Cynthia sighed with relief as she returned to the main showroom – she really wasn’t comfortable speaking in front of the cameras. She kept imagining what her ex would be saying to her, how he would be passive-aggressively deriding her every effort or how he would ignore her words and actions. She tried to focus on what her children would say instead, the friends she had made that would support her rather than deride her.
It was difficult to do so, however, with the slimy cook that looked more like a businessman giving her such dismissive looks. She’d worked hard to overcome her learned reaction to such looks, but it was still a battle she fought every day. She refused to shy away and hide anymore, and she was here to prove it!
At least her neighboring chef was much more friendly. He was a monster, part of a race that had been freed from the underground only just recently, unjustly imprisoned because of human fear. When she’d been introduced, she had thought she understood that fear – he was tall, looming over her like the shadow of death. Yet that fear had been quickly wiped away by his genuine smile and his kind words. She’d ended up chatting with him between rounds, learning about his life and his brother – who seemed to be his purpose in life.
“Sans Is A Very Complex Being, And Needs Much Taking Care Of And A Purpose To Exist,” he admitted in what she had quickly learned was his quiet voice – still louder than the average voice, but markedly lower than before. He had noticed her flinching at excessive noise and immediately made the effort to be softer, especially once she embarrassedly admitted that it wasn’t him, just that she had traumatic experiences and a form of PTSD.
Papyrus didn’t mock her or dismiss her out of hand as other’s had– she hadn’t been in combat, she couldn’t have PTSD! Never mind that every day was the start of a new battle, and her home the battlefield. No, the friendly giant had instead clasped her hands in his, solemnly meeting her eyes. “I Understand, Strong Human,” he admitted. “I Can See That You Are Trying Very Hard, And I Wish For You To Know That I Admire You!” He beamed at her, and she felt some of her fears evaporate. “Persevering Through Strenuous Difficulties Is Very Hard, After All! Nyeh-heh-heh!”
“Persevering through – did you just use the letters PTSD in your reassurance?” She asked with a smile, starting to laugh quietly with the skeleton.
“Why, Human, I Certainly Have No Idea What You’re Talking About! That Sounds Like Paranoia That’s Suitably Dire!” She laughed as she realized that he’d done it again. “Please, Try Some Decorum!” he said, as if he wasn’t laughing every other word as well.
“Perhaps that’s something, dear,” Cynthia said, patting the skeleton on the arm, setting off a fresh round of giggles. The bones weren’t jagged or as hard as she had been expecting – they felt firm and velvety, and energy hummed beneath his skin – lack of skin?
They had shared quiet – and only somewhat quiet, for her new acquaintances part – laughs until they had returned to the kitchen. She stood there now, waiting for Alton brown to reappear.
Chef Cynthia’s demise
Just when Cynthia thought that they would actually make it, disaster struck. Papyrus faux tail, which they’d tucked up using the ropes, had slipped free without them noticing, and she had tripped on it as they switched back to her station. Papyrus caught her as she fell, but it was too late – her instinctive panicked motions knocked her bowls flying, and Papyrus failed to catch both her and them before they spilled out all over the floor.
Howls of laughter peeled out of the bastard on the other side of the room, as Cynthia stared at the mess in dismay. They only had 5 minutes left, and her dish had been almost complete and ready for plating. What – what was she supposed to do now?
She sank to her knees, dragging Papyrus down with her. What could she do with this? She tried to swipe the ingredients back into the bowls, but there was no point – she couldn’t serve food that had fallen onto the floor. Her bowl was filling with an odd, salty liquid, and she realized that she was crying. Red gloved hands swooped into her field of view, carefully pulling her away from the broken plates. She looked up, into eyes as black as the midnight sky, and tried to stop crying for her friend as he held her close.
“L-let’s get back to your station,” she tried to say, hiccupping in the middle of her sentence. “Y-your stuff is still go-hic-good.” She scrubbed at her eyes, determinedly rising up.” Papyrus looked at her with awe, and a determined expression crossed his face.
“YOU HAVE A KIND SOUL, HUMAN PARTNER, BUT I BELIEVE WE CAN STILL SALVAGE YOUR DISH! WITH YOUR HEART, AND MY GREATNESS, WE CAN STILL PULL OFF A WIN!” She tried to smile at him, and he tried to smile back. They got to work with the leftovers, hurridly spending the next four minutes trying to create something out of the remaining scraps. The last minute was spent at Papyrus station, plating his food. It looked beautiful, if somewhat sparkly. Even Hank’s dish, despite his monsterphobia, looked pretty good. Hers… Hers was actually borrowing small portions of Papyrus, combined with her original attempt, but…