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The Strange Case of Dr. Gaster and Mr. Jones

Chapter Text

Gaster followed the rest of the monsters as they walked out to see the setting sun and breathe the fresh air. Of course...he was still invisible and intangible as ever, but it was still nice to not feel so trapped. He allowed himself a rare moment of peace where he didn't think of the past or the future and simply enjoyed the present.

But as the sun sank into the horizon and the stars came out one by one, he went over his plan once more. He knew he was at least half mad to try it. It probably wouldn't even work. But he was a desperate, desperate soul. His situation couldn't get much worse. He was willing to try nearly anything to be noticed again.

Now that he was free to roam the outside world, he could find what he needed: an adult human with reasonable intelligence, the perseverance soul trait, the capacity to use magic and no family so no one who would miss him if things went south. Gaster's intentions were to enter the mind and body of such a person and use them to talk to his brothers: Sans and Papyrus.

He scanned the data of the nearby town and it wasn't long before he found his candidate.
“Well, well! Mr. Jim Jones...24, single, IQ 157, getting a doctorate...very nice...he has a perseverance soul and while he has never used magic he certainly has the ability. ..and no living family to speak of. He's almost too perfect,” Gaster muttered to himself. “I'm sorry in advance, Jimmy, but I've waited far too long for this moment.
***

James Thomas Jones was 6 feet and three inches of skin and bones. He had short curly black hair, dark brown skin, and dark brown eyes. He had a little cat and a little house with a little yard. He went to school and work and that was the extent of his little world. It used to be much bigger before his parents died, but he's learned to cope. At the moment he was eating some shrimp linguine he had prepared himself.
***

Gaster stared at his target and couldn't help but think, “What a sad little chap, now that I see him up close. Such potential! And yet...he’s sitting here in this tiny apartment with only a cat for company.” Jim was really starting to bum him out. Gaster sighed and decided to leave. “I can't do this to Jim. I can't do this to anyone. This was a bad plan. I suppose I'll have to find a new way to get noticed.”

Before he left, he went to pat him on the back and say, “There, there” because though Jim wouldn't feel it, the man looked like he could use some positive thoughts in his direction. But as his hand made contact, something peculiar happened: Gaster found himself sucked in. Jim's head fell forward into his pasta as he passed out.
***
Gaster blinked with Jim's eyes and looked around, realization slowly sinking in. ‘Oh no, I’m in...’ he thought. Jim seemed to still be unconscious so Gaster was in full control at the moment. ‘Typical. All of my plans end up wonky and the one time I decide not to go through with something, it happens anyway.’ He wiped some noodles off of Jim's face and decided to clean up in his bathroom sink.

Gaster looked in the mirror and Jim's face reflected back at him, but his irises glowed purple, and he looked unnaturally pale. His eyes had dark shadows all around and his cheeks were sunken in a bit. ‘This is a mistake. I'm clearly bad for his health.’ he sighed. ‘I'd better put him to bed and leave him alone and let him think it was just a bad dream.’

Gaster sat on Jim's bed and went to leave....but he was stuck. He couldn't leave if he wanted to. ‘Uh, oh...our connection is deeper than I thought...this *might* be bad…’ Gaster got up and started pacing around the tiny house.

Jim’s small white cat hissed at him with it’s back arched and it’s hair standing on end. “Yes, yes. I know. I deserve that.” he told it. He was using Jim’s voice, but the tongue tripped over his signature ‘wingdings’ accent. Jim’s mouth just wasn’t used to it. “Well, this is not something I accounted for…” Gaster said out loud, working on his ‘common’ accent. It didn’t feel quite right to him, but it was workable.

The stomach growled. Jim was still hungry. Gaster had interrupted dinner after all. “Ugh, what an awful sensation!” he complained. It had been many years since Gaster had to eat at all. Even as a skeleton, he didn’t feel hunger the way other creatures did. Hunger was like a lack of energy that couldn’t be sated with sleep. This organ...this stomach...it was a gnawing nuisance! It growled at him again, like it was a parasite that lived inside this body and demanded feeding. “Alright already! I’ll eat then! Happy?” though he had no room to talk, he really was a parasite in this body.

He sat down heavily on Jim’s chair in front of the half-ruined pasta and sighed. “Down the hatch,” he muttered, completely unapitized. He had no desire to eat food that went all the way through the body. He had always thought the monsters who wanted to try human food were mad. But at least it was noodles, something he had enjoyed in the past. He dipped the fork in and twisted up a bundle of noodles. He stuffed them in the mouth and found them pleasant to the taste. Jim was a surprisingly good cook for a college student.

He chewed it all up and let it slide down the throat into the maw of the awaiting beast. It was slimy...yet oddly satisfying. He slurped, chewed and swallowed until all the noodles on the plate were gone. He drank the tap water that came with the meal. “Bleh! Disgusting! How do you live like this, Jimmy?” He could taste the impurities in the water. All the water in the underground had been magically filtered.

Gaster wondered if he could use this body to magically separate the water from the impurities. It was something so simple for him, but it might not be so easy for Jim. He concentrated, trying to pull the gross particles away from the H2O. For a scary moment, nothing happened, but slowly, and with a little sweat, the particles lifted from the water. He tossed them into the garbage can, breathing heavy. “We’ll work on that, Jimbo.” He felt exhausted, but he intended to reap the rewards of his hard work, so he drank the glass of clean water triumphantly.

After all the commotion, he felt Jim deserved a good rest. He shambled down the hall and plopped onto the half-made bed. “Just how I like it,” Gaster said, thinking of how his own bed used to be. Gaster realized this would be the first time he could actually sleep in forever. With that thought, he found it easy to relax. He closed Jim’s eyes and was very soon asleep.

Chapter Text

There was a dream, which was odd, because Jim didn’t remember going to sleep. One minute, he sat down to eat pasta, the next he was here, in a dark room with a single light over him...and a tall skeletal figure in a doctor’s coat. Somehow, Jim wasn’t scared. Just curious.

“Are you...some sort of manifestation of my future that signifies that I am working myself to death?” Jim asked.

“Oh, you can see me? How fascinating. No, I am someone else entirely. My name is Dr. Wing Dings Gaster. I’m...A ghost, for lack of a better term. I desired a body and found yours to be extremely compatible. But I decided against that plan due to a moral dilemma. Unfortunately, I ended up here anyway and now I can’t leave under my own power.”

“So...You’re reluctantly possessing me? Should I get an exorcist or something?”

“What, so they can shout ‘evil be gone’ and sprinkle water on you? No. I don’t think that will work.”

“Then what can we do? Things can’t stay like this.”

“This case is...without direct president in known history. There are a few documented cases of monster and human fusions, but never something quite like this…”

“So we’re stuck like this?”

“Until further notice, yes.”

“Great. Just great. As if I needed anymore complications in my life. I bet you didn’t work on my homework either. This is a disaster!”

“Now, Jim, it doesn’t have to be all bad. Like I said, I am a Doctor. I can easily help you with whatever homework you have.”

Jim sighed. “I’m too tired for this right now. I guess we’ll just deal with it. Believe it or not, this isn’t the worse thing I’ve been through, so I think I’ll be able to work around this. Just please don’t mess things up for me? I’m just a few years away from my phd. Then maybe...once I can be a doctor, my life will be worth something.”

That statement made Gaster profoundly sad. Of course Jim’s life was worth something! Simply by existing, he had value. Didn’t he know that? He didn’t need to prove anything. Gaster couldn’t find a way to articulate all that so he just nodded. “I wouldn’t dream of hurting you on purpose Jim,” he said quietly. The dream faded and Jim woke up.
***

“Dr. Gaster? You still there?” Jim said groggily. He felt like he pulled an all nighter, but he had clearly just been sleeping. “Stupid…” he muttered. “Dr. Gaster was just a dream.”

“I beg your pardon, I am no such thing!” Gaster said indignantly.

“Oh. great. This is fantastic.” ‘It was real then,’ Jim thought. He rubbed his hand across his face and noticed it was oddly rough. He inspected it only to scream in panic.
“YAAARGH!”

“Oh...I see. This is.. Interesting to say the least. I don’t think I quite expected this, but I can’t say I am terribly surprised. I’m very sorry about this.”

“Sorry doesn’t begin to cover it, pal! This is not something you can just explain to people in casual conversation!” Jim waved his hand in front of his face, or what was left of it. Where his perfectly good human fingers had been, there was nothing but gleaming white bones. The other hand was the same way. All the skin was gone, from the tips of his fingers, to the bottom of his knuckles. He could almost feel the skin eroding little by little. “Jimmeny christmas man. This is not good. I’m calling off work with an extreme case of dermatitis!” Jim said, glad he didn’t have class today.

“Wait Jim!”

“What?”Jim said as he reached for his phone.

“Your fingers are like little sticks now, the touch screen on your phone won’t register them.”

“So what? Do I use my toes?” Jim asked heatedly.

“No...no...besides, I think your toes might be affected as well, I think this...problem is starting at the extremities and working its way to the core.”

“So what do I do *genius*?”

“Getting snippy at me won’t improve the situation.” Gaster said, cooly. “Skeletons have dealt with this before. It’s a quick fix. You just put a little barrier around the phone that reacts to your touch. This also prevents your fingers and other things from scratching the surface.” he explained calmly.

“You act as if this is easy, but you forget, I don’t do magic!” Jim said.

“With my help, something like this will be a cinch. I did some magic in your body as a test last night. You have the capacity, you just need the practice.” Gaster said.

“I’m sorry…*what* did you do with my body last night?” Jim said.

“Just a little bit of magic. Hardly anything to get all fussy over. All I did was clean the foreign particles out your glass of tap water.” Gaster said.

“Ok. *sigh* Ok. no big deal. No big deal. Magic. Ok. Fine. that's a thing now. That’s a thing I can do now. Ok. I’m fine.” Jim was struggling to wrap his mind around it. Magic didn’t make sense to him at all. It just wasn’t logical.

“You can think of it as manipulating matter with force of will, if that makes you feel better. People call it magic because that’s what makes sense to them. That’s just how it’s been a thousand years ago. For me, it’s at least less of a mouthful. But essentially, every creature has power inside them, a living breathing essence that when harnessed, can be used to interact with the world and the objects in it. Many humans, for whatever reason, have lost the connection with this essence over time. Few now live that even have the capacity to reconnect as you did last night. Magic still exists inside humans, as it always has, as it must for them even to be alive and intelligent. They just can’t access it, but you can now," Gaster explained.

Jim sighed deeply, slowly taking it all in. “Well, ok then. Let’s make the barrier or whatever, so I can finally call my boss and maybe find a way to deal with all this before I completely lose my sanity.”

“Ok, hold the phone with one hand and let me use the other. It would be more ideal if I could teach you to do it yourself but time is of the essence and I can always teach you magic later,” Gaster said. Jim did as he was told and willingly surrendered his right hand. He watched and felt it move without him moving it and it was... disorienting.

Gaster traced the edge of the phone with Jim’s now bony finger and soon a slight difference could be seen in the phone; a small shimmer that meant it worked. Magic was definitely easier this morning.

Gaster suspected it was because he was feeling more ‘at home’ inside Jim’s body at this point. This was probably also why Jim’s fingers, and likely toes, had changed like this. Whether Gaster meant it or not, he was taking over Jim’s life. Even if they did separate, it was unlikely that Jim would ever be the same. Gaster felt a pang of guilt, but he pushed it down so he could focus.

At last, Jim was able to dial and the bored voice of one of his coworkers came through the line, “This is A Fabulous Pharmacy, how can I help you?”

“Hi Tracy, This is Jim Jones, can you tell Samatha I’m sick today?”

“Jim who?”

“Jim, your co worker? Bruh, We dueted karaoke the other night.”

“Oh, right, yeah. Ok. I’ll let her know. Man, you like never call off. Must be bad. You do sound kinda off. Get better k?”

“Yeah, thanks.”

Gaster felt worried that it was his fault that Jim’s co worker seemed to forget about him at first.

