Disclaimer: I own nothing. Solok is from the episode "Take Me Out to the Holosuite". Warning: Language. It's rated T for a reason.
Autumn was deepening outside the windows of the Launching Pad, where several cadets had gathered to celebrate the end of midterms. About eight human students had claimed a table in the corner near the window, but one, a young woman with short auburn hair, was only halfheartedly participating in bashing Professor V'Klen's rigorous biology exam. She was more concerned with the textbook she had brought along, but already she was regretting coming along with Benjamin and his friends, as they were getting loud and the bar was dark and she was starting to get a headache.
"And what about you, Roxanne? How'd you do?" Benjamin asked, playfully punching her shoulder. She looked up and stared at him a moment, shaking her head.
"Repeat the question," Roxanne murmured, sighing in frustration. Benjamin looked down at the textbook.
"What gives, Roxy? We've hardly completed midterms and already you're studying for another test? Lighten up! Get a drink! Hey, Terra, get Roxy here a drink!"
"You know I don't drink, Benjamin," she said firmly. "Someone has to get your drunk asses home."
Benjamin laughed and shrugged, turning back to his other friends and carrying on about the biology test. Roxanne glanced out the window and watched the leaves fall onto the pavement. The avenue was lined with California sycamores, and their leaves were turning gold. Movement past the window turned her attention down toward the street, and she saw a group of Vulcan cadets walk past. They didn't glance her way, as two were engaged in a conversation and the other three were absorbed in reading a PADD. The male Vulcan leading them seemed vaguely familiar, but she couldn't place him at the moment, and besides, his head was turned towards his companion and she didn't get a good look at his face. They stopped at the door, then walked in.
Everyone at her table looked up as the bell rang, but she turned back to her book and engrossed herself in Calculus. She loathed the subject and everything to do with math, but it was a general education requirement and she had to pass it. But as her last few test scores had informed her, she wasn't doing a very good job of that at the moment.
She heard scraping behind her, and she glanced up to see the Vulcan cadets take the table next to theirs, and she finally got a look at the leader. He was tall, with olive skin and sleek black hair like most Vulcans, but unlike most, he had piercing gray eyes. She remembered that he usually sat near her in Calculus, but she couldn't remember his name.
Sisko and the others had started a game of poker, and when asked to join, she declined and continued studying.
After about fifteen minutes, when she felt she was actually making some sort of headway, she looked up and noticed that Sisko and the male Vulcan were talking.
"What is the point of the game? It serves no logical function...in my opinion, it seems quite useless."
Benjamin narrowed his eyes. "Look, just because you don't understand the appeal of playing cards with some friends on a weekend doesn't mean you have to spoil it for the rest of us."
Roxanne swore the Vulcan almost smiled, and he tilted his head at her friend. "My companions and I are studying your illogical human bonding rituals. Perhaps you could explain the appeal to us."
She raised her eyebrows and looked to Benjamin, who by this time had had a few drinks and apparently didn't take kindly to that statement. He called for another, and the Vulcan sat down at the human's table. The two began debating, and eventually Roxanne was forced to put her studying aside and join the table, certain that Sisko was about to make a mockery of himself. She watched the debate spiral down, with the Vulcan winning major points, probably because he was sober and Sisko was nearly wasted.
"Vulcans are naturally superior to humans, and other races that rely on emotion instead of logic. Emotions are a distraction, an unnecessary distraction which the Vulcan people have done away with. Where there is only logic, there can be no room for error."
Sisko nearly growled and then opened his mouth to retort, but Roxanne interrupted.
"Benjamin Lafayette Sisko, you are about to make a fool of yourself. Let the sober people handle this jackass."
She turned to the Vulcan. "You're Solkar, right?"
"Solok," he replied coolly, regarding her with a level gaze, his gray eyes glinting.
"Solok...you realize that logic is malleable, don't you? You can use logic to justify genocide, war, conquest. With only logic as a guide, there's no room for compassion and empathy, which is necessary to living in a connected galaxy like ours."
"I find your argument faulty, Ms. Hartman. Vulcans live by a moral code that prevents genocide and war and the like. We are pacifists and have no need for such things, unlike your species which still, after years of living in this 'connected galaxy', finds pleasure in violence."
Roxanne paused, glowering at him, then she shook her head. "Pacifist? Says the Vulcan picking a fight in a bar. Do you actively look for trouble or are you just in a fighting mood today?"
