Jack and Sally
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 the sort-of sequel/bonus chapter, as requested by Sukidayo for her 18th birthday. It was not planned in the original one-shot. Personally, I don't think it's my best work at all, but I hope you enjoy all the same!
"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."
-'Jack and Sally's Song' from The Nightmare Before Christmas
Ever since Jack and I met at his family's house for a Christmas party over five months ago, we've been inseparable. He was the other half of my soul, the one man in my life that I never plan on letting go of. Never in my entire life have I been happier with a relationship.
Looking back, I've never regretted anything since I met Jack. My life has definitely changed... but for the better, I believe. In the past few months, lots of things in my life have changed: I've graduated college, gotten a job as a local library assistant and... oh yeah, I switched out one roommate for another.
"Jack! Where did you put my box of books?" I hollered, wading through the mass of brown cardboard boxes in the otherwise empty living room.
"Which one? You have a hundred boxes of books!" was the reply from the other room.
"My classics! I already told you that."
My eyes strained to read the labeled boxes and I was beginning to get a headache. We'd been unpacking things since nine this morning, and it was now a good 12 hours later. I stifled a yawn, and stared out the dark window.
"They're here in the bedroom." Jack called back to me, and I let out a sigh of relief. While I was extremely excited about finally moving in with Jack, it was stressing me out a bit too. Jack's parents were coming over to visit tomorrow evening for a housewarming dinner and the apartment was barely unpacked yet.
Zero and Scraps were over in the kitchen, whimpering and scratching at the sides of their crates, begging to be let out. I slipped my fingers through the gaps in the crates and gave them each a little pat on the head.
"Don't worry puppies, we'll let you out soon." I cooed. Then I continued to weave my way through the many cardboard boxes to reach the bedroom of the apartment.
The chaos of the bedroom reminded me a little bit of the first time I ever met Jack. But now, instead of finding him surrounded by broken food dishes, I found him surrounded by half-emptied boxes and piles of junk. Laughing to myself, I wondered how the both of us managed to get this much stuff together to bring into this apartment.
"Do you remember which box we put the lampshades in?" Jack asked me, setting a lamp base up on the bedside table and looking around. The dark room was barely illuminated by a flashlight laying on the bed.
"No, sorry." I replied, shrugging. My eyes found the box labeled 'Sally's Books- Classics' in big black Sharpie letters and I grabbed the box. As decided earlier, we would set up the bookshelf out in the library to essentially show off our vast collection of books. Between Jack and I, we had quite the number of rare and unique books.
"Oh, Sally," Jack called out once I began to head towards the other room, "My parents called and told me they'd be over here by about six tomorrow evening. Will we be ready by then?"
I glanced around the room, taking in the total disarray, and shrugged. My headache was getting worse, and I rubbed my temples to try and relieve some of the stress.
"Well, we've got the entire kitchen unpacked, I'm working on the bookshelf out in the living area right now, but I'm not quite sure. Um... let's try to get the front rooms finished first and see what we can do about the rest."
With my eyes tightly shut, I didn't see Jack come up to me. Instead, I felt his strong arms wrap around my tiny body and lift me up.
"Jack, put me down," I chided, laughing softly. My arms wrapped around his neck as he swung me around in circles before falling down onto the bed. I topped onto him, curling up in the warmth of his chest. We both stayed like that for a while, laughing and enjoying the embrace.
Against my own will, I felt my eyelids start to droop. I yawned and snuggled closer towards Jack, wrapping my fist into his favorite black and white stripped hoodie.
"Come on, let's get you to bed. You're fading on me." Jack whispered, kissing me softly on the top of my head.
"But Jack, we still have-"
"Nope, no arguing. C'mon."
I sighed and closed my eyes, falling asleep before I could even thank Jack for being the sweetest guy I'd ever met.
The next morning brought sunshine into the bedroom and a new energy into my heart. The thrill of having my own apartment with Jack still hadn't worn off, and I wandered over to the kitchen with a stupid smile on my face. Making myself a cup of hot coffee, I admired the newly-cleaned kitchen and began making plans for the next day of unpacking.