Jim sighed and answered Gaster’s unspoken concerns, “No Dr. Gaster, that’s all me. I’m like super forgettable. Total face in the crowd. I just don’t...stand out. And I’m ok with it, it’s not a big deal,” he said.

Gaster knew how it felt to be forgotten. He sincerly hoped he wasn’t causing Jim to be even more invisible. That was not a fun place to be.

“But there is one thing. Your um...accent? I didn’t notice I was picking up on it until Tracy said something, but you’re messing with my voice man, and that’s not cool.”

“Oh...yeah. I’ve really been trying to tone it down a lot, but it is not easy. Skeletons have these...ways of talking and it is rather difficult to deviate from that,” Gaster explained.

“Wait, does it have anything to do with your name, 'Wing Dings?' Isn’t that like a code font or something?” Jim asked.

“Um, yes...that is a ...very good guess...how did you-”

“We share headspace. The thoughts about your name floated to the surface and I put the pieces together. So what? Will my name become Wing Dings Jim from now on?”

“No, no. You don’t have to change your name, it’s just a tradition. Besides, you’re more of an ‘Orator Standard’ anyway, but with bits of wingdings sprinkled in. This will wear off once I leave” Gaster said.

“You mean if you leave. We still don’t know how to do that.” Jim said.

“True, but I know some people who can help us,” Gaster said.

“I...uh, don’t really wanna go outside like this. Can we like...call them or better yet, email them?” Jim asked.

“We could do that, but it wouldn’t help as much as having them check us out in person. There’s also a lab I know and we can get scans and stuff. It will be really simple,” Gaster said.

“No no no! I do not want to see anyone like this! Not to mention, this whole time, I’ve been talking to myself. People will rightfully think I’ve lost it!” Jim protested.

“Calm down. You’ve been talking to me in your head, not out loud. As for your physical appearance, just put some gloves and shades on and no one will notice,” Gaster said.

“Shades? What’s wrong with my eyes?!”

“Well they might be glowing slightly purple. Last I remember, purple is not a natural human eye color. Also, there might be some shadows around your eyes. Not unheard of for college students, but still not great.” Gaster said.

Jim ran to the mirror and took a good look at himself. “This can’t be happening. I look terrible! Well, the eyes are kinda cool, but everything else is so bad!! My skin looks pale and sickly! Ugh! I look like the walking dead! The exposed bones are like morbid icing on the freak cake!”

“I...I think I’m a little offended by that. Undead monsters have completely different beauty standards. You have a very nice bone structure,” Gaster said.

“Well my bone structure looks a lot better with my normal skin around it!” Jim said.

“Which we might be able to salvage, if we go get some help,” Gaster said.

“....Fine. But I need to eat first,” Jim said.

“Ok, before you drink any more contaminated water, let me put a filter on your fauset,” Gaster said.

“First off, I’m not drinking water right now, it’s breakfast and I’m eating cereal and milk. Second off, what’s wrong with my water? It’s pretty good for tap water,” Jim said.

“It will only take a minute and it will last forever. And trust me, you will thank me later. Everyone deserves clean water,” Gaster said.

“Alright,” Jim said.

Gaster took Jim’s finger, traced the edge of the faucet, and made a magic filter. “There, that’s it.”

“Cool, I guess.” Jim still wasn’t convinced that it was necessary. But he got out the milk and cereal labeled “fruit nuggets.” He grabbed a spoon and a bowel and put it all together.

Gaster read the ingredients on the bag of discount fruit flakes. “Cornmeal...dextrose...red dye #40 Jim....this um ‘food’ is hardly food at all. There is more nutrition in Temmie flakes,” Gaster said.

“What’s Temmie flakes? Is it expensive?” Jim asked.

“It can be I suppose….but that’s not the point. It’s made of bits of construction paper, but at least it keeps your health up. This...I think this will bring it down,” Gaster said.

“Shut up and let me eat my breakfast. It’s still my body for now and I want sugar cereal,” Jim said.

“Very well, do as you wish. I won’t stop you,” Gaster said.

When he was finished, Jim felt a little sick to his stomach. “Ugh”

“I told you it wasn’t good.” Gaster said smugly.

“I’ve been eating this crap for years, so don’t tell me it’s the cereal. This is some side effect of you being here. Probably because you aren’t used to eating real food,” Jim said.

“Well, the definition of real food is subjective. For example, I would consider the food you made last night real. It was delicious, you should be proud. This, however is most definitely an odd definition of real food,” Gaster said.

“Man, this is the worst. Alright, I’m going to get ready now. I need you to give me some privacy. Like go to sleep or something, like I was passed out last night,” Jim said.

“Interesting proposal, I wonder if I can sleep in here without you being asleep. I can try, if that doesn’t work, I will ‘look away.’ does that sound good?” Gaster asked.

“Whatever works, just don’t look at me, ok? I don’t like people watching me when I do….things,” Jim said.

“Very well. I will leave you alone. Call me when your done,” Gaster said.

“Ok.” He could feel Gaster tune out and he sighed. He went straight to the toilet and relieved himself. He had been holding it the whole time Gaster was there. He didn’t like the idea of Gaster staring at him. After Jim washed his hands, he took off his clothes to take a shower.

He despaired as he looked at his feet and saw that his toes were indeed, nothing but bones. “Awe man! This is too much.” His body seemed even skinnier than usual, if that were possible. He decided to weigh himself, just to test it out. “Mmm hmm. Down 6 pounds, 6 ounces from yesterday.This is not a good situation,” he muttered.

Jim showered and dressed and brushed his teeth. All that made him feel slightly better. It was good to do his normal routine without the invader in his head. He found some gloves and was glad it was cold enough to justify wearing them. He pulled the sleeves of his purple hoodie over his gloves, just in case his whole hand became compromised. It was almost like things were normal.

He inspected himself in the mirror, and found himself passable. He still looked sickly, but for the moment, the purple glow had faded to a small ring that blended with his natural brown irises, so it only looked slightly off if someone really paid attention. He put the sunglasses on anyway; he didn't want to take any chances. 'Watch this be the one day someone actually notices me...' he thought.

Chapter Text

“Ok Gaster, I’m ready to go. Now where are we going?” Jim asked.

“Where the monsters are: Mt Ebott,” Gaster said.

“Well...I guess there isn’t much choice. We need a monster expert, after all, and humans are a little out of practice for dealing with monsters. Let’s go.” Jim pulled the hood of his purple hoodie up. What if his hair fell out or something? He didn't want to risk people seeing that. He locked his door and started heading up towards the mountain.

They met several people on the way, but none of them seemed to notice anything strange. Jim started to relax a little. Then he saw a little walking volcano with a face and his heart nearly stopped. He wasn’t the only one. People screamed and crossed the street when it approached. The little thing looked like it was about to cry.

After the initial shock, he felt sorry for the little guy. After all, he was used to people crossing the street in front of him due to his skin color and height. Not to mention the fact that at this rate it seemed like he would soon be a monster himself. “Hey Dr. Gaster, what’s this little dude’s deal?” he asked.

“That’s a Vulkin. A little hot to the touch but mostly harmless. They control their heat so they can interact safely with others, but sometimes they get excited and try to share their warmth with others a little too enthusiastically,” Gaster explained.

“It’s a real shame they’re avoiding it. It’s a cold day out, they could use the warmth,” Jim said. He cautiously approached it. “Hey little dude, a-are you ok?”

The Vulkin sniffled and little streams of lava flowed down it’s face like tears. “N- no one will be my friend! I- i j-just wanted to snuggle the h-humans! T-they s-eemed c-cute!”

“I...I can give you a hug, if you like…” Jim said, hoping he wouldn't regret it instantly. It’s eyes lit up with excitement.

“You will?!” Jim could feel the air around it heat up a bit. He nodded nervously. “Hurray!” It ran up to him and nearly knocked him over. He threw his arms around it to sort of catch it. It was super warm, like uncomfortably warm, but thankfully, not burning hot. It backed off looking ecstatic. “Thank you!” It said before scampering off again, leaving Jim a little confounded, but oddly happy. A few strange goldish coins were in his hand.

“Keep them,” Gaster said.

“What? I was just being nice,” Jim said staring at the dime sized coins.

“It’s tradition for some types of monsters to give a little change to nice strangers as a token of gratitude and friendship,” Gaster explained.

“Huh. Ok.” He pocketed the gold pieces. A middle aged woman with pale pink skin ran up to him looking concerned for his safety. He was used to people like her avoiding people like him. The fact that she was running up to him like that startled Jim far more than the Vulkin did.

“Oh my gosh! Did it attack you? Are you hurt?!” she said.

“No, no. I’m fine, ma’m. It just wanted a little love and attention, that’s all,” Jim said.

“That wasn’t just some lost puppy, young man. That was some sort of... lava beast! Are you sure it didn’t hit your head?” She asked reaching for his hood.

Jim backed away from her, feeling like his personal space was violated. “I’m fine, ma’m. It was harmless. Nothing bad happened to me,” he asserted.

The woman tutted in disbelief. “Well, be on your toes. Your next encounter may be your last. I was assaulted the other day by a ten foot tall skeleton man! They’re taking over!” She said.

“Ten foot tall. Don’t you think that’s a little exaggerated?” Jim said with a bit of Gaster’s influence. ‘Feh! *I’m* the tallest skeleton monster. And I barely topped 6’ 6 in my original form. The king is the tallest monster, but even he is less than 8 foot, with his horns,’ Gaster told Jim.

“Fine! Don’t believe me! But you’ll be sorry when they drag you back to their layer and eat you whole!” The lady ran off in a huff.

“Good luck with your paranoia ma’m. You really should see a doctor about that,” Jim called out to her. ‘Monsters have trouble eating human food, let alone humans. She is seriously crazy,’ Jim told Gaster.

‘Hmm, yes...like you said, it’s paranoia. Hopefully most people aren’t reacting as badly. Paranoia is contagious and deadly, but it hardly ever kills the host, so it spreads like wildfire. I only hope most monsters have the sense to take things slow…’ Gaster said.

‘Do you...know the skeleton she might be talking about?’ Jim asked. He got the sense from Gaster that there weren’t many of them running around.

‘...Yes. It was likely my little brother Papyrus. 6’ 2’’, not menacing in the least but probably twice as enthusiastic as that Vulkin,’ Gaster said.

‘Awe jeeze’ Jim could see why that might be startling.

‘Awe jeeze indeed,’ Gaster agreed. “Come on. He is someone I’ve wanted to talk to for a long time. And if he’s around, my other brother Sans is sure to be nearby too.”

‘Like...comic sans?’ Jim guessed.

‘Precisely,’ Gaster confirmed.

They made their way out of the town and into the woods. Jim was following a trail until he found a fence and a sign that read “Danger! Abandoned mine. No trespassing.” Jim noticed a small hole a kid could probably get through. “Uh huh. So this explains the missing kids. There is nothing more fun than exploring a place you’re not supposed to go,” Jim muttered.

“There is no mine that I know of. Just a really big cave with two openings. One to the east and one to the west. We will go east because the one to the west has a nasty drop as you head in,” Gaster said.

“Good plan. I don’t want to risk breaking my wrist and having my hand fall off.” He could feel the skin disappearing further and further down his hand. By the time they hiked up the mountain, his whole hand would probably be exposed.

“There are flowers to break the fall, but you could definitely break your wrist and it wouldn’t be pleasant. I don’t need you freaking out when your hand starts moving on it’s own back to your body to be reattached and healed,” Gaster said.

“Very reassuring. Well, one step at a time. That hole in the fence isn’t big enough for me, so what do we do?” Jim asked.

“My brother got through the fence easy enough. He’s about your size. We just have to follow it until we find the right spot in the fence,” Gaster said.

“Got it.” Jim began searching for a hole in the fence. It wasn’t long before he spotted an opening the size of a tall man...or skeleton. It looked like Papyrus just...ran into the fence and broke through. “...like a cartoon or something…” Jim muttered.

“Yes, that is the work of Papyrus. To be fair, when you don’t have skin, you don’t get scratches as easily. You tend to feel a little more invinceable than the average creature. Skeletons don’t get as cold or hot, and we can hold our breath indefinitely,” Gaster said.

