Hi there! My name's Azure129, and I hope everybody is doing well. I'm a longtime TNBC fan, a longtime JackXSally fan, a longtime fan fiction writer in general, and I'm excited to start posting in this fandom. I hope anyone who reads my stories will enjoy them and will please review if you can! Mostly I'll be posting oneshots, but this will be a full-length story. It's my take on Jack and Sally trying to sort out their new relationship in the aftermath of Christmas—there'll be some 'other holiday world' shenanigans, some misunderstandings, a little drama, a lot of romantic tension, and a little stuff with Doctor Finkelstein and Jewel too. I hope you'll all enjoy : ) I have a complete draft of this story done (each chapter just needs editing) so updates should be fairly regular.

These first two chapters involve quite a bit of flashbacks and Jack and Sally teasing out their feelings, but after this the action starts, I promise!

Thank you for reading!

Dearest Friends

Chapter 1:

Jack & Sally, Part 1

T'was a long time ago, though not as long as it seems,
In a place that you've certainly seen in your dreams.
For the story that you are about to be told,
Takes place in…one or two…of the holiday worlds of old.
Now you've probably wondered about Jack and Sally after their kiss—
May I present a small idea for their courtship that goes something like this….

"There are few who deny, at what I do, I am the best,
For my talents are renowned far and wide.
When it comes to surprises in the moonlit night,
I excel without ever even trying.

"With the slightest little effort of my ghostlike charms,
I have seen grown men give out a shriek.
With a wave of my hand and a well placed moan,
I have swept the very bravest off their feet.

"And year after year, I'll admit it's fun,
For few things can compare with the sound of screams.
But I, Jack, the Pumpkin King,
Wonder if I could succeed at…another 'scary' thing.

"Oh somewhere deep inside of these bones
A new feeling has found its home.
There's someone out there whom my heart knows,
A lady to woo who cares for me so….

"I'm the master of fright and a demon of light,
And I'll scare you right out of your shoes.
Yes, any creature around fears by me to be found,
And laments its fate by singing the blues.

"And since my life is null, I can take off my skull,
To recite, or simply to astound you.
My incorporeal charms, they soon disarm
The most daring victims. Oh yes, it's true.

"But who here would ever understand
That the Pumpkin King with the skeletal grin
Would have a secret fear that he pauses to unfurl,
For terror alone never charmed a girl.

"Oh there's an empty place in my bones
That calls out for…something now quite known.
And will I be able to do this right?
Or must ever I be a lonely creature of the night…?"

Have you ever been suddenly thrust into a new place in your life and both frightened and amazed out of your wits by the surprise of it all?

Jack Skellington thought such an event had occurred to him once: back when he had stumbled through a shiny, tree-shaped door in the forest and found himself in a glowing place called Christmas Town.

But now, however, he knew better. That place had merely been a delight: a novel delight, but a delight nonetheless—a free and clear, no obligations, no real investment, and (seemingly) no risk pleasure cruise. He had already done a holiday before after all—why not have some fun and try a new one? And even if all the details of such a switch didn't turn out to be perfect, things would still work out okay enough, right? They had to. After all, he'd had such good intentions for Christmas. Of course, in the end, his efforts with that jolly holiday had ultimately led to a fiasco, but at least Santa had fixed things, and now all the holidays could know each other and everyone was happy. And a safer attempt at Christmas could always be tried again next year in Halloween Town (Santa would still be controlling the main holiday, of course, but a small celebration could still occur in Jack's town nonetheless).

Enough reminiscing, though. As Jack had just admitted to himself, he had thought that stumbling upon Christmas Town had been some sort of take-your-nonexistent breath-away experience…

But now he knew that he had been (pardon the pun) dead wrong.

In point of fact, his actions last night of walking up a hill in the moonlight, taking Sally in his arms and kissing her lips had proved a significantly more terrifying and brain-boggling experience than anything else he had ever gone through in centuries of 'death'.

