The Nightmare Before Christmas Fan Fiction ❯ Rekindling Warmth ❯ Forgiveness? ( Chapter 4 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

They descended into the Treehouse and got to the main room. Bugs were everywhere, and they automatically went for Jack, crawling up and around him. Jack could feel them nibbling at his bones. He shooed the small creatures away and settled down beside the ruined outline of his friend. Lock, Shock, Barrel, and Sally settled beside him, but they were confused.

"You need more burlap," Shock said.

"Yes, and thread," Sally added.

Jack said nothing, catching his hands on fire and burning away the still sopping wet burlap. Instead of disappearing into ash, a neat stack of burlap appeared with plenty of thread to sew the Bogeyman back together.

Jack spread the material out and easily cut out the right pattern; he didn't need to measure. With that, he placed the edges of the two pieces of cloth together and began to sew. Sally tried to take the needle and thread and do it herself, but Jack quietly said that he wanted to do it. Soon the burlap was together except for a bit at the top.

"What now?" Sally asked.

"Now we gotta chase down the bugs," Shock said. "We gotta put at least thirty inside before the rest will go in there."

"Nonsense. Cover your ears," Jack replied with a smile.

When they had obliged, Jack let out an earsplitting shriek and the bugs shot toward him. He held out the sack and parted the opening. The bugs began flooding inside. When the last spider went inside, Jack sewed the rest of it up, and as soon as he cut the thread, the Bogeyman sat up with a sharp gasp. He panted hard, and looked absolutely terrified.

Jack grabbed him and looked at Sally. "Why don't you and the kids go make some lunch?"

"Of course, Jack," Sally said. "Come along, kids."

They left and Oogie sat there for a minute before he sobbed, still gasping for breath.

"I-I c-couldn't—!" he moaned.

"I know, Oogie. I know. Just take deep breaths. In and out. In and out."

Oogie panted until he felt he could breathe again then began to cry. Tears oozed down his cheeks and absorbed into the cloth. Jack silently held him, sad that his friend was so scared. He stroked him lightly, comfortingly. Oogie shook and cried until his emotions were spent. He stood and looked down.

"S-sorry, Jack," he muttered.

Jack reached his hands up and lightly pressed against the damp cloth under Oogie's eyes. He heated up his hands and burned away the water, so that the kids or Sally wouldn't see it, though there was no doubt that they knew what was going on.

"It's just fine, Oogie. I don't mind at all. I know that being wet is scary for you."

Oogie nodded. "Thank you, Jack. I appreciate it."

Sally cleared her throat from the doorway. "I made some bats' wings, if you two want to eat."

Jack smiled at Oogie, who nodded, and they followed her into the dining room. Lock, Shock, and Barrel had set the table. They didn't talk as they ate. None of them knew what to say. The kids cleared the table then they all just sat there. There was suddenly a crash and they all jumped. There was an Irish curse and a Patuxet curse followed swiftly. There was a groan and the six Halloween Town residents dashed into the main room to see the six Holiday leaders lying on the floor. Oogie stared then stomped over to play with his favorite pair of dice.

Jack glared at them, crossing his arms.

"What are you dong here?" he asked coldly.

"I came to apologize," Sandy groaned, standing up.

"I don't accept your apology," Jack said immediately. "You don't understand just what you did to Oogie."

"Come now, Jack!" Sandy said, pulling Cupid to his feet.

"'Come now, Jack," the bone man mocked.

The Holiday leaders paused. "Jack, what's wrong?"

"'Oh, what's wrong, Jack? What's wrong? I mean other than the fact that I tried to kill your best friend,'" Jack taunted.

"Jack, why are you acting like a child?" Bunny asked.

"Oh, you think I'm acting like a child now? Wonderful. I suppose I'm on the naughty list for fraternizing with Oogie, eh, Sandy?"

They stared at him. He wasn't acting anything like himself. Oogie snorted at their expressions, tossing his dice up in the air and catching them easily.

"I'm glad you care so much, Jack," he said, ignoring the Holiday leaders.

"What are you talking about?" Sam asked. There was silence, so the Independence Day man ground out a, "Please?"

