Jack and Sally: A Macabre Christmas Romance
Summary: He hates the holidays. She's completely out of her element. This is the tale of how Jack met Sally. [Obvious references to The Nightmare Before Christmas Dedicated to Sukidayo.
Disclaimer:If you somehow recognize it from TNBC, then obviously I didn't make it up. It belongs to Tim Burton.
A/N: This is Sukidayo's really belated Christmas present according to a challenge she sent to me. I started writing it after watching The Nightmare Before Christmas, and so I decided to do a spin-off from the characters. That's why there's a lot of obvious references to the movie. Kudos to anyone who can pick up all of my references! There are also some major differences too, so don't worry.
However, if you've never seen the movie before (which I thoroughly recommend), don't be put off because you can still read and enjoy it.
"We can live like Jack and Sally if we want,
Where you can always find me
And we'll have Halloween on Christmas,
And in the night we'll wish this never ends
We'll wish this never ends..."
-'I Miss You' by Blink-182
It was hard not to miss him. All day I'd been trying to shake off this feeling, this premonition I had about being here. But once I saw him, I knew.
The minute I walked into the room, my eyes instantly found the one dark figure in a room full of jovial reds and greens. Even in the beginning, I could not deny the attraction (or was it just morbid curiosity?) that drew me towards him. Never had such a sullen creature called to me like this before. I had to find out who this person was.
The tall, foreboding figure leaned back against the wall, his arms folded tightly across his chest. He wore black jeans and a black-and-white striped hoodie, the hood currently up and casting his facial features into dark shadows. I could only see sharp cheekbones, and pale lips pulled back into a thin line.
Blinking, the figure turned his head and stared right at me. I jumped. Bright cerulean eyes gleamed wickedly at me in the darkness.
Now, I knew it was surely none of my business what he was doing here, but a part of me wanted to know if this guy was a part of the family here, or if he was an outsider. As for me, I had been invited by my roommate, Jill, to stay with her for the holidays. Maybe this sullen creature was also a visitor and had no one else to talk to.
Suddenly caught off-guard, I was nearly thrown to the ground when a jostling couple tried to pass through the swarm of people. When I finally recovered myself, the guy was gone. I blinked. How had he disappeared so quickly? My eyes strained to find him, but my search was in vain.
Where had he gone?
Hesitantly, I walked over to where the guy had been standing, and found the entrance to the hallway that led to the back kitchens. As I was walking out, I heard one of the family members shout "Who's up for a game of Crazy Christmas Limbo?". There was a collective cheer from the room and a flurry of movement behind me as I tried to sneak away.
"C'mon, dearie! Better get in the front of the line!" an intoxicated and rather large woman grabbed at my arm and tried to drag me towards the growing crowd of limbo participants. Panicking, I shook my head and broke free of her grasp.
"No thank you," I said as politely as I could.
"Well, it's your loss then." And with that, she was off and I could breathe again. The combination of alcohol and her cheap perfume had me gagging in her presence. I shuddered.
To me, Christmas was a quiet, peaceful time where family could give gifts and sit around the fire sharing stories. It was a time for reading in front of the fireplace and enjoying snowbound days without the stress of schoolwork. However, this seemed quite different here. Jill's family, I decided, had gone a little overboard with the Christmas cheer.
I mean, Crazy Christmas Limbo? What the hell was that all about?
"Sally, is that you?" a voice interrupted my musings and I turned to see my roommate herself, arms full of what looked like antipasti dishes.
"Yeah, I'm here," I replied.
Jill let out a sigh of relief, and strained to keep a hold of the dishes in her arms.
"Oh, thank goodness I've found you! Will you be a doll and help me carry the food from the kitchens? I need to get everything out there as soon as possible – Limbo only lasts so long, and I'd rather not let Uncle Lee throw out his back again like last year."
"Um sure thing. I'd be glad to help," I said, thankful to have an excuse not to play limbo. Jill's weary blue eyes brightened in relief.
"Great, thanks so much! Go ahead and grab the appetizers from the kitchen. I'll be right behind you."
