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Mr. Fear

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Nevermind the pain, I thought, that burned into my side. Everything happened too quick. Why was I so stupid to say ‘hello’ to a fucking monster. What the hell did I expect to happen? They’d say hello back? Did I really forget why they hated us? We sealed them away. We rejected them. We had hated them. I thought maybe, just maybe, if I showed some kindness that they wouldn’t go all out and attack.

I thought wrong. Now, here I am, running for my life across the meadow, back to my home. The small, quaint village that constantly smells like bread.

Ah, fuck, wait. I’ll just end up leading the monsters back to the village. Then all of them would round up the humans and then what? Fuck if I know, and I don’t know a damn thing!

“Where’d she go?!”

“She went east, I think!”

“How the fuck did you lose a human that fast?! Are all of you fucking retarded?!”

Yup, those were definitely the monsters. Man, I think I really pissed them off. All I did was say “hi”. Guess they really aren’t letting up, especially now that they know there’s a dumbass out here.

(The dumbass being me.)

I had to distract them somehow. Lead them away from home or something. I’m pretty sure they’re using their magic and throwing magical projectiles at me, but I couldn’t spare the chance to look.

(Projectiles? When the fuck did I ever use that word?)

Whatever. Just keep running. Ignore the shouting. They probably have a Boss with them. Leading them. I wouldn’t be surprised. That just made me run faster. My body was gonna give out soon though. My chest was burning and my legs ached. There was a little place I could jump. If I remember correctly, this was the place daredevils would cliff dive before the Shattering. There was water there, but were there monsters there too? Well, regardless, my legs were gonna give out if I didn’t do something.

Might as well continue the stupidity.

I tried to twist myself to the right. Yeah, I ended up hurting myself trying to turn so sharply, but I couldn’t linger at the thought.

“She’s getting away!”

“She’s making a jump for it!”

Without another moment, I flung myself over the edge. Sure enough, there was water. There was monsters there too, but it’s too late. I closed my eyes and hoped for the best.

I heard nothing for a moment. Surrounded by cold walls surrounding me. I was floating. I could hear my heartbeat ring in my ears. Not dead yet, huh? I opened my eyes. Yup, this was water.

(No shit Sherlock)

There was one aquatic monster, but it looked too scared to move. I waved to it and smiled. It meekly waved back. Ah, finally, a friendly monster. Don’t see enough of those.

(Don’t bother asking for help. They don’t want to put themselves in danger.)

Yeah yeah. I push myself to the surface, sucking air into my lungs and went underwater again. I don’t know if any of the monsters saw me, but better keep a low profile for now.

 

I return to my home village, ready to really get a lecture from the monster hunters. They’re a crabby bunch, thinking they can rule over everyone just because they can take down a couple of monsters. The rest of us are too scared to do anything about it.

And then there’s me. The stupid idiot who would walk into a monster camp and could greet a Boss without a second thought of danger. It was probably the third thought, but it wasn’t a priority of mine, I guess.

All I wanted was to show I wasn’t going to hurt them. That I wasn’t like the other humans. It has worked a few times. With weaker monsters. Monsters that couldn’t put up a fight even if they wanted to. I never really met a Boss, face to face anyway.

“You there! What the fuck were you doing outside the village?” Oh greaaaaat, a monster hunter. I thought I could slip past them, but I guess not.

“Oh you know.... Figured I’d go for a walk. Look at the birds, feel the breeze.” I shoved my hands into my pockets. Behind his copper, dented helmet, he glares at me.

“You think you’re being funny? You’ll lead monsters here! Are you that stupid! You’ll put everyone here in danger!” He gets in my face. He smells like smoke. I make a face.

“I think you’re putting everyone in danger with that stench. Don’t they train you to be clean before becoming a hunter?” His buddies laugh behind him. His glare is dangerous, but I don’t budge. There’s a rule here that other villages don’t have. If you’re unnecessarily attacked by a hunter, the village would go haywire and kick the hunter out. Their job was to keep monsters out, not become them.

They still throw their weight around like their big shots. People respect them. I don’t. I hate them. I hate that they hunt monsters out of fear. I hate that they hunt monsters just because they hate us.

Still, they do keep us safe at least. They have to put up with my shit too. Lord knows without them, I’d have my soul taken a long time ago.

“Stay out of trouble, brat. You’ll doom us all if you keep this up.”

Surprisingly, no lecture this time. Figured they’d get tired of repeating themselves eventually.

 

The village was obviously hastily made. With planks and boxes and anything that could be made into a shelter at all. Some people got creative, using plastic bottles to make a small shelter. Barely anything here looked like a building. Not like the ones around Mt. Ebott.

It’s been a good couple of months after the Shattering. Monsters still flowed out from Mt. Ebott. They’re expanding though. Rapidly. The war between humans and monsters resumed. Everyone thought it was over a long time ago. They taught us that in schools. Everything was over. They way they taught though, I knew... They only postponed the war. It was never over.

I never voiced my thoughts though. I didn’t want to be “that one” in school. The paranoid one. The “negative” one. Really wish I should have. Then I could have rubbed it in everyone’s faces. Ah, well, too late now.

This village, as I mentioned before, always smelled like bread. This place thrived in wheat before we came here. Thought it wasn’t the healthiest diet, it got food in everyone’s bellies. Warm food. No one complained.

How could you complain anyway? Lord knows I couldn’t. I loved this stuff. Baked goods were a weakness of mine before the Shattering. It’s still my weakness now.

“How can you stand it still?” My mom always asked. “If I ever have to look at bread like this again, I’m going to lose my damn mind.”

(Weeeak.)

I grinned. I could picture my mom’s expression perfectly. It was almost a routine. I come home, she’s making some kind of golden brown delicious treasure, make a comment and she’d give me this baffled look. It was fun.

Sure enough, I walk into our little home, performed the whole song and dance, and took a seat at our little table. We’re one of the few lucky ones who found an empty building. I think it used to be some sort of storage shed for something. It was empty, that’s all that mom cared about. It’s something to keep the wind out. It was a home.

"So, you went and saw the monsters again, didn't you?"

"Maaaaaa, c'mon. You gonna nag me too?"

"They're dangerous! I'm your mother. I worry about you." She pauses, letting out a tired sigh. God, now I feel like a jerk. She's already worn out for just trying to gather enough food for the both of us. I'm probably making things worse by making her panic.

"Ma, look... I'm sorry. I just think... I think if I just made one monster friend... Just ONE... Y'know...?" I wasn't sure how to put it. I imagine that I'd go on this long journey with my monster friend. Spreading peace and ideas that monsters and humans CAN be friends. It wasn't impossible. We didn't have to be afraid of each other....

"I know, sweetie. I know..." She sounds defeated. Greaaaat, the typical mom guilt trip. It's working like a charm. I wanna hate it, but I don't. I know it's because she cares. She just wants me safe, after all.

"Look, if it really bothers you I'll stop." It felt like I was putting myself in a cage when I said those words, but I really didn't want to make her worry more than she has to. She turns around, smiling a little.

"We both know you wouldn't keep that promise." She chuckled. "I remember when you were just a baby, I'd tell you typical fairy tales of knights slaying dragons and you'd cry that the dragon got hurt." She pauses again. Yeah, I remember. Now that I think about it, why didn't knights just tame the dragon instead of killing it? You'd be a badass knight with a fucking dragon! Who the fuck is gonna mess with you then?! Nobody.

"Ma, I was like, ten."

"Still baby age."

"I'm in my twenties, ma."

"Still baby age."

I roll my eyes. She's not gonna change her mind. I know that she's joking, but a piece of it had to be the truth, right? It's a mom thing, right?

The afternoon was going well. I ate, rested and just relaxed at home. Of course I helped mom do whatever chores needed to be done. She called me to help hang up the wet laundry outside to dry.

That's when they show up.

Chapter Text

At first, I thought it was people panicking over any other monster. It wasn't until I heard the monster hunters screaming "boss" was when time seemed to stop. Mom looked like she had seen the apocalypse happen before her eyes. I had mixed feelings. On one hand, a fucking BOSS followed me here and I should be losing my damn mind. On the other hand, I've never seen a Boss face to face. I'm not sure what made me move, but I start running outside. I can barely hear my mom calling for me.

They are huge. Two of them. One towered over everything, easily seven feet tall or so. A skeleton. There were two small, red lights in his eye sockets, which I'm assuming served as eyes. He was dressed in black, with a coat with thick white fur around the hood (or collar, I can't really tell from back here), spiked shoulder pads, and big, laced combat boots. The only color I could see was a small gold trim on his coat and bright red gloves that came up to his elbows. He was armed with a bone that was sharpened to a point at the end.

He scanned the village, almost glaring at it. He probably thinks it looks shitty. It's easy to judge when you have everything you need, isn't it you Jack Skellington looking motherfucker?

“Get all the humans! Leave no stone unturned! All souls go to the Queen!" His voice was loud, reaching even from where I stood. His voice was deep, commanding, dangerous. It shook something in my chest.

Beside him was a shorter skeleton. He had a rounder face in comparison and an arrogant grin. He wore black as well, similar to the taller, only he had a more blue shade to his outfit. His gloves were darker and slimmer in comparison too. He also had what looked to be the remains of a cape under the hood of his coat, but the only thing that remained was two long strands of tattered crimson. He stood with confidence, not authority like the other. So casually too, like this was all a walk in a park for him. He said something to the punk-rock Jack Skellington look-alike, but received a swift strike aside his head.

"Will you fucking take this seriously for once?! You are working for the Royal Family, for fuck's sake!" The tall one barked. The shorter rolled his eyes and waved him off carelessly.

I still can't believe they haven't seen me yet. I can't move for whatever reason. Time feels still and yet I'm seeing it move before me. Something grabs my shoulder and suddenly I'm back in reality. It's my mom.

"We need to go! Now!" She's yelling at me. How long has she been yelling. Wait, where are we going? Where can we run? Where can we even hide?

Which one was the boss monster?

None of my questions were answered. We ran as far away from those monsters as we could. But my mind couldn't get that image of the towering skeleton, looking over the chaos he brought with apathetic eyes, and a voice as loud and strong as a lion's. Something about him struck something in me. Something I hadn't felt in a long, long time.

Fear.

As we were running, a monster blocked our path. Mom pushed me behind her. Nothing registered in my brain what the hell was going on. I know that we're running again. Where to? Don't know. Everything happening before my eyes just would not register in my brain. I didn't see a town, I saw garbage. I saw blurry figures of people and monsters alike. All I could hear was the echoing of my heart beating louder than it has ever been. My mind was elsewhere and everything felt void of any feeling.

Suddenly, I clicked back into reality. More like... Thrown. I was pinned down onto the ground by some invisible force. There was a great weight in my chest and my vision came back. I can hear my mom screaming for me, but she was being pulled away by a monster hunter. As for what I could see....

I was looking directly into Death's face, and he had a fire in his eyes.

I couldn't scream, even if I wanted to. He was using his magic, otherwise I would be able to move by now. He was glaring deep into my soul, as if he was searching for something. Whatever he was doing, a pain - like fire - spread through my chest. I felt something grasp something. My heart. No... It was something else.

"Stop it." I couldn't tell if that was my own voice. Apparently it was and skeleton's sockets moulded into a narrow, piercing glare.

"You do not have the authority to command me." He growled.

(Did he pretty much say, "You can't tell me what to do?”)

I stared at the lights in his eyes. If they were white before, they're glowing red now. I tried to get up. He can't control me. He could be strong enough to take this entire town, but he won't take me! I pushed myself up some, but the weight on my chest increased, making me fall onto my back.

"Sheesh, you don't stay down easy, do ya?" Another voice lazily cooed. "Thought you didn't need my help, Pap?"

"I don't." The skeleton hissed. "She just has a stronger Soul, is all. Get back to rounding up the rest."

"Yeah, but that's booooring. This one looks like she's got some fight in her. I mean look at her! That cute little glare!" Another face came to view. It was the shorter skeleton. He pat my cheek twice, but they were like light smacks then anything. "Look at the murder in her face! Heheh, bet she'd be super fun to tame!"

"Will you go do your fucking job?!" The punk-rock Jack shouts.

(God, he's louder up close.)

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Fine." The shorter one sighs. The tall one looks back at me. For a moment, I thought he was kind of surprised that I could move, but I could have imagined it. The fire in my chest got worse and I almost couldn't stand it.

(Status.)

Wait, what?

Images and options flash in my view. A white box with a small blue heart, four other squares or red, labeled "Fight", "Mercy", Item", and "Spare." Below the box is a bar labeled HP, and the bar was decreasing at a slow, steady rate.

What the fuck does this all mean?!

I guess I want to fight then, if I want to get out of this. As heavy as my arm was, I manage to hover my hand over the Fight box. The box fades to black and a stick is formed right at my palm. A stick is better than nothing I guess. I've got to fight or do something, or I might die. Despite what his magic was doing to me, I swing at him. He jumped back. Some sort of expression of surprise and anger moulded on his face.

"You..." He growled. His voice shook something in my chest. It was low, and predatory - as if he just made me a target. I stand up, not keeping my eyes off of him. He stabs the air with the tip of his bone sword, directed at me.

Right now, he is the image of what a Grim Reaper would look like. A skeleton figure, shrouded with the aura of death. Eyes that burned the very core of my soul. Something in me quakes.

Sorcerer. ” He growls the word as if it was the most bitter taste in his mouth.

(What? Who? Me? A sorcerer? That can’t be right.)

But how else could I explain what I’m seeing? It’s like seeing a screen of a video game. Why now? Why would this be showing up now, of all times? Why not when I was being chased by monsters before? Or even after the barrier shattered?
I feel weightless suddenly. Cold metal tightens around my wrists. Things are happening so fast that I can’t keep up. I’m being pulled away. I can hear my mother screaming for me. I’m thrown in a cage on some type of wagon. Next thing I know, everything that once was home was fading into the fields I used to roam. Then, into the unknown.

 

I didn’t want to pay attention to any of the monsters right now. I just want to focus on what the hell just happened back at home. I tried to calm down. Okay... Now...

(Status)

Once again, a screen flashes into my view. The box was still there, the heart is still blue, but it’s in the center of the box. The other options are blacked out, except for the Mercy box. Wonder what else is there...? I try to hover my hand over it, but the cuffs stop me.
(Shit....)
Well, not much I can do now. I lean back and let out a sigh. Finally, I take a look around. The monsters here are dressed in black. I can’t really tell what each one looks like, but they all smell like wet dog. I turn my head, seeing the shorter skeleton from earlier. He catches my gaze and grins.

“Well, look who’s finally back in the real world.” He comments. “Or do you like what you see?”

“Eh, you’re a six.” He starts laughing.

“Man you are nothing like the ones we found last week. Couple of monster fuckers. They were a riot. Shame that Pap wouldn’t let me have some fun with them, if you know what I mean.”

“I do and it’s not surprising.”

“You one of them?” His grin becomes more devious.

“If the right one comes along, maybe.” No use lying, right? He chuckles. Honestly, I’m surprised he’s talking to me. Actually I’m more surprised he’s being nice to me, even if it’s to see if he can get in these pants.

“Any way I can be the ‘right one’?” Before I could answer, the taller skeleton seems to appear in the blink of an eye. He scowls at the other before barking out,

“Sans! You were sent here to guard, not to flirt shamelessly with the human!” The shorter one, Sans, rolls his eyelights.

“Oh come on, Pap! We’ve been out here on the field for weeks! I’m dyin’ over here!”

(Pap?)

“Show some control! You know better than to harass Royal Property!” Pap scolds. Is his name really Pap? Uh-oh, he’s giving me a look. Sans is trying not to laugh. I may have asked that out loud. “What did you just say?”

“Is... Your name really Pap? Cause, I mean, if it is, then that’s not really scary.” I pause. He’s still glaring. “Like, at all.” He opens his mouth, but whatever he was going to say was cut off by a loud, more feminine voice,

“Papyrus! Sans! You’re out of line! Are you trying to make me look bad?!” I try to see who was yelling at them. She didn’t sound nearly as loud as Pap did, nor did she have the confidence behind her booming voice. It was as if she was trying to put on a front, but if she’s ordering them around, doesn’t that make her the leader?
I can only see what I assume is the top of her head. She’s yellow, and based off of what I can see, she looks almost dragon-like. Oh, I hope she’s a dragon. I love dragons.

Papyrus changes his stature, while Sans continues to look more lax. As the dragon lady comes closer to the right side of my cage, she’s actually shorter than Papyrus.
(Which isn’t surprising, since he towers over every monster here.)
She’s taller than Sans, and she does appear to be dragon-like. Only, she has no wings. She is wearing black as well, with a strange emblem on the right side of her chest. Three triangles, with a winged circle hovering above them. I realize that Sans and Papyrus also have these emblems on their coats.

“What exactly are you doing with the prisoner?” She questions.

“I wasn’t planning anything, ma’am. I was relieving Sans from guarding her.”

“Did I say he can be relieved?” Papyrus doesn’t respond. His jaw clenches, like he wants to answer, but is holding back. She nods. “I thought so. Return to your position. As second in command, I expected you would lead an example.” She growls.

“Yes, ma’am. Won’t happen again.” His voice was dripping with poison, as if he wanted to say more. Instead, he marched on ahead, with the dragon lady following him. While passing, she studied me, then said,

“If I were you, I’d keep quiet. Papyrus here has a temper and you shouldn’t test it. As for Sans, don’t humor him. He’s enough trouble as it is. If you value your life, it would be your best interest to keep your mouth shut.”

“It would be easier to do that if all of you didn’t take me away just before dinner.” I mutter under my breath. She heard me and scoffed. I hear Sans let out a low whistle.

“Oh, man. Dodged a bullet there.” He sighed. I look over and it looks like a huge weight was lifted from his shoulders. “Thought those two were about to get into it again.”

“Happen a lot?”

“Oh, kid, you have no idea.”
“I’m in my twenties.” He glances at me and shrugs, clicking his tongue.
(Do skeletons have tongues?)

“Doll, you don’t even know how old I am. To me, you could be a kid.”
“Well, how old are you?” A sly smile spreads across his face.

“Lets just say, old enough to be considered ‘experienced’.” He winks. I have a grin of my own.

“Still a six.”

“Dammit.”

 

The day went on. Sans and Papyrus swapped shifts. By that I mean Sans is now taking a nap on top of my cage and Papyrus is standing guard next to me while other monsters are setting up. I can’t help but to wonder why the dragon lady would scold Papyrus, but not Sans....

“Hey, are you and her going out?” I ask. Papyrus snorted.

“Don’t be ridiculous. She despises me. Besides, she has a wife.” He growled. A wife? Who was the lucky lady to have married her? Was she just as scary as her?

“Do you have someone in your life?” I ask.