Oogie stared for a minute then shook his head. He was about to turn around when Sally spoke.

"Oogie, why is he acting like that?"

The Bogeyman looked at her and relaxed. "He's just really mad. Depending on his level of anger, he reacts differently. Right now, he's about as angry as he can get. He gets childish and rude, which, as you know, is completely against his normal personality. It just means he cares for me. He'll probably go one level up for you."

"What does he do then?"

"It involves fire, blood, and finding out what your insides look like," Oogie said with a grin. "I've only seen it twice. The two citizens were put back together by the doctor and were terrified of Jack for the rest of their time here. I think they were relieved to go."

"Alright, Jack," Cupid said, walking over. "I've got a bone to pick with you."

Jack glared at him. "Well you best watch yourself. There's a few bones that only Sally can pick, and you could never be as good as her, anyway."

Oogie burst into a fit of laughter. The kids followed once what was said registered in their mind. Sally looked mortified and covered her face with her hands. The Holiday leaders gaped at him.

"That's enough of that, Jack!" Sandy suddenly spat. "You're embarrassing Sally!"

Jack's arms uncrossed and he glanced back at his mate. His anger dissipated and he hurried over, holding her close.

"I'm sorry, Sally," he said softly. "Forgive me."

Sally leaned into his touch. "I…I can't…I feel…" She went silent and began to shake.

Jack hushed her while Oogie finally stopped laughing. He approached his friend.

"Holy hell, Jack! You never say things like that!"

The Holiday leaders expected Jack to hit Oogie for being so callous. Jack looked at him evenly.

"There's a reason for that," he said, gesturing at Sally with his head.

Oogie was still snickering and he placed a point on Sally's shoulder.

"Easy, Sally. It's alright," he said soothingly. "I told you he gets rude. He didn't mean anything by it. Okay?"

Sally peeked at him then slowly looked up at Jack. Jack lightly kissed her.

"Forgive me?" he asked again.

She stared then slowly nodded. "Please don't say anything like that again."

"I can't promise I won't, but I promise I'll try. When I'm angry, I don't think like I usually do. Just remind me when I'm getting out of hand."

She nodded again and pressed close.

"Jack? May I ask you something?" Sandy asked lightly.

Jack looked up and glared. "What?"

"You said I almost killed him. How could I?"

"And I also said that you didn't understand what you did to him…I suppose I can't be too mad at you, because none of you really understand."

"Care ta explain?" Patrick asked.

"Fine. What is Oogie made of?"

"Bugs?" Squanto said.

"And?"

They looked him over. Cupid finally figured it out. "Cloth?"

"Yes. He's made of burlap and bugs. See the problem yet?"

They studied Oogie again and finally shook their heads.

"No, Jack."

"Have you ever tried to breathe through wet cloth?"

"You…can't…It's impossible to get enough air," Sandy said slowly as realization dawned on them.

"But Oogie doesn't need to breathe!" Sam exclaimed.

"Technically neither do I, and neither does Sally, but we'll both tell you that when we're prevented from inhalation, it's a very scary experience. Breathing is such an integral part of out being, even if we don't need the air, that we all still panic if we can't get it. But Oogie isn't the one who really needs to breathe. It's the bugs. They'll die without the proper air, which is why it's a good thing he's made of cloth. You almost killed every bug in him. Sally had to slice him open so that they could breathe again. I sewed him back together from scratch."

"Wouldn't they eventually come back?" Squanto asked.

"Yes, but that's an unnecessary month to be away from my friend."

Sandy looked Oogie over then sighed. "I know you won't, but please forgive me. I didn't realize you can't breathe when you're wet. I didn't mean to cause you any discomfort, or scare you in any way."

Oogie watched him, narrowing his eyes. He surprised everybody, except for Jack, by nodding. "Fine. I forgive you. Don't do it on purpose again, though, or I really will eat you."

Sandy laughed nervously. "Alright then." He paused. "Fine," he sighed. "Just…fine. You forgave me for almost killing you. I'll forgive you. But you can't do it again. Ever."

