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A Distant Memory

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The angry skeleton marched through Hotland, Guardsmen Bratty and Catty flanking his left and right sides. It was three in the morning, and they were all cloaked and hooded. They had only come across two petty thieves so far, and they were easy enough to dust. No one needed to know what the new Guard Captain’s business was tonight. He approached the door of the intimidating building, pressing the buzzer and waiting several minutes for a response. He began tapping his foot impatiently as the seconds ticked by. Sans swore to Toriel if that fish bitch didn't open up soon he was going to fillet her and serve it to that lizard she called a girlfriend. Finally the door beeped, cracking open a tad. Two yellow eyes peered at him through the darkness, quickly turning from excited to annoyed.

“Oh.” Doctor Undyne said sounding disappointed. “You a-actually came.” She stepped to the side and allowed Sans to enter. Sans held his hands behind his back, walking with the new authority he possessed.

“You need to watch your tongue now doctor.” He turned his head and gave her a side glance, indigo eyelights flashing. “Don't forget that I currently outrank you.” Undyne gave him a crazed death glare. She clearly wasn't happy about that fact, but there wasn't anything she could do about it now.

“... I t-take it you came for P-16?” She said annoyed.

“Clever deduction. Now take me there and I'll be out of your hair.” She ground her teeth together, but Sans sent a wave of killing intent as a warning. He didn't care how pissed she would be about having to end the P-Series experiments. He wasn't going to let the little skeleton dust in such a horrible place. Plus the Queen herself gave the okay, so the fish bitch really didn't have anyone to complain to. She clutched her hands into fist but nodded, angrily making her way over to the elevator. Bratty and Catty stood guard at the entrance, while Undyne and Sans descended further underground. They rode to the True Lab in silence. Sans tried to remain patient, but the idea of getting the other survivor out of this hell hole was the only reason he would go near this place. Every inch down made him more and more uneasy. The elevator eventually ground to a halt, door sliding open to reveal the smell of death and cleaning supplies. He always hated that combined stench, too many bad memories associated with it.

They walked down the sterile hallway. The smell was bad enough, but the bright lights and distant screams were not any better. It was all too familiar, reminding him too much of his own early childhood, before father deemed him strong enough to become his successor as the next Royal Guard Captain. It was the day Sans earned his name, and the day P-16 became “the backup.” It wasn't long afterwards that P-16 was considered completely useless for combat, sending the younger experiment back to this pit of death. Sans managed to save the small creature from execution, but he never knew for sure if that was the right decision. He would find out soon, even as Father’s words rang through the back of his mind.

“Only the strong can survive down here. P-16 is neither tough enough nor smart enough to dominate this hell hole. You are superior in every way, while blood suckers like IT will only drag you down. Leave animals like IT to die in their pens. Any empathy for the week will only get you killed.”

It's been years since that day, and he really couldn't abandon the weekling. Perhaps it would get him killed one day, but that was a risk he was ready to take. They stopped at a heavy metal door, no bars or windows displaying the other side. Undyne placed her hand on a scanner. The machine read her print before lighting green, the door making a clicking sound indicating it unlocked.

“C-careful. Just got done with a few t-test not long ago. It m-may bite.” Undyne grinned deviously. Sans ignored her, choosing to stair at the door as it creaked open. He stepped inside to see P-16 sitting on his metal cot playing with a Rubix Cube, the closest thing to a toy in the whole room. It was very sparsely furnished, a wooly green blanket and an IV stand the only other decor. The little skeleton glanced up upon the adults entry, unbandaged socket going wide.

“Sans!” The small monster cried excitedly. He staggered to his feet, rushing as fast as possible to Sans’ side. He seemed to forget the IV drip, tripping as soon as the he ran out of tubing. Sans reached his hand out, turning P-16’s soul blue and stopping him from impacting with the floor.

“Are you alright?” Sans asked, making his way over to the other and helping him stand upright.