"What you call a fight, I call debate. And thus you have proven my point by mistaking conversation for violence. I would argue that you, Ms. Hartman, are the one looking for trouble, not I."
"I'm not looking for trouble, Mr. Solok. And what was that about Vulcans being superior to everybody else in the galaxy? Gloat much, you jackass?"
Solok raised an eyebrow, his gray eyes flaring for a moment. "I was merely stating a fact," he replied, his voice not as calm as before. Roxanne grinned.
"Oh, so you do gloat! Isn't that an emotional reaction? What's the logical purpose of vaulting yourself above everyone else? Sounds like Solok here has some self-esteem issues to work out," she said quite audibly to Sisko, who was grinning.
Everyone else at the table who was listening to the conversation started laughing, but Solok remained silent. He was glaring at Roxanne, but then his eyes dropped to the Calculus book she had set aside on an empty chair, and he half-smiled. He turned to his friends.
"Humans have an emotional need for self-importance, and I believe they project that need onto others. But in any case, I do not believe we will have to listen to Ms. Hartman's insipid commentary for much longer. I doubt she'll even make it to the next semester at the Academy."
Roxanne's smile faded from her face, and Sisko narrowed his eyes at Solok. "What is that supposed to mean?" the African-American growled. Solok raised an eyebrow.
"I was merely making a comment on Ms. Hartman's poor performance in Calculus. It's quite amazing that she's gotten this far, yet more astounding that she cannot grasp the simplest of subjects Starfleet Academy has to offer."
Roxanne's grip on the drink Terra had brought her tightened, and she was surprised the Vulcan didn't cower at the look she was giving him. "Are you implying something, Solok?"
He stared at her in satisfaction for a moment before replying. "I simply find it fascinating that Starfleet let such a simpleton as you into their ranks."
"Did you just insult her intelligence, jackass?" Sisko growled. "I'm kind of hard of hearing, so say that one more time."
Solok breathed out quickly through his nose, his eyes gleaming, his expression smug. "Perhaps I should put my comment into simpler terms for you? I said Ms. Hartman is unfit for Starfleet, and that she will most likely fail this semester. Did you understand me that time, Mr. Sisko?"
Sisko was livid, and he quickly glanced at Roxanne, who he thought would be fuming with him. But her expression was deeply hurt, which only fed Benjamin's anger. Roxanne's eyes became glassy with tears, and she quickly stood, grabbed her bag and her Calculus book, and turned to leave. She stopped though, and turned to Solok.
She laughed mirthlessly, her eyes glittering with unshed tears. "It's funny 'cause you're right!" she said loud enough for the entire bar to hear, then she stormed out, but not before Solok saw a tear stream down her cheek. He smiled softly to himself.
Surprisingly, she shut the door quietly on her way out, instead of slamming it like most thought she might. Other patrons across the bar were now looking toward the cadets, wondering what had occurred to make the young woman upset. Sisko could see that the guys at the table were fuming, glaring at Solok, and he turned to the smug Vulcan.
"You son of a bitch," he growled. Another second, and his fist connected with Solok's cheek.
Roxanne was tucked away in the far room of the cafeteria complex where only a few other students were sitting. Word of the fight between Solok and crew and Sisko and his friends had already spread around campus, but no one was sure what had caused it. She had no doubt it was her outburst, which in retrospect was rather selfish. She tended to insult herself when she was really upset or stressed, as a way of feeling sorry for herself, and that strangely made her feel better. And this last month she had been making off-hand but nonetheless rude comments about herself to herself or anyone who was in earshot, and mostly that was Benjamin or her roommate Sicily. The latter was a kind soul with a heart of gold, working toward a medical degree, and Roxanne often told her that she would make a wonderful CMO. Sicily would smile and look away, and despite her shyness when it came to compliments, she could be quite the mama bear when it came to her friends. And Roxanne considered herself extremely fortunate to have Sicily as a friend.
After the Solok incident, as Roxanne called it in her mind, she had rushed back to her room on campus, and Sicily was there, hitting the books just like Roxanne.
"What's wrong, honey?" Sicily asked when she saw Roxanne's tears. She stood and immediately went over to her, gently guiding her to Roxanne's bed. The African-American med student stroked her friend's back while Roxanne descended into a round of pitiful sobs, and after several minutes of whispering that it was going to be all right, Sicily calmed Roxanne enough so the latter could speak.
"I just met the biggest jackass on the planet," she choked out, hastily wiping away her tears. Sicily's bright brown eyes darkened.
