The winds derived from the outskirts carried a cold breeze through Halloween Town. Flowing in and out of the place's serpentine streets and cracked window panes. And with that wreathe of newfound chilliness came the talkative rustling of shaken trees and high-pitched screeching of a not-so-far-off agitated bat colony.

Inside the Skellington Manor, on the other hand, the Pumpkin King paid no remark to all the bustling beyond his walls. It was approximately twelve o'clock at night and he was more than determined to take the offer of a full night's rest, which he felt he well deserved and very much needed after the long week he had just endured. However, Jack had no one else to blame but himself for the position he was currently set in. After all, he was the skeleton who practically stole another whole holiday for his own personal folly and thus putting his own two months behind schedule.

So soon enough, Jack was toted deep in dreamland and snuggled warmly under his blankets when a cat wailed loudly beside his bed. Wait, what? He didn't have a cat, the only pet he ever had was Zero, his little the ghost dog… Jack furrowed his brow bones close together with confusion, the side of his skull still pressed into his pillow as he thought of a reasonable explanation for this.

The only conclusion a baffled Jack could cogitate in his half-awake, half-asleep state for why exactly a cat would be lurking within his sleeping chambers was he must still be dreaming. No, that couldn't be correct. If he was still dreaming, he more than likely wouldn't have a near ear-ache right now.

As if with annoyance, the feline's voice grew even louder. Where's Zero when you need him?

Jack rolled over and onto his other side, clasping his soft pillow firmly over his head in an attempt to block out the animal's persistent whines. He decisively came to the conclusion that he or she must have snuck in through an open window seeking food or shelter. Yes, that sounds about right. Of course, Jack would have been more than happy to oblige in supplying the cat with whatever it so desperately desired—no matter how jealous Zero would undoubtedly become. This King of Halloween was definitely not one to turn away anyone in need! Regardless of who or what they were. Except, right now, was certainly not the greatest time…

Then, for just a moment, the piping yowling hushed. But not before the cat leapt gracefully atop the beyond sleepy skeleton's high mattress to 'pleasantly' greet him. Once up there, the feline stalked over to the sleeping man and slipped under one of his lanky arms, continuing to speak to Jack in the language of meow.

It was becoming increasingly tougher to simply ignore this relentless four-legged creature and slip back into his once peaceful slumber, but Jack tried to remain as persistent as possible in his half-conscious psyche. But next, the cat tried to nuzzle him awake from under his droopy limb, rubbing his or her rough fur against his skull. Wow, this cat is indeed a stubborn one, huh? Jack huffed, leaning closer to giving up.

Gah, he couldn't snub the poor thing any longer, he even was beginning to feel a little sympathy for the pitiful and reluctant animal after all of it's efforts in trying to get him up and aroused.

Whelp, it didn't seem worth another attempt in falling asleep under these uncommon circumstances. Henceforth, Jack carefully untangled his arm from the cat's body and pushed himself up with stiff limbs, his non-soundproof pillow and nightcap falling back against the head frame of the bed in the process. He then drowsily sat himself against bed head, legs still hidden beneath his darkly toned sheets. Then, using the sleeves of his lightly tanned pyjama shirt, he rubbed his shut eye sockets with his wrists before catching a glimpse of the analog clock beside him—the time read half-past twelve in the morning or much too-early a.m., as he liked to put it.

Jack sighed, feeling sluggish as he sunk his chin in a skeletal palm, back hunching over and heavy eyelids threatening to fall. He hoped Sally wouldn't wake from downstairs as he served this intruder.

Jack felt so fortunate to have his dearest friend to wake up with each morning since the… eventful Christmas escapade. Perhaps, if he had to rise this early, he could do something special for her. Welcome Sally a little more into his—their home. A goofy grin spread across Jack's tired face.

Wait, hold on a moment. Jack's skull perked up, his skeletal grin fading with his now almost fully functioning and conscious mind, immediately processing the situation properly. Jack mentally slapped himself. How could he be so senseless to forget something as this? A couple of days after he invited Sally to live in the manor with him and Zero—an offer to which she happily accepted, mind you, her extra kiss was only an unexpected, yet fully welcomed, bonus—Sally afterwards hesitantly asked if it'd be okay if a certain furry friend of hers could come and go in the manor as well. Alright, he did have a small excuse for briefly forgetting about the ebony feline just now. The unlucky cat did spend most of his days out in the streets—where he had most likely lived since he was a tiny kitten. Although, he did come to the manor for cans of food and cuddles regularly—something which Zero was immensely unpleased about.

