You blow one last bubble with your gum before spitting it out into the nearest trash can. It’s autumn, and the air is a little chilly and a little windy. You check your phone one last time for the details sent to you through your dating service. The location was right. The time was right. Today was the correct day.
Alright. So just go on in and find table 13.
The door jingled slightly when you pushed it open. A server behind a podium asked if they could help you, and you just turned your phone screen to them. “I’m meeting someone here. Dunno who yet. Where’s table 13 at?”
“The other side of that wall there. They’re numbered on the sides. Good luck, Miss.”
“Thanks,” you smiled casually, strolling around the little three-quarters-high wall built up in the middle of the floor. It seemed to be used as a shelf for potted plants to add more atmosphere to the place. Classy, but still casual enough that you didn’t feel out of your element. Really not a bad place.
You rounded the corner and saw a handful of tables with people already seated. There was no telling how many of them may or may not have been directed here by your dating service, and you read the numbers on the sides of the tables attentively.
You thought you saw number thirteen and glanced up to see if anyone was sitting there yet, and your breath hitched in your throat. There was a fucking skeleton sitting with its back to the divider wall. You stopped breathing for real and your body went completely still as your natural instincts forced you to search for any signs of danger to your person.
There were none.
The restaurant was completely calm and the atmosphere was warm. And, now that you were paying so much attention, you could tell that the skeleton wasn’t dead, as odd as that sounded. It was slouching in its chair, sure, but in a lazy kind of way rather than a… dead kind of way. It was wearing a crisp white button up shirt with a black suit vest on top. You could tell they were tailored for really thin people, but the fabric still folded a little unnaturally on top of his bony arms and shoulders. His rib cage was apparently wide enough to fill out the vest, though. He had a very smooth, white, round skull for a head with nothing—no hair or skin, obviously—covering it. His eyes were wide black sockets with little white pinpricks of light in them, and his jaw was apparently fused to his skull and set in a lazy grin.
So, a skeleton, but a living one. Not reanimated remains, just alive. Magic, probably. You told yourself that he must be a monster.
With some hope, you took a closer look at the number on his table. 13. Your hopes were betrayed. Maybe you shouldn’t have allowed the site to match you with monster partners.
You looked up at the skeleton again, who didn’t seem to have noticed you just standing around yet. Could you just walk out and leave? I mean, not to be rude, but he’s creepy, and I’m not interested. Not to mention, half of the point of this was to get me laid.
You made excuses to yourself, but they just had the opposite effect. You started to feel like a really shitty person. Just imagining how many times people just bailed on blind dates with him after realizing he was a skeleton made your heart ache with pity.
You resolved yourself. This wouldn’t go anywhere romantic, but you could at least chat with the guy and have a nice dinner. If, uh, if he could eat, that is.
You approached table 13 and the monster finally seemed to notice you, sitting up straighter in his chair (god, seeing a skeleton move on its own gave you chills). His smile seemed wider now and the lights in his eyes brighter.
“Heya, pal,” a voice came from the skeleton, even though his mouth stayed shut and he didn’t have vocal chords ( it’s just monster magic weirdness. Monster magic, okay? Calm down ). “You must be my blind date for the evening.”
“Uh, yeah,” you hated how shaky your voice sounded, and cleared your throat in an attempt to fix it. “Yeah. My name’s (y/n).”
“The name’s Sans,” he said easily, “Sans the skeleton. Nice to meet ya, (y/n).”
He held out a hand for you to shake and you couldn’t keep your body from freezing again. Your eyes scanned the skinless digits and something in your stomach churned at the unnaturalness of it. You could feel your face go white, and that knowledge mortified you even more.
Sans’s grin dipped a bit at the edges, then rose back into something fainter as he pulled his hand back. “Sorry. Uh, not used to monsters?”
You wanted to punch yourself. You were being so damn rude! You might have hurt him less by just bailing when you had the chance!
“I, uh, really haven’t met many, no. I honestly didn’t expect to match with one first thing.”
Sans’s expressions were really hard to read, but you thought some of the casualness returned to his smile. “That’s fine, we can take it slow. Why don’t you take a seat?”
