Chapter 1: Hold the Hand that feeds you
It was moments like these that Sans loved his new job.
The room he had been led into contained a chair, a huge table laden with different kinds of food, and a monster behind a thick fabric screen. Sans couldn’t see the monster at all.
“My client is very shy,” the cat monster explained, a right hand man hired solely for the purpose of interacting with Sans so that the true client could stay anonymous. “But also craves company during dinner. So this is our setup. You can sit down in this chair and eat whatever you want while holding my client’s hand through the screen.”
“rad,” Sans commented. He had already spotted two bottles of ketchup on the table.
“Then I shall leave you to it,” the cat monster exclaimed and left the room, closing the door and leaving Sans alone with the mysterious screen.
He allowed himself a moment to eye the screen curiously, but then he quickly brought his attention back to the food on the table. He wasn’t truly interested in who his client was, and he had better things to do than stare at some boring old fabric.
Instead, he sat down in the chair and moved his hand through the opening in the screen, where more fabric was arranged like a curtain. He could move his hand through it but couldn’t see what was on the other side still. His hand had been treated with a numbing agent before this, so he wouldn’t be able to feel much and tell the species of his client this way. It was truly an anonymous setup. That was fine for Sans. He was here to be the kind of friendly company his client needed him to be, and if this was it then he wasn’t judging. Besides, he had all this food to focus on.
It was truly an amazing spread.
The bottles of ketchup he had already seen stood next to a large serving of fries, and a burger. Both looked like they had been bought from Grillby’s, nice. There was a big pizza with his favourite toppings; extra tomatoes and extra cheese, hot dog pieces. Next to that was an actual hot dog, covered generously in condiments and onions. There, a platter of sandwiches, different kinds of toppings and sauces. Here, several salads, green leaves and vegetables and beans, some of them containing a form of grain as well. Oooh, over there was a steaming plate of curry, with both rice and bread. A tray contained a collection of small bowls, each filled with a different kind of soup.
Fried foods, fresh foods, greasy foods, healthy foods; the selection was more than his eyes could fully take in.
And that wasn’t even mentioning the dessert section yet, where cakes, cupcakes, cookies, ice creams, parfaits, fruits and a variety of other delicacies were waiting for him.
Sans officially had the best job ever.
Just as he grabbed his first meal, some fries and a slice of pizza together with a bottle of ketchup, he can feel a pressure on the hand that he put through the screen.
He had no idea if the monster on the other side had a hand too or a paw, a tentacle or a little nub or claws or any of the other many possibilities that monsters could have for appendages. Nor could he feel if it was fur or scales or skin or chitin or any other material that made up this monster on the outside. It was impossible to tell, his hand was too numbed. All he felt was this mild pressure, telling him that someone was holding his hand, gently.
Careful not to overdo it with reduced feeling in his hand, he squeezed back, letting the other know he was there for them.
No words were exchanged as Sans and the anonymous monster ate together and held hands.
But he felt very content knowing that he could give even a monster so shy that it needed to hide behind a screen the feeling of having a friend.
Chapter 2: Good Chill Vibes
Friendly massages... you know. As bros.
The room was just like Sans remembered it: grand to the point of gaudiness, dominated by a hilariously big bed, and having way too many Mettaton-shaped decorations.
As if he wasn’t going to see enough of the guy already.
He hopped up onto the bed, leaving his slippers behind in a haphazard manner and getting comfortable on the bedspread in a cross-legged position, facing the door. Mettaton was just closing said door behind him, then he came over and sat next to Sans.
Like most times they did this, they leaned against each other a bit. Mettaton didn’t mind how bony Sans was and Sans didn’t mind of rectangular Mettaton was. It was a good fit.
Honestly though, even if it hadn’t been, Sans would have been more than happy to accomodate Mettaton. The robot was the reason why Sans was in this line of work in the first place.
Running up inordinately large tabs was a bad habit that Sans really tried to get rid of, but he had trouble managing. His good old friend Grillby had supported him and always cut him off before his debts had gotten to a point of not being manageable anymore. Mettaton however had a lot of other stuff to do, so by the time he got around to ask Sans to pay up, Sans simply couldn’t. It was way too much.
