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Twin Skeletons

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You were a firm believer in justice. You felt that if someone did something for you, then you were obligated to repay them. If someone punched you, then you fought back. And if someone couldn't protect themselves, it was your job to defend them, if it meant ending up in the principal's office with a bloody nose and another mark against your name.

Which it did.

Often.

"You just can't help yourself, can you?" Julie, the school nurse, had remarked as she was patching you up, somewhere between fond and exasperated as she smeared ointment on your knees. You'd been in here enough times over the past four years to be on a first-name basis.

You'd shrugged, wincing as your shoulder ached. You'd dislocated one of them in the fight. "Someone had to stand up for those monsters. Might as well be me." 

She'd snorted, placing yet another band aid over your knee. "I'm amazed they haven't kicked you out yet. You make up half the Incidents a year, you know that?" Warm affection slipped into her voice as she packed up her kit. "Always standing up for the little guy or delivering retribution. Our very own vigilante."

You'd fought down a blush and looked away from her, scratching a band aid on your arm self-consciously. Clearing your throat, you said, "Yeah, well, no offense to you or our esteemed principal-" You rolled your eyes, "But if I don't do something about it, nothing gets done. No one on the school board is gonna take bullying against monsters seriously."

Julie had smiled faintly, patting your knee gently. "You're a good kid. Try not to get into too much trouble this year, okay? And stop letting kids hit your nose! You're lucky you haven't broken it yet!"

"Thanks, Julie," you'd laughed, sliding off the bed and stretching. Stars your body feels like crap, but it was totally worth it.

You still thought so, even after sitting in the office for forty five minutes waiting for the old man to call you in and scold you. From what you understood, he was busy interrogating one of the other kids involved in the incident. You wonder which of the three jerks he was dealing with. He wouldn't get much out of Brian; kid was more stubborn than an ox. Jacob and Paisley, though, were more likely to squeal. 

You sigh and lean forward, propping your chin up with your good hand while the other draped over your knee. You replayed the moment in your head, making sure you had all the details in order. 

The fight started in the cafeteria. You'd been sitting with some friends and chatting about your latest language arts assignment when a scream had erupted. Of course you'd gotten up to investigate it, and found Brian had tried to dump his milk on a little blue flame elemental. His lackeys were standing off to the side, hiding their snickers behind their hands.

A crowd had begun to form, whispers rustling through the students, and your fingers curled into fists. You were ready to drop him right there, but it seemed another monster had decided to take up the challenge. They were a dark magenta color, with a set of impressive looking horns curling up from under their baseball cap and furious red eyes. They rounded the table as the other monsters present watched on, torn between joining the horned one, helping the elemental, and fleeing. 

While Jacob and Paisley had cringed away, Brian didn't even flinch when the monster got up in his face and started yelling. "What is wrong with you? Don't you know you could have hurt her?" 

Brian had rolled his eyes, smiling down at them unpleasantly. "I was just trying to keep everyone safe. Untamed fires can be dangerous, you know?"

The air had gone tense, crackling with energy, the anger of monsters so strong you could feel it. The monster had screamed and made as though to join me him, but their friends stepped forward, quickly wrangling them back.

You realized, with dread in your gut, that you were going to have to intervene. 

Brian watched with a sneer, taunting, "Ah-ah~ You're lucky your friends were here to stop you. Do you know how bad that would have looked?" He'd gestured around the room. "I mean, a mean, scary monster attacking a poor, defenseless human? Who do you think they'd side with." 

He'd leaned towards them with a nasty look. "You can't do anything to me, freak." 

And that was when you'd snapped. He hadn't even seen you coming; hadn't realized his screw up until your fist connected with the side of his head, knuckles driving into his ear. He'd screamed and stumbled back, thrown off balance and stunned as he cupped his ear. You took the chance to kick the back of his knees, bringing him to the floor. There was murder in his eyes as he looked up at you. 

"They may not be able to do anything to you," you began, with bravado you didn't feel, arms crossing, "But I can."

And the rest was, as they say, history. Some teachers eventually arrived to tear you all apart and march your bleeding butts down to the nurse's office. They hadn't arrived before you'd given Jacob a concussion, knocked out a few of Paisley's teeth, and blackened both of Brian's eyes, however. You hadn't even realized that your arm was dislocated until the teacher pulling you along had jerked your arm especially hard. Suffice it to say, he was slightly horrified by the noise you'd made.

You were pulled from your thoughts by the sound of the door opening. You raised your head, warily eyeing Brian as he stalked out of the office. He came straight up to you, shoulders hunched menacingly as he looked over you. His fists shook like he wanted to punch you, but was holding back. Despite the racing of your heart, you refused to back off. You couldn't show this jerk any fear. 

"I will get you for this, you monster-loving freak," he hissed, jabbing a finger at you. 

You raised one brow, unimpressed. "Is that really the best you can come up with? We're not in fifth grade anymore, Smith." You stood up, forcing him to shuffle back, and smiled sweetly up at him. "Why don't you run home to mommy and ask her to kiss your boo-boos now?" 

You could swear a vein was going to burst in his forehead, and he looked ready for round two. Unfortunately for him, the principal chose that moment to call you, and Brian growled in frustration. He shot you one last poisonous glare, shoving past you and storming out of the office.

You smirked after him until he was out of sight, and only then did you let your defiant posture sag. You gripped your shirt tightly, feeling your heart hammer under your shaking hands. You took a few deep breaths to calm yourself, closing your eyes and counting to twenty slowly.

Sure, you could talk a big game. You could fight to back it up. You were brave when it called for it, and you looked out for others. 

But stars if it didn't terrify you every time.

When you felt a little more stable, you pulled yourself back together and fixed your posture, tucking your hands into your pockets with faux confidence. It was very convenient for hiding your trembling hands. 

With that, you stepped into the office, slowly pulling the door shut behind you.

 

 

Your suspension was only three days instead of a full week this time- surprisingly, considering what had happened- so you were back at school the following Monday. It was pretty much exactly the same as always. 

Except now monsters eyed you everywhere you went.

They weren't hostile or wary or anything. They just... Sort of stared at you when you passed. Some of them nodded when they saw you looking, some turned away, and some- most jarringly- even smiled at you. They'd never been... Outright hostile or anything, but the only monsters you ever interacted with we're your classmates, and you didn't even know half of the students staring at you now. 

It made you... Deeply uncomfortable. They acted like you'd done something momentous, but you really hadn't. You'd just done what any decent person would have.

Well... Most decent people probably wouldn't get into fist fights. Whatever. If it got them to leave the monsters alone, you'd take it. 

Your human classmates we're just as bad, if not a little worse. At least none of the monsters looked at you like you'd spat on their ancestor's grave or something. Some humans seemed to admire what you'd done, but it was drowned out by the sneers, acerbic whispers, and hateful glances. You pointedly ducked your head and did your best to ignore them. You were used to having enemies. People didn't do what you did and get away without a few vengeful jerks. 

You were relieved when you'd finally made it to class. At least now you could hide at your desk and pretend everyone wasn't staring at you. You haphazardly threw your bag onto the ground next to your table, sliding into the seat with a soft groan. You all but melted against the desk, flipping up your hood and crossing your arms under your head. You preceded to bury your face in your hoodie's arms, sighing softly. Finally, peace at last-

Something tackled you, draping over your back and crushing you to the desk. You wheezed for breath, eyes popping open as pain exploded in your ribs. The jerk sprawled across you had the audacity to laugh, arms wrapping around your neck. They were doing a very good job of assassinating you. "Oops! Sorry about that!" He giggled, not sounding sorry at all, and you groaned as you recognized the voice. 

Of course it was Joey. Who else would be bold enough to attempt and murder you in broad daylight like this? "Jo, ribs, dying," you rasped, struggling to push him up and relieve some of the pain on your chest. You wondered if you'd bruise. 

Joey snickered, leaning back far enough to allow you to sit up and freely breathe. You gratefully gasped for air, playfully scowling as you realized that his arms hadn't left your neck. "Sorry buddy, but you know you love me too much to kill me!" 

"Debatable." 

He stuck his tongue out, so of course you reached up and tried to punch it. He jerked away with a laugh, pulling his tongue back into his mouth. "You can't steal my tongue!" 

"Then stop leaving it where I can grab it." You lightly patted his arms, grinning as he chuckled next to your ear. "Sit down, moron, you're cutting off my air supply." 

"I'm doing no such thing," he argued primly, squeezing you quickly before detaching and flopping into the chair next to yours. He leaned towards you, smile turning mischievous. "So! How's our beloved vigilante this morning?"

Your mood quickly soured as you groaned. "Nooooo, not you too!" You should have known better than to hope that he wouldn't bring it up. He knew just how much the whole thing would embarrass you and he still talked about it anyways. You officially hate him. "I really wish everyone would stop making such a fuss about it. All I did was beat up a couple of jerks." 

Joey shoved you. "Um, no? Dude, you did a whole lot more than that. You stood up for the monsters. When the Bystander Effect had immobilized everyone else, you did something! You're, like, one of the heroes!" 

You shudder, face flushing. You are definitely not a hero. You're a scared kid with a tough guy act just trying to do the right thing and give people what they deserve. You roll your eyes and avert your gaze, suddenly finding the desk very interesting. Nice graffiti. "Whatever. I'm just your average Joe trying to survive high school."

"Right, uh-huh, "average Joe"," Joey drawled, suddenly digging around for his phone. You watched curiously as he began furiously typing away, eyebrows scrunched as he searched for something. His little "Ah hah!" Was lost under the blare of the bell, and then he was shoving the phone into your face. 

You spluttered softly, fishing it out of his hands with a quick glare. He grinned and gestured to the phone, and you huffs but followed his directions. 

He'd pulled up some website you didn't recognize. The background was a dark red color, with articles and posts outlined in thick black boxes. The words were white, and the banner was gold, simply reading "Monster Time". The familiar signature of the Delta Rune, the monster's crest, sat next to the words in gold and white. 

You quirked an eyebrow. "Okay. What the heck am I looking at." 

"It's the monster's social media!" He exclaimed, like he'd been waiting for you to ask, the nerd. "It's super cool, but that's not what I want you to look at! Click on the news option and scroll down a bit!" 

Humming, you quickly located the glowing gold "NEWS" tab, slimming through the titles of articles. You had no clue what he wants you to- 

Wait. What.

Scroll up. 

What?? 

oh my stars no.

There's a video with an all-too-familiar human looming over an all-too-familiar blue fire and your heart is in your throat as you click on it. There's no way it's what you think it is.

But it's exactly what you thought it was. The whole thing, from Brian calling her dangerous to the moment when the teacher's broke you up. They'd gotten a pretty clear shot of your face too. There was no denying it was you.

With a low moan of disbelief, you hand the phone back and bury your face in your arms again. You cannot believe this. This cannot be happening. How did this happen. 

"That's not the only one, either!" Joey gleefully announces, totally unaware- or perhaps entirely aware- of how you're dying inside. "Several monsters who were at the scene took videos or posted about it. Pretty much everyone in the monster community knows about it!" 

No wonder everyone was giving you weird looks today. You're boiling alive in your own skin. "Oh my stars. Somebody please kill me," you whine, muffled from the prison of your arms. 

Joey laughs, nudging you playfully. "Stop being such a baby! So you're a little famous now, big deal! You should be used to it. You're on of the four most feared people in school."

You lift your head, confused. "Four? What do you mean, four? Who are the other three?"

Abruptly, the room falls silent. You both look around, wondering if maybe they were eavesdropping, but the true cause of their silence quickly becomes apparent. It's lingering at the front of the classroom in black leather jackets and sharp red eyes. 

"Oh," you mumble, shrinking a little as you take them in. 

Sans and Papyrus Serif stand silent in front of all of you. They don't even look irritated or anything- just their presence is enough to make people shut up.

You have no clue what they're waiting for. Their desks are up at the front, so why are they-

"Holy crap," Joey whispers, eyes wide as he grabs your arm. "They're looking right at you!"

And they're heading right your way.

The room watches is absolute silence, with bated breath, as the pair stroll down the rows of tables, still heading right your way...

And promptly take the seats to your left.

The bell rings.

Chapter Text

Sans and Papyrus Serif. 

Skeleton monsters (possibly the only in existence?? You've never seen their parents). Seniors at Ebott High. 

Two of the four most feared people to walk these halls.

And they're sitting right next to you?

What??? 

You see, the three of you have this... thing. An unspoken treaty, if you will, that says that if you stay out of their business, they'll stay out of yours. Which works great for you; you have no qualms about leaving the spooky scary skeletons to their business. 

Your little "embargo" goes back four years to the first day of high school. You'd been caught in the scramble trying to get your schedule, hunched in on yourself uncomfortably as you waited for the giant line at the tables to die down a bit. You'd been minding your own business and fiddling with your phone to distract yourself when you'd heard some obnoxiously loud, mean laughter. When you'd reluctantly checked it out, you found a pair of older kids picking on a pair of monsters- none other than Sans and Papyrus.

Now it should be said that you didn't just develop your penchant for involving yourself in other people's business. You'd been getting involved in dealing justice since you were in elementary school. The only difference now was that you actually had the skills and the reputation to back you up. 

So it was really no surprise when you'd felt the familiar terror-anger that fuels all your actions and stormed up to them. You didn't hesitate to tell them off, and the upperclassmen were so startled to see tiny little baby you calling them out that they left without a word. 

It should also be said that you don't expect any sort of gratitude when you do these things. Yours is a thankless job.

You never expected that it would result in a giant six foot skeleton screaming in your face that he "DIDN'T NEED HELP FROM A PATHETIC HUMAN." 

You and several others had watched in stunned silence as he glowered down at you, face red with rage, before turning heel and stalking through the crowd, shoving others out of the way. Sans had looked between the two of you nervously for a moment, then muttered a soft "see ya" as he took off after his brother. You'd simply remained where you stood, slack-jawed. 

The next day, a fight broke out in the commons. When you went to check it out, you found none other than Papyrus, one foot planted on some kid's back. When he saw you looking, he gave you a smug, triumphant grin, quirking one eyebrow as though to say, "See? I can take care of myself."

Okay. Message received loud and clear, boss.

So for the most part you ignored Papyrus and he ignored you, and you'd only ever had gym and strength training classes with him, and sometimes you saw him at lunch, but it wasn't like you were in contact with him a lot. That didn't mean you never heard about him, of course. He was big in the athletics department, specifically basketball, with his friend Undyne- who was a terrifyingly buff fish lady who could suplex tables. Not someone you messed with. 

After that first year, they didn't get in any more fights, but they didn't need to. They were intimidating enough on their own. Everyone was convinced they were in a gang or a mafia or something, and both brothers had a tongue that could cut steel. No one wanted to end up on their bad side and everyone did what they could to stay off their radar, including you.

So you had no clue why he was suddenly approaching you like this. Had you done something to tick him off? Stepped over some line in your peace treaty? Maybe you needed to draw up an actual contract, just to be clear where you all stood. Or maybe this was about Tuesday? Maybe he wanted to stab you?? You just didn't know and you were frightened???

The teacher slowly resumed class, still clearly very off put, and you decided that the best course of action was just to pretend like it was business as usual. You gently pried Joey off your arm and fumbled in your backpack for your notes and a pen. You heard a small huff from your left and cringed, wondering which of them had made the noise and what it meant. Were they making fun of you for being scared? Or maybe for how unprepared you were. Stars, you probably looked like a mess to someone as organized as Papyrus. You don't really know why you care what he thinks but here you are, you suppose.

 

 

Class was... actually not... as bad as you thought it would be? After a bit it actually started to feel just like a normal class. At first there were some whispers and awkward stares, but that stopped pretty quickly for some reason. You... have a feeling one of the brothers was responsible for that, but you really don't have any proof, so you decide to just brush it off. Papyrus didn't try to talk to you or anything, diligently taking notes or answering questions, and eventually his presence at your side just became normal. Just like any other classmate. Even Sans' occasionally disruptive snoring was beginning to sort of grow on you. A little. 

You couldn't say the same for Joey, who kept shooting you nervous looks like he was expecting the skeletons on your other side to spontaneously combust. 

People began to pack up five minutes before the bell, as usual, despite the teacher's protest. You couldn't shuck your belongings into the bag quickly enough, and Joey was already across the room, talking spastically to some of his friends up at the front- probably about what happened today, if his rapid gestures were an indication. You smiled fondly, shaking your head at him. 

You've just slung your bag over your shoulder and gotten up when a gruff voice calls your name. You freeze, shoulders stiffening as you slowly look back. Sure enough, Papyrus is eyeing you, expression completely blank. You can't decide if this is better or worse than if he was frowning at you. 

With a lump in your throat, you force your shoulders to relax and adapt a looser stance, offering him a crooked smile. "Can I help you with something?"

He stands up, reminding you of just how giant he is. It's really not fair. You busy yourself with counting to twenty several times over, glancing at Sans as he stirs and sits up. It's almost... cute how blurry his eye lights look, and how he rubs one socket with his fist. Despite him being just as intimidating and well-known as Papyrus, he's always been calmer and quieter than his brother. You've had him in a couple science classes over the years- even been forced to partner with him in some of them. You'd always limit communication as much as possible, of course, and it would always be... really awkward, but you can get along with him a lot better than Papyrus. 

Speaking of Papyrus, the behemoth has placed a hand on your desk and is now leaning closer to you, and you can feel your mask slipping a little bit. Would he just... say what he wants? Instead of looming over you like a crow eyeing a piece of meat or something? You clear your throat subtly, leaning away from his slightly, and he seems to startle a little. The faintest hint of red has surfaced on his cheeks again and you die a little inside. What have you done to tick him off now?

"Leave these seats open," he says abruptly, making you jump. You were starting to believe he was just going keep staring at you, honestly. 

W-wait. What. Had he just said. "Uh. I'm sorry, what?"

His face turns a brighter shade and your brain stalls further. Is he... is he blushing?! Is that how he blushes?? You have so many questions! What is going on right now?? It's his turn to clear his throat, straightening out and crossing his arms. His eyes dart away from you and over his shoulder to Sans, who makes a "go on" sort of gesture. He nods, seemingly emboldened by this, and turns back to you. "Human! Leave- erm... Please leave these seats. Open. Until further notice."

You think you can feel your soul leave your body. You are flung into the farthest corners of another realm of existence to scream in confusion. Your body remains tethered in place while your soul is taken on a ride through the cosmos.

What the heck??? Did Papyrus Serif just ask you "please"? You're dreaming. You've gotta be dreaming. Or hallucinating. There's a gas leak somewhere in the building and it's screwed with your mind. You've contracted a fatal disease and this is your fever dream to death.

While you're busy having an existential crisis and questioning reality, Papyrus and Sans grow increasingly more uncomfortable with your continued silence. They glance at each other, and Sans shrugs, and it's only when the bell rings that your soul snaps back from the other realm and you can make yourself respond. Your voice comes out very choked and confused as you all-but ask, "Sure?"

You could swear that for a moment there are stars in Papyrus' sockets, and then he's nodding curtly to you, back to being an unreadable wall. "Excellent. Goodbye, human."

And then he's gone and you feel like you're going to faint.

 

 

After the madness of the school day, you are incredibly relieved for the reprieve of your job at the library. When you're in the library, everyone is either too busy finding books, checking books out, or sorting books. People are here to use your WiFi and have last minute cram sessions, so no one really has time to grill you about anything beyond where the kid's section is. You can lose yourself to the monotonous repetition of picking up a book from your cart, checking the stickers, and sliding it in place. You have fun reading all of the surrounding titles to yourself in your head, making up stories and guessing what they must be about by their names. You even enjoy sorting the bins in the back, checking holds in and out and passing books on to other libraries.

You hum softly to yourself, pulling another book off your cart and turning it over, scanning the bar code on the inside. You've already left a sizable dent in your load. You scan them quickly and deftly tuck them into a cart on your other side. You like to be quick and efficient about your books, so you make sure to arrange them alphabetically. That's how they'll end up on the shelves anyways, might as well get a head start?

"You seem happy today," an older voice suddenly comments, and you swivel in your chair to face the woman. She's short and stout and though her hair is completely silver and grey, she looks young and lively. Her tag reads "Sophie". She bustles over to you, leaning on the cart to your right with a grin. "Something good happen today?"

"Not really," you reply sheepishly, cringing as you think back to the day. "It was actually really hectic, so I'm just happy to be back in the library. Much less chaotic here."

She snorts, raising an eyebrow at you. "Really? You call this mess "less chaotic?"" She sweeps her arm out at the office, where several other librarians hustle from cart to cart, sorting and fixing machines and emptying bins and pushing carts in and out. It is a little busier than usual today, but you attribute that to all the projects you know are being heaped onto kids in school. "Does this have anything to do with your little stunt Tuesday?" she asks next, leaning close to you with a scrutinizing look.

You groan and tip your head back, rubbing your face exasperatedly. "No! Not you too! Do you even know how many people have asked me about that? Stars, yes, okay, I defended a monster, big deal!" 

Sophie chuckles, reaching out to pat you in a slightly patronizing way. "Sorry sweetheart, but that kind of thing gets noticed in a small town with a large monster community like Ebott. I mean, what did you think would happen? Kids these days video everything."

"You're right and I hate it," you grumble, finally pulling your hands away from your face to frown at her.

She just grins at you, ruffling your hair until you whine. "Don't worry, hon. This'll all be over before you know it. People will forget all about it in a couple of weeks. Now!" She straightens up, placing both hands on her hips. "Finish these up as quick as you can and then come help us with the movies. We're overflowing!"

"Sure thing, Sophie," you agree, smiling after her. She waves you off and you turn back to your carts. 

You finish not long after that, slipping the last book into the overstuffed cart and abandoning the desk. Maneuvering it is slightly tricky business, but you've had months of practice by this point, and it's practically second-nature by now.  You meander out of the office, throwing smiles to patrons who happen to catch your eye as you bank to the left and head for the romance section. 

The romance section is mostly empty, save for a few giggly teen girls a few rows over reading passages out of some trashy cowboy novel. You ignore them in favor of picking up your first book and tracking down its spot amidst its brethren. You easily fall into the rhythm- pick up book, read number, count numbers, slide in place, repeat- and lose your connection with the outside world. It's just you and the books, and you wouldn't have it any other way.

You shelve in peace for about ten minutes and are on your last few books when it happens. That dreaded moment when you have a book that goes on those star's forsaken upper shelves that are just out of reach. You sigh heavily, eyeing the book in your hand like it's personally offended you, and glance around the aisle you're standing in for a stool. When you don't find any, you roll your eyes and putter around to the next shelf, giving it a quick once-over. Nothing.