Jack still slept in the other room, but I was far too anxious about the day to go back to sleep. We still had to unpack and arrange the living area and the bathroom before Jack's parents came over for dinner, and on top of that I had to fix some pot roast and pull off a presentable meal.
And, not really being known for my exceptional culinary talents, I was fretting a lot more than usual.
"Well," I sighed to myself, "I guess I should start working."
I reached for a box, this one full of movies, and quickly set off to organizing the DVD cabinet.
The mundane task of unpacking and decorating the apartment proved to be completely tedious, and even once Jack woke up and began to help me, I felt progress crawling at an impossibly slow pace. There was no way we could finish this project by tonight.
Once again, I marveled at the sheer quantity of items Jack and I had managed to move into this small, one-bedroom apartment.
It was about 1:00 in the afternoon, after I finally started to see some significant progress in the organization of the living area, that I decided I needed to start preparing for tonight's dinner. We would be having pot roast with saffron rice and roasted asparagus, assuming that everything went according to plan.
Who knows why I picked such a prestigious meal to fix, but I felt that I needed to impress Jack's parents. The rice would be easiest, the pot roast alright as long as I followed the instructions, and the asparagus the most complex to prepare. With this in mind, I pulled out my brand new Crock Pot and began gathering all of the ingredients needed for this certain pot roast recipe.
Perhaps I should have foreseen that my working in the kitchen would spell out disaster.
Not much later, the doorbell rang, and I looked up so quickly that I almost banged my head on an open cabinet door. Finding myself completely surrounded by various kitchen items and unsightly patches of flour and spices all over me, I called out to Jack.
"Will you see who that is?"
"Sure," was his lazy reply. Thanking him, I then glanced over the recipe book once more, making sure I was doing this completely right. I had no time for mistakes.
Stir for ten minutes and then let simmer. I could do that.
Vaguely curious about who would be knocking at our apartment so early in the afternoon, I watched Jack open the door while stirring the pot roast concoction I had cooking on the stove.
There, standing on our doorstep, was a man I'd never seen in my life. He had a Hollywood smile, a killer tan, and was dressed like he'd just walked off the photo shoot for Banana Republic. Brown suave hair fell perfectly into place, and I couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at the appearance of such a... well, such a flamboyantly gay man. And who was he? A friendly neighbor?
Mind you, I had nothing against gay people, but there was something in the way he looked at Jack that I didn't like. I would have just brushed it off as nothing, however, if I did not notice the surprise in Jack's face.
"Brandon?" Jack asked hesitantly. My attention immediately sharpened, and I momentarily forgot about cooking as I strained to hear the conversation.
"Jack! I- I had no idea you were here! What a pleasure!" the male model, or Brandon, exclaimed loudly, draping an arm around Jack and engulfing him in a one-sided hug.
"Erm, yeah... I didn't know you left New York."
Even from the kitchen, I could sense Jack's distress. What was going on here?
"Oh! Well, I always remember you saying how much you missed your home here and so I decided to come and buy a nice little apartment and see if I liked it. Of course, I immediately fell in love with the place, and now look at this – we're neighbors! How exciting!"
"Yeah, that's... um, great."
Oblivious to Jack's lack of enthusiasm, Brandon invited himself inside, noting what little decorations we had out so far.
"So, you never told me why you left New York, Jacky."
I frowned deeply. Jacky? Who did this guy think he was?
Jack, who was still standing by the door and was curiously looking at Brandon, shrugged.
"It wasn't the place for me. Nothing was holding me there, so I decided to come back to my family."
This surprised both Brandon and I. The male model turned on his heel sharply while I stopped myself from correcting him.
"Jack, if there's one thing I remember about you, babe, it's that you despised your family more than life itself. Don't lie to me."
