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Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

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[Razz, why the fuck is it your bro can be both terrifying and painfully cute?] – R

Razz glared at the text message. He didn’t have time for this nonsense, he was busy! And he still didn’t quite understand how it was that Red and some of the others could manage cross universe texting. Or why they insisted on using that ability to pester Razz even when nearly everyone was gathered at the Classics’ Surface home, including the Classics’ strange little human. How the human managed to be less irritating then, say, a certain honey guzzling idiot was a certifiable mystery to Razz. That it was one of the most tolerable beings in that house was stunning if given too much thought. And he’d only met them twice.

Why had Razz agreed to this again? Right, that was why. Because it was rather hard to turn down the invitation when Blue and Papyrus showed up in person to loudly declare the event in lavish detail.  Especially when it was clear how much the idea excited his brother. The Mutt hadn’t even needed the begging puppy dog face. No, Razz had caved to a simple soft, “It sounds fun, m’Lord.”

Just like that, they were going to the Halloween Party Weekend the Classics were hosting. The holiday seemed a bit strange considering what he’d thought the Human tradition of it was about, but the way it had been presented had sounded interesting. If only for the enjoyment of watching his brother have fun. Honestly, sometimes Razz couldn’t help spoiling the Mutt, just a little. So he’d sent his brother through to the Classics’ a day ahead of himself with a reminder to behave.  Then a promise he would be there the following day.  He still had duties to attend after all. Duties that were not currently finished either.

[WHAT DO YOU MEAN?] was the snappish reply he sent back.

He continued marching towards Alphys’s home. Unsurprisingly (irritatingly) there was a reply before he could even put the phone away.

[he means we go to your place or red’s, guy’s ready and willing to beat someone a new color. but we get back from the store and get this:] – CS

Before Razz could type a correction for the punctuation error or grumble about being stuck in some sort of group text, a video popped up. The static preview showed only an absurd pile of bedding sitting part way in a puddle of sunlight (actual sunlight, which might have been part of what made him inclined to agree to this silly vacation) and the small human Frisk. Not seeing what this had to do with the Mutt, he closed the phone and continued to Alphys’s place.

--------------------------------------

When he left Alphys’s home a short time later it was with both relief and annoyance. Yes, he could have simply called to inform the Vice-Captain he would be on leave and out of contact for the next thirty to forty eight hours. In truth, he had done so, but he had wanted to deliver some final instructions in person. It also finished up his patrol route rather conveniently. That didn’t stop Alphys from being her loud, teasing self. She’d promised the Underground wouldn’t burn down while he was gone, but she’d kept trying figure out where he was going. In the end, he’d had to promise to bring something cool back for both Alphys and Undyne to get her to stop. Then she’d asked who wanted his attention so bad because his phone wouldn’t stop buzzing! Someone, Razz had a strong suspicion of who, had completely disabled the silent function. Alphys had chuckled good naturedly when he’d told her to shut up. She’d actually collapsed in laughter a moment later when her follow up question got an even sharper response.

“Got it! It’s that Mutt brother of yours, right? He howling for some fun?” she’d asked.

“NO! SHUT UP! THE MUTT KNOWS BETTER. IT’S JUST A COUPLE IDIOTS WHO DON’T KNOW HOW TO BUTT OUT!” he’d shouted in response, fists clenching around a bone weapon he was very tempted to throw at her.

He’d left her like that not long after. Sprawled on the floor, confirming the actual procedural protocols for the Captain to leave for even a short time. Now he could finally find out what demanded his attention so.

“How have they sent 24 messages in less than ten minutes?” he grumbled aloud.

Disgusted, he scrolled back up.

[like seriously how?] – CS

[FRISK DECLARES IT ADORABLE. I MUST AGREE WITH THEM.] –CP

[Awww, that’s precious. Keepin that video.] –S

[like its freaking me out how he can be this cute] –R

[I DON’T THINK I’VE EVER SEEN HIM NAP.  How Has He Not Woken Up Yet?] –B

[ALSO, TOO CUTE!] –B

[I HAVE TO SAVE THAT VIDEO AS WELL!] –B

[EH, I’D RATHER WATCH HIM BEAT SOMEONE A NEW COLOR.] –E

[Wow, there’s a surprise, Edgelord.] –S

[FUCK OFF, ASHTRAY.] –E

[BUT EDGE, IT ISSS REALLY CUTE! AND DON”T TALK TO MY BROTHER LIKE THAT.] –B

[EH….] –E

[i’m wit my bro on this. think i’d rather watch him beat a guy.] –R

[you guys have issues, you know that?] – CS

[SANS, THAT’S RUDE!] – CP

[I DO NOT!] –E

[you do too dude!] –R

[sans, not you Boss.] –R

[ok, fair. Anyways, kid wants us all ta hush so slim can keep snoozing. paps went to put away groceries and stuff.] –CS

[I swear, if they starts petting him…] –R

Razz frowned at that. Even in a deep sleep, his brother would react swiftly and harshly to an unfamiliar hand on him. Though their alternates might get away with only a growl.

[nah, they’re just smiling at him and taking pics. after all, best to let sleeping dogs lie, right?] –CS

[SANS, NO!] –B

[REALLY? MUST YOU?] –E

[noice.] –S

[ok, speakin of sleepin dogs, what’s wit these?] –R

Another picture and Razz felt like his soul was suddenly being constricted. Shit! They had agreed to keep that a secret for the time being! The Mutt had been careless, which was unlike him, especially when it came to this. Razz scrolled furiously back to the top of the log and hit play on the video. It started with Frisk crouching near the pile of bedding. After a moment, they pointed to a fold between two blankets and what might have been a pillow. The camera zoomed in enough to reveal the edge of a phalange or two peeking through the gap.

“ho, damn, this’ll be good. Go ahead, squirt,’ Sans’s voice whispered from of screen.

The image zoomed out part way as Frisk stood, leaned over the pile, and lifted the top edge of one blanket with surprising gentleness to reveal the Mutt’s face. He was sleeping peacefully, skull tucked into the crook of his arm. The other hand, Razz absently noted, was loosely wrapped around his studded leather collar. The Mutt had nested. Razz wasn’t even annoyed that he’d been napping. He had permission to do that while on this ‘vacation’. But for him to nest like that after only a day’s separation…

Razz scrubbed a hand down his face with a deep sigh. He’d seen the hint of purple fabric peeking out from his Mutt’s sleeve in the video. If he checked when he got home, the bandana he’d worn to the last training would be missing from the laundry. A huff of mild amusement made its way past the swirl of emotions dancing around inside him. He needed to get there soon.  Resuming his march at double time, Razz cursed the distance back to Snowdin. And his phone was still buzzing! Reluctantly, he looked back at the group text.

That picture…The human had moved the blanket back further and then evidently dropped it. But it had been enough. Just enough. His brother had fallen asleep with his hood up, that was clear, but it had shifted in his sleep.  Just enough to reveal one large triangular ear covered in bone white fur doing a poor job of blending into the fur lining of the hood. Razz scrolled quickly on.

[RED, ARE THOSE REAL?] –E

[no Boss, someone taped ‘em on while we were out. of course, they’re real!] –R

[DO NOT BE SARCASTIC WITH ME!] –E

[it moved when Frisk uncovered it. swear it. flicked up before layin back.] –CS

[look, the kid’s confirming it. i think. holy fuck those hands are moving fast.] –R

[its confirmed. The rest is freaking out, ‘so cool’, and aborted wondering.] –CS

[I CANNOT UNDERSTAND AT ALL AT THAT SPEED BUT I CAN CONFIRM THE EAR!] –CP

[he ran in from the other room to check. it’s pretty hair raising so i can understand.] –CS

[THIS IS NO TIME FOR YOUR HORRIBLE JOKES!] –E

[HE’S EVEN CUTER! SAVING THAT TOO. BUT I ALSO TOTALLY WANT AN EXPLINATION BECAUSE WHAT?!] –B

[Oy! Pocket Edgelord! Quite strutting in front of the mirror and talk to us!] –S

[HE IS DOING PATROLS AS I AM YOU USELESS LAZYBONES! SEEING AS HE KNOWS WHAT A WORK ETHIC IS!] –E

[Oh shut it, Spikey McEdgelord. Razzle Dazzle, I can see your read notes. Start talking!] –S

[or typing works too.] –CS

Razz realized he was no longer marching properly.  He snarled and glanced around. By some luck, no one seemed to be around to see the lapse. With a deep breath, he forced himself back into a quick march.  He was almost to Snowdin after all.

[THE MARVILOUS SANS IN BLUE AND BROTHER HAVE ARRIVED! Oh My Stars, It’s Real!] –B

[RAZZBERRY] –S

[oh, nice pumpkins, guys.] –CS

Razz almost snapped his phone typing out his reply.

[CEASE YOUR INCESENT TEXTING! LET THE MUTT BE, I WILL BE TO THE MACHINE SHORTLY!]

