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Down to the Bone

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You walk into the kitchen with a groan and a stretch, one hand falling to scratch lazily at your hair and the other reaching out to the cabinet to rummage for some tea, too tired to care which one you grabbed as long as it was caffeine. Once you had a tea you shoved a mug of water in the microwave and started to cut up some fruit for breakfast, an apple, pear, and peach. All fresh from the trees you had growing outside, alongside your little farm.

The droning beep of the microwave brought you back to earth as you set down your knife and readjusted the strap of your denim overalls. This pair was getting old and the straps were fraying despite your stubborn attempts to sew and patch them into living a longer life. As soon as the steaming mug was out of the accursedly noisy machine you dropped in a tea sachet and went back to cutting.

Once breakfast was done you brought it over to your small kitchen table by the window and sat down with a sigh, sipping your tea, which turned out to be lady earl grey. The sun was just coming up over the horizon and was painting your land in beautiful hues of reds and golds, like the sky was an ocean of the softest fire to ever exist. And like normal for the past six weeks, there was something new on your windowsill.

These gifts were always bone. Bone necklaces or bone beads. Once you had found a flute made of bone sitting there, it was absolutely gorgeous and you may have looked up some tutorials on how to play it on your down time. You may also carry it around to play out in the fields now, some of your more intelligent animals seem to like it as much as you do, mainly your dog and Clydesdale.

With a flip of the latch you pushed the window up and open, head leaning over to peer at the new addition to you very quickly growing collection and give a very soft breath of delighted shock. It was a dagger, the beautiful ivory of the sheath was carved with swirling ivy and delicate flowers and the pummel curved back with ridges in just the right spots so that when you picked it up, they lined up almost perfectly with the grip of your fingers.

You held it tentatively in both hands, like it was made of glass and not sturdy calcium, and slowly pulled the blade from its ornate sheath. This knife was easily the most beautiful thing to ever appear in your life. You have always lived a frugal life, your family was all farmers and most of your money came from the produce and animal products you sold at the farmers market. All the technology in your house was second hand and at least a decade old. So to have something so elegant just placed at your windowsill as some kind of gift or token left you breathless.

You knew that whoever was leaving these had to be a monster. These gifts had started showing up not to long after you started to bring portions of your harvest up to Mount Ebott to help with the relief efforts. Most of your family was pretty neutral about monsters but you couldn’t live with yourself knowing that there were people starving and you could do something about it. If there was one thing you were rich with, it was food. So you had loaded that day’s entire harvest into the back of your pick up, covered the massive haul with a tarp, and drove your overloaded vehicle all the way to the refugee camp.

You had been stopped by the military but once you explained they let you park and helped you haul basket after basket of fresh produce into the camp. By the time you had emptied your truck the sun had set and you were beyond filthy, covered in mud and sweat. But the sounds of the monsters happily handing out food to one another made you feel happier then you ever had in your entire life. So it became a habit. Once a week, on Sunday when the market was closed, you hauled your daily harvest up the mountain. The monsters were being rehabilitated and some had even moved off the mountain by now but you still delivered food to the monsters that remained at the camp.

But such a gift was so generous that you couldn’t let it go reciprocated. So you did your daily routine, feeding and cleaning up after the animals, and tending to the farm land. The rest of the day you spent in the barn with an old project that had sat at the wayside for a very long time. It was a walking staff you had been making for your uncle until he passed away and you had never felt like finishing it after that. It was mostly carved already, just needed some touching up here and there and a finishing stain. It wasn’t as delicate or beautiful as the gifts you’ve received, more rustic and functional but that was your way of life and it was also the best you could give. You hoped that whoever it was liked their gift.

 


 

 

He had been appropriately wary of them when he first saw the human pull up in a beat up old truck with an overloaded flatbed. He had been ready to have to chase them off until they pulled the tarp off the back and revealed an overload of food. Honestly, looking back, he didn’t know what else he had been expecting but it wasn’t that. And then they came back the next week, and the next. Each time with an overloaded truck and a big grin on their dirt smeared face.

He did some snooping of course, still suspicious of their motives, and the more he dug the more he was confused. Nothing. They got nothing out of this. They didn’t work with the military, they weren’t being paid, and the food was always as fresh as it can get. At one point he was so desperate to find a reason to distrust them that he hid himself in the back of their truck to find out where they lived and once they had gone inside for the night he took his time to wander the farm, looking for anything damning. But it was just a farm, granted a farm with what had to be the biggest horse in existence. It was also a very nosy horse that kept trying to stick its oversized snout into his coat pockets.

