Halloween Town had seen better days, but the oppressive air that had permeated everything had vanished. The citizens ran back and forth rebuilding their town from the ground up. Vampires and ghosts hammered in new boards on top of roofs, large tree monsters and assorted other ghouls ferried supplies back and forth between the ruined houses and once again there was a feeling of mirth. Jack shuffled through the broken boards of his own home as the boys helped carry out broken panels and assorted junk that filled the floor. Sally and young Kally searched through the rubble and let out laughs as they found family heirlooms, photos, and a few of Kally's dolls that had survived. All around the entire town seemed to be alive again and thriving with the life that had once filled it.
The entire town seemed thrilled to be home and moved back and forth with purpose, all except for 3 figures. Allison, Alex, and Bunni stood near the town wall watching the commotion from a distance.
"Well, it looks like things will be just fine here." Bunni said, "I guess I don't have much of a reason to stay. If the people find me here they might try and burn me at the stake." She chuckled to herself grimly at the prospect.
"You know you don't have to go," Zel said without looking at her, he was still too busy watching the town rebuild, "I can tell them exactly what happened. They'll have no choice but to believe me."
Bunni laughed. "Yeah, nice try but I think I'll pass." She said turning away, "Besides, the kids are probably worried sick. Either that or they burned the tower to the ground. Either way I can't leave them alone."
She turned and started to walk off when a hand fell on her shoulder. She turned and saw that it was Allison that had stopped her.
"Listen, I never got a chance to thank you." She said, "You could have easily just left me and saved your own skin, but instead you risked your life to save mind. Thank you."
She held out her hands towards Bunni who looked at it a second before shaking it. "No, thank you. If you hadn't done that… whatever it was you did we all would have died."
Allison nodded and took her hand back from Bunni.
Bunni started walking away, but turned back around. "Oh by the way," she smiled, "I still don't like you."
Allison smiled back. "Well then the feeling is mutual Ms. Bunni." She said.
Bunni nodded and turned around and started walking. "So, we're not friend then?" she called over her shoulder as she walked away.
Allison nodded. "Not on your life." She said chuckling.
Bunni laughed a little too. "Well good, see ya later my not-friend Allison."
With that Bunni vanished into the trees of the forest and was lost from sight.
Alex chuckled. "Well, I'd say that went pretty well." He said.
Allison shrugged. "Maybe, she's all right you know."
Alex nodded looking back towards the forest. "Yeah, despite the act she puts on she's a nice girl. You just have to get used to her, that's all."
Alex sighed and looked up at the sky; the sun was slowly starting to set. It had taken them almost all day to get things up and running again in town.
"It's getting late, we should get moving." He said.
"Wait, I want to tell everyone goodbye first." She said.
Alex nodded. "By all means, but make it fast we need to get going if we're going to catch that door."
Allison nodded and quickly trotted off to give her goodbyes.
. . .
Jack and the family stood watching. Allison smiled and scratched the back of her head as they all gave her their goodbyes.
Jack stepped forward and offered his hand. "It truly was an honor to meet you Ms. Allison." He said.
Allison smiled and shook his boney hand. "The pleasure was all mine Mr. Skellington." She said.
She was about to turn to leave when a shrill little bark split the evening air. Allison turned to see the small wolf cub sitting on his haunches. His tongue was hanging out of his mouth and his tail was wagging furiously, but his head was titled slightly to the side as if he was confused.
Allison quickly trotted over and ruffled his ears. "What's gonna happen to him?" she asked looking back at Jack.
He stepped forward and picked up the cub gently. "Who Kiba? We'll take care of him, I promise. You have my word as a Skellington that he'll be properly looked after." He walked back over to his family and set Kiba on the ground. He instantly trotted over on its stubby legs to Kally who was sitting on the ground. He hopped into her lap and started wagging his tail furiously.
Allison couldn't help but laugh. The whole scene looked so nice that it made her feel warm inside. Suddenly she was sad to be leaving this all behind. To leave behind Halloween Town and the Skellingtons. It was Alex who finally pulled her away.
"We need to get going, we're going to lose the moonlight if we stay too long." He said.
Allison nodded and waved to the family as they walked away.
. . .
The clearing finally came into view and as Doctor Finkelstein had said there was the tree. It looked much like the others, except it's door was plain with no ornaments to be seen.
Allison sighed and walked over to it. She put her hand against the wood and looked back at Alex.
"Are you ready to go?" she asked.
Alex looked away from her as she asked the question.
"What's wrong?" she asked stepping towards him.
He closed his eyes and looked down at the ground. "I- I can't come with you Allison." He said softly.
Allison felt her heart drop and tears lingered behind her eyes. "W-What do you mean you're not coming with me?" she asked.
