Conner was different. Thomas was never sure how such an idealistic kid was recruited, though he was incredibly skilled with technology. When they were assigned to work together, Thomas was certain that Conner would die within a month. Now, half a year later, Conner was alive and well; and somehow just as idealistic as the day he began. Something that seemed impossible, despite Thomas taking care of the dirty work while Conner sticking to the technical elements of their missions. Thomas hadn't even realized that he was shielding the boy from the brutal reality of their work until that day...
The mission was complete. Thomas escaped the enemy ship and was waiting for Conner at the rendezvous. Conner never came. If it had been anyone else, Thomas would have left. Those were his orders. It was basic survival. Instead, Thomas found himself turning back. He returned to the ship, knowing that he had only hours to find Thomas and get out before their sabotage destroyed the ship. He found Conner locked in a cell, awaiting interrogation. Thomas thought that was the end of it, but Conner refused to leave until they rescued the girl currently being interrogated. Thomas thought it was a waste of time. They didn't know her. She was unrelated to their mission. But saving her was the only way to make Conner leave. The three of them barely made it out in time before the ship went down. Conner was relieved. Thomas was disturbed.
The next day Conner burst into their shared office and demanded to know why Thomas requested a new partner. Thomas thought that it was obvious. It wasn't to Conner. Conner apologized for making him save the girl, then went on to justifying his reasons for saving her. He swore that he'd train harder, so that he wouldn't be captured again. When Conner saw that none of his arguments were working, he demanded a reason. Why did Thomas want a new partner?
"Because we're friends." Thomas answered. "I took unnecessary risks for you." This time Thomas looked Conner straight in the eye. "That can't happen again." Thomas stood up and walked past the stunned Conner into the hall. He hoped his new partner was more unpleasant.
I sat down and wrote this in about half an hour. Comment if you want a follow up!
Continued in Partners.
Artist Trading Card: Magic Mirror (Will likely draw a new illustration for this at a later date.)