the doors. Looking around he picked out a nice pair of dark pants and a button-down sleeved shirt. He quickly pulled on the pants and threw on the shirt. Buttoning it up and folding the sleeves up, fastening them at his forearms.
After he was dressed he crossed back over to his own room. Grabbing his comb and trying to work at his curls in the bathroom. Stopping to stare at his reflection in the mirror. He simply looked exhausted, dark circled puffy eyes, from the lack of sleep and crying.
Shaking his head he continued on doing his best at his thick curls to look somewhat presentable. After that, he splashed some water on his face and patted it dry. Gruffly sighing and coughing. Conner then moved over to his room to grab his shoes, selecting his good boots and sliding them on his feet.
Kneeling over and tying the laces tightly. Finally, he stood back up and brushed off everything.
Walking over to his door he nearly stumbled forward. Quickly grabbing the wall to catch his balance, and placing his opposite hand on his eyes. Squinting his eyes shut he breathed longly and pushed himself back up to his feet.
Dropping his hands he went over to handle and used it to help his balance. Using it to pull him out of the room and out to the hallway. Moving down the hall he made his way to the training room. Pausing a moment and glancing inside, scanning the room until he found Damian.
He stopped what he was doing and looked over to Conner, seeing him look as if he was about to fall over. He jogged over to where he was, noticing he had stolen and put on his clothes. But, quickly let that leave his mind. He went over and placed his hands on Conner's shoulders to help steady him. He stayed still and examined him a moment, but then turned around as he was being called.
Sighing out he said he was sorry and wished he could come with him. He removed his arms and went off again. Shaking his head Conner turned back and continued to the elevators. Going down to the ground floor, where he was to meet Jones.
He nearly stumbled again in the elevator and still tried his best to shake everything off. Soon the ding went off and Conner stepped out of the lift and went over to the main desk.
Scanning his ID card and waited for Jones. He closed his eyes for just a moment but quickly snapped them back open as he felt himself begin to fall backward. As he regained alertness he looked over and spotted Jones. Shaking it all off he walked over to where she was.
Once again she looked well put together in a blazer and matching skirt. Hair up this time and having on eyeglasses.
"There he is! I'm so excited for everyone to finally meet you. Come along."
Conner went into autopilot and absentmindedly obeyed. Nodding and following her out of the main base. Crossing through the large open-spaced yard, and down to the subway trains.
Riding along, all that was on Conner's mind was trying to stay conscious and not much else. Having no idea what to expect. All he knew was he felt numb and drained like he was ready to pass out for the next three days. He hardly remembered sleeping for more than two hours in the past week. Every time he closed his eyes the images popped up and scared him.
All he wanted to do was forget and run away from all of it. Not go and meet the higher-ups who never seen him as a person in the first place. He was contemplating on quitting the agency for good, but there was still something plaguing him to stay.
In the blink of an eye it felt, the train stopped and they made their way back up. Entering an unfamiliar area of the city, not even Conner could recognize where he was. Given he was born and raised in the city. Then again that was probably the point. He followed Jones up to a large, very tall, weird-looking building. It looked like something out of a comic book.
The two walked in and scanned their cards. After that, they were told to head up to the top floor. It was always the top floor.
Once again with zero thought, Conner followed wherever Jones went or told him to go. Crossing over to a large open spaced room, with windows touching the floor, just like the main base. Not wanting to move his head too much, Conner just looked ahead.
Waiting by the wall like he was told. Moving his hands behind his back and linking his fingers together. He watched as other older adults walked in. All well dressed in suits, they went to Jones and spoke to her. Conner had no idea what anyone was saying, everything was just muffled again. They went on and on for a good while and still, Conner tried to keep his heavy lids open. His head was spinning and nothing came clear until he heard his name.
"McAlister come on over and let them meet you."
Once again he absentmindedly listened to what she told and went over.
"Everyone this is the one I've been talking about. Conner Link McAlister."
Conner just stood there. Trying his best to pull off a tired smile. It made no sense why he was so praised. Why was he the one she had to go on and on about all the time?
Instantly, the executives went right up to him and looked him over as if he were some type of specimen.
"Oh wow, a bit small isn't he?"
One of them let out, making him furrow his brows a bit.
"But powerful I can assure you."
Jones then said. Which only made him even more annoyed. But the executives fed on all of it. Looking him up and down, taking him in, even lifting his arms for a better look.
Being poked and prodded at was becoming quickly irritating to him. He was being treated like a toy or an artifact. Not a person or a kid at all. They went on and on with comments. Asking about his height, weight, what he bench pressed, which he himself didn't even know, how well he was with weapons and so much more annoying little questions.
Asking Jones rather than talking to him as he was standing right there before them. He didn't want any of that all he wanted was to escape, but he could feel them closing in on him.
Continuing with the questions and poking and prodding at him. Talking through him rather than to him. Being treated like he wasn't human. Saying how they loved him and wanted more. More of what?
He couldn't take any more of anything anymore.
All he wanted was to scream and get out of there. His breathing felt difficult again. It felt tighter and claustrophobic, he felt himself shake with anger again. He couldn't take it any longer.
Flailing out his arms as he yelled. Everyone in the room stopped and backed up. Breathing heavily as he looked around the circle of people surrounding him, staring and startled. Gulping as he felt guilty, but not as guilty as he thought he should have been.
"You were right."
Another one of them said over to Jones.
"You have no idea how good it gets."
