Cadet Spock, PADD tucked snugly under his arm, entered the Academy library and headed straight for the collection of old paper books on the second level. His reasoning for this daily habit was twofold: firstly, the easier accessibility of information from the computer data readers elsewhere meant that this section of the library was most often free of other students and their intrusive emotional thoughts, and secondly, Spock found that he preferred to annotate extracts from the original sources rather than rely on the computer tape student texts supplied, which he considered to be incomplete and lacking in detail. It irked him more than he cared to admit that the text given to students of advanced astromathematics made no more than a passing mention of Sopak's warp ratio equations, or that the Casler-Thalav Effect was omitted completely from the environmental physics text.
When Spock had brought his concerns about this to his teachers, he had been told that the texts contained all of the information he would need to pass his exams. He was dismissed before he could point out the illogic in believing he would never encounter a situation that fell outside of the scope of his Starfleet examinations. Spock had resolved to take total responsibility for his own education, endeavouring to learn as much as possible while he had the Academy's resources at hand.
The door swished open to reveal the empty reading room. Nearly empty, Spock mentally corrected when he caught sight of a fair headed human male hunched over a thick volume at a corner table. The boy looked up at the sound of the door and smiled at Spock before his face disappeared behind his book.
Spock squashed his irritation at the other's presence. It was illogical to expect solitude in a public facility. The human was as entitled to be there as he was. Spock briefly considered selecting the books he required and taking then back to his dormitory, but that, too, was illogical. He was here, the texts were here, and he was training for a career amongst humans; there was no logic in avoiding them now. Still, something made him take the books and sit at a table in the corner farthest from the other boy.
After more than three hours of reading about Doctor Daystrom's earliest computer models, the scrape of a chair told Spock that the human student had left his table. Spock hoped he would leave. He saw the boy replace several books on the shelves before exiting the reading room. Spock returned to his studies and thought no more about him.
When the library closed for the night and Spock had to leave, he was surprised to discover the human had left a single book on the table he had been sitting at. It could only have been him, Spock thought, knowing that no one else but the two of them had occupied the reading room that evening. But why would he have left one book and shelved the rest? Illogical humans! Spock replaced the book on the appropriate shelf and left.
The next evening, Spock discovered the same student sitting at the same desk in the library. He again looked up and smiled as Spock entered.
Spock contemplated walking over there and reminding the boy of the library's rules about returning books after use, but he settled for a cool glare. He had no particular wish to engage in conversation with the human. Selecting the books he wanted from the shelves, he once more chose to sit at the table in the far corner.
Occasionally, he would look up and find the student watching him. Sometimes, the other would look away quickly, as if caught; other times, he would simply smile at Spock until he looked away. The smile was unnerving.
This time, Spock was so involved in his reading, he was unaware of the student's departure until he heard the door swish behind him. Spock cast an eye towards the boy's desk and, again, he had left a single book behind. Spock didn't know whether to be annoyed or intrigued. In the end, he decided both were beneath his dignity as a Vulcan and returned the book to the shelf without devoting further thought to the matter.
When it happened for a third time, then a fourth and a fifth, Spock found his resolve not to approach the student slipping. He considered simply choosing a different study location, but the old paper book section had been his favourite place for a good reason, and he could find no logic in shifting to an area full of emotional humans in order to avoid this one alone.
On the sixth night, Spock was pleasantly surprised to find the reading room empty. Perhaps the boy had got sick of the solitude and gone to find more populous surroundings. Humans were like that, Spock noted. Whereas he preferred the peace of his own company, humans tended to like to hang about in groups, whether for study or leisure activities. If this human had had enough of Spock's non-company, that suited Spock just fine.
Feeling unimpeded, Spock selected his reading material and chose a table in the centre of the room. He was halfway through the second chapter of Warp Theorem in the 21st Century when he heard the swish of the door. Looking up from his book, he was inwardly irritated to find the same smiling human entering the study area. He was further dismayed when the boy took some books from the xeno-history section and sat at his usual table - only a few feet from Spock's.
Spock wanted to move, or to leave, but he was clearly not at the end of his study period, and something he suspected he had inherited from his mother caused him to believe that such actions would be deemed impolite.
Spock kept his back turned to the other student, but he had to admit that the boy caused him little trouble, apparently happy to sit quietly at his table, taking care to turn the pages of his book as noiselessly as possible.
