On Barry's last lazy Sunday before he was set to start rehearsals for his next show, his day began in a way it so rarely ever did—with a ringing doorbell.
He hadn't had a chance to get showered or make coffee or even get out of bed properly before the bell rang and interrupted his solitude. He shrugged into his dressing gown and tied the belt in a neat bow before he made his way downstairs to open the front door. He only hoped his hair looked presentable enough.
Barry wasn't expecting anyone, especially so early in the morning. The most logical explanation was a delivery, but he didn't remember ordering anything either, certainly nothing that would be due to show up that day. (He wasn't sure he'd ever get used to Sunday deliveries, but they were a thing now, he reminded himself.)
Oh, well. Maybe it would be the cute mail man who always wore his uniform one size too small.
Leaning over, Barry took a peek through the peephole, but instead of the beefcake postal worker, he found none other than Emma Nolan on the other side, laden with her guitar case in one hand and an overstuffed backpack slung over her shoulders.
She peered up at his building with a pinched looking frown, worry clearly increasing on her face every second that ticked by without an answer. Just as she reached out to ring the bell again, Barry shook off his initial surprise and pulled open the door.
"Barry, thank god." Emma breathed out a sigh of relief and at least half of the nervous tension left her body with it. "I'm sorry, I know it's early. I should have called first."
"It's all right." He glanced past her into the street with his brow furrowed. There was no sign of her truck in either direction. "How'd you get here?"
"Last minute Greyhound," she said. "Alyssa wanted to come, too, but she couldn't get off work."
Barry raised his eyebrows expectantly, hoping Emma would offer more of an explanation for why she was suddenly on his front stoop in New York City, but he had no such luck. Rather than putting him out of his confused misery, she just stood there with an expectant look on her face to match his own. Reluctantly, he prompted, "Can I ask why?"
"Why she couldn't get off work? It was too short notice—"
"No, no… I, uh… I haven't forgotten about us planning a visit, have I?"
"Oh, right! Yeah, no, you didn't." She chuckled, awkward and sheepish. "It's Father's Day."
"So it is," he said. Still, Emma didn't elaborate and Barry was starting to feel like he must be losing his mind. "I'm sorry, I think I'm still missing something."
"Damn, I was hoping you'd be able to read between the lines and I wouldn't have to explain," Emma said, quickly and quietly enough that Barry wasn't entirely sure he was supposed to be able to hear it. She took a deep breath and let it out all at once.
"OK, so… I know you're not my dad. And we haven't even really known each other very long when you come down to it, but… I figured this would be the first chance I've had in a couple years to spend Father's Day with a guy who, you know. Actually cares about me. So… here I am!" she said, spreading her arms out wide as if to present herself to him. "Besides, I thought sending a card would be weird."
Barry let out a breath of a laugh, shaking his head. Emma thought sending him a Father's Day card was weirder than dropping everything to visit him multiple states away; if he didn't know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was impossible, he might wonder if she really was his kid with impulsiveness like that.
He put his hand over his heart and ducked his head in a tiny bow. "Emma, it would be an honor to spend the day with you. Why don't you come in?" he said, gesturing for her to precede him into his apartment. "Are you hungry? I was about to make breakfast."
"Oh my god, yes. I didn't want to risk trying to grab anything at the rest stops. I was paranoid that they'd leave without me if I got off the bus."
"You didn't leave the bus at all? That's a long ride."
"Well, to be fair, my grandmother stuffed all my pockets full of granola bars before she'd let me go, so I didn't exactly starve the whole way. Besides, I did have the bathroom all to myself whenever everyone else got off."
"A silver lining's a silver lining, huh?" Barry waved Emma over towards the stools at his breakfast bar. "Make yourself at home. You must be dead on your feet."
Emma stood her guitar case up against the wall and swung her backpack off her shoulders, setting it down on the stool next to hers. She unbuckled the flap and retrieved a slightly battered white bakery box.
"I brought you some Hoosier pie," she said as she slid the box across the counter. "It's, uh… it's seen better days, but it probably still tastes fine."
Barry slit open the last remaining piece of tape with the edge of his thumbnail and popped open the thin cardboard to reveal a still mostly intact pie with a messy 'Happy Father's Day' written across it, birthday cake style.
"God, it looks like I had Hagrid do the writing," Emma lamented, before dropping her voice and putting on a thick accent to say, "'Yer a father, Barry.'"
Barry swallowed around the lump in his throat and rounded the counter so he could wrap his arm around Emma's shoulder in an awkward side hug and press a teary kiss to the crown of her head.
"Thank you, Emma."