Oogie shrugged. "Don't feel like killing anyone anymore, to be honest."

"I s'pose if Santa can fergive ya, we can, too," Patrick said with a nod. The others agreed.

Oogie smiled a genuine, honest smile. "Thank you. I appreciate it. But I have a question." They nodded. "Why did you call Sandy, Santa?"

"That's his real name Oogie," Jack laughed. "Santa Claus, not Sandy Claws. I got his name wrong. Everybody in Halloween Town still calls him Sandy Claws, though, and he doesn't mind."

Oogie nodded. "Well, it's been awhile, anybody want to try my stew? I can make some for dinner."

"Sounds wonderful, Oogie. Lock, Shock, Barrel, get the bones. I want to teach them how to play Blackjack."

An hour and a half later, they were seated around the main room eating. They Holiday leaders were really enjoying themselves.

"What is in this?" Squanto asked happily.

"Oh, this and that," Oogie replied vaguely, unwilling to reveal his recipe.

"What does this and that pertain to?" Cupid asked.

Jack took another bite of his stew, debating on whether or not he should stop Oogie. He decided not to. It would be interesting.

Oogie finally relented. "Snakes. Spiders. A little green slime from the lake. A touch of witch hazel. Frog eggs. Some aged bat wings. And just a pinch of salt and pepper."

Jack tried desperately not to laugh as the Holiday leaders promptly froze. They stared at him with wide eyes.

"Y-you're not serious, right?" Sandy asked shakily.

"Of course I'm serious!" Oogie exclaimed. "And don't expect me to tell you how much of everything to put in there! The only one who's ever known what I've put in the stew is Jack, so don't go broadcasting it around!"

Jack lost his battle to laughter as they all turned green. He laughed and laughed, draping himself over the back of the chair. He calmed down in time to see Sandy staring thoughtfully at the bowl. He took another bite, chewing thoughtfully. He swallowed then shrugged.

"Eh, it still tastes good. And we honestly should have known better. Jack didn't make it, and Oogie wouldn't be expected to know of our differences in taste."

The others stared at him then looked at the bowls. One by one they started eating again, and eventually gave the same reaction Sandy had. Oogie and the three kids had watched in confusion. Oogie suddenly snickered.

"Oh. I get it. They still eat human food."

"Indeed," Jack said with a chuckle. "And human food is good, too, but there's nothing like your snake and spider stew, though a good Thanksgiving dinner comes really close."

"Many thanks, Jack," Squanto said proudly.

They happily talked into the evening, then the Holiday leaders bid them goodbye and the kids were sent up to bed. Jack sipped a glass of bloodied wine as Oogie showed Sally how to play Egyptian Ratscrew. It was fun. Two hours in, Sally yawned.

"So sorry, but I'm ready for bed."

Oogie nodded. "I'd say it's time."

They stood and Sally nearly fell over. Jack was there in an instant.

"Sorry. Sally gets extremely unbalanced when she's tired. We should have left an hour ago. I'll have to carry her home."

"Or…you know, you could sleep here."

"Oogie, I don't know if Sally would be comfortable. You only have the one bed down here."

"You have no problem sleeping on top of me," Oogie argued.

"Yes, but she's not me."

Sally yawned. "I'm so tired that I'm willing to try it," she muttered.

Jack looked hesitant, knowing there would probably be a fit in the morning, but when she leaned a little too far to the right for him to be comfortable, he sighed.

"Fine. Oogie, don't you dare."

"I wouldn't dream of trying anything Jack. Like I said before, she's yours. I respect you enough that I wouldn't do anything."

Jack stared hard at him then nodded. "We don't have much of a choice, I guess. Let's go."

Jack took off his bat-tie and jacket, draping them over the headboard. Oogie climbed in and Jack helped Sally to lie down then climbed over them. They settled there. Sally was out five minutes later. Jack listened to the bugs.

"You know something, Jack? Ya picked a good one," Oogie said softly.

"Thanks, Oogie. I mean it."

"Goodnight, Creepy."

Jack smiled. "Goodnight, Crawly."


Chapter 3
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