Alex put his hands on her shoulders. "As much as I want to I can't. That isn't my world anymore." He said.
Allison shook her head. "You can still come back though, we can still be together."
Alex swallowed hard. "Allison, there I'm still dead. Who knows what will happen to me if I go back. Maybe I'll come back, maybe I'll wake up in a rotted body, maybe I'll just disappear for good. I don't know."
Allison couldn't argue with that. He had a point. "Then let me stay here with you, Caligo is gone. I'll be safe now."
Alex shook his head. "No, you're still just as dangerous. There could still be other things out there stronger than Caligo that might come after you. You can't stay. You'll be safe in your world, nothing can touch you there. You have to think about what's best for everyone."
"I don't care what's best for everyone!" She screamed the tears flowing down from her face freely. "I had to sit and watch you die once and now I have to lose you again, Do you have any idea how hard this is for me?!"
Alex took a step back. "Actually I do." He said softly.
Allison stopped and looked at him.
"I could feel it you know, dying." He said, "It didn't hurt but I knew I was going. The whole time I knew I was going to be leaving you and the whole time I was screaming to every God known to man to let me stay with you. I begged, I swore, I screamed. But nothing heard me. I was pulled away from you."
Allison's knees went weak and she fell to the ground. Alex walked over and knelt down next to her.
"Listen, I just want to know that you'll be safe. Alex is always going to love you, but I can't be Alex. Not here, not now. We both have to move one for the good of everything. Do you understand?" he said softly.
Allison nodded. "Yeah." She said weakly.
He gently ran his hand against her cheek. "Hey, don't have such a long face. Maybe we can't be together now, but who knows. After what I've been through who's to say there aren't other worlds than these? Maybe we can still be together one day."
She nodded slowly getting to her feet.
"We both still have a life to live though," he said, "Yours is there and mine is here. I want you to move on and enjoy your life. And don't forget I will always love you."
"I love you too." She said softly.
With that she let go of him and walked towards the door. She took one last look back. The man she had been in love with was slowly fading away, fading into the other man that she had fallen in love with. Alex was becoming Zel again. He was changing from the happy go lucky boy she had known in one life, to the hardened veteran of the Halloween Town defense force that had stolen her heart.
She gave him one last smile before turning and opening the door and falling into the blackness.
. . .
Allison's head was swimming and she felt dizzy. She was looking up at the bright blue sky as a light breeze lapped over her. She slowly sat up and looked around. She was back in the forest, her forest. The trees that held the doors were gone. Instead she was sitting in a empty clearing with nothing but the fall breeze. She slowly stood up and reached for her neck. Alex's dogtags were still there.
Was it real? She asked herself.
Then she shook her head and laughed. "Of course it was real you idiot." She said to herself. She was suddenly filled with hope, hope for her life and for Alex's. Despite what she had been feeling when she stepped through that door she knew she could handle anything now. She was a stronger person than she used to be.
She smiled and hurried off towards her house. She had no idea how long she had been gone. When she reached the house everything seemed the same. She walked towards the back door and checked it. It was still locked. "I can't have been gone very long." She murmured to herself.
"No, you haven't been gone very long at all." A voice said from behind her. She turned and saw a boy standing behind her. His face was shrouded in the hood of a dark jacket and he leaned against the tree tossing something from one hand to the next.
"Who are you?" Allison asked.
"Oh come now, I know we didn't get very well acquainted the first time around, but I would think you'd be a little more observant." He said.
Allison looked closer and saw that the boy was tossing a pair of dice. "You!" she said.
The boy tossed the dice in the air and clapped. "And finally she gets it!" he exclaimed.
"How are you here?" she asked.
The boy upturned one of his hands and the dice dropped down into the palm of his hand. "Call it even or odd." He said.
Allison rolled her eyes. "Odd." She blurted out.
The boy lowered his hand. "Well, well" he said, "Lucky 7."
He slid the dice into his jacket pocket and stepped forward. "Let's just say that I happen to have a certain condition that allows me to travel back and forth between the worlds at my leisure."
Allison nodded. "Okay, so why are you here?" she asked.
"Oh you and you're bloody questions!" he exclaimed, "Fine. I'm here to observe you. You showed some promise against Caligo, I'm merely wondering if you could be the one I'm looking for. Because you're not done here my darling."
"Wait what do you mean I'm not done?" she asked.
The boy groaned. "No, I'm done. I've answered my fair share of questions today. All I'm going to say is that the Oracle is never wrong." He said.
"How do you know about the Oracle?" Allison asked.
The boy turned around and shot up his hand over his shoulder in a wave. "Goodbye!" he called.
Allison watched him walk away. He had raised more questions than he had answers, but he had made one thing very clear to Allison here and now:
She hadn't seen the last of Halloween Town.