“You don’t even have lungs, how and why do you breathe to begin with?” Jim asked.

“I would normally consider this rude, but I think you have the right to know. Plus, you’re about to be a doctor. I can see why you might be genuinely curious. We don’t strictly have a need to breathe, but it helps with talking and exercise,” Gaster explained. “As for how, we have these magic organs. They're invisible, intangible things that replace the parts that would correspond with the parts of a human. But they only exist when needed. Such as lungs when you breath, or a stomach when you eat. Of course, human food would be too much for this type of stomach, so it would likely just fall out.”

“That is a *lovely* image. Thank you. Let’s move on.” Jim stopped him before he could get to other parts of the body, more private parts.

Jim was able to slip through the large hole without much trouble. He headed deeper in the woods towards the looming mountain. He started noticing monsters of all shapes and sizes roaming here and there between the trees. It seemed the fence had deterred most of them from...making friends in town.

Jim heard rumours spring up all around him. “Human!”

“Another human!”

“Is it friendly?”

“Does it bite?”

“No way, that’s not a human.”

“Humans are too afraid to get close. It’s just a humanoid.”

“Oh! A humanoid, That makes sense!”

“Wow, they sure fooled me!”

“Don’t worry Jim. It doesn’t mean anything. Most of them have no clue what a human looks like,” Gaster said.

“Worried, me? Nah, I’m not worried,” Jim said nervously.

“Relax. They won’t hurt you. Half of them already think you belong here,” Gaster said.

“Maybe I do belong with them now, and that’s half of what worries me,” Jim said.

“I see...well, they are a friendly bunch. If we can’t reverse what happened to you, you will always have a place here. Human or not. Monsters, by nature, must accept those that are different. We would never have survived otherwise. There are too many types of us not to,” Gaster said.

“Huh. I wish humans were as accepting of their own kind. Skin just one shade too dark, or brain just a little varied from the norm, and that’s grounds for discrimination. I’m afraid your people will have a tough time in this world. Not saying that no humans will warm up to you. Just saying a lot of humans won’t,” Jim said.

“Well. For better or worse we are out in the world now. We can only hope that things are better than before, when we were nearly driven to extinction. But we needed to get out of those caves. It was slowly suffocating the life out of us all,” Gaster said.

“Well the good news is people are slightly less prone to genocide in this day and age. You might stand a chance if you can convince them that you guys are people too, not pests that need to be exterminated,” Jim said.

“Well, we can only hope,” Gaster said.

Chapter Text

As they neared the entrance, they came upon a sort of monster camp. There was a clearing with monsters everywhere in little tents. They were just milling around, talking, and in general, just enjoying the sun.

“beautiful day outside, isn’t it?” A deep voice behind Jim said and a hand clapped on his back. He startled and paninced a bit, but tried to answer casually.

“Y-yeah. Lovely,” he turned around to meet the stranger. They were a skeleton in a blue hoodie, not unlike Jim’s purple one. They were short. Maybe 5’1’’ or 5’ 2’’, and had a tired but content look on their face. ‘That’s my brother! Sans! He should be able to help us,’ Gaster said. Jim relaxed a bit.

“it’s not often we meet a human who doesn’t scream at us. put ‘er there, pal,” Sans said, offering his hand.

“Prepare yourself,” Gaster warned.

Jim cautiously took it. When he squeezed, the hand made an obnoxious sound. Sans had a concealed whoopie cushion. Jim felt his face get warm with embarrassment. “Heh heh!” Sans laughed. “that one never gets old. the name’s Sans. Sans the skeleton. what brings you to this neck of the woods?” He asked casually.

“Hello, Sans. My name is Jim Jones. I’m here because I have a problem and I think monsters can help,” Jim said.

“if you’re lookin’ for a magical fix to life's problems, then i got bad news for you-”

“Not exactly. My problem’s not really like that.” Jim said, not sure how to breach the subject.

‘Show him. He’ll understand...enough.’ Gaster said.

Jim took a calming breath and took off one of his gloves. A small shock crossed Sans’ face, but he masked it quickly. “Know any bone experts?” Jim said, half jokingly, wiggling his boney fingers.

“i might. follow me to my office,” Sans said, walking away from him.

Jim followed quickly, without a word. He was soon surrounded in blackness and then...he was in a bar somewhere. It was nearly deserted except a fiery bartender.

Jim felt Gaster looking longingly at the fire man. ‘You uh, have a thing for this guy, Gaster?’ Jim felt his own heart flutter in response to Gaster’s feelings.

‘...Yes. I suppose it’s obvious isn’t it. We’ve dated before..but I was erased from existence before our relationship got serious,’ Gaster said sadly.

‘That’s rough buddy. But please don’t get me involved. I don’t want to come between you guys, which I definitely would if you act on those thoughts in your head right now,’ Jim said.

‘Right, right. Time to stay focused. He’s probably moved on long ago anyway,’ Gaster said.

Sans nudged Jim. “pretty hot, huh?”

“I-uh...yeah kinda...in an objective way,” Jim said, but he could feel his cheeks redden. It was strange feeling his body react to emotions that weren't his own.

“ha ha. cute. It’s ok. lots of folks get feelings for him. but you’re what, 19? 20?” Sans asked.

“24,” Jim muttered.

“hmm, ok. i can see it. but ya see, Grilbs looks young, but he’s been around the block for a while. long lifespan, you see. im pretty sure he would prefer someone who knows the struggle of livin’ a long life. such as another elemental, or a skeleton,” Sans said.

“Like you?” Jim teased.

“nah, I’m your age, actually. same dilemma. not enough life experience for him,” Sans said. “hey Grilbs, two specials, k?” He called to the bartender. Gribly nodded, and went to the back. Just then, time seemed to freeze around them. “there, now we got some privacy,” Sans said, a little more serious.

“H-how are you doing this?” Jim asked nervously, trying to wrap his head around it.

“don’t think too hard about it, you’ll hurt your head. now let’s see those hands...and maybe take off those shades too. we are in doors, afterall,” Jim hesitated and Sans rolled his eye lights. “you’re in monster territory. even if others did see you, they would be totally cool about it. they’d probably think you’re one of us in disguise or somethin.”

Jim took off his other glove and his glasses and lowered his hood. “now that….is very, very interesting,” Sans muttered, examining Jim.

“I could show you my feet if you like. But it’s kind of awkward taking off my shoes in a place of business,” Jim said casually.

“heh, no. that’s not necessary. this is plenty. when did this start?” Sans asked.

“Last night,” Jim said.

“so that’ll be a little after the barrier broke i guess…” Sans muttered. “does the name Wing Dings Gaster mean anything to you?”

“About time you guessed it Sans! It took you several whole minutes! And here I thought you were smart,” Gaster said with Jim’s voice.

Sans’ grin widened. “i knew it the minute you eyed your old boyfriend. he’s still single by the way. never found that ‘spark’ again after you disappeared. it’s kinda sweet and romantic really,” He said.

“Oh shut up,” Gaster said.

“hey, it’s true,” Sans said.

“Anyway, we’re not here to discuss that. We’re here for Jim. He’s in a bit of a Jam,” Gaster said.

“is that true Jim? you in a jam?” Sans asked.

“Yes! Glad to see you remembered I exist,” Jim said, annoyed.

“awe Jim, you can’t blame a pair of brothers for chatting a bit after a long separation,” Sans said.

“Well, I’m glad for you both, but you can probably see how weird this all is for me to have my body hijacked like this. Especially when I don’t have control of my own voice and Gaster slips completely into his accent!” Jim said.

“hmm yes i see the problem here. you possessed him, Bro?” Sans asked.

“Not entirely on purpose! That was the plan, but I was backing down when we had an ...accident,” Gaster said.

“well, really what i see here seems stronger than just possession. it looks like a binding,” Sans said seriously.

“A what?” Jim asked.

“A binding is when a ghost monster starts off possessing something, but finds the form so pleasing to them, it becomes their actual body and they cease to be non corporeal,” Gaster explained. “I didn’t know that could happen with a living being!”

“it’s not supposed to. or at least, it’s undocumented. usually different souls would clash too much with each other, but it looks like you found the one human you could really bond with,” Sans said.

“What does that mean for me?” Jim asked, slightly panicked. “That this is gonna be his body now? Or that we have to share it forever?”

“the binding is not complete. it usually takes a few days for the spirit to settle in. probably longer, since you’re there to struggle against him. but maybe a week at most at the rate things are going,” Sans said.

“A week! That’s all I’ve got left?!” Jim said.

“calm down. i don’t think you’re gonna die. the most likely thing is you’ll go full skele and share attic space with my bro,” Sans tapped his skull.

“That’s what I was afraid of,” Jim groaned. “My body is for me! I don’t want share with someone else! No offence Dr. Gaster,” Jim said.

“None taken, I understand. Can’t we sever the binding before I settle in completely?” Gaster asked.

“it may be possible, but probably painful. picture a plant being forcefully uprooted from one pot and put in the next. if done incorrectly, it will hurt the plant. there will definitely be roots behind, no matter how careful we are. Jim, you won’t be the same. removing Gaster at this point will leave a bit of a hole in you. he’ll take some of your ‘soil’ with him. this will be messy. oh and Gaster, you should find a new host for your soul...like a dummy or something. the catch is, it has to be more perfect for you than Jim’s body,” Sans explained.

“What if you 3D printed a skeleton, just like Gaster used to be? Then dressed it up in a lab coat and stuff?” Jim suggested.

“that’s...not a bad idea. i actually know a certain lizard with a 3D printer. we might have to do it one bone at a time, so it will take a while...but it’s possible to do it in time,” Sans said.

Jim felt a bit of hope for the first time since he woke up this morning. “Let’s do it. No point in waiting around,” He said.

“relax bro, can I call ya bro without it bein’ weird for ya?” Sans asked.

“....Yeah. Go ahead,” Jim said. Truly, it felt kinda...nice.

“well bro, there's no need to rush all around. let's take it easy,” Sans said.

“But I'm on a time limit! And I can't go to school or work like this! People will freak!” Jim said.

“so take the week off. you look like you could use it. after a week, it won't matter anyway. either you will be cured, or you won't. there's no point stressin’ about it. if you stress, you suffer twice. and, if it's any consolation, higher education is free with monsters, so you have that as a backup. as for a job, monsters will hire anyone. i should know,” Sans said.

“That's. ...pretty great.” Jim said, already considering transferring. ‘I better not do it unless I have to. I don't know if people accept a degree from a monster school. I doubt they'd consider it accredited,’ Jim sighed. He was sooo tired. A real break would do him good. “You've convinced me. I'll take it easy for a while. I guess I kinda am sick, technically.”

“that's the spirit! ok, since that's settled, hang out with me a bit. we ordered two specials, remember?” Time moved back into motion around them and soon Grillby was back with the drinks.

“Oh, sorry, but I don't drink alcohol,” Jim put his hands up apologetically.

“Don't worry. It's just apple juice. A human like you won't even be affected,” Grillby said in a quiet, calming, crackly voice. “As for Sans, well...at least he doesn't have a liver to ruin.”

“Oh….ok? Um...how much do I owe you?” Jim reached for his wallet.

“It's um...on the house. Don't worry about it.” Grillby said with his cheeks going blue.

“Um. Ok? Thanks?” Jim said. ‘Oh man….is he...blushing..??! Is he….flirting with me? I thought he preferred someone more mature...’

‘He doesn't talk this much to someone unless he is fond of them one way or another. Jim, I don't know whether to be jealous of you….or sorry for you. This must be incredibly awkward,’ Gaster said.

‘Um...yeah. I'm not into dudes, personally. I'm just hoping the reason for this is that he somehow senses your soul in me and he's actually flirting with you, but he doesn't know it yet?” Jim said hopefully.

‘Hmm, it’s not impossible I suppose. One can dream,’ Gaster sighed. ‘Or maybe he just likes tall and slim with intelligent purple eyes.’

“Oh no! He saw my eyes!” Jim said out loud in shock.