Jack, sitting atop Spiral Hill in the snow at this time (where he had just finished delivering his newest little lament to himself and the moon and his faithful ghost dog Zero), sighed and rubbed one of his temples with a few bony fingertips, cringing a tiny bit. He was still trying to sort out all of this Sally stuff in his mind, which was why he had gotten up just before dawn on this Christmas day and sort of 'snuck off' to the Hinterlands to be alone. It wasn't that he was avoiding other people and Sally—all right, fine, he was 'sort of' avoiding them…especially maybe her—but he needed time alone to think because honestly he had no idea what to do about Sally or what to do about what had happened last night between them. After all, they had barely even had time to say anything about it after their kiss had occurred. They had pulled apart a little and had just started to try and say something to one another, but then suddenly they had heard the town celebration starting to extend out into the pumpkin patch and then graveyard…which would lead them all to Spiral Hill soon. And what in the world would everyone say if they caught Jack and Sally…together?

They had both realized the situation and blinked a few times, and Jack recalled being about to suggest to her that they hide or something when Sally had reached out and placed a single fingertip across his skeletal grin (which had caused a lot of fluttery and unfamiliar feelings to go through Jack, to say the least). She had merely whispered a 'Shh…' and then she gave him a smile and gestured with her head back toward town and his house. Jack had turned to look over his shoulder and realized that she meant he was probably wanted among the citizens (who had only just now, after all, joyously discovered that he wasn't 'blown to smithereens') and also that it was late and he should probably go home soon, especially after a long night like this one. But then Jack had turned back to her to nod but also to ask her…well…well, the doctor seemed to have a new helper, so Jack had to wonder where she might go now to sleep…to live…. And he had a small hope about a certain solution to that problem, though the idea of outright suggesting it to so suddenly her terrified all the sense of decorum he had. Anyway, he had turned back to her to start trying to make his suggestion, but then he had blinked. She was gone! She had somehow quickly slipped away down the now unfurled spiral of the hill, and he saw her running off in the snow and the moonlight toward the outskirts of the woods near a few old headstones. He thought he had seen herbs growing there, though he couldn't recall….

Anyway, the townspeople had come upon him just then, and so Jack had had to turn away from the path of Sally's escape and to depart with his fellow citizens for a while. However, the moment the party started to die down and every person seemed perfectly at ease once more, Jack had instantly gone off to look for Sally. He hadn't been able to find her though, at least, not until he had returned home rather late…and the saxophone player from the band had stopped him and gestured with his head off to a corner inside the gate of Jack's manor. There Jack finally found Sally. She was sleeping lying against stone wall and the gate, just snuggling up with some old leaves and a little black cat dozing in her lap.

Jack, naturally, had frozen. What to do, what to do? He didn't want to wake her, and, even if he had woken her, where could he suggest she go? He felt some embarrassment again at the idea of bringing up the 'obvious' solution. If she herself had asked to be allowed to stay with him, he certainly would have obliged of course, but…but on his own to wake her and insist she go alone with him up to his house at night, and after what they had just done together? The notion made him feel so awkward. All of his sensibilities felt challenged. And what if she liked him so much that the moment she came inside she popped herself right into his bed and smiled and pulled back the covers for him to join her and then spent the whole night hugging and cuddling him in her sleep? Jack actually couldn't breathe at the fantastic notion. He had taken a moment to compose himself by leaning against the gate a little, and then he had looked to his house, really considering what to…

It had hit him then.

He had quickly gone inside and then a few minutes later he came out with several warm blankets which he gently laid around Sally and the cat. Then he had raced back inside, and soon the window to his tower was opened and Jack let drop down from it a sturdy rope ladder. Jack then climbed down the ladder to land outside once more, and then he grabbed the end of the rope ladder and pulled it so that it would be as near Sally as possible. He hoped that would be okay—she would be warmer now because of the blankets and when she woke up on her own from her rest (she had been through so much, he hated the idea of disturbing her sleep) she could now easily get inside. And also the tower was sort of a compromise regarding their new potential living arrangements in a way—it could be like her own little tiny house attached to his house rather than having the two of them living directly side by side in the main part of the manor after only a few hours of courtship.

