July came with a vengeance, bringing high record temperatures and apocalyptic thunderstorms. As the holiday drew near, Nyota began planning her annual Fourth of July party. It would be the first time in six years that her party would fall on a Sunday, the fourth. In previous years, the party would always be a few days before or after, resulting in Jim brining down the fireworks from a friend he knew further north.

"Do you think we brought enough beer?" Melanie asked, as Chris parked outside of the house. "I forgot who else was brining it."

"We have enough beer, Mel," he shut the car off. "Nyota has liquor and Scotty said he was brining a big loot."

She sighed, "Okay," she smiled. "Just want to make sure I'm not forgetting anything."

He smiled at her, "We're good, Mel," he leaned over to kiss her. "Come on. We don't want everyone to worry," he opened the door. "Then they'll send Jim out to look for us."

Grabbing the beer and other necessities that Nyota asked for, Chris and Melanie made their way up the driveway towards the gate to the yard. They could hear the low beat of music playing, the smell of the barbeque running. There was a loud clatter of glass in a trashcan, along with the shouts from what sounded like Scotty and Jim.

"Guess they've started without us," Chris said, shifting a case of beer from one hand to the other. "Hey! Anyone gonna let us in!?" he shouted.

A few seconds later, the gate swung open and they were greeted by Hikaru. Attached to his back, Joanna held onto him tightly, grinning at her Aunt and Chris.

"Hi!" she waved at them.

"Hey guys!," Hikaru grinned. "We were startin' to wonder if you two were going to show or not."

Chris and Melanie moved past him, waiting for him to close the gate again. "Ohh nice! You brought a Stella!" he said, eyeing the case of Stella Artois in Chris's hands. "And…. I'm guessing that's a bag with girly liquor."

Melanie looked down at the plastic bag in her hand with shock, while Chris snorted. "Told you," he whispered, as he carried the case towards the patio.

"Hey! Boss-man!" Jim cheered, leaning back in his chair. "About time you brought your old ass over! Where's the lovely lady?"

Chris set the case down on the table, "She's here," he nodded his head toward the side of the house. "Along with her girly alcohol."

Hikaru, Melanie and Joanna made their way around the house and in view of the patio. She and Hikaru were bickering about the qualifications of what made certain liquors girly, when everyone greeted her at once.

"Jesus," she gasped, clutching her chest. "Don't do that!"

Scotty snorted, "So what's this girly shite yeh brought?" he asked, setting his drink down. "Yer boyfriend shoulda stop yeh from buying it!"

Jim snorted, "Twenty bucks says it's three bottles of Pinnacle whipped cream, cotton candy and," his face was scrunched up as he though. "…tropical punch."

"DAMMIT!" she stomped her foot, earning a few chuckles. "You told them!" she glared at Chris. "That's why you were so hush-hush when you had the phone out!"

Chris held up his hands, "I did no such thing!"

Nyota stepped out of the back door, carrying a platter of mixed fruit and vegetables. "Hey!" she smiled, taking sight of them both. "Did you just get here?"

Pavel took the platter from her so she could hug her friends, "Yes," Melanie kissed her cheek. "And I'm being tortured for my drink choices."

"Hey, I just won twenty bucks," Jim shrugged, before turning to Scotty. "Which I better receive by midnight tonight."

Nyota rolled her eyes, "Bring it in here!" she said, nodding to the kitchen. "Chris, you can put that in the ice bucket over there."

Leading Melanie into the kitchen, Nyota moved back to the counter and started grabbing the ingredients for a dip. "Whatcha bring?" she asked, as Melanie set the bag down.

"Whipped cream, cotton candy and tropical punch," she said, pulling the blue bottles out. "If I'm going to drink, I want to have something sweet!"

Noyta grinned, "I have just the stuff to mix with these," she said, as Spock came into the kitchen. "Oh hey! Was everything alright at home?"

Spock gave her a brief nod, "Indeed," he then turned to Melanie. "It's a pleasure to see you again Melanie."

She smiled; "I'm glad you could be here!" she nodded. "Chris is outside with the boys and Jo."