“I have my brother.”

“That’s not what I meant.” He glares at me.

“I know.” He turns his gaze to his napping brother and sighs. He mutters something about him being a “lazy ass” and returns to guarding me. “Now, if you would kindly shut up? I would like the rest of the night headache free.” His brother snores. “Mostly headache free.”

“Have you been drinking enough water? That should help with headaches. At least a little.” His jaw clenches, trying to keep quiet. “Or, you know, maybe you need some quiet time to let off some steam, eh?” He slams his fist on the top of the cage and growls at me. Sans jumps awake and sits up.

“If you value your pathetic life, I advise you to keep quiet.” I swear, he’s somehow glaring at my very soul. I swore my heart stopped for a moment. His eye lights are glowing red as he’s glaring, as if he was trying to burn my very core. He gets called over and is relieved from his position. I can breathe easy now. Sans sighs and hops down.

“Damn, you must have really got on his nerves.” He turns to me, a sly grin on his face and hands in his pockets. “That doesn’t happen with just anyone. Well, anyone that isn’t me.”

“Thanks....?” Should I be proud that I’ve pissed him off? Sans laughs and comes closer to the cage.

“You eat already?” He asks.

“Yeah, but not much. Still could eat a horse.” I sigh. As if some cruel fate, a horse monster dressed in royal garb walks by and glares at me. I try to quickly stammer out an apology, but the monster marches away with their muzzle in the air. Sans is laughing. I am complete trash.

“Just for that alone, I’m gonna grab you some more food. I’ll be right back.” He manages to say between his laughing fit. He turns and vanishes in a blink of an eye.

So, lemme recap myself here... I’ve been caught by monsters who work for royalty. Two skeletons that are named after fonts, and a dragon lady are in charge. So... Why do they want me alive again? Did they take anyone else? Why am I here? It doesn’t make sense, unless....

(Sorcerer.)

But what does that mean....?

Sans comes back, slipping food into my cage. The bread is stale, totally not fresh, but I can put up with it. He and I chit-chat until I’m done eating and that’s when angry Jack Skellington starts walking up to us. He still looks pissed.

(Wonder if he has resting bitch face....?)

“Sans, what are you doing?” Papyrus grumbles.

“Giving the human some eye candy.” Sans grins. Papyrus pauses, his eye sockets narrowing.

“As far as I know, there are no such things as candies that are made from eyes.” Sans and I both start laughing. He still looks puzzled, and Sans is trying to explain but nothing coherent can be heard.

“I cannot believe I let you catch me.” I giggle. Papyrus stands up straight.

“Excuse me?”

“What?” I ask. He scowls and pushes Sans aside.

“You ‘let’ me catch you?” He growls. Oh no. I was dumb again, wasn’t I? Quick, say something!

“Yeah. I mean, it was kind of an unfair match. It was me against you and your brother.” Stop talking! Stop talking! “Two against one is hardly a match, is it?”
I knew the moment those words left my mouth, I made a horrible mistake. The air around Papyrus grew hot as his eye lights began to glow red. My fate was sealed once I heard,

“Open the damn cage.”

Chapter Text

I didn't know what to expect. I sure as hell didn't expect the cage door to open and Papyrus dragging me out. I was free from my shackles, but now I'm cowering like an idiot because I couldn't keep my prideful, stupid mouth shut. A crowd of monsters began to form and the commander dragon lady was protesting, but Sans said something to quiet her down and let her observe.

Me and my impulsive lizard brain, I swear to God....

"Not full of spirit anymore?" Papyrus calls me out. Of course I'm not when you look like you're going to skew me with that pointed bone sword thing, you egg! I try to steal my nerves and summon the "screen" again. I hover my hand over the "Fight" box and summon my trusty stick weapon. I look back up and - Holy shit! Just about had a heart attack! Papyrus charges at me and swings his weapon at me. I barely had time to think of a strategy! How is he this fast?!

I looked at my options while trying to dodge his attacks, which is not going well for me. Out of sheer curiosity, I hover my hand over the "Mercy" box. The box shatters, then materializes into a shield on my arm. Nifty! I can finally block his attacks and look for an opening!

I block his next attack and took a swing. I forgot he had a free hand and he catches my wrist. Okay, would now be a good time to panic?

"So, you can summon a weapon and a shield?" He states, glancing at my magic shield. "That means nothing if you don't even know how to use it." He pushes me to the ground and summons another bone sword. Oh, great, dual wielding. That increases my hope.

(Heavy sarcasm)

I cover myself with the shield, bracing myself for his upcoming attack... But it never came. I hear him scoff and then some footsteps.

"Don't insult me like that. Do you take me for a coward?" He growls. "Get up and face me." A monster with standards, huh? I slowly get back up on my feet and ready my weapon, but his attacks are just as relentless as before. I look down at my HP. It's decreasing rapidly, but thanks to my shield it's decreasing one by one. Still, the numbers are adding up and I'm already at nine out of twenty HP.

8

7

6

I have to think of something quick, before he ends me! I only have a stick... And a cool, magic, glowing shield. Dammit! What can I do?!

5

4

3

I've never really been in a fight before. Why did I think this was a good idea?! Why did I do this?! I'm such an idiot!

2

1

(GOD I'M AN IDIOT. I'M AN IDIOT AND I'M GOING TO DIE. I'M SO STUPID. STUPID. STUPID. STUPID. STUPID!)

It's quiet. Well, almost quiet. I'm on my knees. My shield has shattered and the stick was gone. My eyes are burning with tears. I'm going to die. If he won't kill me, something else will. I can vaguely see Papyrus' boots, but my vision is messed up from the tears building. He speaks to me, loud and clear, but not in his usual booming tone,

"You are going to die, human. Your Soul will give the Queen the power she needs to lead us to victory." He grabs a handful of my hair and tilts my head up, forcing me to look at his face. "If you want to make this difficult, then by all means, continue what you're doing. I can't guarantee you'll make it to the Capital completely unscathed. Let me remind you of your place - you are our prisoner. Nothing more than a container for that Soul. Once you arrive to the capital, you will be gone and we will finally have a place here on the surface. Aside from your Soul, you are nothing."

("You are nothing.")

The words sting at my heart. Something in me snaps. I am reminded of the terrible things they said to me. I remember how I used to feel back then. Now... Maybe, just maybe, I really am nothing. That this joking around I've been doing has been just denial of my fate? That I was doomed to die and become nothing.

I break out into sobs. Papyrus lets my hair go and walks off. I can hear the two skeletons talking, but I can't hear them over the sounds of my own cries. My head falls into the palm of my hands as I continue to weep into them. I vaguely remember being carried back to my cage and being locked up, but everything that night was a blur. I only remember those three words that ring in my brain and fall into a dreamless sleep.

 

The morning was a blur. I hardly remember waking up. I didn't eat. I kept to myself. Even in the afternoon or so, when everyone was back on the road again and Sans was guarding me, I stayed quiet.

"Hey, c'mon, doll. Don't let what he said get to you." Sans says. I'm really not in the mood to talk. I pull my legs up and hug my knees to my chest. I don't expect him to understand. Not completely. I hear him sigh.

"Doll, he's really not that bad. He's just stressed out. Don't let him get to you."

"Why do you even bother? I'm going to die. Just drop it." I snap. Sans looks surprised for a moment, then frowns.

"Dammit, and you were actually kinda fun. He just had to fuckin' break ya, didn't he?" He grumbles, shoving his hands into his pockets. I turn my head away, but I can still see him. Papyrus. Why does he have to be so tall? Why does he have to remind me of my doomed fate? I press my forehead against my knees.

No... I can't think like this. I'm gonna go crazy if I can think like this. I wonder if it still works... I rummage my pockets until I take it out. A few scratches on the screen, but it powers on. I smile some, and search through my phone's apps until I find the music app. I turn the volume down as low as I can then select a song. It's a rock song, one with an amazing guitarist. I remember I used to blare this song just to piss off stuck-up neighbors, but I actually like this song. I can't really make out the lyrics since the volume is so low, but I'm happy with anything that makes me think of something else.

"What'cha got there, doll?" Sans comments. I jolt up and turn to him. He's got a devious smile on his face. "What? I don't bite." He pauses. "Well, only if you ask nicely." I roll my eyes.

"Promise you won't take it away?" I ask, clutching my phone tightly. He gives me a curious expression, then starts to ponder. Is he doing this on purpose?

"Yeah, okay, sure. Why not?" Not exactly the most confident answer. I bit the inside of my cheek and show him my phone. "Whoa, you still have one of these things? And it still works ?"

“Sorta. It doesn’t do calls or text anymore. The only thing that works is the music app.” I smile a little. “I was lucky Ma and I lived inside a building. I could charge my phone whenever I wanted...” I thought back to her. I’m never gonna see her again... She even warned me that this sort of thing would happen... She’s probably worried sick...

“Yeah, figured it’d be kinda busted.” Sans shrugged. “Still surprised it still kind of works.” I tap on the screen. Something is eating at me...

“Why are you being so nice to me?” I ask. “The other monsters here don’t really want anything to do with me. Especially Pap.” Sans let out an airy chuckle.

“Look, seriously, he’s just stressed out.”

“What happened last night was because he was stressed?”

“Eh.... Kinda? I think you just kept getting on his nerves. Happens with me all the time.” He shrugs.

“But you’re brothers, so that’s different.”

“What? Just because we’re skeletons, you just assumed that we’re related?” He growled. Oh great, I fucked up again. I opened my mouth to apologize, but he starts up laughing. Oh this fucker... “Oh, man, you’re too easy.”

“I take back what I said about you being nice.” I huff. Sans puts a hand over his chest, clutching his shirt.

“Oh, ow. My feelings. I can’t believe you would say that.” He’s obviously being over dramatic. I’m not going to get a straight answer from him, so I guess I’ll stop pushing it. I return to the music on my phone for a while. I don’t know if no one heard me over the sounds of marching footsteps and the clunking of armor. I just had my music and that’s all I needed to lift my spirits again.

 

I don’t know how much time passed, but the group finally stopped. I turn off my phone and look towards Sans. He looks just as confused as I am.

“Hey, Pap! What’s going on?” He calls. Papyrus glares at him and marches over.

“How many times do I have to tell you not to call me that?” He growls. He glances at me and murmurs something to Sans. Sans still seems puzzled.

“Are you sure?” He asks. Papyrus doesn’t respond.

“Is... Is everything alright?” Sans is about to say something, but my cage is suddenly knocked over.
Things again become a blur. As soon as my cage topples to the ground, I just see boots running and I hear fighting and shouting. We’re under attack, but who’s attacking us...? I sit up and notice that the cage door is open. One could say I might be safer staying in the cage, but I feel trapped in here and if they’re here to get me, it’ll be too easy for them. I crawl out and summon the “screen.”

(Status)

The screen shows that I have 0.5% of my HP. How is that even possible...? I don’t have time to think about it. Magic projectiles are flying everywhere.

“Where’s the human?!”

“Get the human!”

“Over there!”

“She’s out!”

I summon my weapon and try to find Sans. In the midst of all this chaos, I think I’d rather be fighting next to someone who was actually nice to me. Instead, I bump into the angry skeleton who probably wants me dead. Papyrus looks down at me and I almost freeze.

“If you can’t face me, you’re nothing against these monsters!” He shouts. “Get back in your cage! You’re safer there!”

Fuck that.

I’m going to show him that I’m not “nothing.” I can fight these guys, whoever they are. Now that I’m out and about, I can see that we’re being under attack by a group hidden in their robes. They’re wearing symbols similar to the royal emblem, but the triangles are above the winged circle, and it’s blue instead of red. I think it’s safe to assume that this is some sort of rebel group, but are they humans or monsters?
A robed figure jumps at me, declaring that he was going to be the victorious one. I panicked and summoned my shield instead of using my weapon. I’m no fighter, but I’ll be damned if I just sit around and be a damsel in distress! I blocked the attack just at the right time and saw an opening. I had to swing now, or I’d regret it. I hear a cry of pain and I was thrown back.
Definitely a monster rebel group.
I was knocked back into a tree. A moment later, a bone sword comes flying my way, just barely missing my leg. The tip of the blade stabs in the tree’s trunk and another box pops up on my “screen.”

(Equip G. Sword?)

Sword? Ah, fuck it! I can’t ask questions now! I grab the sword (I guess I equip it now) and charge into battle. I’m not going to be weak! I’m going to be better! I’m not nothing!

And now I’m being lifted into the air. Some winged monster picked me up by the arms and is flying me elsewhere. I can hear Papyrus shouting a string of curses. As much as I would love to pry this guy off me, I’m already pretty high up. I’d probably break a bone if they dropped me, so I guess I’m just going for a ride. Before I disengage, I take a look at my “HP.”
One out of twenty.

 

All I remember is seeing a bunch of hills and openings to... Homes? Tunnels? I have no idea. Before I could even get a better look, a bag was thrown over my head. I heard whispers and... Meows? Meowing? Does someone own a cat here?

(Hey!)

I was tossed harshly onto the ground and heard a metal door close. I was no longer bound so I took the bag off my head. Great, another cage. Well, technically a cell, but still a cage. I heard shuffling behind me. There’s a girl, probably a few years younger than me. Her eyes are wide and she looks like she hasn’t slept for a while. Her clothes, a T-shirt and jeans, are torn and dirty. Her dark hair is matted and greasy. How long has she been here?

“They... They got you too?” She stammers. Too? Suddenly, her hands are gripping my arms tightly. “Oh God, no. Not another one. God... I can’t stand to see another one go.”

“Woah, hold on. What are you even talking about?” I ask. “What is this? Where am I and who are you?”

“Okay, okay...” She takes a deep breath. “I’m... I’m Harper. We’re in an anti-human monster hideout. These guys want nothing to do with humans. They... They just... Kill humans. And the souls, oh God, the souls....” She began to breathe heavily. Or... Is she hyperventilating? Oh no, what do I do?

“Hey, hey! Uh- Calm down! What do they do with the souls? Harper!” It’s no use. This girl is losing her mind. What can I do...?

(Status)

(Mercy)

Huh, how about that. Finally getting a good look at the Mercy option, I can either summon a shield or heal someone, including myself. Maybe... Harper’s HP is low? Does it even work like that?
Worth a shot.
I select the option and cast the heal on Harper. She seems to relax some, but she still looks like a mess.

“What... What did you...?” She looks at me with big eyes, but she wasn’t scared. She stepped closer. “Did you try to...” She tilts her head. “What are you...? Humans... Can’t use magic, right?”

“I think I do?”

“You don’t sound very confident.”

“I just found out about it yesterday, so....” I shrug. “So, um, are you okay talking now?” She nods.

From what I understand, this monster group hates humans so much, they’d rather destroy humans altogether. The Royal Guard takes Souls in order to make their troops stronger. I asked if she knew how the barrier was broken.

“I... Don’t know. It was supposed to keep them there forever... I don’t...”

“Keep calm.” I put a hand on her shoulder. It just seemed like the right thing to do. She grabs both my shoulders.

“But-! But you’re a Sorcerer, right? You can get us both out of here!”

“Yeah, I guess, but I don’t know how!” I hear the sound of heavy paws come down the hall. Harper just loses it.

“Oh God! They’re getting ready! We’re gonna die! We’re gonna die!”

“Harper!” I call out to her. She’s gripping her hair and crying. God, what can I do in this situation? Usually, music sort of inspires me to get things done. I go to the farthest corner of the cell and shuffle my songs. A song pops up.

Ah, perfect. Angry rock. I still have it on the lowest volume, but it’s perfect. All those action movies I used to see with Ma and my friends come flashing in my mind. How would those badasses get out of here...? Harper is watching me. She’s trembling. Something clicks in my mind.

“Harper, I have an idea.”

 

“Hey, hey! Mister guard guy!” Harper calls down the hall. I hear a groan and heavy footsteps. I’m pretty sure what I’m looking at is a big tabby cat wearing some sort of worn out robe. Harper is gripping the cell bars tightly. “U-Um, my friend. She’s sick.” The cat looks at me. I’m holding my stomach and curling up, groaning. This usually got me out of going to school, until Ma caught on.

“So, what am I supposed to do about it?” He grumbles.

“I’m gonna puuuuke....” I moan in the most pitiful way possible. “Water... Please... At least... Some water, please...?” The cat studies me with scorn, but sighs and walks off. Harper scurries to my side.

“Do... Do you think that worked?” She whispers. I nod.

“Works all the time on new eyes.” I grin. The cat comes back with a cup of what I’m assuming is water.

“You gonna do anything stupid, meat?” He asks me. I get up on my feet, forcing my legs to wobble.

“I-I’m too weak to do anything, sir... Even if I wanted to...” I mumble. Harper watches me like a hawk as I come up to the cell door. The cat opens the door and gives me the water. I drink a huge gulp and hand it back to him. He looks pleasantly surprised. If I was going to do this, I might as well do this now. I summon my sword and point it at him. He falls back in surprise.

“Wha-What the hell?!” He gasps.

“Alright, Garfield, here’s what’s going to happen.” I say, like all those badasses in the movies. Before I list my demands, Harper flees from the cell and sprints to the exit. Which isn’t supposed to happen.

“Harper! Harper, wait! This isn’t-” The cat takes advantage of the situation and gets back up. He easily towers over me.

“Now, what was it you called me?” He growls. I suddenly feel very much like the wimpy, quick-wit sidekick. I let out a nervous laugh, then run after Harper. The cat calls for backup and chases me. Oh God, I think I had a nightmare like this once.

“Harper, where are you?!” I shout. I can’t see her. I have no idea where she is. I just follow the halls until I come into a brightly lit room. Harper was there, but she’s frozen in place. A huge monster, much larger than Garfield back there, stands before her. It’s growling. No wait.... That’s it’s stomach.

Chapter Text

“They went this way!”

“Not the executioner’s room! Get them out before Boss gets here!”

The voices ring down the hall. Harper is too scared to move. And this... Monster? God, I don’t even know what it is. It’s all white, and it looks like it’s melting. There’s a giant void where it’s face should be. It’s held back by chains, but upon both of us entering, I can hear the chains breaking. I pull on Harper’s arm.

“Harper! We need to go! Now!” I shout. She doesn’t budge and I’m not nearly strong enough to carry her. I keep begging for her to move, but all hope seems to have drained from her. She looks so broken and no longer has the will to move. She’s still alive though! There has to be a shred of hope! Just something! Anything!

The chains snap. The creature lunges at Harper. In a blink of an eye, she’s gone. She vanished in the blank body of this... Monster . I couldn’t do anything. I lost.

(0.5 out of 20.)

Why? Why am here? Why did it have to be me? Why Harper? Why? Why? My vision becomes hazy. Something in me aches.

(It’s kill or be killed.)