For a moment, Jack and Brandon stared at each other, one dark and sullen and lurking in the shadow of the door while the other looking completely out of place in this apartment. Then Brandon decided he wasn't going to receive the answer he was looking for, and let out a sigh.
"Look, it doesn't matter. I've brought over some cookies I made for you, so let me just set them down in the kitchen, and maybe we'll have dinner sometime later this week."
Brandon began heading in my direction, and Jack let out a cry to try and stop him. But it was too late – right as Jack shouted "Wait!", I locked eyes with the abnormally handsome male.
Immediately Brandon's expression changed, and his once charming face turned into quite a nasty sneer. Not wanting to seem intimidated, I held my ground and glared fiercely at this man who dared intrude in my apartment, my kitchen, and flirt with my man.
"Well, hello there, little lady."
I remained silent, biting my tongue to keep my bitter comments to myself. Although no words had been explicitly said, I just had this feeling that Brandon was one of those guys Jack had... messed around with in his past. The appearance of this flamboyant man, and the reaction at the door only confirmed my hunch.
"Um, Brandon, this is Sally. Sally, this is Brandon." Jack introduced awkwardly. I nodded curtly. Brandon had the nerve to mock-bow at me, and then began tutting to himself.
"Honestly, Jack, I didn't think you would go this far to try and be normal again. You could do so much better than her." Brandon sneered, and I gasped at the outright rudeness from his statement.
When Jack, the one man I thought would rush to my defense, stayed uncharacteristically silent, I left the kitchen in an indignant huff. Marching right up to Brandon's face, I glared with as much fury as I felt, and pointed an accusatory finger up at him.
"You have no right to come in my apartment, flirt with my boyfriend, and then accuse me of being plain!"
"I'm sorry, princess, but this isn't your turf. Jack was mine way before you even knew him, I'll bet." he hissed, just soft enough so Jack couldn't hear him.
Torn between crying and slapping Brandon, I opted for the first. I didn't want my doubts and sneaking suspicions take over my logic, but each worry of mine soon found its way into a tear, and I roughly shoved past Brandon and made my way towards the bedroom so that he wouldn't see me crying.
Jack caught my elbow and, upon noticing my tear-streaked face, gave me a look of pure panic.
"Sally, no... this isn't... we never... I left him..."
"I'm sorry, Jack. I just can't handle this." I whispered thickly, freeing myself from his grip.
"Sally, please come back!"
"I... I have to go."
Hoping this was all somehow a bad dream, I fled to the bedroom.
Sinking into the cushions of the tiny love couch that was in our bedroom, I hugged a pillow to my chest and let out a sigh. The bedroom was still a mess. My fingers wove through the fringe of the pillow, braiding the strands and then tangling them. I just couldn't take being out there, seeing Brandon. It made me shake with anger just to picture him in my mind.
Why did he have to show up at a time like this?
Sure, Jack had told me about his past the day I met him, but that doesn't mean I'm going to accept his ex-boyfriend living in the next apartment over! No girl should have to put up with that. And then for him to challenge me right in front of Jack! Ugh!
Here I was today, worrying about the fact that Jack's parents are coming over for dinner tonight, and then I get hit with this!
Could I even trust Jack anymore? What if he likes Brandon more than me? What if... what if Jack leaves me because he doesn't love me?
Panic seized me, and I swear my heart stopped beating for a second. I shivered.
He's never told me that he loved me. I always figured he was waiting for the right moment to say it – in this day and time, it doesn't mean that much to say 'I love you' but I always thought he was waiting... but what if he wasn't? What if he didn't really love me?
Surely, Jack wouldn't leave me for Brandon... right?
I angrily threw the pillow across the room, and it hit the window, the elaborate beading on the front smacking the glass with an audible chink before the pillow dropped to the floor. It only added to the mess of the bedroom and didn't even relieve my stress.
After the pillow fell, both Zero and Scraps ran to sink their teeth into it and rip it apart. I tried to ignore the fighting dogs at first, but once they abandoned the shredded pillow and started nosing around in a box of Jack's things, I sat up and clapped my hands sharply.
