December 22, 1998:
Lament leaned back in his chair, sipping his coffee and reaching for his sandwich, taking a bite. Lunch had become a private affair, especially after he learned that everyone else had chosen to take the pills. He'd included a picture of Sandlemyer's corpse—a body that in no way reflected the man who had once been—in the file for 106, setting the heavy document on the corner of his desk.
He turned his attention to 884 for a moment, glimpsing over it again and sighing, thinking back to what Sandy had said. 'Get someone inside the Insurgency…' Why the hell not? Anything was worth a try at this point.
He sighed and reached for his phone, dialing the number and rubbing at the bridge of his nose.
"Hello? Agent Strelnikov?" he asked. "I'm not sure if you remember me. Lament. We met on my first day." A pause. "Yeah, Gears' kid. I was looking for someone for a possible assignment. Deep cover." Annoyed Russian from the other end of the phone. "I know, but you're the only person I know over there, so I figured you'd know who to bother about it…"
A smirk was worming its way over Lament's lips as he closed the file, leaning back in his chair, laughing quietly to himself. There was no one else to laugh to, after all. He looked over at Gears, hoping that the other would ask him what he was so pleased about, waiting and hoping, waiting and hoping, then leaning forward, staring at him until the doctor raised his head and looked at him.
"884… is closed."
He leaned back again, arms behind his head.
"Congratulations," Gears said.
"Thank you," replied Lament.
There would be no praise, nor would there be any accolades. Your feelings of reward in the Foundation were the ones you made for yourself. Doing your job, and doing it well, meant one of two things: you lived or someone else did. That was enough.
It had to be.
"Would you like half of my sandwich, sir?" Lament asked.
"No, thank you, Agent."
Lament nodded, taking the plastic wrapped, perpetually dry roast beef out of the brown bag on his desk. "Then if you'll excuse me, I think I might take it in the atrium. It's nearly time for Sophie's lunch break…"
Gears nodded. "Tell Dr. Light I need her report on SCP-371, when she's finished."
"I will, sir."
Lament stood, walking toward the door when Gears spoke. "And Agent?"
Gears stared at him for a moment. It stretched past comfort into awkwardness, and Lament found it necessary to cough, then repeat. "Yes, sir?"
The awkwardness became palpable.
"Thank you, sir."
Gears nodded once, and Lament— feeling an emotion he could not put into words— left the office. When he got to the atrium, he stole a kiss from Light's cheek, took the obligatory punch in the arm, and then shared the lackluster sandwich with her.
All in all, he considered it a good day.