I stare at the white creature before me. It’s growling again. The bone sword forms in my hand.

(“You are nothing.”)

The words echo in my head. Both Papyrus’ and their voice. I go blind. My body moves on it’s own. Everything feels like a dream. Vague and obscure at best. I only remember swinging my blade and being hit in the face with... Dust? I heard a voice that brings me back to reality, but it’s a voice I don’t want to hear.

“Human!” I turn, seeing Papyrus standing in a doorway. I can’t tell what he’s thinking, but he’s keeping his distance for now. I look around. Most of the monsters here were cat like, but a handful of monsters were vastly different. They, too, are keeping their distance. Finally, I turn my attention to the dust. It’s everywhere. There’s no evidence of the large white creature that took Harper. Did... Did I just...?

“Boss! We’re sorry! We didn’t think she’d escape and we... Didn’t think she’d be a sorcerer...” One of the monsters state. Papyrus approaches me slowly.

“I didn’t think she would either. No matter. You did your part, now relocate before Alphys’ troop gets here. I’ll buy time.”

“Y-Yes your terribleness! We thank you for your kindness!” Papyrus snorts.

“This is not an act of kindness. This was simply a professional arrangement. Would you not have assisted, you would all be dust.” The monsters tremble. “Now, begone! Before I change my mind!” The monsters scramble out.

I’m not sure how to process this new information. This was all... Planned? But why? And what... Exactly did I do...? Papyrus stands by my side. I suddenly recall our sparring match and how he completely dominated the fight. After what I’ve done, who knows what he’s going to do to me? I close my eyes and anticipated the worst.

“Hm. So you can fight.” He said, almost impressed. I... Wasn’t expecting that. I look up at him. He’s not.. Mad, but I’m not sure what that expression on his face means. He’s not smiling, but he’s not exactly upset either. He raises his hand and I instinctively flinch. With a gentleness I wasn’t expecting, he pats my head. My heart jumps. When I look back at him, I’m suddenly cuffed.

“Oh.” I sigh. I guess he was lowering my guard. Well, it sure as hell worked.

“Did you really expect to leave here without being restrained?” He scoffed. “How stupid do you think I am?”

“I never said that you are...” I mumbled, but I guess he didn’t hear me. Good, the last thing I want right now is to upset him. He holds the end of a chain and tugs me along.

 

As I guessed, we were underground. Which is... Weird. Didn’t monsters want to get out from underground? As if he read my mind, Papyrus answered my silent question,

“They are monsters who grew fond of the underground. They actually hated the idea of coming to the surface.”

“So... Why did they make a deal with you? Don’t they hate the Queen or something?” I ask.

“They’d be foolish if they turned down a merciful offer from the Great and Terrible Papyrus!” He declared. Oh God, the ego on this guy... It’d be a crime not to roll my eyes at him. I guess he did have a point though. It would be stupid to turn down an offer from someone who could probably wipe out an entire town.

“So, uh... Why make the deal in the first place? Won’t you get in trouble by your boss?” He glares down at me.

“Nosy brat, aren’t you?”

“Hey, I could have died in there! I saw a girl get eaten by some weird... Melty, monster... Thing! Okay?!” Oh God, why can’t I keep my mouth shut? “You gotta give me something here! Or else I’ll....”

“Or you’ll what?” He huffed. “These are magic restraints, so you’re at my mercy.” I thought for a bit. Well, I’m not sure how well it’ll work, but... I took a deep breath, puffed my cheeks and held my breath. God this is so fucking childish. He tilts his head.
“What are you doing?” He asks. I know if I answer, it’ll defeat my purpose so I keep quiet. He sighs and keeps walking. “Try all you might, but your childish antics aren’t going to work.”
Bad news for you, fucker, I’m stubborn as hell.

“... So, you can stop that now.”

Try me. He completely turns to me and crosses his arms.

“Really now?” He huffs. I’d flip him off if I could. For now, both middle fingers are pointing to the ground. Oh, maybe this is a bad idea. I’m getting dizzy...

“.... Human, you’re turning a different color. I think it’s best you stop.” There’s some kind of concern in his voice. I wonder... I pretend to pass out. Some kind of noise - like a mix of a squeak and a scream - comes from him and he’s picking me up.

“Alright, alright! I’ll answer your questions!” I “wake up.”

“Thank you.” I grin.

“Damn brat...” He growls. Looks like I’m not using that trick again. I’m surprised he hasn’t threatened to kill me yet. After making sure I was breathing again, he sighed. “I did all this so I would be the only one to take you to the Queen.”

“Why?”

“So I can be Captain of the Guard.” He answers plainly. “I was robbed of the opportunity before. There’s no doubt after all this, the Queen will realize the error of her ways and make me lead the Royal Guard.” He states proudly.

“Aren’t you, like, co-captain or something? Second in command? Isn’t that enough?” I ask. He glares at me as if I just insulted his entire family. “Hey, I’m just trying to understand the full picture here!”

“Second in command...” He snarls. “Everything I do has to go through her . I have to have her permission to do anything! If I was Captain, everyone will have to answer to me. Everyone will have to gain my permission. I’ll be the one to lead all of monster kind to victory!”

(Sounds like you’re stroking your own ego, bud...)

Well, at least I can kind of get where he’s coming from now. If the opportunity was robbed of him before, maybe there was some sort of fowl play involved? Eh, who knows? I’m just here for the ride.

“Now, are you finished with being nosy?” He huffs.

“Eh, for now.” I shrug. He narrows his eye sockets at me before turning on his heel and leading the way once again. Wait, heel... Is he wearing heeled boots? I didn’t think combat boots had heels to them. Why does he need to be taller? Even without the heels, he easily is the tallest monster I’ve ever seen.
..... I want a pair.

 

Night eventually falls and Papyrus takes me into a deep part of the forest, far from the main path. I guess this was to hide from his boss. He started a small fire, but there was no smoke. Magic fire? I’m not sure. It was something warm, so I didn’t really think too much about it. I huddled close to it. The night air gets cold. Papyrus is watching me like a hawk. Does he really not trust me even when I’m cuffed? Well, whatever. There’s nothing I can really do, so I just ignore him for now. Well, until my stomach starts growling. He doesn’t hear it. Should I ask him if he has any food or... Nah, I should keep to myself. I’ve already pestered the guy a lot today.

My thoughts go back to Harper... If I understood things right, her human soul would have been absorbed by the monster and the monster would have gained an incredible amount of power. Yet, the monster didn’t change at all. Maybe if a human was eaten, it doesn’t count? Then why....
It’s stomach was growling.

I shudder at the thought. Were the other monsters starving it on purpose? If that were the case, wouldn’t it have been skin and bones?

“Human, are you plotting something?” Papyrus huffs. “You’re thinking hard on something.”

“I, uh...” I sigh and hug my knees to my chest. “There was another girl with me. She was...” I swallow the words, trying to keep myself calm. “Eaten. By some creature. But, wouldn’t that monster become stronger?” Papyrus was quiet, drumming his fingers on his kneecap.

“Ah, so that’s what happened...” He murmured. “She must have been HoPeless. There was no power left in her Soul.”

“What happened to the monster then...?” He looks at me as if I grew another head.

“You don’t remember? You slayed it. Along with a few guards who dared to fight you. You don’t remember any of that?”

“What....?” I suddenly lose my appetite. I couldn’t have killed it. I could barely fight. Then again, I did have an upgrade from the stick... But I couldn’t hurt another monster! Well, maybe whatever thing that was that ate Harper, but not other monsters!

“Don’t look so upset. You got stronger, didn’t you? It was either you fight them or be killed.” Papyrus states. I guess he had a point, but...

“I didn’t mean to hurt them...” I muttered. “I just... Harper...”

“Human, you are worrying too much. You defended yourself. They were weaker. Whether you meant to or not, you’re alive now. That’s all that matters.” Papyrus sighs.

(“Nothing more than a container for that Soul.”)

Right.... He had to make sure I was still alive for the Queen. If anyone was going to kill me, it was going to be the Queen.

“Why does the Queen need my Soul, specifically?” I ask.

“Because, you are related to one of the seven sorcerers that sealed all monster kind long ago. Your Soul is much stronger than any normal human’s. You can use magic, which proves that you are, in fact, a sorcerer.” He answers. “With that sort of power, the Queen can easily make this world ours again.” I nod slowly. I guess then... If she was going to use my Soul to help all these monsters who lived in the underground for so long doing God knows what.... Maybe it’s not all bad. I’m still not happy about it, but maybe I can be... Okay with it?

“Enough questions now. You need rest. I didn’t make this fire for myself.” He scolds. “You humans easily fall ill if you’re too cold or too tired. It’s tedious, but if it needs to be done then so be it.” It has been a long day... Guess it can’t hurt to get some sleep. I curl up on my side and let the gently cracking of the fire lul me to sleep.

 

“It’s sunrise, get up!” A booming voice jolts me awake. The fire is out and Papyrus is looming over me. Whatever dream I had, I instantly forgot about it. “Didn’t you hear me? Get up! Let’s not waste time!” His voice is already giving me a headache, so I get up to my feet. God, talk about a rude awakening...

Papyrus gets rid of any evidence that we were here and drags me deeper into the forest. As we’re walking, I recall the time when Ma and I were traveling with a bunch of other people through here. We were all so scared. No one understood how the barrier was broken. We only had one thing on our minds: Get the hell out of Ebott. Luckily our group made it out from the surrounding forests and into the valley. It was peaceful there and the monster hunters could see if a monster group was approaching miles ahead.

“Hey, Pap?” I ask.

“Do not call me that.”

“How’d the barrier break?”

“There was a weak spot.” He stated. I tilted my head.

“A weak spot?”

“Deep in the Ruins.” He stated. “It’s far too early to be nosy, isn’t it?” He adds, glaring at me.

“Are you not a morning person? Neither am I.” He growls something under his breath. I think I’m safe poking some fun, as long as I don’t challenge him to fight again. So I keep it up with the questions.

“Do you like coffee? I remember so many cafes. They were nice. Hey, did you know cafes weren’t really popular until recent years? Well, until monsters flooded out from Mt. Ebott. Then again, I haven’t seen how other villages are established. Maybe they have cafes. Maybe you should go to one. Get some coffee and enjoy some music. Most places have pretty chill atmosphere. Hey, do you-”

SHUT UP. ” He barks, loud enough to scare nearby birds in their trees. “God, you are so much worse than Sans! I know you’re doing it on purpose too, which makes it worse! If it were not for your Soul, I would have dusted you hours ago!”

“You mean kill, not dust, right?”

“You understood, so shut up!” He snarled. I would have laughed, but he’s already in a bad mood. I might as well stop now. Can’t risk him beating me to a bloody pulp. He’s pissed enough as of now. I take the time to enjoy my surroundings. Better enjoy it for now. My fate could be days away. Might as well make the most of it.

 

“Teach me how to fight.” Papyrus is still. There I go again, running my mouth before thinking. He turns to me with the most genuine surprised expression I’ve ever seen on his face.

“Excuse me?” He asked, as if I had just asked the most impossible request.

“I want to know how to fight like you...” I said. His eye sockets narrowed, judging me. “I mean, if we get ambushed or something, I’d just be a dead weight, right? You’d have to do all the work.”

“Are you implying that I tire easily?” He growled. “The Great and Terrible Papyrus never falters!”

“Okay, yeah, sure, but you could use that energy for more useful things, right?” I point out. I swear he’s trying to read my Soul or something. He looks somewhere else, hand on his chin as he thinks. Sure, it was kind of a ridiculous request, but I have this kind of power. Might as well learn how to use it, right? Well, to the best of my abilities. Papyrus has probably experienced a lot of fights and gained a lot of experience from those fights. Even though he can mop the floor with me, I want to learn how to beat him one day.

“Alright, human. I suppose I could teach you some basics.” He sighed. He pulled the chain over and he began searching for a spot. Eventually, we came across a big enough clearing. He turned to me and pushed a button on the side of my cuffs. The chain between the two cuffs extended, but only by about a foot.

“Wait, you’re not gonna uncuff me?” I ask, raising a brow.

“Honestly, how stupid do you think I am?” He growls. “I can’t have you stabbing me in the back, can I?”

“But you really think I’m going to learn anything by staying chained?!” I shout. I’m sorry, but I think I have the right to be mad about this.

“It’s precautions!” He shouts back.

“It’s you being paranoid!” I am not going to let this one slide by. To show him what I mean, I pull extend my arms as far as I can. I can’t even lift my arms up without getting hit in the chain. “I’m at a severe disadvantage! How do you expect me to learn anything by doing this?!” You know, he keeps asking me how stupid do I think he is. This, right now? Pretty fucking stupid. As if he’s reading my mind, he growls and marches over to me.

“You should be grateful that I extended your chain in the first place.”

“Under normal circumstances, I would, but not when it comes to teaching me how to fight.” I huff. He glares at me, but finally takes off the cuffs.

“There. Happy now, brat?”

“Very.” I might have made a mistake in asking him to teach me.

He starts off explaining what my “screen” is. It’s apparently a battle guide that sorcerers created and it passed down to generation to generation. Same applies with monsters, especially Boss monsters. Fight is self explanatory. Attack spells and weapon attacks are found here. Mercy is support spells and my shield. Everything else is straightforward.
The little box with a heart? That heart is apparently my Soul. That box is the only thing sorcerers have that monsters don’t have, so I can predict and dodge attacks. So, it’s kind of like a magic radar. Okay, this is all pretty cool. I can also learn more spells the more I gain experience in fights.

.... But I really don’t want to hurt anyone if I can avoid it.

“Now, do you finally understand what this all means?” Papyrus asks.

“Yeah, I think so.” I nod.

“Good, let’s begin training now.” Before I had time to react, he lunges at me with his two bone swords equipped! Wait, that was it?! He’s just going straight to battle!? I barely had time to summon my shield to block his attack. He’s just as relentless as before! How the hell am I going to learn anything at this rate?! My HP is decreasing one by one, thanks to my shield, but the second it gets too low, my shield will shatter and I’d either have to Fight or summon it again.

It doesn’t take long, but I’m down to one HP again. Papyrus scoffs and his swords vanish.

“And to think you took down anything at all.” He huffs. I’d say something, but I’m too tired and sore to even think of a reply. This is going to be a looooong walk...

Chapter Text

I don’t remember how long we walked for, but my legs are starting to ache. My feet feel like they’re on fire and I’m still sore from today’s  “training.” I don’t even know if I should even call it that. Papyrus was so harsh and unforgiving during the fight. I really think he hates me. Well, at least he doesn’t have to put up with me forever. I think he knows that too. Otherwise, who knows? Maybe I would have been beaten to a pulp. I can’t really think of any other reason why he would keep me alive. I’m just here to help monsters progress. That’s my purpose I guess.

My stomach growls... That’s right, I didn’t eat anything last night. I was too scared to ask him for food, since I lost my appetite. Now, it feels like my body is begging for food. I can either ask him now or put up with it for now.

“Not so nosy anymore?” Papyrus chimes. “You’re eerily quiet, human.”

“I’m uh...” Should I even bother? “It’s nothing.” It’s not so bad. I can live with it. His silence just tells me that he doesn’t believe me. However, he doesn’t push it further and continues on. While we keep walking, I try to think of other things rather than the pain.

A lot has happened in just a few days. I got kidnapped by Boss monsters. Then we got “ambushed” by rebels. Met a scared girl, Harper. She got eaten and now that memory will haunt me forever. Big-n-Tall here wants to be Captain of the guard, so this was all set up. Now I’m traveling with him on foot, and I also asked him to teach me to fight. That’s the basics. Oh, and I’m a sorcerer. So, there’s that.

 

Everything passes by. Time, trees, life... Every step I take is closer to my fate. Man, I’m really gonna die, huh? I haven’t really thought about it much. My Ma... Will she be okay without me? Probably not, but who knows? Maybe things will get better. I mean, yeah, monsters now are a little more harsh, but that’s what they probably had to be in the underground. Papyrus is probably like this because he’s in the Royal Guard. He’s just doing his job. Everyone is just trying to survive.
Maybe monsters can live happily with humans eventually. Maybe this was all just a rocky start. I mean, to be fair, all of monster kind probably have a bitterness towards humans. After all, we sealed them away. Pretended they didn’t exist. I’d be surprised if they weren’t pissed at us, honestly.

I think about what Papyrus said to me last night. Am I really okay with this? Just... Letting someone take my Soul? What if she didn’t have good intentions? It’s not like I know her personally anyway...

God, this silence is driving me crazy. I wish I can turn on my music, but I can’t reach my back pocket with these stupid cuffs. Guess I can ask for Papyrus’ help when we get to camp...

 

“You want me to what?”

“It’s not like I’m asking much, am I?” Papyrus has his jaw open like he’s going to say something, but I think the gears in his head having start turning yet.

“When the hell did you get a phone?!” He stands up from the fire, towering over me.

“I’ve always had it. Look, it’ll take like two seconds.” I cannot believe I’m trying to reason with him over something so stupid. I knew it would be stupid when I was thinking about it, but once again.... He huffs out a loud sigh and uncuffs me. I quickly pull out my phone while he’s counting the seconds and literally after two seconds the cuffs are back on me. I can’t help but grin, but it’s quickly gone.
My phone is completely shattered. It must have broken during the fight with the rebels. I slump my shoulders. My heart shatters just like the screen. The only thing that kept me sane... I can’t fucking believe it.

“What is it?” Papyrus asks.

“It’s busted...” I sigh. I flop down on the ground, staring at the broken little brick. Yup, it’s not even a phone anymore. It’s a black brick now.

“Well, it’s junk is what it is. Throw it out.” He huffed. I don’t even have the heart to completely throw it. I lamely toss it a few inches from my knees. At least the fire looks kind of pretty in the reflection of the screen. My stomach growls loudly. This time, loud enough for him to hear.
“Was that you?” He asks, raising a brow ridge.

“Oh, uh... Yeah. I’ve been kind of hungry since last night...” I confess. He groans, annoyed and turns to me. He hands me something. A... Monster candy? I didn’t think this guy had a sweet tooth, but hey, food it food. I take it and unwrap it. It’s a hard candy. A mental image of Papyrus just munching on these things like popcorn come flashing to mind. I made myself laugh. He looks at me strangely. Quickly, I pop the candy in my mouth before he questions me. It’s not too sweet, sort of minty. It melts quickly, surprisingly. Suddenly, the guide pops up into my view.

(HP fully restored!)

Wait, huh? It’s gone before I know it. My stomach growls again.

“That didn’t work?” Papyrus questions, crossing his arms.

“Uh... Don’t think so. I think I need actual food. This just healed me, but didn’t do anything else...” I explained, putting the wrapper away in my pocket. He takes a deep breath, obviously frustrated and then turns to the forest.