Initially Sans had been pretty worried about the consequences, but it turned out Mettaton was actually a fairly reasonable guy under all the dramatic flair. He had offered Sans a gig as a stand-up comedian at the hotel to work off his debt, and when it became clear that this alone wouldn’t take care of the massive debt any time soon, he had offered other options. Security, cleaning, room service, reception, paid companionship.
When Sans had asked about it incredulously, Mettaton had merely laughed and explained that there was a whole group of monsters in the Underground offering paid companionship for a variety of reasons. Pleasure, paying back debts, saving up for large purchases, loneliness; the list of reasons for doing it was just as long as the list of reasons for employing a monster. Some offered services of a more intimate nature, while others provided more platonic ones or cuddling at the most.
After explaining that, Mettaton told Sans very clearly that if Sans didn’t want to do this kind of work, he didn’t have to. There would be no pressure and no extortion whatsoever. They could find other ways to take care of that massive debt.
Sans felt intrigued, however. If he could set his own rules, then that would mean that he could be paid to just do what he naturally did: hang out with people, make bad jokes. Cuddling he could imagine too.
Getting paid for snuggling up to someone and snoozing?
That sounded pretty much like his dream job, so he told the robot that he’d try it out.
Mettaton had used his contacts to spread the word about Sans’ services, and it all worked out. Sans found he liked it just as much as he thought he would, and the rest was history. He started working and with that new job, it turned out to be surprisingly easy to pay Mettaton back, and a couple of other debts he had accumulated too. His tab at Grillby’s, gambling debts with Doggo, outstanding bills to the community for energy, the mortgage on the house, outstanding payments to Muffet - for the first time in a long while, it was all taken care of. Many monsters were surprisingly willing to pay for some friendly hangouts or snuggling.
Sans could have stopped then, but he liked his new job so much that he kept going, using the money he earned to add to Papyrus’ car savings and to buy ketchup and other luxuries for himself. He enjoyed being able to just buy stuff whenever he felt like it, without having to worry about being indebted to someone.
It was a good life.
Next to him, Mettaton began to vibrate. The soft motions spread through Sans’ bones and relaxed him, easing any tension out of him that might have accumulated over the course of the day. It was like a massage on his whole body, which was nice because getting a regular massage often didn’t work for him. Few monsters knew how to properly massage bones.
“feels great,” he told Mettaton with a happy sigh. “you’re an awesome friend.”
“But of course,” Mettaton preened. He liked to be praised, which Sans knew, which was why he made sure to praise him whenever they hung out in a session. Sans was there to make people feel good after all.
That he got to feel nice too was still a good bonus though.
Chapter 3: No Strings attached
Binding up your friends. It's a spider thing.
“Come in, dearie~"
The invitation was a bit unnecessary, considering that Sans had been led into the darkness of the spiderlair already and so had technically been ‘in’ for at least five minutes, but he could still appreciate the politeness of it.
“thanks.” He took the seat she offered, relishing how plush the upholstery felt. Muffet might be saving up most of her income to help her clan, but she didn’t skimp on the fabrics for sure. Everything was made of softest spidersilk. Well, she was right at the source of it.
The room they were in was relatively simple, a small rectangle with a single door and no windows, dark purple walls and a silvery floor, the ceiling shrouded in darkness. It contained the upholstered chair Sans was currently occupying, a chaise lounge where Muffet took her seat, and a small side table between the two topped with a doily and a tablet of drinks and sweets. They looked delicious, and when Muffet gave him a smile and a nod, he helped himself to some. Just as yummy as they looked. He gave her a thumbs up.
“First, the rules?” Muffet asked. Even though she knew about how paid companionship worked in general, she didn’t know how Sans handled these things. They hadn’t hung out before, so there were a couple of things to talk about.
“sure,” Sans agreed. “first of all, nothing bad gets said about my bro. i know some people like to gossip with friends but that’s not something i like, ‘n especially not about papyrus. second, if we cuddle or touch, you gotta be gentle with me. i’m a delicate guy. low hp. finally, i’m not gonna exert myself. i like to take it easy.”
