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A Soul Like Spring

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Three pairs of matching gloves protect Muffet’s hands from the cold air blowing through the city. Winter threatens to return with every gust, and spider hair is not designed for Chicago in early April, so the gloves are necessary starting as early as Halloween. She doesn’t mind it though; the wonder of being on the surface still hasn’t faded. The promise of spring is in every little blade of new growth she can spot on her walk from her car to the buildings.

“Good morning, Miss Muffet!”

“Good morning, deary~.” Her eyes fix on the bellhop standing proudly at the rear entrance of the hotel.

The human bellhop holds the door open for her before she has to ask, most of her arms preoccupied by carrying boxes and bags full of pastries from her cafe. A frantic call early this morning by the manager of this location forced this personal delivery, but she never minded getting to visit any of her branches across the city. Some sort of convention was taking place throughout the hotel which meant thousands of human tourists itching to try some of her famous baked goods. The whole idea made her Soul tingle with happiness!

She whispers to one of the spider assistants in her coat’s hood to account for a raise for this store’s supervisor next quarter. Record profits deserve rewards. And the state of the shop when she arrived was nothing short of impressive.

To the untrained eye, nothing is amiss in the cafe at all. Coffee beans grind happily above the espresso machines, the shelves are full to bursting with muffins, cookies, danishes, croissants, macaroons, fruit pies, and of course an entire case for donuts. Muffet smiles with her little fangs on display as she passes through the crowd of customers and employees with ease. She didn’t realize before coming to the surface how much taller she was than the average human, even adult-sized ones, as the only exposure she’d had before was Frisk. That was nearly twenty years ago now.

“Oh, thank Hestia you’re here!”

A short dark-skinned woman with flour on her cheek rushed forward with arms wide in what appeared to be a hug before she veered off to reach for a tin of cocoa powder balanced precariously atop a cake box. Her cyan soul sparks with life beneath her uniform, immediately drawing Muffet’s attention. The state of it is a very good sign. With all the commotion surrounding her, Giada Thorpe was a point of calm and direction. A cluster of her spider family work tirelessly in a corner designated safe for them to work, away from the accidental treads of their human co workers. It all moved with precision and purpose.

Definitely a raise in her future. Perhaps a promotion, if she wanted it.

Giada calls over her shoulder to move the others in the kitchen to action. Several human hands relieve Muffet of her burdens the moment she was through the door to the back. A handful of bakers and prep cooks are busy creating more confectionaries but at the rate they are selling out front, she understands the urgency of the five o’clock in the morning phone call. Muffet gently grasps Giada’s shoulder to wipe away the line of flour from her cheek affectionately.

“What kind of convention is this, Giada, deary?” Muffet unties the cinch of her topcoat and hangs it on the rack by the door before moving further into the kitchen. The handwash sink is her next stop. She is very careful to follow human rules.

“C2E2,” Giada rattles off, washing her hands after Muffet slides further down the prep line. “Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo. Happens every year but it snuck up on me. It used to be held in that big building down the way that was converted into a human/monster recreation center.”

“I’m glad you called me,” Muffet says. Six little gloves snap into place on her hands. “Tell me where you need me~.”

Oh, she loved having her web of locations across the greater part of the United States and managing it from her shiny office large enough to house ten of her pets, but she missed this, the hands on work. She chitters away with her family as she works, translating for the humans where necessary.

The hours pass in blissful activity. As soon as she’d arrived, word spread that the Muffet was onsite at this hotel right now ! Muffet would be lying if she said she wasn’t timing her appearances out front to deliver more treats and orders with precision. Something she’d missed walking in is that the throngs of humans before her are almost all in costumes. One family even were dressed as the Royal Family, two fathers with three small children that looked like Prince Asriel when he was much younger, just after the barrier was taken down.

“Such lovely needlework~,” she says, hands itching to run along the Detla runes. “Where did you get these?”

