Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds. No profit made, no infringement intended.


There were always fireworks. No matter where in the world they were, the Prentiss' always had fireworks on the 4th of July. It wasn't really a holiday for them, Emily had realized early on. They had a big party of course, but the true reason for the day was the guests, there to witness their display of American pride. It was a day in which her mother could make new allegiances, booster strained relationships, and reestablish the American identity in the minds of the guests.

The moment Emily realized that day was actually only politics and business, she no longer could focus on the beautiful patterns the fireworks made in the sky. Instead she felt a profound sadness for the way they faded and died in brief silence.

Today Emily can see the elaborate festivities from her apartment window, the sky alight with red, white and blue. She sits on the sofa, her legs curled to her chest, watching the fireworks in a somber silence. The silence is broken by her phone, and she jumps, startled.

The sound of JJ's voice brings the first smile of the day. The request for Emily to join JJ and Henry to watch the fireworks is easily answered. Soon she's outside their door, grinning as Henry yells her name before JJ has a chance to open the door. The toddler launches into her legs as soon as the door opens, and Emily pulls him into her arms in a sweeping movement that makes him squeal with glee. JJ leans against the door to watch, trying to hide the wide smile that's trying to spread across her face.

"I see he missed you," JJ laughs, the gaze that falls on Emily causing a blush to grow in her cheeks.

"I missed him too," Emily replies simply, words catching in her throat.

Henry pulls Emily inside, proudly showing her how the deck has been arranged to watch the fireworks. A blanket and pillow surrounded by toys and a plate of star shaped cheese on crackers are clearly Henry's, leaving the bench covered in cushions for Emily and JJ. Henry quickly takes his spot again, and Emily hesitantly sits beside JJ.

As Henry gasps and giggles at the shapes and lights in the night sky, JJ takes Emily's hand. Emily squeezes it and turns to give JJ a shy smile. When she looks back at the sky, she no longer notices the sad fading of the fireworks, only the joy of them bursting into light.