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The Stranger


© FlameEmber

When Sally finally manages to escape the confines of the lab, she wanders the town aimlessly, at least until she meets a man that she can only call the Stranger. Jack/Sally.

Chapter: 1 2


The fall to the ground, three stories in the making, jarred Sally, to say the least. Her limbs were scattered across the damp and dingy cobblestones; her stuffing, nothing more than the crisp autumn leaves which clung feebly to many of the trees across town, was strewn across the alley as well as if a breeze had just blown by.

As dazed as she was, and as incomplete as she now was, Sally was ecstatic.

She was free, at least temporarily, and it only took jumping from her window to accomplish it.

Oh yes, she knew there was a danger, a danger that did not even take into consideration the possible effects of the fall; after all, she had no clue how her creator - Doctor Finklestein - would react to her sudden absence. Still, having never escaped before, the recently-created, dewy young ragdoll was too enthralled to concern herself with matters of that nature. There was an entire world - or town, at the very least! - to explore!

Hauling her torso upward - for, at the very least, both her arms were still intact - Sally immediately set about the irritating task of restuffing her legs and meticulously stitching them back on. It didn't hurt in any way, and it was a small price to pay for (however short-lived) freedom, she thought.

On both slightly unsteady feet now, she beamed widely. Where was she to go? There were so many places; and yet, so little time to explore them in!

Unsteadily, she wandered wherever her feet would carry her, which happened to be the graveyard. The landscape was quiet, and the moon brightly illuminated every surface of each gravestone and blade of (dead) grass, and yet Sally could not shake the feeling that she was not alone as she wandered aimlessly through, taking in everything her senses would allow her.

But who else would be active at this time of night? Vampires, perhaps? A slight chill ran down the ragdoll's spine at this thought, although she was fairly sure that vampires would have no interest in feeding off her leaves, in any case.

Before she could ponder too much on the not-so-very-alone feeling she felt, however, a small object (for there was really no better word for it) landed directly at her feet. Sally crouched to scoop it up, marveling at the feel while her mind whirled to figure out what, exactly, it could be. It was small and slight, with a smooth (albeit slightly worn) texture; it appeared to be a bone of some sort.

"Arf!"

Accompanied by the echoing bark-like sound was a small, diaphanous form which swiftly floated over to Sally, causing her to jump slightly in surprise. Followed quickly a dark, looming shadow, which hastily revealed itself to be a man of no small stature.

The first thing she noticed was how tall this man was. So tall - he towered over her frame as if he were aiming to reach the sky in some way. He was spindly, too; with arms that reached down almost to his knees, and legs that were equally as long, he held himself with a strange sort of spider-like elegance. Oddly, Sally thought, the Stranger - as, for the moment, she had no other name to refer to him by - did not appear as if he would fall to pieces any second, despite his seemingly-delicate, lithe appearance. Ironically enough, she was the one who was more liable to break apart.

Then she looked up, only to be greeted with a rather curious, wide-eyed skeletal face. Instead of screaming in fear - as any non-Halloween Town resident would have, and quite a few from Halloween Town as well - Sally only let out a tiny "Oh!" of surprise before scrambling back, foot catching on a particularly prominent rock; she teetered in place for a moment, trying to regain her balance before ultimately failing and tumbling backwards into a briar patch.

The ragdoll simply lay there for a second, dazed, limbs askew and hair tangled; however, before the thought of righting herself could even begin to enter her cloth head, a round skull popped into her field of vision from above the bush. A soft, ethereal bark sounded from the ghostly dog even as the Stranger extended a long, slender, bony arm towards her.

"Are you quite alright?"

Sally was momentarily surprised by the fact the Stranger could speak - surely he was nothing more than bones? - before she waved it off; after all, she too had the power of locution, and she was naught more than a cloth bag of leaves animated and arranged into a female shape!

She gulped and nodded in response, small cloth fingers reaching out almost of their own volition to grasp onto the skeletal fingers that had been so kindly proffered by the Stranger, who helped hoist the ragdoll onto her feet. He was stronger than she would have thought, what with him having no muscles and all. A strange feeling began to rouse itself, deep within her chest; nobody had ever asked about her well-being before. She hoped there was nothing wrong with her stuffing after spending so long strewn about the damp alleyway.