Your knees were beginning to feel weak from adrenaline-based fear and embarrassment, so you eagerly pulled your chair back and sat down across from him.
Is he a “he,” though? I mean, if he’s a skeleton all the way through, then he shouldn’t have any, uh… I need to stop thinking about this.
He had a nice deep voice, and you’d requested a male match, so you decided to consider Sans a he from now on.
“Hey, what do you get when you cross a stream and a brook?” Sans said suddenly, pulling you out of your thoughts.
You looked up at his glowing eyelights and desperately tried to ignore the fact that the rest of his face was literally just a skull without any skin on it. “Um, I don’t know?” you replied dumbly.
He closed one eye socket at you in a lazy wink ( Wait howthefuck—?! ) and drawled, “Wet feet.”
For a second, you were shocked still, but then the unexpected punchline collided with your frayed nerves like a ton of bricks and you burst out into raucous laughter, bending over the table, resisting banging it with your fists, and even snorting once or twice in a wholly unseemly display. However, when you managed to bring your gaze up (still laughing), Sans’s eyelights were big and bright. The skeleton man leaned back in his chair and stuffed his hands in his slacks’ pockets.
“There, that’s better. You looked like you needed a little icebreaker to help you loosen up.”
“Thanks,” you wiped a tear from your eye, “I really did.”
The waiter came around then and they both ordered their drinks. You got a water and Sans got some kind of alcoholic beverage. You couldn’t help staring at his jaw and cervical vertebrae and wondering just how on earth he was going to drink it.
Not good. You were starting to become aware again that you were sitting across the table from a living skeleton —
“Need another joke?” Sans’s deep, smooth voice offered.
You blushed and found an interesting spot on the table cloth to look at. “Y-yes please.”
“Alright. Why does a chicken coop have two doors?”
“Because if it had four, it would be a chicken sedan.”
Oh these were good! You fell victim to another bout of raucous laughter and Sans definitely looked pleased with himself.
The server arrived with your drinks at the tail end of your laughter and handed each of you a food menu to peruse. You stuck a straw into your water glass and took a sip, eyes on the menu as you flipped it open with one hand. You glanced up in time to see Sans tilt his glass back against his teeth, Amber liquid apparently slipping through the cracks and… not dripping out the bottom. He had his eyes on the menu, same as you did a moment ago, and he also glanced up, noticing you staring.
Sans tipped his head a bit to the side in a way that gave the impression that he was raising an eyebrow at you, and you blushed helplessly. You were embarrassed for staring, but you were equally or more curious. So you gestured at your water glass and your mouth and then at him and spluttered out a helpless, “How???”
Sans laughed, and it was a relaxing sound that eased some of your nervousness. He tapped his teeth with a blunt skeletal finger and mercifully gifted you with an explanation. “There’s magic in my mouth that decomposes it into new magic that my body can use for energy.”
You deflated somewhat as the tension left you. He made it sound really simple and obvious. “Oh, okay. That makes sense, I guess.”
Sans hummed curiously and took another drink of his alcohol. He set down the glass and laced his fingers. “(Y/n), do you… know what the difference is between human food and monster food?”
You looked back at him blankly. Until he had posed this question, you didn’t know there was a difference. You’d never eaten monster food before, and your exposure to any of their culture had been pathetically limited. There were just so few monsters around here that you never even had the chance to bump into any.
Sans took your blank look as your answer and explained in a smooth, easy tone. “Monster food is mostly magic and a little bit of matter, just like monsters. Human food is a little bit of magic and a lot of matter, just like humans. That’s the only difference, but it changes a lot.”
“Okay,” you said hesitantly. “So, uh… Is that going to be a problem? Like, can you still eat the food here?”
“I’ll be fine,” he smiled lazily. “I took some medicine when I got here to help my body digest it. I just figured that you’d be staring at me like that all night if I didn’t explain it to you first.”
You felt heat burning in your cheeks. Oh god staring at him like what? What kind of face had you been making?!
You nearly buried your face in your hands, but disguised it by brushing your hair back. “I’m so sorry. I’m being so rude.”
“Hey, don’t sweat it,” he waved a hand casually and glanced back down at his menu. “I get where you’re coming from. Let’s just decide what to eat, yeah?”
