The front door opened, revealing a smiling Daryl Banks. "Awesome!" he exclaimed, holding his hand out to Blair. "You guys made it."
Blair pulled the younger man into an embrace, then pushed him towards Jim's waiting arms. "Hey, you wanted us a day early, so here we are."
"How was the flight?" Daryl mumbled into Jim's shoulder.
"Eh, flying never gets any easier." Jim pulled back. "Hey, are you still growing?"
Daryl laughed. "Just my waistline." He led them to the kitchen, where they accepted beers, then moved to the living room.
"So," said Blair, "your Dad's party isn't until tomorrow. What's going on today?"
"We're having a private celebration. Since I have you two to thank for getting him to retire early, I wanted you to be part of it."
"We only did what any friends would do," Jim said easily.
"Right," Daryl scoffed. "You only helped him set up an investment account years ago, showing him the best way to plan for the future; checking to make sure he stayed on track. And last year you convinced him to get a life outside of work."
He turned to Blair. "You kept after him about his health. Getting him to eat right and quit cigars. Including him in your hiking trips, even though I know he slowed you down--"
"Not so much," Blair protested.
"Yes, so much. Your friendship helped us both when I left for Duke and then law school. Keeping that connection, even after you left the PD and he became Commissioner, meant a lot to Dad."
"Well, good friends aren't easy to come by," Blair conceded with a smile. "We didn't want to lose him."
"Then you gave him that DNA kit last year--that was the best! He spends all his spare time researching our ancestors. Did he tell you he's 57% Burundian?"
Blair laughed. "Are you kidding? I've been scouring the web, trying to find authentic headgear to buy him for Christmas."
"Well, wait 'til you see what we got him. I think it's gonna blow Dad away."
Jim looked around. "Hey, where are Tish and the kids?"
"The twins are at Music Camp. Tish took Dad to lunch. They should be here soon."
On cue, Tisha and Simon walked in, to exclamations of surprise and hugs all around. "What's going on here, Son?" Simon asked.
"Blair and Jim flew in for your party, but I wanted them here when we gave you our present, 'cause they're family, too."
Tisha handed Simon a large envelope, then stepped back into Daryl's arms.
Simon pulled out a colorful brochure and read aloud:
"Dusangi Station Plantation
Our Arabica beans are wet-processed for a delicate, clean taste. Fruity, with
subtle hints of honey and baking spice at City Roast.…
…We're proud to be Fair Trade certified, ensuring our product
supports our workers and the environment."
He looked up. "I don't understand. I don't drink coffee anymore."
Daryl grinned. "I know, Dad. You don't have to drink coffee to grow it." Simon's eyes widened. "Yeah, we own the plantation or, at least, a share of it. You see," he hurriedly pointed to the brochure, "it's in Burundi. The majority owners are members of your tribe. I thought we - the whole family - could go visit. Maybe spend some time finding our cousins." At Simon's continued silence, Daryl asked, "Is that okay, Dad? We don't have to--"
Simon pulled him into a long, hard embrace. "I can't think of anything better," Simon said, his voice roughened by tears. "Thank you."
They broke their embrace and Daryl turned to Jim and Blair, who were wearing huge grins. "If you can break away, maybe you could join us?"
They looked at each other. "We'd love to," Jim answered, then reached down to Blair for a kiss.
Tish wiped a tear, reaching out to Daryl for a kiss herself. "Now, who's ready for cake?"