“Don’t you dare run off. If you think I’m horrible, you should see what the monsters out there are like.” He warns. Not that I was even thinking of it. I’m too hungry and sore to move. Sitting down like this is bliss. He marches off into the woods.
After a while, he comes back carrying something. Oh God, is that a deer? It has antlers, so it’s a boy, I think? I don’t go hunting, so I don’t really know, but I’m going to assume it’s a boy. I’ve seen Bambi, so that’s what I’m going off of.

He places the buck close to the fire and, ugh God, I can’t bear to look. I close my eyes and cover my ears. I wonder if he’s had to do this before. Did monster food affect normal humans differently? Probably. I mean, I can use magic, so maybe that’s why it had a different effect on me?

“Human!” Papyrus barks. I look up. Oh God.

“Hey, uh, Paps, I can’t eat just raw meat.” I say, looking at the fresh slabs of meat he’s hanging in front of me.

“Firstly, do not call me that. Secondly, I’m offering this to you to cook. I know better than that.” He scowls at me. “I already went through the trouble getting this for you. The least you can do is cook it.” God, what an ego. He glares at me, which I notice my nose was scrunched up. “If you rather let this creature go to waste, feel free to tell me.”

“Uh... No, it’s fine.” I quickly say and take the meat. “Thank you....” He really didn’t have to do that, but I’m not going to let this all spoil. I just wasn’t expecting that to happen. He really is full of surprises. Which reminds me... When he found me covered in dust in the rebel hideout. He was really gentle, even if it was to lower my guard. Between him and his brother... God, they’re both kinda weird and confusing.

“So, can I ask you a question?” I ask.

“You’ll pester me otherwise, won’t you?” He grumbles, cleaning his gloves. Me? Pester? Never. Never at all. Where on Earth did he get that assumption? Well, he’s not saying no, sooo...

“Why are you so mean and scary?” I lay down the meat on the embers, close to the base of the fire. “Must be really tiring to keep appearances, yeah?” Papyrus snorts. What, he thinks I’m joking?

“You don’t know how the underground used to be.” He states. “It is much better to be feared and respected than to be loved.” Something about how he said that sounded... Untrue? Well, not exactly. Most people who say those sorts of things usually have a story behind them. Maybe he wanted to be admired once, but was hurt? I don’t know something like that. At least, that normally the case for movies.

“But, it must be tiring, right?” I flip the meat over. Some salt and pepper would be nice, but it still smells kinda good. He’s quiet. Guess he’s done answering questions. The night continues in silence. I eat all the meat I could, but still cook the rest. I could eat it for later and I really don’t want to waste anything.
............
Everything feels awkward now. I’m not quite tired yet, but I think we’re both done talking to each other now. I watch the fire, hugging my knees to my chest. I wish I had some music right now... I sigh and try to remember any tunes.

“Doo-doo-doo-doo...” I sing. A remember a song with a little bell jingle in the beginning. It’s an older song, probably eighties? I can only remember the beginning of it. I continue to sing the little jingle until Papyrus speaks up,

“What... Are you doing?”

“Singing.”

“Well, it’s annoying.” He pauses. “And stop making that face. It’s true. It’s annoying.” Okay, fine. You think that’s annoying? I sit up and close my eyes. “What are you doing now?” He sounds more annoyed. I play the song out in my head. I can hear the low sounds of the piano. I hum the haunting vocals. For a second, all is peaceful.
And then I let out my best and loudest heavy metal scream I could do. I try to scream the vocals, but I pushed myself too hard and start having a coughing fit before I can finish a lyric. I managed to sneak a glance at Papyrus during my coughing. His eye sockets are wide and he’s leaning as far away from me as possible.

“See? You’re not the only one who can be loud.” I cough. He slowly returns to his normal posture.

“Don’t.... Ever.... Do that again. Ever.”

 

Another night passes. I’m forced to wake up at the crack of dawn again and we return to the main road. I managed to eat some of the meat I cooked last night for breakfast. Despite eating, my brain still hasn’t quite caught up with the rest of me. There was a couple of times Papyrus tugged at the chain a bit to get me to catch up. He stopped after a while, slowing his pace. I thought I dreamt something, but I don’t remember....

Suddenly, I’m hit with a familiar smell. That jolts my mind back to the real world. It’s bread. I know that smell anywhere. I tug back, making Papyrus stagger. He glares daggers at me, but I quickly explain myself,

“There’s a village nearby!” I probably sound way too excited.

“Why should I bother? I have to take you to the castle, unless you forgot already.” He says matter-of-factly.

“Well, you don’t want to keep killing deer for me, do ya?” I huff. He opens his jaw, ready to scold me, then he slowly closes it.

“Hmph.... You actually have a point there....” He mumbles. “It’s such a hassle... Not to mention extremely messy....” He crosses his arms and he starts fiddling with the chain in his hand. My feet are starting to hurt... “Alright, fine. We might need supplies.”

“Cool, so, uh... We’re not going to raid it right?” I ask. I hope not. I really don’t want more people to get hurt. He snorts.

“Of course not! That will bring too much attention!” He scowls. “Not to mention, after your little stunt last night, who knows what you could have attracted? Why else would I take the longer path?” Wait, we’re not on the main path? But this was the path that Ma and I took... I remember some people breaking off here. I didn’t think they would make a village close by...

“So, then, what’s the plan, Papy?”

“First of all, don’t call me that.” He scolds. “Secondly, I’m... Thinking on it.” God, hurry up then! My feet are killing me! After a moment, he suddenly tugs the chain, more gently than he usually does. I follow him off the path, the smell of freshly baked bread grows stronger.

Then, the village comes into view. It looks similar to the one I used to live. Everything looks hastily made, nothing too big or impressive. However, a couple of things are different. For starters, there’s a lot more monster hunters in this village. I’m guessing about half the population. Which... That’s a little weird. From what I’ve heard about from other villages, monster hunters are usually one fourth of the population. Of course every village is different, but...
Oh. There’s monsters in this village. Small ones. They don’t even look that strong. There’s not a lot of them from what I could see, but they aren’t being treated well at all... They have shackles on their ankles and they look like they never had a day of rest. There’s monster hunters watching their every move. I see a small monster, one that doesn’t have arms and looks kind of like a lizard, just take a blow to the head for no damn reason.
I can feel my shoulders tense up and my face get hot. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. This is the exact reason why monsters hate us! The way we treat their kind like this - it’s sickening! I’ve got to do something! I-

I’m pulled back to Papyrus’ side.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” He hisses. I open and close my mouth, trying to find the right words. I probably look like a fish in doing so.

“Ah- Do you not see what’s happening down there?!” I look back and forth at him and the village below. “Monsters are being treated like slaves down there! We can do something- we can-!”

“We’re getting supplies. We don’t have the time.”

“But-!” Papyrus grabs me firmly by the shoulders. He had a serious, unreadable expression. Yet, somehow, it froze me in place.

“This will all be fixed when we get you to the Queen.” His voice is quiet, husky almost. “The weak are doomed to fail in this world. That is why you are here. That is why your Soul must go to the Queen. She will use that power to save us all.”

(“You are nothing.”)

.... Did he ever really mean it?

He lets me go and sighes, running a hand over his head (skull??). I feel... Something. I don’t think I’ve ever heard his voice that quiet before. Between that and the way he looked at me... Okay, no. No, no, no. Snap out of it. We did not have a moment there. I refuse to believe that was a moment.

“Alright, here’s what you’re going to do.” Papyrus’ voice snaps me out of my thoughts. “My presence will only alarm them-”

“Because you’re a Boss, right?”

“Let me finish. My presence will only alarm them and rumors of my location will spread. Alphys will know where we are going and that means trouble for the two of us. So, and I can’t believe I’m doing this, I’m going to free you from your cuffs. You are going to go down to the village and you are going to get the supplies we need. Understand?” I nod my head. “Good. I’m also giving you thirty minutes. If you do not return on time, or if you bring unnecessary attention to yourself, you are not only going to be cuffed again, but you will be where I can see you at all times.” He threatens, leaning over me. His voice became something like a growl, low and dangerous. Honestly, kind of thrilling.
Okay, c’mon! Focus here! You shouldn’t be finding your captor attractive! I’ve seen Beauty and the Beast! I know all about that! Then again, I also remember this other theory that it’s actually the other way around-

“Are you even listening to me?” He sighs. Oh shit, was I supposed to say something?

“... Yes?” He groans and pinches the bridge between his eye sockets.

“Repeat what you heard...”

“I go down to the village and get our supplies. I have thirty minutes and if I try to out you, you’ll kill me?”

“....... Good enough.”

 

I’m actually nervous. I hate monster hunters and to have half a village full of them? My stomach does flips. Though I’d love to get a good piece of fresh bread... God, I’m so scatter-brained today. Must be the weird sleeping pattern or just constantly being woken up at the crack of dawn...
Now that I’m in the village, I can see that these homes are surprisingly built to be more sturdier. They’re bigger too, probably to house more monster hunters. As I’m walking through the village, almost everyone is showing off some sort of makeshift weapon. Chatter of monster hunters bragging about who killed what and with what kind of weapon was in the air. Before I left, Papyrus gave me a pouch. I heard coins clicking and the pouch is surprisingly heavy. This must be monster currency...

Okay, I can’t take it anymore, I’ve gotta buy some bread. No, wait, will that eat away at my time? Oh God, how long did it take for me to walk down here? How much time did I have left? Okay, okay, how about this store? It has a bunch of food in here, so I might as well duck in here and buy whatever I can.

The shop is a little dusty and it’s the only store I found that’s actually a building... Sort of. Like the rest of the homes, it was hastily made. There’s openings where the walls should be connected, the roof is just a piece of sheet metal and the window display was literally just a hole cut out from the wall and was all piled in a cardboard box. The place didn’t even have a door, just a floral tablecloth.

“Hey there little miss. How can I help ya?” I turn to see an older man, probably in his late thirties, and quite a round gut sticking out, sitting behind a cardboard counter in a rocking chair.

“Um, I just need food for the road.” I say, approaching the counter. I put the pouch of coins on the box. It almost caves in. “How much can I get with this?” The man sits up, takes the pouch and opens it. He takes a gold coin out, looks at me, then puts the coin back in the pouch.

“Where the hell did you get this?” He asks, narrowing his eyes at me. I swallow a breath I didn’t know I was holding.

“Look, man, I just want to hit the road before night falls. Can I just get some food?” I really don’t want to make a scene. Just gimme what I need and I’ll get outta here. He mumbles something under his breath and gets up from his chair. Behind him was a door, roughly the same size as him. He leaves me alone in his store. Suddenly, I notice it’s eerily quiet. No more braggarts telling tall tales of their most recent hunting. No more talk about weapon builds or anything. Dead silence. I tap my fingers against the bent box until the man comes back with a big burlap bag. He tosses the coin pouch on the box counter. It finally collapses.

“Here. That should be more than enough. Take your coin. I don’t need it.” I nod and take the back and coin pouch in a hurry. I gotta make it back to Papyrus before he gets on my case. As I step out, a group of monster hunters have gathered at the store’s entrance. They’re eyeing me this judgement and suspicion in their eyes.

“Where the hell you come from, little girl?” A man missing a few teeth speaks up.

“We know all the monster hunters in the area, so don’t be makin’ shit up.” A woman adds, casually lifting a spiked bat onto her shoulder. I swallow another held breath.

“Look, I don’t want to waste anyone’s time.” Especially Papyrus’ . “I’m just gonna hit the road and you won’t see me again.”

“What’s the rush? We welcome traveling hunters. Stay a while!”

“I really shouldn’t.” He’ll kill me for sure.

“What, you have a curfew or something?”

An image of Papyrus looming over me, glaring at me with those bright, burning red eye lights flashes in my mind. I try to push through the crowd, but they don’t let me pass. Someone grabs me. For a moment, I didn’t think and the bone sword is in my hands.
The crowd stares at me.

“Where the fuck did you get that?”

Chapter Text

I’m not sure how to answer. The crowd stares at me, expecting an answer. Even the monsters nearby are frozen. What should I say...? The silence is almost suffocating me.

“I, uh... Found it. Laying around.” Technically, I’m not wrong. It practically flew at me.

“That’s bullshit.” The woman with the spiked bat spat. “That’s one of their weapons. One of them Reaper Bosses.” Reaper Bosses? Do they mean Sans and Papyrus? I mean, they do look scary enough. Well, Pap anyway. Sans is... Different. Not really scary, but then again, I’ve never seen him pissed off like Pap.

“I’m gonna ask again. Where the fuck did you get that?” The crowd begins to close in around me. God, what they hell do they expect me to do?! Where’s an opening? I have to get out of here! They close any openings I can glance at. They know I’m trying to get out. The only way I can really get out....
I grab a small monster that was directly behind me. It was the one monster that had no arms I saw earlier, the one who was struck on the head for no reason. He cried out in a panic and struggled in my grasp.

“Please, please, please, no..!” He whimpers, shutting his eyes tightly. It breaks my heart, but I’ve finally got an opening. I can’t leave him here... Ah, well, guess the kiddo is coming with me then. The poor thing is freaking out, but he can’t do anything but struggle under my arm as I make a break for it. The monster hunters give chase, shouting at me. I can’t tell what exactly they’re saying, since they’re all shouting at once. Between them and the monster panicking, I can’t hear a damn thing.

Somehow, I make it out of the town. I keep running until my legs give out. The monster under my arm has wide eyes. Once I stop to catch my breath, I set him down as careful as I can. He looks at me like I’m supposed to do something.

“U-Um... I’ve never really been a hostage before, but aren’t I um... Supposed to be used for negotiating or something?” He asks.

“It’s... Okay.” I reply between breaths. “I got out of there... And uh...” I cough and stand up straight. “And I couldn’t let you stay there any longer. Uh... I probably should have asked if you had family nearby or something.” The monster kid tilts his head and narrows his eyes.

“... Why are you helping me...?”

“Because.... It’s the right thing to do?” I don’t know what else to really say. “I mean... You looked like you needed to get outta there, so...” I look at the shackles on his ankles. “Oh, yeah, I should, uh, probably take care of that.” The monster kid looks more confused. I summon the bone sword, which makes him squeak in pure terror. He shuts his eyes tightly. As best as I could, I swing at the chain. I hear it snap. The monster isn’t completely free, but he can at least move freely. Slowly, he opens his eyes and raises his head.

“You’re... Letting me go?” His eyes are big and glowing. I can’t help but smile.

“Yeah. Go home, or ah, find a home. Don’t cause too much trouble, okay?” The kid is just beaming . I’m not sure if it’s a monster thing, but I suddenly feel warm and light. Like I could walk on clouds.

“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you so much miss!” He has the biggest smile on his face as he scurries off. He trips, falling flat on his face, but he gets back up like it was nothing.

(I think he chipped a tooth.)

To think something as simple as breaking a chain could change someone’s world. I wonder after I’m gone, the world would be like that.... Or maybe I’m just thinking too much about it.

“Where were you?” The voice came from seemingly nowhere. I jolt up and spin around, seeing Papyrus standing there with his arms crossed. Oh man... He looks mad. “You’re late.” He growls.

“Well, I tried to get back, but these guys were coming at me and I couldn’t leave that kid there in that town! You can cut me some slack, right?” He only scowls at me.

“What did I say? Don’t concern yourself with weaker monsters. Everything will be fixed once you are delivered to the Queen. Or did you have something stuck in your ears?”

“Why the hell are you so fucking mean?!” I’m almost at my limits with this guy. How can he say things will get better if he won’t even do the smallest acts of mercy?! He opens his mouth to say something, but I can’t hold it back any longer, “I know I’ve been annoying you and we’re supposed to be enemies, but - fuck - why are you so mean to me?! What have I really done, huh?!”
He’s quiet. He looks to the ground; his jaw is clenched tightly. If you’re going to say something, just say it. If you have a good reason to hate me - even if it’s as simple as I’m annoying - just say it. At least I’ll know then. He takes a deep breath and looks back at me.

“Did you get everything you need?” He asks. My shoulders slump. He can’t even tell me why he hates me? Why he’s been such an ass? Nothing? Whatever, I can’t through him, I guess. I sigh and show him the bag.

“Yeah. They didn’t take the money either, so we got all this for free.” He nods and holds out his hand. I’m assuming he wants the money back, so I comply silently. He glances at me, with some curious glint in his face as he puts the pouch into his coat pocket.

“Let’s find a place to train. Then I’ll set up camp.” He states, straightening his posture. I only nod. I know after training, I’m going to be too tired to do anything else. I think he knows this too.

 

After training, I’m completely covered in bruises. I was reduced to one HP again, but I’m not surprised. I suck at fighting and Papyrus is way too fast to even plan out an attack plan. There’s this awkward silence between us now. I’ve given up trying to be myself. Clearly, all that does is piss him off. It’s probably better this way. Still, it bugs me that I don’t have an answer from him. I deserve an answer at least, right?

“You still haven’t answered me.” I sigh. Papyrus look up from the fire pit he was building and narrows his eye sockets.

“What are you talking about now?”

“Why do you hate me?” His expression softens for a moment, but he continues to build the pit, hiding his face.

“It should be obvious. If you can’t figure it out, I don’t want to spell it out for you.” He growls. My nails dig into my palms.

“I’m not a fucking mind reader, Papyrus!” I shout. His head snaps up, sockets wide. I think that’s the only time I’ve ever said his name. “I don’t know! If it’s just because I’m human, that’s sorta narrow-minded, ya think?! Even if that’s the case, why the hell do you even spend the time teaching me to fight? Why go out helping me?”

“I’ve told you, you are simply a container for your Soul! If you are damaged, the Soul is damaged!”

“I’m not just some sort of container! I’m alive! I’m not just a Soul! I’m not just nothing!” There’s tears in my eyes. I can hear their voice in the back of my head. “I’m more than just what you see! I’m more than what you assume! I am alive and I have feelings, you fuck!” He stands up and looms over me. I don’t care. I shut my eyes tight and wait for the barrage of insults and belittling. My heart feels like it’s going to burst. My legs are shaking, struggling to keep me standing, but I won’t fall this time.
I can feel... Something. It’s warm wave, washing over me. Like being wrapped in a blanket, fresh from the dryer. I slowly look up. Through the tears, I can still see Papyrus’ face. He’s mad, at least that’s what he looks like. Then, what the hell is happening to me...?

“Make no mistake, human. I care not for your feelings. I have a duty to fulfill and you are just a stepping stone. I will be Captain. I will lead all of monster kind to victory.” He growls. I can’t help but to scoff. I’m not sure where he’s getting at, but this feeling, whatever it was, was nice.

