|Just A Dream
Author: NintendoGal55 PM
AzureNintendo sequel numero uno to "Sewing Basket", in which Jack and Sally faced having a VERY romantic dream of each other, with the events of before being just a dream. Thought it does entail a deeper connection between the two.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Hurt/Comfort/Romance - Jack S. & Sally - Words: 31,030 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 18 - Published: 10-19-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7477962
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
NintendoGal55: So, this is the first of our two sequels from our little random one-shot called "Sewing Basket". In this sequel, to put it basically, it takes place as if that story was just a dream Sally had. But oh, wait, looks like Jack may have had a similar dream. ;)
The best way to put it, I think, is that this explores a deeper connection Jack and Sally may have had...but never quite followed through with, until the end of the movie. We hope you guys like it! :3
Azure129: Hi everyone! NintendoGal explained things pretty perfectly so I'll just say that I hope you all enjoy this and that you'll please R&R! We love you! 8D YAY for Jack and Sally!
We do not own the characters! Only Tim Burton does!
Jack snuggled a little into her too. "It'll all work out, Sally...We'll just ease into things...and we'll be okay..." He squeezed her hand. "It's a new day, after all..."
"...You're right...we will. It's a new day...and tomorrow, it'll start all over again..." She squeezed his hand back. "We'll make it..."
Jack nodded. "We'll be wonderful together...my love..."
They walked out of the graveyard gate, just quiet and happy together as they prepared to return to the real world...In love and ready to keep things that way...forever.
There was the sound of the undead rooster, crowing, signaling that it was morning. A new day. Strange, though Sally still slept, she felt...a little odd. But why? She felt all right, but, there was something weird in the air. And weren't they just leaving the graveyard? Together?
"Something's up with Jack
Something's up with Jack..."
The sun was slowly pouring over her...and she opened her eyes, seeing that Vampire brothers standing nearby. They were singing about..Jack? Something was up with Jack? Sally immediately was wide awake, taking in her surroundings. She was sitting up against the stone wall next to Jack's gate.
"Don't know when we're ever going to get him back..."
The Vampire brothers then seemed glide away, covering their faces as the sun rose higher.
A moment later, the wolfman walked by, looking up toward Jack's home with worry.
"He's all alone up there
Locked away inside..."
"Never says a word." Said the Corpse mother, Bertha, as she and her son walked by, pulling him along on a leash.
"Hope he hasn't died." Said Ethan the corpse child.
"Something's up with Jack
Something's up with Jack..."
Stricken with worry, Sally peered around the stone wall, looking through the gate and up to Jack's tower, seeing him pacing around in there.
She had been asleep...outside. Alone.
Sadness overtook her.
It was a dream.
All that had happened last night and the morning after was a dream. Nothing but a dream.
It took all of Sally's strength not to weep. All that could distract her was her worry for him right now.
She had to agree with the citizens right now who had been passing by. There was something wrong. Something was up with Jack.
Meanwhile, inside of Jack's house, the Pumpkin King was indeed pacing away, feeling extra 'fervent' in regards to his Yuletide pursuits...In fact he was literally THROWING himself into his study of Christmas right now ENTIRELY...He HAD to...because otherwise he...well...so much of last night he had spent awake moderately puzzling over Christmas but during that last hour or so before sunrise he had sort of dozed off...after taking another inhale of that sweet bottle of fragrance and spice and butterfly smoke which a certain someone had sent him...and after that...he had sort of...had a dream...
But he did NOT want to think about it so now it was Christmas, Christmas, CHRISTMAS and that was all he was doing!
Well, as anyone would not guess, for the most part, there was a lot more to his little current obsession with Christmas at the moment. Yes, he was indeed puzzled and still wanted to discover the deeper meaning of it, entirely! But, there was something else in his mind that happened to be plaguing his thoughts, just barely managing to creep their way into his field of current thought. It was even still fresh in his mind!
When he had first discovered Christmas Town, and finally had time to soak it all in, and really see it...there was one thing, no, one person he thought of when it came to Christmas. As well as the desire to share it with them.
And now...it was starting to plague his thoughts a lot more than one would think.
All because of a dream he had...
~Jack's Dream/Flashback to earlier~
The doorbell was ringing and screaming. Odd, who was at the door? Especially after a certain little friend of his just left a cute little basket? The doorbell was then followed by incessant knocking.
Jack blinked. "Who could that be...?" he wondered aloud to himself, glancing to Zero who merely barked and smiled. He stood up from his place on his couch (where he had been investigating a few of the things in his nice new basket...) and walked over to the door. "Yes, yes, I'm coming!" he called out politely, realizing that if the person was this insistent about coming in then it might very well be an emergency or something. He placed his hand on the doorknob and opened the door wide...only to see someone whom he had actually...seen not so very long ago...even though it had ony been for a moment...and with the entire height of his observatory house separating him from her. "Sally?" He blinked, looking at her with a touch of surprise.
"Jack! ...I..." Sally looked down at her shoes, playing with her hair nervously, and she was shivering a bit. "Jack...I...I hate to bother you...I'm sorry...but it's...it's so...so cold...I..."
Jack blinked several times...and then instantly became aware of her visible shivering , upon which his instinct as a host, a gentleman and a King took over and instantly he placed his hands on her shoulders and pulled her inside, shutting the door behind them and leading her over to the couch. "Sally, you're shivering! How long have you been outside? Certainly not since you delivered me my basket..." That had been almost an hour ago! And it was winter and dark and chilly and damp! He sat her down and then grabbed a blanket off of the back of the couch and wrapped it around her snugly and then checked the fire to make sure it was blazing brightly. He turned back to her, looking at her with concern. "Sally...what are you doing here?" he had to ask in puzzlement.
Sally first settled into the blanket, and she looked very happy and content for a moment. Then she looked at him with wide, shy eyes. "I...I had nowhere else to go..." She choked out, looking down. "I...wanted to see you...I've missed you so much, Jack..." Then her big eyes looked at him pleadingly.
Jack's eye sockets went a little wide and he felt a touch flustered for a moment. "Me?" he asked with a confused blink. "What do you mean, Sally...?"
"You're my friend...and I missed you...I was worried." Sally confessed in a soft voice just barely above a whisper. "...I'm so sorry to bother you...It was cold...and I...I wanted to see you..." She looked down again.
Jack blinked and looked at her with a touch of concern. "Oh...Sally...you don't have to apologize for wanting to see me. We're friends, after all..." He smiled at her. "And well, you did send me this lovely basket..." he gestured to where it was on the coffee table, "At least this gives me a chance to thank you properly, right?" He smiled a little more at her.
Now she looked at him again, seeming to be quite surprised, and then she looked bashful as she barely met his gaze. "I'm glad you liked it... I wanted to give you something to make you feel better...less stressed."
Jack let out a small sigh, his eye sockets going a little half lidded in a warm way. "Well, you did a very good job at it, Sally...Nothing's felt as much like Christmas ever since I returned home as that basket from you...It was so...pretty and...nice..." He chuckled a little and had to add, unable to help it now that the thought had occurred to him... "Sort of like the person who sent it to me."
Sally looked at him blushingly, and smiled. "You...really think so, Jack? I mean...I never would've thought you'd associate...all of this..a-and...me...with Christmas..."
"Oh but...why not?" Jack shrugged, still smiling. "Both you and Christmas are nice and always make me smile. And besides, you seem to understand Christmas better than anyone else here...After all, you sent me a basket full of things that can actually help me to figure out Christmas...but everyone else just seems to come at me with more and more Halloween stuff. I hope they'll understand things soon." He chuckled a little at everyone's goodnatured though misguided sweetness.
"Oh...well...I-I see..." Sally looked down, an uncertain gaze on her face. She looked at him again. "...Jack? ...Sit with me?" She looked at him pleadingly.
For a moment Jack's smile left again, replaced once more but a look of surprise. But then he just blinked a few times and nodded. "Oh, um...of course, Sally..." He did his best to smile normally again and then sat gently beside her on the couch. For some reason tonight he felt like she looked...different than usual. Just...with how she was looking at him... It made him feel a little funny. He swallowed and glanced down shyly, unsure of what to say really. "Are...Are you warm yet, Sally?" he finally asked politely but also with genuine concern, finally glancing back to her again.
"I...I'm very warm Jack...thank you so much..." Sally now looked at him with an adoring, grateful smile, her big eyes gleaming at him with joy. "You're so good to me."
Jack blinked and his smile went a little funny for a moment and then he cleared his throat. "O-Oh, um...yes, well...you're always welcome of course, Sally. I...A-Anything I can do to be of assistance..." He gave a little sheepish shrug.
Right then, she scooted closer, and snuggled against him. "You've given me so much, and helped me more than I can say..." Sally then looked up at him with pleading eyes, which were almost tearful. "Save me, Jack...I need you...Please..."
Jack's eye sockets flew open about as wide as they could get! 'Wh-Wh...Huh?' His breathing picked up and he just looked at her in total shock and confusion! "S-Sally...what...what are...What do you...I..." he barely knew what to say and he suddenly felt nervousness coursing through his body.
"..Sorry! Sorry..." She looked down. "I didn't mean to get carried away... I'm just...scared...a-and unsure...and I..." Sniffles were heard from her then.
Jack blinked, his skull tilting to the side. "S-Sally...what is it?" he asked gently. "Is something bothering you...? You can tell me..." he assured caringly.
Now her eyes were filled with tears as she looked up at him, her lips trembling. "...Jack...I...I... ...I love you..." Came her tearful, soft, but genuine response. "...I just wanted you to know that." Now she looked down, and trembled again.
"Ah...I..." barely squeaked out of Jack's mouth, his jaw utterly dropped. What was...What did...He felt like things in the room were spinning and like HE was spinning and like she was...like she...was...she was...awfully close, wasn't she..."L-L-Love..." squeaked out of him sort of... "L-L-Like...how?" It was such a stupid question-after all, how many possibilities were there for the 'how' in this case...But he was plagued with denial at the moment and, well...he...She was just so close!
A hurt look came to her eyes as she shrank back, burrowing herself further in the blanket. "...I'm in love...with you, Jack...I-I understand you don't feel the same way. ...I just wanted to tell you the truth..." Sally began to cry softly, trembling. "I'm sorry..."
Jack took in a sharp gasp at her saying it again...confirming it...He was just frozen, just utterly frozen! He...she...And then suddenly it hit him that she was actually crying! Crying...all over him! Over being in love with him...And not in the way some of his more 'enthusiastic' female Pumpkin King admirers swore they 'just loved' him...No, this was so very much more, just from looking at her! "N-N-No, I...s-s-sorry...N-No, I..." The words were stumbling and bumbling out of his mouth, and in every pitch and tone it was possible for his throat to squeak out. "D-Don't cry..." was all he could come up with finally, "Please don't..." He didn't want her to be sad...and also he suddenly realized he couldn't bear the sight of it...It made him feel sad too...feel like crying. "Don't cry..." he managed again...all but ready to collapse in silent sobs himself.
Sniffles were heard, and her face disappeared within a few folds of the blanket. Sally looked up at him then, tears were streaming down her face like two thin waterfalls, her lips were quivering, and she was shaking a bit. "Jack..." Was all she said before she looked down again, still sobbing softly.
Just...the way she said his name like that...touched Jack in a way nothing ever had before. She looked like she was convinced he hated her or something...but of course he didn't...wouldn't...couldn't...never about anyone but especially about her! And it wasn't her fault...that she...felt...that way...about him...If anything it was probably his own fault-after all, the mayor and everyone else often said that he had a natural charm about him and knack for winning over the ladies. What if he had put those things into effect around Sally without even realizing it? How could he ever make something like that up to her? And... Jack blinked as something occurred to him... "S-Sally...what do you mean...you n-need me...to save you...?" he asked quietly, curiously.
"...I'm trapped, Jack...trapped...locked in my room all the time...never allowed to see the outside world." Was all she said, sniffling. "I want to get out, and be free."
"But...But Sally...you'll always be free...I...I know you have to help Dr. Finkelstein with so much but...I...H-How can I...help?" he asked with a small squeak in his voice, barely sure of what to say anymore.
A stricken look came to her face, and she bit her lip, looking unsure. "It's not that easy. ...I'm...no...I won't burden you like this... I-I should...g-go..."
"No!" It flew out of him before he could think about it at all! And now he realized, after it had been said, he had a hand on one of her wrists and he was holding it...and not letting go. He gulped at the sight, too paralyzed and nervous to do anything about it though. "I...I-I mean...I...N-No, I...wish you would...let me...h-help you..." he managed in the shyest voice he had ever used with anybody else ever.
"...Jack...I...I...okay." Now Sally smiled a bit. Then she came closer, and embraced him.
"Ah...O-Oh...Oh...Oh..." Lots and lots of things were processing through Jack's mind right now, and to be honest he was sort of on the borderline of panicking right now though...it was more because of himself than because of her. I-It was just...she was...n-nice and...he...and she...and...she really was just... "S-S-Sally, I...I don't know what to say..." he finally barely whispered in his overwhelmed state.
"It's okay, Jack...you don't have to say anything...but...thank you so much." Sally said softly. "I...I feel...a lot better now, Jack..." There was a tinge of sadness in her tone. "...A-Are you okay?"
"I...don't...know..." slipped out of him quietly, his eye sockets still so wide...breathing still so shallow...as she held him so very close...
Now Sally pulled back, looking really concerned. "...Is there anything I can do?" It was a lot to process, and how close she was, the way she looked concerned was quite a lot to take in, even for him. There was something motherly, and yet very intimate about her displays right now.
Jack gulped at that question. What she could do... "I...w-well, I...you...are...y-you could...um...You love me." It was a thought going through his head over and over and over and it awkwardly slipped out in his confusion and wonder before he could even realize it was on the tip of his tongue to escape him.
"...Yes...I do..." Sally looked down a bit, now gripping his shoulders, gently. "I-I know it's...a lot to put on you...but I just wanted you to know how I feel...that's all...I-I would never force you to love me back." She looked at him with sad eyes, but her smile was sincere, as well as her words.
'L-Love her...b-back...' And now a whole second universe of chaos exploded into Jack's mind. Before he had just been filled with the realization of her feelings...now he was filled as well with the realization of...how he could respond to those feelings. "I...am...happy you told me..." he spoke truthfully, barely sure what was going to leave his mouth until it left it, "...I-I didn't...didn't know...I-I don't think..." Her hands were still on his shoulders...It was making that whole 'room spinning' feeling start to come back. Her fingers and hands were soft, warm cloth, and after missing out on so much sleep lately thanks to Christmas, they felt so...relaxing upon him...
"Jack...I... I'll always be there for you...however you want me to be..." Sally whispered sweetly, and came closer. "I'm here for you...you're not alone...I promise." Then the sight of her midnight red lips came closer, and planted a little kiss on his temple.
Jack felt like he had been shot right through the ribcage. Her little kiss came and then it left but in that brief flash of time when her lips had been upon his skull, everything in his bones had all but burst in a something like all of Christmas condensed into a single perfect joyous drop of time! 'Kiss...' They kissed in Christmas Town too...all little kisses and hugs and love... "You kissed me, Sally..." He just couldn't help stating the obvious again. After all what the heck was going on here exactly a-and...w-wasn't this 'wrong' or something...Up here, alone, with her, unsupervised...and kisses... What was he supposed to do now?
"...Sorry...was that too much?" Now she looked at him with worry, biting her lip, and then looking ashamed and slightly nervous, as if waiting to be scolded.
"I-I-It was...a-a-a l-lot..." he breathed out, and suddenly realized his breathing had gone from shallow to heavy, his chest rising and falling deeply. "Where...Where did you learn to give kisses, Sally? I...I've only ever seen kisses in Christmas Town..." He realized the moment after he asked that it was such an awkward and personal question, and yet he couldn't help but be curious. He really had never seen anyone in Halloween Town kiss each other ever!
Sally looked a bit embarrassed, biting her lip. "...Story books. Pictures I found in a recycling bin for storybooks. And I...instinct...I suppose..."
"Oh. You did very good at it...g-giving kisses, I mean..." he replied shyly and quietly, glancing down...his forehead hot from where her lips had touched.
"Oh...thank you..." Now she scooted back shyly, shrinking more into the blanket.
She moved away from him and Jack almost felt a little chill go over him. He hadn't realized until right now how much of the warm going through him had been from her as opposed to the fire. Also, her moving away from him like that made him think about how sooner or later she would leave her completely...He didn't want that. The thought struck him so distinctly that he couldn't deny it even if he tried. He did not want her to leave him. "You're...welcome..." Hoping he wasn't being too forward he moved a little closer to her and took her hand and gently lifted it up... He let out a breath and decided to start as slowly and gently as possible. "Sally...?" he looked to her sweet face with all the understanding in the world.
"...Yes?" Sally looked at him with nervous curiosity, blinking a few times.
Jack took a breath, considered his words, and spoke to her with a kind smile. "First of all...I...am very flattered...and honoured...that you...love me..." He almost had to glance away in a touch of bashfulness at having to say it out loud like that...and while they were so close and alone. "I...feel like the luckiest man in all of Halloween Town, actually..." he added with an extra touch of shyness.
