Don’t cry. Stefan told himself for what felt like the thousandth time. Don’t make this harder for them. He watched as his family spoke softly to one another, smiling slightly from time to time, or letting out a half-hearted burst of laughter.
I’m gonna miss them so damn much. He thought sadly.
Stefan shuffled his feet slightly as the conversation fell into yet another lull. His family had been lingering by the security gate with him for the past several minutes, forcing small talk as they fought to prolong the inevitable.
He bit his lip as he glanced up at the clock on the wall behind him. This is really it… Stefan suddenly felt like he was going to be sick. He couldn’t be quite sure if it was from nerves or excitement. Maybe both.
“Guys…” He said softly. “I’ve really gotta go.”
“No!” Clara was the first to speak. “Stefan, no. Don’t go.” The little girl begged her older brother. “Stay. You have to.”
Stefan crouched down to face her. “You know I can’t.” He said gently. “But guess what? You guys are gonna come visit me in just a couple months. Won’t that be cool?”
She shook her head slowly. “I don’t wanna visit. I just want you to stay here.” Clara whined.
A soft sigh escaped Stefan’s lips. “I know you do.” His heart sank. “But you won’t even have time to miss me. We’ll visit, write letters… and talk on the phone all the time.”
Jocelyne stepped forward hopefully toward her uncle. “Every day?” She asked softly.
“Sure.” He laughed. “Come here, munchkin.” Stefan gave his niece a kiss on her cheek. “I’m gonna miss you so much.”
“Me too.” The little girl sniffled softly.
Lucas walked forward, a small pout on his lips as his uncle pulled him into a hug.
“Don’t forget to drive your Papa extra crazy for me when I’m gone, okay?” Stefan whispered in Lucas’ ear before pulling away from him.
“I will.” The little boy promised. “Don’t worry.”
“Be safe, Stefan.” Colette stepped forward as the tearful trio of children scurried away. “We love you.”
Stefan kissed his sister-in-law’s cheek. “Thanks. I love you too.”
“You’ll call us as soon as you land, right?” Jade asked her grandson softly.
“Of course, vovó.” Stefan forced a smile. With each farewell, he felt his heart breaking more and more.
Alex moved toward him, clapping his grandson gently on the shoulder. “I’m so proud of you, Stefan. We’ll talk to you soon.” He smiled.
Stefan nodded. “Thanks, grandpa.” His voice was barely above a whisper.
“Good Luck, Stefan. Go kick some ass over there.” Jonas beamed, giving his stepson a wink. “Er… butt, I mean.” He corrected himself, glancing sideways at the children.
Stefan laughed heartily. “Will do. Thanks, Jonas.” He hesitated just for a moment. “I love you.”
He felt the hot sting of tears in his eyes as he pulled away. And looking at his mother’s face did nothing to help.
“Oh, Mama.” He smiled warmly at her through his tears. “Come here.”
Mari clung tightly to her son and buried her face in his shoulder, weeping softly. “I’m so proud… You know that, right?” She choked out through her tears. “And I love you so much.”
“I love you too, Mama.” Stefan felt a few stray tears creep down his cheeks. “I’ll be back to visit before you know it. Okay?”
At last, she pulled away from him, nodding as she wiped away her tears with the back of her hand.
And that just leaves…
Stefan opened his mouth to speak… But no words would come. What could he possibly say? How could he find the words to say goodbye to his brother? His twin? His best friend in the entire world?
In the end, Stefan didn’t have to say a single word.
And neither did his brother.
Stefan took a deep, shuddering breath as he wiped away the last of his tears. It was now or never. No going back now. “I love you guys.” He said softly. “I’ll talk to you soon, okay?”
Stefan gave his family one final wave before turning away. And as he walked away through security and toward his gate, Stefan did not look back, not even once. No matter how much he wanted to.
I can’t look back. He told himself firmly. Not anymore.
The only way now was straight ahead.
As much as it still hurt to think of all he was leaving behind him, Stefan felt a rush of excitement as he thought of all that lay ahead of him… A new job. A new home. A new life.
And Stefan couldn’t wait to see what it would bring.
Author’s Note: And that’s a wrap! Generation Three has come to a close!
I feel so many mixed emotions right now, but mostly I’m just EXCITED!
I would like to take this time to clarify/officially announce that Tobi is indeed the heir of this legacy, and Jocelyne will be taking over as our Gen 4 heiress in the next chapter!