**WARNINGS**

Slash, drug/alcohol usage, bad language.

If you don't like, don't read.

**DISCLAIMER**

Nope, I don't own any characters except Sarah & Thora.

Anyways, reviews are love.

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"Ghosts crowd the young child's,

Fragile eggshell mind..."

~~Jim Morrison[the Doors], Ghost Song

P R O L O G U E

Pickles hated to think of her. He hated to think of the good little Sarah Simon, with her long, brown hair and her cool, surveying blue eyes that he had loved so much as a child...he hated her. It was odd to think that he had ever loved anyone, but of course Sarah Simon had come before he'd stopped believing in all that childish, 'there's someone for everyone' bullshit. There was nobody for him. There never would be. He used to believe, though, that Sarah was the one for him.

How stupid he'd been.

He'd made a damn fool of himself the day he'd talked to Sarah. Thinking about it to this day made him turn red and shift uncomfortably in his seat. It had happened so long ago, when he was almost seven years old, in Tomahawk. He was young, stupid, and just beginning to drink. Needless to say, the combination of his father's stash of alcohol and Sarah's girlish charm were a disastrous combination for him.

He was walking home from school when she talked to him. "Hey, Pickles!" she called. "Wait up!" and she came hurrying to catch up with him. Once she had, she dumped her school books in his arms then asked, "Mind carrying them for me?"

Pickles shook his head. "Na."

Sarah smiled sweetly. "Good. Thanks." there was an awkward pause then she repeated, "Hi, Pickles."

"Yeah...um..." he swallowed. "Hi, Sarah."

"I heard—we all heard—about how you blew up your parent's garage. Everyone's talking about it at school. Is that true?"

Pickles felt his face grow red. He hadn't blow up the garage, his stupid brother Seth had, but if it made Sarah like him more, then hell—maybe he did torch the thing after all. "Uh...yeah."

"Wow," she said, her pale blue eyes growing wide. "That's really cool."

"Yeah, I guess." he said, feeling his face grow hot. He really did like Sarah for some reason. She made him feel...weird.

"Yeah," she continued, reaching for his hand. "And guess what?"

"Huh?"

"Everyone also said that they saw you down at the park yesterday—drinking!"

Pickles bit his lip as he remembered how many beers he'd stolen from his father. After his parents had blamed him for burning down that stupid garage, he'd gotten the worst beating in his life. Not knowing what to do, he just did what he always saw his dad doing—he had a beer. He'd never drank before that day, and he was surprised to find that although he didn't care much for the taste, he loved the way it burned on its way down his throat, made his insides feel warm. Yeah, he liked beer a lot now thanks to his parents.

Still, he wasn't sure if Sarah would like to know this, so he asked obliviously, "I...what? Is that good or bad?"

Sarah giggled and answered. "Good, it's definitely good. It means you're like a grown-up or something. You wanna hold my hand?"

He realized that she was tightly squeezing his wrist and shrugged. "I dunno. I guess." and she slipped her hand into his.

There was a long moment of silence as they walked down the street together. Pickles was quickly growing tired of holding Sarah's books, but oh well. She was worth it. Besides, he was quite sure that something very good was about to happen. He didn't know what kind of something good, only that it would be something he would remember. He was too young to really understand how all this stuff worked, but as Sarah began talking again he started to get a pretty good idea.

"If you get me a beer, I'll be your girlfriend."

"G-Girlfriend?" Pickles turned a deep red. He wasn't sure exactly what she meant by this, only that he'd seen Seth with a few of his middle-school girlfriends...they kissed a lot. He wanted to get kissed, so he nodded and said quietly, "Yeah, okay. Sure."

He was a quiet kid. Before today he had never had that many friends, and Sarah had never bothered to talk to him before...what was so great about him now? Pickles had no clue, but he went along with it anyway, because in a moment Sarah was leading him in the direction of her house and saying, "Good. Go get me a beer and hurry up."

"But my dad's home. What if he-"

"Pickles, do you want me to be your girlfriend or not?" she asked.

"Well yeah, but-"

"Then go get me a beer. Now."

He sighed and looked down, his green eyes full of fear. If his father caught him even home early...his dad hit him over anything. He didn't want to go home and face him, but maybe he was asleep, taking a nap...maybe...

"Okay, I'll go for you, Sarah."

"Good," She said, grinning. "And when you bring me back a beer I'll give you a kiss."

Pickles smiled a little. "Oh. Okay. I'll be right back."

He put his school books down on Sarah's porch and hurried down the street to his house. He didn't live far, but Sarah didn't seem like a patient kind of girl. He quietly opened the door to his house, peeked inside, then hurried to the kitchen. From upstairs there came the sound of his father's deep snoring, and Pickles knew that it was okay now. He could burn down the garage—or what remained of it—and his father still wouldn't wake up. The man could've probably slept thru the Holocaust if he'd been there.

