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Inferno

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Inferno

 

The Captain is once again in Snowdin, most likely the result of another training session gone wrong. You don’t know how the two of them can cause as much fiery destruction such as theirs. It’s not like the two of them were a bunch of young fire elementals, not yet used to their own magics. If you weren’t a fire elemental yourself, you might just be worried about having Papyrus and Undyne together under one roof.

 

As it is Undyne has every sentry in Snowdin up in arms, sans Sans (who’s working at another job in Hotland), celebrating something or another. You weren’t too sure what they were all celebrating, however. It might have something to do with someone’s relatives not actually being dead as they thought? She’s been able to really revitalized even your regulars, which is a real feat since the citizens of Snowdin go about life at their own pace.

 

Everyone, but… Papyrus. He seems unusually subdued. Or unusual to what you habitually see of the skeleton. Personally you aren’t particularly close to the skeleton, he’s only ever at Grillby’s whenever his brother is late for bedtime. What you do know of him from snatches of conversations you’ve had together is that he projects a lot when he speaks and he’s very… Polite. Every time he’s been to your establishment he’s at least ordered a cup of milk even if he doesn’t like fast food.   

 

It might just have been the alcohol… It might have been something else. Papyrus doesn’t seem like the kind of Monster to casually drink, but the occasion calls for it. Or at least Undyne calls for it. A few rounds of drinks are on her, apparently. So Papyrus might have been a social drinker or one to cave under the peer pressure or anything really; you don’t know him enough to guess. The reason might be just because or he wanted to have a taste; you didn’t know. What you did know was that he seemed to be a lightweight, he’s been nursing the same drink the entire night.

 

While the rest of the tavern has been excessively rowdy and increasingly loud ever since the party started; Papyrus has been quiet. Quite the opposite of his brother whenever the shorter Skeleton drinks, who can take a few before he starts feeling a buzz, and is an even sleepier, talkative drunk. So it seems they contrast in ways other than looks.

 

Behind the bar you’ve been cleaning mugs absentmindedly, trying very hard to ignore the mess Doggo made of the tavern’s air quality or the fact that Undyne was trying to coax Greater Dog to dance on tabletops with her. While still in full armor.

 

“Wonderful,” pretty sure you weren’t meant to hear that. It’s enough to startle you into looking up at the Monster barely speaking above a whisper in the chaos. It’s Papyrus. Instead of looking bashful as your eyes meet, as he’s known to be very socially awkward, all he did was raise one of his perfectly manicured brows at you. Imploring you even.    

Internally grasping at straws, you didn’t know what to say. “..................The night really seems…………..to be coming together………..isn’t it?” You normally didn’t speak much at all, but…

 

It seems that this time Papyrus is caught off guard, because both of his eyebrows shoot straight up into a hairline that honestly did not exist. He probably did not expect you to speak.

 

“Yeah,” there was something in the cadence of his voice. “Grade-A kindling material.” Not the sound of his voice per se, but in the way he spoke to you. Like something has changed between the two of you. Perhaps it was the genuine amusement you hear in his voice, or the easy way gritty laughter practically fell out of him that prompts your own fiery laugh.

 

There’s a moment of companionable silence between the two of you, and you don’t notice that for him it’s sort of a contemplative silence. Oblivious to the staring, you continue to clean already clean mugs all the while stare at a far off wall with eyes that technically didn’t exist. It’s only broken by the sound of a throat clearing, Papyrus despite not having a throat, does so.

 

“Can I get another?” Papyrus surprises you by raising his mug. It’s empty.

 

An incline of your head, waiting for Papyrus to interpret that as he will. “What? Undyne’s offer to pay no longer valid? Pretty much drained you out of house and home, haven’t they?” He says, tapping gloved fingers on the bartop.

 

Thinking about it, you went with his interpretation? For some reason imagining Papyrus getting blackout drunk unnerved you. Looking back at him you realize he’s waiting for some sort of answer. “... she’s persuasive.”

 

“HAH!” Startled, you resettle the frame of your glasses. “Is she? I haven’t noticed,” Papyrus responds, in the most sarcastic voice you’ve heard of him yet. It seems like you weren’t the only one holding back from speaking to others.

 

“But I guess I can be very persuasive, too.” You blink, not that anybody would notice, but otherwise kept quiet. Leaning in to show that he had your attention, you tried to translate the side eye he was currently giving you, into a facial expression you could understand.

 

“When I put my mind to it.” However, it seemed that trying to discern a Skeleton’s body language was as hard for you as your own was most likely to decipher. Also where was Papyrus trying to go with this errant line of thought?

 

When it became apparent that you didn’t have anything significant to add to the conversation or likewise visibly change your flame to emote; Papyrus seemed to deflate for some odd reason.

 

“Hey, did you know that there aren’t a whole lot of Skeleton Monsters left?” You didn’t know that, but it was something everybody Underground understood. Even in the Elemental community, Wind Elementals were a dying breed. Maybe if you were a little less aware you’d have done a double take at such a sudden change in conversation, but really this was par for the course Underground.

 

“Sans and I are the last Skeletons. On this side of the Door, at the very least. We were taught in school that Skeletons were some of the few who’d chosen to stay behind in Home when the vast majority of Monsters moved to occupy the rest of the Underground,” you remembered that. As a child you went through it.

