A/N: This is a warning I guess. Continuing past this author's note, you are metaphorically signing a contract that you are totally fine with both reading about Toki getting beaten by his father (even if it is just a dream) as well as the Pickles/Toki pairing and my retarded logic at the end of the twelfth paragraph. You have been warned.

Toki didn't have nightmares often, and when he did they were usually too vague to be scary and too generic to be remembered after waking. There was, on occasion, a nightmare that would actually be considered a nightmare, though. It tended to hit him when the nights were long and cold. It wasn't so much of a nightmare, actually, as a memory, sometimes slightly warped but always the same. He would be at his childhood home in Norway, and he'd be alone for a long while. Then his father would be there, silently scolding him for some wrongdoing he had committed, and soon after he would be punished, harshly.

The dream was always so real, and so was the pain of the beating he got in it. He wasn't totally sure at first whether he was his real age in the dream, but after the third time he decided his dream-self must be as much a memory as the events, for if he had been as old as he was now he'd have been able to fight back against it. Maybe.

He had hoped that after his father died the dream would go away, but the man's passing seemed to only increase the dream, both in regularity and intensity. He would awake as many as two nights a week, one hand holding his sheets in a tight grip, the other clasped over his mouth, unsure of whether he had actually been screaming or not but trying to quell the sound that probably wasn't there in the first place nonetheless.

He'd actually had the dream twice in a row this week, and that's part of the reason why he'd spent the last three nights with Pickles. They'd only had sex once during those three nights, and it seemed like it wasn't a coincidence that he had the nightmare that same night. After all, his parents were highly religious, and if it's true that passed-on family members watch over you Toki can only imagine how his father must have felt watching such blasphemy.

As it turns out, Toki did make noise in his sleep during the dream, though the quiet whimpers and pleads were far from the screams he was worried he was making. They were more than enough to wake Pickles up from his light sleep, though, and he carefully sat up in the dark. He was used to waking up with Toki's arms wrapped around him, but the Norwegian was a complete island this night, curled up almost a foot away. He reached over and placed a hand on one of Toki's bare shoulders, shaking gently. It didn't seem to help. "Toki, c'n ya hear me?"

The only sounds Pickles could hear in the room were his own breathing and Toki's quietly mumbled pleads of "Vær så snill, far, stopp...!" and it was driving him crazy. He leaned over and rolled Toki onto his back, placing both hands on Toki's shoulders and shaking him again, harder this time.

Pickles' attempts to wake Toki up were useless, though, the dream keeping all the the Norwegian's attention, both conscious and sub-. The snow that his father had knocked him into was almost soothing against his hot lacerations. He felt trapped – he'd usually awoken mid-beating from some especially painful hit. None of the blows had been enough to wake him this time, and he was worried. Can dreams get smarter and adapt?

As Toki lay there in his dream looking up at his angry father, two thoughts continued to pass through his mind: What had he done to make the reverend so mad, and just how old was he in this goddamned nightmare? Opening his mouth to ask his father either of the questions earned him another smack before the first syllable could escape. He raised his arms in front of himself defensively, but his father was easily able to pull them back out of the way and continue the assault. At that moment, Toki came to the conclusion that his dream-self couldn't be more than seven. That's about the age he learned to never try to protect himself. It only made things worse.

Still, his dream-self struggled until he felt long, bony fingers around his neck. He instinctively tried to pull away only to be reminded that he was back-against-ground. The fingers twitched and threatened to tighten when the dark snow lit up. Unable to move his own head, Toki only watched as Aslaug slowly tore his angry gaze from his son towards his house, where Anja stood in the doorway, wordless as usual. They had a silent conversation, like they always had. Aslaug looked back at Toki, still wordless though his face conveyed the simple message that he could snap little Toki's neck if he so pleased. Then his fingers slowly moved from around Toki's throat, following his hands back within his sleeves. As he left Toki laying there to go into the house, he seemed to float across the snow. The door closed and the snow around Toki was dark again.

Still, he wasn't awake. His eyes stung from trying not to cry, trying so hard not to let his father get that satisfaction. As his eyelids fluttered, a few wayward tears slowly slid down his face into the snow beneath him, the snow that felt so cold against his burning hot body. Turning his head to look at the house, he still tried desperately to remember what he had done. His body hurt from the dream-memory – he was sure that's what this was now, not just a nightmare, but a memory; he could feel the cuts on the back of his neck from when his father had nearly choked him that would eventually scar and be hidden by his hair – but when he lifted his hands to his eyes and let himself cry it wasn't from the pain, physical or emotional, but from the simple frustration of not being able to remember what the fuck he'd done to deserve this particular punishment.