Pickels rushed to open the fridge. He didn't hesitate to hurry and grab a couple of beers, trying desperately to keep quiet. This was so stupid, so insane. If his he got caught doing this, who knew what his father would do...for Sarah he'd do anything.

After he'd grabbed them, he bolted out of the house, not even bothering to close the fridge as he left. He found Sarah sitting on the steps of her house, looking quite bored. She snatched the beer Pickles handed her and snapped, "It's about time. I've been waiting here for-"

"It's only been five minutes," he answered sheepishly.

"Five minutes that I could've spent somewhere else," she muttered moodily, shaking up the beer can. She glared at it and asked, "How do you open it? You have to open things for your girlfriend, Pickles."

"I do?"

"Well duh! Don't be an idiot, of course you do! Haven't you ever had a girlfriend before?" Sarah asked, rolling her pale eyes.

"Y-Yeah I have!" Pickles answered, turning red all over again.

"Then here." she handed him back the can of beer and demanded, "Open it for me."

He opened it and passed it back over to here. "Here," he said, opening his as well. He took a long, deep sip from it and sighed in content. Sarah frowned at this and shook her head.

"I never said that you could have one."

"But I-"

"No, give it here." she held out her hand, and Pickles passed her the can, looking downcast.

"But Sarah-"

"Shut up," she said, pouring out Pickles' beer. "If you were a really good boyfriend you'd know that girls don't like guys who drink. Besides, you're always supposed to let the girl drink first. Everyone knows that, so there."

Pickles frowned. "But what if I want to drink?"

"That's too bad. You should've asked me before you—"

Suddenly the door to Sarah's house opened and her mother stepped outside. She took one look at her the can of beer in her daughter's hand and gasped. "Sarah Marie, what the hell do you think you're doing drinking that stuff? It's bad, honey, it's very bad!"

Sarah's eyes welled up with tears as she pointed to Pickles. "It wasn't me! He gave it to me, mommy, he stole it from his daddy and tried to make me drink it!"

He shook his head and blurted, "No I didn't! I swear!"

"Yes, mamma," Sarah insisted. "He did and now he's lying about it. Please make him go away, please punish him! He's a bad boy and always steals his daddy's beer! He said it tasted good so I...I..." she glared at Pickles and said, tears welling up in her eyes, "He's such a mean, horrible boy. I hate him."

And just like that, Pickles' fantasy was over. He was in trouble.

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Of course Sarah's mother believed her own daughter over the frantically shouting Pickles. He begged the woman not to take him home, begged her not to wake his father, begged her not to tell him what had happened...he pleaded and pleaded and sobbed all the while she was dragging him home. He fought every step of the way, trying to break free of the iron grip she had on his wrist. She never let go, though, never relinquished.

Pickles was dragged home. In front of Mrs. Simon, his father acted more than civil, said that he'd discipline his son, told her, 'No, of course that kind of behavior is not acceptable; it will never happen again, I promise. Yes, of course I'm on your side. Please tell Sarah not to worry, that we're all very sorry. Thank you and have a nice day.' But of course once Sarah's mother had gone out the door, Pickles father turned to his son, a deadly gleam in his eye.

"What the fuck did you think were doing, boy?"

"I'm sorry, dad, I-"

"Stealing my liquor...drinking my beer..."

Pickles looked down to the floor and whispered, "I'm sorry." and, desperate to make things right, he added, "I barley drank any of it, just a sip or two..."

But it didn't really matter. He knew it didn't. His father still gave him a good beating and sent him right to his bed. Before Pickles managed to haul himself upstairs to his room, Seth found him and asked, a grin on his face, "Oh, little brother got beat up again?"

"Get outta my way, Seth."

"What's little bother gonna do? Huh?" he edged nearer Pickles, making him shrink back against the wall and look down, trying to cover his bruising face. "Gonna go have yourself a beer, you idiot? Did you really think you wouldn't get caught? I'm just pissed 'cause I wanted to be the one to tell on you. God, you're a stupid fucker, you know that?"

"Leave me alone, Seth," Pickles said, pushing past his brother. "I don't need you. Just get out of my life."

"You're gonna go cry? Huh?"

"No," he said, shaking his head. "I never cry."