“Yeah, okay. Whatever.” I mutter. “Guess it’s all easy for you, since you’re not the one who’s going to die.” For a moment, his expression changes. Surprise? Hurt? Angry? Couldn’t tell. Before he starts yelling again, I lower myself onto the grass and curl up on my side. “I’m turning in early. Night.” The warm feeling slowly faded away, leaving me alone with the chill of the night. I heard a sigh and the sound of pebbles getting kicked. I have no idea what happened, but... That couldn’t have been him, right?

I kept fading in and out of sleep. Everything about today (or yesterday, I have no idea what time it is) kept replaying in my mind. How scared those people were just seeing the bone sword I had. How Papyrus reminded me of them for a moment. The village who were abusing monsters... God, the world is a mess. How the hell is my Soul suppose to fix all this? I guess if the Queen knows what she’s doing... Then maybe it can be better? Even a little bit?
Finally, I can’t take it anymore. I sit up and rub my eyes. Might as well do something to make myself feel sleepy. Wait... Where’s Papyrus? He’s nowhere in camp. I do see some light in the distance. Going against my better judgement, I get up and investigate. I keep low and move quietly. Whoever it is, even if it is Papyrus, it’s probably the best to keep a low profile.

As I grew closer, I can hear a hushed conversation. The voices sound familiar, but I’m not entirely convinced who’s who. I have to get closer.

“.... -re they aren’t following our tracks?” That voice is Papyrus. I’d know it anywhere.

“God Pap, it’s like you don’t have any trust in me.” The other voice chuckled. Where have I heard that voice before...? “Aw, c’mon. Don’t give me that look. You don’t have a bone to pick with me, do ya?”

“Sans, I swear to God....”

“Pap, boss, you worry too much. Alphys is smart, yeah, but we both know she’s too scared to go against what I say. She puts too much trust on us.”

Sans? What is he doing here? What’s going on?

“I have a right to worry. If she finds out about this, we’ll both be dusted. She’ll have all the glory and fame and we’ll be just sprinkles in the wind. I won’t have that and-”

“Pap, Pap, breathe. You’re gonna ramble on too much and you’ll forget to take a breath again.” Sans sighs. I finally get close enough and peek from behind a tree. I’m right behind Papyrus and there’s Sans with a tired grin on his face. “Sheesh, you’re starting to stress me out... You really think I’m gonna give myself more work and not do it right the first time?”

“You’re right. Forgive me.” Papyrus sighed. “So, Alphys is staying on the main path?”

“Yeah. She’s taking her time too, trying to ‘find’ you. I told her you went missing, so she might send out search parties. You two are already halfway-” Sans stops and his grin grows wider. “Oh, hey doll. Long time no see.” How did he see me?! Papyrus twists around, sees me and glares.

“How long have you been there?!” He barks, snatches my arm and pulls me out from my hiding spot.

“Just enough to hear something about Alphys not being on our trail.” I reply. “Sans, have you been covering for us?”

“I have. After Paps bugged me enough to do it.” He sighed.

“Honestly, you really think I’d be stupid enough to travel on my own?” Papyrus growls. I decided it’s best not to answer.

“Alright, so now she’s in the loop with things then.” Sans states. “So, guess it’s okay to tag along for a bit? Got nothing else better to do.” God please, yes. I need someone to talk to that isn’t a complete asshole. Papyrus glances at me, then to his brother. What is he thinking about? It’s a yes/no question, so how hard can it be?

“Fine. Just don’t run off with her.” He huffs and lets me go.

We all make it back to the campsite. Papyrus is strangely quiet, but what’s stranger is how easily it was to talk with Sans again. They were like polar opposites. How could they be related...?

“Why do all this? I mean, I know why it should be done, but you don’t strike me the hardworking type.” I ask. Sans scoffs.

“Okay, yeah, you’re right about that, but honestly under other circumstances I wouldn’t care. I’m just lookin’ out for my lil bro.”

“Wait, wait, wait-” I hold my hands up and my eyes widen. I turn to Papyrus who is glaring daggers at Sans. “ You’re the little brother?!” Sans starts laughing.

“Oh my God, he’s never told you? Oh this is gold.”

“Sans, I’m going to kill you.” Papyrus growls.

“Oh, I’m already dyin’ Paps!” I cannot believe what I’m hearing. Papyrus is the little brother of the two? I guess it sort of make sense with Sans’ relaxed, carefree attitude. He’s probably seen more than Papyrus. Though, he’s totally okay with Pap bossing him around? Makes me wonder....

“Both of you. Go to sleep. Or else. ” Papyrus threatens. Sans only shrugs in reply, but I really don’t want to get on his nerves any more. I curl up on the grass and try to fall asleep. Last thing I heard was Papyrus and Sans bickering about something. Y’know, I take it back. Brothers would be bickering all night long.

 

Sans was gone by the time I woke up. Papyrus was the one who woke me up, as usual. I tried to ask where Sans went, but Papyrus brushed it off. I could only assume Sans was covering for us, since that what he’s been doing. I feel completely sluggish, but it didn’t help that I had a horrible dream last night.
I only remembered Harper. How completely panicked she was. I think the dream was just the memory replaying. One thing that bugged me though was I healed her... So, how could she be hopeless? And what does that even mean?

“Hey, can I ask something?” Papyrus glances my way and sighs.

“I could say no, but that has yet to stop you.” He grumbles. Well, he’s not really wrong...

“What did you mean that Harper was hopeless?” I asked. “When I was with her, I healed her HP so-”

“That’s what HP is. HoPe. It is an acronym.” Papyrus explains. “Even if you did heal her, it would have very little effect. You can’t restore something that’s zero.” So... There was no saving her at all?

“But the monster... She still had a Soul, so wouldn’t it have-”

“Being a little nosy, aren’t you?”

“Hey, bud-”

“Don’t call me that.”

“I’m dying, okay? Least you can do is give me some sort of peace.” I said, ignoring his interruption. He lets out a long sigh. C’mon dude, you know I’m right.

“Fine. You make a fair point.” He admits. Told ya. “Yes, she still had a Soul. However, when a Soul is HoPeless, it has little to no power. It only exists because it’s keeping the human alive. When the human dies, the Soul becomes nothing. It vanishes.”

“Could she have been saved? At all? Was there anything I could have done?” I really needed to know. I just want to be able to sleep better. A part of me didn’t really want to know the answer. If she could have been saved, then I had failed her. I did everything I could and it wasn’t enough. If she couldn’t have been saved, then was there a better way to have handled it?
I replayed the memories in my head. She couldn’t have been totally HoPeless... She saw an opportunity to escape and took it. When I arrived and found out I was a sorcerer, she saw something in me. She had hope. Was it when she saw that big white monster? Was that when she finally lost it all?

“No. You couldn’t save her. Once someone becomes HoPeless, they fall. They can never return to what they once were. They give up on everything completely. There was nothing you could have done.” He wasn’t yelling. He wasn’t cold. He wasn’t even condescending. Yet, those words echo in my ears. They pierce my heart and something in me just plummets.

(“There was nothing you could have done.”)

I should feel like a weight was lifted from my shoulders, but instead, I can’t shake off this feeling like I could have done something. I just know there had to be something! I’m-
I’m heaving. My chest hurts. Tears are just pouring from my eyes. I can only get air through gasps. The world around me feels like it’s spinning. My head hurts. Everything hurts... Am I really that useless? Maybe he was right... Maybe they were right all along. I am really nothing. There’s nothing I can ever do that can make things better. Only my Soul-....

I feel a warmth wash over me again. There’s a hand on my shoulder. I slowly look up, but I can’t see well enough. I can barely breathe.

“It’s alright.” I heard his voice... Papyrus’ voice. “There wasn’t anything you can do. It is no fault of your own.”

“B-But... But I’m-”

“Silence yourself. Whatever you’re feeling or thinking right now, it’s all lies. They are lies to tell yourself because you think that there could be something better, but this is perhaps better. This Harper would have never recovered. Perhaps this was the merciful way for her to go. Even if the world got better, she would not. That is no fault of your own.”

(Why is he being nice....? Why is he doing this....?)

“So, save your tears for those who deserve it. Don’t cry for the dead. They have passed. You’re here. You’re alive. So stop crying, stop telling yourself lies and keep going.”

I’m not sure when I stopped crying. I don’t remember when I started moving. I sure as hell don’t know why he was helping me, but... Somehow, an echo of words repeated themselves in the back of my mind.

(“He’s really not that bad.”)

 

“You’re getting stronger.” Papyrus comments. Training was a pain in the ass again. I can’t tell if he’s trying to be funny, because I’m at one HP again. There’s no way I’ll ever really get better.

“Yo, what I miss?” I look up, seeing Sans come from seemingly nowhere.

“Training. It was the human’s request to get stronger and better at fighting, so I’m doing her a favor.” Papyrus explains. Sans sighs and runs a hand over his skull.

“Ah, Pap, no offence, but remember when you tried to train a bunch a new recruits? You ain’t exactly the best teacher.”

“I happen to be a good teacher! They all got better at fighting!” Papyrus snaps.

“Yeah, no, they got better at running and blocking. That’s what they got better at.” Sans sighed. He turns to me and smiles. “Hey, doll, you mind if I show ya some tricks?”

“Um... I guess?” If this means I actually learn something rather than get beat on, I’ll take it. Sans’ smile seems to grow, but Papyrus watches him like a glaring hawk. Not sure if it was his brother criticizing him or the fact he thinks he can do a better job at teaching than Papyrus, but he looks like he’s ready to attack at any moment. Sans, however, just has this wide grin on his face.

Before I know it, Sans is teaching me how I should stand. He grabs my arm gently, showing me how I should hold my shield, since I use it more often than I do my weapon. He nudges my ankles apart. Occasionally, he’d glance at Papyrus and his grin just got brighter. Curious, I’d glance up sometimes. Papyrus is fuming . His face is bright red, arms crossed, and he looks like he’s silently wishing death on Sans’ part.

(What the hell is going on?)

Now that I’m paying attention, there hasn’t been a single moment what Sans was touching me. Adjusting my shoulders, making sure my back is straight, making sure my ankles are apart enough, my hands aren’t tight fists, my hips-

“Hey, okay! Watch your hands there!” I scold. Sans takes a step back, holding his hands up. I now recognize that grin. He’s being a little shit. I look back at Papyrus, who finally is stepping in.

“I think you’ve shown her enough.” He growls, looming over Sans. Sans shrugs and his grin becomes even more devious.

“Anything you say, boss. She’s all yours.” He puts his hands in his pockets and strolls off. Papyrus mutters something under his breath and hands me a monster candy.

“Heal up. We’ll see how well Sans’ methods actually work.”

 

At first, it started out as usual. Papyrus is relentless with his attacks and I can barely land a blow on him. However, I tried to remember what Sans taught me. I could, technically, use my shield as a weapon. As Papyrus prepares another blow, I swung my shield forward and bash it against his ribcage. He staggers back, allowing me an opening attack. I swing my attack arm forward at full force, but Papyrus easily blocks it with his own weapon. He looks almost impressed, but he tries to hide it. He continues his flurry of attacks, which weaken me down, but I take every opportunity to attack. Even though it’s a gamble if I’m successful, it’s the most progress I’ve made. So, though Sans was being a little shit about this, I can’t deny that this actually helped me a lot.
I’m back to one HP, but I lasted a lot longer and I’m not nearly covered in as many bruises as before.

“Well...” Papyrus sighs and glances at his brother. Sans smiles - probably the biggest shit-eating grin I’ve ever seen from him. Papyrus glares at him then turns back to me. “Perhaps, my brother did assist you somewhat. However! This does not mean I’m admitting defeat! I will continue to train you using my usual methods. You were clearly learning, without my brother’s help.”

“Thank you, big brother!” Sans imitates Papyrus. “Oh, yeah, you’re welcome Pap. Anything for you!”

“You’re being childish.” Papyrus huffs.

“Yeah, yeah, fuck you too.”

“Lazy bone-head.”

“Oh eat shit and die.”

Despite the fact that they were throwing insults at each other, it was never mean spirited (though the last comment earned a hard slap to the back of the skull). Reminded me of how my friends treated their siblings. Even though they didn’t always get along and they insulted each other or called each other horrible things, they never took it seriously. Makes me wonder how close these two were for them to throw around insults and bickering with each other.

 

“And I would walk five hundred miles and I will walk five hundred more-” I sang as we continued walking down the path. Papyrus groaned and covered where his ears would be.

“Do you really have to sing right now? Can’t there just be peace?” He complained.

“I like it, keep it up!” Sans chuckled.

“You only like it because I don’t!” Papyrus barked. I continued to sing, getting louder and purposely more horrible. It was much easier to pick on Papyrus when Sans was around. Mostly because most of the heat was taken out on Sans. He never seemed to take it seriously. Somehow, Papyrus didn’t seem that scary whenever his brother was around. It could be my imagination though.

Though this moment didn’t last too long. I saw it before the other two did (because they were bickering again). A group of monster hunters were heading our way. Sans and Papyrus only paid attention when I stopped singing. Papyrus was about to say something, until he noticed what lay ahead. The monster hunters look familiar.... Oh shit... They’re the ones from the village. Once they saw us, their leader grinned.

“Well, well. If it ain’t the Reapers...”

Chapter Text

At first, they didn’t recognize me. I kept hidden behind Papyrus. The woman with a spiked bat grins and takes a step forward. Sans groans.

“Guys, fellas, hey. Okay. So, we’re just on our way through. Don’t make this hard for us now.” He sighs.

“You’ve got a human with ya, don’t ‘cha?” She cranes her neck, trying to see me. Her smile vanishes. “Wait a moment, fellas. This one’s the same girl who bailed on us!” The group readies their weapons. “You with them?!” Papyrus summons spiked bones in an instant and arms himself with his bone swords. My heart quickens and I step between Papyrus and the group.

“We don’t have to fight! Can’t you just let them go?” I look at the group of monster hunters. Their faces twist in disgust.

“You’d rather defend these freaks?! Look at them! They might as well be actual Reapers! You have any idea how many villages these fuckers terrorized?!”

“You ain’t gonna convince them, kid.” Sans speaks up. With a snap of his fingers, a giant skull materializes behind him. The skull is monstrous, split into four parts. It’s mouth is black, void of any light. In it’s eye sockets are two glowing, red lights. It’s teeth are melded into the jaw, pointed, like fangs. It’s a thing of nightmares.

(“There’s nothing you can do.”)

I really don’t want anyone to get hurt. Is there really no way to convince either side to not hurt each other...?

No.

Weapons and magic are flying in the air. Papyrus snags me and pulls me behind him. It was at this moment I realize that I’m not cuffed. Did he forget to put them back on me yesterday? Well, no matter. I have to make a decision now. Side with the skeletons that are taking me to my death, or side with humans who are driven to hate monsters? I summon my sword and shield, looking back and forth between the two forces.
Papyrus... Every memory I’ve shared with him flashes in my mind. How horrible he’s been to me. The terrible things he’s said to be, but... He’s teaching me to fight. He takes care of me. He hasn’t lied to me. There’s even been a couple of moments he’s been uncharacteristically gentle and nice to me. Then there’s his brother too who isn’t exactly the worst.

I don’t have many good memories with humans either. Especially when I think of them . At least monsters haven’t lied and hurt me like they did. They’ve made it clear how they feel about me.

So, the decision becomes clear. I know what side I choose. As much as I don’t want to hurt people, I can’t let their blind hate hurt those who don’t deserve it. I charge into the chaos and fight beside Papyrus.

“What do you think you’re doing?!” He shouts at me. I make it clear to him. I swing at an oncoming monster hunter who had their weapon raised. They made themself exposed for an attack. I turn back to Papyrus, who wore a genuine surprised expression. His jaw hung open and his eye sockets were wide. He quickly recollected himself.

“Well, don’t just stand there!” He barks. “Show what I’ve taught you!”

“Gladly.” I head towards the back of the attackers. I won’t kill them. I can’t let them die. Looks like Sans is doing the same thing I’m doing. Which makes me wonder if they’ve ever actually killed humans... Now that I’m paying attention, those who fell aren’t actually dead.

(Reduced to one HP.)

Good. No one has to die then. I make it to the leader, the spiked bat woman. She snarls at me and is relentless. Not nearly as bad as Papyrus though. She’s strong and she thinks fast. A shield bash didn’t work. At least, not effectively. She’s obviously fought someone like me before. She’s nothing compared to Papyrus though. I don’t weaken down as easily. She’s out of breath quickly and I bash my shield against her weapon hand, disarming her, kick her to the ground and point my sword at her. She raises her hands and glares at me.

“Alright. Alright, fine... You fucking win.” She huffs.

“You’ll leave us alone and let us pass?” I demand. She snarls and rolls her eyes at me.

“Yes...” She hisses. I disengage and turn around. The other hunters are laying on the ground, groaning in pain. Papyrus hasn’t even broken a sweat, meanwhile Sans is hunched over, back towards me, out of breath. Papyrus actually looks... Impressed. My heart swells and I can’t help but smile. I make my way towards him, a slight skip to my step.
His expression suddenly and he summons his spiked bones. They’re glowing blue. I freeze in my tracks. What the hell are those?! They fly in my direction and I shut my eyes. I... Don’t feel anything. I cracked an eye open. Papyrus looks completely furious, glaring in my direction, but his gaze doesn’t feel like it’s on me... I turn around and see the leader on the ground, holding a blade.

“Damn coward...” He growls and marches toward me. The woman sits up, glaring at Papyrus. “You wait until someone has their back to you to attack? That’s pathetic.” He pushes me aside and grabs her shirt. She claws at his wrist and tries to kick at him as he lifts her off the ground. “It’s cowards like you that make me sick.” His voice is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. Venomous, thick with hatred and disgust.

“Hey, Pap...?” I try to get closer, but Sans pulls me back. I only caught a glance of his face, but his eye lights are completely gone. Void of the devious glint. My stomach forms knots.

“What to do with a worm like you...?” Papyrus growls. I can’t see the woman’s face, but she’s still trying to get to Papyrus, flailing her limbs.

“I think she gets the Plan A treatment.” Sans says. I don’t even know what Plan A is, but I didn’t like the sound of it.

“Let her go!” I demand. Sans and Papyrus turn their attention to me. Sans’ eye lights return. Both of them wore surprised expressions.

“Are you kidding me?! She tried to kill you already when you spared her!” Sans shouted. I expected to hear that from Papyrus, but he’s strangely silent.

“Let her go. Please.” I don’t want anyone to die. One person was enough in my lifetime. The only other person that gets to die is me. “If she follows us, then do whatever you want. I just don’t want to see it.” Sans’ face softens. Papyrus nods and drops the woman on the ground.

