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“No,” Edge said firmly, “We are not going to a strip club.”

As if he’d been summoned, Twist appeared from nowhere—which, what the fuck, he couldn’t teleport; where the hell did he come from?—and threw an arm over Edge’s shoulders. “We’re goin’ to a strip club?”

Edge huffed and shoved him away. “No,” he said firmly, “We are not. Most especially not with you.”

Undyne, however, looked between the two of them, her grin sharpening. “Gutter-rat, you didn’t tell me you had a twin.” Edge glared at her. She’d been filled in on the other universes after they’d reached the surface; she had no right to play coy.

“He’s not—“ Edge sighed heavily, rubbing the ridge of bone between his sockets. “You know very well who he is,” he snapped, again pushing Twist away. “We call him ‘Twist’, though I prefer ‘unrelenting pain in the ass’.”

“Sweet-talker,” Twist said with a wink.

Undyne’s grin grew wider, and Edge sighed, knowing exactly what she was thinking and how this night was going to play out. “No,” he told her, shaking a finger at her.

“ ‘No’, what, gutter-rat?” she asked, playing innocent.

“Undyne,” he growled, “No. Just no.” He always ended up with a pounding headache and regrets the next morning whenever she got like this. “And no strip clubs!” At least she hadn’t suggested a bordello this time. Stars, that had been an experience he never wanted to repeat.

“Mmm,” Twist hummed, again sidling up close and throwing an arm around Edge’s waist. “I gotta side with the edgelord, Cap’n.” His words caused Edge to falter just long enough that he was able to wrap the other arm around Edge’s chest and draw the two of them together. “ ‘sides, he knows that if he ever wants a private show, I’d be more’n happy ta oblige.”

With a groan, Edge planted a hand on his face and pushed him away. “Get your filthy hands off of me, mutt.”

Undyne watched the proceedings with a growing grin, but she finally conceded. “Fine. No strip clubs.” Then, while Edge was busy fending off Twist, she swept forward and threw him over her shoulder. He squawked indignantly and started struggling, but Undyne squeezed his lumbar vertebrae in warning. “Settle down, gutter-rat. I promise—no strip clubs. But! We are going to get drunk off our asses!” She cackled victoriously. “And—“ Another warning squeeze. “—we’re going to get you to relax, for once.”

Twist, walking behind Undyne, eyed Edge with a growing grin. With his hands in his jacket pockets like that, he might have looked casual, but there was a noticeable bounce in his step, and his remaining eyelight was bright and alert. “Sounds like fun,” he said with a wink, “I’d be more’n happy ta help with that, darlin’.”

Edge flipped him off. “Undyne. Put. Me. Down.”

“Nope!” she declared cheerfully. “You’re gonna have fun whether you like it or not, gutter-rat.” Recognizing that tone, Edge sighed; he wasn’t going to get out of this.

“Will you at least tell me where we’re going?” he asked, squirming a little to see if he could figure it out from the direction they were headed.

“I have no idea!” she replied happily.

Edge facepalmed, but before he could gather himself to start screaming, Twist said, “ ‘ve got a few suggestions, if ya wanna hear ‘em.”

“I hate you,” he muttered into Undyne’s back, “Both of you.”

Twist just grinned at him. “Don’ worry, sweetheart. I’ll make sure ya have a good time. I’m gonna take real good care ‘a ya. You’ll see.” Groaning, Edge covered his face and resigned himself to his fate. This was going to be a long night. He could already tell.

(Stars, he was going to regret this in the morning.)

 

“Whoops,” Twist said, catching Edge as he stumbled. “Gotcha.” He drew the—now very drunk—skeleton upright, tucking him into his side. Edge brought one hand up to clutch Twist’s shoulder, while the other arm looped around his spine and grabbed his ilium. Twist chuckled, supporting his upper back. “Gettin’ a little handsy there, ain’t ya, sweetheart?”

“Like yer one ta talk,” Edge rumbled, his words a little slurred.

Twist inhaled sharply, something inside of him (heh) twisting pleasantly. “Hnn…now why d’ya try so hard ta hide yer accent, huh? ‘s sexy as fuck.” He’d noticed Edge’s rigidly formal pronunciation slipping as the night progressed, but now that they were out on the street, clear of the club’s bustle and noise, he could actually appreciate it. Not to mention appreciating the press of Edge’s body against his own. The other skeleton was typically so prickly, it was nice to see him like this. Loose. Relaxed.