But surely enough, as soon as he slammed the door to his room and threw himself on his bed, he did cry. He sobbed and begged for God—if there was one—to take him away and make Sarah love him...make anyone love him. He switched on the T.V. And watched thru blurry, tear-filled eyes as the stupid celebrities were interviewed and talked about their stupid, dumb lives. Happy lives. Carefree lives. In the back of his mind Pickles wished for that kind of happiness, but he also wondered how somewhere in this world there could be people smiling and not crying, how they could find meaning and joy in this stupid life. He wondered how they had found their happiness, and then he realized that if he had Sarah with him right now he might just be happy. Pickles sighed and buried his face in a pillow. He laid like that, the words of the celebrities on the television pounding into his brain. It was right then, as he shut his eyes tightly against the darkness of his room and hugged a pillow, that he decided that one day he'd be famous, and he'd make everyone sorry. He'd everyone jealous. Seth, his father—Sarah. He wanted to take her with him before he ran away to become a star. Pickles sat up in his bed and sniffled. He turned towards his window and thought...a slow, small smile crept across his face. If his father didn't want him to leave the house, that was fine. He'd sneak out himself.

He may've only been six years old—almost seven—but he realized that he really did like Sarah and didn't just want to lose her like this. He wanted to be able to talk to her and stuff, even if most girls were still gross to him...Sarah was different. She was pretty and had a nice laugh. He liked that. That's what made him do the stupidest thing he ever did in his life; Pickles opened his second-story window, glanced down, and climbed out. There were hedges below his window, and thankfully he wasn't all that terrified of heights, so he fell into the bushes and rolled out quietly, careful not to make too much noise. Before running down the street to Sarah's house, Pickles glanced inside of the dining room window, watched as his parents and Seth laughed and talked, the perfect vision of an everyday Amercian family...they seemed happy without him.

Swallowing down all his sorrow, Pickles began his slow pilgrimage down the street, his hands in his pockets and his head hung low against the biting September cold. Around his feet leaves swirled and blew, frightened off the btanches of their trees by the early autumn. He bit his lip. Maybe running away wasn't such a good idea after all...

As he approached Sarah's house, he hesitated before picking up a little rock. Not really knowing what else to do—or why he was really here in the first place—he launched it up at a window. He wasn't sure where Sarah's room was, so it was a blind, careless shot. By some miracle it made its point, and in a moment the window opened and Sarah was staring down at him from her second-story room.

"Pickles? You idiot, what are you doing here?"

He shrugged, tried to act indifferent to her harsh words. "I'm running away."

"Are you crying?"

He opened his mouth then closed it again. Pressing a hand to his cheek, he wiped at a tear that had been snaking its way down his face; his face blushed and he retorted, "No, I'm not. I never cr-"

"What the hell are you doing here?"

"I told you, I'm-"

"No," Sarah cut in, her voice snappish and annoyed. "I mean why are you waking me up before running away?"

Pickles smiled up at her and responded sweetly, "You wanna come with me?"

She laughed coldly and her pale eyes reflected the distant light of the moon as she hissed, "Do I want to come with you? Pickles, we're just kids. That's stupid. You don't even know me."

"I know I love you."

"We're just kids," she repeated, "only grown-ups can fall in love."

Pickles frowned as he considered this. After a long moment of thought, he said, "But I wanna take you with me. C'mon, we'll have a lot of fun, I swear. I'm gonna be famous one day, and we'll be rich, and-"

"You really are an idiot." Sarah said, laughing again.

Pickles felt his heart grow heavy with her words of rejection and shame. "I am not!"

"Yes you are! You think that just because you drink a few beers you're a grown-up? You're just a dumb, stupid boy. I don't even like you, Pickles. You don't know when to quit; you got me in alotta trouble today, and-"

"You got me in trouble, Sarah!" he said angrily. "And you don't even care!"

"No," She said, smiling evilly down at him. "I really don't. You were dumb if you thought I'd ever be your girlfriend or even kiss you. I really just wanted to taste that stuff, and you...well, you're stupid. I'm tired now, so I'm going to bed. Have a good walk home."

Just before she sut her window, Pickles called, his eyes full of tears, "But don't you wanna-"

"Go home, Pickles!"

And she slammed her window shut. He stood there for a long while feeling utterly confused. Sure, he was young, but he really, really had liked her. They might be just kids, but...but...God, did he feel like a big fool. A huge fool. Sorrowfully, not knowing what else to do, Pickles turned and proceeded to walk back to his house. He didn't decide it right then, but in a few more years, by the time he was in high school, he'd decide that not only was love not real, but it was overrated. The only depth there ever could be to a relationship was sex, that was it. He'd never love anybody and they'd never love him, because life just wasn't meant to work that way.

Life just wasn't meant to work in his favor or even be all that great; that's what drugs and alcohol was for.

