After First Year
⚡︎”Nope. Look buddy y’gotta fix your stance. It’s still too loose. Here watch me okay?”
Damian walked over to stand next to Conner and have him watch as he showed him the correct fighting stance. Parting his feet exactly shoulder-width apart. Planted firmly on the training mat below him. He made sure Conner was watching his every move before he continued on with the little lesson.
“You /really/ need to make sure you’re completely firm and still. That way when the opponent comes right at you, you can easily grab then and throw them aside.”
Damian spoke out again as he moved his arms in the air. Demonstrating the move by pretending to grab and lift an imaginary person over his shoulder.
Conner’s big bright hazel eyes were glued onto his partner. Watching his moves intently and taking everything in. Slowly nodding whenever he spoke and soaking up all of the information. Then once the demonstration was done, he went off and tried the move out for himself.
With a spring in his step, Conner stepped back to allow himself some extra room and got into position. Planting his feet firmly onto the mat below him, he made sure his feet were shoulder-width apart exactly and tried keeping his balance still. It reminded him of what he had to do when he was in boxing. In the ring, it was always important to make sure his posture and footing were perfect in order to take down the opponent. Training, however, was a lot more intense and something he had to take very seriously.
And he did, for the most part.
Conner asked Damian as he went ahead and did the same arm movements as Damian did before. Pretending to throw an invisible opponent over his shoulder. All while keeping his feet firm and this time /not/ slipping.
“Look at you! Not bad tiny Stallone.”
Conner looked over to Damian and smiled. Loosening his stance again and placing his hands on his hips.
“Y’think so? Alright! Then I’m rarin’ t’go for that next mission comin’ up!”
“I’d say so!”
Damian lightly chuckled and then it turned into a laugh as he watched Conner hop around excitedly. The two kept up with the fun until they heard the double doors of the training room open followed by footsteps.
“Ah, there you are. Been looking everywhere for you!”
Both Conner’s and Damian’s smiles faded as they heard the all too familiar voice cut through the air. Looking around the training room. Christina crossed her arms as she strolled further into the room. She continued to look around the areas as she approached the boys. Conner took a slight step behind Damian without realization once she stopped in front of them.
As the years went by Conner kept getting a better glimpse at who Jones really was as a person and just how she really thought of Conner. Which was nothing. He wasn’t anything to her, in fact, she didn’t even address him by name or even by any pronoun. Like he was just some object she could toy around with and show off. It crushed Conner every time but there wasn’t anything he could do so he held it in.
Slightly shaking his head he looked over to Damian as he crossed his arms and eyed Jones as she continued to speak. Irritation was radiating off of him and it was clear as day. But at that moment all Conner had hoped was that his own irritation wasn’t obvious.
“Get dressed and meet me in my office. We have a special get together with the higher-ups over at their building.”
“Fine. We’ll go do right-“
“No, Adler you don’t get to come along.”
Speaking in fast blunt tones. Christina turned around and left the training room just like that.
Rolling his eyes and then shutting them a moment. Shaking his head Damian glanced over his shoulder before turning around completely to face Conner and regard him a moment and then the two exited the room together.
The boys crossed the hall over to the agent bedroom area and walked down to the door with Conner’s surname on the bronze plaque and entered. Once they were both inside, Conner closed the door and leaned his back on it. Planting his hands onto his face and lowering his head. Shaking his head he heaved a sigh and spoke in his hands.
“I can’t do this anymore Dami. I can’t... I don’t wanna..”
“Con. Staying here and proving them wrong was all your idea remember? And I’m only here to be by your side.”
Conner heaved a long deep breath and removed his hands from his face. Looking down at them as he shook his head and spoke quieter.
“You don’t know what they do t’me. The shit they say, an’ the ‘plans’ they have. I mean hell I don’t even know an’ don’t wanna know... Y’really can’t come with me?”
Damian averted his eyes to the floor and huffed a sigh. Slightly shaking his head he flashed his brown eyes back over to look at Conner.
“I can’t and you know I can’t... but uh do you need to borrow anything nice again?”
Just then a thought popped into Conner’s mind and his eyes flickered up and over to his closet. Remembering a couple of years back when he left in the middle of the patrol mission to go buy himself something he felt he deserved. Shaking his head he looked over to Damian.
“Just some nice dress pants. The black pair I always take.”
Damian lightly snickered and nodded. Then he left to go to his own room and grab the article of clothing for Conner.
