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Bravery

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Papyrus bounded up the hill where the picnic was, Sans trailing a few meters behind him. Almost suddenly, Papyrus stopped. He stood for a moment, taking in the beams of sunlight slowly burning the grass and feeling the air push and pull and convulse around him, a soft smile on his face. Almost sorrowful. Then he grinned, and ran up the hill.
He was glad he wasn't so brave.

You hadn't thought anything of it. You were looking at the ground. You hadn't even noticed.

Papyrus began to watch the sunrise earlier and earlier, as if to not miss a single shade of the Sun's colours. The truth was, he wanted to make sure he didn't have a chance of missing the Sun’s light show. After all, he hadn't planned anything, but he wanted to make sure, in case the chance did come up at some point. He'd also started to watch each sunset more and more often as well, watching the colours dissolve in the sky. Not as a reward, but as a... something. Yeah, a something.
He was glad he wasn't so brave.

You were asleep in comfortable dreams, oblivious to the stairs creaking hours before the dawn and the front door squealing as it protested to opening. You hadn't even been awake to hear the noise.

Papyrus was quiet, gazing at the night view from inside the car that sped along the dark motorway, the car which lit its own way without protest, almost tired. Frisk was asleep, as they usually were during these long, dark journeys.
"paps?"
"YES?"
"aren't you tired?"
"NOT AT ALL! I SLEPT VERY WELL LAST NIGHT, BROTHER! NYEH HEH HEH!"
"huh. 'kay then, bro."
Papyrus smiled, and continued looking through the window. It was pretty in the dark, with the distant streetlights on his side of the car, almost like miscoloured stars in discord, falling in the Earth’s pulsing air.
He was glad he wasn't so brave.

You were slightly worried, but shook it off like you did to your duvet in the late mornings, only an hour before work began. He was the happiest person in the world and he was always smiling. You hadn't even thought he could be sad.
Papyrus grinned and played with the young children on the benches who hadn't any friends. Papyrus and the children who he brought together often ended up in peals of laughter, the sounds of which irradiated other lonely children with similar feelings of joy. Some parents minded that their child was playing with a monster, others didn't. Papyrus liked to play with them regardless, loved to smile and make them laugh, loved to hear their happiness and joy, the sounds they should all know day to day, the sounds that should be familiar to them all. It was fun, and almost reminded him of why.
He was glad he wasn't so brave.

You hadn't thought much of it, Papyrus had always loved playing with kids. You hadn't noticed how long he'd spend with them rather than do anything else, like cooking or working, things he used to do whenever he had time on his hands. You didn't even think about those things.

Papyrus liked knowing that he was the one holding his life in his own hands, sometimes. Nobody else, just him. He liked thinking that had perfect control of his actions, even though a few of his memories said otherwise. Almost forgetting. Other times he was indifferent, in the quiet, quiet house, Sans and his friends from the Underground busy or working. He hadn't a job, he lost his last one for being too loud and scaring customers. Now he hadn't seen much point of getting a new one, after all. He still held his life in his hands, smiling all the same.
He has glad he wasn't brave yet.

You were angry that he lost his job for just for being too excitable, too happy; now he was slightly upset. You hadn't thought much of it though; you knew he bounced back every time before this. You hadn't even realised he never really did, not the way you thought.

Papyrus had burned like the brightest star, trying to make everyone in the big world smile, even those that were too far for anyone else's warmth or light to reach. He never just burned bright enough for his world, he burned bright enough to reach a million others, almost tearing himself to pieces to find more things to burn, tearing out chunk after chunk of himself relentlessly to fuel the fire, engulfed by the heat from the inside out.

You hadn't noticed that. How he could burn out, how you knew the sun would, no matter what.

Papyrus was finally tired. He'd burned so, so, so bright for so, so long, tearing his own façade to shreds, and that's what he planned. He wanted to shine to the bitter, bitter end of it all. And he'd finally spluttered, stopped, had to search for more to burn and hadn't any fumes to run on; he'd burned out.

You just thought he was having a one off, something rare that happened in the Underground every few years or so, when everything caught up to him. You hadn't even realised how bright he'd shined for so, so long, for you and everyone else.

Papyrus walked up a path, an almost relieved smile on his face. He slowly began walking up the mountain, as sunlight slowly faded away from the sky, dripping under the horizon, as if the world were a ball hovering between two mixing bowls, unmixing colours rolling to the other side, stars being the blinding lights that shined through the dark paint when the moon was gone, mixing bowls of their own, slowly turning around the world at their own pace. He slowly, slowly but surely climbed up the path they'd all thundered down from the mountain a race slowly returning to their old, old home they'd lost for many, many years. Papyrus was now returning back to where he felt he should be; away from the surface and back to the world which was fantasy for billions of people that thought and felt and thrashed like him for so, so long.
He was glad he was brave.

You almost hadn't even realised he wasn't home that night, before you checked his room. Maybe it was force of habit or just that something felt off, but you checked. And now you noticed, after so, so long. After so, so long of being blind to what was in front of your own very eyes, what you would’ve had to see to believe. You hadn't even seen the blatantly obvious, what was staring right at you.

Papyrus had slowly, slowly but surely made his way up Mt. Ebott, and now he was just below the very top, sitting with his legs over the edge, swinging how a small child's would be on a bench, happily eating ice cream. Papyrus was smiling.
He was so, so glad he was brave.

You didn't know, you thought whilst reading the letter. How you were supposed to, you thought. And there's no saving a star that's about to explode. "papyRUS!"
You hadn't even remembered what you'd taught yourself once you got up here.

Papyrus decided that now was as good a time as any, to stop time that passed, the pictures that grated against his eye sockets. He stood up bravely and absent-mindedly made the shape a monster's soul where we he stood, to mark the exact spot where time began to slow for him, slow and grate against the ever changing pictures. He was stood in the exact center. Then he put his foot out over the drop, stretched his arms out, and leaned forward.

You used a shortcut, trying to get to the person you called a brother as fast as you possibly could.
"PAPYRUS!"

And as Papyrus heard his brother-

And as you watched your brother-

he looked over his shoulder and smiled-

why did he smile whY-

And Papyrus was falling falling falling-

WHY DID HE WHY WHY WHY-

And as he was he was so, so-

YOU NEVER KNEW HOW WERE YOU EVER MEANT TO HAVE KNOWN-

he was so, so very glad he was brave.