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Chapter 1, Part 1

Norwegian Winter

Toki huddled into a tight bundle in his bed. It was cold; freezing. Nights in Lillehammer were usually were long and miserable. Sometimes he would sneak girls into his room. He was a nice-looking guy, after all, so they would come easily. Of course he would never actually do anything with them. He wasn't like that. Instead he might just let them listen to a couple of his Iron Maiden C.D.s or whatever...he really was a nice guy, but people always seemed to get mad at him. The girls he brought into his room to talk to—sometimes he was so lonely—would get mad because he wouldn't touch them, and they'd end up storming out of the house. That would wake up his parents and they would make him work all thru night the next day. Of course he'd thought of running away, but he was only fourteen. How could a fourteen-year-old kid survive in a hostile place like Norway? How could he survive the winters without a house or warmth? He was had all of those things now and he could barley live thru the night.

Toki sighed and watched as the warm vapor of his breath made a white cloud in the freezing air of his room. On nights like tonight he was so very alone. Cold and alone. He wished he had someone warm to talk to...he wished so badly he could go away, or at least to sleep. His parents had a fireplace in their room. They were always warm...

Toki shut his eyes and began singing to a little Norwegian song. It was a happy tune, one that always made him forget his problems and cheer up again. He couldn't be sad, because if he was then life would never get better. He had to be happy.

Always.

The next morning Toki woke up and spent the whole day doing chores. It was boring work. Mostly all he did was shovel snow and haul around huge crates of herring. Usually nobody talked to him. To say that Toki's family was odd would be a severe understatement; his father was a reverend and his mother always carried around a rosary, and they were both constantly. Other kids feared Toki, thought that if they spent time with him his parents would curse their homes or something, so naturally he had never had many friends. He had some, sure, because he wasn't a very quiet kid. He was social and cheeful, always smiling, but this didn't stop most of the kids from making fun of him. Like today, as he shoveled the snow out of his yard—the stuff just kept falling and falling!-a kid walked up to him and frowned.

"Hey, Toki Wartooth."

"Hmm." he said, trying to focus on his work. He was almost done. As soon as he finished the front yard he could move on to the back...maybe he'd finish his chores early today.

The other kid frowned at this and kicked some more snow into the yard, laughing as Toki began to shovel it up. "Toki Wartooth, you're a weird kid. You know that?"

He shrugged and responded with another, "Hmm."

People loved evoking a negative reaction from him. He knew this, so he always tried to control his temper during times like this one. The kid began stomping thru the yard, picking up hunks of ice and chucking them at him. Toki threw down his shovel and sighed. He pushed some of his long, brown hair out of his face and asked, "Can I help you with something? Why are you in my yard?" He didn't know English yet, but he was slowly learning it from his Iron Maiden C.D.s Whenever somebody really pissed him off, he'd curse in English under his breath, grinning and knowing that nobody around him could understand anything other than Norwegian. That's exactly what he did now as the kid threw another huge hunk of hardened ice at him. Toki ducked and hissed under his breath, "Asshole."

The boy immediately let the new piece of ice he was holding fall from his gloved hand. His eyes grew wide as he asked in Norwegian, "What did you just call me? Was that some kind of crazy God-talk or something?"

Toki smiled to himself, picked up his shovel, and resumed his work. The kid didn't leave. Instead he walked right up to Toki, took a handful of his long hair, and tugged roughtly, laughing at the curse he let out. "Toki, you're hair is too long. Can't your parents afford to get it cut?" he said the last word as he pulled again. "You look like a girl."

"Leave me alone!" he tried to pull away, but the boy wouldn't let go of his hair. "I don't want to get it cut!"

"Why not? You look like a queer. Do you know that? A big, fucking queer." he ripped the shovel out of Toki's grip and threw it on the ground. "What're you gonna do about it? Huh?"

"I...I..." Toki's voice trailed off. He took a deep breath and said, "Please let me go. I have to finish my chores or dad will make me work all night."

"Why do you do everything they say?" the kid asked, releasing his hold on Toki's hair and shoving him backwards. "You know that it's never going to stop snowing, so why do you keep shoveling your yard like this? It makes you look stupid."

"You should respect your parents." was his simple response as he went to pick his shovel back up. "They love you and feed you and give you a home, so you should-"

"You're so dumb," The kid said, laughing. He paused then picked up another hunk of ice from off the snow-covered ground. "When're you gonna grow up?"

Toki bit his lip. "I am growing up."

"No you're not. It's like you're a fucking two-year-old. Don't you ever just wanna get out of here? Don't you wanna do anything with your life, or are you really as big of a waste as you look?"

He turned red. "I'm not a waste."

