Hello, hello and welcome to Christmas Fic 2013!

And by that, I mean, welcome to the prologue, where the author's notes are going to be longer than the chapter itself. The perils of prologues. Because those of you who are familiar with this know that usually it's 25 chapters. This year, it's… 25.5? And please do excuse the corniness of the title. You'd think after all these years I could do better.

For those of you who are new to this, for the last, jeeze, 6 years? 7? I stopped keeping count. Anyway, I've been writing a holiday fic for a while now. A Christmas fic. 25 chapters in 25 days between December 1st and December 25th. It's like my own personal version of NaNoWriMo. Exciting!

I have pondered and pondered this year. Last year… Wasn't the best? It took me a year to write the fic. I totally shattered the idea. This year, I was going to do Rizzoli and Isles but… The thing is, if you'll excuse my sappy, this is home. There's something about writing for Criminal Minds that does actually feel like a comfort zone, a place where there's no worry, no knots in my stomach, just… writing. And Christmas!

I do try and keep as up to date with canon as I can for these things. I'm a little behind, but not by much, I don't think. If I am missing a major plot point that you think is relevant, let me know (politely! Please). I'm only a couple of weeks behind so we should be all good!

I think that is all for now in the pre-story AN. Enjoy the prologue and I hope to see a whole lot of you for tomorrow's first chapter!


A month.

A whole flipping, freaking month.

What is she supposed to do with herself for 30 days?

More than that, what is she supposed to do with 30 days off stateside?

Emily sighs as she deplanes in Dulles, wondering if this is really the best decision she's ever made. Of course, she hadn't really been offered a choice either. The minute 'time off' had been uttered, Penelope had all but hounded her into purchasing a plane ticket. It had been easy to say no, she couldn't impose – Penelope didn't have a guest room, after all. It seemed, though, like the English rain had rusted her brain because the next thing she'd known, she'd received calls from both JJ, Derek and even Reid to offer her space.

They wanted her there.

How was she supposed to say no to that?

She hadn't once returned to the States since transferring to INTERPOL. It hadn't been an entirely conscious decision on her part, and certainly not one she'd aimed to use to hurt anyone. On the contrary, she'd left because she needed a change, because she needed time and space from her death, Doyle's death, the drama and death of the BAU… It had all just piled up. A perfect storm of death and destruction to break her. Not an easy task, but she'd learned the hard way, not impossible.

She sucks in a deep breath.

It's odd, she thinks in a strange way, to step back onto American soil. There's an odd mix of dread and home that threads through her blood and makes her heart pound. Half of her is nervous. The other half is beyond excited.

She weaves through Dulles easily. She's done this before and a month in the States means that she's had to check bags. Not uncommon, not unheard of, but it means that it's easier for her to weave her way through people. And Dulles hasn't changed.

"Aunty Em!"

Her head comes up seconds before a small blond comet impacts with her knees. She just barely manages to brace herself, to make sure Henry doesn't actually hurt himself. "Hello, Mister Henry!"

Oh. And there come the tears. She'd kind of been anticipating that. They're a piece of her family. A family she hasn't seen in over a year. Almost two. Or is it more. Holy crap she's lost count. Isn't that depressing.

She hoists Henry with her, exaggerating his weight – okay, so her side still twinges a little when she moves wrong, but no one needs to know that – and making him giggle. JJ's easy to find in the crowd, tears in her eyes as she steps up to hug both Emily and her son.

"Penelope would have been here, but-"

Emily shakes her head. The BAU takes priority, always. She knows that. Better, she understands that. And if she's honest, she's glad it's just JJ. No major fits, no major shows. Just a quiet insertion to the country that her heart still feels is home.

Not that England's bad or anything just-

They're not there.

JJ grins when she pulls back, looping her arm through Emily's. "I'm so glad you're here. And for a month!"

And Emily grins because at least a part of her is really glad too.

And there you have it! Emily is stateside again! Because who would I be if not a Hotch/Prentiss shipper?

Okay, so there's one thing I do kind of want reader opinion on. Every year there's a couple of days where I can't seem to find an adequate tradition. I've got a lot of standard ones, cookies, gingerbread, carols, wrapping, tree hunting, etc. But I'd love to hear from you. What kind of traditions do you have over the holiday season? What kind of things do you do with your family or friends that really makes Christmas, Christmas? Leave it in a review and who knows? It may become a yearly Kavi Christmas fic traditions as well!

Thanks to you all for reading!