It's at that moment that you remember that you saw one up a few shelves, so you go and hunt it down. Thankfully it's in the same place you remembered seeing it, so you drag it back to your cart triumphantly. 

There's someone standing there. It takes you a few moments to realize that it's Sans. 

And he's holding one of the books??

"Uh," you say, and then wince, because you definitely had not meant to let him know that you'd seen him.

Sans startles and whips towards you, sockets wide, and then fumbles in his hurry to shove the book back into the cart. It looks... like he's sweating. And blushing??? Stars you really wish life would start making sense again. "Uh, heh, sorry, I wasn'... I wasn't tryin' to take it, or anythin', I was just, uh..." He stuffs his hands in his pockets. "I wasn't lookin' at it or anythin'. I was just, uh, wastin' time..."

...You're calling it now. Sans is a closet romantic. This information makes it a little easier to give him a tentative smile as you pull the stool closer to your chest. "It's cool, I didn't think you were." He doesn't say anything, just grins at you awkwardly, so you risk coming back to your cart and setting the stool down in place. He makes room for you, looking away. "So, uh... What brings you here?" you ask, and then immediately berate yourself because wow, that's a stupid question, he's literally in the library. Why else would he be here?

Thankfully, Sans doesn't call you out on your stupidity. What he does say still surprises you. "Actually, I was thinkin' about gettin' a job here... Tryin' to find someone an' ask 'em how to get 'n interview."

You blink, surprised, and turn to stare at him incredulously. "Really? You want a job here? Why?" Wait, shoot, that's rude, backpedal! "Uh, I mean, not that there's anything wrong with working here, it's great actually, everyone's super nice and helpful and it's actually kinda fun I just don't really understand? I didn't think libraries were really your... your, uh..." Where are you going with that sentence? You don't know, so you just shut up and pretend you don't feel like defenestration is your best option. 

He chuckles. Chuckles, like what you've said is funny somehow. Is he making fun of you? He's probably making fun of you. That's okay; if you were him, you'd make fun of yourself too. Stars you're a mess. And not even a hot one. "Not really my scene, you mean?" he fills in, and with no other real option, you sort of just. Awkwardly nod. "Heh. Well, uh, you ain't wrong. Not that I don' like readin' an' all that crap, s'just, uh... Heh... I never remember to return my books."

You snort before you can help yourself, and then immediately cover your nose, absolutely mortified. Crap, you hadn't meant to laugh. That's it. You're "tough guy" image has been thoroughly trounced. Please let me die now.

Sans, however, looks... happy. Maybe happy that he made you laugh...? That doesn't make sense. You banish that thought instantly. You're imagining it. "Hehe. Yeah, see, I picked up this book 'bout gravity once, right?" He leans closer, and then he winks at you. He freaking winks. You're going to pass out so hard when you get home you're not waking up for a century. "Was impossible to put down."

Neither of you are expecting you to actually laugh at that. This has been such a crazy, stressful, messed up day, and now Sans Serif is making puns at you and he wants to work in the library and he gets embarrassed about liking romance novels, and stars if that isn't the funniest thing. 

"We're getting you this job," you declare weakly when your chuckles die down, wiping your eyes. You hadn't realized he'd literally driven you to tears with his crappy joke. You sigh and straighten up, shooting him a more honest smile, and you think for a moment there are stars in his sockets, but you're not sure. "C'mon, I can bring you back and you can talk with Sophie, okay?" You grab your cart, beckoning for him to follow, which he does dazedly. "Fair warning though, it's a crazy, taxing job. No naps," you warn, shaking a finger at him.

This seems to knock him back into his normal self, because he smirks up at you mirthfully. "You callin' me lazy, sweetheart?"

"What? No, of course not. I just don't want to see Sophie yell at you because you're snoozing in the bookshelves."

"That was freshmen year sweetheart, you ever gonna let that go?"

"Absolutely not."

Everything about today may have been a mess and the world may or may not be ending, but at least one good thing came of it.

Chapter Text

Strength training was both a blessing and a curse. The class was filled with stupid, rowdy jock boys who were only there to goof off and screw around with equipment and show off to the few girls in the class, and the girls were only there to gossip and check out the gross sweaty boys. The only ones who took it even remotely seriously were you, Papyrus, and Undyne, and to be quite frank, those two were terrifying.  They used the largest weights, did the most reps, and shouted the loudest. 

Stars, did they ever shout. 

So when class rolled around you elected to do the smart thing and just tune out the class and, when the option was presented to you, go hide on the farthest corner. This was a little difficult, as most of the equipment wasn't exactly "cart off to a corner and hide" material, but occasionally you could snag a couple of weights or no one would be using the treadmills or bikes and you'd just kind of waste class that way.

Honestly, strength training was kind of fun, if you ignored literally everyone else. You could always find new ways to push your limits and get stronger, and it gave you at least ninety minutes to just be alone with your thoughts. Just like the library, you could lose yourself in the monotony and repetition of lifting weights or punching sand bags or doing pull ups.

And sometimes you even stopped to watch the two Titans go at it, competing with one another in an almost playful manner. They were terrifying, yes, and absolutely crazy, but it was kind of amazing to see what they could do. They were ridiculously strong and they seemed to just... Go, non-stop. You kind of envied their energy. 

When you arrived, the first thing you did was check the calendar on the wall next to the teacher's desk. There was a sort of pattern to classes- some days would be "leg days" or "arm days", some would be testing days or check ins, some were free days, and so on- and checking the calendar was pretty much the only way to know what you'd be focusing on that day, seeing as how your teacher sort of just let you all do whatever. Looks like today was a Partner Day. Great.

Partner Days were... Not bad, per say, as long as you were paired with someone you could at least tolerate. Which... Okay, there weren't many, but at least you could be civil about it. Basically you just went around to the same stations and tested one another and "cheered each other on". It was supposed to be a sort of team building exercise, but for most people it was just awkward and annoying. It was also pretty much just like every other day of class, except you didn't really have a choice of who you hung out with unless you followed their group or whatever. It was just... Really, really stupid. 

You sighed and took your usual place in the corner, getting in some preemptive warm up stretches. You also used this as an excuse not to have to talk to anyone, and most mornings it worked.

Most mornings, but with all the craziness this week, why should today be any different? 

You had just leaned over your legs, hooking your fingers around your toes and stretching your back, when someone sat beside you. You startled a little, legs screaming in protest as you jerked awkwardly. With a pained hiss through your teeth, you slowly sat back up, cupping your stinging thigh. 

A soft chuckle had you freezing, remembering just why you'd injured yourself in the first place, and what had thrown your week into chaos. With comical slowness, you turned your head to hesitantly glimpse at who had frightened you. Maybe you were wrong, and it wasn't...

It was definitely Papyrus. Why me? 

He had infiltrated your dark corner, making himself at home next to you and starting his own stretches while you stared at him like he'd grown several heads. Honestly, could anyone blame you? What on earth was he doing? He'd never come over to warm up with you before. 

Why was he just... Suddenly... Breaking all the rules of your treaty? What had possessed him to... To seek you out? You were so tired of not knowing, and that familiar prickle of anxiety and anger had you bracing yourself. You were going to demand an explanation, and if he didn't tell you, then you'd-!

"Okay, everyone line up! I'm assigning partners!"

You're freaking kidding me, you thought, dismayed, turning your betrayed gaze to your teacher. He just had to choose that exact moment to come to class. This was the actual worst. It was like the universe was trying to drive you insane. 

You hauled yourself to your feet with a groan, then remembered your... Corner companion... And turned around to hold a hand out, more out of instinct than anything. When you'd realized what you'd done- when he'd realized, half-kneeling and staring up at you blankly- you felt yourself die a little inside. You wanted so very badly to just turn heel and run. 

Just when you'd started to seriously consider it, he took your hand, and you. You just sort of. Sat there. Eyes on his hand. 

Bones felt... Weird. Hard and just a little colder than a human's. There were little cracks and chips from wear, and probably from more than a few thrown punches... They were long and thin and huge, what the heck, his hand literally engulfed yours- 

"Ahem," your teacher suddenly spoke up, startling you from your daze, and you realized with no small amount of horror that you were still just standing here holding Papyrus' hand like an idiot, and you felt lightheaded. "If you two lovebirds would care to join us..."

This is it. This is how you die. Any second now your heart is going to beat so hard it'll just... Explode or something. Or maybe you'll spontaneously combust. Either of those would be really great right about now, thanks. 

Your only solace was that Papyrus looked even worse than you did, with his face burning a bright red and his teeth slightly parted. He stood quickly after that, and then moved to join the rest of your class, and it was only after you squealed in surprise that he seemed to notice he was still holding your hand and stars, that was it, no one could take you seriously anymore. You don't want to think of how mortified you probably look. Everyone was gonna think you were dating and Papyrus was going to be so mad and probably murder you, though honestly you think maybe that's a good thing at this point, maybe you'll just let him do it and get it over with- 

You don't hear who your partner is. Your brain just sort of shuts down and you go on autopilot. 

You can't get the feeling of his bones out if your mind.

 

 

"Joey, please, if you have any love for me at all, you'll kill me," you moan as you melt against the table, pressing your face to the cool surface. You're absolutely dying, whole body stewing in embarrassment.

Joey, the jerk, has the gall to laugh at you, his forehead pressed to the table for an entirely different reason and his arms around his stomach. He makes awful wheezing, squawking noises as he laughs, drawing attention and prompting your other table mates to snicker with him. 

Hailey leans over from the table next to him, gently patting your shoulder. "I think you're being a little dramatic, dear. So you had a bit of an embarrassing moment, big deal. In a few weeks no one will remember it." She shrugs lackadaisically, leaning back and sipping out of her juice box, smiling affectionately at Joey as he continued to choke on his laughter. 

You scowled at her. "Like you can talk. You're literally always calm about everything. Nothing phases you." Not that anyone ever tried to embarrass her, either- pretty, popular and the Senior class president, Hailey was pretty much universally loved by the student body. She actually made things better for the population and was kind to everyone she met. You kind of envied her easygoing nature. 

Lucas flopped against your shoulder, stealing a few tater tots. You sighed and pushed the boat over to him, and he grinned up at you as he popped another one in his mouth. "Thanks bae. And Hailey's totally right! I bet everyone's already forgot all about it."

"Well, I don't know about that. Bit too early to say they've forgotten."

"Hailey, we are trying to make them feel better, not worse!"

"I'm just trying to be realistic!"

You sigh and rest your head in your hands. You love your friends, you really do, but they can be so... Conflicting.

Joey finally reigned himself in, letting out a long whooshing sound as he smirked at you. "I'm telling you, buddy, Papyrus is totally crushing on you. I mean, yesterday with the seat? Exercising with you and holding your hand? He's got it bad!"

"Don't even joke," you whine, pressing your palms into your eyes. "That makes no sense. He hated me literally last week. I doubt just standing up for some monsters would make him... Make him..."

"You can't even say it!" Joey cackles, bursting into little giggles if delight. You hate him so much.

Hailey sighs, hiding a smile behind her hand as she strokes his arm. "Now now darling. You shouldn't tease the poor thing. They're confused enough as it is." She looks back to you thoughtfully. "You're right though. I don't think Papyrus is the kind of guy who would crush on someone that easily."

Ugh, thank goodness, at least you have Hailey as the voice of reason-

"So he's probably liked you for a lot longer."

NO! You trusted her!! Betrayal!!!! "Hailey noooo, I thought you were on my siiiiiiiiide!" You flailed at her, burying your face back into the table to try and hide from your embarrassment. 

Hailey giggled delicately, while the other two guys just snickered at your misfortune. "Sorry dear, but I have to call it like I see it. It sounds to me like he's developed a crush, one way or another."

"Or maybe he's being friendly? Or trying to kill me? Or literally anything but that?" You squeak desperately, folding your hands over your head. You are quickly becoming overwhelmed by their teasing, your nerves burning unpleasantly. You have to get them either to see reason or drop the topic. 

"I think she has a point, actually," Lucas says, lightly nudging you. "Like, okay, so a few weeks ago when we were in that assembly right, and he was like, three rows up or whatever, I happened to look back and he was staring at you. Like, intensely. And then that fish chick- you know, the freaky loud one?- started nudging him and teasing him and he got a red. I think he was checking you out!"

That's it. That's all you can take. You stand abruptly, grabbing your bag clumsily. Your friends call your name as you spin and flee the table, head ducked so no one can make out your flustered expression. Your head hurts and you just want to be somewhere dark and quiet where they won't look for you. Your first instinct is the library, but you know they'd track you down instantly. You need to go somewhere else if you want to avoid them.

Your feet guide you through the halls and up a flight of stairs, and you find yourself standing before your physics class. It's perfect, because none of your friends will even come near the physics classes, and it's your next class. You can just sit here in the dark and solitude until lunch ends! Perfect. You just have to hope that your teacher left it open. 

Miracle of miracles, she did. You nearly weep for joy when you crack it open, slowly leaning in and observing the room. For some awful reason, none of the science classes have windows, and between that and the fact that the lights are off, the room is pitch black. Excellent. 

You crept into the room slowly, hands out to feel around and make sure you didn't run into anything. You picked your way to the edge of the room, using your phone to see if there were any available spaces to sit or curl up for a- 

OH MY GOD IT'S A BODY. 

You can't stop yourself from letting out a startled shriek, backpedaling into a table. Pain exploded in your lower back and leg as you trip over the leg and hit the floor, dropping your phone. You hear a grunt, and then the sound of someone shuffling, and you can just barely make out the shape of something moving in the dark.

"Who the he-" an all-too-familiar voice started to bark, a growl in their voice. A moment later, a pair of red eye lights blinked into existence, bathing their face in eerie shadows, and their are seemed to melt away. "S... Sweetheart? What are you doin' here?"

Unfortunately, you were a little busy recovering from your heart attack to answer him, clutching your chest and breathing shallow. You could have sworn for a second there you felt your soul leave your body.

"Ah, crap, sweetheart, are you okay-" Sans muttered, crawling over towards you clumsily, and you were too stunned to acknowledge his worry. 

Slowly, your breathing began to level out, and then you were laughing, a little hysterically honestly. You fell back, covering your face. You felt so... You don't even know. You have so many emotions right now and they're all spilling out in the form of maniacal laughter. Stars, what a crazy day. 

Sans was leaning over you now, looking undeniably amused. "Didn't think ya fell that hard, sweetheart. Do I need ta' call the looney bin?"

"I thought you were a dead body!" You wheezed, curling onto your side to look up at him. You probably looked pretty crazy right about now. "I thought- I thought- oh stars, what the heck, were you... We're you just- just napping in here?"

Sans shrugs, grinning as he sits back. "Pretty much. Very convenient class fer catchin' up on some z's. Didn't think anyone would come in here." He leans over you, smirking. "Looks like I was dead wrong." 

And then he winks at you for the second time in two days and you're pretty sure your sides are going to split. Everything is just so funny right now. You're so out of it. 

Finally you pull yourself together and sit up, rubbing your eyes with a sigh. Sans has moved to lean against the cupboards behind him, turning on his phone's flashlight so you can see a little better. He looks... Happy, almost, and sort of proud. His eye lights have faded into tiny, fuzzy white dots that make him look softer. It's weird how open he is with you sometimes. You've never seen him make an expression like that for anyone else. 

Suddenly, you feel very flustered, remembering what your friends had been teasing you about, and you rush to get it off your mind. "So! Um. Do you... Always come here?"

"Eh. Sometimes. Sometimes I eat with m'bro. Just depends on how much sleep I got the night before, He." He watches you curiously as you move to lean against the cupboards a little ways away from him. "An' what about you? What brought ya to the graveyard?" He winks at you. 

You laugh nervously, drawing your legs up against your chest. "Oh, nothing really, just wanted to get to class ahead of time, y'know? And maybe get a little time to myself." You cringe a little and hurry to assure him, "Not! Not that I mind that you're here or anything, it's fine, I mean you were here first... You know what, I should just go, I mean you were trying to sleep and I just screamed at you, so-"

"Stop," Sans abruptly interjected, and despite the fact that he'd done it gently, you still flinched a little, huddling in closer to yourself. Dang it, you felt so... Pathetic! What was it about him that made you drop your guard so much? "S'fine okay? Was probably gonna wake up soon anyway. Gotta get food an' all that, you know? So s'okay. Just... Stay here."

"Okay," you mumbled, relaxing a little back into your curled up position. You watched curiously as he dragged his bag closer to himself, rifling around in it for a moment.

He pulled out a pair of tin foil wrapped sandwiches. You glanced at them curiously, smelling something absolutely delicious from it. Chicken maybe? Whatever it was, it reminded your body that you'd only eaten half your lunch, and your stomach was now gurgling. You groaned and pressed your face into your knees, pretending you couldn't hear Sans laughing at you.

Something crackled as it bumped against your knee, and you looked up to find that Sans was tapping you with one sandwich, the other already partially unwrapped and sporting a large bite mark. He raised a brow at you, shaking the sandwich enticingly,, and though your stomach growled louder, you had to shake your head. "I can't take this, Sans. It's your lunch; besides, I've already eaten. Thank you though."

He swallowed loudly and shook the sandwich again. "Don't sound like ya had enough. 'Sides, I never eat both of 'em. It'd just be goin' to waste otherwise." He made puppy dog eyes at you. "You wouldn't wanna waste my bro's hard work, would ya?"

"Papyrus made these?" You questioned curiously, giving the sandwich a considering look. You... Didn't know Papyrus cooked. And so well too, apparently.

Sans looked very smug as he set the sandwich on your knee. You pouted, knowing that he had you hook, line, and sinker. Blasted skeleton. You grumpily unwrapped it, taking a vindictive bite, and then let out a groan of delight. You were right, it was chicken and some kind of sauce and lettuce and tomatoes and stars it was so good what the heck. "Yup. Kinda his hobby."

"You call this a hobby?" You mumbled around your mouthful, casting him an incredulous look. "This is so good. This is, like, professional. I would pay actual money to eat this sandwich!"

Grinning, he stuck his hand out expectantly. You rolled your eyes, rocking over to bump his shoulder playfully. That was probably okay, right? You guys were kinda friendly like that, right? Stars, you don't know anymore. It's probably fine. 

Well, he doesn't punch you, so you'll take it as a win. He's actually blushing a little as he nudges you back and grins down at his sandwich, and you're once again struck with the random thought that Sans is really cute and now you kinda wanna die again. You shouldn't be thinking stupid crap like that! Especially not about Sans! When he's right!! There!! 

Still, you're feeling a little better now that you've sort of talked to him. You're kind of glad you ended up in here. 

You both make small talk as you finish your lunches, sharing tentative laughs and feeling each other out, and when class starts, he grabs the seat next to yours.

It's... Good.

Chapter Text

The relief you feel when Friday rolls around is indescribable, and it puts you in a better mood than you've experienced in weeks. Not only was it finally the weekend, but the library stayed open longer Fridays and Saturdays, which in turn meant you got to stay longer, and right now you really needed a couple of hours alone between you and the books. 

You walk to the library directly after school. Ebott isn't exactly a booming metropolis, so everything is a little closer together and mostly accessible by foot or bike. The library, in particular, is practically right down the road, just far enough from the school that for the most part you don't have to worry about running into any of your classmates. Not that any of your classmates actually use the library, unless they're nerds or antisocial or, in your case, both. 

Sophie catches you first thing when you come in the door, grinning mischievously. "Heya, kiddo, good to see ya. Hope ya had a nice, relaxing day at school."

"I don't like that tone of voice," you comment warily, letting her guide you by the shoulders through the office and back into the check in area. 

She stands off to the side while you sign in, smiling brightly. "Well, see, I was thinking: you've been working here an awful long time now, huh?" You nod. "So of course you know this place like the back of your hand!" 

"Sophie, if you want me to show someone around, you can just tell me," you sigh, exasperated with her need for dramatics. What a crazy old lady. 

She pouts, evidently disappointed that you guessed her master plan and ruined her grand reveal. However, she recovers a moment later, beaming at you. "Well, I'm glad to hear that, because your skeleton friend is going to start tonight!" She throws her hands up in the air, making a little "ta da" motion. 

That actually was a surprise. Sans hadn't mentioned anything! You find yourself smiling a little as you say, "Really? That's great. He never told me that he'd been hired."

You wish he'd have told you sooner. It would have given you a chance to plan out what to show him first. You'll probably start him on holds- it's a pretty easy job and not very physically or mentally taxing. Although, on that note, maybe it'd be better to start him with something like sorting the bin? Maybe not yet, he'd probably fall asleep in the bins. You can't help but laugh at the imagery. Maybe you'll just have him sort, or-

You realize that Sophie is staring at you with a strange grin. You blink, tilting your head to her, and cautiously ask, "What is it?"

She smirks, leaning against the wall and crossing her arms. In a casual, innocent tone, she drawls, "Oh, it's nothing. Just... I've never seen you smile like that before." She taps her chin thoughtfully, unbearably smug. "I just wonder what you're thinking about? Or maybe... who~?"

You make a soft, choked noise of embarrassment and look away, reaching up and fiddling with your badge. "I'm not thinking of anyone in particular! Just Sans. I- I mean! About what I'm gonna show him! And what he m... Might like, and stuff like that!" 

"Oh, okay..." She hums in mock thought, then straightens and pats your shoulder. "Well! He should be here soon, so you better figure it out quick. Have fun~ But not too much fun~"

She strides away with a giggle and you bury your face in your hands, grateful that Sans isn't here yet. You think you'd actually die if he heard any of that.

 

Sans turns up out of the blue about ten minutes later, somehow finding you out amongst the nonfiction section. Literally out of the blue, because you kneeled down to re-shelve a book and when you stood up again he was right there on the other side of the cart and you may or may not have screamed a little and ducked back behind the cart and spent a few seconds on the ground wishing the floor would swallow you up. 

Sans make a half-snort-half-cough kind of noise in a valiant attempt not to laugh and embarrass you more, but the crinkle around his sockets gave him away. He reached out towards you, eye lights warm and fuzzy white again. "Sorry about that, buddy. Didn't think I'd spook ya so bad. Why don't I give ya a hand? Might help lift yer spirits." 

You laughed weakly, rubbing your cheeks and realizing yes, this was absolutely your life now. Being scared and then punned at by a skeleton in a library. Hesitantly, you took his hand, and were suddenly struck by the differences in Sans' hands compared to Papyrus. 

