Jason’s mother had helped him open a bank account when he was twelve. it was not something he had ever given much thought to but now his situation had changed. He was, of course, aware of the debt he owed her, both for supporting him financially and the… specialized guidance he had required.
The fact remained, he was now an adult and earning his own way. It seemed only appropriate that he no longer share a joint account with his mother. This line of reasoning, and a brief internet search, had led to Jason’s current position: waiting in line at one of the city’s largest banks. he could not honestly say he was enjoying the experience, necessary though it may be.
Once he was finally at the head of the line, Jason found his thoughts interrupted by the familiar sound of a gunshot. He turned his head to investigate and saw five men brandishing weapons. One, standing in the middle of the lobby, held his freshly discharged pistol in the air. Two more blocked the door while the remaining pair were walking quickly towards the tellers, each carrying a large duffle in addition to their firearms. All of them wore heavy jackets and ski masks.
“Nobody move! This-!”
The apparent leader’s declaration was cut off as Jason activated his power and five corpses fell to the grounds. he resumed facing forward and stepped up to an open teller. in the silence that followed the aborted robbery, no one had any difficulty hearing what Jason said next.
“Good afternoon, ma’am. I’d like to open a new account.”
Robert Grave sighed. Given that the pale skinned man did not need to breathe, it was obviously done for effect. Jason realized this much but did not know what he was intended to draw from it.
“Well, I suppose every superhero should foil at least one bank robbery.”
Jason furrowed his brow to convey confusion. “Sir, I am not a superhero. Citadel Operatives are military personnel granted certain law enforcement powers.”
“Close enough for government work.” The older man shrugged. “Hector tells me you don’t have a strong grasp of normal social conventions so I’m going to spell this out for you in detail.” He paused and his gaze settled directly on Jason’s own eyes. Eventually, the young man nodded, unsure if that was correct. “When you’re present at a crime that does not involve an Empowered other than yourself, lethal force should not be your first response. Is that understood?”
Jason hesitated. “Sir, I understand the meaning of what you have said but not the full context. I realize that killing un-Empowered should not be done casually but, surely, in this case it was justified?”
“Yes, yes it was. It’s not…” The older man’s voice trailed off for a moment and when he resumed speaking his tone was slightly different. “You did the right thing, in this situation. Five guys with guns in a hostage situation, yeah. Killing them immediately, with no chance that one of those hostages gets caught in the crossfire, you did good. I just don’t want that to be your default response.”
“I do understand the concept of proportionate response, sir.”
The room was filled with silence for a short period. “Fine. We’ll leave it at that then, just… just try to be careful if anything like this happens again.”
“Yes sir, I do understand.” Jason nodded. “If I could ask, how are…” Jason found himself oddly reluctant to finish the question. “How are people reacting?” His mother had always warned that people would be frightened of his power and the rare encounters with strangers he’d had as a child had confirmed that.
His superior smiled, it was small and showed few teeth but it was a smile. “You’re not quite as popular as Hector but I think it’s safe to say that Phoenix definitely approves of its two newest inhabitants.”
Jason felt the tension leave his body, a stiffness that he had not realized was there until it left him. “You mean… they like me? They genuinely like me?”
Operative Grave’s smile changed as he shook his head, even smaller but somehow… softer? “I wouldn’t put it quite that way. The city… well, people don’t really know you yet, either of you. But they’re familiar with the Citadel, they know what we do for them in a way that a lot of people somewhere else just don’t understand. That means they’re predisposed to think well of us, of you. What you did today, it might have scared a few people somewhere else but the locals just see it as the Citadel doing what it always does, standing between them and something scary.”
Without pausing for thought, Jason smiled. “I think… I think I like it here.”