“Fuck off,” Edge growled, as if he could hear the direction of Twist’s thoughts. In contrast to his words, though, he leaned into Twist’s hold. His expression, however, was cool and distant.

Twist thought he probably understood. He squeezed Edge’s shoulders comfortingly. A thick Hotland accent often acted as an invisible brand. It marked a monster as being—supposedly—of lesser intelligence. Or as a gangster. A thief. A con artist. A criminal. That had never bothered Twist. (Liar.) He was more than happy to let others assume he was stupid. (“Brother! You should at least try to speak properly.”) It meant they weren’t paying nearly enough attention to him. Or to their pockets. (“We have respectable jobs now. We’re respectable monsters!”)

As for the other charges? Heh—guilty. But he bore his sins like a badge of honor. (“You don’t want people to think we’re nothing but a pair of gutter-rats, do you?”) He’d survived. Blackberry had survived. So what if his hands weren’t clean? So what if he had a card shark’s quick hands and a con artist’s honeyed tongue? (“…nothing but a pair of gutter-rats…”) It didn’t bother him.

But a monster like Edge? It would definitely bother him. “I mean it, sweetheart. Yer voice is sexy.”

“I sound,” Edge growled, subconsciously pressing into him, “like you.”

“Heh. Thanks, darlin’. I’ll take the compliment.”

Edge made a low sound deep in his chest—(Not a purr. Definitely not a growl. A groan, perhaps? Or a sigh? Maybe a mix of the two?)—and leaned his chin on Twist’s shoulder. His eyes drifted closed and Twist chuckled. The edgelord’s features were flushed faintly, and his eyelights—when his sockets were open, at least—were hazed and over-bright. Despite his closed sockets and relaxed posture, though, he seemed incapable of actually staying still. The two of them were swaying together. Not quite dancing, though Twist couldn’t help but hum quietly.

“I think we lost Undyne,” Edge observed, sockets cracked open.

Twist resisted the urge to smile. Apparently, Edge hadn’t been paying attention when Undyne—almost as drunk as Edge—had pulled Twist aside and asked if she could trust him to see Edge home. She hadn’t exactly been subtle, either; drunk Undyne was, somehow, even louder than normal Undyne. “Nah,” he said simply, “She went home with ‘er lizard. I promised yer fish I’d look after ya, though.”

Edge snorted. “I’ll bet. She’s always after me ta ‘loosen up’.”

Still gently swaying to the music only he could hear, Twist pulled Edge around, so he was in front of Twist. Twist wrapped both arms around Edge’s waist and leaned into him, chest to back. Murmuring into the slightly smaller monster’s acoustic meatus, Twist asked, “Would it be so bad? Lettin’ yerself relax a little?” He shifted to settle his hands on Edge’s ilia. “Might even be fun.”

Shockingly, Edge leaned fully against him, head tilted back against Twist’s shoulder. “Can’t,” he said on a sigh.

“Can’t?” Twist asked, a little amused. “Why’s that, darlin’?”

“Jus’…can’t. S’all.”

Suddenly, Twist wasn’t amused anymore. We’ll see about that. “Seems like sound reasonin’,” he said, instead. “Let’s getcha home then, huh?”

They wove their way through the streets, until the bustle of downtown Ebott quieted and gave way to the stillness of the residential districts. Twist guided Edge up the porch steps and tried to suppress his laughter as Edge cursed and struggled to fit the key into the lock. Once inside, he asked, voice pitched low, “ ‘s yer bro home?”

“I dunno,” Edge said contemplatively. Then, before Twist could stop him, he bellowed at the top of his voice, calling for Red. When there was no response, Edge said, “Nope. Not home.” Twist, not entirely sober himself, started giggling uncontrollably. “What? Why’re ya laughin’?”

“Not what I meant, sweetheart, but I can’t say ‘m not grateful. C’mon. Yer room’s down the hall, right?” Edge nodded and, to Twist’s surprise, pulled away and started to drag Twist along behind him. He nudged the door open with his hip—startling poor Fang, who glared up at Twist with a cat’s disdain—and flopped face first onto his bed. Twist started chuckling again, then knelt at the foot of the bed to work Edge’s boots off his feet. “No sleepin’ with yer shoes on. I’d be obligated ta draw a dick on yer face, an’ I really don’ wanna hafta do that, darlin’.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Edge muttered into the pillow, head tilted so his words weren’t entirely swallowed by the bedding.