Where Papyrus' hands were large enough to entirely envelope yours, Sans' were about the same size. His fingers were still surprisingly nimble and much warmer than Papyrus' were, and all the roughness was centered around his palms. There was a lot of hidden strength in these bones. 

Sans cleared his throat softly and you realized you were once again standing here holding someone's hand like an idiot and wondered why this had to be your life, too. You quickly released him, mumbling an apology and fidgeting with your badge again to occupy your hands. Risking a glance up at him revealed that he was looking away as well, a slight tinge of red on his face as he scratched the back of his neck.

You had a mortifying moment where you wondered what the rest of his bones felt like and quickly shoved that train of thought right into the darkest corners of your mind, never to be touched ever again.  "S-so! Uh! Sophie told me you're, um, officially part of the team!" You said quickly, voice several notes too high to be casual. 

"Oh, yeah, heh. Even got the fancy badge and everything." He waved the lanyard around his neck at you to demonstrate, tag jingling softly. 

You smiled faintly at the name typed neatly across the little badge in... Comic... Sans... It has just now occurred to you that Sans and Papyrus were named after fonts. You decided that you could think about that later and focus on the more pressing matter at hand. "You never told me you got the job."

For some reason, this caused the skeleton to blush again, and he looked away as he flicked his badge. Seems he had a fidgety habit too. "Uh, yeah, sorry. Musta slipped my mind. Ain't much up here to begin with, y'know?" He knocked a hand against his skull, grinning when you snorted. 

"C'mon Sans, that one was a no brainer." Okay, you were pretty proud of yourself. That was probably the best pun you've ever made. You give yourself a mental pat on the back, and your ego grows a smidge when you hear Sans chuckle in response, looking genuinely amused. There's something so satisfying about making him laugh. Gesturing to the cart and keeping the light smile on your face, you continue, "Anyways, I'm glad you got the job. I'll be showing you how things work around here, so why don't we start with this?" 

"You're the boss, sweetheart." He eyed the cart curiously. "What 'xactly are we doin'?" 

"Nothing too exciting, unfortunately. Just re-shelving. Here, I'll show you how we do it." 

Sans shuffled over to you, and you spent a few minutes explaining the order to him and how the shelves worked. He caught on quickly, like you knew he would, and started helping you put the rest of them away. It went much faster with the two of you, and it was actually kind of fun, just working quietly beside him. Sometimes he'd pipe up and say something or make a joke and you'd talk for a bit, but mostly you just worked together. It was very relaxing.

When you'd finished with the cart, you took him back to the office so he'd have a bit more experience with sorting the carts. He quickly caught on to what books went where, and you could leave for several minutes to do your own cart and come back to find he'd finished it. You spent the evening sorting everything from children's books to movies to holds, taking him around the building and getting him acquainted with everything.  

When closing time came, you led him back to the check out area, quickly walking him through the process. He thanked you for your help, and you brushed him off, asking about his hours. You discovered that he worked the same days you did, and you couldn't help but be a little excited by this information. You were really looking forward to working with him, and maybe... Even... Becoming his friend?

You instantly flustered. Look at you, getting so ahead of yourself. He was probably only hanging out with you because you had some classes together and now worked together. It didn't mean anything. To distract yourself from your rather depressing thoughts, you offered him a smile and a tentative wave. "I'll be seeing you tomorrow then. Night, Sans."

"Uh- hey, actually..." He hesitated, worrying the corner of his badge with his finger. He glanced at the door, then back at you, almost... Shyly? "You, uh, you walk home right?"

You nodded along, wondering where he was going with this. 

Little beads of sweat dotted his forehead as he looked down at his shoes. "Well, I was thinkin', since it's already dark out an' I have ta walk anyways... Why don' I walk ya home?" 

Honestly, why were you even surprised that the universe kept throwing weird and impossible scenarios your way? 

Was he seriously asking to walk you home?? Why???

Sans seemed to take your silence- and, possibly, your shocked face- as a negative, as he hurried to say, "Don't worry, you don't gotta if ya don't wanna, I jus' thought that it's dangerous out this time'a night an' maybe you'd want some company? But it's totally cool if you don't wanna, I get it-"

"That's! Not it at all!" You blurted, interrupting him and surprising even yourself with your rushed interjection. He blinked at you owlishly and you took a moment to compose yourself, shoulders hunched. "Um. What I mean is, I'd... Like it if you walked home with me? It'd be kinda nice to have someone with me, I guess, and it's really nice of you to worry about me..." You'd kind of rambled yourself there, so you fell silent and waited for his verdict. Was that weird to say? That was definitely weird to say. Crap, could you just... Rewind a few seconds and fix that mess?

"Heh." You glanced up, finding Sans smiling at you again, something like relief in his face. "Cool. I'm glad. I... Yeah." He awkwardly shambled past you, pulling the door open and grinning back at you. "After you."

You nodded softly, some of the tension draining from your body. You thanked him as you walked past him, and then waited for him just outside. You let him take the way, falling into step beside him.

After a few moments of silence, he struck up a conversation. You were grateful he'd initiated it- the silence had been killing you, but you couldn't bring yourself to be the one to break it. 

The sky was a lovely dark purple, and a gentle wind ruffled your clothes. You walked close together, talking and laughing quietly with one another, and a feeling of serenity settled deep in your bones. It just felt... Right? To walk with him like this. It felt natural, like you'd been friends for years, and you were starting to get used to his deep laugh and white eyelights and perpetually lazy grin. You wanted this little moment to last forever, suspended in your peaceful little bubble of time. 

And then you heard the scuffling from the alley in front of you, the sounds of angry growling and muffled snarls, and faint impacts you recognized as fists hitting flesh. You could taste something sour and sharp, the tingle of magic making your hair stand on end. A fight. 

You exchanged a wary glance with Sans, torn between investigating and getting out of dodge before it got messy. Your decision was made for you, however, as someone suddenly slammed to the ground in front of you. Sans threw his arm out in front of you, pushing you slightly behind him as you leaned forward over her m to see who it was. You let out a gasp.

It was Brian, looking worse for the wear. He groaned on the pavement before you, bloodied and bruised. His arm was lying at a funny angle, and he looked about ready to pass out. 

A moment later, a pair of scared-looking boys tumbled out of the alley after him, scrambling to scoop him off the sidewalk and awkwardly limp away as fast as his weight allowed them. You watched in confused shock, gripping the back of Sans'coat tightly. What the heck had you just walked into? A gang fight of some kind? They were fighting monster, that much you were sure of, so who-

"What are the two of you doing out here?" An all-too-familiar voice hissed, and Papyrus apparated from the shadows of the alley like a messenger of death. He looked awful. There was blood all over him, some of it oozing from cuts on his face and arms- holy crap his arm?! 

He was cradling it stiffly, holding a nasty-looking crack in his forearms. It was bleeding badly and the cracks spidered halfway down the bone. It seemed like the only thing holding it together was his hand and sheer determination. 

You felt sick. 

Sans let out a soft curse, pulling away from you to me me fuss over Papyrus. "Stars, bro, that looks bad-" He paused for a second, then made a distressed noise. "Crap, yer HP is so low-"

"I'm fine," Papyrus snarled, pain in his face and voice. He definitely did not look "fine", what the heck, his arm was broken holy stars- "You never answered me. What are you doing out here?"

"I could ask you the same question!" Sans snapped, sounding angrier than you'd ever heard. It sent a chill down your spine- although that might have just been his magic, so thick with the intent to harm that you felt you were choking on it. "What'd those i d i o t s think they were doin'? i'm gonna k i l l  ' e m-"

"SANS!" Papyrus barked, snapping him out of his murderous rage. The taller skeleton grit his teeth, growling something you couldn't hear, but that made Sans glance back at you. His eyes were red. 

And yet, when he met your gaze, be seemed to deflate slightly, eyelights slowly fading back to the soft white you'd gotten used to, albeit dimmer than usual.

You gave him what you hoped was a reassuring smile and turned to Papyrus, quickly assessing him. He looked ready to pass out. Thankfully, the walk to your house wasn't much farther. He should be able to make it okay. "Sans, keep an eye on that arm. I've got some bandages at home we can use to fix that up."

They instantly began to protest, talking over each other in an attempt to assure you that you didn't need to worry about this, they had things at home, they didn't want to impose. You completely ignored them, gesturing them to follow you and resolutely striding down the street. Already you were thinking of what you'd need and what you had, wondering if you had any monster candy or other healing items. Theoretically you should, you tried to keep it on hand. 

"Human, you really shouldn't bother with this, it's nothing-" Papyrus attempted to tell you, rushing to catch up, but you held a hand up to stop him. You didn't like how he was limping.

You turned to give him your sternest deadpan, ignoring how the sight of his wounds made your stomach turn. He looked so tired. Papyrus Serif should never look like this. It just doesn't fit him. "You seem to be under the impression I'm giving you a choice. I'm not. You're coming home and I'm fixing you up personally and I'm getting you something to eat and there's not a force on earth that could stop me." There. That was suitably stern, you hoped. 

Papyrus sneered, so maybe not. "I don't need your pity-"

"I'm not doing this out of pity, you stupid peacock!" You exclaimed exasperatedly, throwing your hands up. "I'm doing this because your arm is literally turning to dust before my eyes and you're covered in blood and that jerk Brian better have a very good reason to have attacked you, because I'm gonna skin him alive the next time I see him!"

You ignored the surprised and impressed looks the brothers were giving you. The indignation and righteous fury was enough to overcome your usual quiet demeanor and incredible fear. How dare he. How dare he mess with another monster, after you made it clear that sort of thing would not be tolerated! The audacity! 

Argh. You were so tired of dealing with stupid humans who thought picking on monsters was okay. You were done dealing with people in general. 

It only took you a handful of minutes to get home, which was a great thing because Papyrus looked ready to either keel over or bite Sans' head off for worrying so much. Your parents didn't seem to be home, and you were sort of grateful. It'd be kind of hard to explain why there was a giant bloody skeleton sitting on your couch.

After you made sure they would stay put, you headed to the kitchen and put on a kettle of water, setting it on the stove to boil. You fished around in the cabinets for your stash of Sea Tea. Stuff tasted like crap but it did wonders for wounds.

You set the little box on the counter next to the kettle and made your way to the bathroom, where you kept the bandages. You parents had been rather frustrated when you kept coming home beat up, but they understood why you did it, and always made sure to keep you well stocked. You fished the kit out from under the sink and made your way back to the living room, wondering if human medicine would work on bones. Guess you'd find out. 

Sans and Papyrus were talking quietly amongst themselves in the living room, although they paused and glanced up at you when you arrived. You set the kit on the table in front of them and hurried to the kitchen, where the water was boiling. You dumped in a bag of tea and left it, grabbing a wash rag from the counter and running some warm water over it. You wrung it out so it wouldn't drip and made your way back to the pair of brothers. 

"Okay," you breathed, calming your nerves as they watch you. You stare at the rag in your hands for a moment, wondering if you should let him do this himself, then decide that you need something to do to distract yourself and move around the table to reach him. Unsurprisingly, Papyrus reels back, looking at you warily. You roll your eyes. "Come back here, you big baby, I'm just trying to clean you off."

"I AM MORE THAN CAPABLE OF CLEANING MYSELF, THANK YOU," he barks, indignant,  and you think you can see a hint of a blush beneath all the drying blood. Perhaps he's not as mad at he is embarrassed. What a mood. 

"I know that, but I told you I was gonna patch you up, so now you have to deal with it." You reach forward with the cloth again, and while Papyrus grumbles, he doesn't back away again. Sans is snickering. 

You run the rag carefully over his face, pressing just hard enough to swipe away the blood. You have to lean in a little closer than you'd like to see all the cuts and be extra careful about them, and you hope that they can't see how embarrassed it makes you. Treating someone else's injuries was... Pretty new to you. 

A whistle from the kitchen startles all of you. You nearly pitch forward into Papyrus and place a hand on his shoulder to steady yourself, sighing in annoyance. You turn to look at Sans. "Could you get that? Cups are in the upper left cabinet over the sink."

"Sure thing," he agrees readily, sliding off the couch and ambling into the kitchen. 

With that taken care of, you return your attention to Papyrus, who is... Staring at you... Has the red on his cheeks gotten darker or is that just you? It's probably just you. It still makes you feel awkward, however, and you hurry to finish wiping off his face, leaving your hand on his shoulder to keep you stable. 

Sans putters back in a moment later, a tall mug cradled in his small hands. He takes his seat by the couch and hands the cup to his brother, who takes it with a grimace. You move back a little, giving him room to bring the cup to his teeth. He downs it all in one go, face scrunching up in distaste. Your eyes aren't on his face, however- they're firmly punned on his arm.

Magic really is fascinating, you can't help thinking, watching as the splintered bone begins to repair itself. The smaller cracks disappear instantly, while the largest fracture closes up enough that the blood stops running. Papyrus sighs in relief, and even Sans looks less tense, scanning his brother for any other injuries. It's a bit hard to tell with all the blood still caked to him, unfortunately. 

With that thought in mind, you quickly finish what you started, wiping away the last of the blood you can see. Papyrus grudgingly informs you that you'll have to leave the room, as the rest of his injuries are all on his ribs. You leave him and Sans the towel and return the kitchen, a little guilty that you hadn't been able to do more. 

You desperately need something to do to occupy yourself, so you wash the kettle and leave it on the rack. Your stomach growls, reminding you that you haven't had dinner yet, and it's likely neither of the brothers have either. Maybe you should make them some food? It would only be polite. And Papyrus deserved a bit of time to relax and eat after what that idiot had done to him.

But what if they didn't want to eat with you? After all, you were still just an annoying human to them. Well, to Papyrus. Sans seemed pretty okay with you. The fact still remained that you were practically a stranger to them, and they likely didn't want to spend more time than they had to with you. 

But, a small part of your mind whispered, Sans walked you home. And Papyrus sits with you now. Do you really think they'd do that if they didn't want to? 

You can't imagine they would. Can't see Papyrus doing anything he didn't want to unless he had to, and he certainly didn't have to sit next to you. He didn't have to let you bring him home, and he didn't have to let you clean him up, so clearly he... He must have wanted to. Or at least, he didn't mind. 

You shook your head, rubbing your face tiredly. Know what? Screw it. You were gonna make them dinner if it killed you. With new resolve, you turned towards the living room and called, "Hey, I'm making dinner! What do you two want?" You paused, then added, "And don't you dare tell me I don't have to or whatever, I'm making you dinner whether you like it or not!"

There was a moment of silence in which you heard shuffling and muffled whispers from the other room. Seems they were debating something. The moment passed and then Sans shuffled in, shooting you a soft easygoing grin. "Well, ya don't have ta make us anythin', but some lasagna would be impastable to resist."

You snorted, a little grin of your own coming to your face. "Alright, I'll spaghet on that right now."

There was a loud, exasperated groan from the living room, causing both you and Sans to snicker. He gave you a wink and a wave and returned to the living room, while you headed to the pantry to see if you actually had stuff to make lasagna with. You did, miraculously, have lasagna noodles, as well as enough tomato sauce to make a batch for three. You carried your first armload to the kitchen, setting it all carefully on the counter, and then making the trip out to the garage to rummage around in the freezer. The ground beef was tucked under everything else, but you finally managed to excavate it and carry it back into the house, where you received quiet the surprise. 

"What do you think you're doing?" You demanded, resting one hand on your hip as you frowned disapprovingly at Papyrus, who was fishing out pans from the cabinets beneath the stove. His damaged arm was bandaged and held close to his chest, and he was rooting around with his good hand, but still! "You should be resting!"

Papyrus snorted, finally finding the pan he was looking for and drawing it out. He set it on the stove and turned to address you. "I've done worse when I was injured and I haven't dusted yet. A little crack is not going to stop me." He turned, kneeling to rummage around the cabinet again. "Besides. You have already done enough."

"I haven't done anything and you should be relaxing!" You protested, dropping the ground beef on the counter and kneeling beside him. You lightly pushed him out of the way with your shoulder. "Would you please let me handle this and go sit down?"

Papyrus pushed you back, probably expecting you to move, but you braced yourself and scowled at him, so all he ended up doing was leaning on you. "I am not an invalid, I can handle myself just fine, thank you. I am going to, in your words, help you cook dinner whether you like it or not." He loomed over you, still much taller despite crouching, refusing to back down.

You glared right back, holding the position, but his constant weight was bearing down on you, heavier and heavier. Your legs were beginning to burn. You could not quite now, you had to hold strong, you refused to let him strain himself-

He leaned harder against you, beginning to smirk when he felt you falter, and you knew he had won. Your couldn't hold out any longer and if you kept going he was likely to hurt himself again. You sighed, going limp against his shoulder. "You're the worst," you mumbled, resigned.

"I know," he preened, all too smug, awkwardly reaching up to pat your head. "Don't feel too bad. You put up a valiant fight. I am just too great to be defeated." 

"You're something alright," you teased back, and then realized that you'd just been sitting there pressed against his side this whole time and just managed to stifle an embarrassed squeal as you quickly pulled away from him. "Well! Um! Dinner! Has to be made! So we should do that!" You declared stiffly, movements almost robotic as you moved to open up the package of ground beef. 

You cannot believe you just did that. What the heck were you thinking, getting up in his space like that and teasing him of all things? 

He didn't seem to mind it, your treacherous brain whispered, and wow, look at that, another train of thought that has conveniently driven right off a cliff, no more of that thank you. 

the universe is trying to kill you. 

While you were opening the ground beef, Papyrus has gotten out the last of the pans and is now filling one with water. Looks like he'd already oiled the skillet too... Had you really been that out of it? Goodness. 

Whatever. You toss the beef in the pan and turn up the heat, then grab a spoon from one of the drawers to mix it. You don't need it quite yet, so you set it off to the side and decide to start opening the cans of tomato sauce. Papyrus sets the pan of water on an eye in the back, so you reach over and flick it on, bringing it up to high heat. As you'd done so, Papyrus began mixing the sauce, and moves around you to access your seasoning cupboard. You don't even recognize half the stuff he's pulling out, but if his lasagna is anywhere near as good as that sandwich, you don't mind letting him do whatever. Your seasonings are his seasonings. 

It's kind of strange to cook with him. Neither of you talk very much, just sort of dancing around one another, tossing in seasonings, stirring pots, effortlessly maneuvering around one another through the kitchen like you've done it a hundred times. It's a bit like working with Sans in the library, each of you in your own heads and yet collaborating in almost perfect sync. It's relaxing in a way and sort of fun, and each time you glance at Papyrus he looks content and happy, a tiny smile on his teeth. 

The kitchen smells fantastic and you can tell it's almost ready. The beef is definitely done, so you flick it off and sigh softly, checking the time. It's almost ten. You hadn't thought it'd be that late... 

You and Papyrus exchange bits of your meal, with him offering you a spoonful of sauce and you handing him a fork of beef. When you both agree it tastes good (who are you kidding, it's better than good, he's such a good chef what the heck) you set about lining the final pan with noodles, assembling your lasagna layer by later. There's a brief "argument" over when your supposed to put the cheese on that's really just the two of you nitpicking each other, and it's popped in the oven to cook. 

You smile faintly as you stand back, observing the mess your late night cooking has caused. Strangely, this is one of the more satisfying parts of cooking for you. Just standing off to the side and looking at what you've done. 

"You should come cook with me more often," you comment idly, not really thinking about what you're saying. 

Papyrus is quiet for a moment- long enough for you to wonder if you've said the wrong thing- and then mutters, "I... Might take you up on that."

And you both are very each other awkward, tentative smiles, and you can't help but be glad you decided to stick up for that elemental. You wouldn't have had the chance to cook with Papyrus otherwise. 

Realizing that you've somehow gotten very sappy, you clear your throat and gesture the living room. Papyrus simply nods and you both join Sans in the living room, catching the tail end of some awful horror movie. 

You decide there is nowhere you'd rather be.

Chapter Text

The weekend blows by far too fast, in typical fashion. You spend the first half of your day doing homework and being bored, and then around noon you make a quick lunch and head to the library. Sans was already there when you arrived, checking in, and you both made small talk as you checked in. Papyrus was doing just fine, getting plenty of rest and begrudgingly drinking some more sea tea. You had laughed when Sans described his face, picturing it clearly in your mind. 

You spent most of the day in the office this time, showing him how everything worked back there. As expected, he found the bins rather boring, and part way through the day you found him asleep leaning on one. Sophie had scolded him, of course, but she was clearly very amused by his actions. You took Sans out to your favorite restaurant for dinner, and although you insisted on paying, he stole the bill from you while you weren't looking. It was rather annoying, but also sort of... Flattering. You were still gonna pay for his meals one day! 

Sans walked you home again, and you spent a while chatting outside before he had to leave. Apparently Papyrus was calling him for something very important. You bid him goodnight and watched for a little while after he left, worrying about whether or not he'd get home safe. Alright, so you weren't too worried- Sans could more than look after himself, after all- but you couldn't help yourself. It was instinct to worry about your friends.

You felt safe enough calling him that now. Maybe... Not aloud, but you knew it, and that was all that counted, you supposed. 

Sundays were your day off, so you finished homework and did chores. Afterwards, you crashed on your computer for a few hours, just browsing and playing some idle games to pass the time. 

You were very grateful for the day of relaxation.

 

"So, word has it that your skele-boyfriend totally destroyed Brian Friday night," Joey says in lieu of a good morning when you sit down at the table on Monday. 

You choke on your mouthful of milk, and Lucas helpfully pats you on the back as you attempt to clear your airways. "You couldn't have waited until they finished drinking?" He demands, gently rubbing your shoulders, and you think that's not really the problem here, but you can't exactly say that when you're drowning. 

"What? I thought it'd be easier. Like ripping off a band aid, you know?" 

Hailey sighs delicately, lightly punching Joey in the arm for you, since you were currently gasping on the table. "Wrong choice of words, darling. They get flustered about these things."

You feel a headache coming on, but whether it's from a lack of oxygen or dealing with Joey you're not sure. "You're the actual worst," you rasp, chest and throat aching under the abuse. 

Joey shrugs, not even trying to deny it. "I'm just calling it like I see it. You gotta admit, Papyrus is pretty soft on you."

"I think you have him confused with a fluffier version of himself," you gripe, pointedly ignoring the warmth spreading through your body as embarrassment overcomes you. "Papyrus isn't "soft" on anyone. You should have seen Brian."

Your friends all collectively gasp and lean forward eagerly, and you groan as you realize your slip up. You hadn't mean to add to the rumors, for Pete's sake. "Fine, yes, okay, I was there, yes he did fight Brian, yes Brian lost, miserably. Papyrus made sure of that." You couldn't help a note of pride and smugness from entering your voice. That jerk deserved whatever came to him. It was only fair he pay for all the torture he inflicted on others. Karma was bound to bite him eventually. 