"Zero, no! Stop messing with Jack's papers!" I scolded, though I could not find the heart to move up from the couch.
The dalmatian, his mouth full of what I first thought to be handwritten letters, blinked up at me innocently. He trotted over to the couch and set his head in my lap. I grabbed the sheets of paper and smoothed out the wrinkled, slobbery corners.
Sighing to myself, I looked back down at the dog.
"You're lucky that dogs aren't as complicated as humans," I chided the dalmatian, "There's affection, and then there's hurt, right? I wish it were that simple sometimes."
Zero licked my hand affectionately. I smiled and scratched the dog behind his ear. Then, with my other hand, I lifted the sheets of paper up to read them. However, I soon realized my mistake – these weren't handwritten letters, but pages of sheet music to a song.
Tears quickly formed in my eyes, and I let out a shaky breath as I read the title of the page: Sally's Song.
Was this possible? Could Jack have been composing a song for me, and just not tell me?
All of my previous emotions dissipated, and I was left feeling breathless and vulnerable. Delicate and unbalanced.
"Does he really love me, Zero?" I breathed, looking back down at the dalmatian. Zero whimpered and nuzzled my hand.
I refused to let myself cry, and instead I felt a smile creep up on my face. There had never been a reason to worry about Jack's affections. How could I have been so easily persuaded otherwise? Never had Jack lied to me about his past, or convince me that he was a man he wasn't. I should have trusted his words, but instead I let my jealous heart guide me. I felt awful.
A soft knock to the door surprised me and I jumped, letting out a gasp and blinking a few tears out. Zero remained on the couch beside me, his head dropping down to my lap again. Moments after the knock, the bedroom door opened up to reveal a downcast Jack, his bright eyes gleaming in anguish.
"Sally," he began brokenly, "I know that you have every reason to be hating me right now, but let me just say that I honestly never-"
"Jack, it's okay." I whispered, looking him straight in the eye.
He stopped what seemed to be a well-rehearsed speech, and gave me a curious look. I continued on.
"Look, I never should have made such hasty assumptions. You never gave me a reason to distrust you, but I was too jealous and awkward about the whole situation that I couldn't see that. You're a great man, Jack, and I hope you can forgive me for acting the way I did today."
I don't think I could breathe in the whole four strides it took Jack to walk from the door to the couch. Gently pushing Zero out of the way, Jack sat down beside me and took my hand.
"Of course I forgive you. I'm nothing without you," he spoke earnestly, lacing our fingers together and squeezing my hand softly. I looked down at our entwined hands, his pale, bony fingers against my small, delicate hand. It was beautiful.
"And I you." I murmured back. Jack smoothed back my hair and placed a gentle kiss on my forehead. I felt my heart almost break from the tender act. His arms wrapped around my shoulders and I leaned back into his embrace. All around, his scent surrounded me and I felt wrapped up in a completely intoxicating source of warmth and comfort.
Zero, who must have been feeling left out, ruined the moment by latching back onto the sheet music I still held in my other hand. The rustling of papers woke me out of my reverie and I scolded the dog. Jack then gently lifted the pages from my hands before I could respond.
"Did you find these?" Jack asked quietly. I nodded guiltily.
"Well, I mean, I was just sitting in here and then Zero got into your box of stuff and he was carrying those around and then I grabbed them from him and sort of looked at them..." I rambled defensively, not knowing how Jack would respond.
"It's alright, I was just hoping I could make it a surprise for you."
"I love it."
"You haven't even heard it yet."
"That doesn't matter. I have a song written for me by the only man in the world I truly care about. What more could I ask for?"
He smiled, brightening his entire visage. Cerulean eyes and blinding orange hair were just two features I'd come to adore, but Jack's smile was nothing short of breathtaking.
"I still want you to hear it some day – only, I haven't finished it yet and I don't have a band anymore. This is the only piece I've ever written since I got back from New York..."