The kid shrugged and went to walk away. "Toki Wartooth, you're so stupid. Don't you ever wonder why you don't have any friends? It's 'cause you're weird. It's 'cause your parents are freaks and you are to. I guess you really are a waste." and just before he left the yard, he chucked the hunk of ice at Toki, laughing as it cracked against his shoulder. Just before his voice faded away into the freezing winds, the kid shouted, "And get a haircut, you fucking queer!"

Toki let out a hiss of pain, dropped his shovel, and gripped his shoulder. "Fucks." he whispered. "Crap. That ams painful."

It was probably the first full, coherent sentence he'd ever managed to say in English, and once the words left his mouth, he smiled. "I...can dos it? I can talks Hen-glish?" and he silently thanked God. "Maybes I really can gets out of here and dos something with my life. Maybes I'm not a waste."

He finished his chores slowly, piecing together more short little sentences in English. He sang Iron Maiden songs to himself as he worked, and when he was done he decided that he had enough money hidden in his room to buy himself something—he managed to save whatever money he got from his birthday and holidays. It didn't amount to much, in fact it was worse than pitiful, but it might be just enough to buy a new C.D. His parents lived just outside the actual town of Lillehammer, but he could get there before the sun went down. The first place he visited was the music store. Almost nobody other than him went in there. It was mostly just a store that sold rock albums, and most people in Lillehammer hated rock. Toki loved it, though.

He went up to the cashier and showed him his handful of money. "What can I buy for this?"

The man behind the counter glanced over at him, sighed, and rolled his eyes. "Well if it isn't the long-haired girl, Toki Wartooth. What do you want?"

"Anything."

He frowned and held up a finger. "Hold on." and he went to the back store room and began throwing things around. "For that much I'll give you something that I think—hmm...hold on—yes, here it is." he came back out holding an old guitar. Toki frowned.

"I don't even know how to play that. What is it?"

"This," he said, laying it gently down on the counter. "Is a classic—a Gibson Flying-V electric guitar."

Toki arched a brow. "Okay...what am I supposed to do with that?"

He shrugged. "I don't know, play it, I suppose. Just consider it a favor—a major favor. It's worth money, but nobody in this stupid town will buy it. I had it on display for a couple of months then put it in the back. It's a hopeless cause, trying to get anyone in Lillehammer interested in rock." he gave Toki a sideways smirk and asked, "You're interested, yes?"

"I don't know. Sure, I guess." and he took it and put his money on the counter. "How do I-"

"Here, and take this, too."

He tossed him a free Iron Maiden C.D. And said, "For good luck."

"Wowee, thanks!" Toki exclaimed as he was ushered out of the store.

The cashier rolled his eyes at this joyous display and said, "Now go, Toki Wartooth. Go home and cut your hair."

"Okay, whatever you say! Thanks!" and he gave the man a quick hug then hurried down the street, holding his new guitar and his C.D. close, smiling.

Months passed. Toki really had no way of practicing on his new guitar—he had no amp, no teacher, and no clue. He still learned fairly well on his own, and in six month's time he was pretty damn good. He listened to the C.D., too. As soon as he uncovered his C.D. player and popped in the little disc, he knew that there was something more going on there. He didn't know why, but suddenly he dreamed of being in a band.

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Chapter 1, Part 2

Do Anything For Dethklok

A period of about five years passed, one where Toki's self-induced alienation worsened. By the time he was nineteen he had nearly saved up enough money to move out of his parent's place. Other people his own age still threw chucks of ice at him while he was working and called, "Toki, you still just can't afford to get yourself a damn haircut? That's a same. Do you need to borrow the money?"

They'd throw dollars and cents at him and he'd take it and use it to buy more C.D.s he really didn't care what they had to say, or at least he tried not to. His parents sensed his growing detachment from his chores and God. They made him go to church twice as much and work longer into the night. He was worn out, but he always practiced at his guitar, and soon he was hurrying to the radio, trying desperately to catch any snippets from interviews from a newly rising band called Dethklok. They were apparently touring Europe and were currently in France. Soon they'd play in Spain, then come to Norway. Toki didn't catch much from the interviews. After all, his English was still terrible and most of the time the radio was fuzzy and his parents would switch it off quickly, trying to pull their son back into the real world.

What he did catch, though was usually the deep, harsh voice of a man saying, "We're going to make everything brutal..."

Toki smiled and repeated, "Brutal? What does that mean?"

He had no clue. He just continued on with his regular, boring life until one day he went into the music store to by some more C.D.s. What he ended up walking out with something so much greater. "No Iron Maiden for you today, Toki Wartooth, the long-haired wonder," the cashier said, handing a plain album to him. "I think this would fit your taste nicely. It is a demo tape, but a damn good one."