"O-Oh..." Sally looked down bashfully. "Jack...I hope...y-you know...it's not just because you're the Pumpkin King...I...you...you could be an average citizen and it wouldn't make a difference...because...I love you, Jack Skellington..." She had never said his full name, not to his face, before, and it must have felt weird considering she looked a little funny as she said it. But she smiled a bit. "...Lucky? You do?"
Jack blinked, certainly not having expected her response and all of its details. In fact it struck him rather forcefully because, well...most of the time when a Halloween Town lady expressed a degree of 'amour' for him, she would go on and on about how it was because he was the Pumpkin King and the most frightening being in the whole town! But...Sally...didn't care about that...at all! She liked him because he was...him? And she had even said his full name with so much...passion! Like she adored him so very deeply. "I...y-yes, I feel lucky...A-After all, you're a very nice and sweet gir...uh...w-woman..." He cleared his throat. "Smart and clever and funny and p-pretty, like I said before..." He gulped. "B-But...Sally, I..." he sighed, looking at her in a touch of confusion. "I don't understand...If you don't love me for being scary and the leader...what in the world could you have possibly come across to love me for?" He just had to ask, genuinely puzzled as he was right now.
"...Jack...you're more than just the scariest of the town. You're...kind, generous, intelligent, and sure...you make your share of mistakes..." She looked funny admitting that. "But nobody is perfect. And...you're not like other rulers. You said so yourself, and I believe it. You've always been more of a protector and a friend to the citizens, and that's truly admirable. You're a gentleman...and I...well...like that a lot in a man...and you're creative as well, very much so... And...oh, Jack...there's just so much I love about you...but I love you..."
If Jack could have blushed he would have...and darkly. "K-Kind...i-intelligent...p-protector...g-gentleman...c-creative..." It was all racing through him so very quickly. He blinked several times, unable to help smiling. "O-Oh, well, I...I, erm...I just...try to be good and fair and nice. I c-care about everyone very much after all. But I...I'm happy that how I am..." his eye sockets traveled back up to look at her large, expressive eyes, "...makes you so happy..." he finished...then paused...just smiling...eye sockets a little half lidded...caught up and unable to look away...and not even realizing it was happening.
"Of course, Jack...you're not afraid to be yourself...and to express yourself...and to be whatever you want to be..." Sally sighed softly, but was smiling now. She came a little closer. "A little rag doll like me...can't help but find everything about you so attractive."
Jack gulped, something in his bones starting to flutter...which had never happened before, but...it felt nice enough that he didn't exactly 'complain' about it... "I...a-attractive...w-well, I...um..." he had never felt so tongue-tied in his life, and as his mouth stumbled onward, the little grin on his face only grew more and more. "I...d-d-didn't realize..." He gave a little gulp again. "A-And you're not such a little rag doll...You were only made a little while ago but... you're practically a young lady, after all..." His little goofy grin just kept growing.
"...Oh...well I...thank you, Jack..." Now Sally came closer, and actually brought her arms around him once more, snuggling into him. Her lips then gently touched his cheek in a little kiss!
"Ah!" escaped Jack in a little gasp and he almost felt himself reel back but stopped himself from doing so by...wrapping his arms around Sally's little back and waist to hold himself up steady...against her, as the case turned out. He was just frozen now in this new position, eye sockets wide enough to crack his skull, and all the while those little lips of hers were giving a little kiss to his cheek and his cheek felt practically aflame!
"...Jack?" Sally's voice came out in a soft coo. "Are you all right? ...Was that too much?"
Her voice sounded in his ear and Jack started breathing again, and rather deeply, his chest rising and falling...and it didn't help matters that now his chest was rising and falling against her own chest... "N-N-No one ever gave me kisses before...I don't know what to do...!" he admitted in embarrassment and a touch of panic.
Sally smiled, and lay her forehead against his. "You don't have to do anything, Jack..."
Jack gulped...and rather distinctly and audibly this time, his eye sockets looking shyly to her own...love filled...eyes. "B-But I must have to do something...I-It doesn't feel right to do nothing..." he admitted quietly...unblinking and un-breathing...
"You don't have to do anything unless you want to, Jack..." Sally whispered, and kissed his other cheek.
"Mmm..." came out of Jack in a little nervous squeak at another kiss upon him... Wh-What if she...she... He gulped, almost unable to bear the idea without having to pass out-after all...there was...certainly at least one other distinctly kissable space on any person's face. "S-S-Sally..." he whispered nervously as her lips remained on the side of his skull. "I..I'm not sure if...I-I mean, this...c-can't be r-right...e-even though it feels right...I-I mean, I wanted to tell you before...I d-don't...w-with anyone...b-because I'm just not the kind of guy who...b-but I..." He had to stop. He sighed and closed his eyes and couldn't help melting a little. Just couldn't help it...not at all...
Sally nuzzled her cheek against his in comfort, smiling more. "Jack...it's all right...I understand...you can tell me anything."
"I don't know the first thing about...women...or love. Not a thing at all..." slipped out of him, eye sockets still closed.
"That's all right...even I'm new to this...but...I do know how I feel...and it's just something you feel...it's not something you can deduct or research. I live with a scientist, I should know." She nuzzled against him a bit. "But once you feel it, and understand it...you'll know."
"I...don't know...I don't know anything...I..." His eye sockets opened and he looked at her so very unsurely. Then he gulped and locked up. "I...My arms are around you! I-I'm sorry! I was just trying to balance when you k-k-kissed my cheek! I didn't mean to, I...I..." His breathing was starting to pick back up again.
"...Oh..." Now Sally looked sad. "You didn't mean to? ...It's okay. I understand." Now she pulled away, scooting further back.
Jack blinked again, feeling now equally upset and stupid about offending her in this new way! "No! I...I mean, I did mean it, I just d-didn't want to make you uncomfortable! I didn't want to be too forward. I...I don't have any right to touch you without asking..." He gulped and his skull was turned down but his eye sockets were turned upward toward her.
Sally looked surprised, and looked sheepish. "Oh. ...Sorry. I misunderstood. Um...but Jack...I don't mind...you can...do anything you feel is right with me. I trust you... And...if I ever don't want you to do anything, I would say so."
Jack gave another significant gulp. "I...c-can do anything w-with...? N-No, I...I mustn't!" He shook his head. "I...I..." he let out a deep sigh, looking downward. "I...can't...with you...alone...here...e-even if I did...lo-...like you...too..." He almost cringed, feeling so...overwhelmed. And yet...yet...he...now that he'd had a few minutes to absorb the idea, well, he...wasn't...not liking it...In fact he was sort of...wishing for more kisses...though he pushed the thought away instantly as being far too forward.
"...It's all right Jack...you don't have to do anything you're not comfortable with." Now she looked down, nervous and shy again. "We can forget this whole thing if you'd prefer."
His eye sockets went wide and he looked directly into her eyes, almost pleadingly! "No...No, don't...Please don't...don't do that..." He shook his head. "I...don't want to forget...I like knowing...I like being with you, Sally..."
Now her eyes were wide, her long eyelashes were even practically reaching her hairline! "Oh...Jack...I...I..." She turned a little toward him again, gulping.
"Wh-What...?" Jack asked shakily, unable to breathe or blink...unable to move...
"Can I...k-kiss you...Jack?" It seemed simple enough, but there was a look in her eyes and in her tone that spoke volumes about what she was saying.
Jack knew somewhere inside what she was exactly asking here but...there was still so much denial. "B-But...didn't you already...d-do that...th-three times so far?" He looked at her with all the nervousness in the world.
"I um...well I...meant..."
A sprig of mistletoe fell onto the couch between them.
Sally blinked, and picked it up. "...Mistletoe?"
Jack was getting really close to passing out for about the millionth time tonight. He just stared at the little spring in her fingers and knew, knew, knew in every conscious way imaginable what she had been asking, what she had meant! His breathing became shallow, he couldn't handle this night anymore, he felt more vulnerable than he had ever had in his entire life, and he just... "M-Mistletoe..." escaped him in a whisper. "Y-Yes...i-it is..." He gulped at that little green plant.
"Why were you hanging it up?" Sally now looked from him to the little plant curiously.
Jack gave a little shrug. "B-Because I like kisses, and...when people are under mistletoe together, they give each other kisses..." He swallowed again.
"Oh...really?" Sally blinked. "Hanging mistletoe...and they kiss? Ooh...that's quite unique..." She giggled then and scooted closer, holding the mistletoe above their heads. "Well, it was hanging above us..."
"Mmmm!" Jack squeaked, backing up a little on the couch, breathing heavily, eye sockets wide. "I-I-I...l-l-like...o-o-on the ch-ch-cheek a-a-again, heh...?" he managed with a little gulp.
"No...I think..." Sally leaned closer. "Jack...do you know about kissing on the mouth?"
"Mmmm...Y-Y-Y-Y-Yes..." He was pressed back against the couch arm, she was all but on top of him... W-Would she really...really...actually...on his... "Wh-Wh-Wh-Why?" he asked, his voice riddled with nerves, unable to think of anything else to say.
"If you'll let me..." There was something off about her voice. It was...suggestive. "I'd love kiss you on the mouth..." She dangled the mistletoe above them, wiggling it.
"O-Oh, Sally, I...M-Miss Sally, I...you...b-but shouldn't I...love you first...Sh-Shouldn't I...I..." he all but stopped being able to breathe...stopped being able to think about and control his words...He could just see her eyes...and all of her...so close. "Oh Sally...you don't know what you're getting yourself into...I'm an utter basketcase, really. I-I'm up til all hours of the night, I can be elated one moment and eternally melancholy the next, I'm passionate to a fault, and I can be obsessive to one as well...I...y-you don't know who you're tempting...A-And if we did...w-we could never take it back..." He just watched and waited for her response.
"I can handle you more than you think I can... And if I wanted to take it back...I wouldn't be getting myself into this in the first place..." Sally cooed, coming closer. "Please...?" She looked at him pleadingly.
Jack was just quiet...So quiet. And she.. "Yes..." It slipped out of him in a whisper and he gave a small nod, though he barely realized these things had happened at all...his bones currently feeling on fire to the point of being numb at the moment.
"Oh Jack...come here, my beloved Pumpkin King!" Sally tossed the plant over her head, landing somewhere behind her, and then she just pounced. She knocked them down onto the couch and proceeded to kiss him lovingly, sweetly, and quite deeply.
"MMMM! Mmm...Mmm?...Mmm...mm..." Jack had panicked, panting through his nose, squirming and wriggling and freaking out basically-anything to distract him from what was happening, but he lost that battle pretty quickly and now just melted underneath her and let his eye sockets shut and just...submitted...to all of it...a deep sigh escaping him peacefully through his nose. 'I...She...O-O-Oh...' He shuddered in a new feeling he had never known before.
Oh how she kissed him so thoroughly, so passionately, so...wow. It was hard to believe that the shy, sweet, soft-spoken rag doll he knew was this passionate! A lot to take in, that was for sure.
A few moments passed and she pulled away, panting a bit. "I love you..." She kissed him again. "So much..." Another kiss. "You're not alone anymore..." Another kiss. "Don't worry..." Another kiss. "It'll be all right." Another kiss. "And we'll celebrate Christmas...together...it'll be wonderful." Another kiss.
"O-O-O-O-Oh...I-I-I...n-no, I...a-and yet, I...o-o-o-oh..." gurgled out from Jack. "S-Sally...O-Oh..." He was dying, he was burning, he was fainting, he was...he...Everything, it was like getting everything he had ever wanted in life, everything he had ever been missing, everything he had ever longed for, and getting all of it all at once! He positively adored it! You could even say he...he... "I love you...Kiss me, I love you..." It left his mouth and he didn't care to correct it, just smiling away blissfully as she coated his mouth with kisses and never stopped.
Sally gasped a bit, and then just smiled so much more! "I love you too...I'll kiss you all you like..." She kissed him again, her hands now caressing his skull. She pulled back again, and this time, had her little tongue sticking out as she panted happily.
"Arf!" She said. "Arf? Arf? Arf!" She then proceeded to lick his skull, like a dog.
Jack blinked a lot of times. "H-Huh? Wh...S-Sally, where...S-Sally, are you..." He shut his eyes tightly and then shook his skull and finally opened them...only now it was for real...
In reality...no longer in his dream. At lot of things started to hit Jack at once...including the fact that Zero was still licking his face. "O-Oh, Zero!" He sat up, wiping off his skull a little and doing his best to get his bearings. "I...I was asleep...must have nodded off out here in the middle of Christmas research. A-And dreamed...I..I..." His eye sockets next lit upon the basket of goodies that a certain ragdoll had dropped off for him last night, and that he had fallen asleep investigating and savoring. At this point the dream started to resurface...upon which Jack's jaw fell and he felt more humiliated and shame-worthy than he ever had in his entire life! "I...Oh boy..."
"Arf?" Zero approached him, nudging his side lightly. He looked over at the basket, and then at his master, pointedly. "Arf?" He cocked his ghostly head.
Jack gulped and cleared his throat and squirmed a little on the couch, straightening his bow tie. "I...heh, wh-what is it boy?" He grinned sheepishly and did his best to sort of push the basket underneath a throw pillow or two, distinctly not looking at it.
"Arf." Zero looked at him, cocking his head again.
"Wh-What?" Jack looked to Jack almost in fright. "I...N-Nothing's wrong, Zero. N-Nothing's wrong and n-nothing's going on, a-and..." he sighed, glancing back and forth and finally looking at Zero again, standing up. "O-Okay, fine, I had a dream, alright! I had a dream and dreams sometimes happen a-and it's not like I could control it or anything!" The little dog just kept looking at him curiously. Jack sighed and rolled his eyes, pouting a little. "Oh don't look at me like that! I-It's not like I sat down and tried to dream about her!" Jack's eye sockets went wide for a moment at actually having admitted to dreaming about 'her' even though he hadn't used her name. Somehow it just made it all twice as real! He shook his skull and pouted again. "I am just sleep deprived and I had too many candy canes yesterday-m-my body's not used to that much non-pumpkin-based refined sugar..."
Zero just gave him a look that clearly said, "Just how dumb do you think I am?"
Jack's eye sockets went to Zero again and he blinked and shook his head. "Oh and what, the other explanation is that I secretly want Sally to..." Actually saying her name maybe him uncontrollably gulp... He shook his head, trying to move along. "L-Look, I...I DON'T want that! I-I'm the Pumpkin King! Wh-Why would the Pumpkin King want...k-kisses with a girl! I-I'm scary and dark and brooding and that's who I am!" He was scowling a little in frustration but then he blinked. "O-Oh, but, I mean, o-of course, I still want to do Christmas! B-Because sometimes I need a break from the scariness, heh...N-Nothing permanent, just a break! So it makes sense, you see..." He smiled sheepishly at the little ghost dog.
Zero stared at him, still with that sarcastic "Uh-huh, I believe you." look, before he floated off to nestle in his basket. He knew far well that his master was in complete denial, and that partly why he was so...passionate about Christmas, had to do with something a lot more than just the fact he liked it and was intrigued. And it had to do with the nice rag doll girl he liked.
Much later on that day, much to Sally's chagrin, there was a lot going on with the whole Christmas thing. That morning, Jack had opened his window and announced to everyone from his observatory tower that Christmas would be theirs. They would celebrate it. This worried her. Not just because of her mild apprehension in the first place.
She had a premonition. She was sure of it. Christmas was going to be a disaster. Smoke and fire. Something bad was going to happen. Of course, yes, there was the off-chance it had been her imagination, but she didn't want to risk it.
Earlier that day, when she was summoned in the Town Hall, where Jack was assigning tasks to everyone so they could help with Christmas. Sally had tried to warn him, but was misunderstood and brushed off. This made her more worried. She was given the task of making a Sandy Claws suit, which was apparently the most important task of all. A part of her wanted to scoff, but she knew Jack wasn't the lying, buttering up type. He had even said he had every confidence in her, which did strike a feeling inside.
As well as that, she didn't exactly care to feel left out or look like an outcast. And maybe, just maybe, she was wrong.
But it did still worry her.
Sally returned to the Town Hall later that day, closer to the evening, hoping Jack was still there. The inside was empty, but the Mayor was walking about the stage as he looked over his notes, humming a tune to himself cheerily. No one else was in sight. Where was Jack?
"Hello, Mayor." She smiled, approaching him.
"Ah, Sally! Hello there! Excited for Christmas?" He grinned.
"Er...sure." Sally lied a bit, and cleared her throat. "Mayor, do you happen to know where Jack is?" She brought her hands behind her back.
"Why yes! He's backstage! You can go see him if you'd like!" The Mayor nodded.
Sally smiled. "Thank you very much, Mayor." She then went up the stage, and peered around the curtain.
"Ah!" Jack gasped and dropped every paper in his one hand and every Christmas decoration in his other hand at the sound of that very unexpected...and very light...sweet...delicate...voice so very suddenly saying his name from behind him. He instantly turned around to face her, his eye sockets wide for a moment. He swallowed and did his best to manage a calm smile as he took a breath and then replied. "O-Oh, erm...hello, Sally. How are you doing? Everything's going all right with the Sandy Claws suit I hope..." He smiled pleasantly at her...all the while telling himself inside over and over again. 'You have the most ridiculous dreams, Jack...the absolutely most ridiculous dreams.'
"Yes, it's fine...I-I have the fabrics..." Sally came in, and saw the mess. "Oh! Here, let me help you..." She got down on her knees and proceeded to help pick up the stuff he had dropped.