Still blushing, but feeling a little calmer thanks to Sans’s laidback attitude, you scanned the food selection. Somehow you made up your mind by the time the server came back. You and Sans ordered what you wanted and the server refilled your drink, they gave Sans a water to drink whenever his alcohol was gone.
“So, (y/n),” Sans said your name so easily, “What do you do for a living, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“O-oh, uh,” being surprised, you had to take a moment to reorient yourself. “I’m a computer hardware engineer in the private sector.”
“No kidding?” you thought his grin got wider, but the way his face moved was subtle, so you weren’t sure. You decided to focus on his eyelights instead, as they had grown noticeably brighter.
“What, are you interested?” You allowed yourself a playful smirk, “Most people think anything involving too much math is boring.”
“Buddy,” Sans chuckled, “math is my playground. I’m a particle physicist.” He took another swing of whatever was in his glass. “I’m in the government sector, though. In fact, that’s why I moved here.”
“Oh, really?” The fact that he was at or above your level in education and geekiness was surprising (good job, date-matching algorithm!), but you decided to steer the conversation along the other available route. “How long have you been in town?”
“It’s been about a month,” he smiled. “What about you? You a local?”
“No, I moved here for college and just kind of stayed. It’s been… oh my god, nine years?!” You propped your chin on your hands. “Man, time sure flies. I’m getting old!”
Sans chuckled, “Yeah, I know the feeling.” You looked up at him and he tilted his head at you again, clearly seeing through your questioning expression. Finally, he settled into a somewhat dangerous smirk. “So, since you’ve never seen a skeleton monster before, try and guess how old I am.”
“I’m not sure I want to know,” you said before you could stop yourself. Sans chuckled, but you thought he sounded slightly offended.
“I’m not ancient.”
“Right, sorry! Um…” Well you knew he was old enough to work as a particle physicist, so he had to be through college. After your last comment, you felt like you should guess on the low side to avoid hurting his feelings again. “Maybe… twenty-six?”
“Heh, nice guess. I’m twenty-five.”
Oh, shit. He’s actually younger than me.
Sans focused his eyelights on you, the edges becoming less fuzzy, and you automatically stiffened. He made a soft hmm sound and took a drink from his glass. “Twenty-seven?” he guessed.
Your mouth slipped open in surprise. “I’m impressed,” you said sincerely, “you got it.”
Sans chuckled and drained the last of his glass. “Thanks.”
The servers came with your food then. You started cutting into your fish but stopped to watch Sans lift his burger. He noticed you watching and grinned mischievously. “Watch it with the hot stares, my burger’s cooked enough already.”
You chuckled and popped a forkful of food into your mouth, keeping your eyes glued on Sans. You noticed his eyelights drop to your mouth as you chewed, and for a moment he looked just as curious as you felt.
You returned his mischievous smirk from earlier. “So are you actually going to eat your food or were you bluffing earlier when you said you could?”
He looked back up at your eyes and chuckled, then smiled with what you thought were… cautious, dimmed eyelights. “I’m gonna eat it. Just… don’t freak out, okay? My mouth does open.”
You blinked, caught off guard by the sudden sincerity. Had humans freaked out on him before? Probably a lot now that you considered it. You nodded seriously and fixed your eyes on the skeleton man’s teeth. He sighed through his nasal hole and you started to hear cracking sounds. Before your ears could decide where they were coming from, they got louder, and suddenly Sans’s grin had split into two rows of teeth with two sharp pairs of canines. His mouth opened wide enough to fit the burger, and bit down on it. He didn’t chew or swallow at all, but his mouth was empty again a moment later when he took another bite.
Sans looked up and caught you staring. You didn’t think you were making a bad face, but he smiled more nervously than before. “You okay over there, (y/n)?” He still didn’t move his mouth when he spoke.
“Oh! Yeah, I’m fine.” Surprisingly, you were. You were too busy being curious to be afraid or grossed out at that moment. “I was just wondering if you could taste anything. I don’t see a tongue in there.”
He looked a little relieved. “Yeah, I can taste it. When it breaks down into basic magic I get signals on all the flavors and stuff. I can’t really tell what kind of texture food has, though. I guess it’d be like if you tasted food with your stomach?”