[There you are!] –S

[dude, please explain.] –R

[YES, EXPLAIN. I WILL ALSO SOON BE AT THE MACHINE.] –E

[HE HAS A COMPLETE SET OF EARS, YES? DOES HE ALSO HAVE A TAIL TO MATCH?] –CP

[that’s kinda anime standard so you’d expect.] –CS

[hah! That finally got the kid’s yammering down.] –R

[for those in the audience, frisk just smacked stretch’s hand when he tried for the blanket. Now he’s getting the stern finger and one handed scolding bit.] –CS

[DID I NOT LITERALLY JUST SAY TO LEAVE HIM ALONE?!]

Razz wanted to strangle that useless skeleton! Probably had honey where his brain should be. Now he and these other idiots had Razz hoping that, for once, the Mutt would keep sleeping. At least Razz could apparently rely on the human.

[RED, I AM ABOUT TO JUMP. COME PICK ME UP SO I MAY SEE THIS FOR MY SELF!] –E

[sure thing, boss.] –R

Scratch what he’d thought about luck. He had none right now. Of all the times he needed a shortcut, it was when he absolutely could not get one.

[DO NOT WAKE HIM YOU STAR BLASTED NINNIES!]

[why?] –CS

[IS HE LIKELY TO BE DANGEROUS?] –CP

[DO NOT QUESTION ME!]

If he could throw his phone, he would just to relieve some of the building anger. Thank the hidden stars his home on the outskirts of Snowdin was in sight at last. Razz abandoned all semblance of orderly marching and raced for it. The furious expression on his face was more than enough to scare away most townsfolk who might think of looking at him funny. His phone chimed as he slammed open the shed door. Kicking it closed again, he opened the chat to another picture. This showed Frisk standing tall as possible with arms out stretched as Edge towered over them. Edge was wincing and holding a hand. The human was still trying to protect his Mutt. He was going to have to find a way to actually thank them, damn it.

[man this kid’s got guts.] –R

Classic Sans started typing as Razz jumped to the machine. Why wasn’t it set already?! Between punching in the appropriate coordinated from the memorized list Razz typed furiously.

 [NO PUNS! NO JOKES! ABOUT TO JUMP!]

A pause and then, [omw] –CS

The machine hummed to life and tuned in. The seconds it took the portal to coalesce and form properly seemed to stretch for an hour. The instant is settled into smooth, immeasurable black he was stepping through. Razz hated going through the infernal thing. That instant between one place and the next was horrid. Then his phone chimed again. He was out.

[oh damn!] –R

“So what’s the secret, Razzy?” Sans drawled from his left.

Razz snapped a glare at him.

“LATER. SHORTCUT, NOW!” he snarled.

Razz’s brain kept circling between fury and trying to find anything he’d missed. Anything in his brother’s behavior the might have warned him this could happen. But he couldn’t think of any. And the Mutt never kept things from him. Especially not important things like this. It couldn’t even be the visit because he’d been to visit several of their alternates before by himself and never had a problem. So what was different? All this rushed faster and faster as the portal shut down behind them and Sans tapped a finger to Razz’s shoulder.

Shortcuts. They sucked. Felt like the portal in a lot of ways. Dark. Sensations of cold the penetrated deep into his bones. Then the world flooded back into being in utter chaos.

“guys, i was gone for like thirty seconds,” Sins sighed.

The living room was crowded with the various alternates and there was yelling in all directions. Papyrus and Stretch were holding back Blue who was shouting about listening to people. Red was holding back his own brother who was screeching holy hell about what Razz didn’t know or care. Something in his hand was leaking dark marrow though. The human was still holding strong, but now had arms crossed. The bedding was empty.

“ALL OF YOU BE QUIET!” Razz bellowed.

In the ensuing startled silence, Razz could hear the sound he was dreading. A quiet, distressed whine. There was his brother. Pressed back into the corner of the room, legs drawn in close to his rib cage, face hidden by his knees, and hands desperately clutching his hood over his skull. Razz’s eyes blazed with barely restrained magic. Of the possible ways this could have gone, this was probably the best, but Razz hated it the most.

“EVERYONE OUT!” Razz ordered sarply, striding forward.

“YOUR DOG BIT ME!” Edge roared back.

Razz’s blazing eyelights flashed dangerously, “AND I TOLD YOU TO LEAVE HIM BE!”

“I DID NOT TOUCH HIM!”

“he really didn’t. he was reachin for the kid,” Red interjected nervously, eyeing the glowing ice blue whip Razz didn’t remember summoning.

“YOU WOKE HIM, CLOSE ENOUGH!”

“EDGE! LEAVE THEM ALONE OR SO HELP ME…!” Blue ordered sternly.

“YES, EVERYONE COME JOIN US IN THE KITCHEN. WE CAN START WORK ON THESE PUMPKINS!” Classic Papyrus added.

“boss, let’s go. we can get answers later,” Red wedeled.

“Yeah, we can bandage your little nip too,” Stretch snickered.

“IT IS NOT A NIP! HE CRACKED MY…”

“I DON’T CARE!” Razz interrupted, “OUT!”

Edge looked affronted but reluctantly allowed Sans and Red to pull him away into the kitchen. Razz glared after them.

“HUMAN FRISK, STAND GUARD AT THE DOOR,” Razz said in a clipped voice.

Asgore help him, he knew he should ask nicer. They’d already done more then he could have hoped for, but it was hard when his fury was still so hot.  Thankfully, like the blessing this child apparently was, they nodded with resolution and gave him a thumbs up.

‘Will he be ok?’ Frisk signed.

Razz let out a long hiss of a sigh before answering.

“YES.”

‘What happened?’

“LATER. ONCE I’VE SEEN TO HIM.”

Frisk nodded, gave another thumbs up, and went to go stand in the kitchen door.  Finally, Razz was able to turn back to the huddled form of his brother. He had to tamp down his anger at the others. It would do no good now and would not help the Mutt in his current mental state. The Mutt…his brother…Papyrus, hadn’t had a turn like this in a long while.

It only took a few breaths before he was able to shove down the feelings. His eyelights cooled back to their normal frosty blue and he was able to relax his shoulders. Feeling like he had at least a solid façade of calm, Razz took a slow step forward and gave a soft whistle. His poor Papyrus stiffened and huddled deeper. If his jacket weren’t made of leather, he’s claws would have sliced through to bone by now. Not good.

“It’s ok, Papy. It’s ok. Just you and me here,” Razz crooned.

He kept his voice as gentle and soothing as he could. This was one of the few times where his commanding ‘Lord’ voice had little effect. Or at least not the right one. But something soft, like from when they were young, worked wonders to draw Papyrus back from the darkness. Razz continued his measured approach, pausing only to pick up what looked to be the heaviest blanket in the pile.

“Papy, you don’t have to hide from me. It’s only…only Sans.”

It was hard to say it like that, even now. He’d worked hard for the rank and prestige. Shoving that thought down too, he kept up the soft flow of words. He could see Papyrus starting to relax a little by the easing of the tension on his hood. When he was finally close enough, he used a few bone constructs and the blanket to make a small, dim shelter around them. Then he got down on his knees just in front of his brother.

“Papy, come back. You’re here, with Sans. You’re not there. I’m right here in front of you, Papy. Just reach out to me.”

With a shutter, Papyrus peeked over his knees. His eyes were wild, feral. They darted around, looking for enemies, but there was no one else in their little bubble.  There was only the soothing twilight created by the light filtering faintly through the blanket and the soft glow of the bones.  Papyrus suddenly focused in on Razz with a whimper. His fingers slid back to dig in where his ears were hidden.

“Gently, Paps. Gently. Come back to me. You’re safe,” Razz murmured.

Slowly, so slowly, the claws stopped digging in. Another moment and one hand finally lifted towards Razz. There was a moment of hesitation.

“Go on, Papy,” Razz encouraged.

Papyrus took a shuttering breath before reaching the last inch.  Three fingertips ran nervously down Razz’s cheekbone. Then again. Then Papyrus took hold of Razz’s bandana in a trembling grip as his eyelights dropped.

“M’Lord, Sans, m’Lord, tried to…fought… didn’t mean to…sorry! So Sorry! Couldn’t…didn’t…”

His voice shook with whines and hiccups. Razz had to focus hard to keep the resurgent rage, a lot of it old and festering, from boiling out of him. Papyrus needed him grounded. Papyrus still called Razz his light in their most private moments. The shining star that he would follow and worship to the end and beyond.  Now Razz needed to be the light the guided him. It was no time to indulge in the tempting wrath.

“I am not mad at you, Papy. I know you didn’t mean it to happen,” he said instead.

Papyrus let out another shaky whine, his grip tightening for a moment.

“May I have your other hand, Papy? To hold?” Razz asked softly.

Papyrus’s eyelights flicked up to him searchingly. Razz kept his expression calm and open. He waited, more patient then most thought him to be. Papyrus’s free hand slipped down off his hood. It hovered, unsure, before he finally held it out.  With a soft smile, Razz took the offered hand and held it gently in his. Papyrus watched their hands with rapped attention.

“M’Lord…is not upset?” he asked in a fragile voice.

“Not with you, Pap,” Razz said firmly.