Jack blinked. "O-Oh, no, i-it's fine, really, Sally, all my fault...I'm so busy with Christmas I can barely keep my skull straight anymore, heh..." He smiled a little sheepishly and then knelt down as well, doing his best to take care of most of the mess...and trying not to think about how nice she was to offer to help him...Even though he really did like nice people...and thinking about them.
"No no, I insist...I don't mind." Sally assured, helping straighten some papers he had. "Um...well Jack...I...was hoping-" Their hands brushed as they reached for the same thing. "Oh! Sorry."
"N-No, um...problem..." Jack cleared his throat and then instantly threw himself into getting his pile of papers nice and neat, lining up the bottoms by tapping the edge of the pile against the floor a few times. "Thank you for your help, Sally," he quickly added as he stood up, and then (knowing he had to as part of his naturally polite nature) he held out a hand to help her up as well.
"Oh, no problem...I'm happy to help..." Sally looked down blushingly and then took his hand, letting him help her up. She looked at him then, the way he smiled at her...and was still holding her hand...
The memories of the dream last night came back to her. How even at some point, she had said she hoped it wasn't a dream.
But it had been.
They were not together...she was not...
She turned away a bit, her heart and dreams shattering as she felt completely heartbroken all over again.
"That's very kind of you, Sally..." Jack replied at first with a smile to her kind words...but then...it was like a dark little cloud came over her face...Jack was curious, naturally. He was still holding her hand, not even really thinking about it, and now his touch of worry made him even give it a little squeeze. "Sally...are you alright? Do you feel well...?" He blinked, a new worry occurring to him. "Did you catch cold at all last night from being outside when you delivered me the basket? Oh Sally, I wish you had come inside to warm up a little..." The kind wish was out of his mouth before he could think better of it and then his eye sockets went wide and he instantly looked down and away and removed his hand from hers. He put his Christmas papers off to one side and just crossed his arms over his chest, doing his best to be casual and normal.
Unwittingly, a soft choked sob escaped Sally at his words. Going inside... Last night, cold, winter...
"I-I'm fine, Jack..." She replied, her voice cracking. 'It was all just a dream...I can't believe it...I was this close...so close...'
"No you're not..." Jack didn't mean to push her at all but...it was obvious that she had something on her mind. And he wanted to help if he could...j-just like he would want to help any Halloween Town citizen, of course...Please tell me...Maybe I can help..." Jack offered with a small, encouraging smile, hesitating but...then reaching out and putting a hand lightly on her shoulder.
Sally stiffened lightly, but then placed her hand over his, seeking some kind of solace. She trembled a bit, the utter sadness of what was not to be still plaguing her. She felt ready to cry. But she couldn't! Not in front of him!
"I...I..." She choked back a sob. "I had a...a...a lovely dream last night...it was wonderful..." Much like in her dream, she told the truth, but kept it vague. "And I...w-woke up...realizing it was only a dream..." She decided to leave out the fact that she slept outside. She recalled his reaction from her dream.
No matter how alluring that was...
"A-A-A dream?" Jack gulped, many thoughts on his mind and wishing that they would go away. "I..." he did his best to just focus on her problem, "I...I'm sorry about your dream, Sally...Do you...want to talk about it, at all?" He swallowed and looked to her helpfully.
Once again Sally stiffened, and bit her lip. "I don't...remember all of it...I just know it was wonderful. And I was...sad it was only a dream when I woke up." She turned toward him then, her eyes full of plead and sadness.
Jack took in a very deep breath and his eyes went very wide for a moment. The way she was looking at him...it was so very much like how she had looked at him in his dream... Once again he felt such a wave of guilt pass over him like he'd been having all day-dreaming about sweet, innocent, kind Sally...like that. What kind of 'gentleman' was he anyway? "I'm sorry, Sally. I wish I could make it come true." He smiled sincerely down at her. "You deserve to be happy, Sally."
Now there were tears in her eyes. He likely had no idea how much those words meant, how much they weighed, especially to her. She sniffled, trembling a bit, but she smiled a little bit. "Thank...thank you, Jack. ...You have no idea how much that means to me."
Jack sighed, smiling more. "You're welcome, Sally...I'm happy I could make you feel better. And ,if it helps at all, I...know how you feel.." He swallowed and glanced away a little, figuring this would be as close as he would ever come to telling her about last night... "I've had dreams that...have made me sad when they're over too..." His smile turned a bit into a frown...
"...Oh, I can imagine you have." Sally blotted her eyes with the back of her hand. "I'm sorry to hear that, though...you certainly deserve happiness too, Jack."
A little bit of warmth went through Jack. He smiled again. "I-I...um, thank you, Sally...I appreciate that. I..." he almost chuckled a tiny bit though at the same time he was close to frowning again as he continued looking downward and added, "I just wish I knew for certain what exactly it is that would make me happy..." He let out a little sigh and sat down on the old couch back here.
Sally wiped her eyes again, and then hesitated before she sat down next to him. Well, a few paces away, so as not to overwhelm him or cross boundaries at the moment. "Oh, Jack...I know how you feel." She said softly, touching his hand.
Jack stiffened at bit at her touch...and her sweet words...so much like the words from her in his dream last night. "I..." he started, and then sighed, "I...I think you're too good...and have too much sense...to know much about me and the silly things I sometimes feel..." he replied back softly as well...still going through waves over guilt for his dream and the Sally his head had created for it who had pounced on him and...done so much more to him too. He almost cringed a little and really just tried not to think about it anymore.
"Don't be silly, Jack. You're still my friend, and I care about you very much." Sally pouted a bit. "Please don't doubt that."
Jack blinked and looked back to her very sincerely. "Oh, no, I...I don't doubt that you're my friend or that you care about me. It's just that I...I..." Jack then let out a deep sigh and looked forward, giving a little shrug. "I'm a very confused person, I think..." he chose his words carefully, "And honestly...I'm not even certain sometimes that I know what'll make me happy." His smile brightened a little as he added, looking to her again. "I think Christmas might do it though and that's part of why I want to try it so much but...I..." He swallowed and glanced away again, giving a little shrug. "I'm sorry, Sally, I'm probably not making much sense. And anyway, we were talking about your problems, not mine. Are you certain that you're alright?"
"Jack... It's okay to be a little confused, and try to find what's missing...what would make you happy. It's normal to feel that way." Sally gently squeezed his hand. "And I...I understand that you feel something is missing, that there's more out there..." She then looked down. "...I'm fine...I-I'll be fine...d-don't worry about me."
"But...I do worry about you, Sally..." It was the truth and like it or not, nervous about it or not...he had to admit it...especially if it might help her to feel better. "You're a very special, um...citizen to me. I...well...except for Zero...you're probably my best friend, actually," he admitted with a little gulp.
Best friend...best friend who's a girl. She remembered how Zero had poked his head in as if to say "Hey! What about me?", with Jack correcting himself...
Lip quivering, she buried her face in her hands and began to cry.
Jack's jaw utterly fell open. She was crying. It utterly broke his heart. "Sally!" He put both hands on her shoulders, holding her gently. "Sally, what's wrong, what is it? Did something happen to you? Please, Sally, I won't be able to rest until you're happy again-I won't even be able to think about Christmas or Halloween!" He looked at her with all of the tenderness he had.
Sally sobbed softly in her hands, her shoulders trembling. "No...no...it's just...you...s-said that in my dream..." She couldn't go on. Anymore and she might've given it away. Then she looked up at him, tears still streaming down her face. "...What? Jack...you can't possibly mean that..."
"Of course I mean that..." He looked at her with all of the sincerity in the world. "You mean more to me than those other things...You're a person. My citizen and my friend...What kind of King or friend would I be if I put holiday business over your feelings...and what kind of gentleman would I be to abandon a lady in distress? I could never do that, Sally...any of it. And I..." then Jack blinked, "Wait, I...I said...in your...Sally, what do you mean? Was I in your dream?" He looked at her quizzically.
Uh-oh. She probably should not have said that.
"...Yes. You were." Sally sniffled, burying her face in her hands again. She could not believe it...he would actually abandon everything just to make her feel better? ...It made her cry yet again. What a man!
Jack frowned ever more at all of her tears. "Sally...I-It's okay, really...We see each other every day, it makes perfect sense that I might be in one of your dreams..." Jack hesitated for a moment, considered something...and then finally said, totally in the hopes of making her feel better.. "I-I mean...I've had dreams...with you in them..." He removed his hands from her shoulders and clasped them shyly in his lap.
Sniffling, Sally looked up at him, bringing her hands down. Maybe...
Jack swallowed and gave a little shrug and shifted a little in his seat. "I-I, well...yes...Just...you know...s-sometimes..." He cleared his throat.
"...Oh...I see..." Sally looked down, sniffling as she wiped her eyes. "That's...sweet, Jack...I suppose...since we see each other alot...it would...make sense...that we would appear in each other's d-dreams..."
Jack nodded, feeling such a sense of relief inside that she seemed to be calming down and feeling better. "Y-Yes, and...if it's any further consolation, Sally...d-dreams with you in them are g-good dreams..." He added it in as polite and gentlemanly a voice as he could.
"...Really?" She smiled tearfully. "...Oh...Jack... Me too...dreams with you in them have always been good dreams for me."
Jack would have blushed absolutely furiously if he could have as her saying that made this strange 'alternate' concept pop into his head of her having a dream about him...like he'd had a dream about her last night...With himself all over her, tempting her, begging her for a sweet kiss...Jack started to cringe uncomfortably again and just stared down at his hands in his lap, wringing his bony fingers a little, trying to focus on that and that alone. "Th-That's, erm...nice to hear, S-Sally..." he replied quietly, almost bashfully, tugging at his collar a little as it was stating to feel quite warm in here now actually.
Sally sniffled, wiping her eyes and then standing up, walking a few steps away. "I'm sorry...I didn't mean to start crying and bring my problems on you. They're...trivial, anyway...not important... You have so much on your plate and the last thing you need is my silly problems."
"No!" Jack was up and looking right at her again, eye sockets wide. "Your problems matter, Sally-if they're important to you then of course they matter. And I want to hear them, and I want to help if I can. You must always know that you can always come to me, Sally." He approached her and reached out and took her hand, gently lifting it up as he looked at her sincerely.
Her stuffing fluttered, and yet again Sally felt even more saddened, worried, and yet happy. "...Jack...you're too good to me. Thank you so much..."
Jack smiled, sensing the happiness returning to her voice. "You're welcome, Sally...You're always welcome...to anything I have to offer you..." Still holding up her hand he gently bowed before her with a smile.
A pang of longing coursed through her, and Sally squeezed his hand. "That's very sweet of you, Jack...that means so much to me, more than I can possibly say."
Jack couldn't help smiling even more. There was something about her smile that was just... 'Christmas...Christmas...F-Focus on Christmas! You're starting to lose it, Jack old boy, heh...' Jack cleared his throat and straightened up, looking a little sheepish. "I...well...I-I'm glad, Sally...Truly glad." And then before he could stop himself and also just because it...felt like such a natural thing to do right now, he leaned in and gently kissed the back of her hand before releasing it and clasping his hands behind his back shyly.
Sally blinked, and even held her hand against her chest tenderly, looking down at it. Yet again she felt a mixture of joy and sadness. "Awww...thank you, Jack...you're so sweet."
Jack just gave a little bashful shrug, shuffling his feet. "W-Well, I...th-thank you, I-I try..." He cleared his throat and then glanced at her, smiling a little and just wanting to make sure... "So...are you happy again, Sally?" he asked cautiously.
"...You can say that." Sally said with a sigh.
Something inside of Jack just beamed... His eye sockets went a little half lidded and he smiled warmly at her. "I'm very very glad..."
"...That's good to hear, Jack..." Sally stepped over to him, bringing her hands behind her back, looking up at him hopefully.
Jack gulped distinctly, his eye sockets going wide at her sudden closeness and her sweet little hopeful smile. "U-Um...thanks..." He felt his breathing starting to become shallow...Wh-What if this was another dream? Wh-What if she pounced on him and threw them to the couch and...He couldn't breath anymore, the anticipation was killing him so much.
"You're welcome..." Sally shifted her weight from one foot to the other, looking down shyly.
She was still standing there so very close, looking so very happy...He felt like something else was going to happen...and that she had more knowledge of it than he did... Honestly right now he was more focused on the formerly foreign thoughts to him of whether or not he looked alright right now, if he was coming off as confident and sophisticated or just as a nervous basketcase of a mess, ...what Sally's dreams about him tended to entail...Things like that. He just continued looking at her, eye sockets unblinking and never leaving her large eyes. "Y-Yes, well...I...I'm happy you came to me about this, Sally. Thank you for trusting me. I hope we can both find and get what makes us happy very very soon..."
"...Me too, Jack...I hope so." Sally looked more up at him, rocking back and forth, though slightly swaying, on her feet. "Then we can be happy together...can't we?" While she did mean it a certain way, she just hoped he'd think that she meant that he could be happy, she could be happy, and since they were friends, revel in it together.
Jack gave a very distinct and audible gulp, his eye sockets going wider as they continued to gaze into her eyes. "Y-Yes, we...can be happy t-together..." He felt a warmth pass through his bones and he really wished he could get out of this warm room and into the fresh (as fresh as it got in Halloween Town, anyway) air but he was just frozen before her...her proximity keeping him rooted like a magnet.
Tears pooled in her eyes, despite her smile and trying to keep a brave front. She raised her wringed hands a bit, clasping them to her chest. "If you're happy...I'll be happy too, Jack..."
"I...I..." he was all tongue-tied...just like last night... "Y-You're too sweet, Sally. And I...I'll be happy if you're happy too..." he managed to get those last words out of him and they left his mouth in a tender and sincere tone, warmed by the secret heating of his bones.
Sally sighed a bit dreamily, and then found herself embracing him. She couldn't help it! Just one little shred of a dream come true...
"O-Oh m-my...!" was all that escaped Jack in a sudden gasp at the feeling of her warm soft arms and self coming around him tightly and snuggly...Just like in his dream...when she had given him little kisses...and then that last big one. He felt himself ready to panic again! His eye sockets darted around the room and then he just took a breath and tried to focus. 'Christmas, Christmas, Christmas...I-I'll even focus on Halloween again if I have to...B-But I just can't...w-with her...It...I-I'm insane for even thinking about wanting it, I just know it, I must be!' He cringed a little and just did his best to get his breathing under control as her hug continued. Then he realized that it would be rude not to reciprocate her gesture... (or at least that was the excuse he gave himself) and so Jack, with a gulp, reached up and finally allowed both of his arms to slip around Sally, just as he had 'accidentally' done in his dream. He held her, hoping nothing bad would happen.
Sally, oblivious to his musings...though she hoped it wasn't too much for him, just simply embraced him tightly, though gently, her little fingers digging into his spine lightly. And oh, the feel of him hugging her in return! It again reminded her of her dream, when he had hugged her after she confessed that she liked hugging someone she cared about.
She lay her head against his chest, feeling a mild hard feel of his ribcage, right where his heart probably would be if he had one, and sighed dreamily.
Her soft fingertips gently melding into his spine was bad enough, her head against his chest had pushed him to the edge, but at the sound of that little sigh escaping her Jack just plain lost it. 'Oh dear...O-Oh dear...' It was all crashing down on him-like the dam of his denial had busted into a million pieces and now he was being flooded with the inevitable truth...The truth that later, he could excuse away all of this however he wanted but right now it was so obvious that something was going on and that there was something there. He was actually having legitimate thoughts about a girl for the first time in...EVER! He held her by the waist a little more closely, more to keep himself standing than anything else...not that 'anything else' didn't have a role to play in him staying that way though of course. He let out a little breath and whispered near Sally's ear. "Shh...It's alright, S-Sally..." He allowed his chin to rest upon her shoulder and collar.
A flutter coursed through Sally as he whispered into her ear, and oh...that sweet soothing tone, despite he sounded a bit nervous and unsure... And oh! She just about swooned very softly at the feel of his head along her shoulder and collar, which made her just want to burst at the seams and yet melt at the same time. Their closeness wasn't helping, and the fact they were practically holding each other just to keep each other standing was enough to overwhelm her senses into a tailspin.
It almost reminded her of the hugs they'd shared in her dream the night before...only this time she was sure she wasn't dreaming, and it wasn't the first time they'd hugged either. And yet...it never failed to make her feel the same way it did the first time.
"Okay...Jack..." Was all she could manage amidst a little sniffle. She felt soothed, warm, and just so happy, even if the pang of sadness wasn't leaving her.
Jack's ears caught her little sniffle and for a moment...just the idea of her still being even a little sad was enough to overpower his nervousness. He let out a small sigh through his nose and now didn't just hold her for the sake of reciprocating her hug or to keep himself standing-he genuinely hugged and squeezed her close in comfort and warmth. "It'll be alright, Sally..." Jack whispered near her ear again, "It really will be...I promise. Whatever makes you sad...I'll do my best to make better. Because I...care about you..." He let out a breath-that was all he could admit for now. He cared about her. That was as far as he could get in all of this.
For a brief moment, Sally stiffened. Had he really just...? Well, it was almost obvious, wasn't it? They were friends, good friends, and Jack did express genuine care for her since the moment they met. So it was obvious he cared about her. But to hear him say so in actual words...just touched her heart, if she had one.