“it's ok, bro. like I said, monsters don't care. and most monsters don't know what's normal and not normal for humans. like, boney hands, for instance? He saw those too by the way,” Sans knocked back a shot of apple juice like it was hard liqueur.

“Does that stuff...really get you drunk?” Jim asked.

“no liver, no filter. no blood for the blood alcohol level. so what you might consider kid stuff, can mess me up real good if im not careful. keep that in mind if your body ends up changing,” Sans advised.

Jim looked at his cup dubiously. He sniffed it. He couldn't detect anything other than plain old apple juice. “go on,” Sans said. “enjoy it while you can. it really is just apple juice.”

Jim took an experimental sip. It was apple juice. No joke. But something was odd about it. Not in a bad or alcoholic way, just odd. “Wait, is this *magic* apple juice?” he asked.

“well, what do you think? do you really think a skeleton like me can drink *human* apple juice? think about that a sec,” Sans said.

“Huh. That's...interesting. So this is what magic stuff tastes like?” Jim drank some more, savoring it and enjoying it. Magic tasted good. Kinda….tingly and pure? It made him feel a little better. Less fatigued. “This is….really good!” Before he knew it, he finished the whole glass.

Sans watched him in amusement. “heh. wow. i can't even imagine drinking it like that,” he said.

‘I never drank so much apple juice in one sitting without feeling buzzed. This is a bizarre sensation for me,’ Gaster mused.

“The weirdest thing about this for me is I don't feel *anything* ...at all. Just the linger of apple juice in my mouth. It sat in my stomach for like a second, then it ...disappeared. I felt it just kinda evaporate.” Jim poured some more Apple juice into his glass and drank it more slowly this time, savoring the sensation of the magic in the drink. He shivered as he felt it go through him.

“you ok , Jimbo?” Sans asked, concerned.

“Yeah, I'm fine. This magic...feels good. It like….sent a shiver up my spine...ya know what I mean?” Jim said.

“heh, yeah. i guess i kinda get it,” Sans said as he took another swig. “i just eat n drink magic stuff all the time...so i don't really think about it…” Sans said, thoughtfully.

Jim drank some more. It was kinda like an energy drink with no side effects and it tasted amazing. He felt his fatigue melt away, as if he actually had a good night's sleep last night, didn't take a 2 mile hike this morning, and wasn't possessed by a skeleton ghost...thing. ‘hey Gaster...can this stuff...replace sleeping? Like not necessarily magic apple juice, but any magic food?’

‘Heavens no! Believe me, I've tried. Monsters run on magic energy true, and it does feel like you could just keep going as long as you have sufficient energy to sustain you. But your body needs down time for rest and repairs. Not to mention what lack of sleep does to the brain. Our minds simply weren't built to keep going at full consciousness constantly.’

‘Hmm, that's true. I guess it was just wishful thinking. Still, I bet it's better for you than any human energy drink,” Jim took another big gulp.

‘Yes, indeed. Immensely better for you than any collection of chemicals they throw in a bottle and call sustenance. But Jim, you need to be careful,’ Gaster warned.

‘Huh, why?’ Jim had nearly finished both bottles by himself.

‘I'm just not sure humans were meant to have this much magic saturated in their system. Not a lot of research has been done on this. You don't run on magic, so it's possible you're body could have trouble finding a use for it since it has finished boosting your health.’

‘what about my hands? It hasn't fixed that yet’ He drank some more half hoping that doing so would help his hands.

‘Magic food can only fix what is meant to be fixed. Your hands are in their base state now. It's like when a lab accident put holes in my hands. Some things are permanent and no amount of magic can undo it.’

‘This is really messed up,’ Jim drank his drink sadly.

Sans noticed Jim's shift in mood. “hey buddy. did I miss something that went on in your head there? you got real quiet and now you look upset.”

Jim sighed. “...yeah. I was wondering if this juice was a cure-all...but Gaster informed me that it wasn't. And I guess I kinda knew that. I'm just….grasping at straws...you know?” he finished his drink and felt the energy rush through him. His limbs felt tingly and his face felt warm.

Sans squinted at Jim. “your face looks kinda reddish...are humans supposed to do that?”

“No...I do not think this is normal. Jim is recalling stuff about fevers and sickness. He’s being mopey and doesn’t want to talk,” Gaster said with Jim’s voice.

“is it...is it delayed drunkenness?” Sans asked.

“No. It would affect me too, I think. His liver is still functioning fine. I believe he is overdosed on magic,” Gaster explained.

“that can happen to humans?” Sans asked.

“Yes. Well...there isn't much precedence but I don't see what else it could be,” Gaster said.

“Well isn’t that just peachy? I hate this.” Jim mumbled. He laid his head in his arms on the bar. He could feel how warm his face had gotten and he was dizzy.

“I told you, be careful,” Gaster said.

“Spare me doc. Why haven’t I been feelin’ this until now? I felt great until a minute ago. Shouldn’t this be somethin’ that escalates the more you drink? Frick man, I sound drunk.” Jim said.

“Hmmm yes. A bit. I suppose the juice was fine until you reached your max. There would be zero side effects, up to that point. But after that point, the symptoms escalate quickly. Gosh dang it Jim, now the room is revolving! Now I’m getting dizzy too! Urgh! That nasty cereal is sloshing around in there!” Gaster held a hand up to Jim’s mouth, reflexively.

“Well you should have stopped me sooner when I kept guzzling it down like it was nothin!” Jim said.

“I didn’t think about it until later!” Gaster said.

“uh...guys...i don’t think humans are supposed to be green…” Sans said, concerned.

“Oh man...I’m really going to be sick!” Jim stood up. “I need a bathroom!” He looked around frantically but that made the dizziness worse.

“no bathrooms, buddy. let’s just go out back” Sans said quickly. He took Jim’s hand and lead him through a shortcut to an alleyway behind the bar. Almost immediately Jim threw up his breakfast into a bush.

“gross, bro. feel better?” Sans asked.

“That is the most disgusting thing I have ever done in my life!” Gaster said. “And I thought it was bad going down. I think the juice was making one last attempt at healing the body by expelling that...poison.”

“Oh please shut up Gaster. I don’t need to hear any more, ‘I told you so’ right now. Yes, Sans. I do feel a little better, at least I’m not queasy any more. This cold air feels nice too. Who knew the bar was surrounded by snow the whole time? I could...just lay in it...” Jim went to do just that, but Gaster stopped him.

“Oh no, you don’t! You’ll give us frostbite! You’re still clearly not well! Sans, I think we need to lay down somewhere that isn’t the snow. Can you take us home?” Gaster asked.

“No way, that’s a 2 mile hike that I am 200% not up for!” Jim protested.

“Not your home, Sans’ home, and my home at one point,” Gaster said.

“yeah, of course. let’s do that. good plan. c’mon,” Sans said.

Jim attempted to walk, but it wasn’t happening. “Ugh! My legs feel like friggin noodles,” He complained.

“whoa, steady there!” Sans helped him stay up. “ya sure he ain’t drunk, Gaster?”

“Yes...though I can certainly see why it looks that way,” Gaster sighed. “We’ll need your help.”

“that’s great n all, but yur a foot and a half taller than me and...i actually am drunk. at least a bit. Paps is going to be upset... this won’t be easy...”

“Just use gravity manipulation then,” Gaster suggested.

“oh yeah, huh. that might work. ok, Jimbo. this might be weird for you, but I’m about to use magic to tug on your soul a little. don’t freak out,” Sans said.

“Why would I ...Oh jiminy christmas! Is that my soul?!” Jim saw a little purple heart pop out of his chest and become coated in blue energy. It seemed to be attached to a blue coated light purple spade with cracks in it. ‘And...is...is that yours Gaster?’ Jim asked still in shock.

‘...Yes…our connection runs...deeper than I thought…’

Jim felt a light upward tug and he started to float off the ground. “Woah woah woah no! I don’t like this!” he tried to go back down, and it worked a little, but it was a struggle.

“see, i told you not to freak out...but yur...um... doing it anyway. just relax Jimmy. if you fight the pull, we won’t get anywhere.”

“Oh...heh heh right...this is what’s supposed to happen. Man, I am….really out of it. Lead the way, bro.” Jim said, calming down a bit and letting go of control.

“ok, cool. yeah, this will work. the house is just around the corner,” Sans said. They took the back way, to avoid drawing attention. None of them needed the gossip fueled folk of Snowdin in their business right now. Sans took the back door, through the small lab, into the living room. He laid Jim on the couch. His feet dangled off the edge of one of the arms. But despite the uncomfortable position, Jim soon fell asleep.

Sans sighed. This...had not been the idea when he invited Jim for a drink. Now he was half drunk himself and had a sick human laying on his couch. Oddly though, he didn’t feel just like any old human to Sans. It was like...Jim wasn’t just the vessel for his long lost brother. Jim *was* another long lost brother. ‘nah. that’s silly. he’s human, after all,’ Sans thought. But as he looked at Jim sleeping, he couldn't help but feel attached to him.

Jim shivered a little, so Sans covered him up with a blanket. Sans felt Jim’s forehead and found it still quite warm. “bro, how can you be shivering when you’re so warm? man, humans are weird…” He muttered. He watched him sleep and wondered if he should make some food for him, or if that would make his magic sickness worse. He figured it was better just to wait it out so he could go home and make some of his own human food. After a while, Sans started nodding off himself.

“ok, move over buddy. Let me in, bro,” Sans was crawling into Jim’s improvised bed.

“What? No way, get yur own!” Jim mumbled, still half asleep.

“This is my own. C’mon. You owe me.”

“No. go away.”

“you're not used to siblings, are ya? come on. just ask Gaster, we do this all the time!”

“Er, yes, I seem to recall this very familiar annoyance,” Gaster said.

“see, normal,” Sans said.

“I didn’t say that,” Gaster said.

“Don’t you have a real bed?” Jim asked.

“ya, but it’s upstairs. c’mon. you’d be asleep again already if you just let me in by now,” Sand reasoned.

Gaster sighed. “Best get it over with, Jimmy. It’s simpler that way. In any case, he is a very sound sleeper. Hardly any movement.”

“...Fine. I’m too tired for this anyway.” Jim let Sans crawl onto the couch and into the blanket. And weirdly...it wasn’t weird at all. And he was actually able to sleep better this way. ‘Huh. siblings are kinda neat,’ he thought before drifting off.

And that’s how Papyrus found them sleeping several hours later.

Chapter Text

“SANS! WAKE UP! WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT...UM...WAIT IS THAT A HUMAN? SOMETHING IS DIFFERENT ABOUT THEM, BUT I CAN’T PUT MY FINGER ON IT…” A tall skeleton shook Sans awake.

“five more minutes, Paps,” Sans mumbled.

“NO SANS, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU NOT TO SLEEP ON THE COUCH?!” Sans’ brother, presumably Papyrus said. Unless the Gasters had another brother named Papaya or something.

“...at least 6,” Sans grumbled.

“AT LEAST 6 INDEED! IT'S NOT GOOD FOR YOUR SPINE. AND WHO IS THIS YOU WERE SLEEPING WITH?” Papyrus said.

“see...when you say it like that, it sounds weird. don't make it weird,” Sans said.

“WHO ARE THEY?” Papyrus demanded.

At last, Jim stirred awake. “Oh. Hi there. Thanks for your couch,” he said sleepily, then rolled back over.

“YOU ARE VERY WELC- HEY WAIT! DON'T GO BACK TO SLEEP! I'M NOT DONE INTERROGATING EITHER OF YOU!” Papyrus said.

“ah, it almost worked. well, c'mon Jim, let's get up. he won't give up until he gets his answers,” Sans said.

“AT LAST, THE STRANGER IS NAMED! SO YOU ARE JIM, HUH?” Papyrus said with his arms crossed.

Jim and Sans sat up. They both were still pretty groggy. But Jim held out his hand for Papyrus to shake. “Hello, my name is Jim Jones. I'm a human,” he eyed his very obvious Skeleton hands, and now part of his arm bones were exposed as well. “Well, mostly human. I'm sorry for showing up randomly, but I was...uh, sick so Sans took me to his home to rest. He decided he wanted to sleep on the couch at the same time, and I… just kinda let him. Oh, and I prefer he/him to they. I never had someone not assume I was a guy before. That's neat,” Jim said.