Papyrus’s eyelights flicked up again to meet his. The look was intense, pleading, hopeful. The wild light was starting to fade away. Razz’s soul pulsed with love and sympathy. Razz allowed it to radiate from him. In response, Papyrus lurched forward and pressed his skull to Razz’s chest. The move was so sudden and forceful that it almost knocked Razz over.

“Woke up to a hand and a figure standing so defiantly. Thought it was you, m’Lord. Then…then I was suddenly back...back in…,” Papyrus trailed off with a bone rattling shudder.

“You’re here, Pap. With me. Never there. Never again. I promise,” Razz said with finality.

Papyrus took in a sharp breath and nodded against Razz’s sternum. It made Razz’s shirt ride up, but he didn’t care. Papyrus had finally stopped shaking. He was finally starting to come back. Back to Razz, where he was safe from the horrors of their shared past.

“May I pet you, Paps?” Razz asked.

Another nod.

“Ok.”

Ever so gently, Razz brought his hand up and brushed it down the back of Papyrus’s skull just firm enough to be felt through the material of his hood.  Papyrus stiffened for the briefest moment, then relaxed with a shuttering sigh, leaning even harder into Razz.  It became a fight for Razz to maintain his balance. Razz may be stronger then when they were youngsters but Papyrus still had a strong, broad warrior frame.  When he leaned most of it into Razz, he completely outweighed his little lord.  Razz’s spine gave a twinge of warning and protest.

“Papy,” he started, trying to decided how best to phrase it. Then his time ran out and Razz collapsed onto his back with Papyrus draped on top of him.

“Urg! Papyrus…,” Razz groaned.

Papyrus sniggered and nuzzled into Razz’s sternum, “Thank you, Sans.”

Then he glanced up with a mischievous glint in his amber eyelights.

“Just keep falling for ya~” he purred.

“Stars, Mutt, no!” Razz groused, hand coming up to cover his face.

Papyrus laughed again, louder this time and snuggled back down. Razz hummed his own amusement and lay contentedly for the time being. Between Papyrus starting to feel better, the dim lighting, and the comfortable weight on him, Razz could almost consider the near unthinkable. A nap.  It would be nice. Make this feel more like a true vacation.  The wonderful peace stretched out for several moments. At some point, Razz resumed his petting and Papyrus sighed happily. After a few minutes, Razz started to wonder if Papyrus had in fact dozed off again. Closing his own eyes, Razz drew took a slow, deep breath. A knot of tension that had wound itself tight somewhere in his ribs slowly loosened. He relaxed into the sleepy embrace.

----------------------

“M’Lord…” Papyrus said softly sometime later, startling Razz out of a near doze.

“Yes, Pap?”

“Who did I bite? I can taste marrow on my teeth.”

Razz couldn’t help the dark little chuckle at that question.

“It was Edge. IA warning nip from what I saw, barely cracked a metacarpal,” he reassured Papyrus.

Edge may have been bitching that it wasn’t a nip, but if Papyrus had wanted to, had put serious Intent into the bite, Edge may have lost half his hand. Which would have served him right for not listening to what others said, especially when it came to their own property.  There was a reason, several actually, that Papyrus was the strongest, most feared attack dog beast in the whole of the Underground. Papyrus hummed, digesting this new information. Razz knew without needing to check that he was also licking the little splattering of marrow from his fangs. The comforting silence returned, but Razz knew that Papyrus had more he wanted to ask.  Razz waited, still grining at Edge’s expense. After a moment, Papyrus spoke up again.

“We are going to show them aren’t we?”

Papyrus sounded unsure again. Nervous.

“Yes, there’s little point in hiding it now. May I see them first?”

Papyrus nodded, “Can pet ‘em too.”

Razz smiled and gently lifted Papyrus’s hood. Both of his large furred ears sprung up and then hung somewhat limply in poorly concealed shame. Razz cupped one, running his thumb down the soft expanse of fur along the edge of it.

“Lovely,” Razz crooned.

Papyrus gave a soft growling purr and leaned into the touch.

“How is your tail?” Razz asked.

Because of fucking course the Classics had been right. There was a tail to match the ears.

“Cramped,” was the grumbled reply.

“You should free it.”

“But then I have to move,” Papyrus whined.

“You will feel better freeing it,” Razz reasoned.

Papyrus grumbled against his chest and tightened his grip on Razz’s hand. Razz shifted his petting to start rubbing around the base of each ear, starting with one, then switching to the other and back again. They tended to get cramped there being forced down by the heavy hood.  Papyrus went limp against Razz with a low groan. Now Razz could feel the solid weight of his brother’s concealed tail across his own pelvis. A weight that seemed to imply the tail was at full growth. How was it at full growth already? It had been at half brush just yesterday! Razz knew from careful study that the cycle matched up across universes. Dimension hopping shouldn’t have change anything.

“Papyrus,” Razz said, a little of his ‘Lord’ tone edging in.

“Ok, fine,” Papyrus grumbled.

With a clear reluctance, he sat up, though he kept stubborn hold of Razz’s hand. Razz smirked at the insistence and propped himself up on his elbow. He was half expecting the Mutt of make a show of it. Teasing would tell Razz Papyrus was feeling safe and content, even if it wasn’t exactly proper when the only thing separating them from their alternates and the human child was a blanket. Instead, Papyrus just pulled the front of his sweater up to his clavicles.  There, hooked over the right ilium, across the pelvic cavity and curling up against the inside of the left side hanging ribs was Papyrus’s tail. It looked just as cramped as Papyrus had implied. Razz almost couldn’t see the faint dusting of sienna tipped fur that ran down the top of it.

“Like what you see, m’Lord?” Papyrus purred suddenly.

There was the teasing. Razz felt relief cool some of the anger still pulsing in him.  Dragging his gaze away from the tail and tempting bones, he smiled up at Papyrus.

“Immensely,” he said in an answering growl.

Papyrus’s cheekbones flushed with dark orange and he ducked behind his rucked up sweater. The flush even showed faintly in the inner cusp of Papyrus’s ears. But despite ducking away, there was still a grin on Papyrus’s face.

“Though,” Razz continued, “this looks uncomfortable.”

He reached into the hollow of Papyrus’s middle and ran his fingers along the bunched tail.  Papyrus gasped softly and nodded. Then he transferred the sweater front to his mouth so he could reach down to capture Razz’s wrist.  Razz allowed his hand to be pulled away. He could see Papyrus’s eyelights getting a little hazy from the light touches.  The tail was always sensitive at its full size, but with the sudden jump in its cycle and confinement it was probably even more so.

Razz watched as, with a muffled groan from Papyrus, the tail tip curled back further onto its self and twisted so it could duck out around the edge of Papyrus’s ribs. Then it was dropped with a grunt to rest almost obscenely down from the valley between Papyrus’s pubis, brushing lightly over Razz’s own covered pelvis. Razz could feel his magic give an interested stir and clamped down on it. The tail was still caught over one ilia. Panting now, Papyrus released Razz’s wrist so he could lift the right side of his jacket. A moment and then the tail was flipped over the hip. It settled heavily behind Papyrus where it belonged. With a breathy sigh, Papyrus slumped back into Razz.

“Ow…” he grumbled.

“Stiff?” Razz inquired.

Papyrus grunted, which Razz took as a ‘yes’.

“Do you require assistance with that stiffness, Mutt?” Razz asked in a teasing tone that held more of his ‘Lord’ edge.

There was a quiet yelp and Papyrus scooted back a little in the available space, head shaking furiously. The flush on his cheekbones had brightened and spread.

“Thank you, m’Lord, no! I can…”

Razz enjoyed the embarrassed stammering as he sat back up. He really hadn’t been expecting Papyrus to say yes. Not when his tail was still so very sensitive and they were, once again, in fairly close proximity to the others. Papyrus pulled his hand from Razz’s to fidget with his collar. Razz smirked again when Papyrus glanced at him.

“Well?” Razz asked, cracked brow ridge raising.

Papyrus huffed. Then a crooked smirk stretched across his face and he pinned Razz with a heated look as he teasingly ran one hand around his hip to disappear behind him. Razz couldn’t see him rubbing around his sacrum even if he could have looked down. He couldn’t look away though. Not when Papyrus was pinning him with that look in his hazing eyelights. Then there was an audible ‘schick’ and Papyrus arched with a hastily muffled moan.

“Oohhh, fuck!

Razz swallowed dryly, feeling a flush rising on his own cheeks and his magic positively hum with interest. Yeah, Papyrus was feeling much better.

“Mutt, if you keep up like that we’ll need to shortcut somewhere far more private,” Razz warned.

His voice came out rougher and sharper then he’d meant for it to. Thankfully, Papyrus just chuckled lowly and thumped his tail against the floor.

“Promises, promises, m’Lord,” he said in a soft sing-song.

“Down, boy,” Razz growled in rough affection, “For now, we have to face the others.”

“As my Lord wishes,” Papyrus murmured huskily, sitting back and looking away. He was still grinning.

Freed from that heated, tempting gaze, Razz closed his sockets and took a much needed moment to compose himself. At least now he understood why his Mutt had nested.  With his tail suddenly in full brush and alone in a mostly unfamiliar place it made sense that he’s seek comfort like that. Did he know why Papyrus was suddenly in full brush? No. No, he didn’t. He could figure it out later. The important parts for now were that the Mutt’s cycle had been thrown way forward and the secret they’d planned to keep a while longer was suddenly thrust into the open.  That’s what they would deal with for now.  Resolve set, Razz stood and fixed his clothes.