Sally snuggled more into him, a happy sigh escaping her at his soothing into her ear. 'You can make it better, Jack...you're the only one who could...I love you...' But she couldn't say that. Shyness and fear were holding her back. "...Thank you, Jack...If you could, I'd be forever grateful to you... And I...I care about you, too..."
Jack felt so shy and embarrassed and yet...as he held her and she said all of that back to him he couldn't help but smile just a tiny bit. "Y-You're welcome..." he whispered back gently, "And I...I'm...happy you care for me too, but, erm...S-Sally...can I...can I maybe ask you a silly question? I'm just curious..." he gulped a tiny bit in nervousness.
"Of course..." Sally couldn't help but nuzzle their heads together in an affectionate manner to encourage him a little. "You can ask me anything you like."
That little nuzzle...had actually sent a tremor through Jack, and so now just for the sake of speaking and distracting himself from it, he asked, with no beating around the bush at all. "Do you care about me because...I'm the Pumpkin King and scary and the Halloween leader...?" He almost cringed, genuinely not sure about what he wanted her answer most to be.
The question surprised her. Even after all this time? She pulled back a bit, looking up at him. Considering her words, Sally shook her head. "Of course not. I mean, as any citizen, from that kind of...well standpoint, of course I care about our ruler. But...besides that, as your friend, I care about you for far more than that, Jack... You could still be any other normal person and my...feeling toward you would not change. I care about you...The person behind the title of our King...Jack Skellington..." She said softly. "That's why...I'm trying to warn you about Christmas..."
Jack just blinked several times, looking at her as he took in her reply. "So you...like...Jack Skellington?" It was very...nice to hear that. People would go on and on about adoring the Pumpkin King but...not really about adoring just him...And no one ever used his full name much. Somehow that made him smile-it was sort of...cute when she said his full name. "I..." a warm look had started to come to his face but then Jack blinked, processing some of her other words as well. "Warn me about...Sally, I told you, Christmas will be fine. It'll make everyone happy...and I...I hope it'll make you happy most of all." He looked at her with a hopeful and warm smile, still holding her gently.
'Oh dear...' Now Sally had no idea how to respond to that. At all! On one hand, she was immensely flattered that he wanted to make her happy with all of this, especially most of all. For that, she did understand full well that he had good intentions with this, he really did. But on the other hand, the imminent danger continued to plague her after she had that premonition the night before. She bit her lip, and just gave up again. He wasn't going to listen to her.
"...Me too, Jack...I hope so." She finally said, in reference to how much she hoped her premonition was wrong. None the less, she smiled in return, lovingly.
"Good..." Jack smiled more, his eye sockets going a little half lidded, "I'm glad, Sally. And, um...thank you again for agreeing to make my Sandy Claws suit. The moment I knew I needed one..I instantly thought of you..." 'Why am I saying things like this? Stop it, Jack...stop it! If she really was in love with you, in light of you always having to slip in charming things like that when you talk to her, I don't think anyone could blame her! Stop teasing yourself with this...Y-You're just...and there's a lot of...She doesn't like you like that, and don't put her sweet, shy, good-natured self into the horribly awkward position of having to tell you that...' He did his best to swallow all of that logic and denial, though it wasn't exactly easy.
"Awwww...you did?" Sally beamend at him, unable to help it. "That's...very sweet of you, Jack...I'm...I'm flattered..."
When she smiled it just about made him want to smile forever. "You're too kind, Sally...but after all, as I said..." he gently removod an arm from behind her and placed several of his bony fingertips under her chin, gently lifting her head up to make her eyes meet his eye sockets more... "...who else is clever enough to make it for me? No one sews like you do, Sally..." He couldn't help himself! It was just...he was trying to STOP acting like a nervous wreck around her and to START acting normally, but...suddenly normally seemed to be including a lot more smiling and touching and warmth than usual...and honestly he wasn't sure what to do about it!
Sally's smile only grew, and she actually giggled for the first time in the past while since she came back here. And his little gesture made her want to melt! "Well, it makes sense that I can sew...since I am a rag doll...and need to be able to repair myself...it's just what I do...but um...thank you..." Her eyes just beamed at him along with her smile, so loving and sweet.
She had just giggled. He liked when she giggled. Was that silly? It was silly...and absurd...and didn't make sense...but maybe a little piece of him didn't care. And the way her eyes beamed at him...So many people in Halloween Town looked at him in adoration...but not like she did...no, never like she did... "You're welcome. And of course, yes...repairing yourself. It makes perfect sense why you're so good at sewing...A-After all...you should be able to do wonders with something as simple as a Sandy Claws suit when...you already do wonders with something as intricate as yourself..."
"Oooh...well...I..." A bashful smile came to her face at the unexpected compliment. "I...I do what I can...and I...I hope the suit will turn out right."
"It will turn out splendidly..." Jack assured her with a warm smile, hugging her a little closer. "And I'll be so happy wearing it knowing that you made it for me..." He just loved how much happier she was seeming and even if it meant him...acting a little peculiarly right now...he just didn't care so long as it made her happy.
In response, her arms came up higher around his reed-thin frame, now around his shoulders. "Well...in that case...I'm more than happy to make it for you...if it makes you happy too..." Even though Sally had pretty much agreed to it earlier (not entirely), this only cemented it. How could she possibly let down the man she loved? He was counting on her, and he didn't ask for much out of her at all. And if, by chance, her premonition was wrong...then how stupid she would look if she showed up with no suit. He would be heartbroken, and very disappointed in her.
She immediately shook those thoughts away.
Jack just let out a sigh, practically beaming down at her and her sweet, good-natured heart that only wished to see him happy. "Oh you're just a delight, Sally!" he suddenly exclaimed and before he could stop himself he had squeezed her tightly and lifted her up a little from the floor and spun her in a perfect circle, ending by placing her down and just hugging her all the more. 'She'll make Christmas happen...even if I fail somehow...She'll make Christmas this year okay...I can feel it...'
"Oh my...!" Sally exclaimed, and held onto him, her eyes still wide as she tried to take in what he had just done, even after he had set her down. He had never done that before! And wow, he was sure strong for a skeleton and having no muscles! He had effortlessly picked her up and then twirled around in a perfect circle, no less, as if she didn't weigh a thing! How in the world did he do that? None the less, she just smiled happily and hugged back all the more as well, happy that she could even be within his wonderful embrace some time more. "Jack, you're the sweetest...!"
Jack's smile went goofy and bashful without his even realizing it and he just sighed and rested up against her a little. "N-No, I...I'm just...Jack..." He remained in this giddy state for another moment or two and then blinked and realized what he had just done! A little gasp escaped him and he pulled back from her a little, looking at her with wide eye sockets. "O-Oh, I...I'm sorry, Sally, I...I didn't mean to...do something like that...s-so suddenly. I-I guess it's just...Christmas still affecting me..." He swallowed and smiled...and really did try to believe that Christmas excuse.
"No..it's...it's all right, Jack...I don't mind. ...It was fun..." Sally giggled again, beaming at him. "No one has ever done that to me. ...You're quite strong..."
Jack's ivory bones actually blanched. He wasn't sure how noticeable it was but he was sure that it had definitely happened. But she...she had... 'S-S-S-Strong...?' Jack never even thought about that...That he was...it seemed...strong. He just swallowed and shrugged and glanced down nervously. 'I...r-r-really?"
"Oh, well, if that's not too bold to say, of course. But um...yes, you displayed quite a feat of strength being able to pick me up like that and even twirl in a perfect circle." Sally said bashfully. "I...well, it was impressive, that's all."
"Mm..." The tiniest bit of a squeak escaped Jack at the back of his throat and he gulped and instantly looked entirely away from her. "I-I-I, w-w-well, i-i-it's very f-f-flattering that...b-but really, Sally, you're so light and small and...o-oh but still pretty and beautiful of course! Oh! I-I mean, w-well, I-I just...d-did my best with picking you up, i-i-is all..." He'd started to back up a little from her while speaking and now stopped as he had half tripped back over some boxes of Christmas decorations on the floor. He took a moment to straighten himself and to catch his breath...and then he realized that somewhere in all of his ramblings to/about her he had definitely thrown in the words 'pretty' and 'beautiful'...And now Jack just let out a deep sigh and closed his eye sockets, putting a hand to his temple. 'Why don't I just tell her I spent an hour last night dreaming of her climbing on top of me to give me kisses? Honestly, I feel like doing that would work out less awkwardly than all of this at this point...' He let out another breath and just waited to see how she would respond to all of that.
"Oh! Are you all right?" Sally approached him in concern. But then it hit her. That display of half-tripping over a box of Christmas decorations...it was just like in her dream. She looked sad for a brief moment, but then shook it off. Even so, the fact he had actually called her pretty AND beautiful were not lost on her, and she looked really bashful as well.
Jack opened his mouth as though about to reply to her but then hesitated and considered...and then he just let out a breath and shook his head a little and said back to her quietly, "Actually I...No...I don't think I am, Sally..." He brushed himself off and took a step toward her as well, still looking somewhat downward and with a touch of seriousness. "I think I..." he knew she probably meant to just ask him if he was all right from tripping but he couldn't help taking it a bit more to heart, "I think I'm a little tired...and very confused...a-and that...I could probably use a full night's sleep to figure some things out...And I also think that..." he looked more at her, focusing on her, "...I think that you're a very nice girl-...young woman...and that's it's a shame you have to spend so much of your caring nature worrying over an old Pumpkin King like me..." He smiled a little at that last idea. That was another ridiculous factor in all of this. Sally...Sally probably looked up to him as a sort of father figure or something. Jack, the old stable reliable Pumpkin King...how selfish would it be of him to ever seriously pursue any other relationship with her, but especially without any direct indication that she cared for him as deeply as the Sally in his dream seemed to care for him. It would be a horrible thing for him to do, putting her in that position.
For a moment Sally was puzzled. She was merely asking if he was all right from nearly tripping, and yet...she had been worried about his wellbeing at this point. It was a wonder he answered in that regard! But in a way she was glad, since it meant she could get deeper into this. "Jack...no. Don't think that. ...You're my dear friend." Sally approached him, and then, unable to help herself, embraced him once more. "I care about you because I do. ...I can't help it. It's not a shame...and it's not a waste of my time. I just...I'm so sorry you're not well. Please take care of yourself, Jack...I'm worried about you." She looked at him sadly, much like a woman worrying about the man she loved.
Jack's eye sockets went wide...and then relaxed again, and his warm smile returned. Had he expected anything less from her? Such a doting little thing she could be, even to a friend. She really was just charming. Jack nestled into her, embracing her as well, skull still facing her head."Thank you, Sally. But please don't worry. I'll be alright, one way or another. I always have been...and I always will be. And if you'll just stay as wonderful as you are...that will certainly give me a reason to keep trying to be okay again." Some more words came to Jack, and he smiled more and said them quietly and sweetly... "Sally, someday...you'll make someone very happy."
A touch of sadness came to her smile then, but she smiled as she brought her arms up higher around him, and was unwittingly leaning closer up toward him. There was just something in the air...
"You will too, Jack...and I...hope with all my heart that I can make...you happy too, all the time."
Another one of those little trembles went through Jack and he just couldn't look away from her perfect smiling face. "Y-You...do...make me happy all the time...already..." he replied back warmly, quietly, holding her and just...happy for the first time in a very long time.
"...You make me happy all the time Jack...you really do. You're the greatest thing...ever to come into my life..." She confessed, now leaning a little closer. What was happening, what was she doing...She didn't care. Maybe, just maybe...
Jack couldn't breathe anymore, or blink...all he could do was look warmly down into her eyes and smile. "I-I...I'm not so very special..." he replied bashfully, almost with a chuckle.
"Don't be silly..." Sally murmured, shaking her head, and just leaned further up...
"Jack! Jack! I was wondering if-" The Mayor suddenly came in, grinning widely. He blinked, and then his head rotated to his negative mood. "Oh no! Was I interrupting anything?" He had not expected to find Jack in an intimate embrace with a woman like this before! And it wasn't just that. There was something between them, and he could see it clear as day.
Ashamed and embarrassed, Sally broke away. "...I'll see you later, Jack." Before anyone could say anything, she scurried away, in tears.
"Wait, Sally!" Jack instantly called out, eye sockets wide and reaching out towards her, taking several steps and yet pausing, feeling so very unsure, and especially now that the mayor was here. It didn't matter though now because Sally was gone entirely. He sighed...missing her already.
"Jack, what are you doing?" The Mayor panicked. "You didn't tell me you were romancing with her! Oh, don't get distracted now, Jack! We have so much to do!"
"Wh..." Jack scoffed and blinked and that 'bone blanching' thing happened again and he looked at the mayor in utter shock! "R-R-Romancing? I...O-Of course I wasn't...Th-That's absurd!" He looked away in frustration, crossing his arms over his chest. "W-We were just t-talking about...A-And d-distracted? Never! I...She's my friend!" He shook his head very vehemently and looked at the Mayor, realizing suddenly that he had to make one thing very clear before anything could get out of hand. "M-Mayor, really, she's...w-well, she's Sally! She's my friend...and only that. So please don't tell anyone otherwise...If a rumor like that ever started I think she'd just go all to pieces. I-I am not...r-r-romancing...S-Sally..." Jack finally finished with a little gulp, looking downward.
"Oh!" Said the Mayor, and blinked a few times. As much as he tended to overreact and even see things a little less than within the bigger picture...he did have a feeling that there had to be something a lot more between Jack and that rag doll girl he called a friend...Sally was her name. Dr. Finkelstein's creation. Despite it all, the Mayor gave a sigh. "Jack..." He said in a rare calm tone. "I won't." He promised, and then waddled back around the curtain.
Sally meanwhile, had run outside into the tent that was set up for her to work out of, and rushed inside, collapsing against her chair and weeping with heartbreak, shame and guilt.
Jack felt a wave of relief at the Mayor's words and at the serious tone in which they had been said. But then instantly worry and guilt bombarded him again and he thought of his dear Sally. Where was she? Was she sad again? Crying? Oh but she had been so happy just a moment ago-smiling, sighing, laughing...eyes sparkling...soft arms around him...all but beaming at him...He wanted her back with him...so he could make her happy...forever...e-even if it was wrong...he didn't ever have to tell her about his thoughts...dreams...He could just...be there and make her smile...and maybe that would be enough...It was better than nothing at least...though it certainly wasn't 'everything' to be sure.
Outside in the town square, outside the Town Hall, within the tent Sally had to work in, the rag doll continued to sob a bit against her chair, trembling. She wasn't even sure how long she had been crying. Oh, how weak and utterly stupid she felt!
'The Doctor is right. ...I'm such a crybaby.' Sally thought, sniffling as she wiped her eyes, standing up straight. 'I don't know what's wrong with me...I should just accept he doesn't love me and move on.'
She looked at the traced-over drawing of Jack wearing a Sandy Claws suit, with snow all over the pumpkin patch and Spiral Hill, holding a Christmas gift, and grinning happily. A stinging feeling coursed through her, and she brought down the drawing, staring at it with distaste.
She lifted the tracing paper, revealing the original drawing. The drawing of him as the Pumpkin King. Who he truly was. Just a scratch of the surface of the man she loved.
"Oh, Jack..." Fresh tears coursed down her face yet again as she stared mournfully at the drawing, the menacing grin of Jack staring right back at her. "What happened to you..."
She suddenly heard footsteps approaching! Oh no! She hung the picture back up, rushed over to her sewing machine, and sat down on her chair, quickly going to work on stitching along the bright red fabric, running the machine swiftly. As if she had been working on it all along.
"Sally...Sally, are you in here? I-" Jack moved into the tent and his eyes instantly fell on Sally, working away.
But she was sad...he could tell...Her face looked...so tired...and her mouth frowned in a way so very deep. He walked right over toward her, frowning deeply himself. "Sally, there you are. I'm so sorry the Mayor interrupted us...I..." Reaching her, Jack blinked and swallowed and quickly qualified nervously, "N-Not that there was anything to interrupt b-but, erm...I just mean...I'm sorry he surprised you...and that you left..." his eyes turned to her, "I wish you hadn't..." he added with all the sincerity in the world.
Sally took a breath and looked up a bit, trembling. She wiped her eyes, shaking her head. "No...no, don't worry about it, Jack. I'm fine, really..." She stood up, bringing her hands behind her back. "I'm sorry for running out like that. I...panicked and didn't know what to do..."
Jack just looked at her and smiled a little. "Don't be sorry, Sally...You're shy, I know that...and it's alright. You're a very...private person...sort of like me...and I like that about you..." He moved a little closer to her.
A little smile came to Sally's face as she looked down shyly. "I...I guess that's true...something we kind of have in common...isn't it?"
Jack gave a little shrug. "I...suppose it is...Yes..." For a moment he just remained smiling and quiet. Then he let out a breath and looked to her shyly. "Um...Sally? I...well, I..." he brought his arms behind his back.
"Uh...y-yes?" Sally looked at him shyly, nervously, standing in the same pose as he was.