Jack had known that the next thing he had to do was go back inside and set up the tower for her with a fire and a soft, makeshift bed and maybe some tea in a kettle just in case. Yet, for just one more moment he had lingered, looking down at her. The little cat stretched in its sleep and Sally smiled at its movement, her pretty red lips turning upwards. Jack so very much wanted to kiss those lips again all of a sudden…. He came closer but paused, turning away. He felt awkward about the idea of trying to 'sneak' a kiss with her. No, no, he had decided, he would just have to wait until…until…well, he wasn't sure, come to think of it. He wasn't sure what to say or do about any of this. All he had known was that he had to be careful because he could feel that this thing between them was fragile…and yet he wanted it to work and last between them so very much.

And so last night Jack had left Sally in that state and had set everything up for her in the tower. Then he had turned in himself, though he ended up having such a restless night of half-dreaming all the ways he could bungle this new relationship with her that he had finally abandoned his bed before sunrise to come here to the hill where he had sat down in the soft snow and sung his new lament…and now here he was.

And the first thing Jack figured he should try and figure out now was how in the heck had this happened? When exactly had he—the master of fright…the demon of light…the Pumpkin King—fallen for the rag doll Sally? Jack gave Zero a gentle scratch behind the ears and settled into deep thought.

When had he first developed romantic feelings for her? Everything lately had been such a whirlwind, he doubted the exact moment would be easy to pinpoint. He knew he hadn't cared for her that way from the start, though he had always liked her, of course. They had always been friends. And he had always found her clever and bright…and funny…and sort of sweet…and, well…pretty. He mumbled to himself, his smile looking a little dreamy. "That red yarn hair…those big eyes that glow…the way even a simple dress made of rags falls so lovely upon her, and…"

"Arf?" Zero barked softly, raising an eyebrow at his master's sudden strange words.

Jack blinked at the sound, suddenly realizing his thoughts were turning down a very 'distracting' road. He quickly cleared his throat, went back to giving Zero the occasional pet, and did his best to focus again. "Okay, so…I've always liked her and we've always been friends." He nodded to himself. Yes, that much was certain.

So now to determine where the other feelings had come into play.

Clearly, something about all of this crazy Christmas stuff had done it. Her questioning of his plans for Christmas at the start, for example, had made him feel…well…from any other citizen, such resistance and doubt might have made him a little sad, but from her, frankly, it had been like a little challenge, like something to prove to her. And he had liked the idea of that. But did that strange interaction signify romance in any way? Jack shook his skull to himself. "No, no, that's just…our relationship, I guess. We don't always agree when we talk, but we always manage to work things out in the end."

Okay so then perhaps his 'more than liking' for her had come later, during his grand ride in the sleigh as he had finally gotten to fulfill his intended portrayal of Sandy Claws. When the sleigh had blown up, Sally had been a thought to go through his mind. He had sort of wanted to apologize to her for disappointing her and for letting the suit she had worked so hard to make for him get ruined and for not realizing that she had been right about Christmas being a bad idea for him to do until it had been too late.

All right, perhaps having her as a major thought on his mind during a near death experience signified a very heightened level of friendship and caring for her on his part. But did such an attachment make him want a kiss from her? Jack considered seriously, but then a slow shake of his skull followed. "No, it…I just…she really has been my dearest friend—someone who respects my privacy and treats me like a real person before she treats me like a King and who always has a kind word for me. It was more all of that making me think of her than anything else, I guess. I was just going to miss her so much."

So then something after all of that insanity must have been what had pushed him over the edge about his feelings for her. "Maybe it was during my rescue of her and Sandy from Oogie Boogie," Jack pondered to himself, looking up to the moon, and trying not to cringe a little at some of the memories from that particular portion of his Christmas adventure.