“You’re lucky someone has the heart to give you another chance. Should she not be here, you would be at our mercy.” He hisses before marching forward. Sans follows closely behind, glaring at the woman until she was out of sight. As I walked past her, she grabs my ankle.

“You think you’re the bigger person because of this?” She scowls. “You’re just as bad as them. You don’t know what the hell you’re doing. You know what they do to people like you?” I take a deep breath and pull my ankle out from her grasp.

“Yes. I’m going to die. They’ve told me that more than enough times.”

“And you’re just gonna let them get away with that?! You’re just gonna lay down and take it?!” She screams.

“Well, I’ve thought about it a lot... And I’m scared, but what’s the point of fighting it? Not many people get to know when or how they die. I’m lucky enough to know what’s going to happen and when it’s gonna be. Also, I know what’s going to happen later. It’s going to be better than now. Monsters have suffered enough underground. I think that they have the right to be angry. I wish there was a better way, but after everyone is done with the fighting, I just know things will be better.” She’s silent. She looks like a child who just got scolded. I try to catch up with Sans and Papyrus. Behind me, I hear her screaming at me. I’m too far to hear her.

 

Camp was set up early. Before Papyrus could even finish building a fire, Sans already passed out on the ground. He’s using whatever is left of his cape as a pillow. Why is he still wearing that tattered thing...? Come to think of it, both of their clothes are pretty worn out and pretty beat up. Even Papyrus’, even though they look much better compared to Sans’, still had holes and it looks like some of the fur from his coat have been falling out.

“What?” Papyrus barks, glancing up at me.

“Your clothes must be pretty old, huh?” I ask. He snorts.

“These were given to us by the Captain. We have to wear these. Orders from the Queen directly.” He huffs. “Even if we were given different clothes, we have to wear these. It’s our uniform.” I nod slowly and rest my chin on my knees. I wonder what it’s like working for a Queen... It’s comfortably silent for a while. Soon, the gentle crackling of the fire fills the air and I make myself cozy. Sans, somehow, made his way closer to the fire without even getting up. For once, I’m actually kind of happy. I impressed Papyrus today, I saved someone’s life, and I think I’m finally okay with my fate. Feels peaceful...

“I have to ask...” My attention is pulled to Papyrus. He’s not even looking at me. His gaze is lost in the fire. “Why... Why did you side with us? You are aware of what's going to happen to you, yes?” I nod. “Then why help us?”

“Monsters have a good reason to be mad.” I simply say, returning to my comfy position. “They were treated terribly. Humans need to remember their past and not pretend it never happened. They shouldn’t be so entitled, y’know?” Perhaps I’m being too casual with this, but I’m so tired right now. “So, let everyone throw their fits until there’s nothing else to yell about, then once everyone calms down, then maybe things can be done.”

“It’s not that simple.”

“Isn’t it though?” I ask and sit up a bit. Something tells me this is going to be a long conversation. “I mean, whenever you’re arguing with someone, isn’t it best to let everything out? Then when all is said and done, solutions can be found? Same thing, just on a bigger scale.”

“Not everyone will want a solution. Many will choose to stay angry.” Papyrus sighs.

“Well, yeah. Hate will never disappear.” I hug my legs. “But, how else are we going to see good people? I think Evil tests Good, just to see how long Good stays Good, until it breaks. Maybe it’ll never break, but we’ll never know.” He’s quiet, his eye sockets narrow. I can practically see the gears turning in his skull.

“I’m... Not quite sure I follow completely?” He admits. I shrug.

“Nevermind, then.” It’s quiet again between us. Well, aside from the fire crackling and Sans’ snoring.

(Dear God, people and/or monsters could hear him on Mt. Ebott I bet)

“Do you really think things will be better?” Papyrus asks.

“Of course. Nothing stays forever. There will always be a better tomorrow. We’ll never know.”

“You won’t be able to see it....” He murmurs sadly. I think I wasn’t supposed to hear him, but I did. He’s not exactly the quietest, even when he wants to be. I don’t say anything, but I repeat the words in my head.

(“You won’t be able to see it...”)

No. I won’t. It breaks my heart not being able to see monsters and humans live in harmony, but I can imagine it. I know it’ll happen. I may not know when, but it will happen. That is something I know for sure. If my death is the first stepping stone, then so be it.

“Why didn’t you run away?”

“Because, other monsters would get me.” Who’s being nosy now, mister? “And maybe they won’t be as nice as you.” His jaw clenches. I tried to play it off as a joke, but I guess it didn’t work so well. Well, can’t take it back now.

“Well, even if you did escape, you’re still Royal Property. I would have found you and dusted any monster who dared to harm you.” He states. Even though he makes it sound like a duty, it sounded more like a promise. Strangely... That sort of puts me at ease. Knowing that I’d be protected. Wait, though... Does he actually hate me or not? Doesn’t he want me to hate him? He stands up and walks to me. He gently places a hand on my head, ruffling my hair a little. Normally, I’d say something about it, but I’m so tired and it actually feels kind of nice.
“Get some rest. It’s been a long day.”

“Where are you going?” I ask. I’ve never actually seen him sleep before. What does he even do after I sleep.

“Business.” He huffs. “And it’s nothing for you to be concerned about. Get to sleep.”

(Did he basically say ‘it’s none of my business?’)

I shrug it off and return to laying on my side. Apparently, just laying down was enough to put me to sleep. The warm fire, Sans’ snoring, and the sound of Papyrus’ boots stepping on the ground was enough to lull me to sleep.
I still want his boots....

 

Well, in the morning, Sans is gone again. After yesterday’s scuffle, he’s probably trying to hide the evidence to that. I expected to be cuffed when I woke up, but was surprised to see my wrists are freed. I turn to Papyrus for confirmation. He looks at me, then shrugs.

“After fighting by our side yesterday, I have decided to trust that you are not going to abuse your freedom and attack us blindly.” He states, as if he read my mind. “Though the moment I suspect you are plotting to betray us, I will not hesitate and cuff you again. Understood?” He sounds almost like a mother explaining something to a child. Dude, c’mon, I’m in my twenties.

“Yeah, sure, okay.” I sigh, standing up.

“I’m serious!”

“Uh-huh. I know, Pap.”

“Again, don’t call me that.”

 

He seems to be more... Relaxed now. Before, he wouldn’t tolerate any sort of nonsense from me at all. As we were traveling, I’d sing whatever song came to mind and he would bark on and on about how stupid the song was or how I was being annoying. Now, when I’m singing on the road, he’s quiet. Not like he’s listening to me, but as if he’s finally accepted this part of me. Did we, like, have a moment or something last night and I’m just being a dumbass again or...?

“Hey Pap?” I chime. He groans.

“Stop- Ugh, fine, what?” He’s given up correcting me. My heart swelled with pride.

“I remember you said you thought it was better to be feared than loved. We sorta talked about it, but you weren’t really up for talking.” He sighs.

“Nosy brat...” He grumbles.

“Hey, you can be nosy too!” I huff. “So, how about this. You answer my question, I’ll answer yours. How’s that sound?”

“Only if I get to go first.” He snaps. God, who’s the brat again?

“Okay, okay, fine. Go for it. I’m an open book.” He ponders a bit, fingers on his chin. Does he always do that when he’s thinking?

“Why have you been so... Carefree about all this? Normally, humans would be begging to spare their life. Some run away and get killed by other monsters. Others fall into despair and are rendered useless. Why are you still here?” He turns to me. I’m so used to him looking angry or stressed out. Now, fangs and all, he looks.... Content? Concerned? I’m not sure. It’s odd seeing any soft expression on his face. Not that it didn’t suit him. He actually... Kind of looks nice.

“Well, first off, kind of hard to run away when you have a big scary skeleton guarding you practically twenty-four seven.” I begin. He huffs. I’m not even sure if that was a laugh. “But, honestly. I couldn’t run away even if I wanted to because one: if you didn’t find me, other monsters would get me and two: where the hell am I gonna go? If I go home, you’d just find me there and probably box me up.”

“But you don’t try to do anything else to spare your life? Don’t you want to live? Aren’t you scared?”

“I’m terrified.” My words make his eye sockets wide. “I’m scared beyond words. I wish I didn’t have to die, but... If my Soul could be used for something great and is a stepping stone for peace, then... I guess I’ll be okay. It’s not fair, I wish it didn’t have to be this way, I’m terrified, but I know I’ll be okay in the end.” His expression is hard to read. However, the air seems to change. It feels wet and cold... It feels like falling snow with no breeze. It feels like I’m alone, even though Papyrus is clearly right in front of me. Was this his magic? What is this...?
Wait, right, my turn.

“Um, so... Your turn. Answer my question. Why do you think it’s better to be feared when you’re a leader?” I want to get rid of whatever is in this air. He nods curtly and turns his gaze to the ground.

“You already know my feelings towards Alphys, my.... Boss.” He says the last word through his teeth. “It wasn’t always like this, however. She knew I wanted to be Captain. She knew I wanted to be in charge. She never desired the position.” He took a deep breath. The air was changing. “Before, we used to train together. Over time, I bested her in sparring matches again and again. She actually used to look up to me and ask how she could improve her fighting skill. She wasn’t the bravest of all the guards, but she worked hard for Undyne, her girlfriend at the time.”

“Oh, right, they’re married now, aren’t they?” I think I remember him saying something like that the night I was caught. He nods.

“Yes. Undyne is the scientist that works for the Queen as well. Alphys wanted to be stronger so she could protect Undyne from humans when we reached the surface. Not like she needed it though. Undyne practically created her own robot army she could set out onto the world.” He paused. “Oh, I’m getting sidetracked. Where was I....”

“You two used to train together?”

“Ah, yes, right. Well, when the Queen began looking for a Captain, she declared that she would post a quest for any guards to take. Should they be successful, they would be Captain. Alphys promised if I wasn’t there on time after training, she would grab the post first before anyone else could even see it.” He stopped.
The air around us grew hotter. My skin felt itchy. My senses were heightened. I held my arms. He’s... Getting angry. The air changing, this is what his emotions feel like? Or is this his magic? I have no idea-

“By the time I got there, it was gone. I looked everywhere for Alphys. I could not find her anywhere.” His voice was growing louder, every word dripping with poison. “She was gone for days. Then she appeared in the barracks, beside the Queen as she announced Alphys as the new Captain of the Guard.”

Fear ate away at my heart. This air feels like it’s choking me. It was the same air that I felt the day he took me away from home. I had to get him out of this state. I reached out, taking his arm. His gaze locked onto mine, intense.
I was looking into the face of a Grim Reaper.

Chapter Text

I’m frozen in place. I don’t know what to do. I’ve only made situations worse when he’s like this. I know he’s not mad at me, but I did make him bring up bad memories... Oh fuck, maybe this was my fault. I wanted to know and he knew I was just going to keep bugging him until he said something. He shakes off my grip and continues marching forward, leaving me to stand in the dirt and feel guilty. C’mon... Think! What usually calms people down when they’re mad?!

“Hey, uh, wanna break stuff?” He stops and turns to me.

“What?”

“Or, um, if you don’t wanna break stuff, then maybe we can train early?” I suggest. He looks at me like I’ve grown two heads. Yup, I’ve probably made the situation worse. “I mean, if it means letting off some steam... Plus, it’s being productive!”

“Breaking stuff?”

“No, the training!” Why did I suggest breaking stuff in the first place? He puts his fingers on his chin, gears turning in his skull.

(Yup, he does that whenever he’s thinking.)

“Very well. If you’re eager to train, then I won’t stop you.” He finally says, waving his hand dismissively. “Since you’re taking the initiative, you’ll be the one to find the training spot.”

“You can count on me, sir!” I cheer. His sockets widen and... Wait, can skeletons blush? I could have sworn I saw something red on his face...

 

Finding a spot wasn’t too hard, since this is such a dense forest. Actually, I think we’re in the thickest part of the forest. Past this, we’ll be really close to Ebott, then after that... The mountain. I didn’t think we were that close already...

“Human! You’re dilly-dallying! Any longer and the sun will be setting!” Papyrus shouts behind me. Dude. It’s still late morning. I think we have plenty of time. I was about to say something, but I hear... Running water? Like a stream or something. That would be a cool place to train I think. Quick access to water too!

“I think I found someplace! Follow me!” I hear him groan, but his heavy footsteps are close behind me.

As I guessed, there was a small body of water. A cute little brook. Though, I was hoping for something bigger, so I can throw myself in the cool water after training, but this is fine. The area was clear enough for just the two of us to spar. Though the northern side, the side Papyrus was at, was slightly raised. I summoned my sword and shield, and prepared for a brutal beatdown. I have no idea if Papyrus was still angry, since that weird hot, itchy feeling vanished the farther I was from him. I’ll probably have to ask him that at another time.

Luckily, if he was still angry, he didn’t really take it out on me. He was his usual self during the match. Bested me again, but is anyone surprised? In seconds, I found myself sitting on my knees, splashing cool water on my face.

“I hate to admit it...” Papyrus mumbles through his teeth. “But perhaps Sans did teach you something I could not.” He glanced at me, then quickly added, “If you ever tell him this, I will kill you.” Okay, yeah, sure Pap. Whatever happened to ‘I’m Royal Property’, huh? I was about to wipe my face with my shirt, but Papyrus makes a disapproving noise and he’s at my side. He offers me a cloth instead.

“Thanks...” I take it from him and wipe my face.

“It’s better than using your clothes.” He huffs. I roll my eyes and dip the cloth into the water. God, I haven’t felt clean in a while. It’s far from an actual bath, but wiping off any grime and filth makes me feel that much better. Papyrus makes a face. “Just... Discard that when you’re done.”
Huh... I wonder if he’s a clean freak... Not that there’s anything wrong with wanting things to be clean. But all this cloth needs is a good wash and it’s good as new. No use throwing it out. I wash off whatever is sticking on the cloth and wrap it on the back of my neck. God, it feels a lot colder than it should. I sneak a glance at Papyrus. He’s not mad anymore. He’s gone back to his resting bitch face. I can’t help but smile.

“What is it?” He asks harshly.

“Nothing, nothing.” I wave my hand dismissively. After seeing that his face is capable of softer expressions, it’s sort of funny seeing him still put on this “tough guy” look. Even though we’re the only ones here. Then again, it’s not like he’s actively trying to be friends with me either. Maybe I’m looking too much into it.
It’s still silly to me.

“Alright, if you’ve had enough time admiring my greatness, we need to return to the road.” He huffs, crossing his arms. Oh, was I staring? God, I must be out of it. I nod and stand up. Only to have the world around me begin to spin. My vision got dark and my legs were weak. “Human?!”

“No, no. I’m fine. I just stood up too fast, I think.” I say, but I don’t even believe my own words. Something is wrong. I feel really cold. The cloth on the back of my neck feels colder. I feel the wind on my face, but something loops around my waist. The wind stops.

“You’re sick!”

“No, no. I’m fine. Really.”

“You just about fell over!” Papyrus snaps. “If I wasn’t here, you could have hurt yourself! You aren’t well and you should not be so careless!”

(God, he sounds just like Ma...)

“Pap, I’ll be okay... I can...” My body feels heavy. I know it’s not his magic. I just... Probably need a nap. I hear Papyrus let out a long sigh and next thing I know, I’m being lifted. Feeling weightless, yet so heavy... My chest presses against something solid. Arms are looped around my legs. Instinctively, I wrapped my arms around a pair of shoulders and nuzzle into a coat. The coat has fur on it. It’s soft and fluffy. It has the distant smell of flowers and the sun...

 

There I was. Standing in what looks like a shallow pond that stretches forever. The water just barely touches my ankles. I hear a voice in the distance. It’s Ma. I run forward, but I don’t go anywhere. The water isn’t even disturbed.

“You shouldn’t be out there, running for monsters!” Her scolding voice echoes in this strange emptiness. “You’ll put yourself in danger! What am I going to do then?!”

“Ma!” I tried to call out to her, but I have no voice. Her voice continues.

“You ran away with them. What is going to happen to my baby girl? What’s going to happen to her? What will I do without you?”

“Ma! I’m here! I’m still alive! I’m going to be okay!” Again, my voice reaches nowhere. I can only hear my mother crying until it fades away. Frantically, I tried to look for her before she completely disappears, but it was fruitless.
Instead, I see a girl. Her hair was dark and... It’s Harper. Her hair is covering her face. I’ve seen enough horror games to know what’s going on. I try to run from her, but she surrounds me.

“You didn’t help me! You were supposed to save me! Now?! And now?! You sided with them?! They are the enemy!” Harper grips my shoulders and shakes me violently. She was completely drenched and smelled horrible.

“I tried to save you! I tried! We had a plan, Harper!” I don’t even know why I try speaking. I have no voice here.

“You killed me! You gave me false hope! You betrayed me!” Theses words... They weren’t her own. These voices were different, but they weren’t their own. It was their words. The words they said whenever they weren’t happy. It didn’t matter what I did. It didn’t matter if it was my fault or not. It didn’t matter if it was right or wrong. They were unhappy, and it was my fault.

Suddenly, Harper vanishes. This empty world was quiet. Then, a light shone over the horizon. I hear a voice that is unlike anything I’ve heard before. It was gruff, harrowing, and yet... It was strangely calming.

“It isn’t your fault. They made themselves this way. You are not at fault for the monsters they became. Rest easy. You are safe here. Tomorrow will be better. You know this.”

These words were not my own, not their words, not Ma’s... This voice was distant, yet so familiar. Something that should scare me, this deep, dark voice, yet it was the greatest comfort in this world.

“Rest easy. Things will be better tomorrow.”

I sit down in the pond. I feel heavy again. I need to rest... I lay down in the water. It’s comfortably warm. Only then I saw a ripple that spread across the eternity as I slept a dreamless sleep.

 

I’m on the edge of sleep and awareness. I didn’t want to open my eyes in case I ended up falling asleep again. I heard two familiar voices talking.

“-n’t believe you got her sick! Pap, I told ya, you ain’t really cut out for this teaching stuff. You push people way too hard.”

“You think you could do better then?” Papyrus growls.

“Eh, well, y’know me. I like a little more of a hands on experience. ” Sans says deviously. I heard a firm ‘smack’ of a gloved hand hit against bone. “‘Ey! What the hell was that for?!”

“You know damn well what that was for.” Papyrus hisses. “I can take care of the human just fine! She most likely has a cold. Nothing serious.”

“Pap, you ain’t exactly a doctor either. How the hell are you gonna take care of her, huh?” Sans asks. It’s quiet for a moment. “Oh God, she didn’t puke, did she?”

“No. She just lost her balance and she has a slight fever. That’s all. Nothing that the Great and Terrible-”

“Okay, okay, I get it, boss.” Sans sighs.

“.... Papyrus can’t handle.” I heard a longer, louder sigh from Sans. Papyrus clears his throat. “That aside, is it done yet? Undyne should find these sort of things trivial.”

