Papyrus growls in annoyance as he storms to the edge of the Snowdin region. The humid slush is disgusting to walk through. “What the fuck do you want,” he says by way of greeting.
“Big news, toothpick,” Undyne smirks. “Message from the Emperor.”
He stamps down the urge to groan. He’s not in the mood to be summoned to the castle so late in the evening, but he’s not going to show that.
“Oh man the look on your face!” Undyne laughs, loud and unhinged. “Your scrawny ass best wipe that look off by tomorrow morning.”
That gives him pause. This must be what Muffet was talking about. Though, it’s been nearly a week by now. “He’s not calling for us now?” He feigns ignorance.
“I fucking know right!” Undyne shouts, completely buying his act. “He wants us there tomorrow at dawn though, so make sure you’re there. Or I’ll kick your ass!”
“Fucking try it,” he growls.
She sneers in return. Her jovial attitude is gone, replaced by cold seriousness. “I swear on the Stars, Papyrus,” she hisses angrily. “If you make me look bad, I’ll kill that runt you call−”
Undyne lets out a strangled grunt as bones pierce her arms. “Fucking. Try. It,” he threatens darkly. Several more bones sprout from the ground around her; one sharp point stops a mere hair’s width from her good eye.
She glares at him.
He returns her glare with his own empty-socket glower. “Well,” he snarls.
She growls loudly. “Fine,” she spits. “Just don’t make me look bad.”
Papyrus growls edging the bone closer to her eye. She tips her head back as best as she can despite being trapped. Her whimper is barely noticeable. “Say it!” He demands.
“I won’t touch that disgusting welp,” she says through grit teeth. The bones lodged in her left arm move, twisting it in an odd angle. She continues to glare at Papyrus despite the barely concealed fear in hey eye. After a few seconds she gives in. “Okay, okay!” She shouts with the barest hint of panic in her voice. “I won’t hurt your brother!”
Papyrus dispels his magic in an instant, but his sockets remain devoid of their eyelights. To think that today had been a relatively slow and peaceful day. He turns his back on her knowing she won’t try anything after that display.
“That sentimentality of yours is going to get you killed, Papyrus,” Undyne calls after him.
He doesn’t bother pausing to acknowledge her. He just wants to get home to spend the rest of the night with his brother.
Papyrus throws the door to Grillby’s open hard enough to make half the patrons jump. “Where. Is. He?” He demands.
A few of the monsters cower as he walks by. Others simply avert their eyes. Grillby is the only one to remain unfazed. “Upstairs,” he smirks motioning for Papyrus to follow him. “We decided to have some fun while we waited for you.” Papyrus growls at the elemental.
The second they make it upstairs, Grillby drops his smug indifferent attitude. “L-look, I don’t know what the fuck is going on with, Sans. He was being more of a shit than usual, but I swear I didn’t do nothing to his food or drink.”
Papyrus feels something cold grip his soul. “Where’s Sans.” He demands more urgently.
Grillby leads Papyrus through his home and into his room. “I− He won’t wake up,” he says anxiously. “I tried everything. Pushing him off his stool. Pouring water and freezing snow on him. Even poured some hot coffee on him. He just… He ain’t waking up.”
Papyrus can only stand there in numb shock as he stares at his brother’s sleeping form. His breathing is slow, almost nonexistent. From his position, it’s clear he hasn’t so much as twitched since Grillby dumped him on the bed.
Sans has Fallen Down.
Taking a deep breath, Papyrus squares his shoulders and turns to Grillby who can’t quite suppress a flinch. “You have done more than I have paid you for,” he says calmly. The words feel foreign in his mouth. He wonders if he’s even spoken at all.
He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a hundred gold. Though, he’s not paying much attention, too focused on his brother. He vaguely hopes he pulls out the desired hundred gold. “So, in return, I am giving you double what I normally pay you in addition to what I paid you this morning.”
Grillby takes the money looking more than a little confused. “I was just doing what you paid me to do.”
“No. I paid you to keep him from getting dusted in a barfight. This,” he says gesturing to his sleeping brother, “is going out of your way to keep him safe while he’s vulnerable. The one hundred gold is nowhere near enough repayment, so if you need anything, all you have to do is ask.”
Grillby stares at him dumbstruck, not believing what he’s hearing or seeing. Though, that’s not really Papyrus’ problem.
He approached his brother’s sleeping form and gently, uncharacteristically so, puts an arm under Sans knees and another under his back. Cradling his brother to his chest, he turns to Grillby one last time. “Thank you for watching my brother.”
The trip back home passes in a blur. Papyrus is standing in his room before he knows it with almost no idea how he got there. He shakes his head hoping to clear some of the fogginess. It doesn’t work
He sets Sans down on his bed. He removes his brother’s shoes, jacket, and turtle neck leaving him in his shorts and white undershirt. If Papyrus didn’t know better, he’d think his brother was simply sleeping. He desperately wants to pretend he’s just caring for his too drunk brother again.
“Sans you idiot,” he mumbles, startling himself. Since when does he sound like that?
He tucks his brother into bed, feeling oddly detached the entire time. Like he’s watching someone else move for him. Once he’s sure his brother’s comfortable, he takes a seat on the floor.
Leaning against the bed, he pulls his knees to his chest. He feels like a child again— scared and alone— as he sits there staring at the wall. “We were almost safe.”
Papyrus trembles as he lets the emotions rip through him. How could his brother just leave him alone like this? Was he not good enough? Did he not work hard enough? Could he have done more?
