Neo jumped up, rushed to the door, and stabbed the wall plate granting permission for entrance. It slid open, and Neo’s breath caught. Low lighting from the hallway illuminated auburn hair threaded through with gray now and soft, big blue eyes bracketed by crow’s feet.
“Dad!” Relief flooded Neo. “Oh gods, Dad!”
John wrapped his arms around Neo’s waist and hugged him. “My….” John’s voice broke. “My young.”
John hugged him as hard as he could, making Neo grunt. He closed his eyes, and they started that stupid burning thing again, and dammit, he was about to lose it there in front of the guards.
“Neo?” John rubbed his palms up and down Neo’s back. “I’m sorry. I wanted to be here sooner, but I also wanted to find—”
“Your dad’s turning red in the face, my friend. You, ah, might want to loosen your grip a bit.”
“Laken!” Neo gasped, opening his eyes. Giving his dad one last hug, he let go and reached for Laken. “How did I miss you standing there?” He demanded, pulling Laken into his embrace.
“I honestly have no idea. It’s not like you can’t hear when I’m around.” Laken smirked, the bells chiming sweetly in his hair as Neo lifted Laken off his feet.
“I am so glad to see you. So damn glad.” Neo lowered Laken back to his feet. Neo’s heart yearned for Hamza, but if his mate couldn’t be here, then Laken was the next best thing. He truly was Neo’s best friend.