“NICE TO MEET YOU, JIM JONES THE MOSTLY HUMAN,” Papyrus shook Jim's hand so enthusiastically, Jim feared it might fall off...which really wasn’t that far fetched at this point. “YOU MAY HAVE HEARD OF THE GREAT PAPYRUS, MASTER MOSCOT OF THE KINGDOM OF MONSTERS, BUT SINCE YOU ARE FRIENDS WITH MY BROTHER, YOU CAN SIMPLY CALL ME PAPYRUS. I ALSO USE HE/HIM PRONOUNS,” Papyrus said.

“monsters never assume gender. it wouldn't make sense. everyone is so unique, you can't really assume anything about anyone,” Sans said.

“That's cool. Humans are super judgmental about everything. This is kinda a relief actually,” Jim said.

“well, not to say people won't judge you based on looks. especially since you are a human,” Sans said.

“Well, yeah. But I can already tell from the interactions I've had so far, monsters are a lot more forgiving of appearances than humans,” Jim said.

“ ACCORDING TO MY OBSERVATIONS FROM THE PAST COUPLE OF DAYS, HUMANS ARE AS DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER AS MONSTERS ARE. IF THEY ARE AS JUDGMENTAL AS YOU SAY, HOW ON EARTH DO THEY GET ALONG WITH FOLKS WHO LOOK DIFFERENT?” Papyrus said.

“Some people don't. Life is especially hard if your skin is too brown, fall in love the ‘wrong’ way, or have a brain that is non typical,” Jim said.

“WELL THAT'S JUST SILLY! HOW CAN THERE BE A WRONG WAY TO FALL IN LOVE? AND DOESN'T EVERYONE HAVE DIFFERENT BRAINS? OF COURSE THEY WON’T ALL BE TYPICAL! AND...YOUR SKIN IS A DARKER BROWN THAN I'VE SEEN IN MOST HUMANS SO FAR. JIM, IS….IS LIFE HARD FOR YOU BECAUSE OF THAT?” Papyrus asked.

“....Yeah, a bit. It's...complicated. Most people who are different just deal with basic struggles of varying degrees of prejudice. Some deal with more or less depending on the type of people they are around. Things have gotten better over the last few decades, but there's still plenty of people who would treat me better if my skin was lighter. I’m lucky enough to live in a neighborhood that doesn't react as badly. There are tons of people who have it worse,” Jim said.

“THAT DOES SOUND COMPLICATED. MONSTERS OF ALL TYPES AND BACKGROUNDS WORK TOGETHER PEACEFULLY. DO YOU THINK WE CAN SET A GOOD EXAMPLE AND GET THE HUMANS TO CHANGE THEIR WAYS?” Papyrus asked.

“That would be nice, but I don't think it's that easy. Humans are pretty stubborn. It's taken them years and years just to get this far. Things are changing for the better, but it's taking a really long time,” Jim said.

“SO THERE IS HOPE THEN!” Papyrus said.

“Well, yeah. I guess there is,” Jim said.

“IT'S LIKE MY BROTHER SAYS: ‘THE KEY TO PROGRESS IS UNDERSTANDING.’ SO THINGS WILL CHANGE THE MORE PEOPLE LEARN. AND PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS LEARNING,” Papyrus said.

“i...don't say that,” Sans said.

“WELL, OF COURSE NOT. I WAS TALKING ABOUT OUR OTHER BROTHER, WING DINGS,” Papyrus said.

“You remember me?!” Gaster said, then immediately clapped Jim's hands on his mouth. They were keeping Gaster on the down low as much as possible because they didn't want to startle or confuse Papyrus.

“YES! OF COURSE I DO! THOUGH I CAN SEE WHY YOU THOUGHT I WOULDN'T. THERE WAS A LONG TIME WHEN I DIDN'T FOR SOME REASON...BUT SINCE THE BARRIER BROKE, THE MEMORIES HAVE COME FLOODING BACK. NOW I RECOGNIZE THAT EYE GLOW AND ACCENT ANYWHERE. I IMAGINE OTHERS ARE REMEMBERING YOU TOO. LIKE...GRILLBY FOR EXAMPLE,” Papyrus smiled mischievously.

“That would explain the flirting…” Jim said.

“AWE, THOSE TWO ARE SO CUTE TOGETHER. BUT I SUPPOSE IT MUST BE WEIRD FOR YOU, JIM,” Papyrus said.

“Yeah, a little. I don't think it would be right if Gaster and him dated while we're stuck like this. It wouldn't be fair to anyone,” Jim said.

“HMM, YES. THAT IS REASONABLE,” Papyrus.

“But this means….he really could have remembered me! I'm no longer erased from existence!” Gaster said. A tear slid down Jim's right eye.

Jim wiped away the tear with his left hand. “You've been lost for a long time, huh? It must be nice to be with your family again. Maybe I should tune out so you can spend some time alone with them,” Jim said.

“TUNE OUT? WHAT DO YOU MEAN JIM?” Papyrus asked.

“awe, what's wrong Jim, don't you wanna hang out with the bros?” sans said, teasingly.

“Jim. This is family time. You stay,” Gaster said.

“But I-” Jim started.

“JIM, WE JUST MET. DON'T YOU THINK AS BROTHERS, WE SHOULD GET TO KNOW EACHOTHER BETTER?” Papyrus said.

“I'm not-” Jim said.

“shut up. yes you are. accept your fate,” Sans said.

“You can't just do this to me! Don't I have a choice?” Jim said, completely flustered.

“Fine. We'll put it to a vote.” Gaster said. “All in favor for Jim as our new brother?”

Sans and Papyrus raised their hands and Jim felt his own right arm go up. He felt so betrayed.

“All opposed?” Gaster asked. As if it mattered.

Jim didn't bother raising his left hand. He knew he was beaten.

“You guys….are the worst brothers ever,” Jim sighed.

“Come on, Jimmy. Don't be so upset. I couldn't have used your arm like that if you didn't let me. At least half of you wants this. The other half is….unsure,” Gaster said.

“Yeah, I'm unsure. I barely know Sans, I just met Papyrus. Even you've only been in my head for less than a day! I guess ...I just feel like my life has been hijacked and things are going crazy. But it's not as bad as I thought it'd be. It's ...nice? To think that I have a family again,” Jim said.

“WAIT? DON'T YOU HAVE A HUMAN FAMILY?” Papyrus asked.

“Um, no. Not really. Hey!” Papyrus wrapped him in a hug.

“CAN WE KEEP HIM?!!!” Papyrus cried.

“we uh...already voted on it. we're totally keeping him,” Sans reminded him. “sorry that we don't have parents for ya. but we got each other.”

“You guys are orphans too?” Jim asked.

“yeah… but Wing Dings was an adult when our parents died, so he took care of us. we had to move to a smaller house in a smaller town, but we managed. we made a good life for ourselves here,” Sans said.

“I kinda get it. I was a freshman in college when my parents died. I was in a new town, a smaller house and...all alone. The courts decided I was responsible enough to continue living on my own, even though I was only 16 at the time. I make it work and life goes on,” Jim said.

“COLLEGE AT 16? WOWIE! YOU MUST BE REALLY SMART!” Papyrus said.

“yeah... i can see why Dings chose you…” Sans said.

“Erm, yes. You caught me. That was one of the factors. But honestly we are more similar than I calculated. Nearly too perfect, really,” Gaster said.

“Um...how did you know my intelligence level? Or anything else about me? How did you decide I was the perfect candidate?” Jim asked.

“oh uh...i guess you would call the process ‘scanning?’ it's a magical ability that pretty much anyone can use to learn basic details about people, like name, health points, levels of attack and defence….stuff like that,” Sans explained.

“Sounds like a video game,” Jim observed.

“yeah, kinda. but usually people can only ‘scan’ someone in front of them. some people, like me, can scan for deeper details. Wing Dings developed the skill to the point where he can scan a whole area and not lose himself. normally it will be too much info to sort at once and it gets overwhelming. i’ve tried. but he can pick out what he wants and sort through the info like nothing,” Sans said.

“It's a simple matter of elimination. I pick a big trait and eliminate everything outside of that trait. Such as ‘adults ‘ and I remove children from the search. I did the same thing with each factor I desired: Between 6 and 7 feet, magic capacity, perseverance trait, high IQ lives alone, 1 LV. It is unsettling how many humans in that small town alone have LV higher than 1,” Gaster said. He got chills just talking about it. Jim felt goosebumps rise on his arms and his spine shivered. It was a strange sensation, not knowing what his body was reacting to.

“What's LV and why is it...unsettling?” Jim asked, rubbing his arms so the chills would go away.

“it's another stat we can measure, but it takes a little more skill to read it. i'm pretty good at it myself, as long as I'm facing the person. but I hope I never have to face multiple humans with LV higher than 1! yikes! ….LV stands for ‘Level of Violence’ 1 being normal people who go about their lives never killing anyone. among the monsters, only the King, the Queen and this old dude named Gerson have anything higher but they've been through war so that makes sense. it fades through time as souls heal, but it never goes back down all the way. the King’s is extra high because…. well...we'll talk about it later. all you need to know is that deep down he's a good guy who had to make hard choices and in reality he's a fuzzy pushover,” Sans explained.

“I trust you. I'm also getting good vibes from Gaster's memories of him. Though I'm thinking that the flowing golden hair and rippling muscles are exaggerated,” Jim said.

“Jim! You weren't meant to see that!” Gaster said, flustered, causing Jim's face to blush.

“OH MY GOSH WING DINGS! STICK WITH GRILBY!” Papyrus said.

“Anyway, back on topic: how high can ‘level of violence get? I need a range so I can gadge people. I need to know what's a low number like what an old vet might have vs high like a serial killer,” Jim said.

“well, Gerson is a 4, he killed many humans in the war, but he's had 1000 years of healing. plus killing for a cause is a bit less harmful to the soul than killing in cold blood. still, he's a little more numb to the act of killing than the average person. 20 is the max and it means they have killed so many people in cold blood, they no longer feel anything when they do it. they’d be a complete psychopath,” Sans said with the lights extinguished from his eyes.

This time, Jim got chills that Gaster didn't quite understand. But he quickly realized what Jim was afraid of. ‘No Jim, he's not trying to be creepy, he's creeped out. Sometimes eye lights go out when we are scared.’

‘I think I get it...but it's still a bit...bone chilling,’ Jim thought.

‘Pft! You really are starting to understand us, after all,’ Gaster thought. ‘But back to business.’

“The highest LV in town was a 6. That's pretty bad. Probably not a war vet, more likely a leader of a gang or something,” Gaster said.

“Well that's just great!”Jim said. He didn't even know his town had gangs. Now he was getting anxious about his walk home.

“yeah…. i ain't letting you walk home in the dark,” Sans said, almost as if he was in Jim's head too.

“Well, what time is it now?” Jim asked. ‘Let's see...I left at 9, it took an hour to get up here, we were at Grilby's for about half an hour…..we were napping for ??? A couple hours, maybe? Talking here for let's say half an hour? That should put us at mid afternoon. About...one or 2:00. Plenty of time to walk home and lock the doors and eat some food. Jeeze, I pretty much haven't eaten all day!’

“4:30 PM. good nap. bad news for walking home though. it gets darker early this time of year, right?” Sans said.

“4:30? Are you kidding me?! I never nap that long!” Jim checked the time to see if Sans was messing with him. But no. It really was 4:30.

“well, maybe you should. you looked super tired. you look a lot healthier now. sleeping soothes the soul,” Sans said.

“Well that's nice but it also means I basically haven't eaten all day and it's nearly dinner time! I took a hike today, and I have a hike back. I'm running on negative calories, magic juice and a pretty good nap. On top of that, I'm already skinny and magically losing weight. This is not good,” Jim said, putting his head in his hands.

