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Sanctuary


© flightofpassage

Short Jack/Sally fluff, inspired, in fact, by a religious song I heard at camp called "Sanctuary." I thought it fit them so well!
Sally opened the door to the house that nearly floated in midair, and Jack stumbled in - he loved his work, really, but sometimes he worked too hard. Wordlessly, an ill Sally collapsed into his arms, shutting her eyes and breathing a huge sigh of relief. Then, face to his chest, she inhaled deeply. Jack may have been made mostly of bone, but he was the strongest fortress Sally knew for...for anything. Not only was he literally very steady, but Jack radiated a sense of soul that no other fortress, wall, fence or stone could ever exude. He smelled...well, he smelled like himself, of Halloween candy and a strong earthiness and some delicate...flowery?...scent. It was a wonderful smell, radiating the kind of life that even death cannot take away. Sally let him cradle her head. It couldn't be said that Jack felt warm and soft, but Sally could feel something more comforting, more powerful, more <i>warm</i> than warmth itself. It was as though together, Jack and Sally could make their own warmth. Warmth and softness. Who in Halloween needed fire or a quilt or sheets or a pillow when she had Jack Skellington? He fought away every fear Sally had ever known - he'd done it already, in fact, in Oogie's lair, surrounded by lava and fire and swinging blades and a sneering bogeyman. And afterwards, he had finally recognized Sally for her efforts, and he hadn't been ignoring her - he simply had not seen all the things she'd tried to do for him. He looked past her appearance, her odd lopsided gait, her shyness, and her needyness. Somehow, he'd taken her in and made her feel worth something more than creeping around the graveyard...

As Sally hugged him, Jack wrapped his arms around her and breathed, in his skeleton way, a soft breath of joy. Never had he been so purely needed before. Oh, everybody in town loved Jack as a performer or friend or crush, even. But Sally was just so different, deeper than idolization. Much deeper. Sally wouldn't care what his profession was; he could leave town forever to go live in a cabin in the woods and celebrate Easter tonight if he wanted, and Sally would come without a backward glance. In Jack's arms, Sally felt small, but in the way of a small thing holding a much larger thing which should not have been jammed into the small thing in the first place. Sally had a power even she did not recognize, of loyalty, and she had already proven that she would just as soon die as let her friends remain in harm's way. Jack felt as strong as Sally thought he was now - strong enough to protect Sally and Zero and his family - but if he ever lost Sally, he'd be so brittle he could break. Sally's warmth reached Jack through magic, as he had no other way to be warm. He knew he was her fortress, but in that case, she was the foundation, running as far into the ground as the fortress rose into the sky. Even now, if Sally were to suddenly let go Jack would overbalance and fall to the ground. Instead she stayed reliably put. Sally smelled of spices and <i>time</i>. Musty but exotic, full of ghosts from the past, the way a room might smell - and feel - if it were used for all kinds of living and then suddenly closed for decades. She was dark, secret, and sober, but at the same time very innocent, especially considering the world in which she had always lived. Jack wondered why Sally tended to think so poorly of herself. Of course she was naturally shy. But she was wonderful at noticing things, often the good in others, even if she admitted there wasn't much goodness in some people. Did she see nothing about herself? So accustomed to being a servant, perhaps, that she never even thought there was any?

Whatever the case with Sally, she seemed very happy at the moment. Jack eased out of the embrace and lowered his face to hers. "I'm not leaving the house tomorrow," he said firmly.

"But the entire town and Halloween are depending on you."

"You're not feeling well enough to be alone."

"It does happen to everyone, Jack. It makes everyone feel sick at some point..."
"Not this badly. Finklestein" (Jack must have lost some respect for the doctor after finding out how he treated Sally) "said it will end soon, but until then, I won't be happy away from you. And," added Jack, "you are not 'everyone'."

"But I can --"

"Sally. You're being stronger than need be!" Once again Jack hugged her closely.
"I do love Zero," she said. "Really I do. But he isn't you, Jack. I'm lonely all day."

"And Halloween is not you, Sally. I will help prepare for it in due time, but right now, I will do what I can from home and you are the center of my life."

As they stood in that house for too short an eternity, Jack and Sally sang.

<b>"I'll be a living sanctuary...for you."</b>
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