“I fell down again…” the younger one said meekly. He was still so small, far smaller than Sans expected. P-16 is supposed to be twelve years old, but if Sans didn't know better he'd think the kid was seven or eight.

“It's alright P, I'm here to help you up.” Sans gave a small smile, one that P-16 beamed at. The kids bones were frailer than Sans remembered, and the hospital gown exposed more experimentation scarring then he cared for. The younger monster glanced around anxiously, looking for someone that wasn't coming.

“Where’s Captain Gaster?” He asked nervously. It still pained Sans that his little brother couldn't say “father,” but that was the right Gaster only allowed his chosen successor.

“Father is dead.” Sans breathed. P-16 isn't a stranger to the concept of death. He should be able to handle the truth.

“Oh.” P-16 whispered. He seemed sad, but only a few tears pricked in his sockets. Sans wiped them away with a gloved hand trying to smile encouragingly.

“I'm not here because of Father. I'm here for you.” The smaller monster gave him a confused look, clearly not understanding. “Would you like to leave the labs and live with me?” Sans finally asked. It took a moment for P-16 to process the news, though Sans couldn't blame him. The P-Series experiments were far less intelligent than the S-Series. They were more comparable to animals then monsters, it's a wonder P-16 could even speak to begin with.

“No more needles?” P-16 asked carefully. There it is, he's starting to get the idea.

“No more needles.” Sans responded. The little skeleton beamed, giving the elder a week hug. “I take that as a yes?” The younger monster nodded, though he didn't pull away from Sans. The older brother eventually stood up, forcing P-16 to let go. “Shall we head home?” Sans asked to the others excitement. He removed the IV from the child's soul, freeing him from this cursed fate. Sans turned to make is way out the door, encouraging the other to follow. P-16 started following Sans towards the exit, but was struggling to keep up. “What's wrong?” Sans turned to look him over.

“I'm sorry…” P-16 said weekly. his eyelights were on the hazy side and he seemed very tired. Shit, he's too weak right now. The kid wouldn't be able to walk the whole way in this condition. They'd have to use alternative means of travel. Sans didn't hesitate, grabbing the blanket from P-16’s cot and bundling him up in it. He picked him up securely, adjusting his own hood and making his way out of the cell. Undyne was not pleased, but that didn't matter. All he cared about was getting the little creature out of here. He quickly made his way down the hall and up the elevator. Passing Bratty and Catty as he exited.

“I have what I came for.” Sans stated without stopping. The two Guardsmen nodded, following him without a word. Sans liked that about these two. If there was anyone in the Royal Guard that he came remotely close to trusting in this matter it would be them. They exited the building, making their way towards the River Person. The strange hooded monster watched them angrily, but didn't complain once the fares were paid. The four climbed into the boat, holding tight as it took off.

The monsters rode in silence, Sans tapping his foot impatiently. The sooner they got to Snowdin the better. He adjusted his grip on the bundle, only to notice how limp the little guy was. Anxious, he pulled the blanket from his skull, not able to stop the grin crossing his fangs. The little skeleton had fallen fast asleep at some point, completely lax in Sans’ firm grip. He was like a little puppy, so cute and helpless, like the runt of the litter. Rewrapping P-16, Sans determinedly staired forward. They would be in Snowdin soon, this mission was almost over. The boat landed at the dock, Bratty and Catty accompanying Sans into Snowdin. There was nobody out thankfully, all either hiding in their homes or getting drunk at Muffets.

They approached the house, the same large house that hasn’t been the same since… no, he wouldn't think about that now. This was a night to be celebrated. Passing a few extra pouches of gold to the two Guardsmen, the four monsters split ways, Bratty and Catty heading back to New Home while the Guard Captain took care of his new charge. Sans unlocked the heavy door, sliding through before deadbolting the thing behind him. He untensed his shoulders and sighed. They made it. It was a hell of a journey to do it but he got P-16 here without incident. He pulled the blanket off the sleeping monsters skull. Amongst the scarring there was plenty of dirt and grime. Clearly the good doctor didn't care much for the hygiene of her test subjects. A thorough cleaning would have to wait though, at least until he wasn't as frail.