The case read in sloppily written letters Dethklok. It didn't click, soToki laughed and asked, "No, I want Iron Maiden or something heavy—what's this junk?" in his mind nothing could compare to Iron Maiden.

"A newly rising band. They're becoming amazingly popular and they're supposed to do a concert here in a few months."

Toki's smile melted away as he remembered all he had heard on the radio. He asked, his pale blue eyes shining with excitement, "Wowee! A real concert? That's going to be amazing!"

The cashier chuckled. "You think? Well here, then. You can have my ticket. My girlfriend got it for me, but I don't really want to go. I'm not interested in what they sing anyway—American trash. It bores me."

Toki took the ticket and held it as if it were the most precious thing in the world. "I...you're just giving it to me? Thank you much! This is...wow...Dethklok..."

He walked out of the store that day feeling amazing. He had a new dream as he popped the C.D. into his player. The blaring, roaring music was good, but it seemed to be missing something to him, some key sound...Toki grinned and glanced over at his guitar. "I coulds do it if they'd give me a chance...I know I could..." And in his mind he really thought he could be the rhythm guitarist for Dethklok.

The day of the concert came, and as Toki gathered up his things his father watched him, a deep frown upon his wrinkled face. "Toki..." he began.

"Dad, don't even try," he said, putting his hair behind his ears. "I know what I'm doing."

"Toki, I know you think you're an adult, but you're just not. This is complete maddness!" when his son said nothing, he grabbed the suitcase he was packing and hissed in his ear, "What do you think you're going to do to earn money? Once you walk out that door—once you abandon God himself—then you abaondon this family. We will no longer support you."

"I don't want to abandon you, dad, just...I don't want this forever. Don't you get that?"

"So what? You're going to run away to America, with that band if they accept you? And what in your right mind even lets the notion that they would so much as consider someone like you-"

"What do you mean, dad?" Toki asked, closing his suitcase. "You mean I'm a waste, right?"

His lips became a thin line and he looked down. "You've got to grow up, got to stop living these stupid, childish-"

"Shut up, dad! I know what I'm doing!"

As soon as the words left his mouth, Toki knew that he'd gone too far. He shook his head quickly, sputtering, "No, I didn't...I don't...I'm sorr-" His father's fist collided with the side of his face. Toki gasped and rushed to defend himself; he recoiled, as he had always done, and began crying, "Dad, hitting me won't make me stay this time! It won't make me do what you want, not now! All of that's over. I...I'm not scared of you anymore. I..." I hate you.

There were some things that Toki refused to think about, like the fact that whenever he said or did something that his parents didn't like, they'd beat him. They wouldn't hit him or discipline him, they'd beat the shit him until he couldn't stop crying, until he'd have to go to sleep on the cold floor and drag himself to a doctor the next morning. He could tell that something like that was about to happen again, like it had so many other times, but Toki wouldn't have it. He was stronger than his father now, and although he was still terrified of him, he would get away no matter what. He would never have to drag himself to a doctor again, coughing up blood, cradling his broken arm or trying not to gasp for breath with his broken ribs...it was over.

Without another word he walked out the door and went to the Dethklok concert. They played, it was amazing—although it was still missing something—and then proceeded to pack up their stuff. Toki was slowly growing desperate. He knew he couldn't return home, and he knew full well that he had to talk to them. He had to. Carefully he slipped past the security and backstage. It was chaos, so Toki really didn't know what to do other than stumble up to the first person he saw. It was a red-haired man with startlingly green eyes and the oddest accent that Toki'd ever heard. "Hey, excuse mes? Hey?"

The man turned around, looking quite annoyed. "Whadda want, huh? Who're you?"

"A fans."

"Uh-huh." he arched a peirced brow and glanced past Toki. "How the fuck did you get 'dem to let you pass?"

He shrugged. "I don'ts know, but I haves to ask you something—I can play guitar, and-"

"Yeah, dude, I don't do 'dat. You wanna go talk to Skwisgaar about that. He's the guitarist."

Toki frowned. "Skwi...Skwi..." he struggled to say the name and finally ended up admitting, "I'm reallys Norwegian, and I really can'ts understand or speak English, so-"

"Apparently nat, or you would've seen the signs that say 'NO FANS ARE ALLOWED BACKSTAGE'." when Toki gave him a confused, lost look, the redhead smiled a little and asked, "What's your name anyways, kid?"

"Navn?"

"Your name. Y'know, your name? I'm Pickles the drummer. Can you at least understand 'dat?"

Toki gave him a hopeless look and repeated, "Pickle?"

"Yeah. What's your name?"

"T...Toki Wartooth."

"Okay, good. And Toki Wartooth, what the hell are you doin' backstage?"

