Jason had thought of two methods to fulfill his orders for the day. The first had failed. He usually enjoyed his visits to the hospital but viewing the versions of Hector that were… doomed… had been unsatisfying. Likewise, being rebuffed yet again in his attempt to aid B, the man whose own extreme regenerative power had locked him into a fate worse than death, had been nothing but frustrating.
Now it was time to attempt the second, more certain method. He arrived at the home he and Hector shared and immediately headed for his bedroom. He gave a polite nod to the Hectors that were in the kitchen as he passed by. Jason entered his room, shutting the door behind him, and sat in his chair. He was about to activate his communicator- talking with Jenny was certain to satisfy Grave’s command- when something occurred to him.
His room was quiet.
This should not have been so… unsettling. He preferred quiet when there was no reason to the contrary. It let him focus better on whatever his task was. Nevertheless, the quiet bothered him. He stood up and opened his door again, not wide but enough that he could once more hear the sounds of Hector in the kitchen. Pots and pans, knives on the chopping block and the scrape of metal against metal as something was put into or pulled out of the oven. It… it comforted him.
Jason sat down again, far more at ease this time, and called Jenny. He did not notice the slight smile of anticipation that had formed on his face.
Hector wasn’t cooking at the moment, not really. It was more like practicing. Liz had done something… something incredible for him. She could claim that getting her arm back to full function squared them all she wanted but, as far as he was concerned, calling in a favor to get Rick Regrowth to visit wasn’t anywhere near enough. No big, Hector was nothing if not resourceful.
Liz had once expressed a fondness for tomatoes. Spread out around his customized kitchen were the makings of half a dozen distinct soups, each featuring tomatoes in some way, and at least four different recipes for each. Cioppino was the current lead, an Italian style seafood soup with a tomato base. Number two was a relatively simple tomato bisque. The only problem with that one was that he’d need to spend time figuring out the best version of a grilled cheese sandwich to serve with it. Maybe something with brie and challah bread?
Hector gave a mental shrug as he realized that it was close to dinner time. None of the hims present in the kitchen could abandon what they were doing so one split off and picked up a bowl of the gazpacho. He’d decided it was good but not good enough. Leftovers weren’t ever really an issue for Hector and Jason seemed to like anything that was home cooked so, again, no big.
The newest Hector carried the cold soup to his friend’s room. His hand was already up and ready to knock before he realized the door was open, that he could see Jason chatting amiably, his face open and expressive, with someone on his wrist-com. He must have made some noise, totally understandable given his level of surprise. Jenny was genuinely Awesome, and it was almost certainly their animated classmate Jason was talking to, but he wouldn’t have expected even her to be able to bring out that level of… of comfortable happiness in Jason. Apparently, he’d underestimated Jenny yet again. Jason looked up from his call and Hector met his naked gaze without thinking.
He dropped the soup in shock. Elsewhere, he cut his finger rather than the potato he’d been chopping, stuttered in the middle of a sentence he’d been speaking to Liz and fumbled the phone his mother had been handing him. He met Jason’s eyes and, like always, he knew that it was within Jason’s power to end his life. But, for the first time ever, he also saw that Jason would not do this. The other boy was no longer a threat to Hector because Jason literally couldn’t stand the idea of killing him.
It was… it was incredible.
“I apologize, Hector.” Jason said, probably misunderstanding the reason for Hectors’ reaction. He replaced the absent sunglasses, covering his revealing eyes. “Jenny, thank you for talking with me. I enjoyed it but I must go now.”
“No problem Jason!” Hector heard her voice come from the device on Jason’s wrist. “I’m about due to go on duty anyway.”
“I’ll- uh, I’ll get this.” Hector said, splitting off a pair of himself to get the mop and some towels while the third went for a replacement for the cold soup pooling in front of Jason’s door. All three were smiling broadly. If he’d already made this much progress on his own, maybe Hectors’ duty to help Jason would be easier than he’d thought.
Rob gave a tired sigh. It was purely for show, or perhaps for his own satisfaction. His heart hadn’t beat since he’d shoved a knife into it the previous day, just before he’d put down the last of the Four. When he was like this, he didn’t get tired. He did get bored though, and frustrated. The stack of paperwork, the dozens of phone calls he’d had to make… He gave another sigh, disgusted this time.
This sort of work was exactly the type of thing that Hector had freed him from. Reassuring people, making contact with the local government, arranging repairs or reimbursement for people whose property had been damaged, any other city and he’d have a Supply contingent to take care of most of it. The boy had been surprisingly careful, under the circumstances, but even without having to deal with the bodies, a few hundred suicides led to a lot of paperwork. He’d still have pawned it off on his subordinate if Hector hadn’t been the suicidee. Was that a word? Eh.
His com beeped at him, a hateful reminder. He’d had less than an hour of life yesterday, barely enough to appreciate it. Robert Grave took a plastic container out of a compartment in his desk, lined it with three layers of red plastic bags that had been marked with the trefoil hazard sign. He held his left hand within the arrangement, drew his knife with the right. With a smooth economy born of long practice, he slit his wrist and began counting out the seconds as his blood oozed out.
One minute per hour, that was what he had to spend to make sure he could work twenty four seven. After he was done here, he’d seal the bags and the container then incinerate them, along with his lethal blood, himself. While his hands were occupied like that, he couldn’t answer the call that came through his com but he could read the display.
Anyone else’s reaction would’ve need phrases like ‘his heart stopped’ or ‘his blood ran cold.’ In the case of Robert Grave, those statements were utterly redundant. Even so, Rob could do little more than stare in horror at what was written on his com’s screen:
Analyst Bradly to Operative Grave: Monster has been sighted within your area of responsibility. I repeat, Monster has come to Phoenix.