To begin with, surprisingly, though Oogie had more than had it coming and though there really hadn't been much of a choice (if he had escaped, he would have certainly broken right into the town and started terrorizing everyone horribly, and NOT in the good way) Jack did feel a little bad about having to end him so permanently. Jack didn't like violence: at all. And he had given Oogie chance after chance for centuries to reform his bad behavior, even letting him have a small part in the Halloween celebrations every year despite their past grievances. But really this time the creature had gone too far: trying to cause significant harm to citizens who were technically already dead had always been bad enough, but he had gone completely off the deep end and tried to destroy a living, breathing holiday leader! Santa Claus! He had tried to murder and eat him! And totally without any provocation on top of it all! At that point last night Jack had just known that there was no hope for reforming Oogie; there was only containing him, which seemed to have finally run its course as an option, or taking on the responsibility of ending him once and for all for the good of everyone.

Even still, Jack probably would have been inclined to be a bit more hesitant about that latter, permanent option had it not been for finding Sally trapped in Oogie's lair along with Sandy. Terrorizing a defenseless holiday leader was cruel, but on top of that, that despicable creature had been trying to harm good, innocent, blameless Sally too! Sally—one of the best people Jack knew, his dear, dear friend who had only wanted to help him. What kind of sick creature would try to destroy all of that loveliness? Destroy and eat and….

Jack blinked: perhaps that had been the moment…the moment when he had known how he felt about her.

Jack sighed though and shook his head to himself. "But no. That's close but…I was more full of rage and passion and desperation than anything else. I didn't have time to let something softer in…."

Jack went back to his memories, continuing his attempt to piece out how had he had gone from obsessing over Christmas to obsessing over Sally.

Okay, so, after arriving in the lair, Jack had whisked Sally and Sandy into hiding and then fought Oogie—definitely no time for thinking about romance then. Though Jack did blanche a tiny bit now (his skull turning a little paler at his cheeks) as he suddenly realized that during their fight, part of his reason for putting on such a bold and skillful and flashy performance of his prowess might have been a sudden (if unrealized until now) desire to, well…impress his 'damsel in distress' a little. Jack had to roll his eye sockets now at the idea of such ridiculous behavior on his part, regardless of how subconsciously fueled it might have been at the time. But at least this realization suggested to him that he was getting closer to pinpointing when exactly his romantic feelings for Sally had fully blossomed.

Jack let out a deep breath and went back to sifting through his memories. All right, so, he had fought and defeated Oogie Boogie, and then he had apologized to Sandy. He'd had to address poor Mr. Claus first considering the horrible mess he had made of his holiday and how little time was left to save Christmas. And Sandy had yelled at him, which Jack had expected naturally, though honestly overall Mr. Claus had been very kind about the whole situation. And he had even brought snow to Halloween Town that night, which had been a very nice gesture, and which Jack hoped was a good sign of their two worlds being able to make amends very soon.

But anyway, getting back to the next part of Jack's memories, when all the anger and fear and worry had been over and Oogie was no more and Sandy had left…Jack and Sally had found themselves all alone in the lair.

Sally spoke first—she had come forward and assured Jack that everything would be all right. And Jack had felt such appreciation for her words. She was showing him such kindness, even after he had put her through such a horrible, harrowing experience. She was there for him and just doing her best to make him feel better.

He recalled being confused in that moment—what in the world had she been doing down here with Sandy? He had turned to her and smiled. She was there and safe—who could help smiling? And then he had asked her how she had gotten down there.

Sally had started to mumble a reply, looking down, smiling, wringing her hands…

Jack's smile had grown, and he had suggested that maybe she had wanted to help him?

