Disclaimer: Nightmare Before Christmas is the property of Tim Burton, Disney, and Touchstone Entertainment. Nothing you recognize belongs to me.
The Beginning of the Beginning, Pt. 1
"You're sure this will work?"
"I'm not sure of anything. Never have been." Dr. Finklestein leaned back in his wheelchair and regarded his skeletal visitor imperiously. "However, I am very nearly sure. And that, dear Jack, is the best we've got right now."
Jack Skellington drummed his fingers nervously on the arm of his chair. What a fuss this has all become. He looked over at Sally, whose brow was furrowed in confusion. Smiling slightly, he watched her anxiously pick at the stitching on her left wrist. Jack's wife noticed him staring and offered him a timid smile before turning her gaze back to the heavy and complicated machinery that was currently scattered about Dr. Finklestein's drab laboratory.
Jack also turned his attention to the equipment. "But Doctor… all this… for a child of our own? Surely there is…"
"There is no other way," shouted Dr. Finklestein, pounding his fist table to emphasize his last three words. "I have been working on this for months, and I believe I know what I'm doing better than you ever can!"
Jack straightened in his chair indignantly, and opened his mouth to retaliate.
"It just seems so very complicated, Doctor." Sally quickly jumped in before this already tense discussion broke out into a heated argument. Her soft voice diluted the anger billowing in the room.
"It seems complicated, Sally dear, because neither of you have the superior brain power that I possess." The Doctor tented his fingers against his temple and sighed. "I will explain this only One. Last. Time. Do you understand this?"
Jack seethed silently; Sally, however, who was rather used to Dr. Finklesteins occasional lapses in courtesy, simply nodded.
"Yes. Ahem. Well, as you know, the residents of Halloween Town are neither dead nor alive. Certain people who have died in the Past Life are chosen by the Ruler of the Worlds to inhabit Halloween Town. Each town is different in how they choose their residents." He nodded to Jack at this point. "You know this, Jack, because you have visited Christmas Town. There, they are alive, and can therefore reproduce. It simply depends on where you live, so to speak." The Doctor smirked.
"You two, however, are slightly different. Neither of you were chosen by the Ruler. I rescued you, Sally; and you, Jack, well, it's in your blood to be Pumpkin King. The Pumpkin Kings of the past have all been in your family line, starting with the very first King, Jack O'Lantern himself. Now, this royal line, as it were, would seem to have ended with you. Your past self died young, and left no heirs in the real world that could continue creating descendents.
"And this is why, had the two of you not come to me wanting a child of your own, I would have strongly suggested it myself." Dr. Finklestein shook his head. "I will see Halloween Town run to the ground before I see anyone but a Jack O'Lantern descendent on that throne. It is only your family that can do Halloween right!" He pounded the arm of his chair for emphasis.
There was silence for a moment. Sally looked at Jack, then back at Dr. Finklestein. "How do you know everything about everything?" She asked softly, almost reverently.
The Doctor jolted out of his reverie. "Ah yes, Sally dear. Well, it pays to be close personal friends with the Ruler of the Lands. You, Sally. Your soul was violently ripped from your body at a young age, and was bouncing about the World, confused and disoriented. I rescued your soul and built your new body around it. It sounds harder than it was," he added, noting Sally and Jack's intense confusion.
He decided to skip forward in his story. "Creating life, however, is infinitely more complex." He paused, considering how to word this explanation. "New souls are summoned to bodies by the act of… consummation." The Doctor grimaced at this. "It is the physical bonding between two humans in order to create life, to summon a new soul."
He noted, at this point, Sally's fierce blush, and Jack's smirk. They knew exactly what he was talking about. "This physical bonding is possible for you two, but simply for… ah, pleasure." Dr. Finklestein shook his head to banish the mental images that sprang up – Sally after all was, in a sense, his daughter – and attempted to continue. "However, being that you two are not technically alive, you cannot summon and house life."
The Doctor clapped his hands together. "But all is not lost!" He swept his hands out dramatically towards the strange looking machinery littered about the room, connected by low hanging wires that, every so often, sparked and fizzled. Sally and Jack inched forward on their chairs, still gripping each other's hands. Dr. Finklestein steered his chair towards the machine and touched it.
"I have designed a machine to catch a soul. And not just any soul – a new soul. Old souls, such as your own, Sally, are waiting for any old thing to save them from their confusing half life. It is relatively simple to catch one. A new soul – one that has no defining qualities – drifts about the World, waiting specifically for the act that will summon it. It's all very fussy, really. And I, after months of intensive research, have created a machine that shall be the substitute for that initial act of creation of life!" He looked positively delighted, and slightly spent.
Jack breathed. "How exceedingly complicated."
"Where do we come in, exactly?"
The Doctor's eyes bugged slightly. "My boy, without the two of you, this whole process would not work! I need some of Sally's hair, and a chip off of one of your bones, Jack."
Sally grasped her hair instinctively. "Why?"
The Doctor looked gave a long-suffering sigh, opened his cranium, and scratched his brain wearily. "I shan't bore you with the details, as I have begun to confuse even myself by talking for so long." He snapped his head shut.
"Sufficit to say, I cannot summon a new soul without bits of yourselves, nor create a new body without it. For in this case, how the soul interacts with the samples of the two of you will determine gender, looks, personality, the like." He reached out to his work table and grabbed his scissors, a sharp piece of metal, and two bowls. "Here. Jack, use the metal to chip off some bone from your right forearm. I will be back in a moment. If I don't have a tea, I will most certainly fall asleep." He abruptly wheeled around and sped out of the room, startling Sally and Jack.
There was a pause. Jack turned to Sally. "Did you understand any of that?"
Sally shook her head. "But I trust him." Her hand dropped to the floor, its stitching having been nervously pulled out for the past half hour. She bent to pick it up, and reached into her pocket for her needle and thread. "Is this…" She paused. "I'm nervous, Jack. What if I can't do this?" Sally's hands shook as she tried to sew her hand back on.
Jack reached out and stilled her hands. Touching her face with a bony finger, he smiled. "You will be a wonderful mother, my Pumpkin Queen. I have no doubt about it. Just doubts about me," he said, attempting a shaky half-smile.
Sally smiled gently. "I hope it looks like you."
The two shared a long, tender look before Sally turned back to her hand, sewed it back on with a flourish, and grabbed the scissors. "Shall we?"
"We shall," Jack said dramatically, and swept the metal into his skeletal fist.
A/N: Will the Doctor's invention work to make a baby for Jack and Sally? I know it was a bit confusing. But stick with it, it shall be great. Just had to get all the confusing explanations out of the way. And to anyone wondering, this story takes place 5 years after the events of NBC, and three after Sally and Jack's wedding. To be continued…