“Papyrus, my dear Mutt, let’s go,” he said, slipping completely back into his ‘Lord’ voice, if not the volume.

“Yes, m’Lord.”

Chapter Text

Tossing aside the blanket, Razz allowed the constructs to fade. Almost surprisingly, they were still alone in the living room. Frisk was still standing in the kitchen doorway, signing occasionally in response to the general hubbub spilling from that room. Next to Razz, the Mutt stood and stretched languidly, causing several small clicks and pops, before relaxing into his typical slouch and idly scratching at one ear. Razz blinked up at his brother.

‘That…was rather cute,’ Razz though distractedly.

Shaking his head, Razz forced himself to look away again. He was still letting his stirred up feelings distract him. Even in this oddly gentle world, he had to maintain appearances. Maintain control. He could clip on the leash, but his brother seemed fairly calm at the moment. Better to leave it for now then. The leash could be grounding for the Mutt if the stresses got too high, but it could also make him rather frisky at other time. Especially at the cycle peek.

“HUMAN FRISK,” Razz called.

The human turned, spotted them and trot over.

“Is Slim feeling better?” they asked, smile radiating an earnest warmth.

“YES.”

“That’s great!”

“I MUST…THANK YOU, HUMAN FRISK. BOTH FOR ATTEMPTING TO KEEP THE OTHERS AWAY FROM HIM AND FOR KEEPING THEM OUT,” Razz said, only stumbling slightly over the unaccustomed words.

“yeah, thanks for that,” Slim added.

Frisk beamed at them both, almost painfully bright for a moment.

“You can just call me Frisk. And I’m happy to help,” they signed, “Ready to face everyone?”

Razz grunted and started for the kitchen. Frisk fell into step next to him and the Mutt settled in a pace behind. A small part of Razz would rather not deal with this at all. There were much better options for voluntary torture. Overseeing new recruits during a patrol in the Dump came to mind. They were always, always clumsy, loud, and excruciating slow. The last group had somehow provoked a monster that had gone complete feral. Two had been Dusted before the rest had been able to drive it back. The recruits had all been injured and the beast had attacked again. Disgusted, Razz had quickly dispatched the brute and got the recruits back to Waterfall. Their injures were treated only after Razz had given them a severe dressing down about their conduct.

The kitchen, when they entered, was a much calmer kind of atmosphere then the general din had suggested. But then half the skeletons, Razz included, tended to speak very loudly. There was a large window almost directly across from the door and warm light was streaming through. Sans was balanced on a chair leaning back against the window frame looking half asleep. His brother was seated next to him at the rounded table enthusiastically gutting a large pumpkin. The table took up most of the space on that side of the modest sized room. Across the table from him, Red was complaining about the tiny saw he’d been given to carve with. Edge, who’d been wedged around the back of the table, was growling back at him about it being the appropriate tool for the job. Edge seemed to be in the process of meticulously skinning part of his own pumpkin.

“then why’s he get a knife, eh?” Red grouched, jerking a thumb accusingly at Blue, “this favoritism? you like him better than me, Boss?”

“WHAT? I SAID NO SUCH THING. NOR DID I GIVE HIM THAT,” Edge snapped back.

Red slouched dramatically, hand on his forehead, “betrayed by my own brother for another sans.”

“Well, he is the magnificent sans for a reason,” Stretch said with a smirk.

Blue giggled from where he was seated on the floor and beamed up at his brother. Blue’s pumpkin was in the center of a large, neat spread of newspaper. It had an intricate design drawn on it that didn’t currently make a lot of sense and he was using a surprisingly large knife to carve away at it. Razz felt a small burst of approval for the skill Blue was showing with that blade, moving efficiently from deep carving cuts to light, controlled shaving passes.

“RED, QUIT BEING RIDICULOUS! THAT IS THE TOOL FOR WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO DO!” Edge insisted.

“You just don’t trust him with a blade, you can say it,” Stretch chuckled, leaning back on the small kitchen peninsula. He wasn’t working on anything. Just relaxing on a stool near Blue and watching him work.

Red peeked up, giving a hurt look, “that’s it ain’t it, Boss?”

Blue nudged his brother’s leg with an elbow, “DON’T BE MEAN, PAPY. I’M SURE RED IS PERFECTLY CAPIBLE WITH A KNIFE.”

“I NEVER SAID I DIDN’T TRUST HIM WITH A KNIFE! STOP PUTTING WORDS IN MY MOUTH, YOU WALKING ASHTRAY!” Edge snarled, shooting to his feet.

“AH! BUT YOU HAVEN’T SAID YOU DID TRUST HIM, YET,” Classic Papyrus noted.

Edge screeched something in response that had Red hiding a laugh in his arms. Razz felt more than heard Slim give his own chuckle behind him. Such tactics had been very frequent when they were younger. Razz almost rolled his eyelights but the antics were amusing when they weren’t being done to him. Sans’s gaze drifted to them.

“welcome back,” he drawled sleepily.

--------------------------------

Every eye light in the room turned to them and Slim’s hands clenched in his pockets. He really wasn’t ready for this. His Lord was right, there was no point in continuing to hide his addition from the others now, but shortcutting away and not dealing with it had a lot of appeal. Already, it was a fight to keep his ears in the normal relaxed position. Keeping his tail still was actually impossible. So instead he worked to keep the motions small and slow, trying to convey a much calmer emotion then the anxiety the upcoming discussion promised. All the alternates had grown up with the Snowdin dogs and had at least a passing knowledge of how to read their body ques. Slim knew his tail was the most likely to give him away even with his all his familiarity with the limb.

Forcing himself to relax, Slim fingered the cigarette pack in his pocket. He could really use one right now, but Classic Paps (Slim tended to simply think of him as Papyrus) preferred that the smokers of the group didn’t do it inside the house. Which Slim supposed was fair enough. It was their house after all. Barbeque sauce or whiskey would be the next best options but he had neither at the moment. That left his greatest vice, his most cherished addiction. It was never hard to focus on his Lord. He may be smaller in stature than the average monster but made up for it in spades. His presence was so strong and gloriously dominating that it could fill and silence a room. It was a heady thing every time Slim got to witness it.

Slim’s mind wandered farther on that tangent, thinking back to that look from just a few moments ago. That sharp, wanting look he’d teased from Razz. Those looks were often the start of a very good time. His tail flicked up in interest and his magic was a slowly growing warmth in his bones. Fuck. He needed to get himself back under control. Letting his desires run away with him would be certain to displease his Lord. If only his Lord would put him on leash. Give him that firm, controlling hand he loved so. That would tug the collar just right to…

Slim slammed the brakes hard on that train of thought as the warmth in his bones suddenly swirled and dropped lower, threatening to pool in his pelvis. Thank the stars his jeans could hide a little telltale glow. Damn did he need a smoke. This was going to be a long fucking day without something besides his suddenly spiking desires and stress running through his system. To distract from his unhelpful thoughts, he strode across the kitchen and pulled out the remaining stool from under the peninsula counter for his Lord. He could feel the various eyelights on him. More specifically on his tail. One set in particular seemed to be burning a hole into his back with its intensity. He ignored it for the moment to turn and bow slightly to his Lord.

Razz gave him a glance that held a note of appreciation that only Slim could see. No one, not even their alternates, knew his Lord’s subtle expression like Slim did. Those ones that hid under the proud, angry, haughty looks Razz used. They were just for Slim to know. He watched with half-lidded appreciation as his Lord gracefully settled on the stool. He did it so smoothly one almost missed that he’d needed to step up to properly reach the seat. One boot heel caught on the crossbar, one leg crossed over the other, back straight, and hands resting on his knees. His Lord made the simple stool seem like a throne that Slim would be more than willing to kneel before. But he was given no command. All he could do was stand beside him, where he belonged.

Belatedly, Slim realized the others had started talking again.

“…SHOULD HAVE LISTENED. RAZZ SAID NOT TO,” Blue was saying, shooting Edge a disappointed look.

Edge’s fist slammed down on the table, making the various tools and pumpkin’s jump. Red’s nearly toppled off, but he managed to stabilize it in time.

“YOU KNOW VERY WELL I DID NOT TOUCH HIM,” Edge snapped back, “RAZZ SAID NOTHING ABOUT HIS DOG BITING.”

“BUT HE DID IMPLY IT TO BE HAZARDOUS TO WAKE SLIM,” Papyrus chimed in.

“DO YOU NOT HAVE YOUR OWN DOG?” Razz sneered, “I WOULD THINK YOU WOULD KNOW BETTER.”

“MINE DOES NOT BITE EVERYTHING UPON WAKING!”

“hey!” Red protested.

Edge snapped a look at him and Red looked away with a grumble.

“Dunno why you’re still worked up about that little nip anyway,” Stretch added, probably more to antagonize Edge than anything else.