“No, not yet. I’m gonna have to do some sweet talkin’ to her so she won’t suspect a thing. Which is hard, because she’s always suspicious of everything. Last thing we need is a fish and her robot army to chase us down, along with a dragon and a goat. Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke.”

“Take your time, then. It’s not exactly important to me.” Papyrus says. I can just hear Sans’ grin.

“It’s for her, isn’t it?”

“Sans, I swear to God-” Papyrus cuts himself off as I start having a coughing fit. Damn, when did my throat get dry...? I hear heavy footsteps come marching towards me. I sit up slowly and look up at Resting Bitch Face Syndrome.

“Uh.. Morning..” I croak. Papyrus sighs.

“You need your rest.” He scolds.

“I need... Water...” He nods and searches inside his coat pockets. I didn’t think there were pockets in there... It’s a flask, a pretty silver one. Looks like he keeps it polished. I’ve only ever seen alcohol be kept in those things, but do skeletons even drink?

“There’s water in here, don’t worry. I couldn’t find anything else that was conveniently sized, so this had to do.” Papyrus explains. I guess there was no canteens where he was from. I took the cold flask into my warm hands and drank until the flask was empty. I felt a little better, but still weak as hell. We still need to keep traveling, right? I have to get up and-
“What are you doing?” Papyrus asks, though the way he says it reminds me of my Ma.

“Um, don’t we...?”

“You need your rest. Lie down.” He instructs. Well, I’m in no position to argue with him, so I try to get comfortable again and close my eyes. I can hear the brothers bickering again, but I slowly drift into another nap.

 

This time, it was snowing. A blanket of whiteness and flakes that seemed to fall endlessly. Narrow, charcolled trees scattered about the area. I’m marching forward, but it’s difficult in the knee deep snow. There’s some figure in the distance, taunting me, beckoning me. I’m not sure why I’m going after it, but something is telling me to. Then I fall face first in the snow. The figure laughs at me, pointing at me. Ridiculing me.

“I really hate you sometimes.” That was the voice of them . “I can’t believe you’re so selfish. I’m glad you fell in love with me. You’d be so lost without me.”

“That’s not true.” I say. Once again, my voice is lost in this world.

“You’re just like the others. The ones that you hate. God, you’re so lucky I’m here for you.”

“You were never there for me!” I scream. It’s useless.

“Who would ever love something as worthless and selfish as you? Only me, that’s who.”

“Stop lying to me! I know better now! I’m better than you will ever be!”

There is a hand on my head. I can smell the faint smell of flowers and sunshine.

The snow melts. The figure is gone. Instead, I see Papyrus, standing on a stump. He’s offering a hand to me. His expression wasn’t soft, but it wasn’t his normal resting bitch face either. I don’t know why he’s here. I don’t know why he’s being so kind to me. Yet, here he is, waiting for me to take his hand. I can hear the birds chirping. I can feel the sun on my skin.

I take his hand.

 

I open my eyes. I’m on Edge’s back again. I have no idea what time it was, or what was going on. There was still some daylight, but I’m not even sure what day it was. Was it tomorrow? Is it still today? God, I hate being sick...

“Mornin’ doll.” I look over to Sans who’s wearing his trademark grin. I groan in response. I don’t feel like talking right now when I feel like garbage. Though... What is he still doing here?
“Pap needs an extra pair of eyes, since you’re down for the count.”

“How many times do I have to say to not call me that?” Papyrus growls. The air around him though feels warm. Sans shrugs it off.

“Whatever, Papy.” His grin grows wider. The air changes, making my skin feel prickly. I try to ignore it, nuzzling my face into the white fur of Papyrus’ coat. It reminds me of the valley, with all the yellow wildflowers that scattered the tall grass. How Ma used to let me run around and make little flower crowns. I never perfected making those things.

“Human, how is your condition?” Papyrus asks, snapping me out of my daydream.

“My throat is a little dry...” I utter. In moments, the silver flask comes into view. I take it without thinking about it. I let the cool water run down my throat until there was nothing left and then hand the flask back to him. I still don’t know why he’s taking care of me. Maybe I need to be in good condition to meet with the Queen. Memories of my dreams flash in my mind and I can’t help but wonder....

“Papyrus... I had a dream... I thought that you-”

“Human, you need your rest.” He interrupts. “Don’t even consider being nosy. I won’t allow you until you’re in shape again.”

“Pap, she’s probably sick ‘cause you pushed her too hard.” Sans snaps. “Stress’ll do that, y’know?” For the moment, Sans actually sounds like an older brother. The air around Papyrus is quiet - almost chilly. I tried to match this air to a feeling, but I can’t quite make the connections. My brain might as well be mashed potatoes at this point.
“Hey, but what do I know, right?” I turn my eyes back to Sans, and his grew into his usual shit-eating grin. The grin he has when he’s about to say something that he knows he’ll get in trouble for.
“For all I know, she could be lovesick.” Before I could even blink, Papyrus swung his arm, striking Sans at the back of his skull. Or, rather, he would if Sans didn’t dodge out of the way in time. He cackled like a madman. I have no idea why he said that, but I feel my cheeks heat up all the same. Me and Papyrus? Never thought of it, really. I don’t think it’ll ever be possible. He hates me, right? Or rather, maybe he’s tolerating me now.
“Aw, c’mon Pap, no need for slapsick.”

“That one was terrible.” Papyrus groans.

“Hey, cut me some slack here. You’ve been working me to the bone.” Sans chuckles. Papyrus groans. “Throw me a bone, I know some of my stuff isn’t very humerus but I’ve been putting a little more backbone -”

“Sans, I’m going to kill you if you don’t stop this insanity right now.” Papyrus growls. I’m smiling like an idiot. “And don’t encourage him.” I know Papyrus is talking to me, but whatever. I’m sick.

 

I daze in and out of sleep. I’m not particularly hungry, but Papyrus insists that I eat something anyway and he has Sans get more water. Despite Sans’ complaining, he got the job done. Before I knew it, the sky was dark and I was huddled close to the fire. It was peaceful for a while. There was a peaceful silence. Well, until Sans fell asleep and began snoring.

(He should really get that checked out.)

... Papyrus was still awake. Did he ever sleep? When did he ever get some sleep? I’ve never seen him so much as nap. Regardless, I was about to daze off to another long sleep. That is, until I heard rustling behind me. In the treetops, somewhere, there was something close. Papyrus stood ready and quickly and put out the fire. Sans sat up, his eye lights were dim from waking up so suddenly.

“What was-” Papyrus cut me off, pressing a finger to his teeth. The rustling continued, growing louder. He summoned a bone sword and kept his guard up. Luckily, whatever was in the trees went in another direction, but Sans had a grave expression.

“Oh fuck, that’s one of Alphys’ scouts.”

Chapter Text

Alphys’ scouts? What does that mean? How much trouble are we in? I look to Papyrus for some sort of answer. He doesn’t look panicked, but irritated. As if this was nothing more than an inconvenience.

“Fantastic. Just another damn thing to worry about...” He grumbles. “Sans, what have you been doing? You haven’t been slacking-”

“Boss, again, why would I give myself more work if I didn’t do it right the first time?!” Sans hisses.

“Yes, you’re right. I’m sorry, Sans. I should know better.” Papyrus sighs. Both of them seem to relax a little, but are obviously bothered. “Does she know anything...? Why would she....”

“Pap, to be fair we all kinda went on a limb here. Alphys knows what you’re capable of and you wouldn’t have been gone this long under normal circumstances.” Sans puts his hands in his pockets. “I’ve tried covering ya for a while. It’s only a matter of time before she figures this out. She ain’t dumb, Pap.” Papyrus puts his fingers on his chin. I can tell he’s thinking hard about this.

“Well, we weren’t found. Not yet. We have to keep going, but we can no longer stay on the path. We will have to travel through the forest.”

“Dunno if that’ll keep a seven foot skeleton hidden, but whatever floats your boat Paps.”

“You’re coming with us.”

“What? Oh hell no! I have to put up with one wood enough, and being surrounded by it-”

SANS. NOT IN FRONT OF THE HUMAN. ” Papyrus scolds. What? What did Sans mean? I missed it.

“Look! She didn’t even get it!” Sans gestures to me. Papyrus growls and glares at Sans.

“We could split up...” I cough. “Sans can try to get Alphys to call off the scouts, while Papyrus and I keep going on...”

“Kid, you’re sick as hell. Trying to get Alphys to call off the scouts is gonna make me look shady.” Sans sighs. Papyrus’ jaw clenches. He wants to say something, but he’s holding himself back. Sans seems to catch onto it and calls him out, “Hey, you’ve got an idea. Spit it out, Pap.”

“Well... It will damage my reputation... I’m not sure if it’s a good idea...”

“Paps, if it’ll get ya to the capital without being dragged there more chained up than a BDSM roleplay-”

“Sans-!”

“I’m stressed out, cut me some slack!” If Papyrus had eyes, he’d roll them. I know that gesture all too well.

“Fine. I was going to suggest saying that the human has me captive.” I’m sure Sans just choked.

“Wha-?! Would that even make sense?!”

“To be fair, she is a sorcerer. She has the capability to do so. It’s also not entirely a lie.”

“What?” Both me and Sans say.

“I’m trapped as her mentor, caretaker, and as a prisoner guard.” He... He’s not serious, is he. I look at Sans. He looks exactly what I’m thinking. He raises a finger, like how a student does when the teacher is doing something wrong.

“Um... Bro. I could lie, y’know. You could say that I can lie instead. Make things easier.”

“THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE PAPYRUS NEVER LIES.” Papyrus shouts, which makes Sans panic and fans his hands wildly, silently screaming at Papyrus to keep quiet. Papyrus only huffs and scowls, crossing his arms. Is.. Is he pouting? Oh my God, he actually is like a little brother. Sans sighs and tugs at his sleeves.

“Okay, okay Paps. I’ll think of something. I’ll catch you later, just.... Promise me one thing?” Papyrus turns his attention to Sans. “Be careful, okay? I know you can handle yourself, but... If any one of those scouts finds you, and if shit hits the fan-”

“How does shit hit the-”

“Expression, Paps. But when it does, look out for yourself, okay? I don’t wanna be in a world where there’s one less brother, got it? This is all serious stuff, so....” Sans glances at me and a light, red hue glows on his cheek bones. “Ah man, you’ve been so quiet I forgot you were here...” I grin. As much as he torments Papyrus as much as I do, probably even more so, he really does care for him. It was a nice side to see.

(Even though I feel like garbage.)

Papyrus’ expression softens and he uncrosses his arms. He approaches Sans and places a hand on his shoulder.

“Sans, I promise. You know I won’t go down without a fight. I will return to you, without a doubt. So don’t worry.” Sans smiles wearily and gasps Papyrus’ arm.

“Thanks, bro. Really needed to hear that.” After a moment, he clears his throat. “Now, we got a plan? You travel with the human tomorrow and I’ll get Alphys to back off somehow?”

“That was what was discussed. Yes.

“Cool. See you later, Paps. Get better soon, doll.” Sans’ usual grin returns and winks at me. I smile and rolls my eyes. Yeah, I really want to stay here and feel like garbage Sans.

(Heavy sarcasm)

In a blink, Sans was gone. I’m left alone with Papyrus again. He rubs the back of his skull and sighs. He looks tired. Under his sockets there’s faint dark circles. Makes me wonder how long he’s been like this.

“Are you okay?” I ask. He glances at me and clenches his jaw. He comes to my side and gently pushes me back to lay down.

“Do not worry about me, human. Just rest. I know how to take care of myself.”

“Are you going to sleep soon?” He laces his fingers into my hair.

“Again, do not worry about me. I will rest when I know all is safe. Please, just rest. After tomorrow, you should feel better I hope.”

“Are the scouts-”

“Human. Rest.” His voice becomes stern. “I told you once, I will tell you again. Nothing will come to hurt you. You are safe under the guard of The Great and Terrible Papyrus!” I can’t help but smile. Dammit, his ego is kind of growing on me.

“Yeah, okay. I know. I just... Just get some sleep too, okay? Can’t protect me if you’re fighting sleep.” I say, nuzzling my head against the soft grass and closing my eyes. I think... I think I heard him laugh?

 

In the morning, Papyrus didn’t even bother waking me up. I just remember being on his back and remembering bits and pieces of what happened. However, I know I was wide awake at some point.
I had woken up from a dead sleep when my back collided with a tree. I cried out, but Papyrus’ gloved hand covered my mouth quickly. He was dead silent. Still as a statue. There was a big dog monster, armed with two blades. The dog was squinting, scanning the area. Did he have bad vision? Why did they let someone with bad vision be a scout? I almost laughed, if I wasn’t in such a tense situation. Papyrus was even holding his breath.
The dog froze. His ears perked up and he began sniffing the air. Papyrus turned his head to me and whispered in the softest voice I’ve ever heard:

“Do not move. He can’t see us if we don’t move. Hold your breath for as long as you can.” I hummed an ‘uh-huh’ in reply, took a deep breath and held it. The dog drew closer, sniffing the area. He had a dog biscuit smoking in his mouth. I realized that if anything were to go wrong, Papyrus was pretty much my shield. He’s been carrying me on his back this entire time, and since he’s so massive compared to me... His chest alone covered most of my body.
The dog eventually moved on, being called elsewhere. Once Papyrus knew for sure that he was gone, he finally breathed easy.

“Thank you...” I said, just out of habit really.

“For what?”

“Protecting me.” The last thing I saw before my memory went foggy again, was the faintest glow on Papyrus’ cheekbones.

Now, I’m fully awake. I can’t move at all. I’m on the ground, in the dirt no less, wondering where the hell am I. I tried to look around. Somewhere in a cave? A den almost? But with how massive this is, this could only mean.... I’m in a bear’s den. Then where are the bears? I turned my head some more. Oh, there they are. There’s a brown bear, huddled against the wall of its den, staring at something with big, scared eyes. Whatever it was, as soon as it saw me awake, it darted. Something groaned behind me and the restraints wrapped tighter around me.
Oh, wait.
These aren’t restraints. These are bones. I tried to turn my head to see if it was who I thought it was, but then my head becomes trapped under a jaw. Yup, this was Papyrus. Was he... No, he is!! He’s cuddling me?!!? What the actual fuck?! I tried to squirm, but he only held onto me tighter and snored.
Oh. He’s asleep. Wait, I’ve never seen him sleep before. I somehow manage to turn onto my other side, which meant my face was almost pressed against his rib cage. Why the hell is he cuddling me in his sleep? How did we get here? What did he do to scare a bear? Well, I’m not getting any damn answers while he’s asleep, so I might as well just put up with it.

Then I feel something. A pulse? No... Not quite. Something like a heart pulse, but with a different feel to it. It felt... Tingly? Warm? Peaceful? Actually, all of them. They washed over like gentle waves and soothed whatever anxieties I once had. Was this a monster’s magic? Or a monster’s soul?
Well... Maybe he isn’t so bad. I wonder if he has to put on this “tough guy” act around me just to protect himself. Maybe he’s like this because it’s easier, but this sensation... This warmth and peace feels so... I sure as hell didn’t expect this coming from him. It’s almost healing, in a way...

Oh, shit. Well, moment is ruined. I need to find a bush or hide behind a tree, something, because I suddenly have to use the bathroom. I try to nudge Papyrus awake. He didn’t budge.

“Pap? Paps?” I call out. Nothing. “Papy? Papyrus?”

“Nnnngg....” He groans. Dude, this isn’t funny. I gotta go and unless you want to torment yourself with whatever happens, it’s on you.

“Pap. Papy. Paps. Papaya. Paparooni. Paperonni. C’mon. I need to get up.” I don’t even care if he gets mad at me, it’s to save his own sanity.

“Mmmmhmph....” He tiredly pouts and lets me go finally. I jump to my feet and scurry to the nearest bush to corrupt.
When I come back, Papyrus is sitting up. He no longer has the shadows under his eyes, but he looks completely dazed. That was the first time I’ve ever seen him sleep. Let alone nap. Makes me wonder how hard he’s been pushing himself and how much sleep he’s actually been getting. He slowly turns to me, though I don’t think he’s actually looking at me.

“Sleep well?” I say with a grin. There’s no way I’m ever going to let him forget this ever so long as I live. He blinks slowly at me. He reminds me of something, but I can’t figure it out. “Hey, if you’re gonna be the big spoon at least take me to dinner first.” Does he even know what he did? After a moment, his sockets widen and shoulders stiffen.

“I-I-I-!!!” He stammers. He stands up and tries to look scary, but it’s too late. He’s a cuddler when he sleeps. I wonder if that’s why he waits for me to sleep first. “It-It was only for warmth! Nothing else!”

“Uh-huh. Seems very likely, Cuddles.” I respond with a wink and a finger gun. I hear Papyrus growl, and crosses his arms. There’s a noticeable red glow across his face.

“You tell this to no one. Or else.” He threatens.

“Or else what?”

“Give me time to think of a fitting, horrible punishment.” He huffs. I can’t hold in this laughter anymore. I can’t stop giggling. How ridiculous this must look: a blushing skeleton, and the human that managed to fluster him - who is considerably smaller in comparison to him. If I were to pull this shit with him from the start, he’d probably do something terrifying. Now? He’s just glaring at me like he does with his brother. Not nearly the same glare of hatred and disgust when we first met.

“So, where to, Cuddles?” He groans and runs a hand over his face.

“Please don’t tell me that’s my new nickname.”

“Only when it’s you ‘n me, Paps.” I grin. He sighs and rubs the temples of his skull with his fingers.

“Just.... Be sure to address me appropriately in front of the Queen. That’s all I ask.”

“I can deal with that, Cuddles.”

“Oh God, what have I done....?”

 

After that whole ordeal, Papyrus made sure that I was feeling better. Which I am. I don’t feel nearly as weak or frail as before, but Papyrus made me take a day of rest. Which means no training today. No matter how much I told him that I was okay, he didn’t want me to push myself until my body was completely healed. Besides, we were going to walk a lot today.

“Hey, can I ask something?” I wanted to know... During my nightmares, I could have sworn I heard him. Was that really a part of my dream or was he actually calming me down? I remember his voice so vividly.

“You already did.”

(Is... Is he being a smartass now?!)

“Ha ha. You got me.” I could not have sounded more sarcastic than I could. “Seriously, I’ve got a question for you.”

“Go on.”

“When I was sick, I had a couple of nightmares. In my dreams, you were there. So, I was wondering... Were you.... Comforting me? Was I talking in my sleep?” Papyrus is silent. He stopped walking, but didn’t look to me.