I nodded, and the tall brunette left. I was once again alone in the dimly lit hallway, left to my own devices to find the kitchen. However, I could not complain: this chance to be alone was a godsend. The party in the living room was way too stifling for my antisocial self.
As I meandered my way through the corridor, I thought about how different Jill and I were – she was bright and bubbly, a social butterfly. I preferred to spend most of my time alone in the dorm room reading. It was odd, really, that we got along so well; I had been shocked when she'd invited me to stay with her over the holidays. She constantly told me that I'd get along with her brother better, though I'd never seen a picture of him or met him any time. I supposed I would meet him sometime tonight, seeing as I was now a guest in their house.
Turning the corner in the hall, I caught the scent of baking foods, and I began to follow the intoxicating aroma. My stomach grumbled – at least we would be eating soon, and then I could enjoy this night a little more.
A sudden, deafening clatter rang loudly through the hallway, the sound of metal and ceramics crashing onto the floor, and the noise seemed to have come from the only door I had yet to pass – the kitchen. I winced at the sound, visibly flinching. What had just happened? Oh so cautiously, I approached the door, afraid of what I might find.
The entire room was in disarray: all sorts of casseroles and platters were smashed and spread across the floor, dirty dishes lined every counter top and filled every sink and a few had fallen and joined the mess on the ground as well. In the corner of my eye, I saw the holiday ham being dragged through the pet flap door by a large dalmatian. Paw prints tracked everywhere through the food on the ground. And, in the middle of this war zone, stood the same sullen figure that first caught my attention this evening.
"Oh. Hello," he said quite casually, as if he wasn't standing in the midst of this wreck.
"Hi," I meekly replied.
It seemed like I wouldn't need to carry any of the food back out.
An awkward silence passed, in which I took the time to study this guy. The hood to his jacket was down now, revealing a head of obnoxious orange hair, the color contrasting with those blue eyes even more.
I wanted to know if it was dyed, or if hair could actually be thatorange, but I decided that would probably be rude to ask. I could already feel those cerulean eyes closely scrutinizing me, and I self-consciously tucked a strand of raven hair behind my ear. My gaze fell down towards the mess on the floor again.
"I was going to tell you 'this is not what it looks like', but it really is," his voice filled the silence, deep and slightly raspy. As he spoke, he carefully made his way around a pile of mashed sweet potatoes without treading on anything else. Once he was within a foot of me, I realized how tall he was – he easily towered over me at around six foot five, compared to my 5'4". Being this close to him was slightly more than intimidated, and I bit my bottom lip nervously.
Brushing some of the wild hair out of his face, he then extended his hand to me.
"I'm Jack, by the way."
Smiling meekly, I shook the offered hand.
His disconcerting eyes studied me, and I was forced to look away. Something about his demeanor was really throwing me off guard. Or maybe I just didn't like the way those blue eyes were affecting me.
"You're Jill's roommate." It wasn't a question, but a statement. He already knew. I just nodded.
"Well, Sally, I'm rather glad it was you instead of anyone else that found me in here. You don't look like you have any intentions of telling on me or anything."
"I don't really know what I would say," I replied honestly, "and I don't think anyone would believe me either."
"Glad to hear it."
Jack's attention was focused on the ground as he kicked a piece of ceramic bowl across the room and both of us stared as it collided with the other wall with a loud 'thump', shattering into smaller pieces. I wondered why he would possibly do something as destructive and cruel as ruining the entire family dinner.
"So, what exactly didyou do?" I asked uncertainly.
Jack grinned, a flash of straight white teeth, and I was momentarily surprised. I didn't expect him to grin at me; he didn't come across as the smiling type.
"The dogs got loose," he shrugged in way of explanation, though his tone let on that there was more to the story.
A glint of silver caught the light and I saw he was holding the end of a dog leash in his left hand. My eyebrows rose in suspicion. When he noticed what I was staring at, he smirked and swung the leash around in lazy circles.
"Why?" I asked, not really knowing how to word my thoughts.
He shrugged again.
"I hate Christmas."
Oh, so that's what this is all about. I smiled, starting to understand Jack a little more now. Nudging an upturned broccoli casserole out of the way, I took a step closer to him and leaned against the counter..
