Cataloged (written for Patreon)

“But it’s in the catalog!  See, right here. I can show you.”

“Just because it’s… all right, show me.”

“See?” He pointed at the computer screen.  “Right there under ‘other resources’.” He had such a cute puppy-dog expression that had he been looking for – asking for – anything else, Monica probably would have bent over backwards to find it for, him whether or not it was in regulations.

“I… you’re correct.  There it is.”

When the Neufield-Mason Library had been bought out by Outlanders, many of the library staff had quit in an indignant show protest – either over the Library being for sale, it being sold, or it being sold to Outlanders.

Monica had, at the time, been three months short of her adulthood line.  A ward of the State, she’d been working at the library as a junior aide for junior wages for five years and was facing zero other job prospects.  She had a spotty education, outside of Neufield-Mason and all it offered, no support at all from the would-be parental type units, and a record, thanks to various issues, that left her record a giant red mark.  Aside from continuing to work at the library, junior (insufficient) wages or no, her options had been incarceration, institutionalization, or work camp.

Choosing to continue at the library had seemed the obvious choice, even before the new administrators of the library had offered her a generous raise in pay, the Secondary Librarian Suite to live in, and an honorary Librarian title.  She hadn’t realized exactly how comprehensive the job would be, and “considering her options, she hadn’t spent too long squinting at the Outlander fine print – although she might now.

“See?”  He pointed enthusiastically at the page. “Right there under Resources, like I said! That’s you. You’re in the catalog.  That means I can check you out.”

Monica looked at the screen.  She looked back at the man at the counter.  She looked back at the screen. She looked back one more time at the man at the counter.

He was good-looking enough, in a puppy-dog, sweet sort of way.  He was clean, he didn’t smell bad, and, if her recollection served – and when it came to the library, it always did – he returned his books on time.

She still didn’t want him to check her out.

“Ah!”  It was her turn to point at the screen.  “See, I’m afraid that I’m in the Reference section.  I’m Rare, after all.” She smiled at him, triumphant but not wanting to be mean.  “You can’t take me out of the library.”

“Ah, that means I can only, what’s the phrase, enjoy and peruse you within the library.”

“With the permission of a librarian.”  She pointed up at the sign on the wall that said just that.

“Oh.’  He deflated.  “I suppose that means that I need your permission.  And I suppose you’ll deny it.”

“Well.”  She found herself smiling. “I’m cataloged as Very Rare, but I’m going to make an exception for you.  That means that you can take me to the in-house cafe – don’t you dare try that with an actual Rare book – but you need to treat me with extreme care, and you have to be sure not to get any spots, fingerprints, or grease stains on me.”

He perked up.  “All right.  I can agree to those terms, miss.  When will you be available?”

She glanced at the clock and put up her Helping a Patron.  Will Return Soon sign.  “How about now?”

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