Conner instantly felt sick, pushing his way out of the center of people and ran down the stairs. All the way to the ground floor of the building. He bolted right out of the front door, he had no idea where he was really going but he didn't care. All he wanted was out of there. Nearly tripping on his own feet he rushed frantically over to the subway train and climbed on.
Using his ID card to take him back to the base. Once the train stopped he ran back up and over to the base, scanning himself in and taking a breather. All of that running caught up to him and made him really dizzy.
Stumbling around a couple of times he went over to one of the benches and faller right onto it. Placing his face in his hands and breathing. His breathing slowed a bit as he allowed himself to take things easy. He did not take being cornered all to well, to begin with, and adding on the poking and talking made things only worse. He wasn't being treated or spoken to like an actual human and it was eating him alive. He couldn't take it.
"Tried to get away from me I see. Well, lucky for you they didn't mind, but do not act out like that again! Understood."
Conner didn't dare to look up at Jones. Nor did he nod, or anything else. He only listened as she walked away after that. He was trying to get away from her, and from the CIA altogether. The longer he stayed there, the worse it all seemed to get.
After a long while of just staying on the bench he eventually and by some strange miracle fell asleep.
For once in a long time, he couldn't remember any type of dream, not even from the events of the previous week before.
All he could remember was never-ending darkness and silence. Which was all something not really to complain about.
What felt like a couple of hours later, Conner began to wake back up again. Registering that he felt more comfortable and not as hard like on the bench.
Opening his eyes again he saw that he was back in his bed. Furrowing his brows in total confusion he looked around the room. It was still daylight out, but he was all alone. He had no memory of waking up before just then and walking back to his room. Which were three floors away from the main lobby.
That would have been an event to at least vaguely remember.
Or so he thought at least.
Yet, there he was. Yawning again he moved to sit himself up in bed. Looking over as his knob turned, and his door opened up.
"Top of the... late afternoon to ya. It's about five now."
Damian said as he walked in, wearing his training clothes. It was getting colder out so he was seen in long sleeves more. It was always hard to tell what they were doing on the days Conner missed, as Damian looked pretty flawless. Not a hair out of place or sweat anywhere.
He was good, sometimes it seemed like he was too good. Conner invariably looked like a mess after training, but not Damian. Focusing his eyes on him, he breathed out a long tired sigh and shook his head.
"How was it?"
Conner rolled over and pushed himself up to his feet. Tugging at the collar of his shirt and unbuttoning some of it.
With that outburst, Damian quickly went over and shut the door.
"Remember what I told ya, it's not good to hold it all in."
This time he wasn't wanting to hold anything back anymore. He no longer cared at that point.
"They poked at me, prodded at me, looked me up and down! I felt like uh... like a fuckin' museum artifact!"
"Yes! They never asked /me/ about me. No, they asked Jones like 'what does he do?' While I'm standin' right there! It was complete bullshit man! I swear I heard one o'them refer me as 'it'!"
Damian just watched Conner a moment in silence. Blinking as he furrowed his brows, taking in everything he had just said. The worst part of it all was, he wasn't at all surprised. He knew this was all a thing and that the CIA fawned over force versus skillset.
They truly didn't care for Conner's feelings at all, or for Conner as just himself.
None of them saw what he did. All they saw was a project they can fixate to show off to the others. They objectified Conner and it was honestly hurting Damian to watch him go through that. After a long minute or so, Damian flashed his brown eyes back over to Conner.
Damian saw him as himself a kid with a bad temper, but also a good heart, fun personality, and a hell of a lot of determination. Someone hurt by the enormous pressure of high expectations, a person who had to just live out their greatest fears in order to survive. Conner was only human and Damian saw that from the very beginning and it broke his heart to see that the CIA refused to see past his goddamn temper. To use it against him to create some type of machine.
"Con, I already told you that you don't have to put up with this. If you wanna get outta here you should."
"I would but-"
"I'll be fine, I can handle this a lot better than you can. None of this scares me, but I can't stand you being treated like this any longer."
Letting out a long sigh, Conner then took a moment to think things over. He had a good point but he didn't care. He was too worried about Damian's safety to just leave like that. If anything were to happen to him, Conner would only ever blame himself. Whether or not it was actually his fault.
Shaking his head some Conner took a step back and plopped onto the edge of his bed. There was more freedom if he were to leave the CIA, but still, him caring for Damian was too strong. Even as a friend it was something Conner couldn't allow happen. He never did on the football field, or in the boxing ring.
This was much /much/ worse than that and there just was no way in hell he could walk away like that. Damian didn't like it and he understood that, but in his eyes, Damian went first. No matter what wear and tear it may inflict on himself, he would do it in order to keep Damian okay. He only knew that, because he knew Damian would have and already has done the same for him. So it was the very least he could do.
Flashing his eyes up to Damian, Conner shook his head and stood back up again. This time he was the one being stern, crossing his arms as he stood before Damian.
"I ain't goin' anywhere. I don't care what they do to me. I am not leavin' your side."
Letting out firmly, he dropped his arms and crossed over to open the door again and step out. Damian watched him leave and pushed out a sigh.
'Thickest head I ever dealt with.'
He mumbled to himself as he exited the room as well.
Conner went to change out of the pants and buttoned shirt he had on. Placing his training clothes back on and headed right back to the training room with the rest of the agents. He was going to do what he could to get better and to show that he was more than just whatever it was the CIA saw him as.
He still had that mindset to prove them all wrong and to become a strong well-skilled agent and fighter. So he did what he said he was going to do and stayed by Damian's side. Learning to become more proficient and show off that he was much more than what the Executives and Jones wanted him to be.