Conner crossed over to his closet, opened the door, and turned on the light. Reaching up to the top shelf he grabbed the box and brought it down. Removing the ribbon and taped edges, he pulled off the top and took the shirt out. Just then Damian came back with the pants and laid them out on Conner’s bed. Conner got himself dressed, had a short pep-talk with Damian, then headed to the top floor of the base to the Director’s Office.
Fiddling with the buttons of his shirt a little he made it up to the door and just as he was thinking to raise his hand to knock the door opened. Conner lightly flinched as Baker opened the door and stepped out of the office with Jones following right after. Both of them didn’t seem to notice Conner was there a moment as they continued with what seemed to be an argument. Which wasn’t anything new at all.
“I told you they only wanted me to go they never said anything about you. They never say anything about you anymore Baker so let it go already.”
“I don’t give a shit what they say. I’m going along with the /kid/ and that’s final.”
“I said no! Stop that!”
“Too late already walkin’ c’mon McAlister.”
Conner was completely thrown off by the fact that Baker actually /did/ notice that he was there. But at the same time, Conner didn’t question it as Baker was just that good and always managed to throw off...everybody. Blinking he glanced over to Jones a split second and then followed close behind Baker.
Conner remained close to his trainer and as far from Jones as possible. Deep down he was really glad to have Baker along with him this time. Usually when he “spoke” with the higher-ups alone with just Jones. They took it upon themselves to talk at Conner like he was some kind of human weapon and a project. Making him feel insignificant and small. Although having Baker there with him, Conner would feel a little less alone and would have someone to lean on when needed. Knowing that when Baker got irritated he’d just leave. No matter who it was he was speaking to or what they were talking about. When Baker didn’t want to speak any longer then he’d simply leave without a single word. Honestly, Conner was looking forward to that.
During the subway train ride to the other building. Conner kept his eyes down at his hands. Staying by Baker’s side and ignoring anything Jones tried to say to him. It was the same talk she gave him every time and he was sick of hearing it. He didn’t want to hear it anymore and tuned out her words. She would go on and on about how much they wanted from him and what it was they wanted to turn him into. Speaking as if he was some science project that could be turned into something better. Better than human. And Conner didn’t want to hear it.
Heaving out a long sigh silently once they stepped out of the hidden subway and walked up to the surface. Conner still didn’t bother to look up as they were in front of the building and made their way inside. He stayed like that all the way up to the top floor to their big conference room. The room was mostly made up of windows that touched from the ceiling to the floor. With a huge long rectangle-shaped table with the edges rounded off and office chairs all around it.
Once inside, Conner went over to one of the corners of the room and heard the higher-ups each pile in. Right away they took notice of Baker’s presence and addressed it. Trying to argue with him that he was free to go, but he refused and said he wanted to witness one of the “meetings” for himself. Then just like that, he sat down and quietly called for Conner to come to the table and sit by him.
Uncharacteristically Conner was being obedient and listened to what Baker told him. But only Baker. When some of the other higher-ups and even Jones, told him to come to the center of the room so that they could get a better look. He ignored them and went to sit with Baker.
Knowing very well that it meant they were going to poke and prod and corner him just like they always did. A few times it resulted in Conner losing it and shouting at them and he didn’t want to do that so he kept quiet and just stayed beside Baker looking down at his hands.
“So, tell me what it is you wanna do with m’boy here.”
Baker stated out to the room. But the only thing he got as an answer was some kind of lame white lie. Trying to cover up what they were really doing by saying that it was just a follow-up evaluation. Or that it was a new thing they were doing with all of the agents. Or even that they were considering Conner to become one of the newest assistants.
Luckily, Baker didn’t believe a single word and tried to demand that they be upfront with him and tell him the truth. But when he did it, he wasn’t threatening and he simply said that all he was doing was looking out for Conner. Which Conner appreciated and felt glad, despite him not saying anything or showing it. He just continued to look down at his hands and remain silent. Whenever Baker stopped to check on Conner and quietly ask if he was alright, all he got in response was a shrug.
For a while, Baker continued and tried to see if he could get a solid answer from the higher-ups. But every time he did it ended up in failure and it was slowly starting to get on Conner’s nerves. As he kept his eyes on his hands he noticed them slightly shake and he clenched them into fists. Feeling his breathing slowly begin to pick up and his heart rate increase. The more he tried to hold it in, the more he couldn’t, and finally, enough was enough.
Conner burst out after being silent for so long.
Everyone in the room stopped and looked at him. Conner’s breathing grew heavier and he pushed out the chair and just like that bolted out of the room.
Running down the long hallways, he didn’t stop until he heard a familiar voice call out his first name and told him to stop. Conner then stopped on a dime but continued to breathe fast and heavily. Moving over to a wall and leaning the side of his shoulder on it.
