They had run into each other in the halls near the office block, the beep of the door ahead unlocking dragging 9341 to a scraping halt as he tried to desperately heel turn into a sprint away from whatever was coming towards him, expecting flashing silver eyes and an outstretched glove. What he didn’t expect was to be bowled over by a white blur, papers scattering everywhere from it’s arms as the two of them collided. Falling flat on his ass with a pained hiss as the hard concrete most definitely bruised his tailbone.
Before even looking up to see who or what he had hit, he was already scooting away, arms crossed desperately in front of his eyes, expecting sharp claws or a gaping maw with unholy screams, begging desperately that he hadn’t caught a glimpse of the palid thing’s face during the fall.
But nothing came. No pain. No shrieks. No muffled sobbing.
He dared to move one hand, and his shoulders sagged lightly in relief. The figure standing in front of him wasn’t 096, but another human, gangly and tall, white coat all ruffled and arms sloppily clutching at a lanyard and whatever papers hadn’t flown out of his grip.
9341 squinted at the lanyard, the name barely visible from the angle it was held and he sat at.
Gerald, Raymond Jace. Head Research Assistant.
A scientist then.
He was honestly surprised at seeing a living one so long after the breach alarms had first gone off. What others he had seen outside of the closed off shelter doors had been dead, either mangled beyond recognition or killed messily in some other manner. He had a feeling it hadn’t been only the scps killing them.
A noise from the assistant drew his attention back, finally looking up at the other’s face. They stared back wide eyed, black hair sticking up wildly, some tufts plastered to his cheeks by sweat, face flushed with panic and-
His eyes twinged and he blinked, moving his hands back to his head as a dull pain started to grow in the back of his head, looking down at the ground.
The scientist spoke up again.
Right. He squinted back at the other, trying to ignore the pain flaring up enough to make his eyes water, some nagging feeling itching in his mind.
Dr. Gerald’s expression seemed to crack a bit, the files slipping already finally falling to the floor as the uncertain fearful expression twisted into something almost....
The headache grew worse and 9341 scrunched his eyes again, trying to remember why the man in front of him seemed so....familiar. He was sure he had seen this man before but he couldn’ remember where-
A test? In the hallway while being escorted? In an interview?
But he couldn’t put his finger on it, and he risked looking up at him again, starting as he noticed Gerald had taken a step towards him, eyes shining and a hand raised slightly.
“Benjamin Walker. Do you remember me? Us?”
Tinnitus flared higher the closer the two got, and the pain only pulsed faster and deeper with every bit of distance lost between them. He found himself near breathless, staring mutely as the other man finally came to a stop mere inches from him.
Gerald bent down onto his knees in front of where the other had fallen and placed his hands, arms trembling hard enough that it was a miracle they actually landed onto the d class’s shoulders.
They whispered again with a sort of yawning grief, “Ben.”
9341 looked into the doctor’s eyes, his throat and cheeks suddenly raw with some answering emotion. Mouth opening and closing like a suffocating fish as he shook his head, tears welling over in the face of the other’s despair for some unknown reason, some god awful void screaming alongside the pain in the back of his head. He knew this man, he knew him, but he couldn’t understand the muffled memories telling him how so.
He raised one hand to Raymond’s cheek, fingers brushing uncertainly against the moist skin, twitching in tandemn to the scientist’s mouth almost violently switching between a twisting grimace and a relieved smile at the contact, before finally settling it into a cupping gesture, both of them seeming to sag towards each other. 9341’s eyes closed, head dropping in a strange sort of shame as the headache dulled to a background ache. A silence fell over them for a few seconds, overlaid with the soft rasp of their clothes settling and shuddering breath. His hand shifted, thumb sweeping away one of the tears drifting past before he had to courage to look back up again, forehead nearly bumping against the assistant’s as he murmured,
“I’m sorry. I don’t know who that is.”
Gerald sobbed lightly, breath catching in his heaving chest as hands slid off the D class’s shoulders to pull him into a crushing hug, fingers digging in almost desperately as they both tried to ignore how they trembled against each other. Tears soaked through the standard orange uniform as the doctor struggled to find his voice, the other stunned back into volatile quiet before he responded.
“I know. I’m so sorry. I know.”
The apology felt right. He was afraid to know why it felt right.
9341 wiggled one arm free from where it had been pinned between them, wrapping it around Raymond in return, and lifted his head to set his chin onto the top of the others. The hand moving to tangle through Raymond’s hair, damp with sweat, he sighed, fingers moving through some muscle memory to card gently against his scalp. An unnamed weight in his chest eased at the motion.
This felt right. He wasn’t afraid of that.
In the corner of the hallway, neither noticed the light on the security camera briefly flicker into the recording position, then lightly click offwards.
If 173 was disappointed by the door between it and its quarry refusing to open, 079 was too distracted with appeasing other....larger denizens to even begin to care.