Merv thinks his parents love him, he supposes, in their own way. At least, his mother is very particular about what is and isn't allowed; his father will periodically check up on his 'media consumption habits'. They're not uninterested in him, at least, even if other things occupy their attention much of the time. On his good days, he remembers this. On his bad days, he feels like he's surrounded by walls and traps, passive things, invisible until you accidentally run into them and suddenly it's all confinement and stern disapproval. On his worst days, he wants to run around blindly, tripping over them all while screaming 'Notice me! Notice me!'
When Dewey says he'll call Merv's mother, Merv backs down not because of the threat but because he's pretty sure no-one will answer the phone.
On his Wednesdays, and also most other days, because, parents, and also computers and graphic novels and sometimes action figures (and bikes and bean-bags and even, on rare occasions actual books), on his Wednesdays he goes to Library for the teen group meetings. It took him three minutes into the first one to categorise all the other kids into people he can use, people who have things he wants, and people who want things he can provide, people he can learn from, people he can teach. It's all about market opportunities. Okay, sure, it's a little mercenary. Or maybe a lot mercenary, whatever. The point is, he knows how to deal with them. He knows what makes them tick, the things they need and the things they want; it's all cost-benefits analysis. He understands them all, each in their own little category. But, Dewey...
Dewey defies orderly classification, which is somewhat ironic.
Possibly it's not ironic at all, but Merv can't be bothered to look it up, and, anyway, it's the sort of thing that people think is ironic, even if it technically isn't. Which isn't the point at all. The point is: he doesn't know what to make of Dewey. He doesn't know what Dewey wants, not really. There are specifics, of course, like a sealed vintage Star Wars cantina adventure set or Mira Sorvino, but in a more general sense, Merv has no idea why Dewey puts up with him.
"He's probably hot for your bod," Kyle suggests. "Now, tell me how to beat the next level of Space Dragons."
Merv's observed Dewey long enough to think this isn't the case, but just to be on the safe side, he wanders up to the counter in a quiet moment while everyone else is occupied elsewhere and announces, "I'm not having sex with you."
"Given you're neither female nor of legal age, and that we're in a public place, I heartily approve of this," Dewey says without looking up from his book.
Merv frowns. "That wasn't how I expected this conversation to go."
"How about that?" Dewey says, turning the page.
"I don't get you," Merv admits.
"I'm a librarian," Dewey says, and then curses under his breath as the counter bell is tapped.
"My son has a complaint," the curly-haired woman in glasses says.
"I have a complaint," her equally mop-topped bespectacled son agrees.
Merv performs a risk-assessment analysis in his head and starts edging away.
"He rented this copy of Wall-E," the woman continues, "but when we opened the box at home, there was a DVD from a box set of the new Battlestar Galactica inside!"
"It was right inside the box," her son agrees.
"I'm sorry to hear that," Dewey says, flicking a pointed look at Merv.
Merv attempts to look innocent. Dewey, instead of looking more annoyed, looks more like he's trying to suppress a laugh, which just confuses Merv.
"That's not the problem," the woman says.
They both look at her.
"It isn't?" Dewey asks.
"No," she huffs. "He wants the next disc."
"I want the rest of the discs," the boy agrees.
"He wants all the discs," his mother says.
"I'll just get right on that," Dewey says.
"I know where they all are," Merv admits.
"He'll just get right on that," Dewey says, and goes back to reading his book.
Merv does, although he's not really sure why. Or, well, he is, because Dewey can take his computer time away, for instance, except it's not really because of that, at all. Perhaps Dewey has strange mind-control powers? That don't work on adults or most other kids or, okay, not the most plausible of ideas. Anyway, putting the cool sci-fi in the boxes of the boring sci-fi gets more people to come back and watch good TV, so they win and the library wins and Dewey wins. So, no, wait, why is collecting them together again?
He hands the box set to the kid / mother double act, feeling even more confused.
"I don't get it," he says to Dewey.
"There are teenagers!" a screeching woman interrupts. She glares at him like he's made of pure evil.
He smiles back and says, "I'm twelve, ma'am."
"Teenagers," she squeaks. "In the aisles!"
Dewey opens his mouth, and Merv knows he's going to say that that's not against the rules, which is just another thing about Dewey he doesn't understand. Dewey ignores the rules himself all the time, but he makes Merv obey them, generally, although he always manages to do it in a way that makes Merv feel approval, which is just-- Whatever it is. Weird, is the point.
What actually happens, though, is that three other patrons appear at the desk at the same time, all complaining about different things, and then mostly about each other, until it becomes just a blend of noise, devoid of actual content, rather like watching your two thousandth YouTube video in a row.
"The world is quiet here," Dewey mutters, and Merv snorts and then pretends he didn't.
He's seriously considering putting the cowl back on and letting the Shusher deal with it, when somehow Dewey manages to clear the last of the crowd.
"Do you have secret mind-control powers?" Merv asks, curious.
Dewey pauses in cleaning the desk and considers him. "If I did, would you be able to ask that question?"
"I guess not," Merv allows.
"Unless I'm letting you think about it in order to bring up that I could not let you think about it," Dewey adds. Merv eyes him. "To me, my books!"
"No, seriously," Merv says. "I don't get what you want from me."
Dewey starts ticking things off on his fingers. "To pay your fines, keep the computers running, not to fleece patrons too much unless they're asking for it, not to set fire to anything valuable--"
Merv blinks. "Did you have a list already to hand?"
"I used to have it all written down on little yellow notes," Dewey says, sadly.
"Like a paper blog?"
"Something like that."
Merv considers this, and then shrugs. "You're kind of weird."
"I'm a librarian," Dewey points out.
Tamara storms past -- okay, it's more of a slightly annoyed frolic than an actual storm -- complaining about someone putting the Complete Calvin and Hobbes in the dust-jacket for the Ultimate Eloise Collection.
"They're both six," Merv says, when Dewey looks at him.
Dewey considers this, and then shrugs. "Fair enough."
"See?!" Merv complains. "I don't get it. What are we?"
"You're Merv," Dewey says, as if this is the most obvious thing in the world, just another daily question, easily and often answered, "and I'm Dewey."
"...huh," Merv says. After a moment, he asks, "Can I--?"
"But what if--?"
"But I could--"
"Just so long as you pay for it," Dewey says, and goes back to his book.
Merv huffs, but he smiles all the way back to his computer. And he thinks, maybe it doesn't matter that he doesn't really understand Dewey, because Dewey understands him, in a way his parents can't, in a way his friends don't. Dewey maybe even loves him, but not in an icky or a sappy sort of way. In a cool sort of way. And maybe, just maybe, Merv loves him back.
Anyway, he certainly doesn't come here for the books, that's for sure.