“P.” Sans shook the bundle gently. “Puppy, wake up.” Sans decided to try his old nickname for the younger, which seemed to get a response. The little skeleton yawned and rubbed his sockets before tiredly looking up at Sans. “We’re here.” Sans smiled. It took a moment, but slowly the small monster began to recognize the place. He looked around slowly, still holding tightly to Sans’ breastplate. It's been years since he’s been here, so Sans couldn't really blame him for being so skittish. He'd let The little skeleton explore once he felt better. In the meantime, there was one more place for P-16 to see. Still cradling the small skeleton Sans made his way up the stairs, stopping at the first door. He slowly opened it and switched the light on, letting Puppy get a good look of his new surroundings.

“What is this place?” Puppy asked wondrously. It wasn't much, a mattress on the floor with a pillow and clean sheets, plus a small dresser for the clothing Sans found in storage. There was even a closet and a boarded up window, already leagues better than what Puppy was used to.

“This is your room Puppy.”

“My room?” Puppy questioned.

“Like your old cell, but you won't be locked in.” The smaller one nodded, still not fully understand the concept. He'll figure it out over time though, Sans doubted he'd be leaving the house or even this room for a while to be honest. He placed Puppy on the mattress, spreading to old blanket over Puppy’s lap and taking a half loaf of bread from his own inventory. He ripped the bread in half and handed a portion to Puppy, one that he didn’t eat right away. At least the kid could learn, Sans mused. He remembers the lab personnel would give their subjects all sorts of drugs through food after starving them a bit. The side effects were never anything desirable. Puppy would need that caution up here too, as drugging the food supply was still a common practice among slave traders especially.

“Here Puppy, I promise it's safe.” Sans took a bite of his own bread, which was enough to encourage Puppy to do the same. It was unfortunate that food was so scarce right now. Puppy would probably be eating bread and military rations for quite a while, but it was certainly an improvement compared to The Lab.

Sans put his own portion away, moving towards the drawer and pulling out a navy striped sweater and shorts. He waited until Puppy was finished, getting him changed out of that disgusting hospital gown and into the used clothing. The skeleton was practically swimming in it, neckhole nearly hanging off his shoulder and sleeves completely hiding his hands. It looked more like a dress than anything else, but it was still an improvement. Sans decided to put the shorts away. They would worry about pants once he found something smaller.

“You feeling alright Puppy?” Sans asked. P-16 simply nodded and rubbed his sockets more, nearly on the verge of falling asleep again.

“Just a second Puppy.” Sans pulled up his inventory again, taking out a small nicely kept shoe box and opening the lid. It revealed a small purple collar with a safety release latch and a bell, most likely a cat’s collar before falling down here. Puppy eyed it curiously while Sans imbued his magic in it, making a ward strong enough to scare even Alphys away.

“What's that?” Puppy asked. Sans didn't answer right away, first hooking it around Puppy’s neck and admiring his handiwork.

“It is a collar.” Sans stated. Puppy didn't seem to get it right away, tilting his head to the side. “It will tell everyone that you’re my Puppy, and that I'm your master.” Sans elaborated.

“Oh… Okay.” Puppy nodded, quickly losing interest and laying down on the mattress. He was fast asleep in seconds, no force in the underground would wake him up now. Sans smiled as he gently stroked Puppy’s skull. He was so tiny, so helpless. He just needed someone who would protect and feed him, and Puppy would certainly grow into a very loyal companion. Hell, maybe father was mistaken and he may have some usefulness after all. They could understand each other, even if Puppy would never be as smart or capable of Sans himself, he was certain this new relationship would be very beneficial.

Puppy snuggled into a tighter ball, prompting Sans to cover him with a clean blanket. They would need to discuss a proper name for him later. P-16 and Puppy would certainly fail to strike fear in the hearts of monsters. They could discuss that later though, right now Sans would just allow himself to breath.