“YOU CAN STAY WITH US JIM! WE CAN GIVE YOU FOOD AND YOU WON'T HAVE TO HIKE HOME IN THE DARK,” Papyrus suggested.

“Thanks, Paps. Magic food is nice, but I need something more substantial if I want any chance of stabilizing my weight,” Jim said.

“hmm but we still have to talk to Alphys and set your ‘cure’ in motion. we have to do that today if we want our best chance. i know, let's teach Jim how to teleport, Dings,” Sans suggested.

“Teleportation? Won't that be like...super complicated?” Jim said.

“You should be able to do it easily enough, especially since I'll be guiding you the whole time,” Gaster said.

“Ok, I guess,” Jim shrugged. “To be honest, teleporting sounds pretty sweet,” he said.

“It is convenient, if nothing else. It works best if you teleport to places you've been. I was able to teleport to your house before I knew much about it because I was incorporeal. There is a chance of hurting yourself if you don't know what you are doing,” Gaster said.

“Ok. How do I start?” Jim asked, a bit nervously.

“First, ready your magic, then picture the point in space you currently occupy and the point in space you wish to occupy,” Gaster said.

“Ok, seems almost too simple, but maybe magic is just like that,” Jim focused carefully on his home.

“Good! Exactly like that! Now you want to picture the space between and fold it up like a map so that two points on the map that were once far, are now close. YES! It's working! You're a natural! Now just imagine switching yourself from point A to point B!” Gaster said.

Jim took a gulp and made the switch with his eyes still closed.

Chapter Text

“Welcome home, Jim. You can open your eyes now,” Gaster said.

Jim peaked through his lashes slowly. He sighed with relief as the familiar sights of his own furnishings greeted him. “How did you know it worked?” Jim asked.

“By smell. Your house doesn't smell like bones,” Gaster said.

“Oh...of course? Obviously??” Jim said. But before he could ask what bones smelled like, his cat, Milkyway ran up and rubbed herself around his legs. “Yes baby! I know! I have been gone a while, haven't I? Haven't I? I bet you are hungry, huh? Let's go get some food, huh?” he bent down and reached over to pet her.

At first she backed away from his hands. And he felt a little stung “Baby! It's still me! Please understand!” she hesitated, sniffed his fingers, then brushed her head against them. He sighed with relief. “There we go. There we go! It's still just me,” Jim told the kitty.

“Is this what having a pet is like?” Gaster asked.

“Huh?” Jim was petting Milkyway absentmindedly. “Oh yeah. You don't have pets in the underground?” he asked.

“No, not really. There are no ‘normal’ animals, only monsters. There are some furry monsters that enjoy head pats like this, especially dogs, but it's not like they'd be anyone's pet. They are just as intelligent as anyone,” Gaster explained.

“Huh, ok. I guess I can see it,” Jim said. He straightened up and went to the cabinet for her food. ‘I can’t feel her fur like before. That's going to drive me crazy,’ he thought.

“I thought it felt nice…” Gaster said.

“Yeah, but it's not as ...intense as before, ya know?” Jim said.

“Not having skin is a blessing and a curse. You wont get hurt as easily as before but you will miss out on fine textures a bit,” Gaster said.

“Yeah…” he shook some food into her bowel and she ran up and started eating immediately. “Ok. Now it's my turn…” Jim muttered. He went through his inventory in his head, thinking of what to make. After throwing up this morning, he felt like he had to be extra careful with what he picked. “Stew, I think. Thick, warm stew from scratch. Sound good Gaster?” Jim asked.

“Oh! Yes. That sounds excellent!” Gaster agreed.

Jim got the vegetables out and started chopping. “hmm.” A thought occurred to Jim.

“What?” Gaster asked.

“What happens if a skeleton cuts their finger off?” Jim asked.

“Hmm, well...we are able to disconnect bones and reattach them safely so something like that is less of a problem. At least if the cut happens at the joint. If you hit bone, it is less likely to get hurt or bleed. But if for some reason you go all the way through the bone, you have a few minutes to heal it before it turns to dust,” Gaster explained.

“Oh. I see….” Jim said, getting nervous at the thought of any part of him turning to dust.

“Healing is very easy, second nature, really. It's like ‘argh! My finger!’ and you scramble to find it, you pick it up, wash it off and put it in place. Your magic will flow to it immediately and stabilize it, then you focus a little and send more soothing magic to it until it stops hurting. Of course, if there is no break in the bone it's more of a ‘oops it popped off, let's just pop it back on’ situation. And in those cases, it will come back to you, like one end of a magnet to the other,” Gaster said.

“So that works for all your bones? Like if your skull popped off, you just put it back like nothing happened?” Jim asked.

“Yes. Sometimes you run into something and the whole thing tumbles apart! But it will all resemble automatically. However, all your clothes will be on the floor and it's a real pain. Skeletons are pretty hardy for monsters. But if we break too many bones at once or get hit in a critical way, we die. I have heard of humans surviving after nearly all their bones are broken and that is astounding to me! Humans don't heal as fast, but They're so much sturdier than monsters! They can endure much higher levels of pain, physically and mentally. You see, monster health is tied to the state of the soul and magic since we are basically dust held together with that magic. Our will to live can actually affect our bodies to the point where those who lose hope entirely, will die. Or those who should die, but continue to have the will to live, can continue living, at least a while longer,” Gaster said.

“Humans can be the same way too. It's not unheard of for people to die of a broken heart or fight to live even when they should have died. But I see what you're saying. No actually, I’m beginning to feel it. My body, my hands and feet especially, seem to shift subtlety to match how I am feeling. The magic courses through me and its powered by the feelings of in my soul, so my emotions travel to every cell the magic touches affecting the cell as it passes, changing it to reflect my mood,” Jim said.

“Yes, that's a good description of it. You are very observant,” Gaster said.

“I try,” Jim said. He put the vegetables aside and began to cook the meat. “What about fire damage?”

“It would have to be a really intense fire to cause harm. The fire on your stove is fine. You'd have to leave your hand it in there a while before it would burn. But it would still be uncomfortably hot and it's not fun when your clothes catch on fire. And of course if your house caught on fire it could get hot enough to hurt you. So you should still be careful.” Gaster said.

Jim put his fingers in the fire experimentally. It was hot, but didn't burn, just as Gaster said. It was a bizarre sensation.

“Jim! For goodness sakes! I didn't mean for you to try it out immediately! If your bones heat up, you could hurt the skin nearby!” Gaster said.

“Right right! Ok!” He had blanked for a sec, but now he was back. He pulled his hands out. “I was just thinking...maybe they would have survived the fire if they had been skeletons…” Jim muttered.

“Your parents…?” Gaster asked.

Jim nodded. “Well, really it was the noxious fumes that killed them. But skeletons could survive that too. No lungs,” Jim laughed a little bitterly. Tears welled up in his eyes.

“Jim… there is nothing you could have done. You shouldn't be feeling this...guilt,” Gaster said gently. But he knew why Jim felt that way. Afterall, he felt that way sometimes too.

“I know it's irrational, but that's the worst part. I can't change how I feel. And every now and then it hurts so much and gets overwhelming...” Jim said.

“So you... burn yourself on purpose….?” Gaster asked, reading Jim's memories. Jim felt a little shock hearing it so plainly from Gaster. “Ah! I’m so sorry! I shouldn't have said anything! Those memories are private, right? Gosh, I feel like an insensitive idiot,” Gaster said.

Jim shook his head. “It's ok,” he said softly, almost to himself. “There was no way to hide it from you….and maybe I should talk about this for once.” He took a deep, steadying breath, “I...only did it a little. Only when things got really bad. Small burns. Just enough to hurt. To maybe feel what they felt a bit, I guess? Once the pain hits… I kinda… snap out of it. Early on I did it more often. But I haven't done it for a couple years now. I wonder if this counts as a relapse…? I guess not because I didn't *feel* anything. You can still see some of the scars. Most of them were on my hands though. That way, if anyone asked, I could pass it off as an accident,” Jim said.

“Jim...I….” He started debating on how to finish. ‘Jim needs to know that he's not alone in this. I need to tell him,’ he decided. “I've felt that too. When I said the holes in my hands came from an accident...that was a lie,” Gaster admitted.

“You too?” Jim asked. Though it didn't come as much of a surprise. Gaster was so similar to him after all.

“I've said that lie so often, sometimes I forget reality. I didn’t even want to tell Sans and Papyrus. Sans figured it out right away though. He's good at seeing through stuff like that. He confronted me in private. We agreed to keep it from Papyrus, but I think he suspects it too. He's sharper than he lets on. But he’s kind enough to….let me talk about it when I'm ready. At least he never brings it up. I think Sans was trying to talk to us privately at the bar to find out if the accident that erased me really was an accident. I assure you, it was. As bad as things got, I never truly desired to disappear,” Gaster said.

“I guess we really are perfect for eachother. We have these...shared experiences so we can empathize...talk things out a little, ya know?” he wiped tears from his eyes, unsure who they belonged to. Probably both of them. They took a minute to catch their breath. Then it was back to work.

Jim took the meat off the heat and started on the stew part. He added a variety of tasty spices. Then he dumped the meat and the vegetables in and it was nearly ready. It just needed a little more time.

Gaster took a big whiff and savored the scent. “Out of the four of us Jim, you are unequivocally the best chef,” he complimented.

“Heh, really? What I cook is pretty basic really,” Jim said.

“Jim, your skeleton brothers are lucky if they don’t burn water. Including me. You have talent,” Gaster praised.

“Thanks. My parents could tell I was heading for college young so they worked hard to make sure I could take care of myself as soon as possible. They both taught me enough life skills for me to be independent by age 10,” Jim explained.

“That's pretty incredible,” Gaster said.

“Yeah. Well…” Jim blushed and tried to change the topic, “The stew is done. Let's eat.” Jim scooped all the stew into a bowl and grabbed a spoon. He poured himself a glass of his newly filtered water to go with the meal. Gaster went to eat but Jim stopped him. “It's piping hot, ya crazy! I don't want to burn my tongue!” Jim said.

“Oh, right. This goes back to the whole ‘skeletons don't get burned as easily’ thing. We always eat our food right away. But I see why that would be bad for you. I will wait,” Gaster said.

“Thank you,” Jim slipped his water and it tasted amazing. “Oh my gosh! This is filtered tap water? It's so...pure! Are you sure this isn't magic?” Jim asked.

“Yes, I was very careful. I'm not sure, but you might have trouble staying hydrated if it was magic. Anyway, it would have disappeared before hitting your stomach, but I can feel it there. It's just how water is supposed to be,” Gaster said.

“Wow. I guess I really do owe you thanks,” Jim said.

“Think nothing of it. I was also doing it for my sake,” Gaster said.

“Right, well...I think the stew is safe now. We can start slowly,” Jim said. He lifted the spoon to his mouth and blew on it to cool it further. He put it in his mouth and savored it. “Ah, finally! It feels like ages since my last good meal,” Jim said blissfully.

“Well done Jim! This stew is incredibly tasty!” Gaster said.

They dug in and finished the whole thing very quickly. Jim's stomach was finally full and his whole body felt warm. It was nice to have something filling after all that emptiness. In a weird way, it made Jim slightly more hopeful and positive, like their plan actually had a shot. “OK! Time to go back and get Sans so he can take us to the Lizard with a 3D printer,” he said, slightly more determined now.

“Right,” Gaster agreed. Though he was slightly unsure what to make of this...sensation of power and optimism he felt radiate from Jim. He put his thoughts on the back burner for now and focused on teleporting home.

Chapter Text

“how was dinner?” Sans asked.

“It was nice. I feel a bit better now,” Jim said honestly.

“that's good. the lab is a little ways away. we're going to take a shortcut,” Sans said.

“Like what you did before...when you took us to Grillby's? It seemed slightly different from teleporting,” Jim said.

“teleporting is when one person switches from one point in space to another using magic and concentration. sometimes they can take someone with them if they're holding hands. but it takes significantly more energy and focus to move someone else. alternatively, you can use a shortcut. those are hidden paths between distant points that exist on their own. magic and skill helps with seeing and opening ‘doors’ to these paths. if you memorize the entrances and where they end up, this method is a lot simpler. and you can lead several people at once, as long as you can keep the ‘door' open,” Sans said.