You winced. Having thrown up before, you really didn’t want to taste what was in your stomach. “I’m glad I have a tongue then. My stomach is busy doing grosser things.” You went back to eating and Sans chuckled.
After dinner you sat around for a while longer, exchanging jokes and letting off steam by complaining about shit. But it was starting to get late and you needed to be heading home.
But before you could do that, this was technically a date, and you had to decide some things before leaving.
First, you’d had a surprisingly good time. Sans was friendly and very easy to talk to, and his jokes were amazing. Had you hit it off with him? Yes, you’d say you had. However (and you really, really felt awful saying this), you weren’t attracted to him. Like, at all. He was just way too deep in the uncanny valley for your taste.
So, as far as finding a romantic partner went, this had pretty much been a flop, but you thought you could maybe be friends with Sans. You worked in fields that dealt with a lot of the same shit, and he was super chill and funny, so you kind of wanted to keep in contact.
“So, uh,” you said suddenly, “It’s getting kind of late.”
“Oh, yeah. You probably want to get home, huh?”
“Yeah.” You dug around in your purse until you found your phone. You opened your contacts, putting it face up on the table and sliding it his way. “Could I maybe have your number so we can chat and stuff?”
His eyelights brightened in his owlish sockets. “Seriously?” You nodded, and he grinned. “Wow. I didn’t want to put you on the spot by asking for it, so I’m really glad you offered.”
He slid the phone back your way and you raised an eyebrow at him curiously. To which he chuckled and waved his phalanges at you. “Mind typing it for me? I can’t use touchscreens.”
You blushed and took your phone back, feeling stupid, and typed in the information Sans recited to you. You sent him a quick text with your name and his pocket buzzed. He pulled out a modern flip phone and grinned, saving you to his contacts. “So we’ll be in touch,” he said brightly.
“Yeah.” You chewed your lip. “Look, I don’t want to lead you on, so I’m gonna be upfront about this. I’m not really… interested, but I want to try being friends. You seem like a cool guy, Sans.”
His smile seemed to flatten for a moment, but he quickly fixed it. “Friends is fine,” he said in a gentle, understanding tone. “I’m just glad you gave me a chance. You looked like you were gonna bail when you first got here.”
“Oh god, you saw that?” You couldn’t help but hide your face behind your hands.
“Well,” he chuckled, “You were standing there awhile.”
“I’m sorry! It’s just— I’m sorry!”
“Hey, it’s fine,” he waved dismissively. “I get it. Like I said, I’m grateful you stuck through it. We got to know each other a little bit, and I think you seem pretty cool yourself. I’d love to stay in contact.”
You let out a relieved sigh and Sans stood up from his chair, walking around to your side of the table. You hurried to stand up as well and noticed with some surprise that you’ve got several inches on him. A short skeleton man with a comic streak, and he’s a particle physicist. What a guy I ran into.
You looked down, seeing Sans was offering his hand again for a parting handshake. You lifted your same hand in response and brought it closer, but before you could actually touch his bare bones you chickened out, not so elegantly stuffing it into your pocket. You saw the lights in Sans’s eye sockets flicker dimmer in a hurt expression, but he forced a lazy smile back onto his face.
“I’m sorry,” you murmured. “I’m such an asshole.”
“If you’re not comfortable with touching, I’ll respect your boundaries,” he shrugged. “It was nice meeting you, (y/n).”
You smiled weakly. “You too, Sans. Thanks for the good time.”
His smile relaxed a little. “No problem. If you ever need more fantastic jokes, just hit me up. And, uh,” he rocked a little on the heels of his feet, “I want to be upfront too. If you ever change your mind about just being friends, let me know. Because I think you’re smart and beautiful, and you have a great laugh.” He winked at you, and you were shocked by the open confession.
“W-wow. Um, thanks. I’m not that great though.”
Sans laughed and gave you a sly grin, “Buddy, that’s the best joke you’ve told all night.” He turned on his heels and started out ahead of you. “Talk to you later, I guess.”
“Goodbye... Sans,” you managed, still reeling.