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Connor is acutely aware of Viktor prowling around his prone form and he slumps in his seat, blinking away the bloodied sweat that drips down from his eyebrow. His bare hands clench into fists, even if the action makes the leather bite into his skin deeply.

Bound to a chair, stuck in the dark and drugged, Connor had never felt so helpless.

He didn’t cry. He didn’t have the strength to.

He had to try and stay strong. For Ian’s sacrifice. For the others.

That was his family, and he was going to keep them safe. Even if his story was going to end tragically, there’s could span many series and generations. They could be free of Abundance, forever.

It seemed like a dream too good to be true. But with Zachariah leading them, they had a chance.

“I'm impressed,” Viktor’s voice resounds somewhere from his left, but Connor stares firmly straight ahead. “You are incredibly stubborn.”

Then he’s walking again. The mancer can hear the echoes of his shoes in the dark, even if he has to strain to do so. Viktor stops right behind him, warm breath rolling over the back of his neck as he growls, “You’ll talk eventually. They all do.”

Connor smirks bravely even if his voice cracks, “Obviously, you’ve never interrogated a technomancer .”

Viktor’s laugh is loud and chilling. He stops abruptly, the sound hanging in the air between them. “Oh, but I have.” A heavy hand falls onto Connor’s shoulder and the Watcher’s voice is low and pleased, “How do you think we got Alan on our side? Though… I must admit, his personality and his desire to please made him crack so easily… it wasn’t even fun .”

Connor thrashes then, trying to shake the Watcher’s hand away. “You bastard. He’s a child.”

“And you think that would’ve kept me at bay?” Viktor squeezes his bruised shoulder tightly, a hand sliding up his bare flesh to finally settle around his throat. Connor stills and instinctively measures his breathing as those fingers begin to dig in, cutting his air supply short. “For a teacher to our weapons, you are astonishingly dense.”

He holds the mancer there, feeling the hairs on his arm stand on end. A wicked smile curls around his lips. “You’re trying so hard to fight it, aren’t you? Quite impressive that you can even get some static to generate… perhaps you need another hit,” He tilts Connor’s throat open, even if he has to fight to do so. The recent track mark against his pale skin is still red and bloodied, bruised from when Connor had fought against the needle. “As Chairman of the ASC, I get all sorts of treats in my offices all the time… The Seekers tried making Technomancers, you know. And to do that… they had to figure out how to disarm them first…”

Connor’s nostrils flare. He struggles against the touch, uncaring of how it makes pain lance through his breaking body. A gasp leaves him as blackness begins to seep into his vision. His heart races, trying to escape his ribcage, the pain.

Viktor keeps his hold steady around his neck for a while longer, delighting in the feeling of a terrified pulse under his fingertips. At his mercy.

“How does it feel?” Viktor whispers, withdrawing his hand from Connor’s throat and listening as he wheezes and coughs. “How does it feel to be human like the rest of us, Mancer?”

Tears gather in Connor’s eyes but he refuses to let them fall so easily. He focuses on settling his racing heartbeat, clinging to consciousness.

Violently, he is reminded of how much he wants Ian. His heart skips and throbs.

It hurts.

It hurts so badly.

The last image he had of the Great Master would forever haunt him.

Gathering his wits again, he reminds himself that he had to be strong . Being so emotionally crippled was making it hard to focus on his technomancy. Drugs or not, he had to try .

He owed his family that much.

“Still quiet, are you?” Viktor hums, sounding approving. Like he wanted Connor to fight him tooth and nail. Like he wanted to earn his victory.

Connor keeps his tired, bloodshot eyes straight ahead. He ignores the pain, the helplessness, and the fear. He digs himself a hole in his mentality and buries everything he can manage, holding onto the happy memories desperately. A lifeline in the perpetual darkness around him.

A memory of Ian surfaces and he wets his lips, letting a single tear slip down his dirtied cheek. It leaves a clean track mark in its wake.

Ian had laid beside him, an arm cradled around Connor’s shoulders and his other hand holding the dimly lit tablet. He scrolls through it, humming low in his throat. Connor merely enjoys the feeling of his touch, his presence is warm and welcome.

“Anything of interest?” He asks quietly, knowing that Ian tended to focus intensely on his tablets, even if he already cracked them weeks before. Another few readings would glean something new. Something interesting. Something hopeful.

The Great Master blinks and turns his head before the hand around Connor’s shoulders is lifting up to stroke at his cheek, a fond smile pulling at his tired features. “Not yet.”

Connor’s gaze scanned the room, even if was Ian’s private office and room. Ian glances towards the door before his hand gently touches at his cheek again, the gloves warm against his skin. There's a charge flow between them, calm and gentle like the slow-moving tide.

He leans over to plant a soft kiss to Connor’s lips, and the other mancer smiles into it, letting his own hand brush against the back of the Great Master’s neck, holding him steady. Ian doesn’t quite pull away, their lips still brushing together intimately as he presses their foreheads together.

No words ever had to be spoken between them. Not in moments like this.

Connor clings to that memory tightly, cherishing it like a star in an empty sky.

Somewhere to his right, there is the sound of metal and Viktor humming.

Connor has already made his peace.