 

“Sometimes though I wonder… If we’re the last Skeletons, ever. Sometimes I wonder…” He trails off before reinvigorating with his next words. “Wanna see a cool magic trick I can do? Let’s enter into an Encounter, and I can show you my Special Attack!”

 

“...Special Attack…?”

 

“Yep! It’s sure to be a blast!” Papyrus sure was tickled pink by his own words. Sitting on the edge of his seat Papyrus looks just about ready to phase into another reality.

 

(Something at the edges of your mind whispered to you. Of course he is, he had just made a pun.)

 

Something in you thought it wasn’t such a bright idea to be using magic when one of you was clearly inebriated, but it was merely a passing thought. Especially since Papyrus strode right out the Fire Exit, confidently, in a straight line. Looking at him walk, you don’t believe you could’ve walked out of there any straighter and you were the one stone cold sober.

 

Outside, you find Papyrus to be leaning against the brick wall, arms crossed. Taking position directly across from him, and nodded. Immediately he pulled you into an Encounter, and color leached out of the world, turning it monochrome. Music you’d expect from an upbeat fight (dance) scene invaded your senses, how quaint.

 

Bombarded by some choreographed bone shaped bullets, you couldn’t help but bare your fangs, a lick of fire escaping. Even as you quickly maneuvered out of the way, and reflexively countered with a move of your own, all sharp movement and elbows. There was certainly an elegance to the bones. Sliding under and than over your own helix themed fire bullets, Papyrus looked like he was having a field day.

 

Under the constant stream of your attacks, Papyrus winked, and it looked like… He was playing Double Dutch in between the pattern of your bullets. Full on jumping around, and twisting his hands on the ground to get around. You had never denied his love for theatrics, but right in that moment, it was on. When it was his turn you wasted no time, throwing your arms back and igniting them, kicking off the ground; you brought the fight to him.

 

With you closing the distance, Papyrus had to switch from the wave of regular bone attacks he’d been using to his light blue ones. Even then it wasn’t too hard to change direction mid-flight; you’d done this before. Above everything, the funding for Grillby’s had to have come from somewhere. Papyrus made a noise in the back of his nonexistent throat, before flinging his arms - - Up!

 

It was a scramble to move out of the way in time, and a bone pillar, that’s what it had to be, a pillar, because there was no way that was a bullet in any shape or form. It shot straight out of the ground like a death trap from an Earth Elemental, and raining garbage- Where the hell did Papyrus learn to fight?!

 

Dodging that attack was your sole thought - - except you didn’t move the way you wanted to. You moved up. Wincing, realizing that you had fallen for his hastily done trap.

 

“You’re Blue now.” Everything you’ve ever gone through as a Monster, never have you encountered anything quite like this. Bright, blinding light encompasses your entire world for but a dirty second.

 

“You’ve seen my Special Attack now.” And how ominous those innocuous words were when spoken by Papyrus, in such a tone of voice.

 

You didn’t see — you couldn’t see — but you knew that Papyrus had his arm thrown out towards your direction. Belatedly realizing that your soul was held captive no longer, it was the fine control you had over your pseudo flight that saved you from being blasted. Suddenly the Encounter ended, technically having done a Runner.

 

Touching down, you overbalance, and nearly fall face forward. That’s how much your trembling. Running a hand through the flames on top your head; you’re more than a tiny bit jittery.

 

Stars, when was the last time you’d lost a Fight? Hellfire! When was the last time you’d enter an Encounter for the sole option of a Fight? You got the feeling for the reason of your loss, and it wasn’t because you were losing your touch. Despite having to repeat yourself — who did Papyrus learn to Fight from?

 

Finally it registers that you’re out of the Encounter, and that neither of you were very injured, however. Minimal damage wasn’t the same as no damage, and moving too quickly brought a hiss to your lips now that you were calming down. The awkward angle of flight earlier must have wrenched your shoulder or something, because you don’t remember getting hurt there. Shouldn’t have leaned back on the brick of Grillby’s so hard.

 

“Here. Let me.” You could feel your flames flicker in shock. Papyrus was doing bulletless healing! That was the envy of Blackmarket doctors everywhere. He could even be a legitimate Doctor if he wanted it. He could be anything he wanted to. Making eye socket contact with Papyrus gave no answers other than a look from the Monster. One that clearly said not to ask.

 

“.....................you’re hurt.” There was a scuff mark, a faint bruise at the corner of his jaw that didn’t look like it came from one of your fireballs. Bringing your hand up to cup the injury, hand full of green flames, Papyrus flinched away. But a hiss of pain isn’t enough to deter you, nor does Papyrus’ amateur attempts at getting away. Nor do his obvious vocal distractions do anything but ease an awkward situation.

 

“You could say you get under my skin. Heh heh nyeh. Ow.” Finally he stops wriggling like a worm, stilling utterly. You’ve never noticed before, but the two of you are around the same height. As mentioned in your earlier conversation you haven’t seen many Skeleton Monsters in your life, so it’s hard figuring out what any of his facial expressions mean. For Monsters, having a face is negligible, but it’s stranger still to have eyes-yet-not.

 

His jaw is soon healed, but the two of you still stand close together. The invasion of your personal space can go unrecognized, but your hand still on his jaw isn't. Without thinking you lean in...