“I see. But if that's true, why couldn't you use a shortcut to pass the barrier? Surly there were paths that lead to the outside world? And if that didn't work for some reason… then what about teleporting?” Jim asked. But he blushed, realizing that it might be rude, because obviously they would have tried that. “Sorry,” he said.

“It's a good question, Jim. Don't be embarrassed,” Gaster said. “It was these very questions that lead me to study these alternative methods of travel. ‘how can we get past the barrier in the most efficient way possible?’ Teleporting and shortcuts were just science fiction not long ago,” Gaster said.

“Really? It's not some… ancient power passed down through the ages?” Jim asked.

Gaster shook Jim's head. “We had yet to figure out the trick to it. I read human stories and theories about wormholes and teleportation and they sparked my imagination. I thought if I applied magic to this science, such feats might be possible. It took longer than I thought, but after many failures and mishaps, I was able to do both! I taught the techniques to Sans and several other colleagues,” Gaster said.

“Ok, cool. But why didn't it work?” Jim asked.

“We indeed found shortcuts that lead outside, but they were blocked by the barrier as if they were simply tunnels we dug. Attempts to teleport outside the barrier flat out failed. We just couldn't do it no matter how hard we concentrated. In the end, we concluded that while alternative methods of travel were really cool and convenient, the barrier was very good at doing its job,” Gaster sighed.

“Well… it was still a really good idea, even if it didn't work as intended. And you guys are free now, so that's good. How did you get free anyway?” Jim said.

Sans didn't want to talk about this right now so he changed the subject. “c’mon. we've wasted enough time already.”

Jim narrowed his eyes, “You're the one who took me to a bar and got me to take a nap that lasted all afternoon,” he accused.

“irrelevant. point is, we gotta get going. oh, and be prepared, the area around the lab tends to be too warm for most people. you might want to take your sweater off and leave it here,” Sans said.

“um...ok…” Jim didn't feel too comfortable about walking around in just his undershirt, but he hated being sweaty more. So he did it. Now that he had no sleeves he noticed that the skin from about half his forearms was gone.

“Geeze Jim. I could tell you were skinny, but dang...you're closer to us than I thought,” Sans observed.

Jim looked down at his undershirt half expecting to see nothing but bones outlined by the fabric, but things looked almost normal. He was maybe a little thinner than before, but he didn't look that much different. “This is more or less how I always am. Don't freak me out like that,” Jim said self consciously.

“whatever man. it just means my calculations were off. it's going to take less time than i thought for your body to fully change. let's get out of here,” Sans said. He opened up a shortcut and Jim followed.

“Hotland is...hotter than I recall,” Gaster said, fanning Jim's face with his right hand.

“Well, duh. Skin, remember?” Jim said.

“Right, but somehow I didn't think it would be this bad,” Gaster said.

“Really? When there is actual magma just a few feet down?! I didn't realize Mt Ebott was an actual volcano!” Jim said.

“Jim, is this what it's like to be dehydrated? I think we're dehydrated,” Gaster said.

“Come on baby bones squared. There's air conditioning up ahead,” Sans pointed to a large white building a few yards away.

“My old lab, now that's nostalgic,” Gaster said.

As they approached, the door opened automatically for them.

“Coming! I'm coming! I just have to pause real quick!” said a voice that probably belonged to Dr. Alphys.

‘Oh yes. That's her. She was probably watching one of her cartoons. She was my apprentice before...well. She was super brilliant but always distracted, and more than a little absent minded,’ Gaster thought.

A short yellow roundish lizard in a lab coat came down an escalator looking excited.

“H-hi Jim! N-nice to officially meet you, I'm Dr. Alphys,” Alphys held out her hand to shake.

Jim nodded to her and shook her hand. “G-glad to see you doing better. I was a little w-worried when you t-threw up,” she said.

“How did you-?” Jim started.

“O-oh! I monitor the security cameras in case anything h-happens. Usually nothing does, but it's really been pretty exciting these past couple of days,” she said, leading them to a jumbo screen that showed a huge Jim at the moment.

“I bet…. how long have you been watching me?” Jim asked cautiously.

Alphys blushed a little. “I haven't been watching you *that* much, really. But I had cameras set up around the camp outside to make sure everyone is safe from wild animals and stuff. So I first saw you then. Initially, I was worried because what if you were some kind of...monster assassin?! You kept your hood up and had sunglasses and even black gloves like a spy or something,” Alphys said.

“You… you seriously thought I was a secret government agent or something? Nah man. I mean, where's my high tech weapon? Or my snarky partner? And besides, it was mid morning. I'm pretty sure night would have been better,” Jim said.

“Well, when you put it like that, it was pretty silly. Anyway, I relaxed when Sans approached you calmly since he's good at reading people. And then you showed him your hand…. That was so fascinating! I’ve seen that sort of thing in anime, but I never thought it would happen to someone irl. May I see?” She asked.

“Oh uh...sure?” he let Alphys inspect his arm.

“Amazing! Sans, lend me a hand so I can have something to compare it with,” She said.

“well, when you ask like that, how can i say no?” he replied, grinning widely. He surrendered his arm as well.

Alphys looked over one arm, then the other, bringing each in turn right up to her glasses. She felt every inch of every bone. She turned Jim's palm up and scratched it gently with her claw. “Did you feel that?” she asked.

Jim shook his head, “Not really, I mean….I felt pressure. Was it supposed to hurt or something?” he asked.

“Well, take a look,” she said and did the same to Sans.

“s-stop! it tickles!” he laughed. His fingers reflexively curled up a little too.

“See. It's different,” she said. She gave them both their hands back.

“What does it mean?” Jim asked.

“Well, I'm not entirely sure, but I think your bones are still basically human bones. I expected your bones to act more like our bones. See, monsters are made of dust and magic. Humans are made of physical matter. Human bodies are much more stable than monster bodies. That's why Sans’ hand was more sensitive. If your bones are less sensitive, that means you're not changing as fast as it seems,” she said.

“Oh. That's good I guess. But I suppose there must be some magic in there. Something has to be holding my hand together now that the ligaments are gone,” Jim said.

Alphys nodded. “Y-yes. When I was examining your hand, I felt the magic pulse,” she said.

“Magic...pulse?” Jim repeated.

“It was one of the things I was l-looking for. Monsters have a system that carries magic from their soul to their limbs, much like the circulatory system. Of course, animal type monsters like me have b-both. I think normal animals and humans have magic inside them, but it doesn't flow. And in wizards, magic only flows through their bodies when they are using it. But skeletons need it to flow to k-keep their cells healthy. And now your hands rely on it too," Alphys said.

"Right, makes sense," Jim said. It was pretty logical, but at the same time, it was weird to think about.

"The more your bones rely on magic, the more monster-like they will become. But the pulse is weak, weaker than Sans’ magic pulse. This is normally a cause for concern, but in your case it means you're clinging to humanity. That means w-we still have time to safely remove Gaster. He hasn't actually bonded to your bones yet. He's just there and his presence is shaping the host, er... you Jim, to his needs. The binding won't happen until all your bones are monster-like,” Alphys explained.

“Well, what happens to me, the host?” Jim asked.

“Normally when a ghost, or otherwise incorporeal monster, chooses a body, it is an empty vessel. They just sort of take it over and they become corporeal with the vessel becoming their new body. If Dr. Gaster tried to take over a monster body, it just wouldn't work, he'd get kicked out immediately. But since you are human, your souls connected and latched on to each other. This is a mechanism designed to give monsters a slight advantage because human souls make their bodies more powerful. But the reverse doesn't really happen because monster souls normally don't have time to wander aimlessly looking for a host human before they shatter. And ghost monsters normally don’t find human bodies compatible. But that's basically what happened,” Alphys said.

“Well don’t I feel *super* special. What will happen to my body?” Jim asked.

“Logically, if a monster body becomes stronger when a human soul is present, a human body will become more monster-like when a monster soul is present. Which seems to be pretty much confirmed by what has been happening to you. But if your body changes fully into a monster body, then you, Jim, will be the 'soul' in the situation. The fusion will become more traditional. Namely, Dr. Gaster will be a powerful skeleton and you will be the source of his power, as long as he can hold on to you. You can escape, with enough will power, but you would just be a wandering spirit. Dr. Gaster can't leave you without a new vessel because his soul is weaker and he wouldn't last long now that he exists again,” Alphys said.

“So...if we don't do something, either one or both of us will die or we'll be permanent roommates in an over powered skeletal version of my body?” Jim concluded.

“well, that's what the alternative us for. we kick Dings out to an empty vessel before the change is complete and he takes over,” Sans said.

“Y-yeah! By 3-D printing the perfect new body for Dr. Gaster! Sans texted me all about your brilliant idea, Jim. I think it has r-really great potential. C-come on! Let's design it on my computer!” Alphys led them to a cluttered computer desk nearby. A human figurine with cat ears caught Jim's eye.

“Oh! It's Mew Mew! She’s an oldie but a goodie! She's in pretty rough condition though,” Jim said.

“You- You know Mew Mew kissy Cutie?! Oh my gosh!! Its my favorite anime of all time!” Alphys said.

“Oh, did you make it past the second season then? Most people stop watching after that and write it off as a good start that didn't get far,” Jim said.

“Th-there's more than two seasons?! Nani?! I only get what comes through the garbage,” Alphys said.

“Ah, that's understandable then. I can see why you found it in the garbage. A lot of ‘fans’ got mad and threw out the first 2 DVDs before giving season 3 a chance. I've seen all 6 seasons,” Jim said.

“S-six seasons??? How! Season 2 was so confusing and dark?! Completely different from season 1,” Alphys said.

“Well, no spoilers but season 2 is dark and confusing because its setting the true plot in motion but it doesn't make sense until season 3. But by then, the writers realized they needed more fluff between the angst and it balances out much better. Season 4 is really good, probably the best one because the writers really got into the groove at that point. But they get overconfident in their abilities in season 5 and things get way too complicated. They get huge backlash because it's like a repeat of season 2 but at that point fans are more mad because they've spent more time invested in the series only for it to fall apart at the last minute. They almost give up and cancel the whole thing, BUT!! In one last ditch effort, they pull things together in season 6 and end things on a strong note,” Jim said.

“Oh my gosh! For real?! There's more and it's overall pretty good? I just have to stick out the hard parts? Still, you are incredibly perseverant to make it farther than most people would dare!” Alphys complimented.

“Yeah, I guess I am. I don't really think about it, but I guess I face a lot of hard things by just kinda pushing through little by little until it gets better,” Jim said.

“In that way, you're a lot like Dr. Gaster. Except he never got into anime,” Alphys said.

“Speaking of Dr. Gaster, aren't we supposed to be designing a body for me?” Gaster grumbled.

“Oh! R-right. You're right here...sorry,” she blushed a bit.

Gaster softened a little. “It's ok, Alphys. You've always been like this. And it really takes me back to better days. What do the Japanese say? ‘natsukashi’, right?” he said.

She blushed a little deeper and said “H-hai, Gaster-Sensei!”

“doesn't sensei mean teacher?” Sans asked.

“It can also mean doctor. At least she didn't say senpai. It might also make sense since he was the senior colleague, but it has certain...connotations in anime,” Jim said.

“Ha, that would be embarrassing! Especially since I have a girlfriend now. Or if I said sama! Now that would be intense! Anyway, Dr. Gaster, I already have a skeleton model on the computer, you just have to alter it to what you want it to be. I used to have models of you for um...reasons...but all those files got corrupted,” she said.

“This is enough. It won't take long to alter it…” Gaster said as he began to work.

Chapter Text

After several hours, Wingdings was finally finished. “There! That should do it!” he said. Jim’s eyes were dry and his wrists were sore.

“Finally! Thank you! Are you aware that humans are supposed to blink? Geeze!” Jim said. He had tuned out a bit while Wingdings worked because he knew from experience that watching other people make their avatars was really boring. Also, he didn't want to think of all the bones that would be exposed on his body if things didn't work out.

