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The Princess and the Pea

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“Open this door! Let me in, you bitch! It’s my room too! Let me the fuck in!” Deanna shouted, pounding at the door of her dorm.

The dorm which she was now locked out of.

By her roommate.

“I’ll let you in when you wrap your head in lead, motherfucker!” Laren screamed from the other side.

“I can’t even read your thoughts! I’m only half!” Deanna screamed back.

“If I were a telepath that’s exactly what I’d say to keep them off my trail!”

“Not everyone is a paranoid Bajoran whore!”

“Not everyone is a spying Betazoid witch!”

“You know I can still read you from here, right?”

There were ninety blessed seconds of silence. Deanna savored them, and used them to ascertain exactly how completely destroyed her voice was going to be the next morning. Then the door opened.

Deanna breathed a sigh of relief: Laren was finally seeing reason, and would let her sleep in her own bed for the few nights before they could get a housing administrator to separate-

She was pelted with bedding. The door slammed.

“Go sleep in the common room.” Laren’s voice was considerably calmer, but she was still radiating terror and rage. Deanna’s shoulders sagged. At least she’d worn pajamas tonight. She didn’t know what she would do if she were forced to sleep in public in her bra and panties. Nudity was no problem back home, but here, she knew, it was a major infraction. She started to gather up her blankets and pillows (Laren had at least been considerate enough to give her all her blankets; Terran nights were cold).

-

Once she’d finished laying out her bedding on the couch which best combined the two virtues of “soft” and “not obviously filthy,” Deanna flopped down dejectedly. She wasn’t going to be able to sleep. She should’ve stayed on Betazed. It was more comfortable, prettier, and all the people there were either telepaths or happy to have their minds read. She’d taken Federation history in school, she knew not all societies were organized the way she was used to. She’d even been to a number of foreign planets with her mother on diplomatic missions. But it was different to know she was going to live here for years. She knew it would be good for her to live in a place where being the youngest heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed meant little, but it was still hard. She felt wetness on her cheek, and buried her face in the pillow.

A presence. She didn’t look up, it was ignoring her. She didn’t want to deal with a classmate right now. It was 0100 hours, most of them should be either asleep or partying away their last days of freedom. But apparently, the universe had other plans.

“Hey, you okay?”

She looked up to see a short Human male in only plaid pajama bottoms and some kind of… face mask? He was holding a cup of something. He was probably only out here to use the replicator.

“Yeah.” She was pretty proud that the word was neither wet from the aftermath of her self-pity session, nor scratchy from the aftermath of her screaming match.

“What’re you doing out here?” he asked, despite all of Deanna’s mental pleas for him to go away. That, she guessed, was the virtue of not being fully telepathic, and not being on a world full of telepaths. You could broadcast rude things at people without them hearing.

“Roommate trouble.” Hopefully, tone and body language would do what her stunted abilities could not and inform him of her wishes.

“Jeez, after only three days? We haven’t even started classes yet. Hey, my roommate doesn’t sleep. They issued him a bed anyway, and we haven’t gotten rid of it yet. You can sleep there, if you want.”

She blinked. It was an idea.

“What do you mean, he doesn’t sleep?” she asked, looking up at her potential savior.

“It’s just not a requirement of his species. I’m Geordi, by the way. You?” He indicated her in a sweeping gesture.

“Deanna.” She pushed herself into a sitting position. “I thought all humanoids slept?”

“No, actually, there are a few that don’t, but he’s not humanoid anyway.” He raised his eyebrows, as if to say what can you do. She raised her in return, though hers were meant as a question.

“They roomed you with a non-humanoid? I thought I had it bad with that Bajoran bitch,” she asked.

“Bajoran? Whoo-boy, no wonder you’re sleeping on the couch. But Data’s fine, he’s a sweetheart! He’s the best friend I’ve made here so far, not that it’s been so long. I’m sure you’ll like him,” Geordi assured her. She giggled a bit at the name. Was that a phonetic transliteration from this “Data’s” own language, or was her universal translator malfunctioning and giving her a translation of the name’s meaning? If it was the latter, hopefully the malfunction worked both ways.

“Alright then, Geordi. Will you help me carry this stuff into the turbolift?” She gestured at her bedding.

-

Deanna adjusted her blanket bundle as Geordi fiddled with his ID, trying to slide it against the card scanner on the door of his room.

“Damn,” he hissed, as he dropped it for a second time.

“Where’s your roommate, anyway?” she asked, trying to make conversation.

“In the room. Why?” Geordi replied, tongue between his teeth as he swiped the card a third time.