He bit his lip. Why could he suddenly understand nothing? Damn it, he'd been practicing for this, dreaming about it for years, but now he chose to act like an idiot? All he could do was turn red and ask cluelessly, "Jeg ønsker å være i bandet ditt, takk."

Pickles frowned and reached over. He grabbed a nearby beer and passed it to Toki, asking warmly, "Want a beer, dude?"

"B...Beer?" he arched a brow, took it, and drank a small sip from it. He frowned and passed it back to the drummer, shaking his head. "Ikke bra."

From a ways away a man called, "Pickles, are you all set to go? We'll be departing in five minutes!"

"Yeah," he said back. "Almost!" then he turned back to the Norwegian and said, "Look, since I really can't understand anything your sayin', but I don't think that you're doin' that...great..." he really didn't know how to say it, but Pickles could tell that Toki was distressed, dying to say something that he just couldn't get out. It also didn't appear as if he'd had a place to sleep in a few weeks, but this wasn't saying much. None of Dethklok's fans were really that great to look at. Still, though, he didn't hesitate to take hold of Toki's arm and begin walking. "Just follow me," he said, making sure the Norwegian kept close and didn't get lost amidst the madness of backstage. "I'll take you to Skwisgaar. He'll know what you're saying. He's Swedish."

"Swedish, not ams being Norwegian?"

Pickles shrugged. "Sure, I guess." As they approached a tall, golden-haired man, he called, "Hey, Skwisgaar, we got a situation here!"

The Swede turned, a brow arched and quizzical look on his face. As soon as he laid his shining dark blue eyes on Toki, he scoffed. "Ja, and just who ammnest 'dat?"

"I dunno, that's the thing. I think he said his name's Toki or somethin'."

"And what ammnest he doings here backstage? You know no fans ammnest allowed back here. Haves him assaski-hiated or somethings. Get one of thems Klokateers to dos it."

Pickles quickly shook his head and indicted to the guitar Toki had slung over his shoulder. "Dude, we're not gonna have him assassinated 'cause I think he plays, but I'm not sure."

"Sos what?"

"He speaks Norwegian and I can't understand him."

Skwisgaar rolled his eyes. "Pickle, we leaves in a few minutes-es and you wants me to transkli-miate that dildo's words?"

"I think he wants to ask us somethin' important."

"Swedish ands Norwegian ain't even the same language, douchbag!"

"Just do it, please!" Pickles begged, releasing his hold on Toki's arm. He turned to the cowering Norwegian and instructed, "Hey, dude, tell him whatever you've gat on your mind before we have to leave."

Skwisgaar sighed. "Fines, I'll talks to him." he glared down at Toki and asked, "Vad är det som du vill ha av oss? Varför har du smyga tillbaka hit?

What is it that you want from us? Why did you sneak back here?

Toki answered in a shaking voice, "Jeg ønsket å fortelle deg at jeg virkelig elsker musikk og spiller gitar, så jeg bare lurte på om ... Jeg har hørt at din gamle rytmegitarist hardkokte hardkokte ut av kontrakten hans, så-"

I wanted to tell you that I really love your music and I play guitar, so I was just wondering if...I heard that your old rhythm guitarist bailed bailed out of his contract, so-

Skwisgaar snickered and said, "Så du ville vad? Bli vår nya gitarrist?"

So you wanted to what? Become our new rhythm guitarist?

The Norwegian nodded and said in his broken English, "Ja, I guess I dids. God, it sounds really sutpid now, though."

"What?" Pickles asked, his eyes shifting from one man to the other. "What'd he say? What does he want?"

Skwisgaar ignored him and said, his voice full of derision, "Yeah, it ammnest pretty stupids. What did you say your name was agains?"

"Toki Wartooth."

"Hmm. Well, Tokis Wartooth, you've got to be the biggest waste of-"

"Excuse me boys, but who is this?"

They all turned and Pickles let out a relieved little sigh. "Hey, Ofdensen, you're here. I-"

"Yes, I'm here because everyone is waiting for you on the bus. We have that show tomorrow in Finland, so let's just get rid of this fan and go. Come on, chop, chop." he clapped his hands together. The drummer, however, shook his head.

He hadn't really understood any of the conversation, but he did make out the word 'guitar'-or gitar-a bunch of times, so he said, "No, you don't get it. He wants to be our new rhythm guitarist." and he turned to the Norwegian and asked, "Right, Toki?"

He nodded and answered firmly, "Ja, I woulds really likes it."

"Well guys, this is a major decision, letting a fan-"

"I'm not just a fans, sir. I can reallys play guitar," Toki interjected, staring at Ofdensen with his pale blue, innocently excited eyes. "I ams pretty good. Not as good as Skwisgaar Skwigelf—never as good as hims—but good."

