You knew for a fact that Papyrus had been awake for three days.
You knew him well enough to know what three days without sleep looked like, for one thing. Vacant eyes, slumped, weighted shoulders - you threw a paper ball at his head, to which he didn’t so much as flinch - slow response time. An alert, rested Papyrus would have been able to hear it whistling towards him and caught it in mid-air. But not this man.
The other obvious indicator was that this man, every time you had stirred in the night lately and looked at him, had either been tapping at his phone, watching you like a hawk, or been absent all together, pottering about downstairs doing whatever the hell it is Papyruses do when left to their own devices. Not sleeping. And admittedly, he didn’t need a lot of it. But when the engine had been revving for three days, well, if you didn’t intervene, he was going to burn out like a candle, and it was going to be while he was doing something stupid, like operating the oven or driving the car.
And so you intervened.
It was Saturday, and fortune had smiled upon you and blessed you both with a day off from work, which you were spending at his house, sitting sideways with legs stretched out on the sofa, while he sat at the kitchen table, pretending to do a crossword puzzle in the newspaper.
You knew he was pretending, because a sane, rested Papyrus, wouldn’t even bother with such drivel as a crossword puzzle. You watched him through the archway, sitting still with a pen, poised as though to write, but not writing, and he truly was the picture of exhaustion. Your heart twinged, and you opened your mouth to speak, but found yourself talked over by the ding-dong of the doorbell. Papyrus didn’t hear it, but he half-heard you as you rose quickly from the sofa, announcing... Something.
“... What?” was all he could manage, in query.
“The doorbell rang! I think it’s the thing!”
He stared at your back as you went to answer the door and spoke briefly with a gentleman he didn’t recognise, who then proceeded to hand you a fat, stout tube of a package. You grappled it against you in a one-armed hug as you said thank you, goodbye and then closed the door behind him, before turning back around to look brightly at the bedraggled looking skeleton, still wearily blinking at you from the kitchen table.
You threw a hand in gesture to what you were holding “The thing.”
Papyrus looked at you as though you were no longer speaking English “... What?”
You laughed “The thing. Arrived. I ordered a thing. For you!”
He pointed a finger at himself in question.
“Yeah, you! It might help you out, plus I’ve always wanted to try one of these,” you strode through the living room and into the kitchen towards him, holding your free hand out for him to take “Would you like to come upstairs with me?”
He blinked at you drearily, before lowering his gaze to your hand, and his desire for your tenderness alone was enough for him to clasp it, tiny, in his own, and follow your lead. He rose to his feet and was guided by you back the way you came and up the stairs, to his bedroom.
In his exhaustion, Papyrus couldn’t even half-pay attention to whatever you were saying as you unpackaged the item and he didn’t even think to absorb what it was you had unwrapped, however when you pulled the duvet off his bed and instructed him to lie down and relax, he perked up like a dog to a dog whistle.
“Are we going to have sex?”
“You haven’t listened to a word I’ve said, have you?” you laughed aloud, with a shake of your head. You gave him a light pat on the bottom to cushion the blow “That wasn’t my intention, Honey. Maybe when you’re a bit more rested. I’m trying to help you sleep.”
“That would DEFINITELY help... With that... Thing you said.”
“Don’t kid yourself. Sex has the entire opposite effect on you, and you know it. I don’t want you yodelling from the roof tops and swinging round lampposts; I want you sleeping!”
The skeleton made what you’d come to understand was a pout, despite not having any lips to pout with “I don’t like naps...”
“Irrelevant,” you said, curtly, not welcoming any further excuse “You need sleep. You’re gonna hurt yourself, or someone else, or make yourself ill.”
“I don’t get ill-“
Your eyes bulged over a stiff, unpleasant smile, your tone stretched “Lie down, Papyrus.”
This was enough to spook him into doing as he was told, but the pout remained. He lay down, stiff as a board, with his arms crossed sternly over his chest and sulked at the ceiling “It’s not going to work. It just happens when it happens.”
“Look, Papyrus, I’m not expecting a miracle, here; it is you after all. But if we can squeeze two hours out of you - one hour even - I’ll be happy. It’s worth a shot, Honey. I’m worried about you.”
