The Nightmare Before Christmas Fan Fiction ❯ Roots ❯ Forgiveness ( Chapter 1 )

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

"Where are they, Oogie?" Jack demanded hotly.

"I don't know what you're talking about," the bogeyman reiterated for the seventh time.

"Why should I believe you?"

"You shouldn't, apparently. Why would you listen to me?" the burlap creature asked bitterly.

"When have you given me reason to listen to you?!" Jack roared.

There was a rumble and Lock, Shock, and Barrel backed up from them, paling even more than they were, as something rushed over them. Jack gasped as tingles raced up and down his body. Weakness engulfed him as the wave disappeared. The children gasped as the black sparkles slipped away to reveal an extremely dazed male human. There was another rumble and the ground opened up behind Jack, who began slipping backwards. Oogie gasped, lunging forward.

"Jack!"

The ground fell away completely just as Oogie snatched Jack's hand. They began falling together, tumbling head over heels. There was no light, despite the fact that it was midday in Halloween Town and sunshine should be pouring from the opening they'd fallen through. Oogie thought fast. Jack was human. He could bleed and hurt and maybe even die like a human. So he did the one thing he thought might save him. He put Jack on top of him. But not because he was saving him, Oogie reasoned. He just didn't want bloodstains in his burlap.

The impact startled Oogie and he was compressed hard. He gasped for air, hearing an echoing gasp from Jack. The bogeyman caught his breath easily, but Jack was wheezing. He'd had the wind knocked out of him. Oogie waited until Jack was breathing normally again before he spoke.

"You okay, Jack?"

"Ma-thà thamaidh," Jack muttered.

"…I forgot about that little problem."

"What problem?"

"You can only speak Gaelic in human form."

"Oh…yeah. I forgot about that."

"So are you okay? Be serious."

"What do you care?"

"I…I don't. But we've got to figure a way out of here, wherever it is, and get back to Halloween Town." There was a pause. "So are you okay?"

"I-I don't know. Let me just…"

Jack shakily rolled off of Oogie, and Oogie could hear him grunt as he stood.

"Caoch!"

"What happened?"

"I-I almost fell. I didn't mean to curse."

Oogie Boogie laughed heartily. "I don't care about a few curses. You're fine. Now, you're standing?"

"Yes."

"Good. Now help me up."

Jack followed his voice until he found the upraised point. He heaved his frie...Oogie to his feet

"There. That's better. Now, feel around. See if this place is enclosed."

Jack took small steps until his outstretched hands hit a wall. He could sense Oogie beside him.

"You go right, I go left?"

"Sounds like a plan."

They slid along the wall all the way around the chamber, finding the entrance to some kind of tunnel at the same moment.

"Good. Let's go," Oogie said, hesitantly tapping Jack's back.

They walked slowly, taking small steps so as to not fall if they ran into anything. After taking a right turn then a left, they saw daylight and sped up appropriately. Neither one of them was particularly afraid of the dark, but they both enjoyed seeing where they were going. Bursting into the warm sun was a pleasure that neither one of them had ever really fully considered before that moment.

"Ahh, the sun feels nice," Jack nearly purred. "Now, where are we?"

Looking around, they found themselves in a grassy meadow. A cool stream teeming with fish of all sizes ran down to a lake sparkling in the sunshine, while a forest wrapped around a large, clear area. Deer were feeding about half a mile away down in a valley, but Jack's sharp eyes knew what they were immediately. He could also see signs of rabbits and snakes. His stomach snarled at him, demanding food.

"Hungry?" Oogie asked.

"Oh yes. The change always leaves me famished. I believe fish sounds delicious. A nice big trout roasted on a spit over a fire...Mm. I'm going fishing."

Oogie sat down on a rock and watched Jack sharpen a stick with a pointed rock before he waded into the stream and stilled. He was in his element. Oogie couldn't hide his smile, though Jack was so busy fishing that he didn't see it. Jack truly was wild at heart. Raised in the rolling hills of Scotland, he could hunt and fish to perfection, which was proved as he speared a large fish with ease then carried it over to a rock beside the bogeyman to begin cleaning it. He was done with that in seven minutes then walked to the forest to gather dry kindling. Soon a fire was roaring with the fish cooking above it. Jack came back with herbs, sprinkling them over the dead creature.

"What's that?"

"Rosemary. Also some salt. I found a deposit."

"You always said that salt makes meat taste better."

Jack smiled. "It does. You can have some if you want."

"I…No thanks, Jack. You actually need food. I can survive without it. Thank you though."

Jack's smile faltered. "Really, Oogie. I can catch another one for you. It's no trouble."

"If-if you insist."

Soon there was another fish roasting over the fire. Jack pulled them off when they were done, offering one to Oogie.

"Cheers."

"Cheers."

Oogie slid the fish off the stick and ate it in one bite.

"Mm, it tastes good."

Jack grunted as he tore into the meat eagerly. Oogie fought back another smile. Besides himself, the doctor was the only one currently in Halloween Town who had seen Jack as a human…Well, Lock Shock, and Barrel had before they fell, but they didn't know Jack as a human. He was quite different than his usual polite Pumpkin King self. Oogie looked over his frie…Jack.

He had shoulder length black hair, eyes so slime green that they were creepy, and a dusting of freckles across his pale skin. His clothing had also changed in that wave. He wore a pair of dark trousers with a green plaid kilt around his hips, plus a long-sleeved white shirt with buttons down the front. No shoes adorned his feet. Oogie looked up from the bare feet to see Jack watching him.

"Why are you staring at me?" There was sharp discomfort in that voice.

"Just reminding myself what you look like as a human. I didn't mean anything by it."

