involves a twenty-six-year-old-man in a (eventual) relationship with a seventeen year old. warning you now so I don't have to later.

.prologue.

He was slightly surprised that he wasn't more tired at work during the day. Night after night, Jeremy Bennenfield found himself awake, thinking, making mental lists of what he had to do the next day. And wondering. Wondering what life would be like without his thirteen-year-old son and three-year-old daughter. He would never give them up, but damn him if he didn't ever wish he had help.

Crying broke him from his routine thoughts, and he sighed. A quarter after four in the morning. He had gone to bed six hours ago, and he was still awake. The worst part? His alarm was set for six, and it was only an hour and forty-five minutes away.

"Hold on, Autumn, I'll be there in a minute…" he climbed out of bed, wishing he would never had gotten involved with Melanie Hojo, the school slut of his time, causing him to have never finished high school, which ultimately resulted in him getting a GED at age nineteen, and scoring a job at Wal-Mart as Jeremy the Star Cashier.

Jeremy trudged into the hallway, peeking in the living room at his son Darren. He ran a hand over his face with a sigh. At least he could take care of himself…mostly.

"Autumn…" he whispered, closing the­­­ door quickly so her sobbing wouldn't wake up her brother.

"I had a-a bad dream," she managed between sobs, voice cracking, hyperventilating with every breath. It was a horrible sound, and Jeremy gathered her into his arms, not asking because he wasn't sure if he wanted to know, and also because he didn't want her to have to relive it.

"Shh…" he held her, rocking the three-year-old until she drifted back to sleep. Jeremy tucked her back in, leaving as silently as he could, heading to the living room with another sigh.

Without a glance to the television, he shook Darren softly from his slumber. "Sit up," he ordered gently, waiting as the boy sat up, checking the time quickly.

"I, uh…couldn't sleep," he said sheepishly. "It's been a long week," he watched as his son swallowed, beginning a laugh and ending it abruptly. "So I should be sleeping, not awake, talking about not sleeping…"

"You were," Jeremy pointed out, curiously eyeing his son. "Is everything alright? You've been really…distant lately,"

"Darren swallowed again and sat up straighter. "Yeah. Fine. Peachy,"

Still unconvinced but too weak to push it any farther, he sighed as he stood up. "Okay…but if you want to talk…" Jeremy smiled when the boy nodded. "Okay. G'night,"

"Night, Dad," he closed the door to his bedroom, sighing at the size. Time after time, Jeremy had attempted to switch places with Darren – let the younger male take his bed while he slept on the couch. It hurt him, how every time he brought it up, Darren told him to let it go – that he was comfortable in the living room.

"I worry, Darren…if a robber…" he would say, only to be answered with "I can defend myself, Dad. Stop worrying,"

Half an hour later, he finally fell asleep, well aware of his growing headache and that in an hour, he'd have to wake up.

The first chapter of the rewrite…short, but…maybe it's more like a prologue…I like it more than the original, MUCH more, though, so...And I'm well aware that Jeremy's name changed. And Melanie's last name, Hojo, was provided by my cousin – the obsessed anime nerd she is. (love you!)