Part Two Nick punched his fork into a pile of lettuce, bringing the leafy vegetable into his mouth as the teen enjoyed a lunch silently in the staff lounge. Today, it was tuna mixed in with his salad. It was weird. Nick was never a big fan of seafood. When he was younger, he hated all fish with a passion but nowadays he seemed to start enjoying it. He didn’t question it much, it was just a weird thought that popped into his head. After a while, Nick found a familiar face among the crowd, and raised an eyebrow at what he saw. Getting up, Nick went over to the man and sat down slowly. “Hey… Mark. You look… down.” The scientist/engineer looked up from his sandwich and his face turned to an instant frown. “Mr. Cauthon… Now… Is not the time to be bothering me.” “I’m not… bothering, just want to know what has you looking so… Down?” The younger engineer asked, pushing up his glasses. “Because you look really, really… Well… Down.” Mark narrowed his eyes. “My personal business is none of your business.” “Why’s that?” The teen asked with a raised eyebrow. “Because it is my business and I would prefer to be alone.” The Exalt explained slowly with a hint of annoyance to his tone, looking down while pretending the boy in front of him did not exist. Nick stayed silent for a long while, seeming to just mind his own business until he spoke up again. “You should talk about it.” “What?” Mark asked, looking up again, this time clearly showing his annoyance. “Whatever is going on with you… you should talk.” Nick pushed, trying to get through to the older man. “If I wish to talk to you, I will do so, but these are matters I would best keep between myself and my sister, now if you excuse me, please.” The scientist said, trying to remain pleasant. “Are you sure?” Nick asked. Mark threw his sandwich onto his plate and he readjusted himself in his seat, sitting straight. “In the name of common human sense, why can you not take the hint to just leave me alone!?” Nick shrugged his shoulders. “I’ve been told I am tenacious.” “Good for you…” Mark stated sarcastically, rolling his eyes, though Cauthon still was not getting the hint. “...now go away.” “Are you sure?” Nick asked. Mark threw up his hands. “For all things decent and holy, yes… Mr. Cauthon I am quite sure! What will it take to get you to just… Leave!?” “Tell me what is wrong.” Nick spoke plainly. “Is that what you want? Is that really what you want?” When the teen nodded his head the Exalt grumbled. “Fine, I will tell you. My girlfriend recently broke up with me and I am heartbroken, are you happy?” Nick shook his head. “No, of course not. What… happened between you?” Mark shook his head, not from the question or from annoyance but because he didn’t know himself. “I thought things were fine, but after a while we were seeing less and less of one another, one thing led to another and we both thought it better to preserve what friendship we had by ending the relationship. Figures that the first woman I truly open my heart up to, the one I thought was right, is not the one.” Nick nodded his head, looking down as he played with his hands. “I… Actually do know what you mean. I have… A similar situation.” Mark sat back, looking down at his sandwich as he leaned forward and grabbed it, taking a huge bite. “Go on…” Mark told the engineer with a full mouth. “Well… There is this doctor. Her name is Irina Beaumont. I… I thought I loved her and… no, that isn’t right. I did love her, just… not as seriously as I first thought. I told my feelings to her, and she said she would give it thought as she might have had the same. But another girl… Alice, I… She is the one who stole my heart in the end, not Irina. I still want me and her to be close friends… I am so grateful to her. Without her to show me what a crush was like, I may have never have found out my true feelings for Alice. Not to mention the countless times she had been there for me… I could never just walk away from her. I see her as a dear friend now, but I feel conflicted a bit…” Nick spoke, pushing over a glob of tuna with his fork. Mark took in the story, the name Irina ringing a bell. “I’ve actually heard of her. Not just from how well liked she is among the medical staff, but she was taught by my aunt, Lily. I think I only ever met her once, and it must have been only for a brief minute while I was visiting my dearest aunt. Vee and Emma were awesome too, but Lily was always the best with me despite having no kids of her own. I guess me and Vinny sort of were like her kids in a way. Anyways… I am sure Irina will understand, if not be understandably mad at first. But I speak from experience when I say… It is better to find these things out early.” Nick nodded his head, continuing to look down. “Should I feel guilty though?” Mark rubbed his chin in thought. “A bit at first, but if you end up with someone you truly love, does it matter?” Mark thought about what he said. “Well… Of course it matters, but… well, you get the point. Be sure to let Irina know how grateful you are, and how much of an impact she had on you. I am sure she will appreciate the honesty.” Nick thought on the words, and after a bit nodded in agreement. “You’re right…” “Of course I’m right. Now leave me alone, I am trying to enjoy my lunch break.” Mark told Nick irritably. Nick nodded his head and stood up with his food, going to walk away but suddenly he stopped. “You know… you aren’t so bad Mark. You should try talking to people more. You are surprisingly good at it.” For some reason, Mark smiled and he nodded his head. “I will take it under consideration. Now go away before I really get annoyed.” Nick chuckled and walked away, trying to formulate the best way to say ‘Thank you’ and ‘I'm sorry’ and not make a fool of himself. Mark found his smile persisted as he sat back, biting into his sandwich again as he let his mind wander a bit, thinking out loud. “Maybe I will pay Ms. Beaumont a visit. It would be amusing to see if she actually remembers who I am… and I must say… Cauthon has peaked my interest in meeting this well known doctor. Wonder if she picked up any of Aunt Lily’s tendencies. Now that would be interesting.” Mark continued with his lunch, seeming to be uplifted from his downed mood.