Slim could whole heartedly understand. Edge tended to explode with the right provocation and the result was usually hilarious. Even the time Edge and Razz had gotten into a less than friendly game of drunken one-upmanship had been funny in the end.

“IT IS NOT A NIP IF THE METACARPAL IS CRACKED CLEAN THROUGH,” Edge shot back, glaring at Slim.

Slim gave a lazy blink in reply, ears canting forward just enough to imply sarcastic interest.

“Coulda been worse,” Slim said with a shrug.

“YOU GOT TO KEEP YOUR FINGERS. THAT’S MORE THEN THE LAST PERSON TO TRY THAT,” Razz sneered.

There was practically steam pouring from Edge’s skull and Slim’s tail gave a little wave of amusement.

“come on, Boss, you said you’d be cool,” Red said, trying to sooth his irritated brother.

“I AM BEING COOL. I HAVE NOT TRIED TO RETALIATE DESPITE THE RATHER OBVIOUS STRATEGY PLACING ME HERE,” Edge growled pointedly.

Red gave his brother a sheepish smile and the bickering continued. Slim noticed Frisk rolling their eyes as if they were very use to this. And Slim supposed they were if they spent time with the Classics. They’d picked up one of the remaining pumpkins and had Blue cut an opening in the bottom for them. Blue had trimmed the strings from the bottom into his scraps bag before handing it back with a smile. Frisk smiled back, plunked down next to him, and began scooping out the rest of the strings and seeds.

“AS FUN AS THIS BICKERING IS, ARE YOU NOT GOING TO HEAR THE PROMISED EXPLANATION?” Papyrus asked suddenly.

Slim had to concentrate hard for a beat to minimize his visible reaction to that. His tail still drifted lower, closer to his legs. He was really glad his back was to the empty cooking area. Made his tail much harder to see. Glancing to the side, he saw Stretch studying him from the corner of a socket. Slim’s ears twisted sharply back and he glowered in return.

“i know i’m curious,” Sans said, chair coming level with a quiet thump.

“VERY WELL, IF WE MUST,” Razz said evenly.

“YES, WE ‘MUST’,” Edge snapped, “TO START, HAS HE ALWAYS HAD THEM?”

“NO, HE’S HAD THEM FOR FOUR YEARS.”

"how’d he get ‘em?" Sans asked.

“AND WHY AREN’T THEY BONE?” Blue added.

“is that why ya got him collared?” Red asked, tugging his own for emphasis.

Slim shifted to glare at Red. He was hating this conversation already. But Slim’s glare had nothing on the withering look his Lord swept Red with.

“THE MUTT HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY MUTT,” Razz answered icily.

“oh…uh…yeah, gotcha,” Red stammered, going back to laboriously sawing away at his pumpkin.

Slim smirked, but it faltered when his Lord continued speaking.

“FOR THE OTHERS…”

Slim had to fight to keep his tail from curling any further in, just barely managing to press it against the back of a leg instead, when his Lord gave him a brief side long glance. There was a question in it, even though they’d already agreed to show the others. He was being offered one last chance to say no. To call it off. And part of him, that inky dark part, really wanted to take it. Instead, he gave a barely perceivable nod, eye lights dimming. His Lord blinked once before focusing back on the others.

“THE REST IS A TALE, SO DON’T INTERUPT. I’M ONLY SAYING IT ONCE,” Razz warned.

There was some grumbling, but the others nodded and focused on him. Slim felt some measure of relief having everyone’s gaze off him, but he knew the reprieve would be short. Fuck, he needed a smoke.

“CROWN SANCTIONED LABS AND SCIENTISTS ARE SOMETHING WE ARE ALL FAMILIAR WITH. WE KNOW THAT SOME HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE THINGS CAN COME FROM THEM TOO,” Razz began.

There were nods in response and a few growls, most notably from Red. Frisk hunched down a little more over their pumpkin and shuttered.

“I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOUR WORLDS, BUT WE HAD SEVERAL UNSANCTIONED SCIENTISTS WITH SECRET LABS SCATTERED ACROSS THE UNDERGROUND. MOST HAD FALLEN OUT OF THE QUEEN’S FAVOR. THEY PURSUED PERSONAL INTERESTS WITH NO OVERSIGHT UNTIL THE GUARD CAUGHT UP WITH THEM. USUALLY AT THE END OF A TRAIL OF DRUGS OR DISAPPEARANCES. ONE OF THESE BECAME FIXATED ON MY MUTT AND ABDUCTED HIM ON HIS WAY TO WORK.”

The memory came unbidden. Walking to his sentry station, same as he always did. A spell catching him out of nowhere. Not a blue hold or a green paralysis since he could still move. That became obvious when he spun to search for his assailants. Four monsters stepping out of the trees around him. Opening his mouth to demand answers only for no sound to come out. He’d tried again and still nothing had happened. The monsters surrounding him laughing at his surprise…

“Can’t have you howling for help now can we?” a spotted grey Rabbit to his left sneered.

“Our Master has some questions for you. Now heel like a good dog beast so we can take you to him,” the Gryftoc to his right added.

Slim’s surprise morphed into a furious snarl. With a sharp gesture, he summoned several serrated bones to erupt from the ground. Or, that’s what he tried to do. His magic responded strangely. Like it tried to surge out to form the attack but rebound instead and crashed painfully back through his ribs.

The.

Fuck?!

Maybe it was just because it was a field based attack? He tried a projectile attack, one that would stab the grinning Griftoc in the eye. No attack formed and pain laced through him again. His attack magic was locked somehow. Shit. Ok, retreat was always an option. Slim tried to teleport.

The sharpest pain yet lanced out from this eye, burning in agonizing lines across his skull. His vision went momentarily dark and his knees buckled. The scream of pain was rendered a soundless howl as his hand flew up to clutch at his socket. All his magic was locked! He just barely caught himself with his other hand, panting harshly and silently. What kind of spell was this?!

“Ready to be a good dog?”

A hand reached for him. Slim swept a leg out, sending that monster crashing to the hard packed snow. The pain of his rebounded magic turned the rest into a muddle of clawing, dodging, and rage. Then, darkness. He’d woken strapped to an exam table. It was such a horribly familiar sensation that his anxiety peaked instantly. He began to hyperventilate, eyelights darting around, looking for HIM. Looking, looking. This lab was all wrong though.

Why was it wrong?

HE was dead!

Should be!

Unless HE wasn’t and this…was a new lab…

That horrible thought had him fighting the bonds with near blinding panic, trying to call his magic to teleport away. Nothing responded. Nothing! His magic, where was his magic?!

“Do be calm. Your magic is properly sealed now. My associate did a half formed version of the spell, hence the pain. Now that you are awake, we can be properly acquainted.”

Slime froze. Terror and confusion swept him. The voice was wrong too, but the inflection and tone were so eerily similar. A huge figure appeared to his left. That was wrong too.

“I have a few theories I quite hope you’ll be able to help me test,” it said.

“IT TOOK LONGER THEN I LIKE TO RECALL TO TRACK THE SCIENTIST DOWN.”

Razz’s sharp voice cut through the memory. Slim blinked hard. His hands were trembling in his pockets and his ears were pressed hard to his skull. His entire body had gone ridged. If he just focused on his Lord…

“THE GARGOYLE HAD A FASCINATION WITH MAGICAL DISEASES. ESPECIALLY THOSE THAT HAD TARGETED HUMANS IN THE PAST. ALL OF WHICH WE THOUGHT GONE AFTER THE WAR.”

As Razz continued, the memory swept Slim up again even as he tried to fight it.

Needles, tubes, rants of capabilities, the best ways to wage war. Biological, not tactical or magical. Needles, needles, lights, samples…

“BECAUSE OF SKELETON’S SIMILAR APPEARANCE TO HUMANS, HE TESTED THE STRAINS HE HAD ON MY BROTHER.”

The growl in his voice made it clear that Razz was only just keeping himself calm. His Lord was glossing over a lot of details for him. Slim really wished his mind would do the same.

“LYCANTHROPY. I DON’T KNOW HOW HE CAME TO POSSESS IT.”

PAIN! BURNING PAIN! He was breaking! Hurt, hurt, hurt, his spine!

Phantom pains flared up and Slim clenched his teeth.

“BUT HIS THEORY WAS INCORRECT.”

There were eyes on him again. The room was heavy with the unspoken emotions and horror crackling like static in the air. He tried to keep a tight rein on his own emotions despite the continuing flashes of dark memories.

“IT DID CHANGE THE MUTT. GAVE HIM THE PERMANENT EARS AND TAIL. THE SCIENTIST DIDN’T LIVE LONG, BUT TOOK ADEQUATE NOTES FOR US TO FIGURE OUT HIS PLANS.”

BLOOD! Blood and dust and his magic! His magic and his claws and his teeth! Free, unbound, death and justice unleashed. Screams, terror, not his own. Begging, pleading, flashes of faces that had sneered now disintegrating in pain. Armor, weapons, a cracking, ice blue whip. His Lord!

“Game over.”

Shuttering.

Shuttering.

“CALM, MUTT.”

His Lord! Fingers were tugging on the ring on his collar. Bringing him just the right pressure. A sharp click. His leash was attached! There were no enemies. No one to destroy.

