A/N: I know this is a little (hah, who am I kidding?) late, but I was busy with other stuff. So happy belated Fourth of July! As for the ending, I don't know. I thought it would be funny. What do I know about funny, anyway? Oh well, have fun reading.

"I already told you why I don't want to go, Tom," Doug repeated, watching the news channel on the television. "I'm afraid of fireworks."

"And I've already told you why that's stupid, Doug. You're a cop. You shoot guns. Guns make noises like fireworks. How can you be afraid of them? Is it something about exploding light that makes you uneasy?" Tom began rambling, angry with Doug that he refused to go see the annual Fourth of July fireworks display with him down by the beach. It was the least he could do-- it wasn't like they'd done much more that day than sat around that day. Fireworks wasn't really that bad of a thing, no matter how much of a big deal he made out of it.

"I just don't like them," Doug told him. "I never have. Ever since I was a little kid. You should have seen me when my mom and dad took me to the fireworks when I was five--" Doug paused, remembering how he'd been traumatized for days afterwards. He couldn't sleep, he couldn't eat, and he was the easiest child in the world to scare. It was just about the only vivid memory he had from when he was that young.

"So, what?" Tom asked, ignoring everything Doug had been saying before that. "You're just going to go leave me to go watch them on my own?" Doug finally turned to Tom, who was standing there in a pair of faded jeans and a black zip up hoodie that's zipper was left undone. His hands were dug deep into the pockets of the hoodie, and his expression made it clear that he was not exactly happy that Doug was staying home. "I'm sure I'll have loads of fun."

"You don't have to go, you know," Doug said, looking back at the TV. "They show some fireworks on the--" SLAM. Doug turned around, not surprised but definitely frustrated at the fact Tom had left the apartment. He sighed, turning around to stare at the television once more. He knew he would have hell to pay if he just let Tom go-- damnit.

Doug scrambled to turn off the TV. He made a quick trip to the bathroom, afterwards double-checking to make sure all the lights were off and that he had a key. He collapsed on the couch once more, this time to put his shoes on. He didn't skip a beat in leaving the apartment, and chasing after Tom.

"Tom!" Doug called, as he stepped into the cool night air. Suddenly, he understood why Tom was wearing a sweatshirt. For someone who had been watching the news, he really needed to pay more attention to the weather. He peeled his eyes in the night, knowing he was going to have a hard time spotting Tom in his black sweatshirt. He called out his name again. "Tom?!"

"Doug?" Tom's voice was loud enough for Doug to make out where he was and finally see where he was. He'd been looking too far away; apparently, Tom hadn't gotten a chance to walk that far. "What are you doing here?" Tom asked, as Doug approached him.

"You guilt-tripped me into coming," Doug said, crossing his arms. He began to walk in the general direction of the nearby beach, where the fireworks display would be, although he was secretly just following some teenagers who looked like they were on their way to watch some fireworks. Tom stood close to his side.

"Did I now?" Tom asked, Doug noting a raised eyebrow from the corner of his eyes. Doug frowned, rubbing his arms. It was unbelievably cold out here for July. Before he had a chance to respond, Tom pointed out the obvious. "You look really cold."

"No," Doug said sarcastically. "This is perfectly normal weather for July and I'm sweating like a pig." He paused so he could laugh. "When did it become legal to make it so cold outside during this month?"

"I'm not sure if being legal has anything to do with it," Tom remarked, looking at his feet for a second. "But you're right. It's pretty weird for it to be this cold during July. Especially on the Fourth of July--"

"--Especially here," Doug said, forcing his arms down. He had to hold his left wrist with his hand behind his back in order to keep him from wrapping his arms around himself again.

After a short silence, Tom finally said, "You didn't have to come, you know."

"I really think I did," Doug said, thinking about how Tom had seemed so mad when he had first refused to come. He carefully eyed the slowly thickening crowd of people of all ages around him. Apparently, a lot more people than he thought went to go watch fireworks. "Is there even enough room for this many people? At th beach, I mean."

"This isn't even the half the amount of people who will be there," Tom said, pushing himself up against Doug's arm so whe could move around a group of people who really didn't seem too intent on moving.

"So a few hundred people are going to watch me freak out because I don't like fireworks?" Doug asked nervously, not liking the idea of people-- many people, at that-- watching him while he was having a mental breakdown.

"Yes," Tom replied bluntly. "They're not that bad, Doug. What scares you about them anyway?"

"The noise," Doug answered sheepishly, digging his hand in the pockets of his jeans. Before Tom had a chance to object, Doug raised his hand to gesture he was about to explain. "I know, I know. I'm a cop. I shoot guns. It's not the individual noise that bothers me, it's just how it keeps going, and going, and going. We don't shoot machine guns for the force, Tom."

"No, we don't," Tom chuckled, reaching his hand towards Doug's. There was a short awkward silence before Tom said anything again. "Doug, you really do look cold."