One of the men blushes proudly while the other starts to explain, loud and proud, how hard his husband had worked on all of the costumes, making them by hand and with a little sewing machine.

Just before closing, the line out the door begins to dwindle, since a major name in comic book circles is holding a panel that hour. Human employees bustle around the shop to clean and tidy everything to compensate for the lack of opportunity to do so during the rush. Muffet sits contentedly at one of the tables with a cup of tea, enjoying the first opportunity she’d had to sit since walking in that morning. Everything had gone so smoothly. Flipping through a phone in one hand, writing in a ledger with another, she nearly misses the moment another customer walks in.

The green is so intense that, for a second, it’s all Muffet can see, and not the human attached to it. Waiting in line patiently stands a person, you, who holds all of her attention without trying.

You’re alone, by the way you’re standing and looking around the shop, not saying a word to anyone. Muffet watches as you get to the front of the line and doesn’t realize she stood until she’s the one at the register waiting.

“Good afternoon, deary,” she purrs, fixated on the face of the human in front of her, your face.

“Hello!” you reply, still staring at the menu board, drumming your fingers on the countertop. “You know what, I need another minute, you guys go ahead.”

Muffet waits. Her mind and body are on autopilot as she assists the rest of the customers walking in and watches as the green souled human gets back in line, a little more purpose to your step. It’s difficult to tell what you might look like on the outside since your body is covered in a green paint, but you’re tall and strong and to her...perfect.

The itching in her soul grows the closer you come to the front. It’s impatience, she knows that, and any other time she would have taken you and turned you purple without a second thought. This feels different, this feels delicate, and she waits to see what happens next without rushing.

“Are you ready now, sweetling~?,” she asks. Two of her six hands fiddle anxiously with the hem of her shirt, tangling a bit in the lace from nerves.

A smile, wide enough to crack some of the makeup on your cheeks, captures all of Muffet’s attention. “Yes, please. Could I have a spider cider and croissant with orange marmalade?”

“Of course.” The movements to prepare the order help dispel some of the energy buzzing under the surface of Muffet’s skin. “Would that be all?”

“Yes, that’s it.”

Muffet focuses so intently on the exchange of human money she is afraid she imagines the way your hand lingers on one of her own. To not act too obvious, Muffet works the register for several more customers before allowing someone else to take over and returns to her ledger. With five eyes it’s easy to focus on the task at hand and openly admire the green flame sitting at one of the cafe’s tables, enjoying the half-human, half-monster magic meal. The fact that you, dressed as some sort of character Muffet vaguely recognizes from a movie, sits at the table next to where her ledger and tea wait, well, that’s just happy coincidence, isn’t it?

Not long after sitting back down, the shop decides it’s time to close for the day. It’s hours later than the posted time but between the promise of sales and the desire to attract happy customers, no one seems to mind the extended shifts. She sends a blur of messages on her phone to the overseers of the midtown bakery to coordinate trades of supplies that won’t disrupt any store’s inventories or accounting, so focused on her work the green soul sneaks up on her again.

“I have to ask,” you say, voice as sweet and quiet as a stolen morning kiss, “are you the Miss Muffet? The monster from the Underground who owns this bakery?”

“Yes, deary~,” Muffet replies.

“Oh, wow, that’s so cool! Just, I’m a student over at Kendall and we just finished a unit about French cooking and we used one of your books as reference and I thought your approaches were so revolutionary, and-”

Muffet reaches over to put a hand on yours, noticing the trembling even before she touched it. Your excitement is infectious but she was afraid you were close to losing your breath. The ends of tyour red wig are vibrating in a way only her spider eyes can see but each indication of excitement and nerves only endears her more to the soul she can’t stop gazing at. “You can sit, if you’d like?”

“But, oh my god, you’re closing and working and I’m sure I’m being a bother by coming over here and just interrupting you.”

“Not a bother at all, though maybe you’d be more comfortable if we...walked through the convention together instead? I haven’t had a chance to see more than the inside of my bakery today.”