"You a part of this family, then?"
"How'd you guess?" he asked sarcastically.
"Well, I would hate Christmas too if it meant big family reunions and Crazy Christmas Limbo."
"They haven't even gotten to the Christmas Apple-Bobbing Contest yet. There's still plenty more to go."
I couldn't help but laugh. While the family's traditions seemed cute and enjoyable, it just wasn't my type of thing, and I guessed it was the same for Jack.
"I'm sorry you have to suffer this every year."
"It's alright," he explained, "It's not so bad this year with you here. You seem to get it."
And I understood exactly what he meant. It didn't really matter anymore that the evening dinner was scattered all over the floor or that cranberry sauce was covering my shoe. It didn't matter that Jack was still holding the dog leash and that any second someone could burst in and find us in the middle of this mess. There was a stillness, a connection. Two similar souls surrounded by chaos. Nothing in the world could stop me from understanding that.
I smiled at Jack.
Cerulean blue eyes analyzed me, the gaze not hostile anymore, but intrigued and interested.
"You have a pretty smile," he said quietly. My face soon heated up in an embarrassed blush, and I thanked him.
Jack raised one hand, cupping my cheek softly. My breath caught. I felt his thumb trace my jawline, down the pale expanse of my throat. Our eyes were still locked.
Suddenly, the door burst open, breaking the stillness. Jack's hand dropped instantly and we both turned to see a flushed and breathless Jill, panting and clutching to the door for support. She had probably been running around trying to find me again.
"Hey Sally, why haven't you- oh my god! What happened in here?!"
I didn't reply. Jack just shrugged, a characteristic I was now beginning to associate with him.
"The dogs got in." I heard Jack explain yet again. Jill just rolled her eyes angrily.
"Oh, for the love of god, how did I know you would be behind this, Jack?"
"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Jill." he hissed.
I blinked once. Twice. Then I laughed. The sibling animosity was just too great.
"Oh my goodness, Jack and Jill? That is too cute. I can't believe I didn't pick up on that earlier!" I giggled, amused by the horrid names the two siblings were forced to endure. How awful. I was so glad I was an only child.
"No, it's not that funny," Jill shuddered, her freckled nose wrinkling in distaste.
"Mom and Dad were on crack when they named us." Jack added, and his sister hit him on the arm.
"Stop saying things like that, Jack. You know it's not true. Now tell me what happened in here."
The sullen figure just sighed, running a hand through his obnoxiously orange hair. I was still fascinated by the color.
"I already told you! Zero and Scraps got loose and trashed everything."
Jill narrowed her eyes and placed her hands on her slim hips.
"I hate those dogs of yours. Can't you ever keep them locked away? They've ruined everything! I don't even see the holiday ham in this mess!"
"That's because Zero dragged it out to the doghouse."
"I can't believe you! You always have to ruin our holidays, don't you? Now what am I going to do?"
"I don't know. See if I care."
Throwing her arms into the air exasperatedly, Jill let out a huff of indignation and stormed out of the kitchen. I heard phrases about what she was muttering under her breath, such as "can't believe it..." and "going to tell dad...". Jack didn't seem perturbed at all by her outburst. I shifted uncomfortably, torn between helping my roommate and staying with Jack.
"Was that really necessary?" I asked Jack quietly. He just looked at me for a moment before sighing.
"She wasn't supposed to see us in here. You weren't supposed to see me in here. I was going to make the mess, leave it and hide outside until I knew somebody found it, and then leave a nasty message on the phone while driving out of town. But then things got... complicated."
I frowned, trying to figure out the motive behind all of this facade Jack kept putting up. Despite his carefree nature, I knew something was really bugging him. It was more than him just disliking Christmas – there was a story behind this, and damned if I wasn't determined to find it out.
"This isn't just about hating Christmas, is it?"
"You're obnoxiously observant."
"I like to see it as a keen sense of understanding my surroundings."
In the hallway, I heard a great bustling of commotion, and, judging by the frown on his face, Jack heard it as well. His cold fingers grasped my hand, and he led me towards the back door.
"Come on, let's go outside."