“Oh! Sorry, Jim! Skeleton eyes are just magic points of light. They can't really dry out, so yes, I sort of forgot that blinking was a thing,” Wingdings said.

“A-are you sure you want those cracks in your skull?” Alphys asked.

“or those holes in your hands?” Sans asked.

Wingdings nodded Jim's head. “They are as much a part of me as any of these bones.”

“Oh- ok...it's whatever makes you comfortable after all. Let's save the file- good! I was worried it wouldn't work. And now we print it, bone by bone. It will take a while, but we should be able to finish it with plenty of time,” Alphys said.

“Jim should get a physical so we can keep track of the...er...possession? progression," Wingdings said.

“Y-yeah, ok,” Jim said.

“Jim, there's nothing to be nervous about. All the things you dislike about human physicals aren't a problem here. There's just a simple scan and the computer knows everything about your condition," Gaster said.

“Oh. That's not so bad,” Jim said, relaxing a bit.

“Yeah! N-no need to worry! It only takes a minute!” Alphys said. She dug in her desk drawer and after a little while, she found something that looked like a supermarket price check tool. “Here it is! This will tell us everything we need to know!” She opened up a health monitoring program on her computer and filled in Jim's information in a new patient profile. “Ok Jim, do a T pose for me,” she said.

“Like this?” he stood up straight and held his arms out.

“Yes! Perfect! Now hold still….” she aimed the scanner at him and a green laser light moved up and down, reading his body. “Ok, you can relax. We just have to take a look at the data now... You're 6'3" yet only 162 lbs...How much did you weigh before?"

"...170…" Jim muttered. He knew very well he was underweight even before this.

"S-so you've lost 8 pounds. Probably not good. Your heart rate is 66 beats per minute. Is that normal for humans?" Alphys asked.

"Yes. That's pretty normal for a resting heart rate. How's my blood pressure?" Jim said.

"95/63- isn't that low?" Alphys asked.

"A little, but not dangerously so. But I'm normally closer to 110/70," Jim said.

"N-noted. We'll watch that. Your temperature is 97.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Isn't that a bit warm?"

"Not for humans. It's actually a bit on the cool side but within the normal range. Although I'm usually closer to 99, " Jim said.

"Ah, right! You're warm-blooded! That makes sense," Alphys said.

"Skeletons are no-blooded of course, but the magic flowing through us and the fact that we move around makes our normal temperature slightly higher than room temperature. So I think you're ok as far as that goes, Jim. But it is a sign of your body adjusting to suit me," Wingdings explained.

"I see... What about my blood sugar?" Jim asked.

"Your blood sugar is 76. I think that's ok for humans. It's been a few hours since you've eaten, right?" Alphys said.

"Mmm yeah, I suppose it has been a while," Jim said.

"A-are you hungry? I could get you something," Alphys offered.

"I'm not particularly hungry right now. And I'm watching my magic intake," Jim said.

"Jim, your body relies on magic a bit now. You can and should eat something made of magic now and then," Alphys said.

"For real? When I just OD'd on magic earlier today?" Jim asked.

"It's complicated. Contrary to popular belief, all humans have magic. Their souls house vast amounts of it, in fact. This allows their souls to remain stable long after death. Human souls can be used in powerful spells and to make monsters stronger. It is believed that human bodies are made of more physical matter than monsters in order to protect their souls from those who would take them," Alphys said.

"so kinda like how an acorn or a turtle are protected by their shells," Sans said.

"Y-yeah! Pretty much. However, human souls tend to be so well protected, that most humans spend their whole lives unable to access the magic within until they shed their mortal shell and either move on to the next life or become an undead monster such as a zombie, ghost or skeleton," Alphys.

"Shed my…. shell? This is death we're talking about, not a butterfly coming out of a cocoon here," Jim said.

"M-maybe I could have worded it better… but that's what happens according to many old records. Human death is a lot less final than monster death. Though it is probably more common for humans to move on to the next life than to stick around," Alphys said.

"Gaster did you guys used to be-," Jim said.

"No Jim, neither me nor my brothers or even our parents were ever humans. True, skeleton monsters originated from humans, but they had skeleton children and those children had children and it's been many generations between us and our human ancestors," Wingdings said.

"But then ... we could totally have a shared ancestor," Jim said.

"Certainly, especially since you have the capacity for magic. But it would be a very distant relative since it's been 1000 years," Wingdings said.

"That's still pretty cool. But how can I have the capacity for magic, if my human shell freaks out when I drink a little magic juice?" Jim asked.

"Most human bodies have trouble p-processing magic at all. They freak out when magic circulates through them because the body thinks the soul has been c-compromised. But some humans are born with a magic circulation system. This system keeps magic separate from the rest of the body. But the magic system d-disrupts the body's integrity. So mages tend to be born weaker than average humans," Alphys said.

"Weaker like being born prematurely… always getting sick… having a weak stomach in general… being allergic to cinnamon?" Jim said.

"Yes, precisely! Oh, wait…. You're talking about… oh, I'm so sorry," Alphys said.

Jim shook his head, "Don't be. I'm over it. Tell me more about the magic system," Jim said.

"Ok, well the magic system not only helps you process magic food, it also makes it possible for you to tap into your soul's vast reserves and perform s-spells. But right now it's weaker than a monster's magic system. It can only hold so much before it spills over and c-causes your body to panic," Alphys said.

"So that's why there were no symptoms at first. Nothing was wrong. But I overloaded my system, " Jim said.

"R-right. The more time you spend bonded to Dr. Gaster, the more your magic system will grow stronger and be able to transport more magic at a t-time. But at the same time, your body integrity will decrease to the point where it is c-completely monster- like if nothing is done," Alphys said.

"How...how close is it now?" Jim asked tentatively.

"It's p-probably not as bad as you think. Your body is at about 85% integrity compared to an average human. Considering the fact that you already had a magic system, you were probably at 90% to begin with. At the same time, your magic system is at 15% of the average monster's. So you can have a magic saturation level or MSL of 20% before your body sees it as a d-danger. The human body is ok with a small amount of magic and will often use it to heal itself," Alphys said.

"So, If I exceed that, my body will create a fever to try and kill it, and when that doesn't work, make me feel sick to purge it, and when that doesn't work, it makes me feel sleepy to get me to stop doing the 'negative' action. Is that right?" Jim guessed.

"Wow, Jim! That's what I was going to say!" Alphys said.

"Jim is studying to be a medical doctor," Wingdings said proudly.

"It's not that special, especially if magic can heal people, " Jim muttered.

"S-sure it is! Magic can only do so much, especially for humans who can only process a little magic. And even when you heal a monster with magic, it's much more effective and efficient when you know how the body works. S-so don't feel discouraged. Your knowledge can really help people!" Alphys said.

"yeah, so lighten up, Jimbo!" Sans clapped Jim on the back and he nearly fell over. "whoops, you ok there?" Sans said.

"Yeah… but I guess you forgot I was already 'lightening up,'' Jim said.

"Heh, nice one, " Sans said.

"Thanks," Jim said. "So what is the minimum amount of magic I should have in order to keep my finger bones from falling off?" Jim said. Now that he knew he wouldn't OD on magic right away, he was less afraid to try some more monster food.

"As a human… or mostly human, you will be ok if you run out of magic for a little while. And your magic points or MP kept inside your soul is very high, actually- over 1000! If the barrier was up today, you two could pass through it safely. As is, your soul will sustain you if need be. But it's h-healthier to get magic from food and stuff. Using even a little bit of the MP in your soul would wear you out and make you vulnerable, though it replenishes over time. As is… you would be healthiest with an MSL between 5 and 10," Alphys said.

"What is it now?" Jim asked.

"The scan told me your MSL is at 3, so a small snack will do it, and tide you over for a while," Alphys said.

"Ok, do you have anything you can give me right now?" Jim said.

"Let me check my inventory…" Alphys started scrolling through her phone. Jim expected her to go check the fridge, but this was better. She could see what she had without wasting energy. That was pretty smart technology in Jim's opinion. "Chisps, pocky, instant noodles… I have some crab apples and sea tea if you want something a little more healthy… My g-girlfriend is trying to get me to eat better," Alphys said.

"Um, ok. Crab apples I guess," Jim said. He was curious to see how they would be different from regular crab apples.

"Good choice, here you go!" Alphys double tapped her phone and a crab apple appeared in Jim's hand. It had little legs and pincers and everything.

"Whoah!" Jim was totally surprised.

"Yeah, I know apples on the surface are a bit different but d-don't worry! It's not alive," Alphys said.

"No … well yeah, that was a little weird but… how did you make it appear like that? Is it another form of teleporting?" Jim asked.

"I just got it out of one of my item boxes. It's pretty standard technology… oh, wait… no, I suppose it's not on the surface yet since I'm the one who invented it… here, let me see your phone while you eat," Alphys said.

After a little hesitation, Jim surrendered his phone to Alphys. He still had payments to make on it… but he decided to trust her since she had been so helpful so far.

“Ooo, pretty nice! So this is what surface phones are like? I'm low key jealous, lol. But This should make it easier. J-just give me a sec, I'm going to hook you up!” Alphys took Jim’s phone up to her room without another word. Jim munched nervously on the apple. It was sour at first, but sweet towards the middle. It oddly helped him relax the tension that had settled in his neck and shoulders.

After a minute of tinkering, she came back down triumphant. “There! Two items boxes with a few snacks and a doctor's note inside, a couple of useful apps, a few helpful contacts including me and Sans, and for funsies I signed you up for Fangbook, the number 1 social media for monsters and monster friends, like you! Heh heh...that's the slogan. It used to be called Undernet, but that doesn't make as much sense anymore now that we're free. We also adapted it to be closer to human social media so maybe they would try it out and get to know us. Now we're officially friends!” she said, beaming.

“Um...thanks..? I'm probably going to change my profile name though. I don't want to be known as WingdingsJim. If anything it would be JimJonesGaster66 or something. Yeah, actually that sounds really good. And why did you use that embarrassing mew mew cosplay for my profile picture?” Jim said.

“Embarrassing? Why? I thought it was very cute and well made!” Alphys protested.

“I only dressed up like that for a dare!” Jim said, blushing.

“if it's so embarrassing, why do you keep it in your phone?” Sans asked.

“Because I worked really hard on the costume and it turned out pretty great. But! That doesn't mean I want that pic to represent me on the internet! But hmm...none of these old pics feel like “me” right now. Let's take a new selfie to reflect our current state…” Jim did a peace sign and smiled. It looked kinda cool with his skele hand and bright purple eyes. His face was actually almost back to normal thanks to all the food and rest.

“Cool, that looks good. Let's see...he/him...but I guess they/them also works, 24, single but not really looking for a relationship right now. Human? Willing to be friends with chill monsters. Friends with @MewmewLZQT, @ajealoustroll, and @COOLSKELETON95” Jim said as he typed.

“alright, can I get your number now or do I have to accept your friend request first?” Sans said, rolling his eye lights.

“Oh yeah, for sure! Sorry. 766-566-7566,” Jim said.

“oh wow. that's really close to Ding's old number. I feel like I should be surprised, but I'm not,”

“Heh, figures. Anyway, if that's all, we'll head back. I'm pretty tired," Jim said.

"G-good idea. Conserving energy will help. As your temporary doctor, I suggest you take it easy, " Alphys said.

"i'll second that. a good rest can do wonders. i'm due for one soon too," Sans yawned and stretched. "Jim, don't be afraid to come over any time. And I mean 24/7. Dings is our brother, but we meant it when we voted you in. you're family now," Sans said, unusually serious.

"That… that means a lot, Sans. I'll see you around. You too, Alphys. We can get together and talk about the other animes we've seen," Jim said.

"Ooo! That would be fun! Bye Jim!" Alphys said.

"see ya," Sans said.

"Later,” Jim said and teleported back home.

He got dressed in pj's and went straight to bed. His cat curled up with him and he was able to relax and drift to sleep. Things almost felt normal. Until he started dreaming.