They all exchanged glances but, surprisingly, didn't ask anything else. You weren't about to look a gift horse in the mouth, so you just turned your attention to finishing breakfast and plotting out your day. 

"Hey, so is it just me- and I'm not like, trying to be racist or anything, promise-" Lucas glanced nervously at you as he murmured to your group, but you just nodded. "Kay, so is it just me or are, like, a lot of monsters sitting at our table now?"

You blinked, then glanced past him to observe the rest of your table. Sure enough, quite the group of monsters had congregated there, whether sitting or standing close by. You hadn't even noticed it before he'd pointed it out. A familiar blue flame caught your eye and you smiled slightly as you watched the fire elemental tackle her horned friend in greeting. 

"Strange," Hailey murmured, watching them just as curiously. "They do seem to be primarily gathering over here. Now I wonder why that could be..." She looked expectantly at you, and you quickly occupied yourself with staring at a column on the other side of the commons. Wow, that wall sure was interesting, you'd never noticed how plain and white it was before-

Red flashed in the corner of your vision, and you turned slightly, glancing over your shoulder. It didn't take much looking to spot them- kind of hard to miss the giant skeleton cutting his way through the crowd like a man on a mission. People went silent and moved out of his way as he strode directly for your table, face set, and you wondered briefly what you might have done to upset him.

Thankfully, Sans was right on his heels, and he looked relaxed as usual. He threw you a wink when he caught you looking. You smiled awkwardly back, though your resisted the urge to wave to him. Best to wait and see what Papyrus wanted. 

He came to a stop beside you, standing tall and intimidating. You pretended not to notice the subtle or not-so-subtle looks people were giving you, instead meeting his gaze steadily. You were happy to see that he looked fully recovered, without a single scratch left to prove what had happened Friday. 

After a tense moment of staring, he reached back and drew his backpack over his shoulder with a flourish. You watched, confused and slightly alarmed, as he dug fervently threw the contents. What on earth could he be trying to find? And why had he decided to stop here? 

"HUMAN!" he suddenly announced, drawing the attention of anyone not already watching. There was a large plastic container in his hand, which he proceeded to shove into your face. You startled back, alarmed, but he carried on undaunted. "I FIGURED YOU WOULD PREFER MY SUPERIOR COOKING TO ANYTHING THIS TRASH HEAP COULD PROVIDE. DON'T EXPECT ME TO MAKE ONE EVERYDAY! IT IS A.. THANK YOU FOR FRIDAY NIGHT." 

 Was it too late to wish you could go back to tiptoeing around him? You kind of missed those days. "Oh... Oh geeze, uh, you... You really didn't have to do this Papyrus. Really." Can the ground please swallow you now? That'd be fantastic, thanks. 

"IT IS NOTHING FOR THE GREAT PAPYRUS," he boasted, proceeding to press the container into your chest, making you fumbled to grab it. He paused for a moment, then declared, "CONSIDER IT A SIGN THAT YOU ARE MY... ALLY."

The word had a strange weight to it, like it was something important and personal, despite the fact that he'd bellowed it for the whole room to hear. It made you feel strangely... Warm, and a little flustered. Was this his way of saying he considered you a friend? Was this actual proof that he didn't hate you? You... You really hoped so. 

"Well... Then I gladly accept it, Papyrus. Thank you." You dipped your head to him, and then sent him a crooked smile. You tried to put the same weight into your words as you said, "And for what it's worth, I consider you my ally as well."

The monsters behind you murmured softly, but you didn't pay them any attention. Your focus was on Papyrus, who looked curiously flustered by your declaration. He abruptly turned away from you, coughing into his hands and crossing his arms. "WELL! THAT IS! ALL I HAD TO SAY. I WILL SEE YOU IN CLASS." He began to stride away again. 

"See you in class, Papyrus," you called after him, adding in a wave. You turned to look at Sans, arching an eyebrow. "You got any surprise food for me?" 

"'Fraid not," he chuckled, tucking his hands in his pockets. He gave you a long wink, one socket lifting lazily. "But it extends ta me, too."

You snorted softly. "I should have known you'd be a package deal. Is it too late to rescind my offer?"

"Sorry kiddo, no refunds," he joked, huffing softly. "See ya round, sweetheart."

He finally departed after his brother, leaving everyone to stare at you. You felt the stares prickling the back of your neck, that uneasy and agitated feeling taking hold, and you quickly turned back to your friends, staring at the container like you could bore holes in it. 

You glanced up at your friends, who all had the same looks on their faces. You groaned and dropped your head on the table so you didn't have to look at them. "Shut up."

"We never said anything," Lucas purred, draping himself over you affectionately. You grumbled but didn't shake him off- he provided a nice cover from all the looks. 

"You were thinking it," you mumbled with a pout, and they all laughed and dropped the subject. You just knew it would crop up again sooner or later, of course.

You observed the container. Looked like lasagna. 

Despite everything, you smiled.

 

You could already tell strength training was gonna be fun today. You'd been accosted in the locker rooms, backed into a literal corner, while your classmates demanded answers. They wanted to know everything that had happened Friday, what the deal with Sans and Papyrus was, what they'd been doing at your house of all things.

Some of them were just curious, but others seemed angry that you'd helped them after what Papyrus did to Brian. You'd evaded their questions, since it really wasn't any of their business, but they persisted. You were beginning to think that you were going to have to fight your way out, but luckily the teacher arrived just in time to peel them off you. 

You were foolish to think that would be the end of it. There was an even nastier surprise waiting for you just down the hall.

The health classrooms were just a few doors down from the locker rooms, between the back hall and the gyms, and usually remained closed. Which is why your first clue that something was wrong should have been the gaping open door into darkness. Unfortunately for you, too wrapped up in your own head and boiling with agitation and embarrassment, you completely missed this very obvious sign that something was off. 

So really, you totally deserved what happened next. 

A hand shot out from the darkness, seizing the back of your shirt. You didn't even have time to yell as you were hauled back into the room and deposited roughly in the middle of the classroom, surrounded by desks. The door swung shut behind you and you fell into a fighting stance, nerves prickling with anxiety and adrenaline. Your eyes were adjusting, so you pivoted around the classroom slowly, trying to get a look at who had ambushed you. 

The lights flicked on abruptly, temporarily blinding you. You winced and dropped your stance a little, but refused to close your eyes, forcing them to adjust faster. You swiveled around towards the light switch and your heart dropped into your feet. 

There she was, in all her terrifying glory. Taller even than Papyrus and with muscles any jock would envy, she was the pride and joy of your school's athletics team and one of the four most feared students. The affectionately- or not so affectionately- nicknamed Undyne the Undying. 

You resigned yourself to the fact that you were probably going to die in highschool.

"So," she began, sneering down at you. You refused to flinch, even when she crossed her arms and made a show of looking you up and down. "You're the punk human who Papyrus decided to befriend." 

You just frowned warily back at her. What did she want from you?

"Not much of a talker, are you?" She commented wryly, uncrossing her arms and stalking closer with a predatory grin. "Well, that's just perfect. Listen up, cuz I'm only gonna say it once." 

She leaned into your face, her close proximity making your hair stand on end. There was the faintest hint of magic in the air- a warning. It charged every nerve in your body and you really hoped she couldn't see you quivering. 

"For some reason, Papyrus is convinced that you're worth his time. Well, you're not! You're just some pathetic human. So you stood up for a couple of monsters, big deal! You're still a worthless nobody."

This time you couldn't hide your wince. Right in the insecurities. The rumors were true: she was merciless. 

Undyne suddenly leaned back, surprising you. She looked greatly displeased as she crossed her arms. "At least, that's what think. But no one else seems to share the opinion. So..." She straightened up, one hand on her hip while the other swung out to point at you dramatically. "Human! I'm giving you one chance to prove to me that you're worth Papyrus' attention, and the admiration of monsterkind!" 

You couldn't help picturing her as an anime villain and you weren't sure if that made things better or worse. Dread was piling up in the pit of your stomach. "And... What happens if I fail?"

She seemed to have been waiting for this moment. Malicious glee burned in her bright yellow eyes. "If you fail... Then I will be sure you never talk to him again and make your life living hell."

Yep, that was about what you'd expected. And yet, somehow, it still made you want to jump out a window. How on earth were you supposed to prove yourself to her? She'd already made it clear she didn't think you could do it, and would probably rather see you fail. It was possible- likely, even- that nothing you did would matter to her... So was there any point?

...Yes. You decided there was. You wouldn't let her treat anyone else like this, so why would you let her bully you? 

And besides... You had no doubt she would actually find a way to keep you from Sans and Papyrus, and you... You wouldn't allow that. You wouldn't let her have that kind of power over you. You refused to let her. 

"Okay," you said, resolutely, meeting her eyes head on. "I accept your challenge."

She gave you a shark's grin, looking absolutely delighted. "Perfect. Thought you'd see it my way." She threw her arm around you, hauling you close like you were a good friend. It made you incredibly uncomfortable, but you didn't let it show, instead letting her lead you into the strength training gym.

Papyrus was already in the gym warming up when Undyne shoved the door open. He looked up when you came in, and seemed very confused to see you under Undyne's arm. After a moment, however, his sockets narrowed and he straightened, rising slowly. "Undyne. Human. Good morning," he greeted suspiciously, glancing between the two of you. 

"Morning Paps! Look who I found on the way in!" She crowed, jostling you slightly, and her arm tightened dangerously across your throat in a pseudo-choke hold. "Your new ally is gonna train with us today! Isn't that fantastic?"

He was looking strictly at you now, searching you for something, and you stifled the urge to give him a desperate plea for help. You had to do this. You had to prove that you were worthy of being with your new friends. So you gave him a lopsided smile and nodded to him, and he hummed softly. "Yes, very exciting. You'd better get warming up then. We would not want you falling behind."

You cringed. He hadn't been looking at you when he said it but you felt the sting all the same. Did he not think you could do it? Who were you kidding, of course he didn't. You were just a human. He probably thought you'd quit halfway through. 

A new fire burned in your chest. You wanted to prove them wrong. You wanted to show them you were good enough. You wanted to show Papyrus you were good enough.

You were determined to beat Undyne's challenge. 

 

This was a mistake. The stupidest mistake you could have made. What made you believe that this would be a good choice. What made you think you could do this. 

Good stars you are dying. It's one thing to see their Workout Regime of Doom, and an entirely different thing to experience it for yourself. How are they still functioning? You can barely move anymore! 

Undyne really is merciless. She's run you through the gauntlet and then some. You've done two hundred of everything, from push ups to pull ups and curls and butterfly kicks and crunches and laps and... You don't even know. You can't remember half of it. You think maybe your brain has repressed this part of the morning to save you from going insane. You've only taken a break for water, primarily because Undyne had to periodically rehydrate after her intense training.

Goodness, moving tomorrow is gonna be awful... You might have to call in for tonight, you don't think you can handle hauling around books... What classes do you have tomorrow? Can you afford to take it off? You're pretty sure you've pulled a muscle somewhere. Several muscles, actually....

"Hey, stop zoning out, punk!" Undyne suddenly roars in your ear, bringing you back to the present. You shoot her a glare, wishing she would explode in a ball of fire. She just grinned back, slapping your back hard enough to make you rock forward. A wave of prickling pain ran down your spine and you stifled a groan. Stars, you hurt... "You know, you've done pretty good, for a human. I kinda thought you'd have passed out by now!"

You felt like passing out, but that wouldn't do very well for your challenge. 

Papyrus was eyeing you with worry. You thought, at least, everything was a little fuzzy and you might be seeing things. "Undyne... Perhaps we should stop for the day. The human-"

"Can handle one more little thing," Undyne interrupted, gripping your shoulder far too tightly. She leaned over and smirked in your face. "Right, human?" 

Despite everything in you screaming that it was time to stop, you nodded. Undyne paused for a moment, a variety of emotions you were too tired to decipher crossing her face. Papyrus looked ready to step in again, but Undyne blustered on. "GREAT! That's what I like to hear! Let's get going!" 

She shoved you up the stairs towards the weights, and you trudged up with all the enthusiasm of a man on his way to the gallows. When you got to the top, Undyne hurried over to survey the weights, and Papyrus grabbed your arm a bit too roughly and hauled you off to the side. His grip faltered a little when he saw your grimace, and he gentled his touch, brushing your arm apologetically. "Human, you... It is obvious you are very tired. And in a great deal of pain. And I know you only did this because Undyne badgered you into it-" Was it that obvious? Or had she done this before? "And I think it's very impressive that you've kept up with us this long. But it is time to stop. If you keep going, you will just hurt yourself further." 

You shook your head slowly, frowning down at your feet. He was right and you knew it, but you couldn't give up just yet. "I'll be fine. I can't stop now."

"Human..." He sounded frustrated. "You are so very stubborn. There is no shame in stopping when you have already past your limits. I can tell you've made an impression on her. There is no need to hurt yourself anymore."

You reached up, giving his hand a few quick, light pats, not sure how he'd respond. He didn't seem to mind. "Really, Papyrus, it's no big deaI. I'm okay. I can't stop yet. Thanks for worrying about me."

He sighed and for a moment you thought maybe he would fight you. Thankfully, he seemed to resign himself to your fate, because he simply nodded warily. "Very well. If you truly wish to continue, then I will support you." He paused, then squeezed your arm lightly. "I believe in you."

That fluttery warm feeling blossomed in your chest, and despite your exhausted apprehension, you were ready to keep going. 

And a good thing too, because Undyne had started calling you. Seems she'd found a suitable piece of equipment to torture you with. You turned to face it with grim determination.

Of course, you think, giving it a dead-eyed stare. Of course she saved the biggest weight for last.

You hadn't even known you had two hundred pound weights until this moment. Your body already hurts. Is it too late to throw in the towel? 

Undyne leans on the bench, a challenging smile in place. She pats the metal bar holding it. "Whattaya think, human? You ready for your final challenge?" 

No, you think as you nod and step up to the bench. 

For some reason, Undyne falters, grin slipping. "You... What? You're actually going to do this? Are you kidding me?"

You cast her a puzzled look. She doesn't look very enthusiastic. Maybe she hadn't expected you to actually do it. "No? You said I had to keep up with you, so I will."

She just sort of... Stares at you for a while. Not quite believing what you'd said. You felt a little smug; a little vindicated that you'd managed to shut her up. You took your place on the bench, wincing slightly as your muscles ached, and eyed the bar.

...It was a heavy bar. You knew that already. And two hundred... Could you really do anything with that?

Well... Time to find out, you supposed.

You reached up and gripped the bar firmly, grateful that your little break allowed your hands to dry up. You wouldn't want to do this with sweaty palms. Taking in a deep breath, you let it out slowly and pushed up. 

It was agony. Every inch of your arms burned with the strain, and you felt the pressure all the way in your chest. You hadn't even moved it and already you were out of breath. 

You had to take a moment to breath before you tried again, breathing as steadily as you could, your body curling with the effort to push it up, nerves firing. 

Too much, too much, definitely too much you couldn't handle it just give up just a little more you're almost there you'll never make it he believes in you- 

Your body hits the bench, bar nestled snug and unmoving in the contraption above you, and you just gasp, like a fish out of water, like you haven't had air in years. Your head is spinning and all you can hear is your heart as it thuds in your ears.

You have a single, very intense and bitter thought, and it is simply, I really hate fish.

Sound is gradually returning to your senses, and you're aware of a pair of very panicked and loud voices from above you. You groan and crack your eyes open, wondering when you'd closed them. At first all you can make out is bright lights, and then Undyne and Papyrus come into view, hovering over you. It appears they're alternating between arguing and giving you worried looks.

They both look relieved when they see you. "Hey, bout time you woke up!" They both reach out to help you up, but you're limp and hurting and just end up leaning on Papyrus. "Oh come on, please don't pass out again."

Crap, did you actually pass out? That's embarrassing. You wonder if the teacher knows yet. "S'rry. I'mma stay awake, pr'mise," you slur tiredly, not even trying to keep your eyes open. You really hadn't thought the workout would do such a number on you... And you're not certain why you passed out. Guess you really overdid it...

Papyrus shifts, and suddenly he slips a hand under your knees and hefts you up, carefully holding you against his shoulder. He moves slowly so as not to jostle your aching body, and while you appreciate it you're also very confused. "Undyne, I am taking them to the health office. Will you tell the teacher what has happened?"

She waves a hand at him dismissively. "Yeah, yeah, whatever. Just take your crazy human and go." She turns away and begins hauling the weights off the bar, and you feel your arms burning just thinking about it. 

Papyrus is very careful as he takes you down the stairs. Your classmates are staring and you don't like it, so you close your eyes and tuck your head closer to Papyrus' shoulder. His grip on you tightens minutely, a sort of reassuring gesture. 

You're not sure how you get out the door, but a while later you're in the cold, and then you're back in a building, and you figure it's probably the office. Several people try to ask what happened, but Papyrus just shoulders passed them and marches to the health office. 

The sound Julie made when she saw you was rather amusing, but it also made you feel guilty. You really did wish you could stop getting yourself hurt. She didn't deserve to have to put up with you.

"What in heaven's name happened?" She demanded shrilly, urging Papyrus over to the tiny patient bed in the back office.

He went without protest, setting you down ever-so-gently and resting you back against the pillow. "Our vigilante has a death wish," he answered dryly, resting a hand on your head lightly. "Undyne challenged them to keep up with us for strength training and for some reason they did."

"Oh, stars, of course they did, I'm not even surprised-" She bustled over to the sink, fishing a cup from the side of the sink and filling it with water. She hurried back over and had Papyrus set you up so you could drink it. He only gave you a little at a time, despite you whining for more. "Okay, we'll just get them hydrated, call their parents..." She began prodding and poking your body, picking up limbs and stretching them. "Well, the good news is they haven't broken anything... Stars, why do you always do this to yourself?"

"Had to pr've m'self," you slurred, turning your head into Papyrus' hand. He was so cool, and it felt so nice. "Gotta stay w'th Sans 'n 'Pyrus..."

Papyrus made a soft noise, poking your cheek roughly. "You're an idiot. You didn't have to do that just to be with us." He gave you another cup of water, which you sipped from eagerly. 

"The f'sh tol' me I hadda..." You were so tired. Would they mind if you slept? "I hadda do it... Cuz I wanna... I wanna be yer friend..." Your eyes were closing in their own. You weren't going to be able to stay awake much longer...

Papyrus had been quiet for a while. Julie was talking softly in the background. There was a deep, comforting hum buzzing around you, lulling you deeper into darkness. 

Something cool brushed your forehead. "You are already our friend. Sleep now, human."

So you did. 

 

Papyrus stays with you until your parents come, and then he hands you over to your father, who hauls your arm around his shoulder to support you. He tells them everything that happened, hands your mother your stuff, and slips his phone number into your backpack. Then you're limping out of the office and into the car, and while your parents berate you for pushing yourself and lecture you about self care, you pass out in the back seat. 

You think about Papyrus' number in your bag and smile softly.

Chapter Text

Waking up was exactly the kind of agony you'd expected, if you'd remembered most of what had happened. As it was, you'd woken up bleary and confused, and when you'd turned over to check your alarm clock your whole body had screamed at you. It took you a while to realize why you hurt, and then you wondered dumbly why you had taken pain killers instead of Sea tea before going to sleep. It wasn't much of a competition about which was better, after all.

You moped in your room for a bit, finding a comfortable position you could lay in to reflect on things. Your thoughts mostly revolved around how much you disliked fish and whether or not skeletons could pass out from overexertion, which then spiraled into obscure and half-awake speculations about how skeleton anatomy worked, in which you ultimately decided that the simplest answer was "magic" and that you'd spent entirely too long thinking about how unfair it was that skeletons probably didn't hiccup. It was then that you decided to drag your protesting body out of bed and get something that would actually make you feel better instead of just chasing away the ache, wrapping your blanket around your shoulders and shuffling out of the room.

Your mother was in the kitchen making herself a pot of coffee, which you thought was a little ridiculous considering it was only three, but who were you to judge? She looked up and grinned slightly when she caught sight of your miserable appearance. "Ah, so it lives after all," she teased, making no move to help you as you trudged across the room to grab a cup and fill it with water. Normally you'd get out the kettle, but that was far too much work for you at the moment.

"Unfortunately," you drawled as you popped it slowly into the microwave and punched in the numbers. You sighed as it started cooking and leaned against the counter, taking some of the weight off your legs. 

Your mother hummed softly in reply, the coffee machine drawing her attention. As she turned to pour herself a mug, she struck up the conversation you'd been dreading. "So. This morning. Care to explain what happened?"

Ah, the classic parent tactic of making you think you had a choice of whether or not to answer them. You decided to pretend you had a choice anyway. "Not really?" The microwave dinged, so you turned and carefully fetched the boiling mug and set it on the counter to find the tea. 

Your mother sighed heavily. "I don't know why I expected a straight answer from you. Why won't you tell me?"

"I thought Papyrus had already told you," you shrugged, dropping two bags into the water and watching the powder swirl. You thought you remembered him doing so, at least. It was all a little hazy. 

"He did, but I want to hear it from you." You hummed uncomfortably and focused on stirring your drink. She barreled on. "What's up with him anyway? I thought you said he hated you."

Ah, look, another conversation you didn't want to have. See, you hadn't exactly told your parents about the thing with Sans and Papyrus. They didn't think very kindly of the brothers after your encounters with them over the years, and believed they were bad influences on you, which you didn't think was possible since you hadn't exactly been friends allies? Friends with them before this year. So of course you didn't tell them about how the brothers had begun seeking you out, and now here you were left with an even greater burden. Excellent. 

Your mother was still waiting for you expectantly, so you faked taking a sip to delay a little longer. Unfortunately there was only so long you could do so and she was growing visibly more impatient the longer you stalled, and finally you could put it off no longer. You set the cup back down and the counter and tentatively asked, "Okay, uh, you remember how a couple of weeks ago I, uh, got into a fight to defend an elemental?"

Her blank look said it all.

"Cool. So, uh, since then, monsters have... Kind of... Come to respect me? And uh... Sans and Papyrus kinda... They, um... They're sorta my..." You felt like she wouldn't quite understand the "ally" term- you didn't even fully understand why it seemed so important to them- so you just awkwardly settled for, "They're my friends."

It was quiet enough you could hear a pin drop. You decided you would rather train with Undyne again instead of standing in this kitchen with your mother staring at you uncomprehendingly. 