Jack relaxed and discarded his stick. "I should apologize to you, Oogie."

"You should?"

"Yeah. I don't like yelling at you, but sometimes I feel as if I have no choice. You and those kids disobey me all the time."

Oogie hummed then looked up almost shyly. "I don't feel as if I have to listen to you. I mean, I was made only a month after you came to Halloween Town. I feel like I should lead, too."

Jack was surprised. "Really? That's why you misbehave?"

"A little bit of the reason, I guess," Oogie admitted.

"Oh, Oogie, if you want some responsibility, all you had to do was ask. I would gladly give it to you. You're one of my best friends. Or…you were. But," Jack added quickly when Oogie flinched. "I'm willing to give you another chance. Please, Crawly, be my friend again."

The burlap man considered the offer in silence, angling back away from the fire as something popped and sent embers out. Jack stared at him, his hope fading around the edges as the silence stretched on. The bogeyman finally shifted.

"Alright, Jack. I'll try to behave and be your friend again."

"I never stopped caring about you, you know," Jack said happily.

"I…I guess I never did either. But don't you go telling anybody that! Especially those kids. It would ruin my reputation."

Jack laughed. "Wouldn't want to do that, now would we?"

He sighed then noticed how Oogie was scooting away from the fire. There were two things Oogie was afraid of: fire and water. Nothing else could faze the bogeyman, but those two things scared him to death, literally if he got too close to them. Sure, he could be sewn back together, but that wasn't the point. Jack smiled.

"How about we take a nice long walk?"

"Walk? That sounds perfect," Oogie said, standing up and giving the fire a wide berth as he slipped around it.

"Good," Jack said as he stood. "Let's go…this way."

They began to walk after Jack made sure the fire wasn't going anywhere. It was a beautiful day, very peaceful and still, save a light breeze that blew in from the north, bringing gentle relief from the heat of the sun. Oogie observed his friend as he walked. He looked so at home here.

"Does it remind you of Scotland?"

Jack looked at him in surprise. "Um, yes. Long stretches of green, sparkling waters, plenty of animals. It's nice. I'll have to make a bow and some arrows so I can hunt deer. Maybe I can beat my old record for skinning and gutting. Then I can make some nice leather for you in case it rains."

There was a swift movement to the left, and Jack, reacting on instinct and experience, turned to tackle the thing that had surprised him. To his surprise, it was…

"Squanto?"

"Jack? Is that you?"

Jack nodded. "Yes. What are you doing here?"

Squanto blinked at him. "What?"

"I said, what are you…damn. He can't understand me. Figures," Jack grumbled, standing up and helping the Indian to his feet.

"Very few people speak that language anymore, Jack, and it's not the same kind that you speak. Yours is older," Oogie said.

"You understand him?" Squanto asked suspiciously.

"Yep. Gaelic was the first language I learned," Oogie said, who was just as suspicious. "I think I speak it better than English sometimes."

"I see. Let us go to the others. We were wondering when he would get here."

Jack was irritated. "Oogie, please tell him that I can understand him and there's no reason to talk like I'm not here."

Oogie repeated the message as they began walking.

"Oh. Well, if he understands English, why can he not speak it?"

"We're not sure. Our best theory is that he never spoke it when he was alive like the rest of you did, so he's stuck on Gaelic mode."

"I see."

"Squanto! Who've you got there?" asked Eros as he stood.

"It's Jack," Squanto said. "And that…well, you see him."

Oogie snorted at the attempt not to insult him to his face. These freaks had no guts.

Jack studied the two. Something had been off about Squanto, and the same thing was wrong with Eros. They both looked…different.

"Jack, my boy!" Sandy exclaimed, and Jack turned to greet him and froze. Instead of being short and fat, he was tall and thin. His beard was short and he had hair on the top of his head, dark brown hair to be precise.

"Sandy? You look…different," Jack said, following his train of thought from earlier.

Sandy, Eros, and the rest of them besides Squanto froze at the tongue.

"What's wrong with him?" Sandy asked, looking at Squanto.

"The burlap man says he can't speak English. Only…What language was it?"

"Gaelic."

"Me own home has Gaelic," Patrick said with a nod. "But tain't the same as what he's speakin'. Tha's a Scottish brogue if I eva heard one. I never thought ta larn tha' tongue."

"Never thought is an accurate statement."

Oogie laughed at the unexpected insult. They stared at him.

"What did he say?" Bunny asked; he was small and adorable instead of human sized.

"Oh…something," Oogie said with a grin.

"If I ask you not to translate, will you do it to spite me?" Jack asked with a snicker.

"Tempting thought, Creepy, but I'm not inclined to let them know what you're saying at the moment. Let the flounder and guess. It's more amusing that way."

"You know what you are?"

"A dickheed?"

"Yes."

Oogie laughed again. "I'd say I prefer you as a human, Jack. You've got bite."

"And you're all bark."

"Would you please tell us what he's saying?" Sandy asked, crossing his arms.

"No," Oogie said plainly.

"Well, there are deer about half a mile that way," Squanto said. "Get your hunting gear. Jack, you stay here."

"Why not just eat rabbit?" Oogie asked, grinning at Bunny.

"Oh! I never!" he spat, turning his fluffy tail up and hopping away at the heels of the others.

"Looks like they're after food."

"Yeah. They look skinny. They must have been here for a while."

"This answers the question of where they were. I guess it really wasn't you."

Oogie frowned. "I told you it wasn't, Jack." He sounded hurt.

Jack smiled. "I know. Now, help me make a bow and some arrows. I doubt that they could catch much of anything in a group that large with most of them being untrained in the art of hunting."


Chapter 2
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