"Tom, I really am cold," Doug said.

"Do you want my sweatshirt or something?" Tom asked.

"I'd never fit in it," Doug snorted. "I'm tempted to try, though."

"We can run back. We still have time--"

"Tom, we're practically there," Doug pointed towards the gate in the iron fence that stood something like ten feet ahead of them. Groups of people were slowly filing through, heading towards the water.

"Fine then," Tom said, pausing to let Doug pass through the gate before him. "But if you're afraid of fireworks, cold, and refusing to take my sweatshirt, I'm not sure how you're going to deal with this."

"I'll live, Tom," Doug said sarcastically.

"You're a real trooper," Tom replied, putting his arm around Doug's shoulder. Doug snorted again.

"Definitely," Doug told him, putting his hand around Tom's waist. "Alright, so where do we go?" He asked, eyeing the children who were running out on the flimsy-looking piers. A few of the teenagers had waded in the water (however they did that in this cold, he was absolutely clueless), though most people were taking seats intently on the sand.

"I don't know. Where do you want to go?" Tom asked, taking a look around for himself. "We can go pretty much anywhere."

"Well, I don't care," Doug responded. "Anywhere's good."

"You're sure picky," Tom said, dragging Doug off to the nearest place where they could sit-- a little circle of un-reserved sand.

"I know," Doug said, seating himself next to Tom. He studied his surroundings-- a family with three or four toddlers-- he couldn't count amidst the havoc they were causing. To the left, there was a group of teenagers who Doug was pretty sure were totally wasted, and then there were a few young couple sitting besides them. Of course, there were the countless feet threatening to pummel them as they searched for their own place to sit. "I try."

"So tell me," Tom said, digging his hand in the sand. He lifted it, watching intently as he dropped the miniscule particles. "Why are you afraid of fireworks? I mean, you told me what scares you about them, but really, why?"

"Honestly, I have no idea," Doug said, pulling his knees to his chest. "All I know is the first time that I remember watching fireworks, I was so freaked out by them that I couldn't sleep if I heard so much as an unwanted to noise."

"That's cute," Tom chuckled turning to Doug. "So how'd you get over it?"

"My mom bought me one of those sounds-of-the-rainforest tapes and played it while I slept," Doug paused. "That way there was always a noise playing, so new room for me to be afraid of it."

"That's very manly, Doug," Tom said finally.

"Very much so," Doug agreed. "I was learning to grasp my masculinity at a very young age."

"You were," Tom nodded. "I'm kind of jealous. Wish I could have 'grasped my masculinity' when I was that young."

"You wish you could have grasped your masculinity at all," Doug retorted. Tom threw a fistful of sand at him. After Doug was sure all of the sand was out of his hair, he laughed again. "You know I only speak the truth, Tommy."

"You're not so manly yourself, sometimes," Tom defended himself. He thought for a moment, before muttering, "Afraid of fireworks? That's bullshit."

"Don't hold that against me," Doug said, putting his arm around Tom's shoulders. "Everyone's allowed to have a weird fear like that." Tom grunted in response, and maybe even said something. Unfortunately, whatever it was had been droned out by a rather large boom.

Everyone under the age of ten shrieked, teenage girls screamed, the group of stoned teenagers broke out in a heap of laughter, and mothers tried to calm their babies. However, Doug's exclamation of "HOLY SHIT!" was heard well over everyone else in the crowd. At that, everyone turned to glare at Tom And Doug. Doug glared at the ground, and Tom stared at the sky expectantly. Anything to avoid the berating glares of parents who didn't want their children exposed to 'such mediocre profanity'. Everyone else just seemed to find it rather amusing.

The only thing that seemed to be able to take everyones mind off of Doug seemed to be the eruption of more fireworks. At that, Doug had managed to keep himself from screaming out anything. However, Doug did grab out for Tom's arm in nervousness.

Tom laughed at this, and Doug shot him a nasty look before looking down at the ground and squeezing his eyes shut as hard as he could. Tom sighed, in spite of a few more chuckles, before wrapping his arms around Doug, pulling him closer to himself. "Doug, it's only a noise. It's really not that bad."

"Not that bad?" Doug asked quietly, his voice an octave higher than usual. His voice was practically inaudible over the cracks of the fireworks exploding. "Not that bad, Tom? Oh yes, it's all fine, and I am not going to slowly go insane because of the amount of noise that stuff is making. I'm going to be deaf, and then I'm going to go insane, and then I'm going to die."

"If you're so scared of them, why did you come?" Tom asked, his eyes glued on the fantastic bursts of contrasting colors-- white, purple, red, blue, green, and pink.

"Because I didn't want you to be mad at me." Tom's chuckle was masked when the fireworks made a particularly loud noise and Doug's very visibly wincing.

"I would've gotten over it," Tom insisted, fighting not to mention the fact that Doug's finger nails were digging into the flesh on his arm.

