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(As close as brothers (3)

Amy wanted to know, "So then, where is Joe?"

Lily replied, "Joe is in his room, doing homework. You can head upstairs, Amy."
Amy nodded, "Okay, I'll get Joe for his lesson."

Derek commented, "You go ahead, I'm going wait for Jackson in the living room. He might be downstairs in a minute." Then he made himself comfortable on the couch. He knew Jackson better than anyone, and since Cherry wasn't home, Jackson wouldn't stay in the bedroom alone for too long.

As soon as Jackson knew Derek was there, he would certainly come down.

Amy headed up the stairs in search of Joe.

Not too long afterwards, Jackson came downstairs.

Derek smiled when he saw Jackson and said, "Finally, you make an appearance. Cherry isn't home, so I don't know why you're up there."

"I didn't know you were here. I was taking a bath. After my bath, I like to come downstairs immediately."

Derek chuckled, "Ha, ha. Since, Cherry isn't home, do you plan on going to bed early too? Joe's piano lesson hasn't even ended yet."

Jackson raised his brow and asked, "Derek, why are you picking on me? Is there something wrong with you today?"

Although Derek seemed to be a good mood, Jackson felt his behavior was bit odd today.

The two sat next to each other on the couch, but, Jackson's mood seemed more serious than Derek's.

Looking at the scowl on Jackson's face, Derek thought it best to not joke with Jackson any further, or Jackson would certainly get angry.

So instead, Derek said, "Dude, you have everything now. Can you please pay attention to what's happening in my life?"

Puzzled, Jackson stared at Derek with no idea what he was talking about.

So he asked, "What do you mean?"

Derek's smile faded and disappointedly he asked, "Don't you understand?" To himself, Derek wondered, 'Jackson is usually so observant and much more thoughtful than I am. How is it at such a critical moment, he becomes stupid and mindless?'

It took Jackson a moment more before he thought of Amy and realized she was always with Derek lately.

"Wait? Are you talking about her?" Jackson asked, as he pointed upstairs to indicate he was referring to Amy.

Derek's face lit up, and he was happy Jackson finally understood, "Buddy, you are smart!"

So Jackson asked him outright, "Have you gotten a marriage license?" If there was no marriage license yet, then it was useless to say anything more. Jackson remembered Cherry and he had married first, and then fallen in love with each other over time.

Derek was like a giddy boy, "Not yet. But, we'll be married soon. Cherry already knows, and I just wanted to be able to tell you before she did."

There was a note of surprise in Jackson's voice, "Cherry knows? Then why didn't she say anything this afternoon?" He had spent the whole afternoon with Cherry, but she hadn't mentioned it all.

Now it was Derek's turn to be surprised and question Jackson, "Wait? You saw Cherry today?" Derek inched closer to Jackson and gave him a serious look as he prepared to grill him, "So? Tell me, what's up with her?"

Jackson shrugged nonchalantly, "Nothing much. She wants to stay at Mond's villa for several more days, and I don't want to force her to come home because she's been unhappy lately. So, I thought it might be better for her to remain there. Besides, her sister, Jean, is there, so they can spend some time together, and Jean can take care of Cherry. I'm relieved Cherry is spending time there."

The response Jackson gave led Derek to more questions, "Then, why'd she come home this afternoon?"

Jackson responded, "I don't know. Maybe, she's homesick? When I got home, I found her sitting on the floor staring blankly out of the window, and she had been for quite a long time. She has been upset recently, and she looks very weak, which makes me sad," typically, these weren't things he would discuss, but Jackson knew he could share his innermost feelings with Derek.
Derek understood Jackson's feelings, and now, listening to him talk about Cherry, Derek thought maybe Cherry wasn't doing so well at the moment.

After mulling things over a minute, Derek said, "Well, since she's safe at Mond's place, you should give her a few days. We'll get her back here, soon. She must miss Joe very much. Also, if you have any problems with Cherry, you should compromise. You've married so many years, so you should know how to be a good husband," Derek rambled out point after point, without clarifying, he believed Jackson knew all this anyway, and could handle the situation.

Derek only hoped no other problems cropped up unexpectedly. Before long, Selina and Wilson would hold their wedding and Derek wanted to wed Amy after Selina was married. With everyone so busy, anything unpleasant happening would divert attention, and ruin the happy memories in the making.

Jackson nodded in agreement, "Yes, I know. I'll just let her remain at Mond's for a few more days."

A thought struck Derek suddenly, "Jackson, Mond hasn't caused any problems for you recently. Do you think he gave up and that maybe, he doesn't hate you anymore? Or do you think he it's because Cherry is at his place?"

Jackson asked, "Derek, if I quit playing his game, do you think it is fun for Mond to keep playing, alone?" He thought Derek should understand this.

Derek said firmly, "He'd certainly get bored. Actually, I really hope you and Mond can get along. If he were friends with you, then me, Cherry and even Selina would willingly accept Mond. He suffered a lot in the past, but now, we could work together and help each other.

Wouldn't that be good? I know we'd all be a lot happier and Mond might be too."

Jackson agreed, "Yes, Mond is like a child who lacks the sense of security. In our family, we don't talk about the past things, and Mond, particularly, was a taboo to be brought up here until Grandpa's death. But, we have to face these problems sooner or later. We can't avoid them completely. Since Mond is here, I think it's better for us to talk. I only want us to get along."

"Those are my wishes as well, and if possible, I hope that all of us can be buddies again."


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