Excusing himself, Spock made his way out onto the patio, leaving the girls alone. "Ohhh, he's here for your party.." Melanie grinned. "I guess that means someone's getting lucky tonight!"

Nyota rolled her eyes, "Oh stop," she stirred the sour cream and mix together. "Oh, you're brother is here. Or was," she shrugged. "I had to send him out to get more burgers because numb-nuts Jim only brought one box."

"Sounds about right," she snorted. "Gaila said she'd be here in an hour. Something about having to get organic carrots?"

"Oh god," Nyota groaned. "This bitch started this organic diet last week, because she thinks she's fat."

Melanie made a face, "I have no idea," Nyota said, picking up the bowl. "Scotty's even more confused because in his eyes, Gaila is gorgeous and a carrot is a carrot."

"That's what I say!" she exclaimed. "Fucking organic food."

Nyota nodded, "So, while she's on the hunt for organic carrots, we'll be eating our low-class ones."

…..

By the time Gaila arrived- with her bag of organic carrots, along with Leonard and the large stock of burgers, everyone was under one roof and enjoying their time together. The boys argued over the grill, and who was qualified at flipping burgers and hot dogs. The girls- plus Janice, Christine and Joanna- huddled around the counter in the kitchen preparing salads and other bits.

"Daddy said we need more cheese!" Joanna yelled, running in from the patio. "And no organic cheese!"

Gaila pouted, while Nyota grabbed the package of cheese from the refrigerator, handing it to Joanna.

"Thank you!" she squealed, running back to the door. "DADDY! CHEESE!"

Melanie snorted, "God, I can't believe we're all under the same roof again," she shook her head. "Maybe we should hide all the booze."

"Hey, at least Leonard said hello to you!" Gaila smiled. "And was that a hug I saw too?"

When he arrived, Leonard greeted his sister and gave her a small-awkward hug. While it shocked her, Melanie couldn't help but long for her brother, wishing that things were settled between them. Other than Chris and her Daddy, Leonard was always the best at giving bear hugs whenever she needed one.

"Don't get too carried away," Melanie warned. "Just because he said hi and gave me a hug, doesn't mean things are smooth between the two of us."

Christine picked up the bowl of salad and shrugged, "But this could be the start of reconciliation!" she smiled, before moving to the door.

….

Dinner went smoothly, as everyone crowded around the table and ate. Chris and Melanie were tucked in at one end of the table, while Leonard sat between Jim and Hikaru at the other.

"So! Here's to a very Happy Fourth!" JIm said, holding up his bottle of beer. "And to Miss Nyota, for opening her house to a group of misfits and putting together a delicious meal!"

"Here, here!" everyone cheered, holding up their drinks.

Nyota blushed and looked down at her dish, while Joanna leaned over to say her thank you's. "I like this potato thing you made," she said, as Jim placed more potato salad on her dish. "Daddy doesn't know how to cook potatoes."

A round of laughter went off, as Leonard blushed, glaring at Jim when he gave Joanna high five. Gailia munched away on her organic carrots and a little puddle of dip, before Scotty placed a burger, potato salad and cole slaw on her dish.

"Yeh eat this now," he said, nodding to the plate "Ah won't settle with yeh eating this dainty shite."

Gaila pouted but Scotty shook his head, "Eat," he simply said, and Gaila knew she lost the battle.

"What's the difference between organic carrots and regular carrots?" Chris whispered to Melanie, as she stabbed at her salad. "In the end, it's just a carrot."

She snickered, "You're asking the wrong person, hon. I don't even understand the organic movement. Food is food, regardless of what's put into it."

They continued chatting and eating, talking about their past week at work and what their plans were for that weekend since Phil closed the restaurant for a "business trip" in Los Angles.

"Okay!" Jim set his napkin down. "I don't know about all of you, but I plan on lighting some fireworks!"

Joanna squealed, "Can I help!?"

"Hold on Jo," Leonard said, holding up his hand. "You're too young to be playin' with fire!"

Joanna pouted; "Please?" she batted her eyelashes at him.

But Leonard shook his head, "No, Joanna. I'm sorry, but you can't be playin' with that stuff."

She huffed and climbed off the chair, running to sit with Melanie. "What's wrong, baby?" Melanie asked, pulling her up onto her lap. "Why such a long face?"