Jack gulped, and then just said it as straightforwardly as possible. "I just wanted you to know that I meant what I said before...about how you make me happy...You make me happier than...a lot of things...have made me happy in a very long time. You're nice and kind and considerate and sweet and you care for me...s-so thank you again, and...a-and that's all I wanted to say, I suppose." He paused...then quickly on an absolute impulse he leaned in and over and gave her a little kiss on the cheek. Then he pulled back and just tried not to perish from utter embarrassment. "S-Sorry, they...do that with each other in Christmas town...when they're happy...heh..." he tacked on utterly sheepishly.
Now Sally's eyes went as wide as they could possibly go, and her mouth dropped open in a cute little "o". Breathy gasps escaped her, and she slowly raised a hand to her cheek. He had kissed her on the cheek! Just like in her dream! Only, she had been the one to kiss him first, twice. Before he had given her one too. It was simple, chaste, and likely meant to be a friendly gesture...inspired by Christmas Town, it seemed.
She looked at him in surprise, and then just...swooned. Softly.
"Oh, Jack...thank you..." She stepped over, stood on tiptoe, and kissed him on the cheek as well. Oooohhh! How amazing his skull felt against her lips! "...If...people kiss when they're happy...like that...it's sweet... And...you make me happy too, I meant it as well..."
'O-Oh...dear...' Jack felt himself about to collapse to his knees. A sweet little kiss from sweet little Sally...but in real life instead of a dream...He just wanted to collapse to the floor and look up at her adoringly and confess all of his dreams and thoughts and fears, and to throw himself on her mercy and finally admit that he...liked her...a lot. "Y-Yeah...they kiss...a lot..." was all that gurgled out of Jack's mouth as he managed to keep standing, albeit with his spine a little slumped... "They really must be very happy..." he finished with a somewhat goofy sigh. "i'm happy too..." he added quietly.
Sally cocked her head. What had gotten into him all of a sudden? He seemed so...nervous, slouched, shy, and...bashful. She smiled thought, giggling a bit, feeling a little better than before. "Well...I wouldn't know myself, but...I'll take your word for it...for such a happy place of a happy holiday...it seems like something they would do. It would be lovely to see..." She recalled in her dream how he had said he'd take her there one day. Oh, despite everything, she loved the idea.
"W-We should go sometime...I think you'd enjoy it..." left Jack sweetly and warmly before he could think about it much. "I miss it there anyway...and if it would make you happy...I'd take you, Sally..." His smile took on a touch of happy eagerness that he couldn't control. Part of his mind realized what he as suggesting could be considered...by some...when taken out of context...'courting'...but he decided that if he didn't think about it in that way, then it wouldn't be true in that way.
"Really, Jack? We'd go there?" Sally stepped toward him, wringing her hands as she rose them to her chest, smiling with..eagerness. "I mean...it's quite...well...unorthodox, but I...I can't help but feel so intrigued by it. ...And to share it with you, though you've been there before...would be even more wonderful."
Oh that did it-her eagerness, her happiness, her joy at the idea and getting to share it with him...Yeah, they were going. No question. "We'll go...Perhaps when Christmas is over. I promise you'll adore it..." He smiled even more, almost beaming now.
A slight tinge of worry, having to do with her premonition, figuratively tapped her on the shoulder as if to say "Um...hello? Remember me?", but she pushed it aside and ignored it. She was too happy right now. "Oh, wonderful, Jack! ...I-I mean...well...that sounds lovely..." She looked down shyly, bringing her hands behind her back.
Jack smiled more at her sweet reaction. "I'm glad...We can make plans as soon as I get back from my sleigh ride..." Suddenly Jack blinked, a thought occurring to him. He looked at her with a touch of nervousness. "O-Oh ,but...perhaps we should keep our trip a secret, just between you and me...You see, I...w-well, I..." he looked downward in a touch of distress about what he was thinking of admitting to her.
"Oh, that's no problem...I don't mind keeping it a secret. ...Who would I tell?" Sally couldn't help but say, and then looked a bit concerned. "...But...what's wrong?"
Jack swallowed and the looked at her seriously, a little pout/frown on his mouth. "Promise you won't laugh?" He didn't know why he had asked that, he just...he'd been feeling so foolish ever since he had woken up this morning and how the rest of this day had gone in regards to her hadn't exactly helped to alleviate the feeling.
Sally smiled, shaking her head. "Of course not, Jack. I promise I won't laugh."
Jack swallowed and smiled a very tiny bit...and then finally admitted, arms behind his back. "I'd rather not tell anyone because the Mayor would find out and he might...suggest some things to people...since, from interrupting us before, he...already thought that...we were...r-r-r-r... 'Say it, you ridiculous Pumpkin King!' he mentally scolded himself and then suddenly it popped out of him, "He already thought that we were romancing and I don't want him getting some kind of 'celebrity' rumor going, because I don't need the extra attention and you don't need the extra embarrassment of something like that." He finished, letting out a breath, and hoped he hadn't done or said anything to offend her.
"...O-Oh...ooh..." Sally blinked, and looked a bit mortified. The Mayor thought they were romancing each other? ...Looking back, they were locked in a pretty intimate embrace, and she had actually been about to kiss him! ...Was she? "Oh, Jack...I'm so sorry! I didn't think we would get caught...but...oh, of course...I understand completely. I'd hate to be a source of...l-lies about you that would embarrass you so much."
Jack's eye sockets were wide...and then he said simply, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "You could never ever embarrass me, Sally...Never ever..." He shook his head. "I...i-if anything...any man would be...honored by...the idea of...y-you...But I...I just don't want...w-well, I know how much you value your privacy, Sally...I just don't want anything the town might say bothering you, is all..." He looked down shyly, wringing his hands a little.
"Oh! ...I-I...that's sweet of you, Jack...thank you..." Sally smiled a bit more. "But um...you don't have to worry...You wouldn't embarrass me at all."
A little smile managed to break through on Jack's face. "Really? An old Pumpkin King like me wouldn't embarrass you?" He smiled a little more.
"Of course not. You're...my...my best friend, Jack..." Sally beamed at him. "You could never embarrass me. If anything at least...in a sense...the 'rumours', if they were to spread, wouldn't be too far from the truth. We are friends, aren't we? I mean...while they would exaggerate it a bit and make it that we're...well...c-courting...it does still retain the fact we spend time together and get along. ..Oh, that was probably silly and didn't make any sense."
Jack gulped. Then he smiled more. Then he leaned in quickly again and gave her another little kiss on the cheek and then pulled back again. "No, it wasn't...It was very clever and kind..." he whispered sweetly.
Sally all but froze at being kissed yet again on the cheek by him...oh, how she wished she could dance around and swoon with utter happiness! "Awww...Jack...you're sweet..." She held her hand to her cheek again and giggled.
"Hmm..." a little goofy chuckle escaped Jack. Okay, he was finally ready to admit it...Okay, well, not it, but...at least part of it... 'She is very...cute...' "I...well, I told you...you make me happy...and I learned now to kiss when I'm happy..." he admitted with just a touch of unintentional (and maybe a little intentional) charm...
Oh, that did it! Now she HAD to keep going with this. If she made his suit, and it fit and was well done...maybe...just maybe...
Sally swaggered a bit on her feet, and she managed to take a step forward. "Jack...you...you'll kiss when you're happy?" She blinked, and swooned a bit from his charm...
Jack gave a tiny bashful nod. "Just...J-Just getting into the Christmas spirit..." he explained quietly, still with that little smile on his face.
Unable to help herself, she leaned up and bestowed a kiss on his cheek as well, giggling a little. "You...make me happy too..."
"Mm..." One of those tiny little sounds escaped very softly at the back of Jack's throat. This wasn't fair at all...Why did she have to act like this? She obviously didn't have...romantic feelings for him-she would have told him by now...And yet...Jack gave a gurgly sigh, an enamored grin spreading wide across his face...even if she didn't have feelings like that for him...maybe these sweet little friendship feelings she did have could be enough...A-And they'd also be safer...r-right? Nothing wrong could happen between two just sweet friends. "I dreamed about you last night..." Well, that definitely wasn't supposed to have left his smiling mouth but in his defence...all of his defences were down at the moment.
"Oh, that's nice." Sally said absently, not even paying attention. She smiled more and turned around.
Only to whip back. "What...? You...you did?" Yes, she recalled his admittance that she'd appeared in his dreams before, but this...last night?
Jack absolutely froze up, eye sockets going wide, all feeling leaving his bones. "I...I-I...w-well, I...y-yes..." He gulped, his breaths shallow...He prayed she wouldn't be horribly offended by the confession...and internally kicked himself for confessing it in the first place!
"Oh..." Sally looked down bashfully, bringing her hands behind her back as she shuffled her feet a bit. "...I dreamed about you last night, too..." A tinge of wistful sadness was laced into her tone then.
Jack took in a little gasp of air and looked to her. "B-B-But...I...thought you didn't like your dream last night..." A little frown of hurt came to his face.
"...No...I did! ...It was just so wonderful...it made me sad that it wasn't real." She said quickly, mortified.
"O-Oh..." Jack swallowed, rather embarrassed at the moment as well. There was some silence and then Jack hesitantly asked, "I..assume it would...be too forward of me...to pry and ask...what exactly it was about?" He barely glanced at her.
Oh no. This wasn't looking good. She was conflicted. Completely.
One part of her was saying, "Tell him the TRUTH!"
The other part of her was saying, "Lie, just lie! He'll never know!"
"Um...er...well it was...I mean..."
Jack swallowed, instantly awash in guilt for the awkward position he had obviously put her in. "I..I-It's okay, Sally, I had no right to ask anyway..." he quickly interjected. "But, um...if...if there's anything I could ever do to make your dream with me come true...please let me know. I want you to be happy so very much, Sally..." He smiled at her.
Oh no no no no...he did NOT just say that! Did he have any idea what he was saying? Or WHO he was saying this to?
Before she could stop herself, she said, "I dreamt that...we were...um...flying! Together, around the world beyond...And we were together for it all..."
Well, it wasn't too far from the truth. She did actually have some cute little dreams like that! Still, she did hate lying like that...and as much as she wanted to take it up to his offer of making her dream come true...she could never put him in that position.
Jack blinked. "Oh..." For some reason, he...perhaps it was the build up but he had felt like when she told him her dream...it would be something much more...just kind of...well, he didn't know how to describe it...but what she had told him felt so anticlimactic in comparison with what he had thought hearing it might feel like. "Well, um...that's nice..." Jack smiled, "A-And ,well...if Dr. Finkelstein gets my coffin sleigh up and running, maybe we really could go for a fly together, after Christmas sometime." He smiled more at her.
"Oh! ...Well um...wonderful, Jack..." She felt off the hook for now, but still could feel that a part of him didn't buy it. "I...I...hope it will work out, of course!"
Jack nodded. "Me too, Sally...I'll do my best to see to it."
"Awww..." Sally giggled. "Um...so what did you dream? I mean...if you want to tell me, you certainly don't have to."
Jack went from smiling and sweet to eyes wide again...an image of the Sally from his dream pouncing on top of him and giving his lips kiss after kiss after kiss suddenly entering his mind...And it wasn't helping anything that Jack...really did not lie...pretty much ever. "I...you...came over to my house..." he settled on quietly. After all that was how the dream had started at least.
"...Oh...really? Why?" She cocked her head curiously. 'Just like my dream...'
Jack swallowed again. He spoke in a very quiet, shy voice, still beating around the bush. "I...I-It was night and you were cold...so you came in to warm up..." he continued carefully.
'Just like in my dream!' "Oooh..." Sally stepped a little closer, more intrigued. "I've dreamt of that, too...s-sometimes!"
Jack gulped very distinctly, his wide eye sockets meeting her eyes. "Y-You've dreamed about...c-coming over?" He could barely ask it without his voice cracking.
"Um...yes..." She played with her hair nervously.
Jack swallowed again and said the first thought that came to mind. "I...wish you would come over more often...L-Last night you just left me that basket at my window sill and didn't even come up so that I could thank you properly..." Jack tried not to think about the part of his dream where he had said something similar. He was much more curious about what Sally's reply would actually.
'Otherwise maybe the events of my dream could've happened...' Sally thought, kicking herself inwardly. "I'm sorry, Jack...But um...I will be working out here a lot more, so...I won't be lock-...at home so much, so...maybe we could...s-see each other more when I'm not busy...h-here..." She looked down shyly.
"L-Like an...outing or something?" Jack asked with hesitant wonder.
"S-Sure! ...A-Anything...really...anything we wanted to do..." Sally said shyly. "If you want, of course...I know you must be very busy with Christmas and all, and I-I understand...but if you ever wanted a break...you'll know where to find me."
"Are you free at nights, late? I...I could do nighttime...late..." he was asking with eagerness he couldn't help but let shine through.
Little giggles escaped her as she nodded a few times, looking away shyly. "Of course...late nights are good for me, too..."
All those little giggles from her made goofy, warm chuckles escape Jack. She could be utterly...captivating...couldn't she? "H-How about t-tonight?" he asked with a wide grin, his eye sockets a little half lidded, barely aware of his words.
"Oh...tonight is fine..." A sweet and happy feeling coursed through Sally all the more, as she felt that maybe...there was hope after all. Maybe this could mean Christmas would be all right, and that for once, she wouldn't be ignored or pushed off to the side. Maybe they could further establish the sweet, friendly connection they had, into...something more? Well, okay, maybe it was better to just let it evolve naturally, just like before. "It's a...a um...um..." She could not recall that word Jack had said in her dream, something that she was sure was referred to as a fruit. "...A grape?"
Jack opened his mouth, obviously about to say something suave and appreciative at her agreement with his suggestion, but then at her last little sentence he couldn't help but blink and tilt his skull to the side a little curiously at her. "Grape?" he asked in sincere confusion.
"Oh, that's not it? Ah..um...a rate? ...No... Um... Mate? ..." Poor Sally did not remember that word! What was it? She now knew it rhymed with "ate".
Jack blinked again, still looking at her in a bit of puzzlement. But then, at her cute continued efforts, he just smiled warmly and went forward, placing his hands on her shoulders. He gazed down into her eyes. "Shh, Sally, it's alright...why don't you explain to me what it is you're trying to say using other words...and maybe then we can figure out the word you want to use, alright?"
"...It was something I-read in a book one time. It was something I knew was a fruit...but for some reason it was referred to an outing." Sally explained, and felt her shoulders tremble slightly from his touch. "...Do you know what it may be, Jack?"
"An outing...hmm, I see..." Still smiling down at her and still holding her shoulders, Jack considered... 'And it rhymes with 'ate'...' It popped into his head in an instant and he just smiled more, not even thinking about it, and suggested sweetly, "Oh you mean that it's a date!"
"Oh! A date! Yes!" Sally smiled more, nodding. "That's it! Yes...that's what I meant to say. It's a date, Jack..." Her voice was now a loving, soft little coo, like that of a dove.
Her adorable voice as she said those words made Jack tremble a little inside. 'A date'...A date, yes, they were going on a...a... Jack blinked a few times, reality flooding back to him. His eye sockets instantly went wide as could be! "W-We're going on a d-d-date..." He gulped distinctly. 'O-Oh dear...' What had he gotten himself into? He was supposed to suppress that ridiculous and random dream from last night and he was supposed to treat Sally no different than he treated any other citizen in Halloween Town! So how in the world had he ended up here touching her and planning a date? What could he even do with her on a date? An image came to his mind from his dream last night of Sally all over him on his couch, covering his mouth with loving kisses, and instantly Jack gulped again in
embarrassment and shyness and did everything he could to push the image away again.
Sally, of course not at all knowing that a date wasn't exactly just a "Friendly outing" as she pegged it, nodded a little, and then looked concerned. "Yes, but...Jack, what's wrong? You look nervous...are you okay?" Her smile faded in a concerned frown.
"N-No, I...I-I mean, yes, I...w-well, I..." Jack swallowed and took a step back from her, removing his hands from her. "I...a-a date is...w-well, and I...I've never even been on a date before, a-and..." He blinked, humiliation crashing over him as he realized what he had just admitted out loud to her. He just got quiet, glancing down with wide eye sockets and looking about as shy as could be.
"Oh, you haven't?" Sally cocked her head lightly. "Oh...well, we're friends, aren't we? We've gone out together before...we were out on dates...um...did they not count because we didn't call them dates? I didn't even know outings with a friend had that title...so I suppose it makes sense." She giggled, looking bashful.
Jack just looked at her so strangely for a moment, his jaw even hanging open just a little. Then he just let out a deep sigh. 'I...What in the world am I going to do with her...?' That image of lying back on his couch with her on top of him giving him kisses pushed at his mind again and Jack pushed it away with a frustrated clearing of his throat as he came back to his conversation with the girl before him. "Sally, it...I...it's just...u-usually an outing between two people only gets called a date when...they have...f-feelings...about one another..." he explained slightly awkwardly, barely able to look up at her.
"...Oh, it is? ...Oh...I didn't know that." She looked a little perturbed. "I'm so sorry. I misunderstood."
Jack gave a little shrug. "N-No, Sally, don't apologize. B-Besides, I-I just...wanted to make sure that...you knew...wh-what a date meant...A-After all, heh..." he smiled, rather sheepishly, "...I-I didn't want you to find out later or something and feel strange about the idea of...h-having dated me or something...A-After all, you probably think of an old Pumpkin King like me a-as a father figure or a brother or something..." He shrugged awkwardly again.
