Bright and early the next morning, Imogen heads to the comptroller’s office. She gets there early enough to be first in line at the still-locked door. While waiting, she mulls over Frank’s situation and what to do about it. The more she thinks about it, the more she feels that the best way to get him out of here is to fake him being killed in action. But there is so much Imogen does not know about resocialization. How will I even find out what became of him? Is he still considered himself? Probably, because it seems like Lilly has always been Lillian Washington through all her resocializations. Imogen wonders, though, whether they will move Frank to a different unit so that he will not be around familiar things that might cause old memories to bubble back up to the surface.
At quarter to seven, with fifteen minutes still to go before the comptroller’s office opens, the quartermaster comes down the hall. When he sees Imogen, he snorts derisively. “Do you really have a good reason for being here?” he asks. “I’ve got important matters I need to take care of.”
“I’m sure my issues are not nearly as important as yours,” Imogen says graciously, hoping to decrease his animosity. She gestures him forward. “Here, why don’t you take the first place in line?”
Quinn is less gracious in his acceptance. He steps in front of her, muttering, “Civilians, they get in the way of everything, I tell ya’!” But his attention is now on the paperwork he is hastily filling out on his clipboard. It suits Imogen’s purposes just fine for him to forget she was ever here.
At five to seven, Vaughan walks up. “Hey, Imogen! How are you doing?” he asks brightly.
“I’m doing quite well, but there are some forms I need to pick up,” she replies, matching his tone.
“You didn’t just come to see me?” Imogen keeps a straight face. “No, no, that’s okay. I’m super happy to help you with forms. Oh, hey, Quinn.” Vaughan starts unlocking the door, apologizing that he cannot let anyone in just yet due to regulations.
“I know I can’t come in for another five minutes, but maybe you could get a head start on gathering my papers,” Imogen says sweetly. She rattles off a bunch of forms, far more than what Lilly needs. It is part of her attempt to cover their tracks in case anyone looks too closely into where Private Tanner’s release paperwork came from.
Vaughan blows out a long breath after he hears the full list. “Whoa! What are you getting into, Imogen?” he says appreciatively. “I’ll be curious to ask you more later about how all these forms go.” He slips inside the office and exactly five minutes later, the door opens for customers. Unfortunately, it was not long enough for him to gather everything Imogen asked for, and she is stuck waiting for him to handle Quinn’s elaborate paperwork problems. Now and then Vaughan throws apologetic glances at Imogen. She waits for almost an hour, kicking herself for letting Quinn go first but keeping her frustration well-hidden. There is nothing she can even do to help; it would be against regulations for her to go behind the counter and get her forms herself. One bright point of all of this is how annoyed Quinn is with Vaughan; certainly that will be what he remembers from this trip to the comptroller’s office rather than that Imogen was here, too.
With all the stamping Quinn is doing, Imogen has plenty of opportunity to observe the office’s seal at work. Vaughan notices her keen focus on the tools of his trade and says, “Oh, have you not seen my official comptroller assistant seal?” He holds it out towards her to look at, but unfortunately he is not allowed to stamp any old random sheet of paper, not without purpose. “I suppose if you were to file an official appointment request with me, then I’d have to stamp that…”
Imogen recognizes this as a ploy to spend more time with her, but it could be useful. On the one hand, this creates more of an incriminating paper trail if anyone digs into Tanner’s release paperwork. On the other hand, though, she really does want that stamp for Lilly’s reference. “It’s always good to have an appointment on the books in case of an emergency need for forms,” Imogen agrees. “Why don’t you pencil me in for fifteen minutes later this afternoon?”
“Oh, we don’t use pencil here. We don’t make mistakes, only corrections. If you had to cancel—which would be awful—there’s a special cancellation form. It’s always so sad to fill it out.”
Imogen cautions him that she is not sure whether her other work will keep her away. He is, of course, understanding. If something comes up, he will be happy to reschedule. “And if you need more time than just this fifteen minute slot, we can push it into the evening for two or three hours… “
“Have you won another lottery?” Imogen asks at this thinly-veiled invitation to dinner.
“Unfortunately, no, but there’ll be another one next week. Are you still going to be around?” he asks hopefully.
“I don’t think so.” I really hope not.
“Well, I’m sure by then the grunts on the ground will have taken care of this whole mess, so maybe none of us will be,” Vaughan says.
Thick file of forms in hand, Imogen takes her leave.