When he finally let his hands drop back down and opened his eyes, the sky was gone. In its place was the void of pre-waking. He couldn't really feel his wounds anymore, or the snow beneath him, though he knew it was still there. He slowly sat up, looking around at the dream-void. It was like there was a spotlight on him, his body and the tuft of snow beneath him the only visible, tangible things left of the nightmare. Drawing his knees to his chest and hugging them, he was reassured of the age he'd come to the conclusion his dream-self was; he recognized a hole in one sock he'd gotten trying to climb a pine tree when he was seven. Odd the things one remembers in a dream, and the things they can't for the life of them conceive of.

He heard the distant echo of a familiar voice, though a voice that wouldn't have been familiar at this point in his life. He closed his eyes and tried to pick out where in the dark the echo was coming from, but it seemed to be all around him. He opened his eyes again and squinted into the black fog, able to make out a figure walking towards him, calling his name in an unmistakable mid-north-western American accent, red mane spilling out around him, clothes quite unbefitting Norway in January but definitely suiting Los Angeles at the same time. Toki's subconscious quickly came to the logical conclusion that if he was nineteen years younger in his dream, so then would be everyone else, even those who weren't part of the actual memory and even if he hadn't known them at the time.

The Snakes N' Barrel-era'd dream-Pickles dropped to his knees in front of the juvenile dream-Toki, placing gloved hands on cold, bloody shoulders and gently shaking. "Toki, kid, ya gatta wake up," he coaxed softly, brushing some hair out of Toki's face. "Ye're scarin' me..."

"Toki, wake up! Ye're havin' a bad dream..." Toki's eyes opened slowly, confusion clouding them as he couldn't remember his dream at all. He stared straight up at the ceiling for a moment before small streams of tears flowed from his eyes as the near entirety of the dream came rushing back, up to the point his throat was being held in cold, bony fingers. Pickles cupped the young man's face gently in his hands and wiped away the tears as they came. "Toki, are you okay?"

Toki closed his eyes and he took in a shuddery breath before shaking his head in the negative. Pickles brushed all the hair out of Toki's face before returning his hands to the young man's cheeks, wiping the new tears off. He leaned down and pressed his lips ever so gently against the Norwegian's. "It's okay now, babe, I'm here. Nethin' that jest happened's real, oka-"

"Yes it ams," Toki cut him off, wanting to look away but unable because of the drummer's hands. "So much... realser than you t'inks..." He let out a quiet sob. Pickles looked down at him, feeling completely distraught and unhelpful. He moved his hands back down to Toki's shoulders and pulled the man up, wrapping his arms around him and holding him close.

"What... what was it, Toki?" he asked, completely prepared for the few louder sobs that followed directly after his asking. He thought about what the Norwegian had been mumbling in his sleep. "Was it yer father?" Toki went stiff, shivering suddenly silent against Pickles. "Oh, Toki..." he said quietly. "Baby, he's dead now. He can't do anythin' to ya anymore, ever again."

"Buts... buts he cans, ands he does..." Toki shivered again. "It hurts so bads, Pickle. It makes me never wants to sleeps agains..." He pulled away enough to look into Pickles' eyes. "It just... hurts so bads..."

Pickles didn't want to look into the pools of pain that were Toki's eyes, but he couldn't look away. He felt his own eyes stinging and his own throat feel blocked. "Toki, I... I don't..." Toki broke the gaze for a moment and glanced down, then to his left, anywhere to keep from looking straight at Pickles. His breathing was shallow, and it caught in his throat as he was pulled back towards Pickle, their lips locking together in one of the most emotionally painful kisses they'd shared. He slowly wrapped his arms around Pickles' neck, one hand resting on the back of his neck while the other tangled in his dreds. Pickles' arms were wrapped tightly around Toki's back, fingers splayed, trying to hide every scar on it from some invisible force that was looking.

Toki pulled away to gasp for breath, letting out another sob before being pulled into a tight hug, his tear-stained face cold against Pickle's warm shoulder. "Toki, I... I guess... I can't pr'tect you frem him in yer dreams... But, I swear I'm always here ta wake ya up frem 'em, an' ta hold ya like this afterwerds..." He felt some of the stiffness leave his guitarist and he responded by hugging him tighter. The end of Toki's dream started to fill itself in with the rest. Toki took a deep breath and let it out in a final shuddering sob before relaxing completely and melting into Pickle's arms.

Pickles moved one hand up to Toki's head and gently pet him. He chuckled a little. "Gad, Toki, ya made me cry..." Toki sat up a little and looked at his drummer. He met with that perfectly crooked smirk and smiled back.

"Sorry, Pickle." he gently wiped tears off Pickles' face. "Ands thank you. So much." Pickles leaned in and chastely kissed Toki.

"Don't mention it, babe. I do it 'cause I love ya." Toki smiled and lay down, pulling Pickle down along with. He snuggled up against him and closed his eyes.

"I loves you too Pickle." Pickles wrapped his arms protectively around his Toki, pressing their foreheads together affectionately.

"Jes'... don't cry no more, okay?" he asked quietly, lovingly. Toki nodded, silently promising Pickles that he'd try his hardest not to cry in front of him anymore.