Anxiety gripped you and the words came tumbling out before you could stop them. "I don't really know how it happened either but they started sitting with me and then Sans got a job at the library and Papyrus made me lasagna and called me his ally and then Undyne threatened to keep me from seeing them if I didn't train with them and I actually really like the two of them, I swear they're not bad guys, they're just a little rough around the edges, they-"

She put a hand up and your jaw snapped closed with a click. You did not like the look on her face. "I'm sorry, this Undyne person did what now?" She demanded dangerously, anger dripping from her voice, and you resisted the urge to slap your forehead.

"She didn't- I worded that really badly, it wasn't- she wasn't threatening me, she was just a little pushy." You weren't... Entirely sure why you were defending her when she had definitely threatened you. It just didn't feel... Right somehow. You felt like there might be more to her story than just proving your worth. You just had to figure it out.

Mother looked ready to push it, still clearly bristling and distrustful, but she forced herself to calm down and took a violent swig of her coffee. "Okay, fine. So what happened after she got "a little pushy"?"

You decided to ignore her sarcasm for now and keep talking. "Okay, well obviously we went to strength training to meet up with Papyrus and then we just sort of ran around doing... A lot of everything and it was really intense. And I kept going even though I was exhausted and Papyrus kept telling me to stop, and then she challenged me to lift the two hundred pound weights and... Uh." You shot her a sheepish look, sipping on your tea instead of finishing the sentence. It was just a tad too hot to drink comfortably, but by the stars did it feel good. Already your aches and pains felt much better, your body lighter and spirits higher. 

"And then you passed out," she finished for you, sighing heavily as you quietly nodded. "One of these days your stubbornness is going to get you killed, I swear." She took another long drink of her coffee, eyeing you. "He seemed... Awful friendly when we got there."

You laughed nervously, body warming as you recalled the way he carried you and set his hand against your head. Thinking about it now, and the softness in his voice when he said you were already friends... It still gave you that fluttery feeling. "Er, I... I guess? He was pretty worried about me." A slight smile tugged on the corner of your lips. "He tried to convince me not to do it and was very frustrated to learn how stubborn I was."

She was still staring at you like you'd grown two heads. Very slowly, as though the words were still solidifying in her mind as she spoke them, she said, "You know... I find it hard to believe that someone who hated you for three years mysteriously decides to be your friend all of a sudden... That they would care so much about a near-stranger. Enough to give them their phone number-" 

You gasped, nearly dropping your cup. Holy crap, you had completely forgotten to message him earlier! Argh, you hoped he wouldn't be too upset with you! 

Your mother made a confused noise as you tipped your head back, chugging the sea tea as fast as you could. The buzz of healing magic being so suddenly ingested was a bit disorienting, but you welcomed the surge of energy it gave you. Hastily dropping the cup in the sink, you shirked the blanket and darted into the living room, vaulting over the back of the couch and startling your father awake as you dove for your bag. It took a few moments of digging to unearth the crumpled note, but the moment you had it in your hands you were flying back to your room, dancing around your stunned mother with a shouted and garbled apology. You nearly fell on your face several times and you were sure your hip would bruise from hitting the door frame, but you'd deal with that later. 

There wasn't really a reason for your urgency, aside from apologizing to Papyrus for taking so long to message him. He'd honestly probably forgotten all about it, but you still typed in his number and a message as quickly as you could. 

 

Hey Papyrus, it's the human. Sorry for not messaging you sooner, I was asleep until about thirty minutes ago. I guess I'm just letting you know I'm not dead or anything. 

 

You debated for a few moments before sending it. Was that... Too formal? Too informal? You thought it was about right for your level of friendship... Should you send a smiley or something? He didn't seem like an emoji person. 

This is stupid, you decided, and just hit send. You then proceeded to throw the phone on the opposite side of the bed, staring at it like it'd tried to bite you.

You could not believe it. You'd just texted the actual Papyrus Serif. Was this the real life. Was it just fantasy. 

You were distracted from your descent into a meme-related existential crisis by the buzz of a phone, which startled you. He'd answered really quickly. You hadn't had time to mentally prepare.

A little apprehensive, you retrieved your phone and hesitantly unlocked it, pulling up the new message. Your eyes were automatically assaulted by all caps, and you could already feel anxiety kicking in as you stared at it. He must have been... Pretty mad. Oh joy.

UNKNOWN NUMBER

 

IT IS ABOUT TIME YOU MESSAGED ME. I WAS BEGINNING TO THINK SOME HORRIBLE FATE HAD BEFALLEN YOU. 

 

(You snorted despite yourself. Who used words like "befallen"? Especially over text?)

 

I AM... GRATEFUL TO HEAR YOU ARE DOING BETTER, HOWEVER. NOT THAT I WAS WORRIED OR ANYTHING! I JUST FIGURED... 

 

Hmm. Perhaps he wasn't mad after all. Maybe that's just... How he typed? Peculiar.

He'd left you two messages, so you hurriedly read the final one. 

 

ANYWAYS!!! HURRY UP AND GET BETTER!!! SANS WILL NOT STOP MOPING AND BEING ANXIOUS ABOUT YOU! HE KEEPS TEXTING ME ASKING IF YOU ARE ALRIGHT!

 

 Now you're actually laughing, smothering the sound with your hand. That stubborn feeling of warmth in your chest is back, and you refuse to give it a name, afraid it might stick around. You carefully type out a message in return. 

 

Well, please tell Sans that I'm doing much better and that he shouldn't worry so much. Oh! And also thank you for worrying in the first place. 

 

You hit send, and then realize you hadn't quite made yourself clear in the last one. 

 

That goes for you too! I really appreciate you looking after me. 

 

You don't get a reply for some time, in which you assume he's probably texting his brother, so you play around on your phone while you wait. As an afterthought, you add his contact to your phone. You'd debated for a bit about whether you'd nickname him or not, but eventually decided to just call him ''Papyrus" for now. 

Abruptly, about ten minutes later, your phone buzzes again. You open the message and smile faintly. It's only two short words, but it still means the word to you. 

 

YOU'RE WELCOME. 

Chapter Text

It's not your usual alarm that wakes you, but rather an insistent jingling noise right beside your head. You blink awake and scowl at your phone, wondering who in their right mind would be calling you this early. 

(You then proceed to check the time to make sure it was indeed that early so you could be appropriately angry. It's five a.m. Who is calling you at five a.m?!)

The ringing stops finally, so you set your head down and brush it off, trying to get in a few more hours of sleep-

And then it goes off again. 

Muffling a groan into your pillow, you blindly reach out and hit the accept button, holding it up to your ear. "Who 's it?" You demand sleepily, not bothering to open your eyes. 

"HUMAN!" You cringe away from the phone, startled by Papyrus' loud voice. Who has that much energy this early in the morning??? "I WAS JUST CALLING TO INQUIRE IF YOU'D BE AT SCHOOL TODAY?"

...What. Why. Why was this a thing. "Uh... I mean... I should be?" You scrubbed a hand over your face. "'M doin' a lot better, so... You do know you could'a jus'..." A yawn. "Texted me, right?"

There was a long pause, and then Papyrus spoke again, voice much more bearable this time. "I apologize. You were still sleeping, weren't you? I forget not everyone gets up as early as I do."

"S'fine, no harm done," you mumbled, feeling guilty for being grumpy with him. Sounded like he must get up a long time before you did... "Papyrus, when d'you get up?"

"Four," he replied proudly, which you absolutely could not get your head around. Who in their right mind would get up at four in the morning? "I always get up early to go for a run around the block and some warm up stretches. Besides, it's much easier to cook when I'm not scrambling to get ready."

You stared at nothingness for a moment, just marveling at this incredible madman. You let out a quiet laugh, rubbing your eyes. "Wow. You are really something else, Papyrus. I wish I had your drive."

"Well!" He blurted, sounding strangely... Flustered? Flattered? You couldn't tell. Probably didn't matter. "I am sure that if you really put your effort into it then you can be almost as great as I am!"

...are you dreaming or was that a compliment? Maybe-sorta-kinda? Gah, you're too tired for this. Still, a smile finds it's way onto your face. "Thanks, Papyrus. Maybe someday I'll be able to catch up to your greatness."

"D... DON'T PUSH YOUR LUCK! I HAVE VERY HIGH STANDARDS!" What. Why was he yelling again. "WELL! I SHOULD!! BE GOING NOW!! I WILL SEE YOU LATER. GOODBYE!"

He hung up without giving you a chance to reply, leaving you wondering what had just happened. 

In the end, you decided it would be better to just go back to sleep.

 

You're making yourself a piece of toast for breakfast when it happens. 

The doorbell rings- which is already weird, because most everyone you knew just knocked- and your mother, who was already milling around in the living room, went to answer it. You didn't think anything of it, busy smearing jelly on your bread, when you heard her demand, "What are you doing here?"

You paused, wondering who could be at the door to elicit such a reaction. 

"GOOD MORNING MA'AM. IS THE HUMAN HOME?"

Oh. That's who. 

What was he doing here?! 

You dropped the knife onto the counter hastily, then hurried over to peek into the living room. Sure enough, there he was, facing your mother with a neutral expression. Sans, just barely visible behind the both of them, looked to be sweating bullets.

Stars. Could you die yet? 

Your mother propped a hand on her hip, cocking it contemptuously. "There are a few humans in this house, skeleton. You'll have to be more specific."

Papyrus faltered slightly, looking a bit off-put by her snarky tone. He probably wasn't used to getting that from adults. "Erm... I apologize. I should have been more precise." 

She sighed, straightening up and crossing her arms. "Look, I'm gonna be real blunt with you for a second here, okay? What do you want with my kid?"

This woman!! You could not!! Believe!! She just did that!! Oh who were you kidding, yes you could- who do you think you got all your fighting spirit from? But still! She couldn't have phrased it more delicately? 

You would have intervened right there, but you had to admit, you were... Pretty curious. Maybe you'd finally get an answer for his weird behavior? 

Papyrus seemed a little lost for words, like he couldn't believe he was really being interrogated right now. You noticed, interestingly enough, that he was beginning to blush a little- and even he was sweating under her scrutiny. "I... We just want to... To get to know them." His blush darkened slightly, but he held his head high, getting his feet back under himself. "We want to be friends with them."

"Why?"

You held your breath, hoping his candor would keep up. 

It was Sans who answered this time, however, as Papyrus looked a little lost. "We just think they're pretty cool. Someone worth hangin' out with."

She stared at the two of them for a long time, wearing them down until they looked ready to leave. You decided now was a great time to make your presence known. Trying to be as casual as possible, you strode around the corner, calling, "Hey, mom, who's at the- oh! Heyyyyyy guys, how's it going?" You leaned sloppily against the door frame, hoping your smile didn't look as forced as it felt. Nailed it. 

Your mother sighed. "Honey, you're a terrible liar. We all know you've been here the whole time."

"I didn't?" Papyrus objected, giving you an embarrassed look. 

You cringed, reaching up to rub your neck. "I might have heard... A little bit. Just a little, I promise!" You gave Sans a small, shy smile. "I, uh, I appreciate it, by the way. I... I think you're both, um, really cool, too."

Excellent. Wonderful social skills. A+ communication right there. 

Neither skeleton seemed to know what to do with this information, so the three of you just shared a long, awkward silence. Finally, your mother made an exasperated sound and moved out of the way of the door. "Would you two please come in and wait for them the finish getting ready? This awkwardness is killing me."

You could have sworn you heard her mutter something about "stupid teenagers in love" as she stomped away, but decided to ignore it in favor of addressing your guests, who were now shuffling into your house slowly. "Uh. I am so, so sorry about that. If I'd known you were swinging by I would have grabbed the door instead." You fidgeted with your shirt, watching them curiously. "Uh, not that I'm protesting or anything, but what exactly are you guys doing here?"

Sans offers you a crooked smile. "Well, we were headin' this way and figured we'd drop by ta see if you wanted ta walk with us." His grin turned a little rueful. "Weren't exactly expectin' an interrogation."

You made a distressed noise, ready to apologize again, but Papyrus spoke up before you could, lightly smacking the back of Sans' head. "Stop being rude and antagonizing the human, Sans. We are guests."

Sans snorted, rubbing the back of his head idly. "Yeah, yeah, I know. Sorry boss." For some reason he winked at you, then turned around and shuffled towards the couch. He waved a hand over his shoulder. "Go 'head an' get ready, sweetheart, we got time."

You glanced up at Papyrus, and when he simply raised an eyebrow in response you nodded and headed for your room. You just had to grab your backpack and your phone and you'd be good to get out of here. 

The trip was a short one, and so you were back in no time, which was a good thing because in the time you got back your mother had cornered the skeletons again. You gave a long-suffering groan, wondering what they had down to deserve her ire now. 

"L-listen, uh, miss, I didn' mean anythin' like that, it was jus-" Sans was trying to say, holding his hands up in a placating manner, but your mother was having none of it. 

"Look, you've been getting awful friendly with my kid and I wanna know why! No one goes from hating someone to being their best friend over night!" she ranted, gesturing wildly with her hands.

Bristling, you stomped forward and came to stand between her and the skeletons, who were suddenly very quiet. "Mom, would you just leave them alone? They haven't done anything wrong."

She growled in frustration, gripping her shoulders tightly. "Honey, I'm gonna be as clear about this as I can. They. Are. Using you. I don't know how, I don't know for what, but it can't be anything good. I want you to stop seeing them."

You felt like someone had punched you in the gut. Was she really... Did she really feel that way about them? 

There was a mix of emotions in the pit of your stomach, but most prominent was annoyed disbelief. "Mom! What the heck? They're not using me! You're being so rude right now!"

"I am trying to protect you!" she rebuked, jabbing her finger into your chest. You flinched back, scowling. "You're the one who told me that they hated you! You said they threatened you!"

"I never said that!" you couldn't help shouting, anger bubbling over. "I said that they didn't want anything to do with me! But for some reason, they've decided that I'm worth it, and I'm not gonna let you just walk all over them! I don't care why they changed their minds, because I don't think they would use me! They're not like that!"

"I can't believe you," she seethed, teeth bared slightly. She gestured aggressively to the door. "Go. Go to school. We'll talk about this when you get home."

You scoffed, crossing your arms. "There's nothing to talk about. I'm not going to stop seeing them." You turned, motioning for the two skeletons to follow you, bumping your bag up on your shoulder. "Let's go, guys. We're gonna be late if we waste anymore time with this."

Your mother continued to yell after you, but you pointedly ignored her, ushering the brothers out the door ahead of you and slamming the door on her face. You leaned back against the door, rubbing your face slowly, trying to get your emotions under control. That had been... pretty gruesome. You didn't usually outright fight, but when you did, it could get intense. You sighed and raised your head, giving them a tired look. "I am... really, truly, so sorry about that. She's... she means well."

They were both quiet, giving you equally unreadable expressions, and you shifted uncomfortably. "Uh... Well, we should... We should go now..."

When neither of them replied, you just sighed again and took the lead. You really hadn't meant for them to get caught up in that... mess. And now there was probably some stuff you'd have to address, at some point. 

...Provided either of them wanted to keep hanging out with you after all that. You wouldn't blame them if they didn't. 

"Human," Papyrus suddenly spoke up, startling you slightly. You hadn't expected him to talk so quietly. It sounded wrong. You gave him a hesitant look over your shoulder, finding that he was already watching you with a thoughtful frown. "Do you really... believe that we hate you?"

"Well... No. Not anymore," you replied awkwardly, rubbing the back of your head. "It's just... Well, I mean, do either of you remember the first day of school? Freshman year?" They both nodded, expressions shifting to something more curious. "Cool. So... I mean, for one thing, you called me a pathetic human and said that you didn't need my help, and then stormed off, so I was like okay, he obviously doesn't wanna be messed with, which I get, and then you had that fight the next day and totally wiped the floor with that dude and when you saw me you kinda? Gave me a weird look? And I kinda sorta felt like maybe you were... trying to tell me I was next? So I was like okay cool, I'm just not gonna bother this dude and it seemed you felt the same way cuz then we had the whole, like, unspoken thing and I told mom about it and I guess now she's convinced you want to? I dunno, kill me?"

They were staring at you again, and you realized that you probably didn't have to rant that long, but you just really needed to get your side of the story out and tell them what had happened and why she'd done that and-

...And they're laughing at you. Papyrus is chuckling softly, one hand poised almost daintily over his teeth, sockets crinkling in a look of absolute delight which is completely shocking to you, and Sans is laughing so hard he's wheezing, and you really don't know how that's possible when they don't need to breathe and you are very confused. "W... What the heck? Why are you two laughing? What about that was funny?"

This only makes them laugh harder. You think Sans might actually be crying. "Guys, come on, if it's really that funny then at least let me in on the joke!"

Sans straightens up slightly, still laughing as he shuffles over and throws an arm around you. He leans against you heavily, head resting against yours. "Oh, oh darlin', stars, yer a treasure, hoo boy," he spits out between chuckles, breathless and weak.

Warm embarrassment blooms from your chest. You hadn't expected such an endearment, or all the contact. It wasn't... Bad. You actually kind of... enjoyed it? You were just really confused! "Guys, please, what is happening right now, I'm so confused."

Papyrus sighs merrily, stepping forward as well to lightly pet your head. Your breath hitches slightly as you meet his amused, affectionate look. "Do not worry about it, human. It's merely a misunderstanding."

"But it explains so much," Sans gasps, turning his head slightly to nuzzle your hair. He straightens slightly, keeping his arm around you and smirking up at you. "Hehe. You're so cute when you're confused," he teases, ruffling your hair.

You brain promptly crashes again. You even make a noise akin to a dying computer as you cover your face, screaming into your hands. You're dying. You're actually dying. These skeletons are going to kill you. You don't even know why you're so flustered. You're so confused about everything.

Papyrus chuckles, setting a hand on your shoulder and gently guiding you around. "Come along, human. I believe it was you who told us we would be late."

You let the two of them guide you, keeping your hands in your face until you've gotten your emotions under control somewhat. It gets a little easier once they begin to banter over your head, their steady stream of insults and quips helping to distract you from your feelings. You even tentatively join in, lightly ribbing (heh) Papyrus about his fashion choices, and before you know it you're caught in an insult war. It's honestly pretty hilarious, and you really appreciate their easygoing demeanor. 

They get a bit serious as you enter the school, but they don't leave your side. They walk you all the way to your usual table, Sans' arm boldly around you and Papyrus hovering close. You know people are staring at you, probably judging you, but you can't for the life of you bring yourself to care. Today you feel brave and ready to face whatever comes your way, amped up from your fight this morning and your time with the brothers.

"You should sit with us at lunch sometime," Papyrus declares when you finally reach the table, resting his hand on your shoulder once more. "I know you and my brother share a lunch A days, but we have the same lunch B days. Come find us in Anderson's biology room." 

You smile slightly, giving him a nod. "Will do, Papyrus. Thanks for walking me here."

He nods in return, all stern faces once more, but you can see a hint of a smile. 

Sans pulls you a little closer, ruffling your hair again. "We should make a habit of it. Yer good company." He nuzzles your hair, then pulls away and gives you a wink as he tucks his hands back into his pockets. "See ya' in class, darlin'."

Your unintelligible gargling is the only response he gets- had he really just done that in front of all these people?? really??? Sans why- but it seems to satisfy him nonetheless, as he laughs and meanders away at Papyrus' side. 

It takes a while before you can force yourself to snap out of your daze and sit down, and you cringe slightly as you feel your friends staring at you. You can already hear the teasing you're going to endure for this. Where had all your confidence from literally five seconds ago gone? 

"SO," Joey says, loudly, smugly, and you decide then and there that you're going to pummel Sans the next time you see him. "About Sans and Papyrus."

...It's gonna be a long day.

Chapter Text

As they always do, things eventually returned to... Well, semi-normality. You fell into a pattern, balancing between Sans and Papyrus and your regular life. In the mornings Papyrus would call to make sure you were up, then he and Sans would walk you to school. You'd go through the day, hanging out with one or both of them depending on the day, and sometimes you'd even eat lunch with them, as promised. After school you met up by the buses and said goodbye, and then you and Sans would walk to the library. You'd work for a few hours, then walk home together, and you'd go up to your room to do homework or sleep. 

You skillfully dodged any of your mother's attempts to bring up the conversation, and eventually she grudgingly moved on. She even began to fall into the rhythm herself, dithering in the living room so she could get the door while you made breakfast. It was always tense until she left the room, at which point you and the brothers would chat for a bit until it was time to leave.

It had seemed so strange at first, but now it was just normal. It was... Fun. 

A month went by.

 

"Hey, wanna know somethin' cool?"

You glance over at Sans, smiling despite the exasperation in your voice. The skeleton is crouched down the aisle a little ways from you, a list of holds in one hand and a book that he's slowly depositing in his cart in the other. His eyes are on you, however, gleaming eagerly as he waits for your response. You know you probably shouldn't indulge him, but you do anyways. "Sure. Lay it on me."

"Okay, so the term "meme" was coined by this guy named Richard Dawkins, and appeared in his book "The Selfish Gene" in 1976. As you can imagine, it was a book about genetics, of all things," Sans recited, sounding for all the world like a history textbook. 

You let out an incredulous laugh, trying to be quiet as you stared at him in amused skepticism. "Sans. What the heck. Why do you know that. Why can you remember that." 

"I am a black hole of useless information," he replied, sounding unreasonably smug of this. "I can recite pi up to twenty places."

"No way, you're messing with me," you challenged, stifling your laugh with a hand. "Sans, you can't even remember to do your laundry, how can you remember twenty places of pi?"

"3.14159265358979323846," he promptly replied, snickering as you started at him in disbelief, your eyes wide. He winked, oozing smug satisfaction. "Told ya. I only remember the important stuff."

You shook your head, pulling another book from the cart and slipping it into place. "No way, you totally just made that up. You're messing with me."

"I'll prove it."

He began fishing in his pockets, making you laugh a little louder than you'd intended. "Sans, no! You're supposed to be working, you bonehead!"

"I am workin', sweetheart. I'm jus' takin' a break."

Stupid tiny skeleton. He thought he was so smart. You narrowed you eyes, glaring at him teasingly as you pointed a threatening finger at him. "I'm gonna tell Sophie that you're shirking your work and she's gonna fire you and I'm finally gonna be rid of your annoying tailbone."

"You won't do that," he said matter-of-factly, standing up and leaning on your cart. He was giving you an expectant look.

You had an uneasy feeling that you knew where this was gonna go, and you knew it was going to be embarrassing, and yet you answered anyway, like an idiot. "...You sound so sure of yourself. What makes you think I won't?"

