Chapter 3.12 – Respect

Claire is awake early to check on Mark after a very restless night’s sleep.
 
Deirdre should have realized that inviting both Melissa and Charlotte to come with their dates was going to cause problems; she can be so dense about these things. But what really kept her awake was the fact that she also didn’t notice Mark’s discomfort, until the damage was done. He had been talking to Aunt Yuki, when the next thing she realized he was gone and wasn’t answering his phone. After the party, Deirdre seemed not to care one way or another where Mark had gone, only that it was making her twin sister sick with worry. When their father finally called to let everybody know he had found Mark, Deirdre convinced her to go to bed.
 
She checks quietly in on him a number of times as he sleeps late into the morning. But when she can no longer contain her impatience, she wakes him up. He doesn’t seem as intimidating to her for some reason. She sees the same Mark she remembers when they were all little kids. At first, she scolds him for leaving the party without telling anybody, then tells him how worried she was; continues with saying how sorry she is for ignoring him at the party, then begs for his forgiveness for being so insensitive.
 
Mark scratches his head as he tries to wake up. Claire had always been over-emotional about stuff, but this really seems to bother her. He comforts her with a quick hug and tells her there is nothing to apologize about. He tells her he just wanted to get some fresh air and ended up staying out too late. He admits to her that seeing both Melissa and Charlotte with other boys did bother him some, but it was nothing he was going to go crazy about. Claire resists telling him that it is mostly his doing, and that he could have either of them back with minimal of effort on his part. It is something he’ll just have to figure out on his own.
 
Deirdre’s growing indifference toward Mark has been a problem for Claire as she attempts to “reunite” them as a trio. Claire loves her sister dearly, but there are times when her monotone personality really irritates her. Claire reminds Deirdre that Mark doesn’t have a twin to always lean on for support. The comment evidently works its way through Deirdre’s emotional defenses, because over the next few days, the three of them enjoy time together the way they had as kids.
 
As the week of the sightseeing trip to China approaches, David arranges for Ciara, Jacob, and the babies to stay with Joe and Yuki. He has hired contractors to completely renovate the house. It had become too small for all six kids; and the money is available for him to begin building a home comparable to his neighbors. Ciara is excited and nervous about half of her family leaving overseas. She had not been away from David for more than a day since she returned from Africa. But the excitement shown by her older children helps her see it differently.
 
When the day of the trip finally arrives, the teens are ecstatic with anticipation. Mark is happy just to go anywhere away from Sunset Valley for a while. Even Deirdre has let down her usually unflappable persona and is just plain giddy. But by the time the sixteen hour flight is over, every nerve is frayed and the kids are wound up tighter than springs.
 
David wastes no time in taking care of business first. So after checking in at the base camp, they make their first stop of the trip to one of the local landmarks. He says nothing as they enter, but watches Mark’s expression carefully to see if his intuition was correct. Deirdre and Claire make the connection immediately and understand why this is the first stop. An older, local man approaches and greets David as Dr. Barimen, and regards the blushing girls as his lovely daughters.
 
Then he casts his measuring and critical gaze over Mark, commenting that David has delivered quite a project for him to work on. Mark becomes defensive and asks his father what is going on. But the asian man lifts a finger, signaling David not to respond. Instead, he speaks directly to Mark that the first lesson to be taught will be “respect”. With that, he bows toward David and the girls, and tells them that he will see them again in five days.
 
Mark’s face is a mask of disbelief as his father hugs him goodbye, and his sisters hesitantly follow their father’s lead. Claire seems reluctant to let go as David gently pulls her away and leaves the martial arts academy with her in tow behind him.
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