She had turned away in shyness, though she was beaming now, and had started to say how she couldn't let him just…just…

She couldn't let him just…. Jack knew now. She couldn't let him just…fail at all of this, as he inevitably must have, without being there for him to help fix things or to comfort him if he couldn't…or for both reasons…or even for something more. Oh, and why had she had to turn away from him so shyly like that while speaking? It was so cute, so coy! He had reached out and touched her shoulder, turning her around so he could look at that kind face of hers once more! He just…and she…. And Jack recalled that he had realized something about her in that moment that he had always suspected a little. He knew that most of the women in town—okay, all of them—had crushes on him…obsessions, really…and he had figured sometimes from the way she smiled at him or from her shyness (like when she had delivered him that little basket before Christmas and then run off before he could thank her) that Sally might sort of be partial to him too. Yes, truly, she would only be acting this way around him now if she had those feelings for him. And yet at the same time she was different from all of the other women. Indeed, Jack had never encountered another lady who knew him and his mind so well and who treasured them so deeply. She had seen every footfall in his plans, anticipated every risk, and done all she could to save Christmas from him and him from himself. She had challenged him and his own obsession, not just blindly followed him out of politeness and devotion to him as King. She liked him…a lot. A whole lot, it seemed.

And in the moment Jack had just wanted to know more about her feelings and more about her. He had wanted to go off with her and talk with her and to see her smile and to hold her and apologize for everything and… 'Sally,' he had begun, moving closer, smiling more, 'I can't believe I never realized that you—'

And then Jack had been cut off in the midst of this wonderful moment of realization by the Mayor and Lock, Shock and Barrel showing up with a VERY bright light shining right down into their faces. The group had cried out in joy at finding him and then dropped a rope down into the lair. Jack had felt so distinctly frustrated in that moment. He had been on the verge of something and it had been interrupted and—but there was no time for that now, they had to get out of here and let the town know they were all okay! Jack had grabbed the rope and pulled Sally along, and they had been whisked away and into the Mayor's car for a bumpy and noisy ride back to town (full of the lamentations of Lock, Shock and Barrel for having disobeyed Jack—he had just let them off, too tired to deal with them and having many other things on his mind at the moment. Oogie would have gotten to Santa one way or another probably anyway).

Jack, in the present and still sitting on the snow on Spiral Hill with Zero, let out a sigh that became a puff of cold in the early morning air. All right, so it seemed that, in a nutshell, the groundwork for romance between himself and Sally had been set with their initial close friendship. He had then developed a very particular liking for her during the course of that friendship and especially during the Christmas fiasco that he couldn't quite explain. And he had finally become aware of this deeper liking both while nearly dying during his sleigh ride and while saving Sally and Sandy from Oogie. He had then realized the depth of her feelings for him during their moment alone at the end of the fight, and then finally he had also realized he liked those feelings and wanted to know more about them and her just before they had been rescued.

That didn't leave many opportunities for him discovering his own feelings prior to their kiss.

Though, suddenly, Jack had a pretty good idea when that discovery might have occurred.

Strangely enough, now he was remembering seeing Dr. Finkelstein and his new creation…his 'precious Jewel'…together in the town square during the party celebrating his own safe return. Jack hadn't been able to describe his surprise at the sight of the doctor with a new companion. Had all of Sally's defiance, and so much of it for his sake, really led her to lose her home and the protection of her creator? What a sad thing, Jack had thought to himself at first….

But then he had noticed Sally slipping away from town and toward the graveyard and Spiral Hill.

He had been curious for a moment—she must have seen the Doctor and Jewel, yet Sally didn't seem sad about anything. Actually she had seemed to be smiling as she had left.

But why smile?

Jack had had to take a break of several minutes from the festivities to ponder a solution to this question.

And then a realization had occurred to him that had made him gulp and sent shivers—spine tingling shivers—all up and down him.

Despite everything, could Sally really just be glad that she had helped him and that he was safe? Could his welfare and her peace with having done what was right at all costs really be the source of happiness that kept her going past all else?

The realization was enough to drop a man to his knees.