The scrawny cat called from it's new place by Jack's bedroom door, catching his attention forthwith.

"What is it?" Jack asked, sounding groggy. He had to admit, it felt strange questioning a cat, but he does talk to Zero often, so he hoped he'd understand this little guy, at least somewhat.

Jack leaned forward, trying to comprehend these urgent "meow"s. In response, the black animal continued to slip out behind the door and down the dark staircase outside the room, travelling slowly in a way that beckoned the bone-man to follow.

Jack kicked his legs out and compelled them onto the wooden floor beneath his bed, sinking into his feet and barely ignoring the urge to sleep. Whatever this feline wanted must be urgent by the sound of it's distress. Thus, Jack followed it's lead, gripping the iron railing trailing down the staircase for extra balance. But what got Jack entirely awake was where the cat paused; the guest bedroom. The place where Sally was. It pawed the door to the once untouched room, motioning for him to go inside. Without a second thought, Jack grasped the cold doorknob, then suddenly, he froze. He couldn't just casually stroll into her room, especially while she's sleeping!

This didn't feel right, but the insistence from her furry companion told him otherwise. Something must be wrong. Hesitantly, Jack turned the knob and stepped in to find something that made him shatter within. Sally lay on her side sleeping, tightly gripping her blanket close, eyes squeezed shut and her teeth slightly gritted… A nightmare's doing, no doubt about it, Jack knew it when he saw one.

Sure, Jack was a master of fright and all, but, she could be dreaming of anything! Jack's phantom heart ached for her. Perhaps, she was dreaming of something from her past… or the recent confrontation with Oogie Boogie could be a feasible answer of what's haunting her. Jack didn't even recall he had the knowledge of what exactly happened in that lair Christmas night and what Oogie had done with her and Sandy before he swooped in. But he distinctly remembered her cries and pleas, and that was enough.

Jack darted over alongside her, ready to wake her up but pulled back. You should never wake someone having a nightmare, if he remembered the rule correctly. Jack couldn't help himself though, he just had to free her from this state. But after a quick moment of thinking it over, Jack was sure that any touch he made or a word he spoke could easily influence the nightmare further. The Master of Fright did have a strange knack for doing things of that kind.

He stepped back, panicked he may escalate things to be worse for Sally. And what if she felt uncomfortable with him being in her private space and leave him afterwards? Jack shook his head, removing the abrupt thoughts from his mind. He couldn't bare the reoccurring worry of losing the person he held most dear to his phantom heart. Unable to imagine his life being empty of her beautiful love for him and his for her.

In a moue tone, the cat down at his heels gazed up at him expectantly with glowing amber eyes. The feline looked confused more than anything, it surely didn't have a clue of how to possibly console his troubled mistress and, quite frankly, neither did Jack which surprised even himself. The concerned cat then pounced onto Sally's bed, down by her covered feet. Sitting close to the sleeping rag doll, the four-legged creature curled it's tail side to side, bemused. Again, staring up at Jack's cold, coal sockets with almost pleading eyes, silently forcing him to act.

Jack sighed, relaxing his tense posture. This little guy wasn't letting him go anywhere, was he? At least, not until Sally was deemed fine once more.

Jack mustered up all the courage he presently possessed before going close to her side again, kneeling low to admire her beautifully stitched features. He just had to somehow wake and free her from this slumber, and so he attempted to gently do so, in the only way he knew how. "S-Sally," he stammered as he tenderly rubbed her arm, "Sally?" She felt warmer than usual, presumably from the stress the nightmare must be causing and faintly, Jack felt her shake under his touch, a corollary response to fear he knew well. "Hey," he whispered, tilting his skull to the side, briefly lifting his arm from his place on her shoulder to tuck back a loose strand of her yarn hair. Yearning to see her gorgeous eyes.

From the side, her black companion eyed Jack like a tiger on the prowl, using the grey blankets like grass to somewhat hide. Ready to protect Sally, the only person who's ever shown him any kindness out on the streets. If Jack did absolutely anything scandalous—although, her lover did seem trustworthy from what he'd seen. The skeleton man had acted very friendly towards him since they were formally introduced not long ago after Sally moved in. Jack did appear to care for her very well from what he'd observed when often visiting Sally here in her new abode for meals and attention.