After nearly three hours, the human got up from his desk and headed for the shelves, carrying a pile of books in one hand and slinging his bag over his shoulder with the other. He was obviously about to leave. Spock turned, saw the remaining book on the human's table and his resolve caved completely. He grabbed the book and confronted the other before he got to the door.
"Are you unaware of the rules pertaining to the return of library books?"
The human smiled warmly. "Oops." He indicated the shelves. "I put the others away. Must have forgotten that one." Again, the smile. Spock could not fathom what the student found so pleasurable about this encounter.
"You have 'forgotten' to return one of your books for the past six evenings. I find that rather illogical. Even for a human," he added meanly.
The smile didn't fade. He pointed to the book in Spock's hands. "I was reading about Vulcans. Your people have an interesting history."
Spock looked down. The book was indeed a text on the history of Vulcan, leading up to the first meeting between Vulcans and humans, and with a focus on the early interactions between the two races. Spock hoped the boy wasn't trying to use the book as some kind of segue into a nosy conversation about his personal life. He handed the volume to the human and started to turn away.
"Your name's Spock, isn't it?"
Spock walked back to his table and sat down. The human followed.
"You can call me Jim."
Spock tried to ignore him, but Jim sat down next to him. Spock suppressed a sigh.
"I thought you were leaving, Cadet..." Spock let the sentence hang; he didn't know the human's surname.
"I told you - you can call me Jim. All my friends do."
"I am not your friend."
The smile turned into a grin. "Not yet, anyway."
Spock looked away, reached for the book he had been reading. "I am Vulcan. I neither require nor wish to engage in friendship with you or anyone else." It was true. The very thing he had never been able to prove on his homeworld had been incredibly easy to establish here on Earth. No one yet had disputed his Vulcan heritage. Satisfied that he could at least prove himself Vulcan among humans, he had no wish to cast doubt on it by indulging in any of their emotional social practices.
Jim wasn't to be so easily dissuaded. "You were the one who started the conversation, Spock."
Spock did not like familiarity of the human's tone. "I was merely reminding you of the library rules. It was not an invitation to a meaningless discourse."
Jim shrugged. "Then why not simply report me to the library staff? You could have avoided talking to me at all. But you didn't." He leaned in towards Spock. "Because you were curious."
Spock looked sullen.
Jim continued. "You wanted to ask me why I kept leaving one book behind and shelving the rest." His expression dared Spock to deny it. "Well, Spock, I'll tell you. I've seen how you avoid people. You very quickly turn away anyone who tries to talk to you. But if you're going to be working with humans, you've got to know how to get along with them. Hiding yourself away isn't going to win you any friends, and everyone needs friends around here - even you. So, I figured, if you weren't going to talk to anybody who came to you, I'd have to find a way to get you to come to me. And the library book trick worked. Logical, huh?"
"I do not find that at all logical," said Spock, but there was little conviction in his voice. "There is no logic in coming to a study area, and spending several hours reading - or giving the appearance of engaging in reading - for the sole purpose of initiating a conversation with another student."
"Oh, I was reading, Spock. I read a lot. And I really did find that book about Vulcan fascinating."
Spock's eyes narrowed. He could not be sure that this human wasn't mocking him, using a word he had often been known to use. "I find that difficult to believe, Cadet."
Jim sighed. "Do you have a surname, Spock? A family name?"
"You could not pronounce it," said Spock, haughtily.
"Well," said Jim. "If I have to use your given name, it's only logical that you should use mine."
"I do not see--"
"Jim," mumbled Spock.
The grin was bigger than ever. "That's better. Now, why don't we talk about some of the things I read in this book about Vulcan, and you can tell me if I've misinterpreted anything, or... wait, I have a better idea." Jim stood, grabbed Spock's book out of his hands and closed it. "Let's go down to the rec room downstairs. It's never too crowded there, and they have one of those 3-D chess sets. I've been known to play a pretty mean game in my time." He picked up Spock's bag and handed it to him. Spock looked uncertain, but Jim could see the defeated slump emerging in his shoulders. "C'mon, Spock," he prodded. "What have you possibly got to lose?"
Spock sighed and got to his feet, taking his bag from Jim and replacing his study books on the shelves. One thing he certainly couldn't lose to this human was a game of chess.
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