"And that's the current status of the Foundation's -- and your Trust's -- finances. All in all, a good quarter." Jason Quill nodded, absently. He took a sip of is Coke Zero. "You seem distracted," Barbera Josephs commented, as she reassembled the stacks of papers into something resembling order. Her gray hair complemented her business suit. "Oh. Sorry, Ms Josephs. Just ... thinking." "About yesterday?" He started. "I -- well, you were there." "Representing both my firm and, of course, the Quill Foundation. As were you. Though I didn't find it necessary to leap to the fray when that Mr. Lectric showed up." Jason shifted uncomfortably. "It seemed like the thing to do at the time." She gave a tight smile. "Well, it seems the sort of thing your father would have done." Jason looked at her. "You think so?" "Of course. And did on more than one occasion, leaving me to explain to the Foundation's investors and supporters that there was nothing to worry about, that the Foundation would continue to do its good works despite whatever entanglements its namesake principals got involved in." "Sorry." "No worries, Jason. I and my partner are well compensated for looking after your interests." "How is Ms Williams? I haven't seen her much lately." "Hannah is quite well. She spends far too much time in New York and Washington for my taste, but that's part of our job as your business managers and administrators for the Quill Foundation." Jason took another sip, looking out the conference room window at the city beyond. "You and the others, yesterday, at the Derby. You handled yourself well," she said. "Eventually." At a quirked eyebrow, he went on, "We were all over the map, trying to take Lectric on one-on-one. It wasn't until we started working together, instead of individually, that we were able to take him out." "But you did." Jason shrugged. "Yeah." "How did that feel?" He glanced at her. "Well, it did the job." "That's not what I asked." He was quiet for a bit. "It felt -- pretty good." "You knew the others." "Just what I've read in the news. I'd met Mercury before. Heck, we were both there for the horse race and all that stuff, in those stupid suits." "You looked rather dashing in a top hat." Jason rolled his eyes. "I looked like a dork." "You chatted with them, after." He shifted his weight again, his eyes still locked out the window. "I thought --" After he'd trailed off for a few seconds, she prompted, "Yes?" "Well, I thought we might do some good. Together. Like -- maybe a team thing." "Do you think that wise?" He looked at her. "I mean, what do you know of them? How much can you depend on them? What exposure does it bring to the Foundation?" "I -- who I hang out with, it's not always about the Foundation." "But it affects the brand. And the brand affects the donors, the reputation of what we do, the good that your father's money and legacy are able to pursue around the world." He shrugged. "We can look into them, do some background checks. Make sure they --" "No." "If they are to be business associates --" "They're not. Not 'business associates.' They're -- friends. Or something." "'Something' is a very vague description, and an even more vague cause." "Maybe -- maybe I want to do some good on my own." "On your own?" "On my own. With them. We worked well together. We can do stuff." "And that's what you want to do. 'Stuff.'" "It beats doing term papers and listening to quarterly earnings reports." She smiled. "Some people enjoy listening to quarterly earnings reports." "Whatever." Her smile shifted slightly. "What?" "You're going to pursue this, regardless of what I might advise." He was quiet. "Maybe. Yeah." "And if I forbid it?" He turned his gaze fully on her. "Why would you --" "It's dangerous. It increases your personal liability, despite the Lee Act. It exposes you to personal compromise. It risks the reputation of the Foundation." "I don't care!" She raised an eyebrow. "You don't care about your father's foundation?" "No!" He caught himself. "Well, yes, of course I care. But -- I can't live my life around that. These people -- they feel ... right. What we can do is right. That's more important than reputation and all that." "You know, the Foundation has received numerous phone calls, and your public email account quite a number of messages, asking about your actions, this team, these other individuals, and what it all means." He shrugged. "AEGIS contacted me directly." Jason's eyes widened. "Nothing untoward, simply an inquiry for information." He snorted, relaxed visibly. "The Foundation cannot be directly involved in your vigilante activities. You've understood that for some time. But with the greater visibility this 'team' brings, I am duty-bound to remind you." "I'm not asking the Foundation to be involved, all right? I just -- want to do what's right. And maybe with some people who aren't -- who are just people I hang with." "So you are insistent on pursuing this." "Yes. I've -- I've already reached out to them. Just to talk. But if we can do some good in the city, working together -- well, that's what I'm going to do." "Even if I advise against it. You have a much more important role to play in this city, and beyond, than swashbuckling adventurer." "Yes," he said, voice a bit louder, a bit higher pitched. "No matter what you 'advise.'" "Or insist upon." "You're not my dad," Jason said. "You work for me." "It's a bit more complicated than --" "The Quill Foundation is mine. Or will be, in a year. If this is what I want to do, then I'm going to do it. And you can't stop me." He glared at her. She slipped the papers and folders into her brief case and stood up. "Well, that is your prerogative. All that I can ask is that you take care. The good works of the Quill Foundation would be threatened if you were to be killed, or if you were to be involved in any sort of controversy or legal entanglements." "That's what I have you and Ms Williams." She raised an eyebrow. "We will -- endeavor to fulfill our duty." He looked away again. "Thanks." "Our next meeting is on the calendar for next Tuesday." "If it's on the calendar, I'll be here." She nodded, stepped to the conference room door. She paused. "Do take care, Jason." He shrugged again, and she exited the room. She drew a deep breath, let it out, slowly, kept her expression steady and neutral for the cameras she knew covered the corridor. But as the elevator door closed, she smiled.