Baker slowed his pace to a stride and slowly approached Conner. Going over to the wall and lightly placing a hand on the boy’s shoulder. Speaking quietly as he moved to face Conner.
“Conner... what d’mean?”
Conner looked up at Baker and inhaled to try to say something but failed and closed his mouth. Moving to look down again and shake his head. He couldn’t tell him. He couldn’t let Baker know what it was they were planning to do to him. Knowing very well that he would get angry and probably charge right back into that room. Conner was afraid of what they would do to his trainer and friend for getting in the way of their weapon.
Conner couldn’t allow that to happen so he didn’t say a word. It would always be just on him and for himself to know about and handle. He couldn’t let anyone he cared about getting involved. So he just did what he had to do and remained silent.⚡︎
“No, y’gotta move your dominant foot forward an’ keep the stance as steady as possible. Don’t sit ‘round an’ whine ‘bout it just do as I say!”
Conner instructed the few agents that asked for help on their footing. Things were well at first but it was quick to blow up in his face and he had to break up at least three different arguments. Nothing new, however, it was annoying and stressful each time it happened.
Just as he was to continue onto the next lesson with another group of agents the intercom came on and interrupted him. Rolling his eyes he let out a huff and went over to the wall and pressed the button saying that he’ll call in just a moment. After that, he let go of the button and walked over to his top agent and told him to hold down the fort while he stepped out for a minute.
Crossing through the training room and out the door. Conner retrieved his phone from his shorts pocket and dialed the Executives’ number. Hitting the call icon he lifted his phone to his ear and waited for an answer.
Listening to the other line. Conner placed one of his hands to his hips. Lightly furrowing his brows as he shook his head and heaved a gruff sigh.
“What?!.... again?!... y’can’t be serious I just-... let me talk. Fine, I’ll come but tomorrow take it or leave it.”
Hanging up the phone Conner dropped his head a moment and groaned to himself. Lifting his head up again he slipped his phone back into his pocket and went back into the training room.
The rest of the day went on as normal. However, Conner was irritated from having to deal with the higher-ups first thing in the morning so he tried his best to keep to himself. Having each demonstration be blunt and quick to the point. It wasn’t exactly the best way to go about training but he wanted to keep his irritation under control so he didn’t talk much.
By the time the day was over and the agents could head to the showers and their rooms for the night. Conner asked three agents, Madigan, Morone, and Lennon, to stay behind so that he could speak with them a moment. He waited until the rest had left before speaking with the three agents.
Once they were alone, Conner explained that training the next day was to continue as normal but that he had to go to a meeting first thing in the morning. He instructed his top agents Madigan and Lennon to take charge in his absence. Then he instructed Morone to listen to the others and help out as much as he could.
Conner also told Morone to stay by his friend and go to his brother if things became too serious. Lastly, he told all three to mind Bakugou and try to not let him start anything. Finalizing the little meeting Conner let the agents go their separate ways while he stayed back.
Conner watched and made sure the agents headed back to their rooms before he gathered the rest of his things and headed out of the training room himself. However, Conner didn’t go up to his room. Instead, he went up to the top floor of the base and went straight to his office. Unlocking the door he sat at his desk and booted up his computer. Logging in he opened his files and took out the agents’ profiles. Checking each of their scores and making sure everything was in order before having to go to the Executives’ building in the morning.
As soon as he was finished with all of that Conner finally left his office, showered, and tried to go to sleep for the night.
The next morning Conner woke up early as per usual and made sure the agents made it to the training room before going back to his room and preparing for the horrible morning ahead. Once he was back in his room he went to his wardrobe and picked out one of his black suits and jackets, white button-up dress shirt, and shoes. He got himself dressed, managed to smooth down his curls, and latched on one of his Rolex watches. Everything he was wearing was gifted by the higher-ups themselves. It used to make Conner feel a little weird but he soon got over it.
Looking at his reflection one last time. Conner let out a deep breath and exited his room. Checking the time he double-checked to make sure he had everything before locking his bedroom door and heading to the elevator. Riding down to the lobby Conner scanned his way out and headed straight for the Executives’ building.
He rode the subway train and as soon as he walked up to the surface again he looked up at the large asymmetrical building before him. The building was at least four times the size of the base, which only added to the intimidation. Shaking his head and that thought aside, Conner walked up to the front and scanned himself in.