The hopeful and amazed look on your face is easy to spot even underneath the layers of dark green makeup, and Muffet can feel the heat of a blush that she can’t see.

Breathy and stunned, you say, “I’d love that.”

Fangs on display in a full smile, Muffet agrees. “I would, too. Wait for me here, sweetling. I’ll speak to the supervisor in case she needs me.”

Not for a second did Muffet assume you might not wait for her, but she didn’t waste time returning the ledger where it belonged, thanking Giada and the rest of the employees for their hard work, and promising she’d return the next day with the supplies they’d need to face another busy day. She realizes as she walks back out, coat draped over one arm, she’d never asked your name though she obviously knew hers.

“It’s _________,” you say as the two of you stroll away from the restaurant. Your costume’s heels click in a very satisfying way on the tile as they walk through the foyer. “And do you go by Miss Muffet or-”

“Just Muffet, please, deary. Miss Muffet sounds too formal. I’m very happy to meet you, _________.”

The blush returns with a flare of your soul. Muffet wishes she could see it instead of only feel it. She resolves to say your name more often if that’s the response, and she doesn’t stop her mind from wondering what other reactions she could get from you by saying your name in...different ways.

As she walks with you around the convention, Muffet basks in the informal tour you provide, having spent most of the previous day exploring by yourself. She listens as you explain you’d been preparing your costume for months in advance and noticed the layer of disappointment that your friend who was supposed to dress as someone named Star-Lord had fallen through.

“He’s so sick, so I can’t hold it against him but it’s a little disappointing. I like being Gamora, though, she’s bad-ass!”

“Huhuhu~ I’m afraid I don’t know this Gamora, or Star-Lord. I don’t recognize many of the characters here, to be honest.”

“Oh, well, the movies were all released before you guys were freed from Mt. Ebbot,” you explain, “and some people think they’re super outdated. The graphics are so bad compared to what studios can do now, but maybe you’d still like to watch them sometime?”

“With you?” Muffet giggles at the way your step falters. She’s growing very attached to making you blush.

“Uh, sure! Yes! If you’re interested in that.”

A friendly silence drifts between you as you stop in front of a booth with a human doing magic tricks. Muffet watches intently, all five eyes focused, though it’s hard to tell without pupils which direction exactly she’s facing. You keep flicking your eyes over to her, your heels giving you a bit of a height advantage but still a few inches shorter than the spider monster. Muffet pretends not to notice, but preens silently at the attention.

“Human magic is very interesting~,” she says as you walk to the next area of the convention floor. “Very different than monster magic.”

“I don’t think we use magic the same way you do,” you say, “at least maybe the mages do? The ones over in the Northeast by Mt. Ebbot, they might have something like yours, but ours is a lot of sleight of hand. Had a roommate back home that thought she was very good at it but...she was awful at it! Funny, though. I think she does stuff on YouTube now.”

Muffet listens to your stories with rapt attention, drinking in the way you’re relaxing around her, and the way you respond when she tells a story of her own. A few times the two of you are stopped for pictures; you for your top-notch Gamora costume and her because, well, she’s Muffet! You don’t notice as she intently watches you transform with the power of your persona, posing confidently and rattling off lines like a pro, the inflection of your voice changing, too.

Inevitably, the conversation turns to cooking, the subject of your major at Kendall University, which makes both of you notice how hungry you are. Unwilling to end the day just yet, you turn to Muffet with a look that’s so open and hopeful it makes the monster’s soul stutter.

“I don’t want to assume,” you start, fiddling with the handle of your homemade weapon with a nervous tic, “but it’s getting kind of late and the convention will be closing soon. If you don’t have anywhere to be would you...would you go to dinner with me? There’s a great restaurant around the block that serves magic and mundane food.”

Muffet, though usually interested in playing with her food, so to speak, doesn’t hesitate. “I’d like that, sweetling~.”

