The Masks We Wear (Connor Murphy x Reader)
Okay hello! This is my first imagine! Yay! I’ve worked really hard on it so don’t be afraid to give feedback!
Warnings: None other than some swearing
Being the new kid isn’t easy, especially when you are judged so fiercely for being yourself. You know the right words to say, the correct outfits to wear, when to smile, when to laugh, and when to disappear. You’ve never been the popular person, but you get along just fine with the façade that you’ve mastered so well it almost feels like you. Almost.
Your first day of school arrives just like the five before, even though the fall semester was already half way done. With your dad in the army you couldn’t blame him for all of the moving, after all your grandfather, great grandfather, and so on, all chose the same life. This move was slightly different though, your dad finally got the promotion that would keep you in one place for the rest of high school. You knew that at this school the mask you wore would need to be convincing enough to help you survive longer than usual.
This new school was bigger than the last, and your sense of direction wasn’t top notch. After the office gave you your timetable you scurried through the hall desperately looking for classroom 27B, and wondered if the office lady thought it would be funny to give you a fake room number. You looked at the doors as you darted around the now empty hallway as everyone had already entered a class. You were startled back to reality as you heard a locker slam behind you. You turned to see a boy walking away from you with leisure towards what you thought might be an exit, but you couldn’t be sure.
“Umm… Excuse me!” you surprised yourself with saying, but the boy only glanced over his shoulder and kept walking.
You dashed towards him this time, “I’m sorry to bother you, but I don’t know where 27B is and I’ve been looking for 15 minutes, and I don’t want to be late on my first day.” This time the boy turned around and looked at you with a mix of boredom and the smallest bit of amusement.
“You’re looking for 27B?” you nodded your head as you glanced at the piece of paper to the rooms around you, back to the boy.
“You’re on the wrong floor,” he said with a little more amusement showing.
“Oh…” the embarrassment evident on your face, “Well I guess that explains why I can’t find it. Anyways, thanks, and I’m y/n”
“Well, thanks, Connor and I’ll see you around? I don’t really know anybody and you’re the only conversation I’ve had with someone at the school who doesn’t work here”
“See you around,” he shrugged “I guess, but I wouldn’t plan on it.”
With that short-lived conversation, you were off to your first class. All the classes seemed to drag on, with teachers mindlessly going on about formulas that you wouldn’t remember in a week. As it does at every school the lunch bell rang, and it was time for what you pictured hell as :a lunchroom. Kids scuttle around trying to find a table that would get the most attention from the people they want to impress, and others take it as time catch up on homework in clusters of others as a form of protection. You on the other hand used this time to find a group that would keep you safe, I mean high school kids are mean. You settled on a group of girls that seemed nice enough and spent your lunch smiling at the right time, laughing when needed, and making the right comments so that the girls at the table said they could tell you would fit right in with them.
The next week was fine enough. You made some friends that you could eat lunch with, gossip about the teacher’s new haircut with and text for help on Algebra homework. You even decided on trying out for the cheerleading team, which you made. It seemed as if the mask you perfected was working like a dream.
On the Monday of your second week, the girls you ate lunch with were all busy. A few had lunch detention, while others had the weekly student council meeting. With nowhere to go for lunch, you wandered on the lawn by the football field, where you spotted the familiar face of Connor, the boy who you met on your first day. Picking up your pace you walked over to him and sat down across from him and pulled out your lunch.
“What the hell are you doing?” he asked with annoyance rising in him.
“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m about to eat lunch with you,” you replied taking a bite out of your sandwich.
“I know what the fuck you’re doing. Why are you eating here?” he said this time getting angrier. “It might seem like a funny joke to eat with the freak, but this freak prefers to eat alone, so leave.”
The anger in his voice made you jump, but you didn’t get up.
“Why would eating with you be a joke? And I’m not leaving, I don’t have anyone to eat with and this freak likes eating with people,”
“Yeah well have fun by yourself,” he said as he picked his bag up and stomped away. You watched him walk away, the surprise evident on your face. Why had he thought you were trying to be mean? Why was he so defensive? All of these questions rattled in your mind as you walked back to the school building.
After cheer practice, you went with some of the girls to get frozen yogurt just around the block.
“Do you know anything about some kid at school named Connor?” you asked as everyone took a seat.
“Which Connor?” one girl answered.
“Well he’s tall, has long hair, really pretty eyes actually-,”
“You mean psychopath Connor? He’s a total freak. He has some major issues, but his sisters nice. I’d stay away from him if I were you, if people see you near him they might get the wrong idea,” and with that the subject changed to who was the best kisser on the football team.
The next day during lunch you told your friends that you had to do work with a teacher at lunch. Instead, you went back to the lawn from yesterday and sat next to Connor once again.
“Again? Really? I thought I made myself clear,” Connor said as flipped the page in the book he was reading.
“I’m not the best with listening to directions,” you said smiling at him this time.
“Your friends still busy or some shit?”
“No, I just wanted to eat with you,” Connor finally looked up from his book in surprise, but quickly went back to his annoyed face. You two spent the rest of lunch in silence together, him reading, and you eating your sandwich.
The two of you eating lunch together continued. With your persistent talking Connor eventually replied with more than one-word answers, and soon your daily lunch together became something you looked forward to.
“So what about ‘Fahrenheit 451’?”
“Well I did read that one, but only after I watched the movie and had turned in my essay”
“Well fuck, and you still got an A?” you nodded laughing looking at the amazement that had settled on his face.