Yes, Jack knew now, in the present, that moment had been 'the moment'—finding himself so very at the center of Sally's heart like that and finding her heart to be such a warm and welcoming place. In that moment he had just felt so…so for the taking…so for her taking…and he had finally wanted her for his taking as well. He had pursued her before he could think twice about it, moving swiftly and quietly through the snow, wanting to see the pretty girl who adored him so and without whom he might have no longer existed and who was starting to feel like one of the biggest purposes for his existence the more he thought about her.

Jack had found her sitting upon that hill then…and he had felt so frightened. He wanted her. He wanted her in ways he had never wanted anything or anyone. His wanting of Christmas had echoed it somewhat but…but no, this was his desire and longing and passion in their purest forms. And if Dr. Finkelstein would no longer be this sweet creature's protector, then he, Jack Skellington, would certainly take a crack at it…if she would have him, of course.

He had taken a very deep breath. And then he had started singing to her, cooing softly, but pausing at the base of the hill until she might invite him up to join her.

Sally had remained still at first. Then she had stood and turned and sang back, beckoning him with her voice, clear as crisp midnight air, sharp as a silver crescent moon.

Soon he had been with her and then he would kiss her and then…

In the present, Jack had closed his eye sockets and puckered his lips and he was leaning his skull outwards and tilting it to the side, reliving the memory. Oh how sweet their embrace had been. Better than the kissing looked in Christmas Town. On the cheek—please! No, he'd had her full, red, ravishing lips under his skeletal grin! And, to finish up the timeline, at that moment along with knowing both her feelings and knowing his own, he had realized that he simply could never let her go now that they had found each other. He needed her for now and forever…dearest friend. And if there had been time he would have given in to every romantic compulsion suddenly coursing through himself and let them collapse together to the snow in kisses, not stopping until dawn had pulled them back to the reality of their lives…


A shuddery sigh escaped Jack and he finally opened his eye sockets and blinked a few times. Then glanced to the side in shyness, finally coming completely back to the present moment. "Oh, erm…sorry, Zero. I was just…thinking…and I suppose I got a little carried away." Jack noticed that in his distraction he had even traced a little heart in the snow with one of his fingertips.

Zero looked at him curiously and then nuzzled close to him comfortingly.

Jack smiled at the sweet gesture. "Thank you, boy. I'm alright now though, I promise." Jack let out another breath and then pushed himself up from the snow and dusted himself off a little. "I'm just a little worried about going back to Sally, Zero. I don't really know what I ought to do. I just want her to be comfortable and happy…but I also want to just sing my deepest feelings to her in a burst of affection!" He chuckled, smiling a little dreamily, and gave a twirl in the snow.

"Arf, arf!" Zero barked happily at the idea, turning in mid air himself.

Jack sighed though now, a frown coming to his face. "But Zero, I can't do that. What if it's too much for her? You know how shy she is. I just…I just wish I could find some advice about all of this—about how to handle courting a lady. And about what in the world a woman would want from me…."

Zero frowned a little too at his master's frowning. The last time Jack had been sad, he had gone off on a long walk and found a certain place and, well…everyone knew the rest.

Jack sighed, looking pensive now, and paced a little in the snow. "But where to find information on ladies and true affection and courtship? No one around here ever seemed very keen on those things. And I can't go to the real world and ask anyone. A talking skeleton—I'll get bombs shot at me again."

"Arf, arf!" Zero barked, suggesting something.

Jack smiled for a moment but then had to shake his head at the little dog's idea. "That's a good idea, Zero, Sandy probably would have some good advice to give, especially since his holiday involves loving and caring for others so much. But I can't bother him with a visit so soon after all the mess I caused and all the time he had to spend fixing his holiday. I'm sure he needs all the rest he can get." Jack sighed. "And even though the rest of the holidays and ours will probably be getting to know one another soon, it's not like I know any one in any of the other worlds that I could ask. I mean, maybe I could try asking or at least try gathering some information myself if one of their worlds was exactly focused on…on…" It was then, looking downward, his pacing suddenly ceasing, that Jack's gaze caught sight of his little tracing of a heart in the snow. And then he remembered something. And then he was exactly torn between thinking the idea that had just popped into his head was the most brilliant notion he had ever conceived and thinking it had to be the stupidest plan of action he had ever entertained.