“That should work perfectly well, deary~” Muffet replied. “I’m a spider so I like to wrap things up in my strings~ Myself and others. But unfortunately, many don’t like that…”
Sans could see why, but he personally didn’t mind. Muffet might come across as creepy sometimes, and woe betide anyone who tried to harm her family, but he knew she otherwise wasn’t one for violence. She preferred to stick to her own people and focus on her sales instead.
“i’m fine with that,” he told her. Muffet looked delighted at his easy compliance, and as soon as she had paid him for his services, she began.
Carefully, she began to produce spidersilk and wrapped it around him in a little cocoon. She pulled more silk from the ceiling and wove it into a net, where she pulled him up to. There, she tied him to the net and spun more strings around his bones, careful with how she handled him.
The strings really weren't uncomfortable, didn't cut into his bones too sharply. They wrapped around him like a caress even though tightened, at most they tickled a little. He felt held by them, almost safe, especially since they didn't tie him down or otherwise restricted his movements. In fact, he was still free to move however he liked, could tilt his head and his limbs easily. It was perhaps like bundling up in bed under a blanket, only that Muffet’s spidersilk was infinitely lighter and softer than any blanket Sans owned.
“this is nice,” he mused, feeling somewhat drowsy but staying awake for her sake for now.
“Ahuhuhuhuh~ I am glad you think so, sweetling,” Muffet giggled. She was getting comfortable next to him, spinning herself into a small cocoon of her own. Once she was done, they were lying next to each other in her net, all wrapped up and cosy.
For a while that was all.
Muffet eventually began talking about her family. About her worries for the spiders in the ruins, her secret fears that her bakesale wasn’t going well enough. About how she worried that the spiderclans would never be reunited. About how other monsters saw her as greedy and shrewd, but ignored her true motivations. About how so many hated spiders just for how they looked.
Sans listened to her, only occasionally offering supportive commentary. He wasn’t there to fix her problems or offer any deep insights. He was there to be a someone sympathetic who listened without judging her.
And that’s exactly what he did.
Chapter 4: Fishy Friendship
Undyne needs to talk.
“Well, this is awkward,” Undyne said, closing the door behind Sans so nobody could hear their conversation. Then she rubbed a finger against the point between her eyebrows, massaging the building crease there. “What the hell. You, of all people?”
“i don't mind,” Sans shrugged. “but i can leave if you don't want go through with it.”
“Why are you even doing this?!”
“had some debts to settle. more than my salaries could take care of, heh. heard this was an option and figured i’d try. i mean, you know better than anyone that bein’ paid for just being my usual charming self is my dream job,” he grinned. “had so much fun doin’ it that i kept going even after the debts were gone.”
“I know someone who's really relaxed, they said,” Undyne groaned. “Chillest dude around, they said. I should've known they meant you before they sent you over. How embarrassing!”
“we can pretend this never happened if you're that uncomfortable,” Sans told her. He didn’t want her to feel bad. His brother really liked her after all, she was his best friend. Maybe she was worried about that, actually.
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” she grumbled, though Sans noticed that she didn’t tell him to get lost yet. “So, uh. The person who recommended you. They said the person they knew was… a really good listener. Someone to go to with life problems.”
She looked at him with open curiosity now, in spite of her still evident awkwardness.
“i know i maybe don’t come across as someone you can get serious with, but people tell me they feel relaxed around me,” Sans shrugged. “so lots of people wanna talk ‘n i listen.”
“So that means you got shit on a lot of people?” Undyne asked, raising an eyebrow at him.
“i got the shit on everybody,” Sans said. Would it be too much to throw a wink her way? Nah. It was funny. Wink. There he went.
She snorted, the curiosity and amusement slowly breaking through the initial embarrassment.
“Well fine, come in you nerd!! Let’s hear your rules!”
Sans entered her house and they talked. He didn’t mention what was already clear to both of them: Nothing she would say would leave this room. !ith how tight living space was, with everyone pretty much knowing everyone else, looking the other way and not talking about what you knew was the only way to guarantee some privacy. Anyone who didn’t respect that would draw the ire of the entire population.
He also explained to her that he wouldn’t exert himself or do anything risky, and in terms she explained how exactly she wanted the conversation to go. Only then did they start.
Sans allowed her to make him tea and didn’t budge a single inch from his seat, as expected of a good guest. He didn’t quip, didn’t make jokes, didn’t do anything to tease or annoy her, and didn’t interrupt her as she began to talk.