Feeling her feet hit solid ground once more, Sally sighed softly, allowing herself to take in the Stranger's entire appearance. She could now see the suit which clung to his willowy frame was pinstriped; the white lines wavered slightly and were a little off-kilter, but she found that only added to his charm and debonair. Yes, that was the word which most described him, charming - she found herself smiling slightly as he only peered innocently at her. She found the bowtie clinging to his neck - resembling a bat, with wispy, three-pronged wings extending almost to his bony shoulders - rather odd, but becoming. Sally couldn't help but wonder who he was, and why he was roaming the town as late as he was.

The Stranger spoke again then, causing her inquisitive eyes to snap forward to meet his, well, eye sockets.

"I do apologize if I startled you before; I assure you it was entirely accidental. I seem to have somewhat of a knack for scaring, really. Say, I don't believe I've seen you around before. Are you new to Halloween Town?"

Sally could only nod rather shyly, feeling the strange sensation blossom within her cloth chest once more. What on earth could it be? Before she could open her mouth, though, he paused, with an exclamatory air about his skeletal figure.

"Oh, do forgive me for not having introduced myself before! My name is Jack. Jack Skellington!"

Jack. She no longer had to call him the Stranger, for he had a name. And what a name it was; she felt as if it perfectly matched his charming, elegant, almost regal nature. Jack Skellington.

"O-Oh! No, please don't worry about it... My name is Sally. Just Sally." The ragdoll felt slightly awkward at having no last name to follow her painfully simple first; she supposed Finklestein would be adequate, but she didn't feel quite comfortable with that. She didn't think of the Doctor as her father, and there was no doubt in her mind that he thought of her as anything but a daughter.

"Splendid! How dreadful it is to meet you, Sally!" He'd grabbed her soft cloth hand in his skeletal phalanges and was shaking it, bewitching grin firmly in place upon his bony features. Sally could only blink softly.

The dog beside Jack whined, as if begging for attention. Sure enough, the skeleton man turned promptly to the diaphanous figure.

"Come along, Zero, say hello to our new friend Sally!"

He seemed to have an endless supply of cheer and enthusiasm; despite her increasing worry over the strange feeling in her chest - especially at being called Jack's friend! - Sally couldn't help but smile, kneeling down to pat the ghostly dog on the head. Suddenly, though, she remembered the reason the two had even approached her in the first place, the reason which was now nowhere to be found.

"What seems to be the trouble, Sally?"

She'd ducked down to peer beneath bushes and, once she'd explained to the Stranger - no, she reprimanded herself, Jack! - that she was simply searching for Zero's plaything, it didn't take long for her to spot it in the briar patch she'd tumbled into earlier. Swiftly swiping it up with a hand, she brought it closer to her face for inspection. Sure enough, that was it; a slender bone of indeterminate origin, which showed definite signs of having been tossed about carelessly. She'd been about to hand it back to the spectral canine but, thinking better of it, transferred it back to his master. Surely a skeleton knew more about bones than a dog, however apparitional.

"Oh! Thank you very much; I was wondering where this had gotten to."

Smiling slightly at his gratitude, Sally was surprised to see Jack nonchalantly open his jacket to snap the bone - which she now surmised was one of his ribs - back into place with an audible click. Suddenly, for a reason she couldn't quite place, her hands tingled where she'd touched the smooth bone.

Catching herself staring momentarily, she blinked plaintively, wondering what the gentle rosy glow surrounding everything - and more specifically, surrounding Jack - was. Then she realized, with a stab of panic, that the pumpkin sun was beginning to rise in the sky. The Doctor - he was sure to arise soon, if he wasn't already awake!

"A-Ah, I'm sorry, Jack, but I-!"

With a slight bow towards him, and deeply hoping in her fictitious heart that she would see him again sometime (although it did not seem likely, at this rate) she fled in the direction of the lab, not even giving a thought to how she would find a way back inside.

She did her hardest to ignore the confused look on her new friend's face, as well as the hand he'd outstretched her way. The sensation in her chest - so full, as if it were going to burst at the seams! - throbbed, for yet another reason she couldn't understand.

What was this feeling?

She'd have to ask the Doctor if it persisted, should she dare.

Chapter: 1 2

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