"Zero…" he glanced to his faithful companion hesitantly, "Do you remember how back in the holiday forest there might have been, oh, I don't know…a door shaped like a heart?" He shrugged, looking a touch sheepish.

Zero looked at Jack curiously for a moment.

And then instantly the little ghost dog was shaking his head and flying forward and grabbing a tail of Jack's suit and pulling him back to town. No, they were NOT starting with this again! Absolutely not! His master had almost gotten killed once, and he was NOT about to let that happen again!

"Zero! Wait, now, come on, boy! Just listen to me!" Jack protested earnestly, resisting Zero's tugs as best he could. "Just suppose I go there, I pop in the heart-shaped door, I don't talk to anyone, I just observe how…how things might work in a place with a heart for a door. Then I'd know how to handle things with Sally, and then I would come right back here, honest! No stealing, no interfering…just pure scientific observation! I promise!"

Zero did cease his tugs, but he still looked back to his master with concern and made unsure little barks at him. "Arf, arf! Arf…"

Jack smiled reassuringly down at the little dog. "Zero, I promise it would be all right. Look, I know my way there now, to the holiday forest. And it's still very early in the day. I could just run and take an hour or so to make my courtship observations and then run right back here—I'd be home before lunchtime. And Oogie Boogie's not even around anymore to threaten people when I'm gone, so what's the danger?" Jack smiled so hopefully and clasped his hands together, looking to his little best friend with total sincerity. "Please boy, I know it's silly but I need some guidance in all of this. I'm the master of fright, after all, not the master of falling for women, remember?" He chuckled a little, doing his best to lighten the mood.

Zero still looked uneasy though of course. But then he settled on flying right up to his master's side and tucking himself under Jack's arm.

Jack patted the little dog's head but shook his skull. "No, I'm sorry, boy, I think I should go alone. To be honest, I was hoping you'd stay here and look after Sally. She'll need someone to help point out the ladder to the tower for her, and then someone to show her around the tower and keep her company and make sure she's happy until I return. All right?" He looked to Zero hopefully. "If it'll make you feel better though, you can come with me to the edge of the forest, but then please go back for her—she might wake up early, and I don't want her to be alone."

Zero frowned a little more at his master's intention to make the holiday world journey on his own, though he knew Jack was right about someone needing to stay behind. Sally really would need someone to welcome her. And so, reluctantly, Zero nodded to Jack and then flew a little ahead to start accompanying his master as far as the edge of the woods.

Jack smiled at him. "Thank you, Zero. Let's be off then." And then with a big grin Jack jumped off of the curl of Spiral Hill into the snow below and proceeded onward toward the woods as the daylight started break over the gloomy horizon, Zero at his side.

Meanwhile, poor little Zero tried to keep up his normally optimistic personality but couldn't help sighing in a touch of worry. It seemed to him that things could have been worked out just as easily by Jack if he would just go back to the house and talk to Sally about their feelings rather than starting off on a new adventure when the last one had only finished up a few hours ago. But then again his master always had insisted on doing things his own way.

Later, as he floated back home to find Sally (a little note for her and a flower now in his mouth from Jack), Zero just did his best to remind himself of all of Jack's assurances about how risk free this decision of his was and to comfort himself with the thought that if his master did end up in trouble again, at least kind and smart Sally would be close at hand to provide support and help for him once more if necessary.


Well, that was chapter one, and I hope you've all enjoyed it enough to want to check out chapter two! Chapter 2 will focus on Sally just like this one focused on Jack, and then after that the story will focus on both of them together : ) Please review if you can! And thanks again for reading!

Happy Reading!

~Azure129 aka Jenna