"Where does he live? I will flay him alive for making you cry, hon."
"Don't bother," Roxanne croaked, getting up and fetching water from the kitchenette they shared with the girls next door. "He's Vulcan."
Sicily shook her head. "I don't care. Where is he?"
"Probably still gloating at the Launching Pad for making a pathetic girl like me cry."
"Hey!" Sicily barked, getting up off the bed and stomping over to her. "You are not pathetic! How many times have I told you that putting yourself down isn't getting you anywhere? If this douchebag Vulcan made you cry, you hold your head high and move on. He obviously doesn't deserve your tears."
Roxanne sighed and took a drink of water. "He called me a failure."
Sicily was quiet for a moment before rubbing her friend's shoulder. "You're not a failure. You can pass that Calculus class, you just have to keep banging away at it. Find a tutor if you need to. I'm sure Ben knows some people who can help you."
Roxanne sighed to herself and scrolled through the notes on her PADD. She didn't have much of an appetite and was only sipping on some juice, but she glanced away from her reading when she saw a tray set down across from her. She looked up and scowled at its owner, as he was the last person she wanted to see right now.
Solok paused before speaking. "May I sit here?"
She looked around and was surprised to see his friends weren't lurking at another table nearby. He was alone, but she didn't think whatever went down next would stay a secret. She glowered at him.
"What, grace a lowly simpleton like me with your presence?" she said, feigning shock. "Why would such a superior being such as yourself want to associate with me?"
He sat down despite her obvious wish that he go away, and he gently tugged the PADD away from her and read over it. He raised an eyebrow and handed it back to her, and she snatched it out of his hands, choosing to look at it instead of him. But she couldn't help but notice that he sported a green and yellow bruise on his cheek. It was faint, but still visible if one was close enough to the Vulcan to notice. She smiled as she thought she knew who was responsible for Solok's injury.
"I said two days ago that you were going to fail Calculus," he started, and she quickly looked up, gritting her teeth.
"If you're here to taunt me again-"
"I believe I can solve your problem."
She frowned and set down the PADD. "What? How?"
"I can tutor you in Calculus. You can meet me somewhere on campus, or off campus, perhaps three times a week. I will tutor you, and you will pass the course."
She was silent, and her eyes got glassy for a moment before she blinked rapidly. "Is this the Vulcan equivalent of an apology?"
He smirked, his expression going from neutral to smug. "No, this is simply a proposition."
Roxanne shook her head. "I guess I appreciate the offer, and it's a good idea, but I'll find someone else-"
"We have only six weeks left in the semester. I doubt anyone else could, what is the human phrase, 'bring you up to speed' in Calculus before final exams."
She laid her head on her arms, which she folded on the table, and he raised an eyebrow. "Are you frustrated, Ms. Hartman?"
"The hell I'm frustrated! As you pointed out the other night, I'm about to fail, and now you make it sound like you're my only hope!"
He stared at her, triumphant, his eyes practically dancing. She glared at him.
"Fine, I'll be the best student you ever had," she said sarcastically. "But I'm only doing this for my grade, ok?"
He nodded curtly. "You realize that I do expect compensation."
She stared blankly at him for a moment, then laid her head back down on the table. He smirked again.
"I'm not asking much. I'll be giving up my time to tutor you, and I ask you pay me the same courtesy. You'll socialize with me for an hour each day, three days a week, and if my companions are with me, you will socialize with them as well."
"What do you mean, socialize?" she demanded, not sure what to think of their agreement.
He tilted his head. "What do you think I mean by socialize?"
She glared at him, then sighed. He hadn't apologized for insulting her, and whether that was Vulcan pride or just him being a jerk...she wasn't sure. She knew he and his friends had seen how easy it was for them to get her upset, and she had a nagging feeling that 'socializing' would be them pressing her buttons and testing her limits. But then, in her mind's eye, she saw her latest test scores, and the fear of failure stung her again.
"It would be logical to agree to my terms," Solok said quietly. She narrowed her eyes, then sighed again.
"You've got yourself a deal."
He smirked again. "I will admit, I look forward to tutoring you, and to socializing with you. Meet me in the biochemistry lab tomorrow at 1500."
With that, he took up his tray and moved off, and Roxanne laid her head down on the table once more. She had just made a deal with the devil, but if it saved her grade...besides, it was only for a semester. Then she would be free of that pointy-eared jackass forever.