You're the worst. You're a glutton for punishment. You have no one but yourself to blame for this. 

Sans leans closer. You realize you've somehow trapped yourself between him and the shelves. You wonder why the universe hates you. Sans smirks. "You'd get bonely without me, darlin'."

Someone kill you, please. 

"You're the actual worst," you whisper-yell, hiding your embarrassment by shoving the book in your hands into his face, blocking his view of you. Sans snickers quietly behind the book, trying to push it down so he can look at you. You quickly set the book down so you won't damage it, then instantly turn back to the shelf, still silently fuming. "I'm definitely gonna have Sophie fire you for that one."

Sans draws in a breath, likely to fluster you more, but a voice from the entrance of the aisle draws your attention. You think you might recognize it, but you're not sure until you turn and see who it is. You're only a little surprised to see Belladonna, a monster classmate from your Language Arts class, standing there with her hands tucked into the pockets of her ripped black jeans. Belladonna is... very intimidating for a rabbit, though you attribute that to the dark, torn clothes she always wears and her bright red eyes. 

Yet, despite all this, you know- through admittedly limited interactions due to forced group activities- that she's not as scary as she seems. She's actually a very deep thinker and rather poetic, and she's never once had an unkind word to say to you, even before the whole Brian Incident. 

You give her an awkward smile, well aware that you're still all-but pressed to the shelf with Sans looming in front of you. "Uh... Hey, Belladonna. Can I help you?"

She returns your smile with a mellow one of her own, which... honestly surprises you. She's never once smiled at you before. "Heya, Vigilante. Just here to find some light reading for the next paper."

"Light reading?" you echo, glancing incredulously at the giant tomes of philosophy standing next to your head. The rest of her sentence takes a moment to catch up to you, and you sputter, "Wait, vigilante? Is that what they're calling me?"

"Well, it fits," she replies smoothly, sidling closer. She steps right up to you and Sans, never once looking away from you. There's a faint spark of magic in the air. "I mean, sticking up for those who can't fend for themselves? Defending the innocent and bringing justice to the unjust world, free of the constraints of authority? You're the very definition of a vigilante, human."

You groan, rubbing your forehead. Will you ever live this down? Will this ever stop following you? Maybe once you got out of high school. Stars you hoped so. If you had to deal with this as an adult you would probably kill someone. "Ugh, I wish everyone would stop bringing that up. I was just doing what I always do. So what if it was a monster?"

"That's what makes it such a big deal," she murmured, leaning on the shelves next to you. Her jacket brushed your arm, startling you with her proximity. She smelled like warm leather. "You're always looking out for the little ones. It's one of the many things I admire about you."

"Hey, buddy, mind takin' a few steps back?" Sans suddenly growls, eye lights their aggressive red. He's puffed himself up, like he's trying to look bigger than he is, and one socket's light is flickering out. It was kind of creepy, but also really cool. You should ask him how he did that someday. "Yer makin' 'em uncomfortable."

Belladonna finally turned to address him, looking supremely unaffected by his threatening countenance. She made a show of looking him over, then turned back to you with a smile. "Am I making you uncomfortable, Vigilante?"

You faltered, caught between admitting that yes, actually, it was kind of uncomfortable to have her so close, and being rude. You didn't want to hurt her feelings or anything...

But at the same time Sans was starting to look murderous, and whole while you thought it was pretty touching that he wanted you to feel comfortable, you really didn't want him dusting anybody. That would not be good for anyone.

So, clenching your hands to keep them from fidgeting, you quietly murmured, "Yeah, actually, I... Kinda am. Sorry."

She seemed surprised, shifting away from you and frowning. The angry look in Sans' face softened a little. "I apologize. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."

"It's cool, I know you didn't," you dismissed, waving her away. You gave her a friendly smile, hoping to soothe things over a little more. "There are some pretty good picks for a book in here, I think you'll be able to find a good one pretty easily." 

"Thank you," she murmurs, nodding back to you.

Without another word, she drifts further down the aisle, and the last of your tension drains. Sans also looks much calmer, although you can see tension in his shoulders as he glares after her. You rest your hand lightly on his shoulder, bringing his attention to you. "You doing okay? You look a little stressed. Thanks for helping out. I didn't know what to say."

His shoulder slumps under your hand, his relaxed grin coming back. "No problem, sweetheart. S'what I'm here for."

"Actually you're here to pull holds," you tease, lightly shoving his shoulder. "Hurry up and get going, before Sophie catches you "takin a break"."

"Startin' to think you actually wanna get rid of me, sweetheart. That's the second time t'night you've threatened me," he laughs, finally heading back to his cart. 

"Maybe you should start taking me more seriously," you warn lightly, relieved when he just snickers. You're glad he seems to be feeling more like himself.

 

"What is it with you and monsters these days?" Your mother demands exasperatedly from your doorway, one hand on her hip while the other eaves waves spatula at you admonishingly. "There's a monster here every day! This has never happened before! Are you in a gang now? A monster gang?"

Groaning, you pull your headphones from your ears and wonder what you did to deserve this. "Okay, first of all, no I'm not in a monster gang. Two, I have no clue what you're talking about. Who's here?"

"I don't know!" She cries, throwing her hands in the air in frustration. "It's some rabbit girl!"

What the... You slip off your bed, hurrying downstairs before your mother can give you another rant. There's no way she's...

There she is, standing in your living room, looking around curiously. She's dressed up a little, trading out her usual ragged clothes for a cute grey blouse and a red skirt. She's even wearing makeup, which... You don't know how that works. 

She looks up when you arrive, giving you that relaxed smile from the library the other day. "Heya, Vigilante. Nice house."

"Uh... Thanks?" You scratch the back of your head, squinting slightly as you try to decipher why she's here. "Uh... Did you... Need something?"

"Oh, I was just wondering if you were busy today," she replies, moving slightly closer. Her heels make her taller than she already is, which is very unfair to tiny humans like you. 

W... Wait. Did she... Did she just.... Ask to hang out with you??? Why? 

"Why?" You blurt without realizing, then immediately cringe. "Not... Not trying to be rude, or anything, but you've never really... Shown any interest in me outside of class? I'm kind of confused."

Boy, isn't that just a big ol' mood from this whole year. You're having flashbacks of similar talks with the skeletons. 

She sighs softly, looking away. "I know. An honest mistake, on my part. You are more than worth being around." She turns back to you, a soft look in her eyes, and you suddenly feel a thousand times more awkward and confused. "I've admired you for a long time. How you're always so willing to defend and support everyone. I don't know if you remember, but we met back in middles school, briefly. I was sad because a bunch of punks had stolen my favorite pencils the day before, and I didn't have anything to write with." She gave a soft laugh. "You hunted me down at lunch and shoved a pack of pencils from the student store in my face. You told me that if I ever had trouble with them again, I should come and find you. I never did, but... I always remembered that."

You... Vaguely recalled this. Belladonna had looked a lot different back then, though. Short and wearing pink bows around her ears and lighter clothing. You wonder why she changed. 

"I... Yeah, I remember that. Sorry I shoved them at you, I was... Pretty awkward back then," you apologize, wincing as you rub your neck. Nevermind the fact that you are still incredibly awkward and that reliving that moment makes you want to scream. 

She nudges you lightly, something teasing in the gesture. "Oh, that's quite alright. I thought it was very sweet. You really inspired me back then. I couldn't stop thinking about it." 

Oh geeze. Well, you're glad you didn't make a total fool of yourself, you guess? "Ahah... Well, uh, that's... Nice to hear. Um, where did you have in mind?"

"Oh!" She rifled through her jacket, then held out two tickets, eyes glittering. "I saw a very interesting movie trailer the other day. The main character reminded me of you. I was hoping we could go see it together? Maybe... Get some dinner after?"

Wow... This was... I really fancy hang out! Mostly you and your gang just hung out at a park or at one of your houses eating popcorn and yelling at the screen. "Oh... Oh geeze, wow, you... You didn't have to do that. How much were they? I'm getting a paycheck next week, I'll-"

She cut you off with a laugh, waving her hand nonchalantly. "Relax, you don't have to do that! It's my treat. Consider it repaying the debt from middle school."

You hesitated longer, debating with yourself. On the one hand, you felt guilty for taking her money. On the other, it would be kind of nice to get to hang out with someone new... But you also didn't know her very well. You could already feel the anxiety kicking in. You sort of wish you had Sans and Papyrus here so you could feel their magic.

You immediately dismiss those thoughts with a mental screech. What in the world are you thinking?? That's!! That's weird!! And Belladonna still needs an answer!! Get it together, you moron!

Clearing your throat so you can steel yourself, you finally return her smile with a crooked one of your own. "Um! Yeah! Sure, I'd- yeah, I'd love to go. Do. That. Uh. Lemme just... Get dressed?" 

You are the master of social interactions. 

She seems amused by your flustered state, but also incredibly happy. You think that's the widest you've ever seen her smile. "Alright, take your time. I'll just wait outside."

You wave to her and rush to clamber back up the stairs. Your mother sticks her head out the door, narrowing her eyes at you. "What'd she want?"

"We're gonna hang out. I'll probably be back... I dunno. Seven at the latest. I'll text you if anything comes up," you promise quickly, hoping it'll get her off your case. 

She squints further. You wonder if she can even see. "You'd better be back in this house by ten and not a minute later. If you're not then I won't hesitate to call the cops on your sorry butt."

"Fair," you agree, because you're definitely not planning on staying out that long anyways. You'll be dead by the time dinner's over. 

Your mother retreats into her room, so you hurry to yours and get changed. You're definitely anxious, wondering if it's too late to change your mind. It'd probably hurt her feelings, but you could just... Say your mom told you not to go, right? Ahh, no, you couldn't, that wasn't fair to anyone. And you were kind of excited for hanging out, if you were being honest. Belladonna seemed like a nice girl, if not a little... Affectionate? Was that the right word? Probably not. 

Whatever. You'd worry about it later. Right now, you had a movie to watch. 

 

The night had gone fantastic! The movie was funny and exciting, and the main character was definitely a lot like you- not quite as awkward, of course, but the rest of it was pretty close. Belladonna had insisted that she pay for snacks, although you'd managed to sneakily pay for drinks. Seriously, what was up with monsters and trying to pay for things for you? 

Dinner was fun too. You headed to a nice sandwich place and just hung out for a while, talking and joking and exchanging stories. Although you were pretty tired after dinner, just like you thought you'd be, you still followed her to the park and hung out for a little bit longer, goofing around on the swings and talking about everything. 

She walked you back home and gave you a hug goodnight, which was definitely outside of your comfort zone, but you decided it would be okay for tonight. You exchanged phone numbers (at which point you had cringed, seeing the flood of texts and calls from Papyrus) and agreed to hang out again sometime. Then you went home and flopped into bed, completely disregarding the fact that you hadn't changed.

Sighing, you opened your phone and headed to the messenger app. Twenty unread texts and seven missed calls. Oops. 

You didn't have the energy to call, so you just settled for typing out a lazy message. 

hey Papyrus sorry about missing al your calls ive been out all night

You rolled over, plugging up your phone and snuggling into your sheets. Ah, yes, sleeeeeeeeep... 

Your phone dinged. You groaned, debating not answering it, then decided to do so anyways. 

 

THERE YOU ARE! I WAS STARTING TO THINK SOMEONE HAD MURDERED YOU!! YOU COULD HAVE AT LEAST REPLIED TO THE FIRST MESSAGE SO I KNEW YOU WEREN'T DEAD!!! >:(

 

Oh dear. He'd broken out the Emojis. He must be really upset. 

 

i am so sorry boss but we were in a movie theater and I had my phone off an I forgot to turn it back on... Plz forgive meeeeeeee

You added a crying face for good measure. There, now he knew you meant it.

It took a while for him to respond.

 

I SUPPOSE I'LL LET IT SLIDE THIS TIME. WHO WERE YOU WITH? 

 

Belladonna?? Do u know her? 

 

YOU COULD SAY THAT. I HOPE YOU HAD A GOOD TIME. GOOD NIGHT.

 

Huh. Was it just you, or did he seem a little angry in the last message? Was he still mad about not texting him? Maybe he didn't like Belladonna.

You bit your lip, wondering if you should apologize again. Maybe you should just go for it. 

 

hey are u okay? You seem a lil upset...

 

I'M FINE. I WAS JUST

 

...."Just"...? Was he... Gonna finish that sentence?? Had he even meant to send that?? 

 

I'M FINE. I'LL SEE YOU TOMORROW.

 

...good night to you too I guess.

.....you know u can always talk to me, right?

He never answered. You fell asleep with a frown.

Chapter Text

Sans and Papyrus Serif are used to struggle. 

They're monsters growing up in a human's world. They've been raised by a society that's just recently been freed and still remember a time when it was "Kill or Be Killed" and so while they don't completely understand why their elders have taught them to fight and defend themselves, they learn anyways. They grow to be incredible fighters and to stay wary of the humans who want to harm them and stick close to their monster brethren, even if deep down they're so curious about the people they share their planet with.

They quickly figure out that sometimes the elders are right: humans can be dangerous and cruel, even to each other. But they also figure out that sometimes humans can be good.

You're not the first good human they've ever encountered. But you're the first one who's ever caught their eye sockets.

 

With Gaster gone off to college, it was up to Sans and Papyrus to get themselves to school on time. This wasn't much of a problem, because Papyrus liked to get up at the crack of dawn anyway to fix lunch and do his morning workout. This meant dragging his older twin out of bed at the same unfortunate hour- although Sans usual got to sneak in at least another few hours of sleep while Papyrus went through his routine. 

They'd practiced walking to school over the summer, timing it to see how long it would take and when they'd need to leave. Taking a bus would have been easier, but middle school had taught them lots of things, including what a bad idea it was to take the bus. So they walked instead. 

That first day, it was still sunny and warm, as though summer was still going. This seemed like cruel and unusual punishment to Sans, who wistfully thought of the extra hours of sleep he could have gotten if today wasn't "Freshmen Orientation Day" which was kinda stupid and pointless anyway. They'd already been around the school and they probably weren't ever going to see their "buddies" again and they couldn't even get their schedules. The whole thing was just stupid and agonizing and Sans would be lying if he said he'd stayed awake for any of it. 

The next morning, the Commons were packed with people trying to get their schedules and meeting up with friends they hadn't seen over summer. It was filled with loud voices and even louder music and really it just grated on Sans' (lack of) nerves. He noticed that the room was also pretty cleanly divided into two halves: monsters and humans. Sure, there were a few spot where the groups overlapped, but for the most part everyone just stayed in their respective places. It was kinda depressing, honestly. He'd hoped it would get better in high school, but so far it just seemed like more of the same. 

Papyrus wisely made his way over to one of the monster-populated tables, Sans skullking on his heels, electing to wait for the lines to thin out a little. He was milling about, looking for people he knew, when he'd bumped into some human guy with big muscles and bigger pimples. 

Sans remembered the guy getting in Papyrus' face, making some jeering comment, unaware of the magic sparking around the brothers. They were just gearing up to teach the idiot a lesson when you stepped in. 

He didn't know where you'd come from. One minute it was just the three of them, facing off in a ring of students, and then suddenly you were in front of them. You planted yourself between Papyrus and the other kid- who had to be at least twice your size- and called him out on his bull crap and Sans would swear that in that moment you were absolutely glowing with fierce golden fury. 

Honestly, he couldn't quite blame Papyrus for developing a bit of a crush on you. 

But Papyrus was kind of awkward about those kinds of things, thanks to the fact that he'd never had a relationship before, and so he'd sort of blown up at you and stormed off, leaving Sans to scurry after him and wonder if they'd ever see you again. 

The next day, some other jerk decided to pick a fight. For revenge or whatever. Sand was content to sit back and watch the show, but then he'd felt you again, and he'd sat up and turned his head and there you were, moving through the crowd like a vengeful angel, just in time to see Papyrus wreck the guy. Sans couldn't help but be amused by your startled, slightly-impressed face.

And then... Something went wrong? 

Papyrus had caught your eye and puffed up like a pleased cat, displaying his "kill". It was pretty obvious he was trying to show off, displaying for a potential suitor, "See? See how strong I am? I can fight too." It was a pretty typical show of interest in monster culture, and generally a pretty attractive one too. 

Which is why they couldn't really understand why it seemed to have scared you off? 

(It wouldn't be until years later when you told them you thought Papyrus wanted to murder you that they finally understood that this was clearly not typical courting behavior for humans...)

Anyways, they'd been a little disheartened after that. They began to think maybe that first day was a fluke, and you didn't really like monsters, and maybe you were just another human...

And yet, they couldn't help but pine after you a little. You quickly became infamous- so infamous, in fact, you rivaled Sans and Papyrus themselves- as a sort of anti-hero. You stood up for the little guy and looked after the ones who couldn't look after themselves, all the while shining that pure, golden light. Sans would be the first to admit that he'd spectated a lot of your brawls and picked a fee if his own just to catch your eye. Anything to get your attention and maybe figure out where they went wrong. 

He couldn't believe his luck when he found out he had a few classes with you. He could still remember that one moment when he'd made you laugh for the first time in intricate detail, having replayed that moment constantly, trying to recreate it, because it seemed like maybe the way to your heart was a little bit more subtle than they'd been trying. 

Senior year happened to give them the perfect opportunity to get close to you. Your open- and very violent- support of monsters gave them a good excuse to start associating with you, and you'd been all-too-willing to allow them into your life from there- if not a little confused occasionally. Sans was grateful, because it meant he got to see your wonderful face up close and personal every day, and he got to make you laugh at his jokes and make the most adorable expressions when he called you a pet name. 

He'd never used the word "adorable" with anything other than disdain before he met you, and yet here he was, discretely watching you as you shelved books, that slight curl to your lips that he's come to find so charming thoroughly distracting him from his job. He's only sort of looking at which books he's supposed to be pulling, because the rest of his mind's attention is on your focused expression and figuring out how to make that smile wider- or, even better, how to get you flustered, because if there's one thing he enjoys, it's watching that calm demeanor you try so hard to uphold come crumbling down. He can think of several ways off the top of his skull and just doesn't know where to start.

And now he had the perfect thing to distract you with. He was such a bad influence.

You try to look exasperated when he gets your attention, but he can see the amusement and intrigue in your eyes. You're so clearly invested in what he wants to tell you, even as you scold him for not doing his work. He tracks every shift in your expression as he tells you some useless meme fact he remembers looking up, delighting in your confusion and the hints of laughter in your voice and gaze. He feels giddy as you challenge and threaten him playfully- he knows you don't mean it, you know he knows you don't mean it, and it just feels good to have someone to banter with, someone to match him blow for blow. Conversations with you are always so fun.

And you give him such fantastic opportunities to mess with you. He leans up against your cart as you threaten him again, mischief bubbling in his ribs as he goads you. He has you right where he wants you and he can see by the trepidation in your eyes that you know it, but you play along with it anyways, and it sends a thrill through him.

He leans close- not close enough, but it does the trick. Your eyes go wide, your breath stuttering slightly. You make the most adorably angry face when he calls you darling- he tries to do it as often as he can, since seeing how much it got to you in the cafeteria. You try to block him with a book, even though you know it's useless, and he chuckles softly as he tries to push it back, wanting to get a good look at your embarrassed expression. Maybe even get a little closer. 

Sans is about ready to deliver more pet names, just to bug you, when he's so rudely interrupted. He turns his narrowed sockets to the perpetrator and scowls. Belladonna Bunny. Go figure. 

Sans knows the moment she comes swaggering down the shelves just how Belladonna feels about you- not that it's hard, because she reeks so strongly of her intent that Sans would be surprised if you missed it. She doesn't even look at him as she strides right up to you, swagger in her hips, confidence in her shoulders, and the intent from her is clear: she's making a move. He can't help but bristle, letting out his own aggressive magic. Can't she see that you're uncomfortable with her being that close? That you hate that nickname the school has given you? That you clearly don't want anything to do with her?

He wants to tear her away from you, to gather you protectively to his chest and soothe away any of that anxiety he feels pouring off of you. And he'd probably have done it too if you hadn't spoken up and asserted that yes, actually you were uncomfortable, and he feels several things at once. He's proud that you're standing up for yourself- for once, it seemed- and taking care of yourself. And he's also a little smug that you don't want to be anywhere near her- yet you'd let Sans get close, let him drape himself all over you several times, let him call you cute names. It's a small thing, but it means the whole world to him, and he can tell it annoys Belladonna. Good.

And then you dismiss her and you thank him for protecting you and his soul grows ten sizes or however that saying goes and he can't help but relax. Your gentle touch drains any remaining anger from him and he goes back to his job finally, and the grin on his face doesn't falter for the rest of the night.

 

And then it's just been a downward spiral from there. You'd accepted her date, without even realizing it was a date, and Belladonna had taken advantage of that to act like you were a couple, throwing herself on you ever chance she got, finding excuses to touch you and visit you in the library... And being so smug about it to Sans and Papyrus, while you were completely oblivious to the brewing tension. 

But it was okay. It would all work out. Because Sans and Papyrus had a plan, and when the Terror Twins schemed together, it was sure to succeed.

Chapter Text

There's something wrong with Sans and Papyrus. 

You think, anyways. You're not entirely sure. Something feels wrong, though. It's felt wrong since that night with Papyrus' weird texts. But that's not all. 

It's been a week since your hangout with Belladonna. Since then, she's taken to sitting with you at lunch or in the mornings, integrating herself into your usual group. Your friends never expressly say that they don't want her there, but they're always a little more tense when she is, and you can't for the life of you figure out why. 

Well, okay, maybe you can. It's not that she's rude or anything, she's just kinda... Touchy? And you don't mean emotionally. You mean hugs, holding your arms or hands, brushing your shoulders or neck, draping herself over your back... It's not bad or anything- you're kind of getting used to it, actually, and it's kind of nice sometimes- but when she's doing it constantly every time she's with you, it gets a little... Overwhelming. Sans is pretty tactile too, but not as intensely as she is. It's just... Weird.

She's also taken to dropping by the library and finding you in the shelves and trying to talk. Sometimes she even brings you food. You've tried telling her that you have to focus on work and that you really can't eat in here, but she keeps doing it anyway. She "just wants to make sure you get enough to eat", apparently. It was just overall confusing and she was being clingy and you didn't get it. 

