You enter your apartment after a quick trip to Charles’ Grocer, struggling under the weight of the can-filled paper bag. Your pantry was rather sparse, and seeing that you no longer had an income, the cheap cans of beans and chicken soup were looking more appetizing. You rounded out your poor mans pantry with a small carton of orange juice, just to keep the scurvy away. You sigh wistfully as you line them up in your pantry cabinet.
What were the chances that Petey and Edgar would come back to carve your face up? They said it themselves, they were taking their business elsewhere. Why should they dictate where you worked?
You knew it was just desperate thinking, they didn’t seem the type to bluff. They would cut you up if they saw you again, and they’d call it “honoring their word”. It left a bitter taste in your mouth to know you wouldn’t have anything decent to eat, for however much longer, all because you had to act noble. And you could blame those gangsters all you wanted, but in the end, you ran your mouth, and that had consequences. . . That was the lesson you had to learn.
You scrunch your nose, hands clenching around the empty paper grocery bag. You didn’t want to blame yourself for your beating. You wanted reality to be different. You hated that things were so backwards, and so twisted that you lost your sense of self worth. You didn’t want to give this city your spirit. But, maybe, you didn’t have that choice. You had to learn. You had to be smart. Things really could’ve been a lot worse for you, because they hadn’t even gotten to “ten” yet, and your injuries were already brutal. Perhaps, it was a merciful beating.
Making a disgusted noise, you can’t stand to think anymore, and wander into the living room to distract yourself. From the corner, by the door, the candy-striped box of sweets catches your eye. Wonderful . The perfect, tasty distraction. Retrieving it, you hold the present delicately as you turn it over in your hands, listening to the candy tumble inside. You take a stiff seat on the couch, becoming nervous somehow. Your thumb fiddles with the tag, tracing over the elegant script.
Truthfully, it made you giddy that Wings sent you something. It scared you, too. You’ve had men send you gifts before ,but knowing it was from Wings made it different. That was the scary part. It was something as simple as candy, delivered in the night after a terrible, awful day. But it made you think of him, made you think of his arduous gaze and clever smile, and of his bony fingers dancing across your waist.
You lift the lid and toss a candy between your teeth, chewing hastily and focusing on the strange flavour.
It wasn’t fair that you should admire him so much, and that he should like you, too. It wasn’t fair how at ease you felt with him, especially while knowing who he was. Comfort was wholly inappropriate. You liked when he talked to you. You liked when he flirted with you. You were happy when he surprised you, and that he carried himself with manners and dignity, and that it made you forget the poverty and the crime rate, and that the rent was due tomorrow and you were short again, and-. . .
. . .
. . . It really wasn’t fair. . .
Your eyes shift to the phone on the bookshelf. You really liked forgetting the world outside, especially when it came with a sultry, husky voice.
. . .
You turn the candy over in your mouth.
. . .It would be polite to call. . . just a cordial thank you for the gift. And then, you’d exchange pleasantries and excuse yourself. That would be it. Completely.
Carefully retrieving the slip of paper from its safe spot by the radio, you roll the numbers through the dial and take a seat on the couch, the cord stretching between the space. Calling felt wrong, but you really did need to thank him. You didn’t want to seem ungrateful, especially since you planned on finishing the box. It rings once before being picked up. On the other line, you hear silence for a long moment, and you wonder if you dialed right.
“. . . Hello ?” Wings hums and you sigh in relief.
“Hi,” you reply, curling your toes, “it’s me.”
“Oh, my dear, how are you feeling?” he asks, worry lacing his tone.
“I’m. . . resting,” you say, touched by his instant concern. You find that your walk must’ve loosed your taut muscles, though. You feel much better since waking up.
“I was calling to thank you for the gift you left this morning.”
“Oh, good. I thought it would help. Papyrus said you didn’t look very well.”
You wince. You didn’t want him to think of you that way. “Um, yes. I. . . got caught in a bad spot. I really am feeling much better, though, so, no need to worry.”
“I’m very glad. I’m sure that candy is helping quite a bit.”
“Haha, in a way. What flavor is it anyhow? I haven’t been able to pinpoint it.”
“I’m afraid to say. It’s a bit different for everyone, but monster candy is distinctly not-licorice. Do you like it?”
“Yes? Oh, I’m sorry, it slipped my mind! I should’ve left another note, explaining it’s magical properties. Monsters would give it to their children after they’d gotten into fights, to patch up the bumps and scrapes. It’s a healing candy,” Wings rasps through the receiver.
You sit up on the couch. Healing candy. Your bruises . . . “Can you give me a moment?” you ask.
“Of course,” he hums. Gently, you lay down the receiver and bolt for the bathroom. Flicking on the light, you gasp.
Your lip has stitched back together, your bruises are a faded greenish blue, and your swollen eye has calmed. Not to mention, the taught binding of your muscles isn’t there, and when you lift your dress, the bruises across your waist look even and faded. You laugh, pressing your fingers against the skin, feeling a tender pressure rather than aching pain. You let your skirt fall and return to the living room.
“That’s incredible,” you smile, the phone tucked against your ear again, “it was horrible this morning, now it’s probably half faded!”
You hear him chuckle. “That’s wonderful. Be careful not to take too many. Maybe only four for you today. Too much magic isn’t good for you.”