"...F-Father? Father?" Sally blinked, and shook her head. "Wherever did you get that idea?" She looked confused at this. "Jack...you're my friend...and I...well, I hope it's not offensive of me to say...but if I thought of you as my...father..." She couldn't help but feel a bit weird at that idea. "I think I would tell you somehow... I...I admit that is sweet...since I do not have a father, but no...I don't want you to be a father figure to me. I want you to be...my...my..."
"Y-Your...?" He looked down at her with wide eye sockets, his chest no longer rising and falling with breath. So she...she really didn't think of him as some older parental figure? The concept made him feel very...nice...almost appealing, really...Like he wasn't so very old...Like he was maybe even young enough for...certain people and things...
She wanted to say it, to say it...to say that she wanted him to be her lover. But she just couldn't put him in that position. Not like this. Sally exhaled and came closer, looking up at him with pleading eyes. In fact, why did he refer to himself as old? As if he were old enough to be a father or even, dare she think it, a grandfather? Or some kind of older family member? It was silly. He seemed so young. Closer to her "age", if she truly had one. A little older than her, sure, but not by that stretch!
"...Friend, confidant, best friend..."
"O-Oh..." Something small deflated from Jack. Not that he was complaining that she wanted him as a best friend and not some older relative figure but still...still he... He blinked, something hitting him just then. 'A-Am I actually disappointed that she doesn't want...t-to..to...' He trembled a little at the frightening and new idea. "I...want to be your best friend too, Sally..." managed to leave him, and for all he knew (in his last attempts at denial) he meant that- 'Y-Yes, maybe that's all I want, heh...' "I want to be as close to you as I can be, Sally..." There was no reason to add that last little qualifying statement and yet it had felt right and so he had done it. And in a way it captured his true feelings much better than his first statement/reply.
A beaming smile came to her face, and Sally embraced him happily, before smiling up at him. "I want to be as close to you as I can be too, Jack..."
Jack gulped and something in his bones gave a little shake at her embrace and words. His eye sockets were wide. "Y-You a-already are, heh...You're hugging me, a-after all..." escaped him with a small, sheepish grin as he didn't know what else to say except to make that little lighthearted quip.
Sally blinked, and then laughed a bit, smiling more. "That's a good one, Jack...you're right..."
He had made her laugh and...it was just..intoxicating to be able to do that... Jack's smile became calmer, more charming. "Thank you...I like having you close to me, Sally..." he said sweetly to her.
"Me...me too..." Sally now lay her head against his chest, bringing her arms tighter around his thin skeletal frame, unable to help closing her eyes in bliss.
Jack chuckled goofily, his eye sockets drifting closed. "Me...too..." he gently sighed out...and then brought his arms around her as well, hugging her snugly as well.
'I love you, Jack...I just wish I could tell you honestly...you deserve to know...' Sally thought, and all but happily melted as he hugged her back. She giggled a little, and then leaned up to plant a soft little kiss on his cheek, even lingering for a moment, and then nuzzled his neck.
'O-Oh...Oh!' Oh Jack wanted to just...He had never done anything with a woman but some instinct inside of him was instantly bombarding him with plans and desires for things like dipping her back, running his fingers through her yarn hair, gently cooing beautiful things to her and finally giving her the most Christmassy kiss he could manage. "A-Are..." he whispered gently, eyes still closed, arms still holding her, "Are you happy, my Sally?" Her kiss made the question pop into his head and the words smoothly leave his mouth.
Sally shuddered at his smooth way of asking, and giggled, opening her eyes and beaming at him with love. "I am happy, Jack...very. ...Are you happy?"
Jack's eye sockets barely opened, and he still spoke in that low voice, barely aware that he was doing so. "Yes...very...very...happy..." He let out a small breath...and then closed his eye sockets again and leaned in and placed a gentle, tender kiss on her cheek...and decided to linger...
It made her eyes widen, especially at how he lingered and spoke in that charming low voice, but Sally sighed happily and closed her eyes, gently angling her cheek toward him a bit.
Jack knew it was so wrong but didn't care...He couldn't stop his kiss upon her cheek...her soft, fabric cheek...like silk...He hadn't gotten to experience it for so long with his other little cheek kisses to her but he liked it...so very much. "Mmm..." he moaned a tiny bit as his lips pressed more against her cheek...and as it felt like her chek seemed to press more against his lips...
Was she delusional, or was this more than just a friendly kiss on the cheek to express happiness? Sally decided not to ruin it by thinking that, and just enjoyed it for what it was...ohh...the feeling was just...her feet wobbled just a teeny bit, and she held on a little tighter to keep herself standing. A tiny little moan of her own escaped her too, and she just had to fight the urge to turn her head so he'd catch her lips...no! She couldn't do that, no matter how much her heart was begging her to.
His mind was already imagining kissing...all over that pretty face. How nice that would be...Pretty Sally, pretty kisses, pretty together...'N-No, stop it, please stop it...Have you utterly lost your mind?Stop! This is not right! What, you have ONE completely unfair dream and you just decide that she's yours to do with whatever you like? What kind of horribly selfish man are you...?' He lingered for only a moment longer but then gently managed to pull his lips from her cheek, panting heavily. "I..." he whispered between breaths, "I'm sorry...i...overstepped something just now...didn't I?"
A pang of disappointment coursed through her, but she shook it off by shaking her head and smiling. "You didn't. Not at all, Jack." She said honestly, and looked a bit pleading.
For a moment Jack's eye sockets went wide...but then they melted back to half lidded and he smiled down at her, still holding her. "Sally...you're so kind but you musn't...be so very accommodating...One day someone might come along and take advantage of that...and I couldn't bear that..." He looked down at her with a touch of sadness and longing.
"Don't be silly..." Sally waved that off. "I wouldn't let that happen unless I trusted someone so very much, Jack." She then felt her heart wrench at that touch of sad longing he seemed to gaze her with. What did that mean? Could he possibly...? She raised a hand to his cheek, and smiled. "And I trust you, more than anyone."
Jack gulped, feeling just...awful to be honest. She trusted him and here he was...dreaming about her in compromising positions, getting close to her all for his own gratification, teasing her possibly as he 'played with' his new found novel idea of her as a romantic figure... He didn't deserve her trust...he didn't deserve her...Some nice, sweet, young person who would offer her a dead rose and ask for her hand outright and openly with no fear, that was what she deserved...but not him and not this... "Oh...Sally..." he let out a deep, long sigh and placed his hand over her hand on his face... "...you...I don't deserve you...Not at all... I'm sorry..." He shook his head.
Now her eyes widened with shock, and with mild hurt. "Don't say that. You do." She now rose up to lay their foreheads together, closing her eyes. "You don't need to be sorry. I love..being this close to you. I promise. If I didn't, I would tell you...I am shy and introverted...but I can decide for myself what I do want or don't want," She assured softly. Now her voice took on a pleading tone. "It's okay..."
Jack swallowed, trembling a little. "B-But Sally, you...you don't understand...Here you are, trusting me...and here I am...just..." he blinked several times, "I...I have no right to...be near you...go on a date with you...give you kisses...No right at all...Even if you say you're okay with it...I still have no right...I'm taking advantage of you...a-and...oh, Sally, you don't even know the worst part of it..." He looked at her with so much distress.
Heart wrenching, a little sad pout came to her face. "Awwww..." She said in soft sympathy, and brought her arms around him yet again, nuzzling. "Please don't say that...you're not taking advantage of me...please... Please don't go." She looked up with pleading, sad eyes, begging him not to let her go. It reminded her of her dream...only the severity was up a few notches. Now tears were in her eyes as she pleaded silently.
She was sad again and it utterly broke Jack's heart. He wouldn't leave her now for anything in the world...no matter how much guilt it brought him. "I...won't go...ever...as long as you need me..." he whispered, his eyes wide. "But I just...I..." a little sigh escaped him, "I should tell you something...but I don't want to...and all because I don't' want you to hate me...but you should know. Don't you see how selfish that is?"
"...Jack...don't be silly. There is nothing you could say or do that would make me hate you." Sally said with no doubt or uncertainty, and wiped her eyes with one hand. "...You don't have to tell me anything you're not comfortable with, Jack. I would never want you to do that." Now she reached up, holding his face in both her hands. "You're not selfish. You just feel you can't tell me certain things, and I respect that. I will tell you now, you can tell me anything you wish to. But, unless you're comfortable with it, you don't have to tell me what you don't want to."
Jack felt his will and fears melting to goo. "I..." his knees trembled but he did his best to keep himself standing..and to keep his skull from popping off in bliss right into Sally's hands, "I...am comfortable with you...and with telling you...anything. I...I'll tell you...a-and if you hate me afterwards...then I'm so very sorry for hurting you, Sally...I can't think of anything worse than hurting you."
Sally smiled, touched by how sweet and considerate he was. "I completely doubt that I would ever hate you, Jack. But I definitely appreciate the sentiment...thank you." She brought his face down closer to hers, gently, and lay their foreheads together. "If you want to tell me, I'll listen to you..."
Honestly, right now, Jack wouldn't have been able to not tell her even if he wanted to...He couldn't deny those curious, big eyes of hers when they were so close. "I...when I dreamed about you last night...I did dream about you coming over...but there were other things too...I didn't mean to dream about them...I just...did...I don't know why..." He didn't blink or breathe as he looked down at her unsurely.
Sally felt a jolt. She could vouch for that, as well. "Jack...if you dreamed of something that you think...would make me uncomfortable, how could I possibly blame you for that? We can't help what we dream... Dreams are a huge mystery, aren't they?"
Jack gave the tiniest bit of a shrug. He knew that was true...but he was filled with so much doubt and nervousness now that he could barely acknowledge it. "I...s-suppose...but...it...you..." another breath escaped him, "...you came over...and you were cold so I put you by the fire with me...w-we talked...I can't remember much of the details about that anymore...a-and then we...we were..." he considered...and then decided to put things a certain way, considering some things they had discussed so far this afternoon, "...we were...er... being 'h-happy' together..." He gulped.
'Almost like my dream...in fact, just about the same...' Sally let it sink in, and wondered what she could possibly say to that. Admit the truth? Or just dig a deeper hole of lies? "There's nothing wrong with that...if anything, it's really sweet. ...It's funny, Jack... I'm so sorry, I haven't been honest with you." She pulled back a bit, looking down in shame. "I dreamt of that as well. ...Well, not entirely...you came after me outside, and brought me to your house to warm up...and well... Oh, I'm so sorry. Here I am, telling you it's okay to dream of whatever you do dream, and yet here I was lying to you out of panic. I am so...so sorry. You deserve better than that..." She turned away in shame, hugging herself.
"You...dreamed about...with me...too..." escaped Jack in quiet, surprised whispers, his eye sockets unblinking and so very wide. He couldn't believe it...He must not have heard her right. Th-There was no way she... "I-I...w-we..." then he blinked and fully took in Sally's defeated position right now and instantly he was with her, holding her, soothing her with his words...and with occasional kisses that he gently placed upon her saddened face. "Sally, no...Sally, you're shy-there's nothing to be ashamed of in that. And I...I don't deserve better...A-After all...what could be better than you?..." He hugged her to him, never wanting to let her go.
The sadness within her was then replaced by surprise, and she all but froze a bit, before melting and embracing her beloved in return, holding on tight, but gently. "Oh, Jack..." She cooed sweetly, the sadness melting away. What could be better than her? Did she hear him right? Had he really just asked that?
She said his name and the beautiful way she had said it just...filled Jack completely. "Oh Sally..." he snuggled into her, "Sally...I like you...so much..."
"I...I lo...like you too, so very much..." Her body shuddered in utter joy as he snuggled into her, and in response, she reciprocated whole-heartedly.
"Hmm..." Jack chuckled a little as he nuzzled their heads a little, "That's nice...thank you...sweet Sally..." He just wanted to melt into all of her warmth and softness.
A soft, happy giggle escaped her and she nuzzled their heads a little right back, even meeting her cheek against his. "No need to thank me, Jack..."
More goofy little sounds escaped Jack, and especially as he recaled something. "You were so cute before when you said my full name...earlier when we were talking...Jack Skellington...I don't know why...but it really was just...so sweet..."
"...Oh...really?" Sally opened her eyes, and giggled once more. "Well...I suppose I said it to illustrate a point...it is your name, isn't it? The person you are, first and foremost?"
"Yes..." Jack's eye sockets remained closed and he was still smiling away, "Who I am...Jack Skellington...No matter what holiday it gets hidden under...that's who I am...and you know that and accept it...and I adore that..."
"Awwww..." Sally now raised her arms and brought them around his neck, giggling again. "You're absolutely right, Jack...no matter what, you are Jack Skellington..." She felt odd saying his full name out of context, but it was fun, and again, illustrated her point. "And I do accept it...completely. You are and always have been that person to me."
"Um..." Jack let his arms slip low around her waist as he looked down into her eyes, smiling, "Thank you...so very much" he chuckled a little and added, "You know...I suppose that...it made sense before... that when the mayor walked in...he thought we were, um...y-you know...We...probably really do look like it right now...don't we?" He looked down bashfully.
"...Yes, that's true...I suppose we do." Sally smiled bashfully, looking down a bit herself.
"I-If he caught us giving kisses, I can't imaging what he would think..." Jack added in a funny whisper.
"I imagine it's not common to see people kissing in this town..." Sally murmured, shaking her head. "It would certainly be perceived as...r-romancing..."
Jack gulped, still smiling though. "Y-Yes, it...it would...And...And I...wouldn't want to make your many admirers jealous or anything, Sally..."
"...What? ...Jack, don't be silly. I don't have admirers." Sally giggled, shaking her head. "It would rather make your admirers jealous."
Jack blinked at first...but then he just smiled again...even more than before. "Oh Sally...how could you ever think that someone as sweet and pretty as you doesn't have many admirers...? There must be dozens...even if you're too modest to realize it." He winked down at her.
"Jack..." Sally giggled. "It's flattering but..." She bit her lip. 'I only want YOU to be an admirer, Jack...'
"But what, Sally?" Jack asked, absolutely enchanted with the way she was biting her lip shyly.
"...Um..." Sally bit her lip all the more, oblivious to the fact that he was actually enchanted by it. "If I...wanted a secret admirer...I'd prefer if it came from someone I liked...trusted...w-wanted...to be closer to."
She was positively the most adorable thing on the planet. He had fully decided and accepted that fact. "Oh, I see..." he replied warmly and quietly, "Well...do you like...and trust...and want to be closer to anyone in particular, Sally?" It had left his mouth before he could think any better of it, though now at processing what he had just asked, Jack blinked and quickly added shyly. "Unless that's too personal...I'm sorry, Sally, I didn't think before I asked that question."
Now it made her eyes widen. Had he really asked that? Oh no.
Practical, sensible, logical, even desperate said: Tell him the TRUTH!
Scared, shy, nervous, and even sad said: Lie.
"...There is someone I love..." Sally said sadly, and was looking right at him as she said this, pleadingly. "...But he doesn't love me."
Jack's eye sockets flew open wide...and then something small cracked inside of him. "O...Oh..." 'She...already has someone she...O-Of course, how silly of me...A-And really all of this was just a whim anyway...entirely because of that dream...S-Silly, really...J-Just a l-little lark from my overstressed mind that still can't figure out Christmas...A-And that's what I should be focusing on anyway-Christmas. Yes...of course...' Jack didn't feel like any of that was the truth of course, but saying it to himself helped a little just the same...he supposed. "I...He's very lucky, Sally..." was all he could manage.
Sally blinked. Why did he seem so...torn up? She nearly expected him to grin and give a congratulatory cheer to her, and even wish her the best of luck. But he actually looked as if...the same way she would look if he told her he was in love with someone. Why did he look so sad? "...Jack, what's wrong?" She asked in concern, touching his face.
A little tremble went through Jack at her touch...and her question. "I...I'm just...n-nothing's wrong...I'm very happy for you...r-really..." He tried to smile but it was weak and didn't come easy. "N-Nothing's wrong...i-it must just be Christmas or something overwhelming me..."
"...Jack, you look upset..." Sally looked a mixture of sympathetic, concerned, and a bit of a "I'm not buying it". "Are you sure you're okay?"
Jack just...wanted to lie but...not to her...ever... "I...just...never knew that your...heart had already been won, Sally...I-I'm just...surprised you never shared it with me until now..." It was the best semi-truthful explanation for his behavior that he could come up with.
"...Oh." A part of her wanted to kick herself for ever thinking he was jealous. She even looked pretty sad, smiling a little. "I'm sorry, Jack..." 'Why can't I be honest...YOU'RE the one I love...But I can't do it...'
Jack just swallowed and shook his head, a little pout in his features. "N-No, it's...I shouldn't have assumed that you would...share with me in the first place. I-I don't have any right a-and...besides, a lady has secrets and I accept that...I just..." he looked into her eyes unsurely, "...can I ask...is he...does he...treat you...nicely?"
"Don't be silly, Jack. You're the one I trust and adore the most...of course I should have shared it with you. ...And...yes, he treats me like...a Princess." She said softly, still looking at him as she said this.