“He must have gone to the restroom or something, I can’t sense any presences.”

“Oh, you telepathic? What kind?” he asked. The light on the scanner clicked green.

“Betazoid. Well, sort of. Half- Betazoid.” She answered. He pushed the door open.

“That must be why. Data’s immune to all of the ten most powerful telepathic species in the Federation, isn’t that right, Data?” Geordi shot the last part into the room as he led Deanna inside.

“Not exactly,” came a quiet voice from somewhere that was blocked from Deanna’s vision by Geordi’s body, “As far as has been ascertained, Vulcans in the seventieth percentile or better of telepathic ability can sense within me a potentially meld-capable presence when they are in physical contact with me, but this is also true of some complex computer systems, meaning it is not a particularly good measure of my ability to be telepathically interfaced with. Actually, my immunity to telepathy has been one of the major arguments against my sentience over the years among those with an interest in debating the issue.” Geordi stepped out of the way, revealing a very strangely colored but otherwise human-seeming cadet seated at a computer desk.

“Oh! You’re the android. I heard about you on the feeds when I was coming here,” Deanna blurted, then realized that perhaps Betazoid bluntness would not serve her here.

“You are correct. And you are Cadet Deanna Troi, Youngest Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed, correct?” he asked. Two sets of eyebrows rose: Deanna’s at Data, and Geordi’s at, it seemed, both of them.

“Data, I told you not to do that, it’s creepy,” Geordi admonished.

“But Geordi, this does not fall under any of the categories of actions you have so far informed me classify as ‘creepy,’ which include staring at others, taking seats near strangers when further seats are available, jumping into conversations when not invited-” the android protested.

“This one falls under ‘Don’t tell people you know more about them then they know about you,’” Geordi informed him.

“But Geordi, Cadet Troi has already professed knowledge of my identity,” Data protested again.

“Look, Data… that’s different. She heard about you on the news. You looked her up.”

“I memorized the public dossiers of all 5031 of my San Francisco Starfleet Academy yearmates in order to adequately prepare for the new environment.”

“Which is creepy, Data. People are gonna keep finding that creepy. Just delete the files.” Geordi sighed. Deanna was watching the whole exchange in slack jawed fascination.

“Geordi, I have informed you previously that I am not comfortable doing that. I cannot simply ‘delete’ sections of my memory, it would throw off my internal chronometer and possibly cause issues in my filing system, which depends on it. More disturbingly, since much of an organism’s personality is determined by its experiences, deleting sections of my memory, even seemingly insignificant ones, could affect me in unforeseen ways.” Data blinked twice at Geordi, and turned back to his computer screen with finality.

“Ugh,” Geordi sighed, then changed the subject. “So, are you some kind of princess?”

“No! God, no,” Deanna laughed. “My mother and I are… minor aristocracy, sort of. There’s a lot of titles and they don’t mean very much in terms of politics and the like. They just mean we get some fancy artifacts and people tend to listen to my mother even when she’s being stupid.”

“Then I guess if I hide a pea under the mattress, it won’t keep you up all night?” he grinned.

“No, of course it won’t, but yuck! Why would you do that?” Deanna was bewildered. This must be some Terran reference she didn’t understand.

“I wouldn’t, it’s just a fairy tale,” he reassured her.

“Geordi, if you are planning a sexual encounter with Cadet Troi, I will leave the room and go to the common room in order to provide you with privacy. The reading material I consulted before entering the academy suggests that many cadets engage in the practice of ‘hookups,’ and that it is advisable to vacate the room for the night if a male and a female cadet appear to be planning on ‘sleeping together.’” Data said, apparently still a part of the conversation. Geordi’s head fell into his hands like a dropped bowling ball, and Deanna giggled.

“Data… I’m not, we’re not, and if we were, I would’ve kicked you out of the room a long time ago for exactly this reason,” Geordi sighed.

“I do not understand. What reason? I simply surmised from your discussion of sleeping arrangements that Cadet Troi was planning to sleep here, and since in most cases a cadet who sleeps in another cadet’s dormitory does so because they have had a sexual encounter-” Data started.

“This. This thing you’re doing. Data, you’re very awkward.”

“Yes, I am aware of that! It is the reason I have chosen to attend Starfleet Academy for the full duration instead of testing out of all classes. I wish to make friends!” The android sounded almost excited, and Deanna giggled again.

“Yeah… anyway, the reason we were talking about sleeping arrangements is because Deanna here got kicked out of her room. Can she sleep on your bed?”

“Absolutely, Geordi. Cadet Troi, you may have full use of my bed.”

“Thanks, Data,” Deanna smiled at him.