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Season 5

Episode 23

(The meeting of two(2)

"Well? Here I am. SO just spit out what you wanted to talk about." Jackson wasn't ready to listen, even if he had implied to Stephen he was.

"It is difficult to sit here together like this, and just chat, isn't it." said Stephen. He tried recalling if they ever had, and he could only conjure up vague memories. But, he didn't think they had ever chatted like this before.

"What the hell is it you want to say?" Jackson's patience was already being sorely tested.

Stephen stared out of the window as he thought, and said lightly, "Do you think, if things hadn't happened the way they did, all those years ago, that we could have carried on a comfortable conversation with each other?"

"Stephen!" Jackson snapped in a warning tone. He was becoming more puzzled by the minute. He couldn't understand what Stephen wanted to talk about.

"Actually, you know, I never blamed you. Even though the events that year nearly destroyed me, I didn't blame you," Stephen said bluntly while he watched the scenery outside the window.

"Because, I always knew my parents deserved what they got. No one was to blame for it."

Jackson's agitation lessened, and he calmed down as he listened to Stephen's confession. A deafening silence fell on the private room.

Stephen turned his head slowly and looked at Jackson.

"I was jealous of you. You lived such a comfortable life while I had to scrape and work hard just to eke out a living. No matter what I wanted, I needed work so much harder," explained Stephen, in a tone that bespoke of depression.

Stephen had never gotten the opportunity to tell Jackson how he really felt; he did now, though, it might be his last chance.

"That year....I didn't put much thought into things. All I wanted to do was save Sally's life. It was the only goal I had," said Jackson, his voice was soft and low as he recalled the distant events so vividly. He knew, no matter how long he lived, he would never forget the details.

"So, you didn't consider what would happen to me at all. In order to save Sally, you'd let me become an orphan," said Stephen flatly.

Jackson looked into Stephen's eyes and felt a pain gripping his heart. He had to admit he was too impulsive that year. He hadn't thought of about the An Family's plight until Sally was safe. When Jackson went back to find Stephen, he'd left the city with some relatives.

"Stephen? What do you want from me? An apology?" asked a slight vexed Jackson. He hadn't apologized to anyone in his life, except his closest loved ones, like Cherry.

"I never expected you to," Stephen said, "If you do want to say sorry to anyone, say it to Mond."

Jackson didn't know what to say to Stephen.

Stephen took some documents from his briefcase and laid them out on the table.
"These are what you wanted. Now, they are yours. Today onward, the head of the entertainment industry for the city will be you, instead of me," said Stephen in a serious manner.

Jackson looked at the documents laying on the table as he informed Stephen, "Derek will transfer the money to your bank account, soon."

"He doesn't need to," Stephen told him, "I'm not lacking for money in any way. Even though I transferred these to you; money is the least of my concerns. It's easy for me to live a carefree life."

"Why are you handing all this over to me?" Jackson was thoroughly confused now. He thought Derek would require time and effort to convince Stephen to give up his enterprise.He found it surprising Stephen agreed so quickly.

More intriguing was Stephen's insistence in delivering them to Jackson in person.

"Do you want to know why?" asked Stephen.

"Yes, spill it!" Jackson replied rudely.

"It's because of Cherry," Stephen said each word slowly but clearly while staring into Jackson's eyes.

Jackson's eyes widened, and he could not believe what he was hearing.

Stephen saw the puzzled look in Jackson's eyes, so he continued, "It was Cherry who changed my mind."

Jackson gazed at Stephen. He knew Stephen had a relationship with Cherry. If not, Stephen wouldn't have helped her run away five years ago, knowing Jackson would make him pay the price for it.

"Jackson, I have to say, you are luckier than I ever was. She is your woman, and so unique and special that she changed many ideas I had," said Stephen.

"Including the hatred that's between us?" Jackson asked stunned. He would never have believed Stephen would set aside their feud due to Cherry.

"Yes! You are the man she loves above all, and she can't live without you, so, how could I hurt you? If I did harmed you, she would be sad. I don't want her to be sad, ever. I only want happiness for her," Stephen smiled lightly as he revealed the truth from the depths of his heart to Jackson.

"You befriended her at first though as part of your revenge on me, didn't you?"

Jackson prodded further while he wondered, 'In the very beginning, I thought Stephen wanted to take advantage of Cherry as part of his revenge on me, so I did my best to keep Cherry away from him. I was afraid Cherry might be hurt, and I was much more afraid Stephen would divulge everything to her. I didn't want Cherry involved in any of it, and I didn't want her to know any of it.'

"No!" Stephen said sternly, "At first, I did try to get closer to her, because I wanted revenge on you, but I never told her anything that happened. On the one hand, I was afraid of your reprisal, on the other hand, I thought it best for you to tell her yourself."

Stephen's voice echoed through the room, "But what happened after that was out of my control. Gradually, I discovered what a special woman she is. She's so innocent, sweet and nice. I found myself attracted to her. All my ideas and plans were shaken, and I started to appreciate her unique qualities. I wanted to be her friend, and found myself wanting to protect her from evils in the world."

Jackson listened quietly to Stephen without interrupting.

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