Jack gulped and felt the whiteness in his bones starting to hit its brightest. "A...princess...?" For a moment the idea flashed into Jack's mind of her as a Princess...a Pumpkin Princess...and himself as the Pumpkin King...and so very obviously lacking a Pumpkin Queen. Funny how perfectly that all seemed to work out... "I...that's...good. He ought to treat you like no less, Sally... And...And do you...enjoy your time with him?" he tacked on shyly.
"Yes, I do. Very much." Now her hands came to his shoulders, and her smile became a bit flirty. What was happening? Why was she doing this? "I love to spend time with y-...him."
Jack cleared his throat a bit, trying to maintain...though her hands on his shoulders now and the way she was smiling certainly weren't helping. "A-Alright. A-And when you spend time with him...is he a gentleman to you?" This question particularly concerned Jack.
"Absolutely. I think he would kick his own skull across the pumpkin patch into the Hinterlands before he'd be ungentlemanly to me." Sally couldn't help but quip. Normally she wasn't a jokey type, but it just seemed like a great one to use...because she heard it from him one time.
Jack blinked, a little surprised but such strong (and adorably comedic) affirmative response...Though instantly all suprise was replaced with relief at the fact that it was indeed an affirmative response. "O-Oh, well, that's..." Jack blinked again, realizing something. "S-So this person can...detach his skull from his head then?" He hadn't gotten a single clue to help him figure out who this person might be until right now and he couldn't help clinging to it.
"Yes, he can..." Sally giggled, smiling more. "In fact...he's a skeleton, so it makes sense." 'Oh dear, I hope that wasn't TOO obvious. ..Okay, maybe if he figures it out and seems offended, I'll try to save it and...just be honest.'
Jack's jaw popped open and instantly everything inside of him was spinning. "Wh-Wha...Huh?" was it horrible that what was trying to come out of his mouth was something along the lines of 'But that's not fair!' And yet, after all, if he had known she had a thing for skeletons, perhaps he could have... 'N-N-No, please stop it...Please stop torturing yourself with this silliness...Besides, even if you were actually serious, she already has someone obviously...' "Oh, I...y-you must mean then one of the hanging skeletons from the haunted tree...I...I didn't know you found skeletons attractive, Sally...I-I'm very happy for you..." Honestly though right now inside, yes, he was happy that she seemed happy but...mostly now he wanted to leave and be alone like usual...for a very long time.
He doubted even a trip to Christmas Town would cheer him up at the moment.
"The Hanging Men? Oh! No...no..." Sally giggled. "I...well, I am friendly with the Hanging Tree and his Hanging Men, of course, but no. That's not it." She pulled back, and could see he yet again was trying to mask happiness. "It doesn't even matter, though...He doesn't love me. He has so much going on in his life, I think...being with a woman is the last thing on his mind."
"I think he'd be horribly selfish not to notice your love for him...and utterly stupid not to love you right back above anything else in the while entire world." Jack said the words plainly, simply, directly, and never once blinking or letting his eye sockets leave her eyes.
"...Well, I can't blame him for it. I don't exactly spell out my feelings for him." Sally looked right at him as she said it. "I wouldn't be surprised if he had no idea at all..."
"If he doesn't...you should...y-you sh-should..." 'You should tell him...' that was the right advice but...having to deliver it to her felt so painful to him...Like he was pushing her away... But he couldn't be selfish and tell her never to tell him. "You...should...If he doesn't really know...you shouldn't give up, Sally...Maybe one day something will happen or you'll tell him and then he'll know...and once he knows...I know he'll never let you go...He'll cherish you..." Jack did his best to smile, but had to at least sigh a little as he added. "I'll just...be a little lonely I guess when you two end up together and I don't get to spend so much time with you...But you'll be happy and...that's more important to me than anything else."
"Don't be silly, Jack. Even if that was the case, I would always make time for you." Sally promised. "You're my best friend, and no one can ever replace you. ...Jack...I...I should just tell you. You're right." She stepped closer to him. "...Jack, I love yo-"
"Arf! Arf!" Zero poked his head into the tent, and then smiled happily at seeing his master here, and Sally as well, which was a bonus.
Just like in my dream... Sally thought, but could not bring herself to be upset at Zero, not ever! It wasn't his fault. He didn't know what was going on. She instead smiled and crouched down to pet him. "Hello there, Zero! I'm so happy to see you...it's been a while."
"Arf!" Zero barked happily, doing a flip in middair.
'Jack, I love -' Jack couldn't breathe. 'She...She was about to tell me who she loves!' Oh he knew he couldn't be mad at Zero but still he had been about to find out what 'dashing Skeleton' had apparently been wooing Sally without even realizing it, and he wanted to know! Not that he would have 'done anything' to the person in question or anything like that, but still he...wanted to know... Now he just stood there shyly as Sally petted his little ghost dog, thinking and thinking about Sally's deep love for another person...and about how much he liked her so.
"Good boy..." Sally giggled as Zero licked her face.
"Arf!" Zero happily nuzzled her, and then turned to his master. "Arf?"
"Jack? Are you all right?" Sally stood up, as if voicing Zero's thoughts as well.
"Sally, how...how do you...know when you're...in love with another person?" Jack suddenly asked, not even knowing the question was on his mind until it had left his mouth.
"Huh?" Sally was surprised at the question. "Well...as I did say, it's just something you know...it hits you, like a bolt of lightning." She smiled a bit then. "But um...I guess, it might work differently for everyone. But when you're in love...you want to be with that person all the time, you want to hold them..." She came closer and embraced him at this. "You feel so happy around them... You want to kiss them..." She kissed him on the cheek. "And just be with them. Nothing else matters in the world, not all of the riches or any luxury...when you're with that person...what more do you need? You want to protect them, keep them safe, and...be with them forever."
Jack had gone from bashful and shy during all of this to slumped over and grinning absolutely goofily, his eye sockets half lidded and almost dewey looking. "I...I-I..." he gurguled, barely able to function, "D-Do you...h-hug and kiss...the person you love...th-that often?" he barely managed to ask...wondering how that person could even be walking around Halloween Town if Sally did, considering the fact that he himself could barely stand just from a little taste of it all.
Sally giggled, smiling at him meaningfully. "Yes." She did not once waver her gaze from him, and then nuzzled their cheeks.
Zero looked on, keeping as quiet as he could, his nose glowing quite a bit as he smiled brightly. There was definitely something between them right now. Oh, he knew, he had a feeling Sally was in love with his master. As for Jack...well, he needed to kick aside the denial and accept it. None the less, the little ghost dog smiled as he observed the two, wagging a corner of his sheet.
"He must be...the happiest man in the whole world then..." Jack gurgled softly. "He must...melt for you every time you do it..." He was going down fast. Pretty soon he was just going to lose it and fall to his knees and start giving little kisses to any part of her that would have them, cooing his newly realized desires to her...But no, he couldn't...She had just told him she was in love, after all, and how terrible it would be of him to put her in such an awkward position in light of that. Oh but still...he could daydream, couldn't he? Daydream as he looked into her eyes...Dreams...just like his dream from last night.
"Well, lately he has." Sally murmured, and snuggled against him. "I would probably be unable to control myself if he said he loved me right now..."
"H-H-H-He's missing out on a g-g-g-golden opportunity r-r-right now then, i-i-isn't he?" Jack replied with a stutter, wishing for one brief full moment that...that he could be the one who...had that sweet power over her...To make all of her dreams come true and to make her unable to control herself... "I-I-If I was him...the one you loved...I would say it to you right now, S-Sally...I-I would say... 'I love you, S-Sally...' " A full little tremor that he couldn't control passed through him at saying those words-he felt utterly on fire in each of his bones.
A tremor passed through her and Sally looked down at the ground to hide her complete heartbroken, tearful expression. That was...the closest he would ever say he loved her. She wanted to cry. While she loved to hear those words, and wished she had them on some kind of record to hear over and over...it just wasn't real. Did some kind of entity not like her? They were dangling this wonderful, irresistible creature right in her face just within reach...only to cruelly yank him away while laughing.
She looked up again, her face stricken with sadness, and yet...love. "I love you, too..." She managed, trembling. And then quickly added, "If that were...th-the case...and he said that."
Jack noticed her sadness and instantly took on a look of sadness himself. "Shh...you musn't be sad, Sally...If...if all of that were the case then...well...you would have just...finally put yourself together with the person you love most...And it will happen someday, I know it...And then...and then the two of you...would stand together...holding one another...and then kiss...and you would have everything you deserve..." Jack moved his skull a little and then gave a deep kiss to Sally's cheek, savoring it and lingering and going with it almost with a passion.
Oh, how she could just easily turn her head!
Fingers clutching at his spine a little tighter, a soft dreamy sigh escaped Sally as she shuddered happily. "Oh, Jack..." She murmured lovingly, with longing. Turning her head ever so slightly, he caught the stitches at the corner of her mouth, which made her respond with a breathy gasp, given how sensitive her seams were.
Jack was dying...and not in the ' Heh, it's Halloween Town and we're all already 'dead' so wouldn't that be ironic or something?' way. He was starting to really...want her...and to not car how silly it was that so much of the impulse for it had come from his dream. And then now he had felt her soft head and face shift under his kiss and he...felt a small indent meet the corner of his mouth...and then he realized it must be the corner of her mouth...So he was...sort of... 'K-Kissing her...lips...' He remembered his dream, remembered how she had kissed his lips over and over in it in her adoration of him. And then suddenly now Jack heard a little light gasp come from Sally and he didn't know what to make of it or do with it...All he knew was that her was holding him so tightly and...and that he would not stop kissing her until she outright said she didn't want him to. He moved a little closer to that corner of her mouth, feeling a little stitch of hers under his lips...and sort of liking it.
Her knees wobbled a bit, and Sally held on tighter as a way to keep on standing. They were...quite flirting with each other, weren't they? It wasn't the first time...they did have their moments of flirting whenever they would spend time together. But not like this! This was...wow. Whatever he was doing, he was not about to stop anytime soon. And no way was she anxious to stop him!
Sally sighed dreamily, closing her eyes as he kissed along her seams, giggling a bit in response. "Aaahh..ooohh..."
Zero was absolutely surprised. What was going on? He would've blushed if he could. The romantic tension between them was practically through the roof! Still, he scooted and went into a corner of the tent to give them privacy.
What was that new sound she had just made? Why did she make sounds? Was she uncomfortable? He wished he knew, because he for one...was the most comfortable he had been in ages... For just a moment he stopped kissing her, though his lips stayed mostly against her skin. He whispered very quietly, his eye sockets barely opening. "I'm sorry...does it hurt? Are you alright? A-Am I doing it wrong...? After all, I've...never kissed much until now..."
"No, not all..." Sally murmured, smiling. "It felt so nice." Unable to help herself, she now brought her arms around his neck, bringing herself a bit closer. "Please don't stop..." She whispered.
Jack took in a small, shocked gasp at her request, his eye sockets going wide. "I..." he whispered back slowly, "But...won't the one you love...not like this? Wh-What if I ruin things for you and him...?"
If not for Zero TRYING to keep quiet, he would have gone in there and tugged at his pant leg, instead he quietly scoffed. Was he really THAT clueless? This beautiful rag doll was practically throwing herself at him, willingly, and he was still absolutely clueless. Then again, if she would just speak up about her feelings, maybe...
Sally just wanted to say it didn't matter, but then again...given that she couldn't tell it was HIM, she had to do something. And she didn't want to make him feel like he was some kind of back-up or rebound. ...However false that was.
Sally let go, looking down in shame. "I'm sorry."
"No, I..." Jack felt heartbroken again. It felt like he would always get Sally so very happy...only to do or say something stupid to make her suddenly be sad again. "Don't be sorry, I just didn't want you to be a part of something you'd regret..." He gulped, looking at her unsurely. "D-Do you regret it, Sally? I'm...I'm so sorry if you do...I just...I get...so very confused around you and I start to do things and I..." Jack sighed, wishing he could find the words to put things better than that.
Before stopping herself, Sally shook her head. "I don't. I regret nothing that we do, Jack. I never have, and I doubt I ever will." She looked at him pleadingly.
"Then...Then...can we...can I..." He was pulling her close again. "Can...I..." He lay his forehead against hers, his lips so very close to the skin of her face again...
Sally closed her eyes, and brought her hands to his shoulders, nuzzling their heads together a bit. "Oh...c-can you what?" She thought it better to ask.
"M-More kisses...can I give them to you...or is that wrong?" he asked, genuinely so very unsure about it all.
"No. It's not wrong." Sally whispered, trembling with anticipation. "...When it's mutual, Jack, it's not wrong."
'M-Mutual...' "Mutual...S-So...you want the kisses...just like I want to give them?" Jack asked about as shyly as possible.
"...Yes..." Came her shy little soft reply.
Jack gave a tiny little gulp, his eye sockets still wide and looking into her eyes. "Sally...you confuse me sometimes...I...I don't want to...seem like I'm c-complaining...but it's just...why would you want kisses from me...when you already gave your heart to another...?" He knew he should probably just take this moment between them as a piece of wonderfully good fortune but...he couldn't help the tiny little doubt creeping its way into his mind.
"...Oh goodness, I'm sorry. Maybe this is wrong..." Now she pulled away, utterly nervous and scared, and above all, making the poor thing believe a complete lie. No, two lies. "I'm taking advantage of you, and that isn't right. I won't do that to you anymore. I'm sorry. ...I should go." She headed out of the tent, only for her arm to be grabbed, holding her back.
"No, wait, Sally, please, just...just...listen to me please!" Jack didn't mean to hold her back like this or to put so much force into his tone but he was really just...so very confused and frustrated and all he wanted really deep down was Sally, here with him, in his arms...and to give her little kisses that might help him eventually figure out...what he might want from her in the long term...forever... "i...I'm sorry..." Jack let out a breath and relaxed his hold upon her a litte. "I just...you're not taking advantage of me. I just want to be certain that you...don't do something that might hurt your chances at happiness. I-I know you might not mean to but perhaps I remind you of this person you love and maybe you're getting close to me to avoid getting close to him to tell him the truth about your feelings and I...don't want that, Sally...I want you to be able to tell your feelings...and to end up with whomever it's best for you to end up with...and to be happy...so very happy..." He smiled. "If you're happy...even if we didn't celebrate Christmas or Halloween...I'd be happy deep down. I would..." He looked into her eyes.
'Oh, what have I done? What have I done? I've not only lied and mislead him...but now I'm stuck in a hole I can't get out of. Either I tell him the truth, or I keep lying. No, I can't lie to him like this, it'll break his heart and I can't do that...' Sally's train of thought broke as she sniffled, raising her free hand to her eyes. "I don't even know what I'm doing anymore..." Which was pretty much the best way to sum up the situation.
"You're with me, Sally..." Jack moved forward, still holding her one arm, and put his other arm around her waist, pulling her in close to him, looking deeply into her eyes. "You're with me and...you're my very dearest friend...and...we dream about one another...and you love somebody...and I...want to give you kisses...and we're both a little scared, I think...but I...I will do whatever you want me to do, Sally, I promise. I won't question things anymore...I trust you. Just tell me what you think is right and we'll do it...and then perhaps we can sit down and rest together and talk...and we'll be alright..." He gave her the most encouraging smile he had within himself to give as he held her closely.
"You're...you're right to question things, this is so very..." But oh, she was powerless to stop this now! Not while he was holding her close, and looking at her with such sweet encouragement. "But I want to share all of this with you, I trust you..." Sally would've blushed if she could, but all she could do was stare up at him with wide eyes...that slowly formed an enraptured look, along with her mouth curving into a dreamy smile. "...I want to do this if you do."
There was something so...It was hard to describe...But she was just so...It was like he had an effect on her...or triggered something that had an affect on her. "I...only want to do what makes you happy...Will kisses...make you happy?" he asked quietly, his breaths becoming shallow.
"If it makes you happy too. ...And I...well...you kiss very nice, it feels...sweet to share it with my dearest friend." An enraptured smile came to her face, growing all the more.
"I...k-kiss...n-nice...?" sort of squeaked out of Jack's throat in surprise. 'R-R-Really?'
"Well, of course..." Sally nuzzled his cheek. "You're very caring and sweet when you do that. I can't help but like it."
"I bet you give the best kisses in the whole wide world..." It gurgled out of Jack before he could stop it, a totally elated grin upon his face.
"Don't be silly...I couldn't possibly..." Sally giggled, shaking her head.
Jack swallowed bashfully. "But...you're soft and sweet and delicate...and your lips are redder than dead roses...with those cute little stitches at the corners..." He smiled more.
Feeling a little braver, Sally brought her arms around his neck. "You're so sweet... You really flatter me..."
Jack shook his skull a tiny bit, still smiling away as he gazed down at her warmly. "No, I don't flatter you...It's the absolute truth...Who wouldn't love a kiss from you? Just look at you...You're enchanting..."
"I'm just an old little rag doll... I'm nothing special." Sally said bashfully, her cheek sporting against her raised shoulder in a shy manner.
"You are the most special woman there ever was...You're so good...and also so beautiful...You really are my dearest,, dearest, dearest friend...a-and you're a princess too...remember, like the one whom you love treats you?" He smiled a little.
"That's silly...I am not...Being treated as one and actually being one, born or by association, are quite different..." Sally giggled like a silly little schoolgirl.