“COME HERE,” Razz growled softly, pulling Slim down by the fingers hooked in his collar.

A gloved hand pet soothingly over Slim’s ears and skull. Slowly, Slim’s vision came back into focus. When had it gone dim and hazy? His nerves were completely shot. The story was out now. He’d gotten to enjoy several flash backs and almost had a panic attack, but it was out. The silence sat thick in the room.

“hoooooooollly shit…”

Slim almost laughed. Red summed that pretty well.

Blue opened his mouth but Stretch leaned down to put a hand on his shoulder. Blue paused to blink at him.

“‘rus, you should let him smoke if he wants. I know I’d need one after that,” Stretch said, “I’m about ready to give him one myself.”

“OF COURSE! IF IT TRULY HELPS, I WOULD NEVER DENY IT, EVEN IF IT IS A TERRIBLE HABIT,” Papyrus responded, giving Slim a look of open concern.

Slim felt a surge of gratitude towards both of them.

“Relax and sit, Papy,” Razz whispered against Slim’s ear, tickling it.

Slim’s legs tried to buckle and he sank as smoothly as he could to the cool tile floor. His leash was still connected, still in his Lord’s firm grip. Leaning against Razz’s stool, he was finally able to pull out the slightly crumpled pack of cigarettes and his lighter.

“Thanks,” he said, nodding to Papyrus before glancing at Stretch, “but yours are too sweet, Honey.”

Stretch gave him a tight chuckle at that, Papyrus beamed at him, and Frisk leaned over to place a reassuring pat on Slim’s knee. Sans cracked the window.

“GOLLY SLIM…THAT’S…THAT SOUNDS JUST HORRIBLE TO HAVE GONE THROUGH. IS THAT WHY YOU HIDE THEM?” Blue asked hesitantly.

Slim lit his cigarette and took a blissful drag, feeling the nicotine and smoke billow into his mouth and chest. The burn of smoke was so light and pleasant that it started to sooth his nerves almost faster than the nicotine itself. He let the smoke out in a happy sigh before glancing at Blue.

“I’m actually pretty comfortable with ‘em at this point. Accepted them as part of me. I only hid them because I wasn’t really ready to tell everyone,” Slim explained, “I can honestly say I’ve lived through worse.”

“can’t be comfortable to have them hidden like that. sounds cramped, having it all curled up in your middle,” Sans observed, as annoyingly perceptive as usual.

Slim winced and rubbed his lower back, “You have no idea. ‘specially when it jumps sizes like this.”

Slim regretted saying it as soon as the words left his mouth. Confusion laced the air as he took another hurried drag.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN ‘JUMPS SIZES’?” Edge demanded.

A mostly involuntary growl rumbled out of Slim with his next exhale. Next to his ear, he heard a creak of leather as Razz’s hands tightened.

“It’s on a cycle. Doc’s strain was probably faulty. Tail shrinks and grows. Should be about seventy five percent its current size,” Slim growled.

“geez, next yer gonna tell us your hormones fluctuate with it and that’s what makes it bad to wake ya,” Red said with a snort.

“RED!” Blue exclaimed, scandalized.

“what? it’s a joke,” Red huffed.

Slim turned his skull to glare at the wall next to the door, smoking angrily and rapidly burning through his cigarette as a light orange flush suffused his cheek bones. The room filled with an awkward silence as the others took in his reaction.

“oh…”

“damn…”

Frisk, needing to do something, took one of the bigger pieces they’d carved off their pumpkin, hallowed out the middle of the flesh side, and placed it discreetly in front of Slim. Slim resolutely ignored everyone. Before Frisk could shuffle away, Razz gave them a small nod, making them smile hesitantly.

Razz took in the others reactions with an air of annoyed amusement. Blue had flushed completely blue and was staring from Slim to Red to Razz in a slow cycle. Stretch was also flushed and in the process of lighting his own cigarette while staring at a fascinating bit of wall. Sans had a hand over his mouth and was staring at Slim in what could be sympathy, amusement, concern or some combination there in while Papyrus was doing an alarmingly good shocked anime pose complete with bulging eye sockets. Razz didn’t understand how that worked, nor did he think he wanted too. It was bad enough he knew it to be an anime reaction.

Finally, he looked at Edge and Red. He smirked at their discomfort. Edge had sat back in his chair and was glowing at the corner. Razz rather hoped it was from embarrassment especially since he could see a hint of red flush behind Edge’s raised glove. Red looked like he wanted to floor to swallow him and save him from this entire conversation. He was flushed almost as much at Blue and staring open-mouthed at Slim. When he realized Razz was staring at him, he turned away and hid his face in his hands.

“HE CAN NAP IN THE OPEN IN OUR OWN ‘KILL OR BE KILLED’ WORLD, WHY WOUDN’T HE WAKE ON THE DEFENSIVE?” Razz scoffed after another moment.

It wasn’t a denial of the previous statement, but hopefully it would give the group something else to focus on. Reaching down, Razz tapped sharply on Slim’s skull.

“YOU WERE GIVEN AN ASHTRAY, MUTT. USE IT.”

Slim made a sound that might have been construed as a growl but could just as easily be grumbling so Razz chose to overlook it. Especially when Slim picked up the impromptu ashtray and dropped his current stick of ash in it before it had the chance to realize it was only ash and scattered everywhere. Almost before he’d set the tray down, Slim was already lighting another cigarette. Razz wondered if he’d stop before the pack emptied if Razz didn’t order him to. Once he had the new smoke lit, Slim reached over and ruffled Frisk’s hair.

“Thanks, kid.”

Frisk gave a thumbs up back.

Sans cleared his nonexistent throat, “oooook…I think we’ve reached the tail end of this topic for now. New subject time.”

Papyrus groaned and buried his face in his gloves. Blue and Edge joined him with their own sounds of disapproval. Red chuckled weakly from where he was still hiding in his arms. Stretch snickered. Frisk looked amused but pressed their lips together to keep from encouraging Sans in case he had more dog puns lined up. Razz could only give an unimpressed look at the word play, but Slim gave an almost involuntary snort of amusement.

“Yes, please. I’m dog tired of this one,” he grumbled.

Startled laughter broke out across the kitchen even as Razz yanked sharply on leash in soft rebuke for the pun. Slim’s smile started to return at that and the groan he heard from his lord, tail thumping lightly against the floor. Razz would never admit that he’d been amused. It was ok though. Getting Razz to react or give these small ‘punishments’ was more than enough for Slim to know he’d gotten to Razz.

Chapter Text

“What’s everyone carving?” Frisk asked.

“NYEHEHE! ONLY THE COOLEST THING TO GRACE A GLOWING GOURD! ME!” Papyrus declared.

He spun his pumpkin around to present it to the room. On it, he’d carved a surprisingly detailed image of his own skull, complete with gloriously billowing scarf flowing off around the pumpkin.

“very cool, pap,” Sans said immediately.

Edge snorted, “NOT AS COOL OR SCARY AS THIS.”

Edge turned his pumpkin and it became clear why he’d been skinning it. He’d turned the entire front of the pumpkin into a replica of his own skull, jaw open so the future flames would flicker menacingly past his fangs. Razz was more impressed by the artistry then he would ever admit.

“I THOUGHT THE POINT WAS TO CARVE SOMETHING SCARY,” he drawled mockingly.

“THE GREAT AND TERRIFYING PAPYRUS IS JUST THAT!” Edge snapped back.

Before the argument had a chance to really build up, Blue interrupted, holding his pumpkin up proudly.

“WHY JUST BE SCARY WHEN YOU’RE PUMPKIN CAN BE SCARILY MAGNIFICENT?” he declared.

Carved in stunning detail across the large pumpkin was a scene of Blue posing majestically on a carefully outlined rock in full knight armor, spear thrust forward and shield in hand. All of it helpfully shown off by the conjured magic in his hands, lighting the pumpkin from the inside. Stretch and Frisk started applauding.

“WOWIE! THAT’S REALLY GOOD, BLUE!” Papyrus gushed.

“My bro’s the best,” Stretch said, getting a glowing smile in return.

“dunno about that, I think my bro wins here,” Red said, peeking up from his arms.

“OF COURSE I DO. I AM CLEARLY THE SUPIRIOR CARVER,” Edge proclaimed modestly.

Frisk waved to get attention before signing, “What did you carve, Red?”

They knew that an argument about whose brother was actually the best/coolest/whatever started, it would not end well.

“oh yeah, with how much you complained about it, it’s gotta be gourd,” Sans teased.

“SANS! ENOUGH PUNS!” Papyrus groused.

Red grinned, jumping into the conversation again, “well, it don’t hold a candle to some of these, but i guess I shouldn’t make light of it either.”

Edge growled, “STOP.”

Red snagged his pumpkin and slipped away with a smirk before Edge could yank on his collar in retaliation. The look Edge gave him pretty clearly said it was only a temporary reprieve.

“Just show us already,” Stretch demanded with a chuckle.

Red rolled his eye lights.