Oh, she could get addicted to the sight of your soul, a dazzling green more beautiful than the first promise of spring, and didn’t care a lick. Surreptitiously after walking outside, Muffet slides one of her hands over to hold yours, the glove left off on purpose. You smile and duck your head for a second before turning to smile at her, and she returns it happily.

Of all the lovely promises of spring and new beginnings on the ground and in the trees, the green of your soul is more beautiful to her by far.

“I’m glad you came over to talk to me, sweetling~.”

You grin, cracking more of the green makeup, but you don’t seem to care that much. “Me, too. Honestly I was really nervous but...I shouldn’t have been, you’re so nice. And more beautiful in person than I - oh, my god I did not just say that out loud.”

“Huhuhu~.” Muffet can’t help but wonder if this is what Mettaton feels like most of the time. She’s not insecure in the slightest, but getting told you’re beautiful by someone like you is...very nice, indeed.

You’re covering your face with embarrassment, like you’d prefer to run away and pretend that never happened. She uses two of her hands to pry your hands away from your face to smile her sweetest smile.

“Thank you, sweetling. You’re a vision, yourself.”

“It’s all this makeup, really,” you say, still not able to meet her eyes. “Gamora is an awesome character and I had help putting this all on by one of my art student friends-”

“No, dear, you are a vision. Your soul. No makeup can make a soul more beautiful. And yours is...captivating.”

The hands Muffet still holds feel like deadweight, long past the point of trembling, as your mouth opens in a stunned little oh of understanding. Her head is tilted just enough you can tell she’s looking at the spot beneath your sternum where all human souls rest and the look on her face makes your knees weak and a sound like a freight train rush through your head.

A slight drizzle starts to coat you and the rest of the lamp-lit street with a sheen of water, making everything sparkle. Muffet slowly lets go of your hands but keeps one for herself.

Everything, from the walk between the hotel and the restaurant, to the quick trip to your apartment, it feels too fast and perfect, and neither of you want it to end. But Muffet is in this for the long game. She will have that green soul in her trap, but wants to, needs to do this the right way. A little closer to the human way, which she’d learned over the last two decades is much different than the monster way. But she’s ready. You’re more than worth the effort, though she suspects if she told you all the ways she already adored you, it would be far too much.

“Your number, deary~,” she asks before you reach for your keys.

The hallway is well-lit and empty so Muffet cuts an impressive silhouette with her black skin and chitin, shiny black eyes, and fanged smile. Is that a swoon? You might be swooning.

You stay in a happy daze as you swap phones, and she smirks when you see the little spider emojis she put next to her name, as if you’d forget which Muffet you had in your phone.

“Will you be dressed the same tomorrow?”

You nod. “It’s the best cosplay I have, and there’s another comic panel I want to see.”

“Wonderful~. I’ll keep an eye out for you in the crowds. Perhaps you’ll find another of your...Star-Lords. Huhuhu~.”

“Awesome!” You shuffle your feet a little, the key already in the door, but you’re not sure you want the night to end. “Do you...do you want to come in?”

Muffet almost caves, playing with your fingers between two of her much smaller hands. “I have to prepare for work tomorrow, but thank you for the offer. Perhaps...perhaps on Tuesday, when the convention is almost over, you’d join me for dinner again?”

“I’d love to!”

“I’ll message you details soon, sweetling. It is a pleasure to know you.”

Aching to make you blush one more time before stepping away, Muffet leans down to nuzzle your cheek in an imitation of a chaste good-night kiss. A spot of green makeup wipes away as she does, but she giggles as she uses a kerchief to wipe it away. The sight of your darkened skin underneath is enough to make the momentary discomfort more than worth it.

The glow of your soul burns in her memory the whole way home, as precious and wonderful as her memory of seeing the surface for the first time.

Oh, yes. The early morning phone call was more than worth it. Giada would definitely get a promotion.