She had such a big crush on someone, she didn’t know what to do with it. She really wanted to tell this person, but couldn’t get the words out. She felt weak for that.
Sans didn’t know why she was so preoccupied with acting tough, or why she thought not being hard as rocks all the time supposedly made her look weak, but that wasn’t for him to bring up. He just listened to her words, nodded here and there, or hummed thoughtfully in order to make it more comfortable for her to go on. He drank his tea and was a good listener as requested.
In the end, Undyne still didn’t have a solution for her feelings.
But Sans could see she felt better, and that’s what counted.
Chapter 5: Spirits lifted
Poor Napstablook needs a hug.
Here we go, Sans thought as he pressed the doorbell.
He know exactly who lived in this house, just like last time. But unlike last time, he wasn't sure if he'd be able to coast by on audacious bullshit humour.
Which was a bit of a problem, considering that audacious bullshit humour tended to be his default.
He looked around as he waited, took in the rounded shape of the house, that of its twin next to it, the snail farm in the distance. Waterfall was quiet. So was the inside of the house.
He rang the doorbell again.
Finally, there was a soft click as the door swung open, revealing the translucent form of a ghost.
“i'm sorry… for taking so long… i thought someone had come to the wrong door…”
Napstablook already looked as if they were close to crying, folding in on themselves with insecurity. Clearly, a gentle approach was in order. He knew from the referral that they had only asked for a very special set of services - services only he could provide. They'd take anyone if necessary. But they had also hoped for someone who wouldn't make them nervous. Sans would just have to try his best.
“no worries, it happens,” he said, trying to project a relaxed and soothing manner. “can i come in?”
“oh… yes… of course…”
Napstablook moved aside, closing the door behind Sans once he walked in.
They had a small house, and it looked looked a little run down, with little in the way of comfort. There was a fridge, a TV and a computer table, some records lying around. A cobweb with a spider bakesale flyer in a corner. No bed, no chairs. Sans didn't mind much given that his own room hardly looked better but wasn't sure where he should put himself. For now he just stayed in the centre of the room, hands in his hoodie pockets, and tried to look casual.
Even when he turned to face them, Napstablook remained silent, looking at the ground. They seemed insecure and not sure what to say. They wouldn't be the first monster to be overwhelmed with the reality of this situation, so Sans decided to take the initiative.
“so. you wanted someone to hug and cuddle you, correct?”
“I…. yes…. “ Napstablook looked extremely flustered by even this simple admission. It was clear that Sans would have to tread carefully here.
He carefully guided them through the next part of the conversation, having them tell him what exactly they wanted so he could tell them his price. That was even more difficult than the part before, as the ghost had real trouble articulating their desires out loud. Good thing they had the whole night, really, so it wasn’t too much of a loss that they spent some time on this. It all worked out in the end though.
“alright, give me a sec,” Sans told them once he had pocketed his pay. He removed his hoodie and shirt, so he stood with his upper body naked before them.
He closed his eyes and focused. It was easy for him to send his magic over his body to form ectoplasmic flesh. There were no indicators of gender. It was just the shape that came naturally to him, chubby flesh covering his bones, but without any extra features. It covered the entirety of his body, even his skull. When he was done, his sockets were the only thing not covered, so his field of vision was still clear. The whole rest of him was glowing faintly blue with his magic.
“there we go,” he said and opened his arms in a welcoming gesture.
Napstablook hesitated for a moment, but then they quickly hovered closer and pressed themselves against him. When their form touched his ectoplasm, they sighed deeply. Sans felt a soft, tingling warmth from where they touched. It was pleasant, different from touching a monster without ectoplasm with his conjured flesh.
He wrapped his arms around Napstablook and hugged them close, running a hand over their back and coming to a rest on their middle. The other hand petted their head, stroking over the curve of it.
Napstablook hadn't named any reasons for why they wanted him to conjure all this ectoflesh, but it wasn't hard to guess. Their cousins had all left and become corporeal from what Undyne said, and they didn't want to be corporeal themselves. Additionally, there weren't a lot of other ghost monsters in the Underground. Even if there were, Napstablook would probably find it difficult to approach them for this.