“I’ll try and pace myself, then,” you smile. You think for a moment. “Would it be alright if you told me more about magic? I feel oblivious.”
Wings is quiet, and you briefly wonder if you’ve pressed an issue. You remember Sans was very defensive about the idea. Thankfully, he gives.
“What would you like to know?” he asks, his voice low and steady.
A thrill runs through you. “Well, it just seems like it’s such a large part of the world, how is it that humans can’t sense it?” you start, “what would magic even feel like?”
“Hm. . . well-”
“Also, how is it that you couldn’t escape a magical barrier when you’re made of magic? Why couldn’t we find the barrier, either? And, if you’re made of magic, how is it you can use magic?”
Wings’ laugh interrupts you. “You’re right to be curious. Magic is more attuned to the soul, rather than a biological component, but still holds a place among every living being. I’m afraid it’s a much more complicated idea than you might think, and I’m not sure I can explain it properly over the phone.”
Your shoulders relax. “Oh. Well, that’s alri-”
“I’d much rather you visit my study to understand it fully. I have a book lying around somewhere that could help illustrate my point, let me see-”
You hear the groan of a chair against the floor and a shuffle in the ear of the receiver.
“Uh, your study?” you repeat. You pause, understanding that he means to invite you over, again .
“It should be right by- ah, yes. The Principles of Worldly Magic,” he hums, not having heard you, “It’s a good read, granted you have a strong cup of coffee, which I’d be happy to provide. Mm, come to think of it, maybe a pound cake would be good, too. What do you think, my dear? How does coffee and cake sound?
You pause. It sounded wonderful . You could imagine being in a quiet little space together. Curling up on that huge velvet couch, your shoulder leaning against his shoulder and your feet tucked underneath you. The fireplace would feel nice, considering it was getting colder outside. With your belly full of coffee and cake, you’d both read silently, enjoying each others company. Occasionally, you’d have a question about magic, and he’d explain with fascinating detail and charm, leaving you dazzeled by his intellect.
Or, you can sit at the table, not touching, having polite conversation, and doing researching .
. . .
Remember, you had to be smart. As much as it pains you, the plan was to not get involved. Stay casual.
“It sounds. . . nice. I’m just not sure when I’d have time,” you bluff. Truthfully, you had a lot of time. More time than ever.
“Oh. I see. . .” he says, and you wince. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to impose on you. It’s just that neither of my brothers appreciate literature like you do, and they’re both very self-involved. It’s just been a bit lonely, and I suppose I got carried away.”
You purse your lips. Papyrus and Sans really didn’t seem book-ish, so you understood him in that aspect. He also seemed to understand that you were saying “no”, which made you feel worse. Were you even, really, saying no? A part of you really did want to find the time, if that made it better.
“Well. . .” you say, before you can stop yourself, “-I’m sure I could pick up the book at least? Then, maybe when I have a little more time, we could discuss it.” That felt like a good compromise. Now, you could visit and keep him company for a short time, and then leave before things got out of hand.
“If that’s convenient for you, I wouldn’t mind at all,” he rasps. “I’ll have it ready for you, so stop by anytime. . .Of course, I’d be happy to see you as soon as I can.”
You gulp and run a hand through your hair.
“A-alright! Thank you, Wings. If there’s anything else, I’ll give you a ring?”
“Please do, my dear. I like to hear from you.”
You smile. “Well, I like talking with you.”
He gives a deep chuckle, breathy and raspy. “ I like the way you’re talking to me right now. ”
You almost choke and have to cover it with a nervous laugh. “I think I’d better go,” you whisper, as your knees squeeze together.
“Alright, my dear. Call soon,” he hums, obviously smiling.
“Sure,” you agree, “Goodbye.”
The phone is replaced on it’s stand and you lean back into your couch, running your hand through your hair. . . down your thigh. . . gripping at your knee. . .
That voice did things to you . Bad things. Very bad things.
The phone rings, startling you. Picking it up, you half hope it’s Wings, but another voice comes through.
“It’s Ariel,” comes an exasperated tone. “Listen, Kelly wants to go out for a drink, and I told her it was dumb, but-”
“ Sugar! Please go out with us, I’m sick of staying in bed !” Kelly yelps through the receiver, causing you to pull back from it.
“Kelly-” you start, your hand rubbing the back of your neck. “-is that such a good idea? Aren’t you in pain?”
“ Yes ,” she whines, “but I can’t afford to pay the doctor and the pharmacist, so it’s all going to the bartender! Are you in, or out, sweet pea?”
You sigh. Obviously, it wasn’t a smart choice, but easing her pain with alcohol would be better than her suffering, or spending rent money on medicine. You glance at the box of monster candy. Maybe, you could give her some at the end of the night, to ease the pain and the promise of a hangover. She’d probably end up going anyways, so you might as well keep an eye on her, and have a drink while you’re at it.
Kelly whines for you to answer and Ariel chastises her, but you answer promptly.
“I’m in, Kel’. Let’s go have a drink,” you agree, smiling. She squeals in delight.
“Great! We’ll be over in 30 minutes! Get dressed, we’ll see you soon!” she giggles, then the line goes dead with a buzz.
Your brow furrows, and you place the phone down again. Did they even know where you lived? You get half-way to your closet before the phone rings again. You pick up the phone, your hand on your hip.
“Hello?” you say.
“Dollface! What was your address again?”