We hurried out of the kitchen, careful not to tread on any broken ceramic or glass dishes, and I welcomed the cold winter air on my skin. One other thing about having 30 or so people all crammed into one house was that it was extremely overheated. But outside, it was lightly snowing and, for a few moments, I let the snowflakes fall onto my cheeks and catch on my eyelashes. It was comforting, I guess. Snow felt more like Christmas to me than any other weird tradition they had going on inside that house.
"You like snow?" Jack asked me. Blushing, I stopped acting like a child but still nodded anyway.
"Yeah, it's refreshing. I used to play with my father in the snow all the time before he had his accident and was put into a wheelchair." I said somberly, still watching the white flakes fall from the heavens.
"I used to like it too, but now... I don't know. It's just a bunch of white things in the air." He lifted his hood up, covering the obnoxious orange hair once more. I clutched my flimsy jacket around me tightly, shivering slightly in the cold.
"So... you were going to tell me a story?" I asked, nudging Jack slightly with my arm. His eyes blinked back into focus, and he smiled at me.
"Sure thing. Let's go on a walk."
In a mockingly formal gesture, Jack offered his arm to me. I quickly accepted it, using this as an excuse to huddle up to his warm body. We began strolling through the snow with no real destination in mind.
"You don't have to tell me anything you don't want to," I chided him gently, letting him know that I was there for him. He nodded and cleared his throat.
"Well, there's really not that much to it. I've always been the black sheep of the family. Mom and Dad always favored Jill over me, and I didn't care enough to change anything about that. She was better than me at everything: she was the goody-goody, I was the rebel. She graduated high school at the top of her class, and I barely passed senior year. She's studying pre-med at college, and I didn't even apply to college. Instead, I went to New York with my band in hopes of achieving fame and such, but unfortunately there are thousands of other bands wanting the exact same thing. I managed to really fuck up my life – did some drugs, messed with the wrong people, got totally wasted every night and ended up getting hospitalized one night for alcohol poisoning. Then I came back here only to realize that my entire family had conspired against me and they didn't really want me back. But now I've got nowhere else to go, so I'm stuck."
If I was anticipating anything, it most certainly wasn't that. For a moment or two, I didn't quite know how to respond.
"I—I'm sorry, Jack. I wish I could help you somehow."
His hand slipped down to grasp mine and he squeezed slightly.
"You already have."
Our fingers stayed locked together. We continued walking around, passing the doghouse in the back. I could see two large dogs, the dalmatian and a German Shepard, slobbering over the huge holiday ham. It was an odd sight, and faintly amusing as well.
But, as soon as we had passed the doghouse, an alarming mob of people came pouring out the back door, all yelling and pushing and trying to see where the holiday ham had gone off to. Upon finding it with the two dogs, various shouts of "Jack's damn dogs!" and "Good for nothing boy!" echoed in the otherwise silent night.
I looked up at Jack, and his mouth was curved upwards into a smirk. The fresh, white snow continued to crunch beneath our feet. Who knows how much longer we walked, but I lost track of where we were once I couldn't see the house any longer.
Only once did we stop, and that was when we passed a large outdoor Christmas tree, strung with colored lights and topped with fresh snow. It was absolutely gorgeous looking.
"Now that looks like Christmas," I murmured, smiling. The peace and quiet of the outdoors only made me smile harder. In fact, I could not have been any happier at that moment, now that I finally had someone to share my holiday with. I knew Jack could appreciate the moment.
"Sally, I've been wanting to thank you for being here tonight. If you hadn't walked into the kitchen, then who knows where I'd be now. I hope you understand how much you mean to me right now."
I gazed deeply into Jack's cerulean eyes.
"You know I understand. That's why I'm here- I didn't want to come stay with Jill, but I just had this feeing..."
"As did I. And I don't mess with premonitions as strong as that one."
"Do you think... well... do think this was meant to happen?" I asked, feeling rather silly but rather desperate at the same time.
Jack's gentle smile comforted my nerves, and his ice cold hands could not cool down my blush as he caressed my cheek. He was so close now...
Nodding, I leaned in. Hesitantly...
"Then, we're simply meant to be."
My answer was Jack's lips meeting my own in the softest of kisses.