Corporeal monsters couldn't touch ghosts or vice versa.
Oh, they could interact, sure. Ghosts could project small shields with their magic to stop monsters from running into them, and they could use that magic to interact either corporeal monsters and everyday items too. But it was only magic and it didn't replace true touch on their actual bodies. The shield was in contact, not the ghost. Like the opposite of his ectoplasm - their magic could use magic to interact with the world while their bodies remained untouchable, his magic could interact with ghostly matter while he still remained corporeal.
Which meant Napstablook had been without someone to touch for however long it had been since their cousins left.
No hugs, no pats on the back, no handshakes, nothing. Only passing through everything and everyone, surrounded by people and yet separated and alone.
He felt awfully sorry for them. That was a terrible way to live. No wonder they had overcome their own shyness just to get some touches from him. As one of the few monsters capable of conjuring ectoplasm, Sans was in the position of being able to interact with corporeal and ghost monsters alike if he so wanted. As a provider of paid companionship and professional cuddler, he was the only one capable of providing this service.
Being able to fill this hole in Napstablook’s life, being able to help them even if it was a paid service - it made him strangely happy and proud. He always felt as though he was helping monsters with his services and he always felt happy to do so, but it had never felt so essential as this.
This was the first case where he truly felt that his abilities were more than just a neat gimmick.
Chapter 6: No Homo, Bro
Hiring a dude to spoon with your other best friend dude who you actually want to spoon is totally not gay.
“heya,” Sans said when the door opened and his clients entered.
They thankfully didn’t look very insecure even though they closed the door very quickly behind them before they sat down next to him on the bed. Just as Sans’ contact had told him, these two seemed to be seasoned veterans in employing some companionship for the night.
That should hopefully make things a lot easier.
The chosen meeting spot was one of the hotel rooms at MTT resort, something that happened with both Mettaton’s knowledge and consent.
Since the robot was very involved in the community of workers and clients who were interested in professional cuddling and paid companionship, it made sense that he didn’t mind having his hotel rooms used for such a purpose. It was Mettaton who arranged this meeting and so he felt pretty comfortable being here.
The two monsters he was meeting tonight were royal guardsmen, a rabbit and a dragon monster and both tall and very bulky. Sans recognised them from his Hotland shifts; they often passed him by on their rounds and had even bought hot dogs from him before, chatting a little while they ate. He still only knew them superficially though - he didn’t even know their names, only their designations as RG01 and RG02. Mettaton had told him his clients for tonight were skittish about privacy in spite of their experience though, even more so than usual, so Sans wouldn’t ask them about it.
“you wanted to cuddle, right?” he asked them.
“Yeah. But not like, in a gay way!!” RG01 said hastily.
“...yeah,” RG02 agreed.
Sans wasn’t sure what was supposed to be the issue about gay cuddles, and if he’d known he wouldn’t have cared, but since he was providing a service here and had to be polite, he nodded.
“sure. no homo cuddles.”
“Exactly!” RG01 agreed, apparently relieved by his understanding.
“welp, okay then. c’mon up here,” Sans invited them, scooting back on the bed to get comfy.
The other two needed a moment longer to join him, careful how they moved their big bodies so they wouldn’t bump against him or squish him with their mass. Soon enough though, he was wrapped up in their bulk, their warm, big bodies enveloping him on both sides. They put their arms around them and he placed one hand on each of their arms, wriggling a little to make sure his body touched as much of them as possible as they were spooning him from the side. He heard a satisfied rumble from both of them and thought he could fall asleep like this. It felt very nice. He hoped it felt just as nice for them.
“This is…” RG02 began, voice quiet.
“Isn’t it good?” RG01 said. Sans could hear the grin in his voice. “Told you cuddling together with one monster would be awesome, bro!”
“Yes,” RG02 agreed. “Three men - “
“I-it’s not gay!!!” RG01 blurted out, sounding very insistent. In his haste, he began to stutter. Or perhaps it was nerves.
“no homo,” Sans repeated, even though he felt a little awkward because he still considered himself very much a dude. So technically that did make it a little gay. Who cared anyway?
“No homo,” RG01 repeated with relief.
RG02 only huffed a little.
Sans supposed they’d have to figure this out by themselves later.