When he couldn’t find anything he simply used a shortcut to get back to the camp and did his best to ignore the judging glare his brother was throwing his way. Paps was always smarter then he let on, especially when it came to knowing if he was up to something. He was expecting it when his brother scolded him for stalking the nice human who brought them food.

It took him a little while to stop trying to convince himself that he was stalking her to protect everyone and not because he was beyond curious about the generous little farmer. At that point he had finally admitted to himself that he was watching them because he might actually like them. That’s when he started making little trinkets out of bones and leaving them at their kitchen window. Convincing himself that they were just simple thank you’s for the food. But the more he watched them, the more he liked them. They were so carefree, humming while they worked and dancing to an old radio as they cleaned up animal stalls.

His brother was the first to notice his odd behavior which wasn’t a surprise but the more he watched the human the more time he wanted to spend on that farm and the more intricate his gifts got. Even Aliza eventually noticed when the farmer came by for her weekly delivery and he quickly made himself scarce. He was not expecting the usually shy and timid girl to tell Papyrus about his hurried, blushing retreat. So when he came home to a smug and taunting brother that night he wanted to die.

Then he had made them the flute and left it on the windowsill in the early morning like always. The look of pure wonder on their face when they saw it, and the way they ran their calloused fingers over the delicate bone was nothing compared to the day he came by and heard them playing it. The tune was slow and a bit stilted, obviously still learning to play it, but the look of pure happiness on their face as they played an instrument that he had made for them made his soul pulse.

That was the day he admitted to himself that he may very well have fallen in love with a human. A kind, generous, simple, hardworking human. His brother was never going to let him live this down. Especially the hardworking part. But still he was never able to approach them, he knew what he looked like. A large skeleton with a caved in skull and one massive red eye light. Even the military personal and other volunteers gave him wide berth. At the very least he had been able to get new clothes but he still kept his old hoodie, the old blood stains had faded to dull brown spots with age and attempts to wash them out.

After the flute he wanted to give them something else that would make them breathless so he went back to leaving smaller trinkets as he worked on the next big gift. The dagger had taken him quite some time to make and he may have snuck a bit too close when they were napping in their barn to get a fit for their hands. His phalanges may have also lingered a bit too long on the soft skin of the back of their hand as well.

But it was all worth it when he watched them open their window that morning with a look of pure adoration on their face. They held it in shaking hands and looked like someone had given them the most beautiful thing in the world and his soul was soaring. They kept it on them for the rest of the day and he left halfway through. He had some things that needed to be taken care of, like the finalizing of the purchase of the property next to this one. It was still a bit off because they owned a fair bit of land but it was as close as he was going to get.

When he came by the next morning with another trinket, a small comb, he froze at the sight of something else lying across the windowsill. It was long and thin, wrapped in old brown paper and held shut with a piece of twine. Tucked under the twine was a small envelope which he carefully opened, trying not to tear the paper inside with his sharp digits.

 

“Dear Mystery Monster,

I don’t know how to thank you for all these gifts you’ve left at my window. Especially this last one. It’s beautiful and I will treasure it forever. It looks like those things you’d see behind glass in some fancy museum and I never thought a country bumpkin like me would ever get to hold something so wonderful in my own hands.

I’d love to meet you in person but I can understand if you do not wish to show yourself. So instead I’ve decided to leave you something today! I hope you like it!

Sincerely,

Xxxxx”

 

A gift for him? They left out a gift for him? He couldn’t control the tremors in his hands as he slowly unwrapped the paper from the package and his breath caught in his chest. He’d seen this in their barn, off the side of their workstation and left unfinished. He had also seen the sad looks they had given it. But now it was done, the wood smoothed out and the stain used to make a contrast in the design. It was mostly plain except for the top. There was the rough shape of a rattle snake twining around the top carved into the wood and lodged into its gaping mouth was a decent sized piece of quarts.

He knew this walking staff had meant a lot to them. That this staff held a lot of meaning and most likely had a deep story and they had given it to him. He clutched it to his chest as he rummaged around in his pockets, looking for a pen. As soon as he had one he tore a bit of the bottom piece of their note off and wrote a simple one word message on it and stuck it under the comb.

 

“soon.”

 

Then the light of their room flickered on and he stuffed their note into his pocket and used a shortcut back to his new property where Papyrus was already starting the first stages of building a new home. If his brother noticed him coming home early with his gift clutched in his hands and the dopiest smile to grace his face in a long time then he was merciful enough not to mention it. And he honestly couldn’t wait. He had planned to finish building their home before he introduced himself, so that just means he needed to help his brother get done quicker if he wanted to move up that meeting.