“I am impressed, that takes real skill to bullshit your way through English class so well,” he said slowly clapping. You dramatically bowed as you walked over to the lawn together. Connor had started waiting for you by the bleachers so you could walk to lunch together, but he denied that he was waiting for you.
“It was a needed skill. Sometimes my family would move and the new teachers would automatically want an essay the next day from a book I’ve never read.”
“Well that sucks,”
“I guess it does, but I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve gotten used to it all,”
“You shouldn’t have to get used to it. Why aren’t you mad at your parents? I would be so fucking furious, and you just smile about it all,” you laughed as he said this while sitting down under a tree.
“I don’t get to be mad. This is what my family does. Besides I would sound so horrible if I got angry at my dad, the man who served three tours in Iraq, the man who risks his life for America,” you said as you pulled large clumps of grass from the ground,
“But sometimes I just want a dad, an actual dad, not some war hero, but someone who tells me to change shorts because they are too short, a dad who says cheesy jokes, not some man who lives in the same house as me, but is a billion miles away because he has no idea who I am.” You started throwing the clumps of grass you had uprooted. You glanced over at Connor who looked conflicted.
“What?” you asked abruptly aware of how loud you had gotten. In an instant Connor suddenly hugged you. His arms were long and lanky around you, but somehow you felt safe. His body smelled like coconut, probably from shampoo, and his heart beat somehow sounded beautiful. He let go of you, a second later, and the hug had felt like a million years and less than a millisecond at the same time. You looked up at him and he was looking anywhere, but your eyes.
“Thanks,” you whispered, “I really needed that.” Connor mumbled out a response along the lines of ‘no –problem’.
After that day you were painfully aware of Connor. You were aware of every step he took and how he kept his hands in his pockets, and scratched at his jeans when he got angry over something small, and how when you made a bad pun he would roll his eyes, but smile slightly. It seemed like all at once everything about Connor was magical and you would count down the minutes until lunch with him, and it seemed Connor was thinking the same thing.
“So I was uhmm-well I was think-no that’s no right,” Connor mumbled about a month and a half after your first lunch together, “I was thinking that we could hang out outside of school.” Connor looked down at you trying to hide the nerves that he felt asking. The nerves were evident on his face though as he watched you reply.
“I’d love to,” you said simply, but the smile on your face said it all. You were ecstatic; finally, you would spend more than the designated time at lunch together.
You and Connor had settled it and decided that you would hang out that Saturday and work on English homework together at your house since Connor said that his parents would be all weird about it. Finally, Saturday arrived, and the nerves you had denied were obvious as you paced your room trying to figure out which shirt to wear knowing they were basically the same shirt. Little did you know that Connor was also pacing his room trying to decide if he should wear a black shirt or grey shirt. Of course, Zoe found this hilarious and Connor, being too nervous to yell, allowed Zoe to help him chose a shirt. They settled on grey, Zoe saying that it showed that he wore more than black.
Connor showed up on time and you couldn’t help but smile at the fact that he was an actual friend, even though you wanted more, but he was somebody who you didn’t feel the need to wear your mask around, with him you could just exist.
“Uhmm, we can go hang out in my room if you want,” you asked motioning towards a hallway.
“Sure, but your parents will be okay with me in your room?” he asked as you opened the door to your room.
“Oh, they don’t really care what I do, and if they did they aren’t ever home to enforce the rules they have.” With that you sat on your bedroom floor and pulled out your English books, but they were quickly forgotten when you started talking. Within minutes of talking the subject turned to Connor’s family.
“I don’t know. It’s just like I’m the fucking black sheep. I just want them to look at me and not be ashamed of their son,” Connor huffed as you lay side by side on your floor looking at the blank ceiling.
“I’m sure they aren’t ashamed”
“You don’t even know them, you can’t be sure”
“But I know you,” you said pushing yourself into a sitting position.
“What the hell does that mean?”
“It means you are the last person anyone could be ashamed of. You have this wonderful mind that anyone would be lucky to know about, you are the fastest reader I know, you pretend to hate others, but you are so incredibly caring, and you are my favorite person and the only one who knows me.”
Suddenly Connor pushes himself up.
“Bullshit. You have friends and I’m just a pity friend and we both know it,” Connor said. You knew you hit a chord in him. Whenever you said nice things about him he automatically thought it was a lie, no matter how many times you promised it was the truth. It pained you to think that somebody you cared for as much as Connor didn’t know that you did.
“Now that’s bullshit Connor. We both know that it’s fake with everyone, except for you! I put this mask on so I blend in, stay alive, and make it until the next school,” you took a breath and moved closer to Connor as you started speaking again.
“You’re the exception, with you it’s all real. I don’t have to pretend life is okay, or pretend I care about school drama. With you I’m just me, and with me I think you are just you.” Connor stayed silent for a minute after that.
“If we’re being honest and shit right now,” Connor spoke softly, “People don’t like the real me, but for some reason you do, the angry parts and everything, so I guess don’t need a mask with you.” You looked at Connor and saw how scared he was, of being alone again, of being rejected. You knew that this was truly him without the façade that he had perfected over time.
“Connor,” you spoke softly. He took his gaze off the floor and looked at you. You slowly put your hands on the side of his face and brought your lips to his. He still smelled of coconut, but you were more concentrated on the feeling of his lips on yours. The surprise of you kissing him quickly wore off and he kissed you back as if it were life or death. His chapped lips melted into your and his hands found your waist as he pulled you closer. Too quickly the kiss ended as you both needed air.
“I hope it was okay I kissed you,” you softly laughed.
“It’s more than okay. I hope it’s okay that I don’t want to stop kissing you,” he replied as he went back to your lips for another kiss.