Honestly though, you're more worried about figuring out what was up with the brothers. Papyrus hasn't called you at four in the morning in over a week. They still come and pick you up and walk you to school, but they've always been so distracted and distant. Sans keeps making rookie mistakes in the library, and anytime you try to ask them about it, they tell you they're fine and change the subject, even though they're clearly not fine and it's really starting to bug you because you don't know what you did wrong! Did you offend them somehow? Did you make it seem like you wanted to spend more time with Belladonna than with them? You didn't know! And they wouldn't tell you! And it's freaking you out!! Your mother is this close to fighting the skeletons herself! 

You groan and bury your face in your pillow. If you keep this up, you're gonna have a panic attack. Even worse, you're gonna be late for school. And besides, you're probably just... Freaking out over nothing. If something was wrong, surely they'd tell you, right? Because that's what friends do. They tell you when something is bothering them...

But you haven't been friends with them that long... And they never wanted anything to do with you before... Maybe things were... Going back?

The thought fills you with a crushing feeling you weren't expecting. The idea that they didn't want anything to do with you anymore hurt. You curled up, pressing your face into the sheets, your mind spiraling back to what you could have possibly done to drive them awa-

The covers are abruptly torn off of you. You give a rather embarrassing shriek of surprise as the motion pulls you halfway off the bed and exposes you to the cold air of your house. Really, would it kill your parents to leave the heater on? 

Heart racing, you struggle to push yourself upright again, twisting to find who had just invaded your- 

"HUMAN! ARE YOU DEAF? WHAT ARE YOU DOING STILL LAYING AROUND?" Papyrus demands, holding your sheets in one hand while the other rests on his hip. You can't help but notice that he looks especially nice today, with a red scarf draped stylishly over his leather jacket. "YOU'RE GOING TO BE LATE!"

"... Papyrus?" You ask, when your brain stops giving you the blue screen of death. "Wh... What are you doing in here?"

He huffs, rolling his eye lights at you dramatically. "APPARENTLY YOU ARE GOING DEAF, BECAUSE I JUST TOLD YOU THAT YOU WERE GOING TO BE LATE! WE'VE TRIED CALLING YOU SEVERAL TIMES! YOU REALLY HAVE TO GET BETTER ABOUT ANSWERING THAT BLASTED THING!"

You wince, feeling properly lectured and also a little concerned. You hadn't heard your phone go off at all- oh. Right. "Sorry, I put it on silent last night because B- uh... My friends wouldn't stop texting me."

You really didn't want to tell him it was Belladonna. Any mention of the other monster put them both in a bad mood, and Papyrus was irritated at it was.

His narrowed sockets tell you that you probably didn't pull it off very well, but he let's it slide. Tossing your sheets on the bed, he flaps a hand at you and commands, "Go and get ready. I'm downstairs when you're done."

You watch as he promptly stalks out of the room, scarf trailing behind him, and you wonder how he convinced your mother to let him be the one to wake you. 

 

Papyrus and Sans are indeed waiting downstairs for you, perched on the couch and occupying their time with TV. There's a beautiful smell coming from the kitchen. You really hope Papyrus made you something.

"Hey, guys, sorry about this morning," you call, catching their attention as you make your way over to the couch. You give them a stiff smile. "I was, uh, not feeling so great."

Sans frowns. "You doin' okay now? Think it'd be better for ya to stay home?"

His concern warms and reassures you. Would he really ask something like that if he didn't care? Your smile is a little more real as you say, "Nah, I'm okay now, think I just needed a little extra sleep. Thank you though."

Sans gives you a wink, turning back to the TV- although you do notice him linger a moment, giving you a long look like he's checking if you're actually okay. It's Papyrus' turn to address you. "I made you some breakfast. Your mother said she had to go in early and to make sure you were up and fed on time." His sockets narrow again, a chill running through you as he states, "She said you haven't been eating well the past few days."

Blast it! Curse your mother and her concern for you! You really loved her but it could be so inconvenient! "Um, no, I'm fine. I've been eating great, actually! No need to worry." You move in quickly, giving him a smile as well. "Thanks for making breakfast. It smells fantastic! I should go eat it before it gets cold!"

And because you are so clever and subtle and sneaky you proceed to all but sprint into the kitchen so you don't have to see him staring at you or risk him calling you out on your terrible lying skills. Fantastic. A+. You are winning today. 

Thankfully Papyrus has made you an absolutely beautiful breakfast of French toast and eggs and bacon and things like that, and someone's even left out a pot of tea for you. You're gonna cry. 

You quickly take both items into the living room, settling down in your usual space between them and glancing at the clock. You briefly lament the fact that you will only have ten minutes to enjoy this little slice of heaven before you will have to face the unrelenting cold of late autumn. You distract yourself by giving Papyrus the most grateful look you can muster. "Papyrus, seriously, thank you so much, I owe you my whole life. If there's ever any way I can pay you back for always making me such good food, please let me know."

His expression shifts into obvious pride, chest puffing out and a glow of red surfacing on his cheekbones. "Nyeheh! Well, though I doubt you could do anything as wonderful as what I've done for you, I appreciate the offer."

"That's fair," you agree wholeheartedly, because really, how do you thank someone for such good food? You precede to dig in, melting back into the couch as the warm flavors fill your mouth. You feel... Better. A lot better. Like you can take on the world. You feel important. Special. Cared for. Worth it. The warmth spreads from your chest and out to the rest of you, making you calm and content.

Sans snickers softly next to you. "Geez, sweetheart, do we need ta give you an' your breakfast some alone time?" He teases, leaning over to nudge you playfully.

You shove him back, giving him a mock glare. You refuse to be embarrassed about how much you love good food! "Shut up. You're just jealous that I'm paying more attention to the food than you." 

"Well if you're gonna treat the food like that then yeah, I am, darlin'," he replies, voice dipping low as he leans towards you. His sockets lid as he grins at you. 

You sputter, leaning away from him and bringing a hand up to push his face away. "You! You!" You can't get anything else out. 

"What 'bout me?" He pushes back, knowing full well that you won't be able to formulate a proper response. Curse him and his stupid pet names! Why do they have to flustered you so much?! 

Papyrus chuckles softly behind you. "As amusing as this is, we're going to be late if you don't hurry up."

You want to whine at him to stop rushing you, but you still can't get anything out past the flustered lump in your throat, so you settle for shoveling food into your mouth as quickly as you can. They snicker at your hurried attempts, and as soon as you finish Papyrus scoops up the plate and brings it to the sink for you. While you slip on your shoes and coat and locate your backpack, Sans shuts off the TV, and pretty soon you're all out the door. 

You shiver as soon as you step foot outside, cursing softly as you huddle in on yourself. It's mornings like this where you wish you had a thicker jacket. You should really look into getting one- it's just gonna get colder, why would you risk freezing? 

"You need a better jacket," Papyrus observes, echoing your thoughts. 

You give him a crooked grin. "Yeah. I keep meaning to, since it's getting colder, but I can never remember."

There's a rustle on your opposite side and suddenly something warm and heavy settles on your shoulders. You jump slightly, startled by the weight. Your eyes widen slightly when you see that it's Sans' jacket, the fluffy hood brushing your cheek. It smells like his magic. "Wh- Sans! Take this back! You'll be cold!" You protest immediately, already hurriedly trying to pull it off and hand it back to him.

Sans' hands catch yours, holding the jacket firmly in place as he grins at you softly. "Don't worry 'bout it, sweetheart. I'm a skeleton." Cue cheesy wink. "Th' cold goes right through me."

Of course. Skeleton puns. You should have known. Still! You bite your lip and give him a worried look. "Are you sure?"

He chuckles, squeezing your hands and pulling the jacket further closed. "Nah, I'm Sans."

"You're a nuisance is what you are," Papyrus grumbles from behind you, and you can't help but agree. "However... You have the right idea."

You blink, watching as he reaches up and tugs his scarf free. You lock up as he steps forward, gently wrapping the scarf around your own neck, bones brushing your skin occasionally as he settles it comfortably on you. He stands back slightly and scrutinizes his work, then gives a short nod of approval. "Much better. Are you warmer now, human?"

You are definitely warmer now and it's not just because of their added articles. You choke out a flustered affirmative, unable to stop yourself from grabbing the scarf and pulling it up slightly to hide your face. You're greeted with the smell of whatever cologne he uses. It's... Really nice, actually. Comforting.

It occurs to you that you're standing there smelling his scarf when he's literally right next to you and that familiar mortification rushes through you. Clearing your throat, you quickly drop the scarf and try not to look at either of them, not wanting to know if they caught your slip. "Uh! Thank you both, this is, uh, really nice..."

"Pfft." Sans' arm curls around you, the familiarity of the gesture sending a happy flutter through your chest. He hadn't done that as much recently! Maybe you really had been worried over nothing? "No problem, darlin'. Looks good on ya." He smirks as you stare at him, eyes wide. "Should wear my jacket more often."

Your brain promptly stalls completely, unable to even process the suggestion. They don't seem to mind your abrupt silence, falling into their routine bickering as you make your way to school. Despite your embarrassment, you're also really relieved. They seem more like themselves this morning. 

A little smile curls your lips as you duck your face into the scarf, discreetly allowing the scent to fill your senses. 

 

Everyone is staring again, but this time there's a palpable sense of relief. Seems they're all grateful that things have returned to normal, too. Some people are even smiling at y- did? Did they just make a heart sign? You quickly drop your face into the scarf again. That's enough interaction for you, thanks. 

You're fully anticipating a ribbing when your friends see you, so you're not surprised when Joey takes one look at you and promptly begins cackling, while Hailey calmly sips her juice and quirks an eyebrow. She glances subtly between the three of you, smirking around her straw as you return the look with a subtle "say anything and I'll kill you" glare. 

What you're not anticipating is for Belladonna to be there, eyes dark as she watches you approach. There's a chilling anger in her gaze that confuses and intimidates you, if you're being honest. You're grateful for the comforting presences of Sans and Papyrus. 

She stands as you all come to a stop at your usual table, mouth opening to speak, but Papyrus completely disregards her. He turns to you instead, grabbing the end of the scarf and gently turning you so you're facing him. He leans down, giving you a confident grin even as your heart thumps in your ears. How are they so good at flustering you? "Human, I have a game this Friday night. Will you come see me?" 

His voice is low, but still loud enough that you know everyone else has heard him. You swallow and summon your courage, giving him a warm grin. "I'll have to call in to work, but yeah, I'll be there."

"Wait a minute!" Belladonna suddenly proclaims, her loud exclamation startling you. You've never heard her raise her voice before. There's a tension that fills the air as she stalks up to Papyrus, who straightens away from you and faces her with a disdainful frown. You see her eyes dart down to his hand, still wrapped around the scarf on your neck, and she scowls. "Just what do you think you're doing?" She demands, fur bristling. 

The atmosphere is crackling with magic, thick with angry intent. You shiver as Papyrus casually responds, "I believe I am asking my friend to see me play. Is there something wrong with that?"

"No, there's something wrong with everything else!" She gestures wildly at his hand, then to Sans' jacket. "What is this? Why are they wearing your clothes?"

You can't help but bristle a little at her words. Why is this bothering her so much? Does it really matter? There's a soft murmur from the watching crowd. "My jacket is a bit too thin, so Sans gave me his. Can you please calm down?"

You should have known that those words never work. Magic popped, little sparks flickering around her as she made a frustrated noise. You flinched at the firework show and Sans tugged you back by the jacket, Papyrus stepping in front of you. Belladonna's eyes glowed with anger as she pointed an accusing finger at him. "This isn't over, Papyrus. You may think you've won but I guarantee you, I will be victorious."

And then she whipped around and marched away, students scattering in her irritated wake as you stared after her in confused, alarmed silence. 

"Well. That was dramatic," Papyrus muttered, scoffing after her. He turned to examine you. "Are you alright, human? I don't imagine that was very fun to witness."

The bell went off. You groaned, rubbing your head. "Yeah, I... I guess I'm okay? I... We have to get to class." You didn't want to deal with this right now. You just... Didn't. You couldn't. 

The brothers shared a glance, then nodded. Sans nudged you playfully. "Lead th' way, sweets."

A soft huff of laughter leaves you as you adjust your backpack and begin the journey to class. "Sweets? How many nicknames are you gonna give me, Sans?"

"As many as it takes, darlin'," he answers cheekily, smirking as you scowl at him, fighting down your gut instinct to curl up in a ball and hide your face. You lightly shove his shoulder.

Papyrus gives him a suspicious look. "I'm convinced he's forgotten your name."

"Like yer one ta talk, you just call 'em human all th' time!"

He flounders, cheeks flushing. "Well, I..." Clearly he doesn't have a response.

Sans takes this as a win. "Yeah, that's what I thought. 'Sides, my nicknames for 'em are cute. I think I'm winnin' this."

"So it's a competition now, is it?" Papyrus demands, with a terrifying gleam in his eye that tells you he's already taken the challenge. You fight down the urge to groan, settling for shoving your face in your hands and shaking your head hopelessly. "Very well then, brother! I accept your challenge! I vow that I, THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE PAPYRUS, will find a nickname befitting of our small human!"

You choke on air, eyes widening behind your palms. Our? Small??? "H-hey!" You complain, hoping your embarrassment isn't too obvious. "Okay, one, I'm not small, and two-"

"Sweets, I hate ta break it to ya, but most people are small compared to Papyrus," Sans interjects with a laugh, patting your shoulder consolingly. "Time ta accept it like I have."

"Easy for you to say, you're shorter than I am!"

"They're right."

"Hey, stay outta this, beanpole."

Oh jeez. These two. You're grateful for the little interactions like this. You feel a lot better when they joke and banter, and it really helps to take your mind off of... Whatever that was this morning. 

You decide not to worry about it. It'll figure itself out.

Chapter Text

You're not surprised when you're cornered the moment you step into the locker room the next morning. You don't even have a chance to get your locker open before your classmates begin pestering you, demanding you answer their questions about your relationship with Sans and Papyrus. You evade them as best as you can, trying to shoulder your way through the crowd, but they press in close and continue grilling you.

Thankfully you're very persuasive and only have to punch one person to make them leave you alone about it. Still, you're well aware of the fact that this isn't the end of it. In fact, you have a terrible feeling this was only the beginning.

You'd known since yesterday that you were in for trouble. Not only had Belladonna been mysteriously absent the rest of the day, but you'd caught several people glancing at you and whispering. You'd even heard a few people talking about it in the bathroom. 

There are a few rumors. You didn't really care to keep track of them. In the end, it's even more attention you really wish wasn't on you. You'd just gotten used to how things were. Why couldn't people just keep their noses out of your business? 

Despite all the commotion, you still manage to get to the weight room before most of the rest of your classmates. The only ones who beat you, as usual, are Papyrus and Undyne, and a handful of kids in another corner. They're talking in surprisingly quiet tones in your usual corner, doing a few basic warm up stretches. Papyrus notices you first, lifting a hand to beckon you over. Still a little wary of Undyne, you move to join them slowly, sinking into a stretch and completing your little circle. "Hey, Papyrus. Undyne."

"Punk," she returns in an almost cordial manner, giving you a look that's some mix of a sneer and a grin. "You're training with us today. Try not to pass out this time."

You stifle a groan, keeping your face neutral so as not to give away your dismay. Your muscles already ache. "Great. Looking forward to it," you drawl, resigning yourself to another day of torture.

Papyrus is oddly silent. When you look at him, he's scowling at a couple of the kids from across the room, glancing your way and whispering. They quickly cut off as they catch him looking, making Papyrus grumble. You reach out and nudge his foot with yours, startling him into looking up at you. Giving him a tired smile, you mutter, "Don't let them get to you. It doesn't matter what they think."

"It does," he hisses back, a flash of guilt on his skull. "It's our fault they're bothering with it anyways. If we'd been more subtle-" 

"Papyrus, nothing about the two of you is subtle," you interject, laughing lightly. You give him another casual nudge, a little more playful this time. "C'mon, don't worry about it. People will talk anyways. Besides-" You hold your head up, raising your voice slightly. "I'm not ashamed to be seen with either of you. You're my friends, Papyrus, and no stupid rumors will change that."

Your skin prickles with embarrassment, unable to believe you had just spoken so boldly. But you were getting so tired of the constant talking, and you wanted to comfort him.

He does look a little better now. A little happier. He gives you a soft, warm smile that you can't help returning, and when his foot goes to nudge yours it stays there. "Thank you, human."

"Stars, you guys are so gross," Undyne groans, but there's... Something almost delighted in her expression. Maybe. It's sort of hard to look past her big, scowling mouth. "You're gonna make me puke if you keep that up. Can we talk about exercising now?" She turns her brutal gaze to you. "I wanna make you cry."

You grimace slightly. She could probably make good on that, too. 

Papyrus rolls his eyes lights, however. "Good luck of that. They're tougher than they look." His glance is teasing as he peeks at you. 

"Gee, thanks for the ringing endorsement, Papyrus," you reply dryly. "I'm sure that'll help her opinion of me."

"Can't get much higher," he replies with a casual shrug, which for some reason makes Undyne roar and tackle him. Thankfully the teacher calls for class to start before she can do much more than headlock him, leaving you laughing as you all stumble into place. It's almost enough to make you forget about everything. 

 

Your good mood doesn't last long. Second period is a lot more trying when you don't have Papyrus and Undyne to distract you. 

Thankfully, you do have Sans, who texts you pretty much constantly throughout the day. He finally asked for your number, leaving you wondering how you'd forgotten before. He sends you endless memes and puns, or he'll just chatter about whatever is going on in class. It serves as a pretty good distraction usually, and you slip your phone out whenever you can to read through what he leaves you. 

Still, you can't be on it all the time like he is (somehow; every time you ask he just says "magic") and that means that you still have to deal with the whispering and it's driving you crazy. Sometimes it's not even about you, but the past couple weeks have you so jumpy and irritated that you can't help bristling every time you hear even a shuffle.

It's quickly becoming overwhelming. You feel like your head's about to explode. Your knuckles itch with the familiar urge to just... Punch something. Your chest feels tight as you hold back an agitated scream. It's becoming obvious to you that you need to either get out of class or throw something. 

With this thought in mind, you ask for a pass to the bathroom and make your escape. Already you feel so much better, not quite as smothered. You take a deep breath and relax, letting your eyes slide shut as you soak in the brief moment of peace. 

Your phone vibrates. Fishing it out, you find that Sans has sent another message, wondering why you'd stopped texting. Swinging the pass with your free hand, you tap out a reply as you begin to meander towards the bathrooms.

Sorry about that, I had to escape before I broke somebody's nose lol. 

 

somebody bugging ya sweetheart? 

 

You can't help but snort, shaking your head slightly at his lazy typing. You wonder if he trained his auto correct out of automatically changing "you" to "ya". 

 

Nothing I can't handle. 

So anyways, you were telling me about something Papyrus did? 

 

oh yeah okay so get this

 

The little dots bob around on your screen, but you're distracted from watching them by the sound of footsteps. You glance up quickly, readying yourself to slip the phone away, but it's just another student. You relax, going back to waiting for his reply. 

Unfortunately, you don't get a chance to see it, because at that moment the other person catches your arm, saying, "Hey, aren't you the kid who's been hanging out with all those monsters?"

Frowning, you pull your arm from her grasp. You think you recognize her. You're pretty sure she's in your chemistry class. Your phone vibrates again but you ignore it for the moment, arching a brow at her. "What about it?"

She curls a strand of hair around her fingers. "Oh, nothing. I just thought it was kinda weird, you know? All those monsters fawning over you. Even that brute, Undyne. Didn't she like, beat you up or something?"

You feel yourself bristling in indignation on her behalf. You may not like the fish much but she deserves better than that. "No, she didn't beat me up. And I don't see why it matters."

"Well you know, we're human, we gotta stick together," she replies airily, bumping you with her shoulder. You flinch away, your nerves firing at the unwanted contact. Her smile turns sympathetic. "You don't have to keep hanging out with them and pretending to be their friend, you know. If you want I can tell a teacher about how they've been harassing you. I know they'll believe me."

She reaches out and tries to set her hand on your shoulder, and she has the audacity to look surprised when you dodge. You hands curl into fists, trembling as rage fills you. Your phone is vibrating more incessantly now, demanding your attention. You turn away from her so you can answer. "Sans?"

"Hey, there ya are. Was startin' to think maybe you got caught or somethin'," he laughs softly in your ear, and it's almost enough to make you relax completely. "Where'd ya go, darlin'?"

You try to tell him you just ran into a bit of trouble, but the girl decides to make herself known again. She steps up to you- into your personal space, again- and asks, "Is that one of them? Are they bothering you right now?"

"No, you're bothering me," you snap, unable to resist the urge to push her back a little, just enough to breathe again. 

Sans makes a noise over the phone. His voice is dark as he asks, "Who's that?"

"Don't worry, just some jerk, I can handle it." You glance at her offended face and sigh, muttering, "I gotta deal with this. I'll text you in a bit."

Without waiting for him to reply, you hang up. You'll apologize later. Right now, you're gonna sort some things out. 

Turning to her, you point your finger at her. You feel your blood boiling, your whole body quivering in a mixture of nerves and anger as you hiss, "Lemme make a few things clear. One: I'm hanging out with them of my own free will, because they're good people and quite frankly I like them more than I like most humans. Two- and pay close attention, cuz I'm only gonna say this once- who I choose to spend my time with is not yours, or anyone else's business! None of you have a say in my life, and quite frankly, I am sick and tired of everyone else butting their noses into my life!"

It's not until you hear the echo of your words bounce off the walls that you realize how loud you'd gotten. Your breathing is ragged, your skin too hot and tight, and your throat is burning and you're incredibly embarrassed to realize that your vision is a little blurry. Are you seriously on the verge of tears right now? 

The girl in front of you is shocked into silence, mouth gaping and eyes wide- and her gaze is a little glossy too, you notice, and instantly feel guilty for it, because maybe she really was just trying to be kind and trying to make sure you're okay and you've just gone off your rocker and exploded in her face and suddenly you cannot be there. Everything is too much. 

Your chest is tight as you skirt around her and take off towards the bathrooms. Your phone is vibrating still. You pick it up. "Sans, I'm at the bathrooms by the art rooms, please come," you blurt, ducking into the alcove behind the bathrooms that lead to the art room. You bundle yourself into the corner, curling your legs up and trying to steady your breathing. 

You hear him curse and some shuffling. "You okay, sweetheart? What happened? She do somethin' to ya?"

"Please, just- just hurry?" You sound pathetic. You know you sound pathetic but you don't care. You have to get out, you feel like you're a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off and destroy everything around you. 

There's a strange noise and the line goes dead but then he's there, kneeling next to you and gently taking you into his arms and murmuring softly, "Hey darlin, easy now, 'm here, jus' breathe," and pulling you into his chest. 

