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Arrival

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On his first day at the office, Mac didn't do much of anything. He spent an hour or so exploring his pre-installed software, then another few minutes looking around the office. Everyone else was busy working, it seemed, except the peripherals, most of whom were sleeping. The printer that shared his desk woke up briefly after lunch, just long enough to snarl and spit out a colourful pie chart, then went back to sleep without so much as a hello.

He'd talk with PC, but it didn't seem like his new partner would welcome the interruption. He was working on some apparently random series of letters and numbers, highlighting and deleting whole lines, then inserting new gibberish until the section he was working on met some unknown criteria, and moving on to the next.

It looked boring as hell, and Mac desperately wanted to help.

He wouldn't normally choose math (coding? chemistry?) as a way to pass the time, but he was the new guy here, and he wanted to make a good impression.

Somehow he got the feeling he'd already messed that up.

PC hadn't said a word to him other than to introduce himself since Mac had arrived. Something about him just seemed to rub the other computer the wrong way. He wished he knew what he'd done to put PC off, then maybe he could fix it, but asking him, "Why don't you like me?" was too pathetic to contemplate.

Instead, he idly started a game of solitaire. Every few games, he'd look over to see what PC was up to, but he didn't seem to even take a break, scrolling through page after page of code (equations? compositions?) with single-minded ferocity. Occasionally, he'd mutter to himself, scroll back up a page or two, fix something else, then continue on. After a while, it became kind of mesmerizing, and he let himself space out a bit, his gaze blurring as the lines rolled on and on and-

"What? What are you looking at? What?" PC snapped, his tone defensive.

Startled, and embarrassed that he'd been caught staring, Mac shook his head. "Nothing. Just seeing what you were doing. Looks... interesting." Mac winced at the lie.

"Yes, well," PC narrowed his eyes. "Some of us have work to do. Perhaps you're familiar with the concept. It's that thing you're supposed to be doing when you're playing card games."

Mac sighed. So much for a good impression.

"I don't have anything to do. No one's given me anything to work on. I'm dying of boredom, here!" He tried not to whine, he really did, but it was unfair to be called a slacker for not doing his work when he didn't have any work to begin with.

"Well, if you're so bored, why don't you help me compile these permutations? It's not as much fun as stacking cards on top of each other for hours on end, but if your boredom is so lethal-"

"I can't!" he snapped. "I don't have the files, and I'm not even connected to the network yet!"

"Oh," PC said, his anger deflating as quickly as Mac's had arisen. "I- oh. Sorry." He fidgeted awkwardly for a moment, not meeting Mac's eyes, then went back to his permutations, working noticeably slower than before.

Mac slouched unhappily on the desk. Great. The longest conversation he'd had with the other computer, and it had apparently ended with them no longer able to look at each other. He closed his game of solitaire mid-move. Cards suddenly didn't appeal to him.

He went back to scanning what he could see of his corner of the office. Not much to look at, aesthetically speaking. A black leather desk chair that looked like it had seen better days, a month-late calendar with an anonymous beach scene tacked to the wall, the expected piles of paper and CDs, a collection of pencils and pens in a red coffee mug, and a paper shredder that needed emptying. Above the shredder, on the desk, Printer slept on, apparently undisturbed by the brief argument.

A leafy green plant sat above them on a shelf, one long tendril hanging down to coil just above PC's monitor. He was about to look away, when he noticed that PC had minimized his work window to half-size. The permutations continued - highlight and delete, insert and scroll on - but the other half of his desktop contained... a game of chess?

A beautifully rendered 3D chessboard, complete with pieces that looked carved from mahogany and marble, sat patiently. One move had been taken already, but no more, as if the player were waiting for his opponent to counter. The little white pawn sat alone in the middle of the bare field, a tentative unspoken apology.

PC still wasn't meeting his eyes, but Mac could hear his fan nervously whirring in double-time. Mac grinned.

"You're not such a bad guy, PC."

PC rolled his eyes and deleted another line of code, but Mac heard his fan kick up another notch.

His smile softened. "Pawn to king four."

Mac didn't get any work done his first day, and PC probably got less done than he normally would, but Mac thought it had been a pretty good day, as far as first days went.