"Daddy wont let me play with the fireworks that Jim got," she pouted. "I wanna play with them!"

Chris set his beer down, "You don't want to play with those, Jo," he shook his head. "Last year, Jim burned off half his eyebrows with fireworks."

Joanna's eyes went wide, "He did?" she gasped, as Chris nodded. She then let out a squeak and turned around to look for Jim. "JIM! JIM! NO FIREWORKS! CHRIS SAYS YOU HAD NO EYEBROWS!"

Scotty let out a muffled shriek, rolling in his seat as he laughed. Jim looked over at Chris, who was smiling and glared at him. "Way to ruin the fun!" he snapped.

"Hey! I'm just looking out for you!" Chris shrugged, while the others laughed. "I mean, you do want to keep your eyebrows intact this year, right?"

Jim rolled his eyes and sat back down, muttering about Chris ruining the fun and being a "typical old man."

Melanie shrugged, "I guess we won't be seeing any fireworks show this year," she said, as Joanna groaned.

"Oh no,' Scotty shook his head. "Jimmy boy will manage to blow all of those firecrackers off by the end of the night."

…..

True to Scotty's word, Jim had managed to blow up half of the fireworks that he purchased. By then the sun had already set, and Jim was anxious to blow something up. Luckily, several other people in the area had already set their rockets off by that point. The sky lit up in a various array of colors, the air thick with the smell of smoke. So along with Hikaru and Pavel, they snatched an empty beer bottle and brought it out to the street and started preparing their ammunition. Leonard had Joanna on the lawn with Melanie and the girls, while he and the others stood at the end of the driveway.

"What will JIm burn off this year?" Janice asked.

"I hope it's his shirt," Christine giggled, watching as Jim bent down to fix the firecracker in the bottle. "Or his pants."

The girls watched as the boys struggled to set off the rockets, as the first four wouldn't light. Finally, after the fifth try, one rocket managed to go off.

"This is stupid!" Leonard yelled, as Jim and set another rocket down.

Melanie was looking at the sky, as Joanna pointed out a firework show that was going off down the block. "I know Jo," she held the girl by the waist. "They're pretty."

A loud bang and shriek made her jump, as she quickly pulled her gaze away from the sky and towards the street.

"DAMMIT JIM!" Leonard screeched. "WHAT'D YOU BLOW OFF THIS TIME?"

Jim was hopping around, waving his hand furiously. "FUCKER!" he screamed, as the others laughed.

Nyota pulled herself up off the grass and stormed down the lawn, "Inside!" she ordered. "NOW! And get rid of those damn things!"

The girls scattered to see what happened, while Gaia went off to find Scotty. Joanna bolted towards her father, who was cleaning up the mess that was left behind, passing Chris as she moved.

"I guess our show has ended," he sighed, getting down next to her on the grass. "I hope you enjoyed it.

Melanie snickered, "What did he blow off? Fingers?" she asked.

"More like his ego," he snorted, as a rocket went off down the block. "Those are nice," he said, nodding to the sky.

Melanie nodded, "Too bad Jim couldn't get any of those," she sighed. "Would've been a spectacular show."

Chris propped himself up on a his elbow, "I'll show you a spectacular show when we get home," he grinned, making her giggle.

Melanie leaned down and kissed him, placing her hand on his arm to steady herself. "Counting on it," she gasped against his lips, before kissing him again.

A loud shriek broke them apart, as they looked over to see Gaila hugging Scotty. A few seconds later, Gaila held up her arm and waved it around.

"I'm getting married!" she exclaimed, giggling and hopping around.

Melanie gasped as her best friend tackled Scotty with a kiss, before pulling him up the front steps and into the house. Sitting with her eyes wide, Melanie felt Chris's gaze upon her as she stared off into space. When she finally looked at him, she saw the look of puzzlement on his face along with hope.

"Excuse me," she muttered, stumbling up to her feet. "I-I have to go to the bathroom."

Then she bolted, running up the lawn to the front steps of Nyota's porch.

"MEL!" he shouted after her, as she ran.

Instead of stopping, Melanie ran right through the front door and into the house.