"I'm sure it's perfect, Jack."
Resting a hand on his pale, chiseled jawline, I leaned up towards him. His bright blue eyes stared intently into mine, then dropped their attention lower... and slowly, slowly the both of us were leaning in towards each other... breath hovering on the edge of our lips...
And then there was an explosion.
Letting out a cry of surprise, I let go of Jack and the both of us flew apart.
"What was that?" we both blurted in unison.
Eyes darted back and forth quickly, trying to assess the damage of anything. The bedroom seemed to be perfectly in tact, nothing broken or fallen.
"I think it came from the kitchen," Jack mused, getting up from the couch and heading towards the door.
My eyes then widened impossibly.
"Oh my gosh! The pot roast!"
We both sprinted out to the apartment kitchen area, only to see the pot roast splattered all over the walls and floor, meat and vegetables and broth all over the place. The glass top to the Crock Pot was shattered, and a million shards of glass glinted wickedly in the light.
If I wasn't so upset about the pot roast, I probably would have laughed at the irony of it all.
"Well, this is a rather familiar sight," Jack drawled, reading my exact thoughts. Memories of the night we first met flashed through my mind, and it seemed to me that I would be forever doomed to deal with messy kitchens.
"I don't believe it," I moaned, hiding my face in my hands, "I completely forgot about the food! Ugh, I'm so sorry Jack. Your parents are going to be here any minute and now we have nothing to eat and a messy kitchen to clean up."
Jack began to laugh. And I mean, laugh loudly. His hands clutched at his sides, his eyes squinted shut with mirth, and his teeth glinted in the light of the room. Peals of laughter echoed throughout the kitchen, and I felt rather insulted that he was laughing at me.
"Sorry," he wheezed some moments later, "It's just... I still don't understand why you've made this such a big deal. My parents don't love me, they never have, and I don't know why you've wasted all of this time trying to reach out to them. Their opinion of you won't change mine, and don't ever forget that, Sally."
Stubborn as usual, I hated to admit that he was right. I just felt so obligated to do this the right way that I let my stress level build too high and everything got out of proportion. What really mattered was that I was here, living with Jack, and that everything between us was right again.
"But... but what will we do about dinner?" I eventually asked, not quite able to hide the smile that had made its way onto my face.
"Who cares? There's a grocery store five minutes down the road; we can pick something up from there and say we made it."
I looked back over at the pot roast mess, and nodded.
"Sounds good to me."
A silence fell over us, and I took the time to appreciate the messy kitchen. I would never trade in my memories of destroyed Christmas dishes, holiday hams and pot roast for the world. I mentally tossed around the idea of leaving this kitchen messy for his parents to find, just to see if they'd like to reminisce with us.
For the first time in days, I was content.
Jack, on the other hand, fidgeted nervously, his hand diving down into his pocket and eventually producing a small trinket.
"Sally," he began, breaking the silence, "I was going to give you this later once my parents had left, but I changed my mind."
He walked over to me and took my hand, pressing into my palm a silver ring. I gasped, wide-eyed and full of a million questions. The ring was small and delicately crafted, with two entwining ivy strands as the band and a small flat circle in the center with the letters J and S engraved in the surface.
"Jack..." I breathed.
"It's a promise ring," he said, "It's a promise that I will always be yours and never leave you."
He slipped the ring onto my left ring finger, and I admired the shining reflection of the light. This was possibly the greatest thing anyone had ever done for me. I willed myself not to cry as I looked up into Jack's cerulean eyes.
"And it's a promise that one day I'll replace this ring with another one in the future, a gold one with a great, gleaming diamond." he whispered.
I threw my arms around his neck and kissed him senseless.
When we pulled apart, Jack drew me close and whispered into my ear.
"I love you."
Nothing in the world could suppress my smiles or tears of joy at that moment.
"I love you too."
And there we stood, tightly embracing in the midst of our messy kitchen, until the doorbell to our apartment rang at precisely six o'clock.