Jack continued to trail his hand up and down her upper arm. Sally had masterfully hand-sewn a pale grey nightgown for herself, using some of the materials Jack had supplied her with when she first came to live with him and Zero. Jack found her work to be simply extraordinary! Astounding. How could one possibly create something so intricate in so little time? Prior to the realisation of his deeper feelings and sentiments for his dearest friend, he had rarely seen much more of her work. Other than her usual multi-coloured patchwork attire and, well, her very self—being an animate rag doll and all, with stitches being responsible for keeping her very being in one piece.

Sally suddenly shot upright, gasping heavily for air with eyes wide. Taking Jack aback by utter surprise. He then quickly snapped back into reality and the situation at hand, catching his balance before crouching just below her current height beside the bed. "Hey, it's all right. You're safe, it was only a nightmare…" He didn't know exactly where those words came from but they felt right.

She turned to him, the black pupils of her eyes only tiny dots. She couldn't keep eye-contact, she glared down at her lap again and buried her face into her palms, on the verge of tears from the overwhelming feeling devouring her. Strands of hair falling over her heated blue cheeks. She didn't want Jack to see her cry, not after every length he's been going to and beyond all for her happiness and well being in this brand new start to life. Far away from her days of nothing but cleaning and cooking… She let out a muffled sob into her small, blue hands. The attempt in concealing her pain broken.

Giving in to his instincts, Jack rose up to sit beside her. Gently bringing her head to meet just above his chest, near the crook of his neck. Then wrapped his lanky arms around her frame, nuzzling Sally's head with his jawline to soothe her in their embrace. In truth, now that he properly concerned himself with the thought, Jack had never seen Sally shed a single tear before… He despised the new dread it bestowed.

Sally dotingly nestled closer into his broad chest, shuddering as racked sobs escaped her throat fractiously. She felt, even herself, shake from her sobs under his consoling touch. Uncontrollable tears staining her cheeks damp as Jack ever-so-slightly rocked back and forth as the doll clutched to him tightly like a faltering lifeline, shuddering.

The couple stayed in each other's arms minutes longer. The moon's pale gleam pouring through the window, illuminating both of the figures in a ghostly blue aura, visible amid the darkness as Sally slowly regained composure, breathing deeply against Jack's rib cage. That certain pumpkin scent of his lingering.

"Oh," her voice trembled as Sally pulled out of his strong embrace slightly. "Jack, your shirt," she spoke in a moderate whisper, forcibly giggling softly. Using her wrists, she rubbed underneath her expressive eyes (faintly appearing red around the edges now), ridding of any tears that failed to fall completely.

He knitted his brows together in disarray. Jack peered down at his pyjama shirt. A patch of moisture dyed the middle of his night clothes where Sally had curled into him, wet from her weeps. Jack just looked up and admired her large eyes, still reasonably glassy, anew. Forgetting his sleepwear, they'd dry soon enough. His mind was put at ease finally from the lovely sound of her amusement.

Realising he was staring at her, Sally coyly played with a strand of her crimson locks. "Thank you, Jack," she said timidly. "If you didn't wake me, I'm not sure how long that nightmare would have lasted." A muddled look came across the ragdoll's features. "What w-were you doing in h—here?" Sally stuttered, a newfound feeling of insecurity washing over her.

"O-Oh, well—um," he struggled to find the right words, scratching the back of his thin skeletal neck in a nervous manner. "You see, your friend here," he nodded towards the slim cat among the blankets, "he woke me and lead me to your room. He knew you needed help, I suppose."

Sally's heart warmed, both at Jack's use of calling it her room, and the animal's worry for her. As if knowing his cue, the black kitty pattered over and onto Sally's lap. She happily stroked his fur—making him purr softly, satisfied. "Thank you," she voiced quietly.

Jack couldn't exactly tell whether she was speaking to him or the feline. Either way, Jack thought it was adorable how she cared for animals so. He instantly snapped out of his daze when she glanced up. Some light, sleepy bags under her eyes. Feeling the need to break the awkward silence, Jack opened his mouth to talk—

Sally beat him to it though. "I'm not sure I'll be able to get to sleep again tonight," she uttered rather gloomily. "Jack," she started timorously, "would you mind staying up with me?"

Jack's features softened at her request.

"Unless, of course, you're tired," she shyly backtracked on her request. "It is the middle of the night, after all, and you have work early tomorrow morning you need to attend as the King. I wouldn't want to inconvenience you," she trailed off, chewing her bottom lip in a nervous manner.

The King placed an assuring bony hand on her shoulder as he delicately tilted her chin up to face him and once again appreciate her dazzling eyes. "It would be my pleasure, Sally."