prologue

He had a headache, and all the noise inside the store- pointlessly loud conversations and a radio blaring something that was supposed to be music- wasn't helping.

So Travis paid for his coffee and walked out. It was a cool morning- early enough that most people were still in their beds. It wasn't cold, but it was cool enough that the warm cup of coffee in his hands felt nice. He leaned against the wall of the building and looked up. The stars were just beginning to fade away in the timid sun's light, the weather was good, and it was a beautiful morning, but…

Travis shook his head.

Something one of his buddies had said to him was sticking in his head. They'd been talking about the fact that he didn't have a girlfriend, and his buddy had oh so helpfully suggested it had something to do with the dreams.

Ever since he could remember, he'd had dreams. Nightmares that made him wake up screaming… but once he was awake, he couldn't tell you what they were about or anything.

But lately…they'd been becoming more and more frequent. And while he still couldn't have told you what they were about, what had caused them…fragments of them he could remember now, as if they were etching themselves in his head. The sound of a child crying-a teddy bear lying abandoned on the cold cement floor-a house on fire- a playground, empty and abandoned, except for a single girl on a swing…

Travis shook his head, then quickly drained the last of his coffee and strode towards his truck.

Dreams didn't matter- they were just fleeting things that came in the night and then disappeared. It didn't make a difference that the image of the girl on the swing- blurry and unrecognizable but still screaming for his attention- wouldn't go away.

Time to get back to the things that were real.

OoOoOoOo

Looking up, looking across to where he was sitting, knees up to his chest and his head bowed…the teddy bear lay in the middle of the floor between them.

She wanted to open her mouth and say something, but she couldn't. Everything felt strange- far away and heavy enough to break her apart.

Footsteps, loud and heavy. The door opened, and a pair of feet, adult feet were revealed. She couldn't see them, not really, not from underneath the table where she was hiding. She wished the boy would come hide with her, but she couldn't call to him-

He didn't move, not until the feet came into the room and pulled him to his feet, neither roughly nor gently, and guided him to the door. Before it shut, he paused, as if he'd looked back at her, but the table was blocking her view of him now too.

The door shut.

The teddy bear had been left on the floor.

After sitting there a moment, she dragged herself to her feet and walked over to it, and gently picked it up and hugged it to her chest.

The bear was ragged and well loved…it smelled like him- like the boy.

She began walking. The door stretched upwards in front of her, but she didn't even look at it, and it swung open before she crashed into it. There was no way to tell where the boy had been taken, but she kept walking anyway. Like her feet knew, even though her head didn't. Going further down the hallway, past bars and strange rooms…she didn't even glance at any of them…she just kept walking and walking.

The hallway turned, and she followed it. At the end, a single door. She stopped and looked up at it. After a moment, it opened. She walked inside.

-A barrage of images so fast- an assortment of voices mixed together to make nonsense-

Cheryl opened her eyes and stared at the dark ceiling. That dream again. It'd been coming more and more often lately.

She'd heard that reoccurring dreams were normal, but all the ones she'd read about seemed to involve more of a reoccurring theme than an actual repetition of events. In her dreams, everything just repeated itself,

replaying over and over again. Although, once she was awake, details would fade. Despite all her time staring at the boy in the dream, she couldn't have told you what he looked like.

Speaking of waking up…Cheryl could hear the clatter of dishes that meant her father was awake and cooking breakfast. She sighed and got out of bed.

Time to start the day and forget about dreams that showed her a boy who would never appear. Besides, there was a lot of things still to be done in getting ready for their family vacation.

OoOoOoOo

And this is where the writer comes out and monologues!

Okay, first things first. I own nothing (duh). And secondly-this is one wacky AU. Things got tossed together in a slightly crazy way. I kinda like it though. This is why I'm posting it.

I warn you though. Not only are my fight scenes lacking, I like weird couples, and am very attached to my happy endings (or, at least, semi-happy or bittersweet that are heavy on the sweet endings).

Also, the layout of the town and the buildings may be completely off, as may some other things. I apologize for that (unless it's one of the those things that changed as a result of this being an AU).

Anyway, enough prattling. I hope you all enjoy this story, and would greatly appreciate any reviews.