He turned his head sharply at that last statement, feeling a pang in his heart as he absorbed your expression. You were stressed and frustrated, your eyebrows knitted in concern, just for him, and his face flushed with orange as he remembered that you loved him. You loved him a lot, even if it was hard to believe sometimes, and he loved you a lot in return.
His little sweetheart.
He heaved a deep sigh, turning back to face the ceiling above him.
“So, what do I do now, my heart?”
“Just close your eyes, for now,” blackness fell upon your command, and he listened to you as you moved about his room, drawing the curtains and rummaging around in his drawers. The fluffing and shaking of fabric and you huffing and puffing in apparent effort had a smile screwing up into Papyrus’ face.
“What on earth are you doing?”
“Sssh,” you hushed, making him feel warm.
With that, the weight of a duvet fell over him, and he stiffened with the sudden appearance of contact. It was heavy; soft and grounding and Papyrus couldn’t help but breathe out an enormous sigh as though he’d been pumped full of air and deflated. It felt good.
“Wowie,” he whispered, keeping his eyes closed “Wh... What is this magic?”
Your gentle chuckle sounded close by, and the mattress dipped somewhat; you were now sitting on the side of the bed. Your soft, little hand smoothed across his forehead “It’s a weighted duvet. I heard they’re good for anxiety and general jittery-ness.”
“It feels nice.”
“Good. Your brain runs at a thousand miles a minute, my dear. I thought it might help to slow things down. Give you a bit of weight to hold onto.”
“It’s good,” was all he could muster for a few moments, letting the feeling sit over him. You little clever clogs, always coming up with such interesting solutions. Everything was very still and very quiet as the skeleton let himself focus on the weight as you’d suggested, keeping his eyes closed and his mouth shut as your gentle touch continued to smooth in repeating patterns across his forehead. He found his mind lulling with the movement, putting imaginary weight into each turn and retreat of your hand, as though it rocked him from side to gentle side, like a baby. But just as he was beginning to relax further, the pattern changed, sending a repercussion of awareness rattling through him that made him stir, his eyes flickering open again.
“Oh, I thought you were going,” your voice was hushed and low, and you withdrew your hand, which was honestly even worse “Sorry.”
Papyrus almost whimpered in your absence and, to your dismay, he wriggled beneath the sheets to turn onto his side to look at you, his eyes too wide and awake for your liking as he jostled the sleepy fog from his mind in pursuit of you.
“Close your eyes, Honey,” you pressed, and he groaned, not liking it.
“This is silly, I just can’t do it.”
“You can. You were going, I could see it. Maybe if I just leave you to it-“
“No!” his hand shot out from under the duvet to grip your shoulder in protest “If you leave, I’ll just wonder about you. How am I supposed to sleep, when you’re out there, awake, without me?”
Oh, he’d said something that rewarded him with a kiss, it seemed, and he sucked in a sharp breath through his nose as you sweetly pushed your lips against his teeth. This was not going well, said his thumping little heart.
“Oh, I do love you,” you whispered to him and his face scorched with a blush. You giggled at the whole situation “God, I’m just making it worse, aren’t I?”
“Perhaps,” Papyrus half-agreed, uncomfortably, not wanting to discredit how wonderful you made him feel. He reached up to gently hold your face in his hand, smoothing a thumb along your eyebrow “... Will you get into bed with me?”
How? How on earth was he so good at puppy-dog eyes? He didn’t even have eyes, and yet he lay on his side, looking up at you with those dead, empty sockets and your heart twinged, defeating any kind of argument you could think to muster against it. You sighed, cursed. Truly hexed with affection.
He grinned in his victory, watching you with almost more excitement than you were willing to tolerate as you wiggled out of your shorts and tights, leaving you in just a long-sleeved t-shirt and knickers. This sparked an idea in him “Maybe I should be wearing less clothes, as well.”
Before you had time to protest, he was practically springing out of bed, shaking up far too much energy, to wrestle himself out of his own jeans, incredibly tight on his long, spindly legs, as was the Papyrus standard. You rolled your eyes as he then pulled off his t-shirt, leaving him in nothing but little briefs and socks, a broad, empty rib cage and a smile on display that looked as though he thought he was winning a game.
Which he wasn’t. You snapped your fingers twice and pointed at the bed, and back in he got, looking at you, expectantly.
