Children Will Listen

Nathan Bridger resisted slamming the door to his quarters behind him. This had to have been the most frustrating day in his entire time on the seaQuest. The crew was simply doing routine scans of the area they were in - very boring, yet time-consuming activities that had everyone on edge. The science lab was having difficulties in their experiments, and the vo-coder was on the fritz again. Which is what had led to the source of most of Nathan's frustration.

Teenagers, Nathan thought. Will they never listen? He sighed, shaking his head and walking over to his holo-projector. He flipped the photo-scan open and slid the picture of Carol into it. This simple act sent a pang of remorse through him. Not a day went by when he didn't think about Carol and how much he missed her. But now with this wonderful device, he could feel some sort of contact with her. This wonderful device... installed by the very teenager who seemed not to be on speaking terms with Nathan anymore.

The image of Carol appeared, smiling warmly, invitingly. If only she could talk... Then the image would be complete. "Hey, Kiddo," Nathan said, sitting down in a chair to the side of the projector. He never felt silly talking to this image. It made him feel more at home and at peace than he ever could otherwise. "If you've been paying attention to my ramblings, I'm assuming you know who Lucas is..." He looked to the image for confirmation, but got none. Nevertheless, he continued. "Well, he's not very happy with me right now. I suppose I don't blame him... see, it went like this:"

{{Earlier that Day}}

"Coconut," Darwin chirped happily. Lucas Wolenczak exhaled sharply, and slammed his hand down on the edge of the Moon Pool. No matter how much he worked with the vo-coder, he still couldn't get it working properly. Something always went wrong, and when he went to go fix it, that would cause other things to go wrong. No matter what he did, he couldn't get it right.

"No, Darwin. Please... just cooperate." He had been at this all day and was beginning to get impatient. The dolphin seemed to be teasing him, with that ever-present cetacean smile.

A voice from behind him caused Lucas to nearly jump off the stool he was sitting on. "Why don't you take a break for a little while, Lucas?" Lucas turned his head to see Nathan Bridger standing behind him.

Nathan smiled at the reaction he had provoked from the teen. Whenever Lucas got involved in a project, he engrossed himself entirely in the task and pulling him out was always a struggle. When one did break through the barrier Lucas put up between him and the outside world, Lucas' reaction was always one of surprise, and sometimes fear. Nathan never quite understood that one, but he never pursued it either.

Lucas spun around on the stool so he was facing Nathan. "Nah," he said, running a hand through his blonde hair. "I'm fine - just frustrated." He paused. "Very, very frustrated."

"Well, maybe it might make more sense if you took a break," Nathan suggested. He doubted Lucas would listen to him - he rarely did in matters like this. "We could get dinner if you want. I hear it's meatloaf night."

Lucas rolled his eyes, his mouth set in a smirk. "Right," he said sarcastically. "Meat. Loaf. Loaf of meat-product. Does that sound appealing to _you_?" A grimace. "It's my most hated of all loafs."

Nathan had to admit, the teen had a point. O'Reilly's meatloaf had a reputation to rival Krieg's, and it was not an unusual occurance to find the mess hall virtually empty on the days meatloaf was served. "Fine," Nathan said. "But take a break, okay? You're going to exhaust yourself."

Lucas scowled. "Who are you, my mother?" He stopped short and thought for a moment. "No, of course not. My mother would never tell me that." His tone held a note of bitter anger in it that Nathan had never heard the teen use before.

And _that_ meant there was something more going on than a simple disagreement with the vo-coder. "What's bringing this on?" Nathan asked, sounding a little surprised.

Lucas crossed his arms over his chest. "Nothing," he replied sullenly. "Why is it that every time I mention my parents everyone thinks it's like some big deal or something. Well it isn't, okay." Nathan could tell that something had to have happened between Lucas and his parents recently to make him this defensive. However, Nathan had a feeling Lucas wasn't quite willing to talk about it - big surprise.

"Lucas, we're just... concerned. What happened?" Even as he said it, he knew it was a mistake. The Moon Pool was too public a place for him to talk to Lucas, and Lucas knew it. Then, of course, being Lucas, he took it as a sign that Nathan didn't care enough to take it someplace private.

Lucas sighed, exasperated. "_Nothing_," he insisted. "God, why do you keep harping on it? _Nothing_ happened, end of story." He turned his back to Nathan and began poking at the vo-coder, trying very hard to make it look like what he was doing was of the utmost importance.

"Lucas, listen to me. Whatever happened, you can talk to me about it," Nathan offered, having a feeling Lucas was no longer paying attention.

"Just leave me alone," Lucas replied sharply. He remained sitting rigidly on his stool, arms crossed over his chest. When Nathan made no move to get up and leave, Lucas stood up quickly and spun around. "Fine, if you're not going to leave, I am." And with that, he stalked out of Sea Deck, leaving a very shocked and a bit disturbed Nathan behind.

{{Present Time}}

"And that was this evening. I tried talking to him, but he shut me out. I don't know what's wrong." Nathan sighed again and spun around in his chair. "You were always better with Robert than I was..."

There came a knock on the hatch, a small, metallic clanging. Nathan stood up, not bothering to turn the hologram off, and opened the door. To his surprise, there was no-on there, and no-one walking down the corridors. He looked on the floor, and there lay a crumpled envelope and a vid-disk. He picked them up and walked back into the room.

Nathan sat back down in his chair and opened the envelope, taking out the contents. Captain, the paper read, in Lucas' unmistakable handwriting.

Look, I'm really sorry about how much of a jerk I was today. It's just that... okay, look, I tried to call my mother... but we all know how that turned out. Anyways... you know how you said you liked classic movies? Well, here's a copy of _Some Like it Hot_ - but don't ask where I got it. I don't think you'd like the answer. And if you happen to stop by my room while I'm in there, I wouldn't mind.

Nathan folded the letter and put it beside the vid-disk on his desk. He turned to Carol and smiled. "Hey, I guess they _do_ listen," he said. Carol simply smiled her knowing smile, and said nothing.

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