He doesn’t bother hiding his tears, not at home where he’s relatively safe. He can’t recall the last time he cried; probably when he was still an optimistic brat in stripes.
Stars is this really what crying is like? The grief is suffocating. It threatens to drown him on every breath.
“You look like shit,” Undyne jeers.
Papyrus brushes her off. “Who fucking asked you?” he spits coldly. He’s not in the mood for their playful banter today.
“Damn,” she mutters to Alphys. “What crawled up his ass and died?”
He ignores their snide remarks and stands off to the side. He doesn’t need them to figure out something’s wrong.
“Uhuhu, looks like I won’ be needin’ that favor aft’all, dearie,” Muffet purrs sidling up next to him. She runs two of her hands up his arms while her other set of arms encircle his waist. “But I’ll still be wantin’ payment fer that information I gave ya.”
Papyrus shoves her away, not caring how her claws leave gashes on his bones, or how his own hand pierces her skin. He hardly feels the pain anyways. “I’m not in the mood to play, Muffet,” he growls. “So if that’s what you want, chose something else.”
Muffet laughs. “While I’d love ta feel ya under my silk,” she purrs licking off his marrow and dust from her fingers, “what I want is much simpler.”
He suppresses a disgusted shudder and uses the edge of his scarf to clean his hands. “Get on with it then.”
“Yer no fun today, dearie,” she pouts despite his annoyed glower. “I jus’ wanna sell my sweets in Snowdin.”
Before he gets the chance to reply, the door is swung open.
He, Undyne, and Alphys quickly take their usual places. Muffet, being the outsider, takes a spot to Papyrus’ left and slightly back. She drops to her knees and lowers her forehead to the floor.
“Rise, Muffet,” Asgore commands.
Muffet pushes herself to her feet as elegantly as she can. She tries to be subtle as she glances at the others to see how they stand. She tries to imitate them as best as she can.
“I called the four of you here for a very specific reason,” he looks down his nose in Muffet and Papyrus’ direction. “Though, I’m sure at least two of you already know why.”
Papyrus doesn’t react, already used to Asgore’s intimidation. Muffet, however, begins to tremble.
“I have quite the proposition for all of you. I have decided to give you complete and total ownership of your territories. You will control the population, the commerce, and the laws of your territories. So long as none of them explicitly go against any of my own decrees, of course,” he explains. “General Undyne, Lieutenant General Papyrus, you are both hereby relieved from the Royal Guard. I will be recalling all remaining guards back to New Home. You may create your own guard and train them as you see fit.
“Of course, I’ll need something in return if you chose to accept—and I’m not talking about the taxes I’ll continue to collect.” His expression morphs from cool indifference to smug cruelty. “Undyne, step forward.”
Undyne easily steps forward and drops to one knee, a broad smile plastered on her face. She places her right fist on her chest, over her soul, and bows her head. She’ll gladly give anything in return for what he’s promised.
“If you chose to accept, you must retire from fighting. You are not to train your guard yourself. You are not to join your guard yourself. You are not to spar with your guard. Additionally, you must return your piano to me,” Asgore says plainly. “Return to your spot. Papyrus, step forward.”
Undyne can’t stop the look of distress that crosses her features. She numbly goes back to her spot as Papyrus steps forward. He bows in a similar fashion.
“If you chose to accept, you must bring your brother before me and strike him down yourself,” Asgore says. “Return to your spot. Alphys, step forward.”
Papyrus feels his very soul freeze. As if in a daze, he returns to the stop he’d previously been standing in.
Alphys steps forward clearly nervous.
“You have two options: You can either abandon your work as scientist, or publicly admit your weakness as a leader to all of Hotland and cede your position to Muffet,” he explains. “Return to your spot. Muffet, step forward.”
Alphys shakily steps back and gives Muffet a dirty look. Said spider trembles as she steps forward. She too bows but is unable to get the position right.
She visibly pales as Asgore sneers down at her. “If Alphys renounces her position to you, you are to learn to speak properly and educate yourself. I will not have some lowly gutter slug representing me. Return to your spot.”
Muffet’s still trembling in fear as she tries not to trip over her many feet.
Asgore regards the four as they all blankly stare forward. He smirks at how helpless they look. He knew he chose right when he decided on what the price of loyalty would be. He wasn’t about to give significant portions of his domain to beasts who would eventually betray him.
“Well?” He asks mockingly. “What are your answers?” None of them step forward; all still frozen in place.
After what feels like an eternity to the four monsters in question, Undyne is the first to step forward. She drops to a single knee again, bowing her head. “I agree to your conditions, Emperor Asgore.”
Asgore smirks widely, pleased with her decision. “Good,” he says smoothly. “You may return to your spot, Lord Undyne.”
Undyne easily returns to her spot. There’s a hint of sadness on her face, but no regret in her eye.
Alphys is the next to step forward and bow. “I renounce my positi−”
The silence in the room is deafening as they all turn to look at Papyrus.
Asgore growls, low and angry. “What?” He demands.
Papyrus’ eyelights blaze with magic in his fury. “I. Said. No,” he repeats in a low tone. “I refuse to trade my brother’s life for something as insignificant as ownership of some fucking town!”
Asgore snarls at him, angered that a mere monster dare defy him. “Undyne, Alphys, Muffet!” He barks. “Kill this traitor.”
Papyrus doesn’t waste time summoning a ring of blasters to protect himself. As they fire, he summons enough bones to trap each of them. Or slow them down at the very least.
Summoning another ring of blasters, he flees.