Beneath the warm, heavy covers, you slipped in beside him and, in an instant, long limbs tangled around you like vines, cocooning you against him. Again, all the air left his body in a massive, relaxing sigh, but pressed against his rib-cage, you could hear the thundering thrum of the closest thing he would ever have to a heartbeat, and as he squeezed you, his hands pressing into the plush fat of your back and waist, you could tell he was getting altogether too excited by your closeness. You allowed him that, sighing silently against him, because damn, if it didn’t feel good when a strong, bony hand ran firmly from your waist to your thigh, flesh swelling in the gaps between his fingers. But when a low, rasped groan rumbled out of him, enjoying you without a shred of innocence, you snapped back to your senses.
“Too horny,” you critiqued, pushing yourself to arm’s length from him, and he whined pathetically in protest, but let you shimmy and wriggle into a different position.
You lay on your back, further up the bed against the pillows, and motioned for him to curl into your open arm and rest his head against your chest.
“You are the softest thing,” he observed quietly, settling against you with a hand rested on your far side.
You gripped his hand, sharp and firm, when he began to kneed your flesh in his fingers “You may hold me, but no groping.”
“You think you can stop me from having fun, but you can’t. I’m always having fun,” he said petulantly, turning onto his back to look at the ceiling in pretend-moodiness, but still cosied at your side.
Your arm still around him, you lifted your hand to gently scratch his skull with your fingertips, affectionately, smooching a kiss to his temple, these little gifts of tenderness making him huff and puff and sigh. He reached across himself to hold your other hand, and you were pleased to see he closed his eyes. He was still, his rib cage swelling and shrinking with long, easy breathes, blowing out of him in enjoyment.
“Is that nice?” your whispered, rewarding him with another kiss to his head when he nodded, slow and shallow. Your heart bloomed “I may be the softest, but you are the sweetest thing.”
“I contest that that is you,” he replied, his voice low and quiet “The sweetest thing. The kindest thing.”
The two of you moved to kiss each other in tender automation, you still lightly stroking his head as his hand moved to cup your cheek, almost covering the entire side of your face in its size. So big, but so gentle, he was always so in tune with his strength and he’d always been able to read your form so well that you just... Fit together. Like a two-piece puzzle, you lay side-by-side, curled up beneath the grounding weight of this duvet, and he kissed you so softly and sweetly. His straight, white teeth pressing against your lips, emphasised with low, loving hums rumbling quietly out of him with each smooch.
Kisses divulged into cuddles and quiet conversation, which was a lot of Papyrus just… Chattering, as he did. You could allow him this for a while, as it was mostly just gentle talk about pleasant interactions at work or in one of his culinary classes, but very occasionally something would spike his excitement and his voice would raise in volume, his arms and legs would writhe and wriggle, and you’d have to shush him to calm down. He found silence difficult to lay in, because even with his mouth closed his mind would race and jitter, making noise; you knew that feeling well. Your brave and fearsome boyfriend was an anxious soul, deep down, just like you. After maybe thirty minutes of no restful progress, he was forbidden from speaking. Instead, you spoke in his place, filling the void of silence with soft, velvet stories about when you were your little, your family, your friends, your hobbies and shows and movies you liked. He would listen and hum thoughtfully, and gradually his breath grew deeper. He lay still beside you, and a settled aura of sleep hung about, though not quite upon him. It was your instinct to ask him if he was going, but you held your tongue, knowing a question that wanted an answer would undoubtedly rouse him back into the real world.
How long had you been there? An hour? Two? You weren’t sure, but finally, finally, it seemed your intervention had been a success.
You rested your eyes, your heart full as you enjoyed just being close to him, holding him against you. You wanted to protect him; for him to be happy and healthy, for him to smile. He was so good, and you loved him so dearly.
“Thank you,” he croaked, and you wondered for the umpteenth time if he could read your mind “You are so good. I love you.”
He fell asleep as you thought to yourself that you wouldn’t be shocked if he could read your mind; he was always impressing you. You smiled and lay blissfully in the moment, in your soft, snugly fortress for two.
Until five minutes passed, and you realised you weren’t tired.
Your phone was in the pocket of your shorts, discarded, entirely too far from Papyrus for you to retrieve without disturbing him.
He was such a light sleeper.
You lay wide awake and hoped you weren’t going to be waiting out a coma.