Jared couldn’t believe how quickly the two weeks had gone. It seemed like just yesterday that he and Adrianne had landed and gotten lost in the spaceport. But here they were at this little good-bye shindig that Jensen had set up out on his terrace.
There were tables of food set up around the perimeter, and plenty of chairs and other seating. The girls had strung balloons along the railing. Tiny lights twinkled in the air, although Jared could find no source for them.
Jensen had apparently invited everyone, and Jared had spent the evening chatting with and saying farewell to what seemed like all of Harmony. He finally found a quiet corner where he sipped his tye and watched Adrianne weave flowers in Sammie’s hair.
“Leaving so soon?” Hank came over with his own drink. “I think you still owe me another round of Gravball.”
“I like leaving the score where it is.” Jared laughed. He was up a round on Hank. They’d taken to playing the game frequently, and had become good friends very quickly.
Hank grinned. “We’ll just have to rematch the next time you come visit.”
With Adrianne running for senator, and the kids growing up so fast - Donna was in middle school already - Jared honestly didn’t know when they’d be able to make it back. “Or if you make it back to the UP any time soon.”
“Who knows? It might be time for another tour de Hank and Ian.” Hank winked. “The last one I called ‘Hank and Ian take the galaxy.’”
“You watch too many old school movies, Hank.” Jared shook his head.
Hank laughed. “You might be right. Hey, look at Jason.”
Jason and Colin had just arrived together, which wasn’t so unusual, but what was unexpected was the green armband Jason wore. “What does that mean?” Jared asked as Hank waved them over.
“He’s picked a side.”
“Sorry we’re late, Uncle Jared.” Jason came over with a spring to his step. He touched the armband and smiled.
“All right, you have to tell me what that means.” Jared gestured to his own gray band. “I only know about my own.”
Colin chuckled. “He requested to be trained as a Dom.”
“It’s going to drive everyone nuts.” Jason’s grin widened. “They all thought I was going to be a sub, because of Dad.”
“And now they can’t pigeonhole anyone with green eyes.” Hank saluted Jason with his glass. “Well done, kid.”
At least Jason had a better handle on his school situation now. Jared hoped his nephew would be able to make some friends, or at least feel a little more settled in Harmony. He’d given Jason his comm code and told Jason he’d better damn well keep in touch.
Jensen stood on a table and waved to get everyone’s attention. The noise on the terrace quieted, even with all the kids running around. Everyone turned his way.
“Thank you all for coming to see Jared and Adrianne off,” Jensen said, his voice carrying. “When Jeff and I decided to call Harmony our home, we never expected to see any of our family members again. I can’t tell you how glad I am that we were wrong.”
Jared could see Jensen choking up from here. He strode across the terrace, pulled Jensen down from the table and engulfed him in a bear hug. This might be the last time in a long while that Jared would get to hug his brother. He felt tears sting his own eyes.
“You have to come visit us,” Jared whispered. “You have to.”
Was it just his imagination, or did the lights dim a bit at that? Jared pulled away and shook his head. He swallowed and turned to the crowd. “Thank you all for making me and Adrianne feel so welcome here. I know we got off to a rocky start...but I feel honored to be able to visit this beautiful city.”
“We won’t forget you!” Adrianne added, coming up to hook her arms through his.
“I hope not dear, that’s why I’m sending you a trunkful of toys!” Duchess Claudia called from the crowd. Laughter broke out, and the somber mood was lifted.
Jared and Adrianne said goodbye to everyone, shaking hands and giving hugs as the guests started to leave. Jensen had built himself a little family here and Jared was honored to be included.
“Comm me as soon as you land.” Jensen grabbed Jared for another hug.
“I will.” No matter what happened, or how many light years separated them, Jensen would always be his big brother. Jared would not have it any other way.