Jack smiled a little more, unable to help it. "Oh but that's still very nice of him to treat you like a princess...and you really are wonderful enough to be one. A-And besides, actually making yourself into one would...be sort of a task...even if you do deserve it. Really, the only way I could think of you being able to pull of that is if you, well..." He looked down at her bashfully.
"I'm afraid I don't follow..." Sally cocked her head, trying not to laugh. 'Oh dear, did someone spray laughing powder in to the air?'
Jack swallowed, trying not to smile more and more. "Well...I...am...technically a King...so...I suppose whomever I courted would be a princess...and when she married me...she would become a Queen...The Pumpkin Queen...Hmm...you know, I never thought much about using my title in that way but...yes, I suppose it could work like that...for any girl who really wanted to be a princess..."
"Hmmm...that is very true...I suppose that could be a part of why ladies are so into you. But um...in my case, of course...I wouldn't just want to be...courted by you for that reason. Perks or not, it wouldn't mean a thing to me if we weren't in love." Sally said thoughtfully, and nuzzled their cheeks.
"O-O-Oh, Sally...l-l-ladies aren't that 'i-into...'...w-well, alright, I suppose maybe some of them do...b-but it's just because I'm the King, like you said...B-But I don't care about them...I...I like you a lot better than I like any of them..." He nuzzled her back. "And we...if we were in love...you could be my Queen...I'd like that..." He was melting all for her again.
For a moment Sally all but froze, as she was met with again, another reference from her dream. How he liked her the best out of all the girls in the town... She utterly just melted. "I'd like that, too... I suppose every King could use a Queen..."
Jack sighed. "You have no idea..." He held her closet, nuzzling his whole head against hers. "And I've gone centuries without one...I'm more than overdue, I think..."
"Well, if you think so..." Sally giggled a bit, nuzzling right back. "If you're ready to settle down and find a good Queen, you should go for it, Jack...if it would make you happy, of course."
"I think it would...complete my life," Jack replied truthfully, the thought suddenly occuring to him. Yes, that was the right way to put it. Things would be complete. "She...would be sweet...and loving...supportive...benevolent...A perfect princess and queen...And I would cherish her for the rest of our afterlives..."
"Awwwww...well I do hope you find a woman like that, Jack...you deserve it so very much." A mild streak of jealousy coursed through her, but she held it back. "She would be very lucky to have you...very... I mean, I should know...you are my dearest friend, and I...well, you treat me as if I were a Princess, I can only imagine how you would treat the woman you love."
"I would probably treat her as I treat you...though something between us would be a bit more...intimate...of course...A-And who knows...? Perhaps I've already got someone in mind...to be my Pumpkin Queen...maybe..." He smiled a little more, unable to help pursuing the little thought.
"Oh...really?" A touch of sadness came to her curious tone. If anything, she could almost sense the situation was reversed. "...That's..that's good to hear, Jack...good for you...I-I hope it...works out..."
"Me too...and thank you, Sally...My only worry though is that...I've recently learned that she might love another...a-and I wouldn't want to put her in an uncomfortable position...by revealing my feelings when I know her heart is engaged elsewhere..." He pouted just a little bit. "What if my only Queen...never wants to be my Queen...?"
An equally sad pout came to her face. "Jack...I'm so sorry..." She kissed his cheek in comfort. "...I know how you feel..."
Jack let out a small breath. "Thank you...And I..." Jack blinked and looked at her with a touch of curiosity, "You know how I...so...do you think the one you love...loves another too?" he asked softly.
"...I think maybe he might...By the looks of things..." Sally sighed, biting her lip. "Now that I think about it..." She looked up at him sadly, with pleading eyes.
"Oh..." Jack frowned a little. "I'm so sorry, Sally...I...wish I..." For a moment he had been going to say that he wished her love loved her back but...he just couldn't bear it...and so instead... "I wish that you'll be happy...in the end." He leaned in and placed a single kiss on her forehead before pulling back and looking down on her with a smile.
"Oh, Jack...I hope you'll be happy, too... You're the one I want to see happy the most..." Sally cooed, and kissed his cheek. "But no matter what happens, I'll always be there for you..."
Jack smiled more...and then suggested...hoping it wasn't too much... "W-Well, then...h-how about we make a little pact, Sally...to make sure we're both...happy and...not alone...in the end?"
"What kind of pact?" Sally tilted her head lightly, smiling curiously.
"W-Well...um.." Jack gulped, feeling so very nervous... "...if...things don't work out with the man you love...and if things don't work out with the woman I think I love...a-and if we don't ever find anyone else for a very long time...perhaps...perhaps you and I could...come together...A-After all, if you can't marry the person you love...at least it would be nice to marry your best friend..." He tried to smile, though it faltered a little as he added, "I know you deserve better than that, Sally-you deserve someone who loves you...and whom you love in return...and romance and passion, a-and...b-but if...if that didn't work out...I'd at least like you to know that you'll always have me to come back to...and to come home to...And besides...you'd make such a lovely Queen..." He smiled again.
"...Awwwww...oh, Jack...I never would've thought of it that way!" Sally blinked, and felt so happy! There was a ray of hope! Obviously, she had to do something about this false lover, but at least, in a way, there was hope. "...Yes, yes...we'll do that...And you'll...always have me to come back to. Maybe...maybe it would be what we thought, but together, we could definitely get by and live really happily... I think...even so, we could..." She looked down bashfully. "Fall in love... And even if we're not, I'll never be unhappy with you."
Jack gulped, his bones thrumming with new pleasure and joy! "W-We c-could..." her words burned brightly inside of him, "W-We could f-fall in love? You'll never be unhappy and we could fall in love...Oh...Oh Sally, thank you!" And instantly, losing control of himself for a moment, he had hugged her close and lifted her up and spun her around again and now he put her down and started peppering her face with kisses to the point that the two of them actually fell to a couch in the center of the room. Jack didn't care though, he just kept kissing and kissing...She thought she could fall in love with him one day...It was rapture! Oh, he... 'Oh...' "Thank you, thank you, thank you..." he just kept whispering between kisses.
"No, thank-oh!" Sally was startled by how they had fallen onto a couch that was set up in the tent for her to relax in whenever she tired. Still, she giggled and held onto his shoulders as he kissed her face, making her sigh dreamily. "Thank you, too..."
Jack just chuckled, never stopping his kisses. "No, no, no...Thank you...Oh you're so beautiful...beautiful and perfect and...my Queen one day...I'm so happy!" And he truly was the happiest he had ever been in so very long...
Oh, this had to be a dream...it had to be a dream...another lovely dream! Yes, she was going to wake up any second now... Oh well, may as well enjoy it while she could. ...And did he just call her beautiful? "...Oh, Jack...you're so sweet. I'm happy too, so very much!"
Jack just beamed at her, pausing in his kisses to gaze down at her lovingly for a moment. "Oh...I...we're on the couch...We must have fallen...I'm sorry, did I hurt you, Sally dearest? Are you alright? Should I get off of you?" he asked so very considerately.
"Oh, no...I'm fine. I can't feel pain, Jack..." Sally admitted a bit sheepishy. "I was startled, yes...but I'm fine."
"Oh...well that's nice..." Jack replied dreamily, still off in a state of giddy bliss, "I'm glad..." He snuggled into her a little. "And you'll...you'll really be my Queen one day maybe...if no one better comes along?" He looked at her with a touch of eagerness just needing to hear her say it again.
"Yes... I will, I will. Maybe...I will achieve more in life, and will become what I wish to be or be where I want to be...and that would be lovely..." Sally looked wistful for a moment, as she envisioned a life outside of being locked away in the lab. In fact, the assignment to make his suit (she only just remembered it!), was pretty much the first real job she ever had, and it was...wonderful! "...But if you were by my side, it would be all the more worth it. ...I'll be your Queen...if in time, we want no one else."
"Oh...thank you..." he just had to say again, so very grateful. "And if we really want no one else...I'll be your King...just for you..." He tapped her on the nose playfully. "A-And...I think we could fall in love...Perhaps one day we would even...kiss on the mouth together...w-wouldn't that be nice..." He was so very bashful yet grinning all the while.
"Wouldn't it?" Sally beamed, nodding her head. "I think we could make a lovely life together."
"I think that...we could too...Sally..." He brought up a hand to gently yet snugly twirl some of her hair around his fingertips. It was so very soft... He sighed dreamily.
Sally giggled and nuzzled his cheek again, happily allowing him to play with her hair. "I'm...I'm glad...so...no matter what happens...I'll be there for you, either as a friend or your...l-lover, Princess...Queen..." Sally kissed his cheek, near the corner of his mouth, as if to seal the deal.
"My lover? I...I like that.." Jack beamed...and that little kiss near the corner of his mouth contributed to it. "Jack and Sally...King Jack Skellington...and Queen Sally Skellington...What do you think?" He smirked at her a tiny bit, his eyes hazed with love.
A sweet, warm, happy feeling swept through Sally as he said all of this, unable to keep herself from smiling so happily. Sure, she did have cute little fantasies of which they were married and they were King and Queen, and she would gladly take his name...but to hear him say those words retaining to her little daydreams were just...it was too much! It was a wonder she didn't burst at the seams! If she wasn't in a state of wonderful euphoria before, she certainly was now. "I like it. ...It has a very nice feel to it." She beamed, and nuzzled their cheeks.
"I think so too...and I...I'll look forward to it...i-if it happens..." He added the last part just to be safe with her. After all, they were still talking about hypotheticals and all. "Oh but, um...I know you've still got that other skeleton on your mind...so I won't bring up our little pact too much if you don't want me to, alright?" He smiled warmly down on her.
"I understand...and I'm sure you have that other woman on your mind...so I won't say anything about this if you don't want me to. ...And, no pressure, okay?" She looked a little sad as she said this, but smiled in utmost understanding.
A little sigh escaped Jack. "Oh...yes...her, well...Don't worry too much about bringing it up to me, Sally...You make me about as happy as she does so...it could never be a painful thing, hearing about being with you..." He smiled again.
"...Really?" She gazed upon him with hope. "...I...I understand...I feel that way too...Even if they...are happier without us...we'll honour them by picking ourselves up and moving on...I'm sure they would want us to be happy, even if not with them."
"I'm sure that...anyone would be very happy to see us together...And I'm sure that I would treasure you as much as any other skeleton could, and maybe even more so...And I'm sure that you would be such a wonderful wife and Queen to me, dearest Sally..." he cooed to her warmly.
"Should that come to pass, I will be, I promise you." Came her cooed whisper in response, as she closed her eyes. "And I certainly do not doubt you would make a wonderful...husband and King to me, dearest Jack..."
"O-Oh...I would try...every day...for the rest of eternity..." Jack sighed out blissfully...And then, unable to resist the urge anymore, he closed his eye sockets and leaned in, and resumed giving her a deep, tender kiss upon the cheek as he had been doing earlier...and he let it land very close to the corner of her mouth...with its cute little seams...
A deep, happy sigh escaped the enraptured rag doll as he did so, opening her eyes once more, and then closing them again. "And I would try...every day for all time we're together...I promise you." Came her lovesick, dazed response.
This was crazy. Absolutely wrong. What was even going on? She wasn't even sure anymore. Was this another dream? Did she fall asleep amidst her crying after running away from the Town Hall? Was she dreaming again? Or was this really real?
"Jack..." she moaned from the wondrous feeling of his kiss on her cheek, and made her wish yet again to just turn her head and capture those-
No. She couldn't do that. Not like this.
The way she said his name...the way she moaned it...What was he doing? No, this...this couldn't be fair to her...And...And yet...a-after the talk they'd just had...technically...hadn't he just proposed to her (albeit conditionally) and hadn't she just accepted? So...they were sort of...technically betrothed...And what was so very wrong about kissing the cheek of your technical fiancee anyway? He kissed more deeply and tenderly, collpasing fully upon her, holding her shoulders now...savoring the feeling of a stitch or two of hers that he was managing to catch.
"Oooohhh..." A little moan escaped her, and oh how she wanted to just take things further! ...They were kind of...promised to each other, weren't they? She had a fictitious "love interest" in the way, while he...more than likely had a real love interest in the way. What would happen then? What if this woman DID love him like she did? She wasn't sure what to think. She would get out of her own "love interest" Scot-free, but he would not. What if he pined for her even afte this woman moved on?
The logic of this was swept from her mind, however, as she drowned in the sweet affection he was giving her.
"Mmmm..." A little sigh of a moan escaped Jack at her own sweet moan. He was starting to lose it a little and he just barely clung onto his self control but oh...the images that flooded his mind of kissing her lips like this...telling her that he...that something had just...that he'd had his first conscious thought ever of the idea of loving her this morning and now he just couldn't let it go! He moved his lips a little more over her skin, just savoring the feel of the fabric-so soft and supple and silky...Adorable creature that she was...
Unable to help it, Sally now grasped his shoulders and began to gently rub them in response, hoping he'd like it. "Jack..." She cooed lovingly.
"Mm...mmm..." squeaked out of Jack and he felt his bones heat up! She was...touching him...and so very tenderly...Oh what a wife she would make... For a moment the thought flitted through his mind of Sally touching that 'other man' like this and it just sent a searing sting of jealousy through him that made him kiss her even more fervently upon her sweet cheek and the corner of her mouth, unable to help it.
"Ah-oooh..." A slightly startled little squeaky gasp escaped her at his more fervent actions, which she then happily welcomed. She wasn't sure why he did that, but she liked it.
Jack pulled back for a moment, needing to catch his breath. He smiled happily as he panted over her. "S-Sally...w-wow...y-you...are good at...g-getting kisses..." He chuckled a little.
"...Thank you...?" Sally blinked. Since when was getting kissed a skill? She giggled. It was pretty cute. "You're good at giving them..."
Jack smiled extra bashfully. "I-I...w-well...thank you, Sally...I'm happy you enjoyed that..."
Smiling, Sally offered a lingering, sweet kiss on his cheek, sighing dreamily. "Of course..."
Jack's grin grew to its utmost at her little kiss. Then he just let out a deep sigh and closed his eye sockets and snuggled into her, moving alongside her a little to hold her from the side. "Sally...you're my dearest friend...forever..." he whispered quietly to her, smiling all the while.
"And you're mine too, Jack..." Sally whispered softly in kind. "No matter what happens, you always will be."
"Yes...dearest friends...together...now and forever..." He snuggled alongside her like a little child snuggling a nice big cozy teddy bear.
"For it is plain...as anyone can see..." Sally murmured sweetly, snuggling into him as well, closing her eyes.
"We may be meant to be..." added Jack in the quietest of whispers, already half off into more dreams about her and him together... "S-Sally...let's stay like this...and rest together..." he added before drifting off.
"Mmm...of course..." Sally murmured sleepily, and slowly drifted off as well. In her half-sleeping state, she said, "...Jack...I love you..." She was out like a light before even coming close to realizing what she said.
"I love you...Sally..." came in reciprocation from Jack's mouth, unconsciously...and then he went off into a deep, peaceful slumber as well. The two of them remained that way for hours, resting and totally at ease in each other's embraces.
When they woke up of course, things were a little awkward, excuses were made, certain pieces of their former conversation were a little swept under the rug and Sally went back to making Jack's suit and worrying at the back of her mind about Christmas, and Jack went back to obsessing over Christmas and doing his best to sleep as little as possible (lest he 'dream' too much more) and to be in as much denial as he could muster...but underneath it all both of them knew something was there...They would both just have to have more at stake: (fairly soon) to admit it both to themselves and to one another so that they really could end up together as they were meant to be.
Then in time, as they had hoped...but never quite expected, at least not the way it came to be, it had happened. It all came together very simply, but wonderfully. The night of Christmas, when it was all over, was when there was nothing but the truth between them. When they fully admitted their feelings for each other.
How did it happen, you may ask.
Well listen clearly, as they finally removed their masks.
That Christmas night, when the evil had been defeated, and the wrongs that had occurred were set right, was when it all came true. Sally had gone to the famed Spiral Hill in the graveyard, alone, with a forget-me-not in hand, through the snow she went. Time ago, before coming back, there had been something of a tender moment between them, down deep in the lair of evil. A tender moment soon interrupted. Leaving yet again a sign of no hope. Were they truly never meant to be?
None the less, the tenacious Sally was glad all was all right, and that Jack made it back to set things back to normal. She sat upon Spiral Hill, thinking of the tender moment between them.
And it was then that Jack approached, ascending the hill, and by gently revealing his own love for her in the form of a lovely song. It of course wasn't long before Sally not only stood up to receive him, but also, to proclaim she loved him as well, by singing along.
It wasn't extravagant, it wasn't elaborate, it wasn't even spoken, not yet. All that they knew, was they were meant to be.
Within them singing their strong romantic feelings for each other, they came together in a warm embrace, and soon shared a passionate kiss.
Nothing more was hidden or denied. They loved each other, and wanted to be together for all time. That night was when it came to be.
My dearest friend
If you don't mind
I'd like to join you by your side
Where we can gaze into the stars
And sit together
Now and forever
For it is plain, as anyone can see
We're simply meant to be
Before long, Sally soon made a tearful but happy confession in words that she loved him, while Jack in turn begged for her forgiveness, and then in kind said he loved her, too. From then on, nothing stopped them from being together and in love.
Meant to be.
By far, they were. All along, whether by some kind of destiny, or just pure coincidence, they were truly meant to be.
And at that moment, they both knew, that this time, it was no longer just a dream.