“yeah, yeah…”

Copying Blue’s trick, Red used his magic to light up his jack-o’-lantern as he turned it to face the kitchen. He’d done a pretty traditional look. Narrow, sinister eyes with a large, fang filled grin that stretched almost halfway around the pumpkin. With the red glow it was scary, but not overly so.

Edge grunted thoughtfully, “THAT IS MORE EFFORT THAN I THOUGHT YOU WOULD PUT INTO THE TASK.”

Red winked, “heh, maybe i was just properly motivated, boss.”

Edge raised a brow ridge, “HOW UNUSUAL.”

“Wow. For you two, that was practically sweet,” Stretch said, grinning.

“thanks, asshole,” Red answered, flicking him off.

“LANGUAGE!” Blue and Papyrus shouted simultaneously.

Edge settled for glaring at Stretch.

“RAZZ, SLIM, WHAT WILL YOU TWO BE CARVING?” Papyrus continued hastily.

Razz frowned, “WHAT?”

“OH! WE AGREED LAST NIGHT THAT EACH SET OF US WOULD MAKE AT LEAST ONE PUMPKIN!” Blue cheerfully informed Razz.

Razz stared for a moment before his frown deepened.

“MUTT?”

Slim laughed quietly, sheepishly, one ear dropping. With everything that had happened since Razz had arrived, he hadn’t thought to mention it. Oops.

“Ah, yes, that was mentioned last night, m’Lord,” he said, glancing up at Razz.

Razz gave him a flat look. He didn’t like having things like this sprung on him. Slim also had a sneaking suspicion Razz would consider the task as silly and beneath his dignity. Slim, if he was allowed to voice his personal opinion, was quite sure his Lord would carve something magnificent if he put his mind to it and Slim could probably talk him around to trying. Though his chances would have been better if he’d brought it up sooner.

Razz turned back to Blue before Slim got the chance to try, “THE MUTT WILL CARVE OURS. HE’S HAD ALL NIGHT TO THINK OF SOMETHING.”

He glanced down again and caught Slim’s gaze before adding, “I’M SURE HE’LL IMPRESS ME.”

Slim’s ears popped up to attention, catching an edge to that tone that brought the low buzz his magic had settled into roaring back into an excited, pulsing swirl in him. Was it possible he was just hearing that tone that teased him? Yes, but that wasn’t important. Phrased like that meant actually impressing Razz would lead to a reward. Directly proportional to how impressed Razz was with whatever task he’d set for Slim. Now that was Slim’s kind of motivation!

“Yes, m’Lord.”

He probably should have been embarrassed by the way he damn near purred those words. Probably… but right then he couldn’t quite seem to care.

“YOU CAN USE MY SPOT, SLIM. RUS AND I SHOULD START COOKING!” Blue told Slim with a grin.

Slim nodded, eyes still focused on Razz for the moment, mind rushing with possible ideas and throwing them away almost as fast. What to carve? What would impress Razz? He could carve an image of his Lord on the pumpkin, complete the set of magnificent skeletons. But would that be enough? Would that impress his lord? Or would that only be considered reusing an idea and there for not impressive and, more importantly, not deserving of a reward? His tail moved in sharp little jerks as he continued to think, trying to come up with the best possible idea.

“YOU ARE RIGHT BLUE, WE SHOULD GET STARTED IF WE WISH TO HAVE EVERYTHING FINISHED ON TIME,” Papyrus agreed, standing. He handed Sans his masterpiece of pumpkin carving, “SANS, PLEASE PLACE THIS OUTSIDE FOR ME SO IT CAN INSPIRE TRICK OR TREATING GUESTS TO ENJOY THE NIGHT TO ITS FULLEST!”

“‘course, Paps,” Sans chuckled, amused by his brother’s instructions.

Papyrus beamed and dropped a small skeleton kiss on the crown of Sans’s skull before bustling off into the kitchen proper. Sans watched him go, arms leaning lightly on the pumpkin and a dopey smile on his face. He cheerfully ignored the snarky face Red was making and the silent teasing that went with it as he rolled easily to his slippered feet. Then he shot Red a grin of his own.

“let’s find a good place for these,” he said, throwing an arm around Red’s shoulders and pulling him out of the kitchen with the other sputtering protests.

Edge chuckled lightly at his brother’s expense.

Blue shook his head before popping to his feet, pumpkin in hand. He placed it on the counter next to Stretch and then frowned. Stretch, cigarette burning a slow wisp of smoke that edged towards the open window, quirked a brow ridge at him.

“BROTHER.”

“Yeah?”

“YOU’RE SMOKING INSIDE,” Blue said, frown deepening, “THE PERMISSION WAS FOR SLIM! HE HAD A GOOD REASON TO NEED THEM. YOU ARE NOT EVEN USING AN ASHTRAY! WHERE ARE YOUR LOLLYPOPS?”

Stretch, trying to not fidget or sweat, made a show of checking his hoodie pocket before shrugging.

“I’m out, bro,” he said, trying to make it sound like this was a perfectly good reason to smoke instead.

Razz and Edge both watched with interest, waiting to see what Blue would do next. Frisk paused in her carving. Papyrus bustled around in the kitchen area, he seemed to be adding things to the coffee maker, and Slim was still too busy thinking to pay much attention.

Blue’s frown turning into a winning smile, “OH, IF THAT’S ALL, I HAVE EXTRA! I BROUGHT THEM JUST IN CASE YOU WENT THROUGH YOUR’S TOO QUICKLY.”

He pulled a small blue lollypop from his own pocket and presented it to Stretch.

Stretch, scowling, cursed, “Shit.”

“PAPY! LAUNGUAGE!” Blue admonished, “REMEMBER, SWEARING HAS A PRICE.”

With those slightly ominous words, Blue pulled out what looked to have once been a pickle jar. It had been cleaned, had a slot cut in the lid, and then seemed to have come out the loser in a fight with a craft store. It was labelled ‘SWEAR JAR’ in cheerful orange and blue foam letters. Razz stared at it and Blue in amusement. This was way too good. Who minded a little swearing?

Across the kitchen, Edge exploded into harsh laughter as Stretch grudgingly dropped a G into the jar. It clinked down and Razz noted the jar was already almost half full.

“You didn’t make Red or Edge pay up,” Stretch groused.

“IT’S OUR JOB TO BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL FOR OUR CHARA. FELL FRISK’S ALREADY WORKING TO BE A GOOD INFLUENCE ON THEM,” Blue lectured his brother.

“I’LL HAVE YOU KNOW I NEED NO SUCH ROLE MODELING AS I AM ALREADY A MONSTER OF GREAT REPUTATION AND POISE,” Edge snapped.

Stretch snorted and stood, scooping up Blue’s pumpkin as he did, “Dunno about poise, but you sure pose a lot. Anyway, I’ll just step out ta finish this.”

He strolled away, waving over his shoulder at Blue with his cigarette in hand. Edge growled and marched out after him, his own pumpkin in tow. Razz wondered if the verbal sparring would continue and if Stretch would actually keep from swearing. Almost as soon as the thought finished, two G appeared out of thin air to clink into the jar still in Blue’s hand.

“THANK YOU, PAPY! NOW STOP SWEARING!” Blue called out.

Razz snorted, “ARE YOU ATTEMPTING TO TRAIN YOUR BROTHER?”

“YEP!” Blue said cheerfully, “AND I’LL USE THE G FOR MORE LOLLYPOPS.”

 “AN EXCELLENT FIRST STEP. I CAN PROVIDE FURTHUR TRAINING ADVICE OR EQUIPTMENT IF YOU NEED,” Razz to Blue with an approving smile.

“I THINK I WOULD LIKE THAT,” Blue answered with his own grin as he stored away the swear jar.

Papyrus came to stand at the counter, “DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS TO MOTIVATE A LAZYBONES? I HAVE FOUND A FEW WAYS, BUT ONE DOES NOT ALWAYS HAVE TIME FOR SUCH INTIMATE PHYSICAL RELATIONS.”

“YEAH!” Blue agreed, “AND SOMETIMES THEY TWIST THAT MOTIVATION TO WORK INTO ANOTHER EXCUSE TO BE LAZY! WHAT ELSE COULD WE TRY?”

Razz felt an odd sense of pride well up in him. Their brothers would probably love to deny it, but these two were coming along just fine. A little more information and practice and they would go far. Their brothers would certainly enjoy it too once they’d adjusted. After all, Stretch was, essentially, a softer version of his faithful Mutt and Sans was pretty similar to Stretch in over all personality.

Glancing down at Slim, Razz asked, “MUTT, WHAT ARE THE BEST MOTIVATORS?”

“Hmm? Punishment, sex, and pleasing m’Lord,” Slim answered in a distracted tone. It looked like he was watching his finger sketch rapidly in the air.

Razz nodded and turned back to the others with a cheeky grin and a cocked brow ridge, “THERE YOU HAVE IT. YOU ALREADY HAVE THE SEX PART. STICKY NOTES AND SWEAR JARS ARE NOT QUITE ENOUGH ALONE.”

“FACINATING,” Papyrus muttered, rubbing his chin.