Pickles frowned. "I thought you couldn't speak English."

"You just makes me nervous. Sorry."

He shrugged this off and said to Ofdensen, "Look, don't be a dick be a dude. Let's give him a chance. I mean, it's not like he have anyone else to fill in, so-"

"Nos way," Skwisgaar cut in. "That ammnest totally never goings to happen. He's dildos, just looks at him! He sneaks backstage wearing 'dem rags-es and hims hair all everywhere. He looks pitiful. Nos, absolutely not. Right, Ofdensen?"

The finely suited man stared at Toki and sighed. "Skwisgaar, that's just it. He looks horrible." and he gently laid a hand on Toki's shoulder, and asked in a coolly professional way, "Son? Toki?"

He looked up, sniffled, and wiped his nose. His jacket was too long for him, so the sleeves hung over his hands. "Ja?"

"Do you have a place to stay tonight?"

They all held their breaths, awaiting the trembling, exhausted Norwegian's answer. Finally he said, his blue eyes flickering down to the floor, "I rans away, so nos. I don't." and he paused and added brokenly, "Can't go back, neither, can never go back...they didn't likes me going to Dethklok concert, leaving. They didn't even want me to learn English. They-"

"Umm-hm. And just who is 'they', Toki?" Ofdensen asked, his eyes full of honest concern.

"My parents-es."

Skwisgaar groaned and rolled his eyes once again, clearly unmoved by his words. "Ofdensen, you can'ts really consider this! This ams pity case, that's all! Just because he says that hims parents don't want him no more-"

"I think we should give him a chance," Pickles said, staring at Toki, his green eyes ablaze. "He might be good, right? Besides, he don't got anywhere else to go."

"Sos what? I don'ts care."

"Okay, so maybe since we're all so busy not carin' about anything we should just send you back to your mam in Sweden," Pickles spat. "How about 'dat?"

"Pickles, please," Ofdensen began. "Let's just all calm down."

"Fucks this," Skwisgaar said, sulking. "We don'ts needs another guitarist; I can dos it just fine."

Toki shook his head and tugged at the sleeve of Ofdensen's suit. He said in Norwegian, "Jeg beklager. Jeg ønsket ikke å lage bråk. Bør jeg reise? Det er fint, jeg har sovet i det kalde før. Jeg kan administrere."

"What did he say, Skwisgaar?" Pickles asked.

"He saids..." the Swede spoke, his voice heavy with guilt, "...he saids that he doesn't want to makes us fight and 'dat he'll go and sleep outside in the snows tonight, 'cause he haves dones it before..." and he lowered his head and said, "Fines, we can keeps him—it. See how it goes, I guess."

Ofdensen nodded. "That's all we're asking, Skwisgaar. Keep in mind, though, that the rest of the band still has to meet him and come to an agreement, so there's still a chance that-"

"Let's just go," Pickels said, noticing how badly Toki was shivering against the cold, just how pale and weak he looked. The two walked off, leaving the drummer to explain the situation to the Norwegian, who was staring at him with wide, tear-filled and terrified eyes.

"I ams leave?"

"No," he said. "Just follow me."

"We going?"

"Yeah."

Toki swallowed and asked, sniffling, "I ams to come?"

"Sure, if you still want." when the Norwegian gave him a questioning look, the drummer nodded and said clearly, "Yeah."

"Warm?"

"Huh?" Pickles stopped walking and turned to him. "What did you just say?"

Toki looked up at the falling flecks of white snow, felt the chilling wind cutting thru the thin layers of his old jacket, and asked with some difficulty, "Ams it warm? No more cold?"

"No," he said, shaking his head. "No more cold. Just come on." he took Toki's arm and guided him all the way to the bus, ignoring the sound of crunching snow beneath his shoes. He hated the snow. If he ever saw it again, it would be too soon.

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**A/N**

Well...guess there really isn't much to say. For the record—I know I mention this in every Metalocalypse fanfic I write—when Pickles says stuff like 'jab' instead of job, it's not a misspelling. It's just always how I type him and his voice. Also, I don't speak Norwegian or Swedish—I'm from Louisiana, for God's sake—so I use Google translate. Please don't get mad if something's not conjugated correctly or whatever. I'm trying my best. In case you were wondering, Toki's obsession with Iron Maiden is mainly added in for two reasons: [1] Iron Maiden is one of my favorite bands; [2] I read somewhere that some of the creators/voices for Metalocalypse compared Toki's guitar stlye to that of a dude in Iron Maiden. So yup, there you go.

Anyways, reviews are much appreciated and loved. Hope you enjoyed the story so far. Lots more to come. Peace & Love.