Twist patted his calf affectionately. “Me? Never.” Edge turned to glare at him, and he winked. Then gently squeezed the captive tibia. “Listen, I’m gonna get ya some water, an’ I want ya ta drink it, right? You’ll thank me in the mornin’.” Edge hummed in agreement, then snuggled back into the pillow. He was already starting to fade, but Twist managed to convince him to drink the water and down a couple painkillers too.

Then, after Twist had managed to wrestle him out of his leather jacket, he patted the dozing skeleton on the shoulder and started to leave. Edge caught his hand. “Yer leavin’? I thought….” Edge sat up, gazing at him blearily. “Ya could…stay. With me.”

Twist’s sockets widened at the invitation. He hadn’t been expecting it and, honestly, he was more than a little tempted. Edge’s normally rigid posture had gone liquid and relaxed—almost (heh) boneless. With his features flushed and his expression open and inviting…he made a very appealing picture. But…. “Much as I’d love ta show ya a good time, precious, I want ya ta remember it in the mornin’.” Nevertheless, he could not resist stealing a kiss—long and deep.

“Jus’ a little taste,” he said with a wink. “So ya have sumthin’ ta look forward to.” He knuckled the top of Edge’s skull. “G’night, sweetheart. Sleep tight, huh?”

 

As expected, when Edge woke up, his head was muzzy and his nonexistent stomach was uneasy. He sat up slowly, determining without looking at the clock that it was way too fucking early to be awake, but also fully aware that he was not going to be going back to sleep anytime soon. He shifted, wincing when it felt like an errant needle drove itself through his eye socket. He sat very, very still and put a few fingers to his temple, waiting for the pain to pass. Then, exhaling slowly, he stood, stumbling out of the bedroom. Water sounded really good. Then he realized that tea—the almost salty-sweet taste of sea tea would be perfect—sounded even better.

Lifting his head a little—and wincing when he did so—he paused when he realized that he could hear activity in the kitchen. Cautiously, he summoned a bone construct and crept down the hall—ignoring his soul’s queasy rocking—and peered out into the living room. He blinked. “Are you still here?” he asked, stepping out of the hall as he dismissed the bone construct. Then he winced. Stars, his own voice was a little too much right now.

Twist turned and grinned at him. “Heya, sweetheart,” he said, and Edge flinched—Twist’s voice was even worse. “sorry, darlin’. ‘s it yer head?” He nodded silently, then lost the will to make tea for himself and slipped onto the couch, covering his sockets with his arm. Then he blinked, realizing that there were blankets strewn across the couch. Had…had Twist slept out here? “ ‘ere,” Twist said, and Edge shifted a little so he could see the other skeleton.

He blinked and started to sit up, until his soul clenched and reminded him that fast movements were not a good idea right now. “is that…sea tea?” he asked.

Twist grinned at him—and even if part of Edge was irritated that he seemed so fucking cheerful, he had to admit that…Twist was kind of adorable when he smiled like that. “yep. always makes me feel better when ‘m hungover. thought it might help ya.”

Edge blinked, looking between him and the tea. “…thank you,” he finally said. “that was…thoughtful.”

Twist blossomed under the praise, nearly purring. “ ‘Course, darlin’. Told ya i’d take care ‘a ya, didn’ I?” Apparently, he was a little too excited to keep his voice down, but somehow, Edge couldn’t be irritated with him for it, despite the brief twinge of pain through his skull.

“…i suppose you did,” Edge said carefully. He cupped the warm mug between his hands, allowing the heat to sink into his bones. He shivered a little, closing his sockets and allowing his shoulders to relax. Then his sockets went wide. “…why do I smell smoke?”

“Oh!” Twist darted away, calling behind him. “I made breakfast!” Turning to see what kind of damage was being done to his kitchen, Edge watched Twist pull a smoking pot from the stovetop and set it in the sink a few seconds before it spontaneously burst into flames. “Oatmeal’s supposed to do that, right?”

Edge laid back down and covered his sockets again. “Fire extinguisher’s under the sink,” he called out. “I’m sure you know how to use one by now.” He did not have the energy for this.

“Thanks!” Twist called, still far more cheerful than he had any right to be. Though…maybe his enthusiasm was a little endearing. Edge heard the fire extinguisher being activated. “Okay. Oatmeal’s done. Ya want a bowl?” Only a little though. And not right now.