Blue hummed thoughtfully as he moved around to the kitchen and picked up a mixing bowl with a box of brownie mix sitting in it. Razz swung around on his stool so that he was facing the kitchen and could watch what the two were making. He remembered the first time both had tried to cook something in his presence. Papyrus had at least made something almost edible and palatable. Blue hadn’t even managed edible. He’d been forced, for the safety of his magical stomach and his brother’s during future visits, to help teach them both proper cooking techniques. Diligent monsters that they were, they’d continue to practice on their own and now could manage most basic cooking quite well. Even better, their preferred signature dishes were now a delight to eat.

Down on the floor, Slim was still thinking hard. He’d narrowed his options down to two or three and had been rapidly building models in his head to test them. One of his ears twitched towards the kitchen conversation whenever sex was mentioned, but he’d already been set his motivation for reward. He shifted over to the spread of newspaper where Frisk smiled at him.

“Sans would freak out if he heard this talk,” Frisk signed with a laugh, “So, have any carving ideas?”

Slim nodded distractedly, “A few.”

He picked up a marker nearby and used it to sketch out rough ideas on a clear bit of newspaper. Frisk studied them thoughtfully. They were all interesting ideas. Finally, they pointed to one.

“I like this one.”

Slim studied the indicated idea. It was the one he been leaning towards too. It was also the most complicated. But the idea was to impress the fuck out of Razz. Ohh, he’d really like to fuck his Lord. His mind started to wander down that distracting path before he shook his head to chase it away. His bones were humming with magic again but he had his condition. He would do as his Lord commanded. He thumped his tail on the floor and dragged his focus back on task.

“Agreed,” he murmured.

He quickly sketched out several more detailed views of the chosen design. He and Frisk had a rapid conversation in Hands to decide on the details. Then he leaned over to drag two pumpkins closer to him. One was a larger, not quite round pumpkin. The other was skinnier but taller. Meanwhile, Frisk started digging through the bags of scraps for all the larger cut off pieces.  Slim drew out the guide lines the two pumpkins and then looked around. The knife Blue had been using was gone. Frisk had been using the tiny pumpkin carving tools and he didn’t feel like using those. He could honestly do better using his own claws if it came down to that.

Leaning back, he tapped Razz on the knee.

“M’Lord?”

Razz glanced down at him with a questioning noise.

“The knife Blue had is gone. Could I borrow one of yours?”

Razz’s cracked brow ridge raised and his eye lights darted over to give Blue a considering look for just a moment. Then he looked back to Slim with a nod and pulled a single edged knife from inside the top of a boot. Slim had to fight his magic down hard as he watched the blade be drawn from the sleek boots his Lord wore. It was probably because of the position he was in, with his leash on, but a part of him was already thinking about the number of scenarios they had where such a scene could come into play. The knife might be used on him, bringing sharp, bright pain. It might be a ‘fight’ in which he knocked the blade away and overpowered his Lord. He could be restrained further, strapped down tight, and his Lord sitting so calmly with the knife in hand, running it lightly over his bones. Hinting at the idea that more could or would happen.

Razz expertly spun the blade around in his fingers and lightly held it out, handle first. Slim stared at it, unconsciously licking his golden fang. Razz’s brow ridges came together in a mild frown.

“MUTT?”

Fantasies continued to sweep Slim along. His mind had wandered from knives to what his Lord’s hands could do. How controlling they could be. How gentle. How firm. The way they could caress. How they handled their various toys. The way they felt twined with his own.

“MUTT!” Razz snapped, “CONTROL YOURSELF.”

Slim snapped to attention, “M’Lord!”

Then he blinked and realized just how excited he’d been getting as his mind wandered. Magic was beginning to make his joints glow and swirling heavy in his pelvis. Slim flushed and took the knife.

“Yes, m’Lord, apologies.”

He quickly turned back to his carving, taking a couple deep drags on the cigarette still clenched lightly between his fangs.

“You ok, Slim?” Frisk asked.

Slim nodded and sliced the smaller pumpkin in half lengthwise with brusque efficiency. Then he cut an opening in the bigger one. He started cleaning it out into the bag Blue had left. Frisk picked up one of the pumpkin halves and started to clean it out for him. They grinned at him when Slim raised a brow ridge.

“Race you!”

Slim barked a laugh. After all, no one said there could be no help for the cleaning at least!  Whether the kid was trying to or not, she was doing a good job of dragging his mind away from thoughts and memories of his Lord and back to the current task. His magic started to cool and settle again as they raced to finish cleaning first. It didn’t quite settle back into the soft hum in his bones as before, but the excited buzz was familiar enough for Slim to ignore it for now.

Finishing his cleaning, Slim picked up the pumpkin and dumped the guts into the scrap bag before Frisk could do the same with the second half of the other one. He gave the human a cocky grin, ears playfully cocked forward and tail waving in a slow arch, bragging without words. Frisk, trying not to grin and failing utterly, stuck their tongue out at him.

“Loser get the new scrap bag, squirt,” Slim gloated.

“Hey! That was never agreed to!” they protested, but they were laughing.

Slim gave Frisk a fanged grin that made the kid laugh harder.

“Alright, alright!”

Still giggling, Frisk got up and picked up the slightly damp paper bag of pumpkin guts, taking it to the kitchen. Smiling again, Slim got to work on his carving, starting by widening the opening he’d cut in the side of the larger one, smoking casually as he worked. It was rather soothing actually, having the task to focus on and the pleasant feel of smoke curling in his mouth. His tail snaked lazily from side to side, reflecting his feelings.

From his stool, Razz watched his brother calm and settle into working. The Mutt could get hyper focused sometimes, but right now Razz decided he was alright. He was likely even enjoying himself if his tail and posture was anything to judge by. His shoulders had relaxed a good deal and his ears had lost their stiffness. Over all, his brother looked far better than when Razz had first arrived. Some of that was the human’s doing, for which they had Razz’s continued gratitude. His loyal Mutt at cycle peak was always a handful, but the change was usually gradual. With this strange jump, Razz was reminded of the early months after the lab.

Those times, they had very little idea of what could or would happen. At first, they hadn’t even been sure it had been related entirely to what the mad scientist had done to Slim. Slim had spent several of those first cycles chained down for days on end. It was only later, through careful observation that they realized the pattern. Slim still spent most peak nights in chains. Not that he didn’t enjoy it. He could just be a bit much to handle during peak nights and Razz liked to maintain control.

Right now, Slim seemed to be wavering back and forth between where he should be in his cycle and the mildest version of how he could get at the cycle peek. Hopefully, Razz wouldn’t need to resort to chaining his brother, but it depended on what had caused the disruption. He would simply have to keep a sharp eye on his dear Mutt.

“OH, WAIT, FRISK! DON’T THROW THOSE AWAY YET. I WANT TO TRY A SNACK RECIPE I SAW,” Blue said.

Razz turned back to the kitchen to find Blue taking the back of pumpkin guts from Frisk. As he watched, Blue pulled out a colander and placed several handfuls of seeds into it. This he put under running water and started to swirl and scrub against the sides.

“PUMPKIN SEEDS?”

Blue grinned over a shoulder, “YES! I THINK BLOOD WOULD ENJOY THEM ROASTED! HE SEEMS TO LIKE CRUNCHY FOODS.”

Razz snorted, “BLOOD LIKES FOOD, END OF SENTENCE.”

Blood and Sugar were an interesting pair.  They had been part of a small group of feral and hungry monsters that had appeared suddenly in the Tale universe accompanied by a rather sorry looking human. The human had explained some of what the monsters had been through, though not how they had gotten there, and the monsters of this universe had cautiously welcomed them. Most of the other monsters had since died of shock or eaten themselves to death. Blood and Sugar, however, had been taken in by the Tale brothers until they had recovered enough to live on their own. Now, the two Horror brothers lived in their own small house just down the road. Razz rather enjoyed Blood’s frequently morbid sense of humor.

“I CAN’T DENY THAT, BUT I REALLY THINK HE WILL ENJOY THIS,” Blue said with a laugh.

“IF FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN THE SOUND SCARES PEOPLE WHEN THEY DO NOT EXPECT IT,” Papyrus chimed in.

Razz grinned at that. It certainly sounded like Blood’s sort of humor.

“WILL THEY BE JOINING US?” he asked.

“YES!” Papyrus answered, “BUT AS THEY BOTH WORKED TODAY, IT WILL NOT BE UNTIL LATER.”

Frisk, darting out of the kitchen with a handful of wooden skewers, added, “Aliza and I are going to go trick or treating with Mom and MK!”

“AH YES, DO REMEMBER TO REMIND SANS WHEN YOU NEED TO HEAD OVER TO MS. TORIEL’S!”

“I will!”

Razz watched as Frisk plunked back down where they’d been before, handing Slim the skewers and placing the new bag down next to them. He was curious as to what the skewers might be for, but didn’t look too closely at what Slim was doing. After all, it would be rude to ruin the reveal. He’d told Slim to impress him and he seemed to be set on doing just that. Razz smiled and reached over to give one of Slim’s ears a quick rub. Slim hummed and leaned into the caress, but his focus stayed on the task. Satisfied, Razz turned back to the kitchen. This was supposed to be a relaxing and fun visit. Here’s hoping for no more surprises.