The last time he stepped foot inside the Executives’ building, they tried to “be-rid” of some of Conner’s agents. Saying that a select few weren’t “worthy” of his teachings and wanted Conner to throw them out. That of course never happened, thankfully, but it made Conner cautious for it to be a thing again. So he stayed a little on edge as he made it inside and was told right away to head to the top floor. His heart sank when he was told to head to the conference room instead of the main office.
Conner knew what going to the conference room meant and all of a sudden he couldn’t think straight. He had actually felt his hands begin to shake and for him to cower and hide. Just like how he used to. He wanted to look down at his hands, fall completely silent and, shrink into the corner of the room. Squeezing his eyes shut a moment Conner shook his head and swallowed hard. He wasn’t a young agent anymore, he ran a base all on his own, he could handle it. Luckily, this time he was alone meaning they can discuss whatever twisted project they wanted with him.
Opening his eyes again Conner rolled his shoulders back and headed down the long hallway to the conference room. It was still the same room ad before but everything had been updated and rearranged. However, it still felt the same to Conner but he ignored the urge to run to the corner of the room as he glanced at it once he was inside.
He went straight to the center of the room. Adjusting his suit jacket a little bit, he ran his hands down his torso to make sure everything was smoothed down before crossing his arms. Putting up that hard shell around himself he had to do everything he could to keep himself as calm and collected as possible. Taking a deep breath just as he saw the higher-ups pile into the room.
“Welcome back Number One Asset.”
That alone was more than enough to send Conner through the roof. He could’ve sworn he just felt one of his eyes twitch right then. But he continued to ignore it and hold everything in. Tightening his crossed arms a little as they approached him. Absentmindedly he took a couple of steps back to give himself space and not feel cornered.
“Cut t’the chase I got a base full o’rowdy agents what is it?”
Conner spoke out in a quick sharp tone. That alone was a dead giveaway that he was irritated but he still was holding back.
“We’ve been working on some things and have come up with what may be the perfect plan for you. We’d like for you to take a look.”
One of the other Executives handed the one that was speaking to Conner a vanilla folder and flash drive. Then that Executive handed the items to Conner who very reluctantly took them in hand. Eyeing the higher-ups a moment Conner's eyes then flashed down to the items in his hand. The front Executive continued to speak while he was looking at the folder.
“That should contain everything. As I’ve just mentioned, we’ve constructed the perfect plan. And we think that perhaps alongside you should be the perfect agent.”
In an instant, Conner’s eyes flashed up at the higher-ups. Right away harshness became evident in his eyes and his tone grew cold.
“No. He’s worked way too damn hard for you t’take that away from him for some stupid little project.”
“No one has ever seen numbers that high since /you/ were an agent. He’s at the top for a reason.”
“I know, but I don’t care. I’ve been dealin’ with this way longer than he has. You’re not touchin’ him or any of m’other agents an’ that’s final. Speakin’ of which I should head back.”
Turning back around Conner left without another word. Making his way down to the lobby, scanning himself out and heading over to the subway train, and riding back to the base again. Scanning himself back into the base and hitting the elevator for the top floor. Walking down to his office, he unlocked the door and walked inside.
Slowly stopping in the middle of the room he opened the folder and looked through it. Finding blueprints and his credentials. As well as his personal profiles from when he was an agent and also as a Director. Seeing how much he changed and improved in his numbers. That was all they noticed but Conner saw more. As he looked at the picture from when he was an agent to the one after he was promoted.
He saw the sparkle in his eyes had dulled, his features matured a little, and he looked more defeated. The never-ending flame of determination in his eyes was absent and he looked harsher and less lively. The spirit in that young agent had been crushed and his innocence was taken away. However, it wasn’t something that was totally noticeable. Not unless the person really knew Conner back then and saw the side-by-side comparison. Nonetheless, Conner did know and saw it right there and it hurt.
Turning away from the pictures, he looked over and read the “perfect plan” they had set up for him. It was much like what he caught before, only this time in more detail. They had formulated an odd steroid serum to inject into Conner. Something that was to make him stronger and much more violent. It would possibly make his temper worse and more intense. As well as a numbing factor that would eliminate any pain from registering to his brain.
Basically, their idea was to turn Conner into this unstoppable force that could and would take down anyone and anything in his way. Having no way or desire to slow down for even a second. Reading that made Conner become physically nauseous. His stomach was in knots and he couldn’t read anymore.
Just then Conner heard footsteps approach the office door, not realizing he left it open and looked over his shoulder to find Braxton come to the doorway. He told Conner that he and Morone had been looking for him and asked if he was alright. Conner told Braxton that everything would be fine and that he’ll meet them down in the training room soon. Feeling warmth as Braxton smiled to Conner before heading back to the elevator. Conner then looked back down to the folder and flash drive in his hands.