You curl your fingers around his coat and press your face into his throat and wheeze, "I need out, I need to get out, place take me out of here," and then suddenly you're sitting in the cold with the clouded sky hanging over you and you heave in a large gulp of air, suddenly feeling like you can breathe again. 

Sans is still muttering softly, stroking your hair as you calm down. When your breathing has evened out, he whispers, "What was all that about, doll?"

You can't help it. You giggle. "Another new pet name, Sans?" You ask, voice a little reedy. You're still trying to take deep breaths. 

He chuckles thinly, brushing through underside of your eye gently with a thumb. You hope you aren't crying. "'Course. Got a competition goin' with th' coolest dude on the planet, gotta take my chances when I see 'em."

You laugh back, resting your head against his shoulder. "Yeah. Good luck with that, by the way." You sigh, rubbing your chest and grimacing. Your stomach churns with shame and you mutter, "Stars, I'm sorry I called you out of class, I'm such a mess..."

"What happened, darlin?" He strokes your check again, magic prickling around you. "What'd that other person say to ya? I swear, if they h u r t y o u-" 

"Down, tiger," you soothe, patting his chest. You sit up a little, shifting out of his arms slightly as you stare at your lap. "This girl... She started talking about how I didn't have to pretend to be your friend or whatever and that she'd report you all for harassment and I just... These past couple of days there's been all these rumors and then there's that mess with Belladonna that I don't even understand and do you know I really hate attention? I do. I'm good at attracting it, for some reason, but I hate it and I was just so stressed and I just yelled at her and... And I don't know what happened then? I just... I just started freaking out and I felt like screaming and just running and then I did and I just called you because I didn't know what else to do and-"

"Whoa, hey, slow down motor-mouth, I'm too slow ta keep up with ya," Sans interrupts gently, stifling your slew of words. He looks... Guilty. Aw, man, don't tell you- "Jeez, doll, I... I'm sorry about all this. Never would've had to deal with this if-" 

You slap a hand over his teeth, fixing him with a heated glare that has him staring. "Don't you dare try to apologize for this. None of this is your fault, okay? None of it. Not yours, not Papyrus', not Undyne's. You know who's fault it is?" He doesn't respond until you raise your eyebrows expectantly, at which point he slowly shakes his head. "It's theirs. It's all the jerks and bigots and ignorant people who just don't understand. None of this is your fault. Understand?"

He nods, just as slowly as before, and you sigh, letting your hand drop. You sag back against him, feeling very drained. "Good. Because I was gonna have to kick your coccyx if you said anything else."

Sans tilts his skull down at you, a teasing glint in his sockets. "You been brushin' up on skeleton anatomy, doll? Want some help studyin'?" 

He waggles his brow bones exaggeratedly, drawing a laugh from you as you reach up and smack his chest again. "Shut up, you goofball. What is with the "doll" thing anyways? Are you in the mob now?"

"Don'cha think I'd make a good one, doll face?" He drawls, pitching his voice deeper and imitating a thick Brooklyn accent. 

You pause, staring at him for a moment. "...That was really good."

Sans' sockets widen, and then a large grin busts out on his face. Leaning closer, still using the voice, he says, "Ya think so? Maybe I should keep it, since ya seem ta like it so much, doll." He taps one corner of his smile. "Thinkin' abou' gettin'a gold fang. Whatcha think? Could I pull it off'r what?"

You can't stop your laughing. It's surprisingly easy to picture him with a gold fang and a nice suit, topped off with a fedora for Maximum Aesthetic. "You'd be a real mobster," you choke out, hoping he picks up on your subtle joke. 

Sans, bless him, absolutely does, as he begins chortling with you. "A mobster monster. Imagine that!"

The two of you giggle for a few moments. When you calm down, you take another glance at the sky, then look around. You're sitting on cold cement, which isn't exactly comfortable, but Sans' jacket staves off the worst of it. There's a big metal vent sitting a little ways from you, and on the opposite side you can see a door. Combined with the fact that you can't see anything but the sky and the top of some trees, you come to a rather startling conclusion. "Sans? Did you bring us to the roof?"

He nods, looking a little sheepish. "Didn't know where else ta go. You said you wanted out, so I uh... Just kinda panicked and brought ya up. 'Bout as "out" as ya get."

"Thanks," you murmur, smiling as you squeeze his arm. "I think I seriously would have had a breakdown or something if you hadn't come along."

He squeezes you back, setting his head on yours. "I'm here for ya darlin. Anythin' you need, anytime ya need it, I'll come runnin'." After a beat, he says, "Paps would be there too. If ya asked him to, he'd drop everythin' an' come runnin'."

His words make you feel fluttery, but you shove the feeling aside with a snort. "Please. Papyrus may be a bit of a delinquent but he's very studious. I doubt he'd skip class for some stupid human who he's barely known a month."

Sans pulls back, and now he's fixing you with a stern look. "You're not stupid, and you ain't just some random human. You're our human. Believe me when I say he'd come runnin'." Fishing his phone out of his pocket, he sends a quick message.

You glance at it, feeling uneasy. "What'd you just say?" You really hope he hasn't told Papyrus to come find you or something, you're embarrassed enough as is.

"Give it a sec," he intones, beginning to look smug. A moment later his phone begins to ring, and he quickly answers the call. He brings the phone in front of you, putting it on speaker, and cheerfully says, "Hey bro, thanks for callin'."

"Sans, what is this about?" Papyrus demands, voice noticeably quieter. "Is everything alright?"

Sans winks at you. "Yeah Paps, everythin's fine. Listen, bro, I need ya to do me a favor. Just answer a couple questions real quick." Papyrus grunts on the other side. "If our human were in trouble, what would ya do?"

You hear him inhale sharply. "Sans, are they in trouble right now? Where are they? Are you with them? I'm by the Commons, I can be there shortly-"

Sans is unbearably smug as he stares at you. You can't bring yourself to look at him. "Nah, Paps, they're fine, jus' a hypothetical. You're in class now, right?"

"Yes," he answers cautiously, now sounding confused and a little irritated. "Sans, what does this have to do with anything? Why did you call me?"

Sans chuckles, ruffling your hair softly. "Had to prove a point. Thanks for indulgin' me bro. I'll let ya get back to it."

Papyrus pauses. "Alright. But you'd let me know if they were in trouble, wouldn't you?"

"Yeah, 'course I would. I'll talk to ya later." They say their goodbyes and hang up, Sans slipping his phone back into his pocket. He nudges you with the arm still wrapped around your shoulder. "See? Told ya. Doesn't matter where or when, he's there for ya."

"You didn't have to call him," you mutter, although you are definitely not pouting. Of course not. Because that would be silly. 

"Think I did," he replies, squeezing you again. You stiffen slightly in surprise as you feel his teeth press against your head as he quietly states, "Ya seem ta have a lot of trouble believin' we actually like ya, sweetheart. Gotta prove it to ya somehow." 

It occurs to you, suddenly, that this is the softest you've ever seen him. It makes you think back to that moment when you'd caught him reading a romance novel in the library. Maybe it wasn't all that surprising that he could be a really gentle kind of guy. 

Distantly, you hear a bell ring. You groan. "I can't believe I just skipped half a period. Mom will kill me if she finds out."

"Easy, jus' don't let 'er," Sans replies with a careless shrug, snickering as you flick his skull. "Seriously, don't worry about it. I can almost guarantee your teacher won't even care."

You really hope not. "Do you think you could take me back? I have to get all my stuff."

"No prob, doll face," he jokes, carefully wrapping his arms back around you. When you blink you're back in the alcove, like you never left. He pulls back, but not before nuzzling the side of your head. "I'll take a shortcut to class. Don't want anyone seein' us leave this spot at th' same time."

You grimace, already well aware of what these alcoves were famous for. Your whispered a quick goodbye and then he was gone, and you were on your way back to class. 

Your teacher didn't even blink, apparently having forgotten you'd even left in the first place. Relieved, you scooped up your things and hurried out the door, just barely avoiding running right into Papyrus. You absolutely did not go a little warm and squishy just seeing him as he looked you over, like he was worried you'd sustained some kind of injury since the call. Hoping to put him at ease, you smile up at him. "Hey, Papyrus. Ready for lunch?"

He pauses, observing you. Abruptly he spun away from you, shoulders hiking up. In an unnecessarily loud voice, he answered, "YES, OF COURSE I AM, WE SHOULD HURRY TO THE COMMONS."

"Uh. Okay?" You caught up to him, trying to get a look at his face, but he was keeping it angled steadfastly away from you. Frowning, you tilted your head, trying to make eye contact. "Papyrus? Are you okay? You're acting kinda funny..."

"I'M FINE," he all but bellows, startling a few kids. He slows slightly, clearing his throat and repeating, "I'm fine. Don't worry about it."

You get the feeling that all you're not getting it out of him, so you shrug. "Okay. So, uh, what'd you bring for lunch?"

This serves to distract him, as you'd hoped it would, and he tells you all about this new recipe he'd been trying, and he offers to split it with you so you could try it too and Sans meets up with you half way there, lazily ambling up on your other side and grinning at you, and you feel some of the weight slip off your shoulders.

 

 

"Hey, Vigilante. Can you take this to The Basement?"

You pause, taking a moment to internally mourn the task assigned to you. Maybe they're not talking about you. There are other "vigilantes" right? There's gotta be. 

And yet, when you slowly pick your head up from the folders you've been sorting, the boy who asked is indeed looking at you. In his arms is a crate of other folders, presumably full of things that could potentially be used for next year. In your opinion, it's a little early to be doing any spring cleaning, but your teacher had insisted that a few of you clean out the office. Of course you'd taken any chance you could to get out of chemistry. You hate chemistry.

They're still staring expectantly at you. Maybe a little desperate. You glance down at the crate, then ask, "Why can't you take it?"

"Because literally no one else wants to go," he replies, with a definite note of pleading in his voice. "Please? We all hate that place."

Like you enjoy it any better? Nobody likes The Basement! It was cold and creepy and all-around weird! Who even has an underground computer lab? What kind of sense does that even make? Argh. 

But no on else would take it, and he was giving you such a sad look... What a wimp. You don't know if you mean him or yourself. Groaning, you take the crate from him and say, "Yeah, okay, I'll take it. But if I'm murdered down there it's your fault," you add, glaring at him as you shift the box into a more comfortable position. 

He beams at you gratefully. "You're a lifesaver, Vigilante. We'd be lost without you."

You like him. Maybe you'll keep him. "Flattery will get you nowhere. Open the door for me, will ya?"

The elevator down to the basement is located clear on the other side of school, positioned across from the music rooms. Although there are two elevators at both ends of the school- for teachers or injured kids mostly- this is the only one that leads to The Basement... For some reason?? Honestly the whole thing was just shady. No one even used it anymore except for storage like the folders you're currently toting. Kids don't even go down there to make out or do drugs, which really says something about the place. 

You have to brace the box against the wall next to the elevator so you can free up a hand to press the Basement button. As it dings, you shift the box back into your arms and wonder why you let yourself be talked into this. You weren't scared of The Basement, just... Mildly creeped out. It was just such a weird and unnecessary thing that set your teeth on edge. 

But you'll just have to deal with it, because here's the elevator. You step into the lift, tapping your foot idly as it descends into The Basement. When the doors crack open, you peer out into the darkness with a grimace. 

You step out before the doors slide shut again, fumbling for the lights. You have to set the crate down to do it, but eventually your fingers trip across the switch and you flip it on. The lights flicker and hum before illuminating the hall in weak yellow light. You squint at them, noting that they could probably do with a change. Not that anyone was actively maintaining this place... 

Shaking yourself from your thoughts, you haul the crate back into your arms and walk the last few feet down to the old computer lab. The handle takes a little work to pry open, but you manage, and the door swings open to admit you into the dark room. 

Except it's not all dark. There's a faint glow in the back corner- a computer has been turned on. 

Instantly your skin begins to crawl. You strain your ears trying to figure out if anyone else is in the room with you, but all you can hear is the hum of a single, solitary computer. 

"I'm gonna kill him," you mutter, stepping into the room and letting the door swing shut behind you with a terribly final sounding BANG. Once more you grope about for the lights, but this time when you switch them on, nothing happens. The room remains dark.

...Okay. That's fine. You can just drop the crate off on one of these weird piles of stuff and go before an axe murderer shows up. No problem. You're cool with that. 

You carefully pick your way over the mountains of old junk, cursing as you slam your hip into an unused computer desk. You set the crate somewhere on the ground and stand upright, dusting off your hands. Despite your plan to just drop the folders and run, your eyes turn back to the glowing computer screen. 

Is it stupid to stay and investigate the mysterious computer? Probably.

Are you gonna do it anyways because you're curious? Of course. 

You nearly bust your lip tripping over a wire you didn't see in the darkness, but somehow you manage to make it in one piece. There's a mess of wires and cables running from the computer and the screen to the floor or ceiling, and a few of them branch to the monitors on either side. The desk is littered with old, empty cups of ramen and you notice a backpack slumped on the ground by the chair. Some kind of figurine dangles from the strap. The screen is open to some kind of video site, which seems to be filled with cartoons and anime.

So... Someone had been actively using The Basement. To watch... Kid's shows? Okay, so it's possible they were watching anime, which wasn't necessarily a kid's show but still! Who would sneak down into a crappy, abandoned computer lab just to watch anime? 

The answer comes to you just as the door abruptly creaks open again. You freeze, glancing warily towards the door as the sound of muttering reaches your ears. With a slightly panicked glance at the computer, you slowly begin to retreat the way you came, trying to be as quiet as possible. 

Unfortunately, luck is not on your side. Those stupid freaking wires catch your shoe again, sending you careening into a pile of eroding boxes. You and the other person fall completely silent, your breath catching in your chest.

"...I-it's no use hiding," she calls, her voice high and slightly nasally. "I kn-know you're there."

Blast it all. You'd been hoping she'd let you slip away. Carefully picking yourself up, you dust yourself off and move back to the computer to examine her. 

Alphys looks the same as always: short, yellow, thick glasses, the works. You'd had one class with her your whole life, and that had been biology freshman year. She was scary smart, quick as a whip, and as far as you knew, had the best scores in your grade. She was also the founder and currently one of four people in the Anime Club. 

You do not like the look she's giving you. 

"Oh! It- it's you! Just the person I've been wanting to see!" She adjusts her glasses and you cannot believe what you're seeing but they actually do the anime glare thing where the lenses turn white, what the heck- "I was worried I'd have to... W-well, anyways, welcome to The Basement!" She throws her hands out in a sweeping arc. "Do you like what I've d-done with the place?"

You squint at her, crossing your arms to try and hide your discomfort. "What do you want with me, Alphys?"

You think you see her sweat. You're not sure. "W... well! It's come to my attention in the last few days that you're having... A bit of a struggle." That's an understatement. "And... And I think we could... Be of service t-to one another."

Ah. So she wants you to do something for her. "Y'know, I think I'm good, thanks. I should be getting back to class."

"W- wait!" she exclaims, bustling over to your side, somehow avoiding all the hazardous wires. She parks herself in front of you, grin forced and awkward-looking as she holds up her hands. "Please, just... Just hear me out. This- this is a mutually beneficial arrangement! F-for both of us!"

There's that awful prickling feeling. "Look, I've had enough of people trying to butt into my life-"

"Nonono, I d-don't wanna butt in!" she blurts, moving closer. You step back in response, shooting her a fierce look, and she begins fiddling with her claws anxiously. You're a little surprised actually. You've never seen her like this.

You think back to the girl from yesterday and your guilt comes back full force. You'd gotten so used to assuming everyone just wanted to judge you, but that wasn't fair to them. Maybe you should give her a chance. Groaning, you rub your forehead and say, "Okay, fine, tell me your plan."

Her eyes shine thankfully from behind her glasses. "Thank you! I... I promise you, you won't regret it!" 

Although you already kind of are, you don't tell her this. Instead you wave her off, pulling a chair out and sitting in it backwards. It brings you a bit more to her height, which makes you feel a little better somehow. "Yeah, yeah, just get on with it. I have to get back to class."

"Of course!" She eagerly drags a chair over and settles in front of you, folding her claws in her lap. That scheming smile is back. "Ok-okay. So right now the school is abuzz with all this d-drama between you, Papyrus, Sans, a-and Belladonna. Some of them think you're dating one of... one of the brothers, bu-but others think it's Belladonna." She pauses, adjusting her glasses and squinting at you nervously. "You're... you're not, are you? B-because that throws this whole plan ou-out of wack."

You bristle, throwing your hands in the air. "No? I'm not dating anyone? Where did everyone get this idea that Belladonna and I are going out?"

She stares at you like you're stupid. Maybe you are. You're not sure anymore. "You're... you're kidding me. You're kidding me, r-right? You can't be that d-dense."

"Apparently I can, because I have no idea what's going on?" you hiss through gritted teeth, wishing someone would just give you a straight answer.

Alphys presses a hand to her forehead, eyes turning skyward. You think you hear her whisper, "Mew Mew give me strength," under her breath. She returns her attention to you, gesturing wildly. "Have you not?? Seen her?? She's all over you. Hugging you, calling you c-cute pet names, bringing you food... Not to mention she's not v-very subtle with her intent. That girl r-radiates thirst."

You latch on to the familiar term. "Intent. That's... A magic thing, yeah? Tells others how you're thinking or feeling?"

"I mean... Basically yeah." She shrugs. "Humans do it too, you guys are just really bad at picking it up, ap-apparently. Ask the brothers to teach you sometime, th-they'd be happy to do it."

There's something extra teasing in her voice that makes you squint at her. "That... That was intent, right? Sometimes you guys say things weird and it's like there's another layer to it. Like when they call me an ally."

She nods. "Good example. You know what th-the Underground was like, right?"

Vaguely? You'd covered it in a couple history classes. Enough to know it kinda really sucked. You tell her as much. "It did. A kill or be killed world where having friends was a weakness, a-and therefore dangerous. So everyone were "allies" instead. When spoken without the right intent, it implies that they're just an... An object of co-convenience. But with intent..."

They become friends instead. How bizarre. Monster culture is weird. "Huh."

Alphys nods. "M-most younger monsters don't do that, because they've grown up on the surface, but Sans and Papyrus are... A l-little old-fashioned." She glances at the clock. "They can tell you more about it later, we don't have much time left."

"Right. So what's this plan?"

"Well, seeing as how you're not dating Belladonna... E-everyone expects you to be dating the brothers. So-" Her glasses gleam again. "What if you did?"

...

i can't believe it. 

"Wh- hey, wait a minute, wh-where are you g-going? I haven't finished!"

You don't stop heading for the door. You can't believe you actually stayed to listen to this crap. You were a fool for thinking this would end well. 

Alphys somehow manages to get in front of you again, throwing her arms out to stop you. "P-please, just wait a minute, I-Ive got this all figured out, I-I swear!"

A part of you is tempted to just pick her up and move her. She's so small, it wouldn't be that difficult. And it's less violent than your other methods. "Look, Alphys, I'm sorry, but I can't date Sans and Papyrus. That'd just be giving them what they want."

Not to mention you're pretty sure your mother mother would actually kill you if she found out. 

"B-but that's exactly the point!" she declares, hurriedly explaining, "Think about it. Right now, a-all they have are r-rumors, right? B-but if you give them something solid, so-something they'll believe, they'll get bored of it! I-I mean, come on, you and I both know their attention span isn't that long."

"Exactly. At some point they'll get bored of this and move on to the next thing. I can wait them out." Nevermind that you'd literally had a breakdown about it just yesterday. 

Alphys looks increasingly frantic. It's then that you remember she wanted something from you. A favour, in return for the plan. "Why are you invested in this? What do you want from me?"

She sighs, deflating against the door. Her face tints a brilliant red as she fiddles with her glasses and squeaks out, "I... I-I wanted you to... To in-introduce me to... To U-Undyne."

...What.

She begins to babble, "I-I figured, you know, you're fr-friends with Pa-papyrus and... And he's friends with Undyne and so... And so maybe you- you could t-talk to her, for me, and... And... And we- we could... Talk..."

...it's pretty clear to you she doesn't just want to talk to Undyne. Not with the way she's acting. 

But, still- "Yeah, that's not gonna work. I'm pretty sure Undyne only tolerates me because I'm Papyrus' friend. If you want someone to help you get her attention, Papyrus is the guy."

She curls further in on herself, miserably muttering, "I... I know. But Papyrus is super intimidating, and... And I'm way too shy to ever t-talk to her myself..." She sighs, burying her face in her hands. "I-I'm hopeless. I'm so out of her league, why did I ever think I...?"

Alphys scoots out of your way, eyes on the ground. Voice barely above a whisper, she says, "I-I'm sorry I w-wasted your time. Just... Just forget this ever happened."

She begins to slink away, leaving you by the door. You stare at the spot where she'd been, thinking. 

You could certainly empathize with her feelings of awkwardness... And being out of her league? Hadn't you been thinking that about the brothers? Just the other day, hadn't you been thinking you needed to prove yourself to them? Hadn't you pushed yourself to exhaustion just to show you were worthy? All Alphys wanted was a chance. A push in the right direction. Some confidence, maybe. 

And, well... She had a point. Maybe if you just told everyone you were dating them they'd leave you all alone. And... And it wasn't like you'd have to... To k-kiss them or anything, because... Because it'd all just be fake. And then in a while when things calmed down you could go back to being normal. And if you just so happened to set up Alphys and Undyne I the meantime, well... It would be mutually beneficial...

Oh stars. You're actually considering this. You can't believe it. Isn't this the oldest trope in the book? This is bound to backfire on you somehow, you just know it. 

But I mean... Those are just stories... And this was real life, so...

"Alphys," you begrudgingly call, scrubbing your face with a hand. "Alphys, come back here, I'm considering your stupid plan."

There's a loud gasp and a clatter as she hurries back over to you, eyes large and hopeful. "R-really? Do you mean it?"

Stars help you, you do. She squeals excitedly, reaching out to grab your hands. You cringe but decide to allow it, just this once. "Thank you, o-oh my gosh, thank you so much, I-I promise you won't regret this-"

"I still have to talk to Papyrus and Sans," you interrupt, resisting the urge to tug your hands back. "But if they agree to it, then I'll do it."

This prompts another round of blessings on you and a rather sudden hug that you tolerate just this once. You two quickly exchange phone numbers and promise to meet up with the guys at some point to talk it all over. Finally, you're heading back to class.

You wonder, not for the first time, what you've gotten yourself into.