"Yeah, in a month," Doug snorted.

"Doug, just watch them," Tom said after a short silence. Doug didn't answer. "You don't want to spend your whole life in fear of fireworks just because of the noise they make, do you?"

"Well, no, 'course not, Tommy," Doug said, finally loosening his grip on Tom's arm, as there hadn't been such an abruptive boom from the fireworks within the past thirty seconds. "It's not exactly something I can help, though."

"Just look up," Tom repeated.

"No," Doug replied stubbornly. "Make me."

"I will," Tom threatened. Doug snorted.

"Yea right."

"I'm not kidding," Tom hesitated. "I will."

"Yea," Doug mocked. "And you'd let me take you out on Valentine's Day."

At that, Tom simply grabbed Doug's chin and forced his head so it was on an angle, facing upwards. "Told you."

"Wow," Doug said, closing his eyes. "You used force. That's pretty un-Tom Hanson. Outside of cases, I mean."

"Open your eyes," Tom ordered.

"Make me," Doug said. Tom opened his mouth, but didn't respond. "Don't wanna poke me in the eyes or something, Tommy?"

"Pleeeeeeaaaaaase?" Tom said in a baby-ing tone. At that Doug, slouched a little more but open his eyes. "I thought you said it was only the sound that scared you, anyway."

"Watching what makes the sound makes it only worse," Doug said, wincing twice as bad as there was another loud boom, followed by crackling noises.

"What're we going to do with you at the grand finale?" Tom asked, watching the fireworks.

"Finale? Grand?" Even though Doug had no idea what it was, his voice sounded remarkably shaky.

"You know. The ending. Where there's the loudest fireworks, and they send out the most. It's really pretty," Tom explained. He ignored the terrified look on Doug's face.

Doug waited for a moment to respond. "Can I cry?"

At that, Tom burst out laughing, having to take his hand off of Doug's chin where he was still holding his head in place. Doug's face reddened, and he looked towards the ground. "You're really gonna cry, Doug?"

"I don't know, I might," Doug responded sheepishly. Tom wrapped his arms around Doug, kissing him on the top of his head.

"Alright, Dougie. You can close your eyes, cry, whatever you want. But I'm gonna watch these fireworks," Tom teased, absentmindedly running his hands through Doug's hair as he intently watched the exploding burst of lights, that now seemed to finally be the same exact shades of red, white, and blue. "I think they're trying to create the American flag with bursting, loud, explosions of color."

"Really?" Doug asked impassively. "How's that working out?"

"They're failing," Tom said, shaping the colours together as a flag, although the whole thing was rather hard to figure out. The delay time it took for more fireworks to to get into the sky and then explode made it just look like small patriotic explosions in the same basic area. "Miserably."

At that, Doug looked up. He was biting his lip in such a way it might have hurt, Tom noted from the corner of his eye. He tried not to make a big deal of the fact that Doug was (sort of) facing his fear of fireworks and just staring at the sky. Unfortunately, Doug was hard to ignore at his visible wincing at the louder explosions. However, Tom managed to not say anything.

Doug managed to stare at the sky until the finale had obviously started, with two rather large booms. He resumed his placed back with his head dug into Tom's chest. Tom stared at the sky intently, his chin placed firmly on top of Doug's head. As the noise grew louder, Doug's head dug deeper into Tom's sweatshirt, and he eventually covered his ears. Tom couldn't help but laugh, which Doug seemed to hear (rather feel or see), thus punching his knee. Tom hit Doug's back, to show that he hadn't appreciated being hit. He waited for Doug to hit him once again, but Doug didn't. Tom had a feeling it had something to do with the seemingly endless eruptions of fireworks.

The air was suddenly quiet, not even a baby crying. Finally, a soft mutter broke out upon the crowd, and Doug slowly sat up. "Are the fireworks done?"

As if to answer, there was just one other loud boom, as Doug flinched, hunching his shoulders over his bent knees. Tom couldn't help but laugh again. "It's not funny!" Doug cried, sitting up.

"Sorry, Doug," Tom said, standing up. "It kind of actually is."

"No," Doug grunted, watching Tom stretch his arms out. He rolled his eyes. "It really isn't."

"It couldn't have been that bad," Tom replied, running his own hand through his hair. Doug shrugged, looking out at the lake for a moment. When he turned to look at Tom again, his back was turned away from him.

"Hey Tom, guess what!"

"What?"

"You have sand on your ass." Tom's face reddened, as his hands clapped to the back of his jeans, where he hurriedly tried to pat away the miniscule particles of sand.

"Guess what, Doug!" Tom said, after he was satisfied. Doug looked up at him, raising an eyebrow. "You're afraid of fireworks!"

At that, Tom sprinted away as fast as he could, leaving Doug in the dust (literally). Doug sighed, but stood up as fast as he could, chasing after Tom into the crowds of people.