Just like the other flash drive, Conner broke it in half and tossed it in the bin. Then he closed the vanilla folder and ripped it all up before tossing it into the bin as well. Making a mental note to empty it that night. Conner pulled off his suit jacket and decided to just train in the clothes he had on for the rest of the day. Instead of changing.
Unlatching his watch he set it down on his desk and left his office. Locking the door behind himself before he headed to the elevator and rode down to the training room floor. As he made it to the training room and opened the doors he stayed in the doorway and just watched for a few moments. Watching the agents train and work hard as well as a very familiar duo being by each other as per usual.
Conner placed most of his focus on Braxton and Zach as they worked on some skills together as well as talk with each other. The two would talk about literally anything with one another. More often than not it was about some kind of movie or sci-fi reference. Things that just made Conner chuckle at them, but it was something they sometimes took very seriously. Getting into deep discussions over how scientifically accurate a movie could get. That was more Braxton than Zach though. Zach on the other hand usually just stuck with the references.
Conner slightly smiled to himself as he watched the two. Seeing Braxton get distracted and stop in the middle of a move to say something. Then having both of them end up laughing. He watched as Braxton took the staff from Zach’s hand and retracted it and tossed it to the side for some reason. Then he got a little more serious and started showing Zach some demonstrations.
Looking over a little Conner then caught sight of the number one agent himself, Madigan. Watching how he perfected yet another skill and did it with little effort. As he looked to the agent Conner felt a little bad that the Executives were looking at him the same way they saw Conner. It was a horrible thing and something a feeling he wouldn’t wish upon his worst enemy. Even though Conner didn’t know the kid all too well, he knew that he was just a kid and didn’t deserve that at all. He was very skilled, respectful toward Conner and Braxton and friends with Zach.
He seemed like a good person, probably better than Conner even. Though that wasn’t hard. Nevertheless, Conner was glad that he didn’t know what they wanted to do to him. And that he would do everything in his power to not let them drag Madigan down with him. It was a long hard fight but it was Conner’s and his alone.
Turning his gaze back over to Braxton and Zach again. He reminded himself that he was glad they didn’t know either. There was so much that went on that they didn’t know and probably would never know. Conner had grown to love the two agents. They were his friends and people he cared for deeply. It was a little unfair that they were so lost in the dark but at the same time, Conner believed it was for the better. He wanted to keep that horrible truth away from the ones that he loved the most in that agency, and Zach and Braxton were it.
Zach and Braxton still had their innocence. Despite being in the agency for a few years now. They have grown harder and learned to kick serious ass and take care of themselves. Becoming highly skilled lethal fighters and great agents. Yet at the same time, they were still the same dorks and sweet kids as they always had been.
There were still tons of life in their twinkling eyes and Conner couldn’t be happier for them. They meant so much to him and he loved them just the way they were. The dark evil CIA didn’t steal away their innocence like they did Conner’s, but for Conner, it was rather him than ever them. So it was something he had to just live with for the rest of his days. It was out of his control anyway. As sad as it was that part of Conner was gone and there was no way of it coming back.
Snapping out of it and catching bright blue eyes look over to him. He saw Braxton wave at him and motioned him to come over to where he and Zach were. Conner playfully rolled his eyes and shook his head fondly before smiling a little. Pushing himself off of the doorway and letting the doors close on their own.
Conner reached down and grabbed the bottom of his dress shirt. Untucking it out of his suit pants and unbuttoning his sleeves. Rolling them up to his elbows as he walked through the training room and approaching Braxton and Zach. Looking around at the other groups a moment before placing all of his attention to the two in front of him right then.
Hearing Braxton ask why he was so dressed up and Conner responding with a playful comment. Saying that he dressed up just for the two of them. Then he reached for the abandoned staff that Braxton tossed to the side and extending it and twirling it between his fingers. Going back into “teacher mode” a little bit and showing the boys a couple of demonstrations, all while still being a little playful with the boys and easing up the tension he had from that morning.
Letting go of everything from earlier just for a little while as he spoke with his two “favorite” agents. As well as showing them new skills and helping them out whenever it was needed. Making the rounds around the training room to check on the others every now and again but then always finding his way back to his boys.
What went on behind the scenes was strictly on Conner. It was something only he had to know about and live through. He wasn’t who he used to be and never will be again. But it was something only he would live with and keep to himself. As well as the whole weapon project. It was something that was only on him and he would deal with alone. He felt bad for having to hide so much from the boys, as well as everyone else, but it was Conner’s life and his own fight.