“Yes. You were mumbling something in your deep slumbers. I didn’t know what was happening until Sans brought up that it could be a nightmare. Considering your sickness could have been linked to stress, it was very likely that you were having nightmares.” He explains. “So, to stop you from... Blowing our cover, I comforted you. I didn’t know how, but whatever I did seemed to work. You continued to sleep peacefully until your next nightmare.”

(Blowing our cover? Sounds likely, but it also sounds like a lie.)

“So... You’re saying you didn’t comfort me because you wanted to?” I pried. Now he’s glaring at me, but there’s a faint glow on his cheekbones.

“No! Never! You are my prisoner! Why on Angel’s green Earth would I ever do that?!” He spat. Clearly, he’s lying again. He’s not very good at this.

“Because you and I are friends?” I suggest. He stumbles over his words, completely flabbergasted. It makes me giggle, but it only manages to piss him off more.

“You and I, The Great and Terrible Papyrus?! Friends?! That’s completely absurd! Not to mention a horrible idea and utterly impossible! A child-like dream!” His further denial was comedic at this point. I can’t stop laughing. “What are you laughing at?! I’m serious!!”

“Sure, sure okay.” I somehow say between gasps of air. “So, you don’t want to be friends?” I ask after my giggles subsided. He opens his mouth then closes it.

“I... Well... I’m not really...” His voice is quiet. I wasn’t sure at first why he would be so opposed, aside from the fact that I’ll be dead in a matter of days. Then I remembered: Alphys. She was his close friend too, once upon a time. Until she betrayed him and robbed him of his opportunity to achieve his dream. He’d be cautious making new friends. I know I was for the longest time.

“It’s okay if you don’t want to be friends. Besides, I don’t think I’ll be a good friend. I’ll be gone in a few days. I won’t be able to make phone calls or anything.” I tried to keep it on the lighter side. Just because I’m okay with it now doesn’t really mean others are.

“It’s not that...”

“I know.” We’re both quiet. He’s not sure about this. In this moment, I could put myself in his shoes. Someone who’s been hurt before by someone they trusted the most... How do they know when it’s time to trust another person? How do they know that the person in front of them is not going to hurt them like before? They don’t. That’s the scary part. Yet, we can’t live our lives in fear. We have to push past that fear in order to learn, grow and become better people from it.
I think he knows that too.

“You really want to be friends with me? Even after everything I’ve done to you?” He asks.

“I was a prisoner before. That’s changed, hasn’t it? A prisoner doesn’t fight beside you. Or joke with you. Or even have this particular conversation with you. Right?” He’s quiet again. He takes a deep breath and finally looks at me. He looks... Sad. The air around him is weighted and it feels and smells like rain.

“What kind of friend would I be then, if I’m taking you to your death?”

“Because it will help monsterkind and humankind. It’s for the better future.” The air gets heavier. He’s taking in deep, slow breaths. Slowly, he reaches out to me, offering his hand.

“Then, for the hopes of a better future, I promise to take you there as a friend, in your final moments. From here on out, you are no longer my prisoner. It seems we both share the same goal. Should you ever break my trust, not only will you return being my prisoner, but I will make your last moments a living nightmare.”

“These almost sound like vows.” I joke.

“I’m being serious!” He scolds. I know he is, but I can’t help myself. I take his hand, smiling.

“I won’t break your trust, Papyrus. I’m glad to have you as my friend.” His shoulders stiffen, but seem to relax after a moment. He looks at me, studying my face. Probably to see any detail off, a clue that tells him that I’m lying. But I’m not. He’s sort of grown on me now. Ego and all. He’s grumpy, hates fun, hates it when things aren’t going his way, hates being teased... But I think it all adds to a weird charm he has. I don’t think he really hates all of this. Just... Maybe not used to it.
(“He’s really not that bad.”)

Chapter Text

Papyrus didn’t let me walk too much the rest of the day. He was too stubborn to let me move around as much since I was sick, and good Lord, if I thought he was overbearing before as a prison guard, he’s even worse now that he’s a friend. He’s twice as stubborn and twice as protective now. I think he’s even trying to protect me from myself, which is saying something. Is this what Sans has to deal with? If he does, at least he can teleport or something. He can get away. I’m stuck here, whether I like it or not.
I can say though, he’s not threatening me like he usually does. I realize before, when his threats were simple and direct it seemed like he could and would follow through with them. Now, he’s sort of ridiculous with them. Empty, silly threats. The louder he yells, the more flustered he is. It’s kind of nice knowing that little tidbit of information.
He set up camp a little earlier than usual, making sure that scouts were not in the area beforehand. When all was said and done, he sighs and sits down by the fire. I’ve never seen him so relaxed before. Or tired.

“You know you didn’t have to worry about me so much today. It wasn’t like I had the flu or something. Just a stress-related cold, at most.” I state.

“Yes, well, if you were taking care of yourself, you should know how to destress yourself in these times. However, because you couldn’t handle The Great and Terrible Papyrus’ Step by Step Guide for Fitness Training Guide, I suppose I could make some adjustments to better fit your speed.” He huffs. Wha-? He’s scolding me for getting sick?! And for not being able to handle his ridiculous training?! Well, whatever. If he’s going to fix my training routine for the better, I can’t complain.

“So, we’re back to training tomorrow?” I ask.

“Absolutely! Because you got yourself sick, you have a lot of training to make up! Worry not! I, The Great and Terrible Papyrus, will not make you work harder to make up for it! But it will be longer and perhaps a little more at an even pace.” He stops and thinks for a moment. “Now... How to teach a small human my own techniques....?” He murmurs.
I can’t believe I’m friends with this dork. To think, a few days ago, he would rather see me dead or worse. Now here he is, trying to train me better and worried (?) about my health. Does he do this with his brother too? Can’t say, since I’ve probably only seen a tidbit of their relationship. Regardless, it’s nice to finally have someone who cares about me and is looking out for me until my fate comes to take me.

“Oh! I nearly forgot!” He turns to me suddenly, breaking out of his murmuring chant of running thoughts. He reaches inside his coat and pulls out a little, thin, black box. Upon closer inspection, it’s actually a phone, but it isn’t mine. “I had asked Sans to fix your previous device. He somehow convinced Undyne to attempt, but it was broken beyond repair. Instead, she found another and managed to obtain most of your ridiculous ballads onto this device. Among others.”

“Wait, hold up. You? Why?” We weren’t friends at that point, I don’t think. So why would he have Sans risk this sort of thing? He takes a deep breath and avoids my gaze.

“I... Well... You seem to be in better spirits when you had something like this. Even though you were not my ally at the time, it was something for you to have in your final moments.” He confesses, a ghosting pink glow rising from his cheekbones. “However, now that you are my ally, I think I can gift you this to symbolize our newfound... Friendship?” Oh my God, he’s such a dork when he’s even trying to be nice. I take the phone from his hands and turn it on.
Everything was a blank slate - no apps, no pictures, nothing - until I opened the music app. There were even more songs than I could ever find. Some older songs I’ve never heard of. Classical music, a whole lot of rock, hiphop, techno, almost a huge list of songs in almost every genre. I noticed, however, there was little to no country songs.

“Hey, how come-”

“Sans made it clear if he heard country songs, he’d go mad.” Papyrus says, as if he read my mind. “Though, I’m paraphrasing. What he actually said is a long list of words I refuse to say, because they’re barbaric, but you two have interacted. I can assume you can fill in the blanks.”

It’s almost like I can hear Sans’ voice already. I’ve only ever heard him raise his voice when he was around Papyrus, but more lax when around everyone else. I can already picture Sans furiously denying the idea of country music. Like how my friends used to flail about, furiously hating on a music genre that they blindly hate. Not all country is bad, y’know. Maybe I can find some songs for Sans to get him to change his mind a little. Not that country is my first pick of music, but it’s a bit narrow-minded to blindly deny something and not explore it a little bit. Open your doors a bit. Who knows? Maybe you can find that one song you repeat until you’re sick of it.

“Thank you, Papyrus. You have no idea how much this means to me.” I was so lost in my train of thought I almost forgot to thank him. The glow around his cheekbones brighten as he began to pull on his coat’s hood to hide his face. It’s actually kind of cute.

“Don’t mention it. It’s... It was an act of mercy in your final moments, at one time, but... I...” He clears his throat and shakes his head. “Nevertheless! We mustn’t get side-tracked! We still have training to do and make up for lost time! Onwards! We- Gack-!” Huh, that’s a strange noise for someone who just got hugged. I wasn’t thinking, but before I knew it my arms wrapped around him and caught him in a hug. He stammered for probably far too long before he became an unintelligible mess. Oh no, I think I broke the guy. I think I stepped over a boundary... I let him go and look up at him. He’s gotta be pissed... To my surprise, and delight, he’s actually bright red in the face. Eye sockets are wide and I can hear the silent screaming.

“Sorry, went to far?” I ask. He grumbled something and pulled his hood over his face. Who’d think that a simple hug would send him into a flustered mess? It made me giggle.

 

I was too busy looking through the list of songs that were on my new phone the first half of traveling that day. Some of these songs I recognized came from online creators. Makes me wonder how this Undyne got them on here. There’s actually a small list of anime opening songs too, but I only recognize a handful of them. Some could be just a few bands that may have no idea what anime is, for all I know. I only had maybe one or two anime opening songs previously, but not nearly this many. I wonder if she’s a huge nerd too...
Finally after browsing what seemed to be an endless list of songs, I put it on shuffle and listened to whatever came my way. I skipped a few I didn’t know. I wanted something to sing to. Finally, something energetic. A party type of song - strong beat, good energy, and definitely popular during 201X. It had me dancing while I walked beside Papyrus, who seemed annoyed with the tune. He didn’t complain or ask me to change it, so I let it play out and I sung along to it, getting lost in the music.

“Do you insist on singing?” He asks in his usual bitter tone.

“Why, is my singing bad?”

“No, well, I mean...” He pauses, thinking. “Perhaps you can improve. I am just curious as to why.”

“You’re telling me you’ve never enjoyed a song so much you lose yourself in it and never sing along?” It’d be hard to believe if he said no or otherwise. Instead, he looks disgusted, as if he just had something bitter.

“All we had was a robot Undyne created for entertainment purposes and it would perform similar, if not the same, songs on repeat.” He growled. “After some time, it loses its charm and becomes white noise, at best.” I recalled the time when I was working at my job before the barrier broke. How dull and repetitive the radio became. Only certain employees would be able to play their own songs, but they were usually working at their desks and had little to no interaction with customers.

“Yeah, I think I understand.” I say with a weak laugh. I wonder what type of music he would like... I go back to scrolling through the song list. He wouldn’t like some of these rock songs, not the angry ones anyway. I pick an anime opening song. They’re usually fun, upbeat with a certain edge to it. He might like it. I select something that looked kind of familiar. I knew what anime it was as soon as I heard the first few notes. In the corner of my eye, I see Papyrus perk up a little. He tries to hide his interest, but it’s too late.

( I know. )

We didn’t train today, since Papyrus is still working on his training plan for me. To add, I think he’s still making sure that I’m not sick. That could be just me overthinking it, but whatever. Sans hasn’t shown up in a while... I wonder if he’s okay. Papyrus doesn’t seem worried, but he could be hiding it too... Gah, stop worrying about it! You’ve got your own problems to worry about! I pull out the phone and start up some music. Maybe some songs will help me calm down a little.
As I start creating a playlist, Sans blinked into existence. He wore his usual devious grin, but I could tell from the dark circles under his sockets that he was tired. Papyrus swiftly went to his side - quite gracefully I might add. Though he didn’t seem worried, his voice gave him away,

“Sans! You were gone for far too long! What the hell were you up to?! What happened?!” Sans waves his hand dismissively.

“Ah, don’t worry about me Paps. Got Alphys to back off some.”

“But how?!” Sans shrugs and puts his hands in his pockets.

“Just had to do a couple of things for her. Cause a ruckus bigger than you. Nothing much.” Sans’ shoulders stiffened as Papyrus grabbed them. He lowered himself, meeting his brother’s gaze. In a tone he used to use with me, Papyrus growled,

“Sans. What did you do?” Sans’ eye lights faded out. He looks as solid as a statue. Papyrus shakes him once. “Sans, answer me!”

“Pap- okay, first, you can’t get mad at me! I got Alphys to call off the scouts, didn’t I?!” Sans grasped Papyrus’ arms, trying to pull him off. Papyrus doesn’t budge. Oh boy, this looks like it can get ugly... I step up and try to ease Papyrus back.

“Just... Let’s see what he has to say before doing anything about it, okay?” I offer. “I mean, we don’t even know what he did. So, just... Let him go and let him breathe a second.” Papyrus turns to me, then looks at his brother. I didn’t think he was going to do anything to his own brother, but I’ve never seen Sans react like that. So he must have done something that Papyrus wouldn’t have liked, right? After a moment, Papyrus lets Sans go and returns to his usual posture.

“Explain yourself.” He growls. The lights in Sans’ eyes return and he looks like he can breathe a little better.

“Alright, so. I asked Alphys about the scouts all casual like, y’know? She says what I already know and I was about to tell her what we talked about yeah? About how the human here has ya hostage? But then one of the scouts says that he could have sworn he saw you and the human together for a second.” Papyrus freezes.

“He’s not done talking.” I remind him. Papyrus nods, but he doesn’t look like he’s ready to hear the rest. I know. My stomach is in knots too. Sans takes a breath.

“But y’know who it was? The blind one. Y’know the guy? He’s got a real problem with his smoking habit? Alphys complains about leaving half-burned dog treats scattered around our camp.”

“Yes... We had a close encounter with him.” Papyrus replies. The dog? He’s blind? I mean, I suppose the not moving part makes sense now.

“Okay, so, after I heard that I had a change a plans, right? Can’t say you’re being hostage when there’s stuff like that floating about. Alphys was thinkin’ about sending twice as many scouts in that case. So, I uh...” Sans clears his throat. Oh boy, this is the part that Papyrus was not going to like... I could see him tense up. “So, I might have... Started, um.... Some private property damage.”

“Sans....” Papyrus sighs and covers his face with his hands. “What did you do...?”

“Remember when you were just a little baby bones? And monsters would sometimes pick on you and give you a hard time?”

“I don’t like where this is going, brother.”

“And so I threatened that if it happens again, I’d burn their house?”

“Sans, tell me you didn’t-”

“And then I did?” Sans stood there, waiting for the screaming that never came. Papyrus is leering at Sans over his fingertips. Sans has a nervous grin on his face. “Uh, I know you don’t like it when I treat ya like my little bro, but old habits die hard, y’know...?”

“Were you seen? Does Alphys suspect that it’s you?” Papyrus asks, his hands are still covering half his face.

“Nah, she thinks it was some rebel monsters. I stayed to ‘track down’ the rebel scum. She’s sending her scouts in a totally different direction. Technically, I’m searching for you and the human. As far as Alphys knows.”

“And Undyne? Does she know anything?”

“Nope. She thinks, at most, that I joined some ‘Pro-Human’ groupie base after the phone incident. Speaking of, how’s that doin’ for ya doll?” He asks, his smile returning to the one I’m more familiar with.

“Oh, it’s great! I actually have a lot more songs to choose from! I’ll have to look into them-!”

“Don’t change the subject!!” Papyrus scolds. “You burned the Royal Guard’s camp?!”

“Not everythin’! Just... Y’know. Some stuff. I mean, things were getting heated.

“I cannot believe you can joke at a time like this.”

“What? I’m just warming up.

“Sans, I’m going to kill you.” Papyrus sighs and walks away, rubbing the sides of his skull with his fingertips. Sans was laughing.

“Uh... No one was hurt, were they...?” I ask. I mean, if there was a fire I hope everyone got out of there safely.

“Aw, worried someone got crispy? Don’t worry, doll, nobody got hurt. Just a little shaken.” Sans chuckled. “Gotta look out for my little bro, y’know? By the way...” He glances at Papyrus. “You two seem to be on better terms now. What I miss?”

“We talked some things out. When I was sick, I had some nightmares and he was there to help.” I reply. I almost forgot Sans wasn’t really here for everything, so this must seem so out of left field for him. “Anyway, when I got better, we talked about some things and we’re friends now. At least I think... Is he always scolding and complaining when he’s friends with someone...?” Sans started laughing.

“Oh man! You have no idea what you’re into!” He cackles. “You thought he was a pain in the ass before? Oh man, you’re in for a rude awakening, doll.”

“That bad?”

“You kidding? Before the shitstorm with Alphys, he was on her case about everything. He has good intentions and if he sounds like he’s blaming you, he’s really not. Look, I told you he ain’t really a bad guy, right? You’ve seen how he is.” I turn back to Papyrus. As irritated as he looks, there looks like a huge weight was lifted from his shoulders. He’s starting the smokeless fire, looking far too determined for such a simple task.

(It was kind of cute...)

“He was pretty bad at first.” I say. Sans shrugged, putting his hands in his pockets.

“He’s just doin’ his job. That ain’t really him, doll. Besides, he’s never laid a hand on you unless you challenged him. Any of the other guards? They’d give you hell.” I had to stop and think for a moment. Was that true? Now that I’m remembering, most of the time it really was him just doing his job as second in command. Ever since we hit the road solo, I’d begin to see more and more of actual Papyrus. Not the “Great and Terrible Papyrus.”

“Where’d he get that title, anyway? The ‘Great and Terrible Papyrus’?” He always called himself that. I thought it was an ego thing, but now? He barely resembles something terrible and scary to earn such a thing.

“Ask him yourself. I ain’t spilling everything for ya.” Sans snorts. Okay, fair enough.

“Alright, answer me this, Sansy.”

“Ooh, nicknames.”

“How come you were nice to me? Since day one, you have been nice to me. A little shit sometimes-”

“Pfft-! And you ain’t, doll?” He chuckles. “Yeah, I remember you asking something like that a while back. I didn’t give you an answer then either, huh?” He sighs, and turns to his brother. Papyrus his occupying himself by sharpening his bone sword. Or is he polishing it? I can’t tell from here. “Guess you deserve an answer. You really wanna know, huh doll? Well, it ain’t just your adorable personality either.”

“You’re still a six.”

“Heh. A guy can try, right?” He grins at me. “Anyway, the truth. You ain’t a bad person. When we first found you, just thought you were like everyone else too. It wasn’t until you got caged up when I figured I’d check your LV.”

“LV? What’s that?”

“Level Of ViolencE. Everyone on the surface has an LV higher than one. Except you. You had no EXP, not a single LV increase.... You were a total weakling.” He snickers.

“Oh, gee, thanks.” I huff, which only makes him laugh more.

“Seriously though! Once I saw that you were never a threat, I figured that you wouldn’t be so bad. So, I’d thought to myself, ‘why don’t I give this doll a chance?’ And then you called me a six.”

“What, you want me to lie? Then let me throw myself at you and have you father my children?” I say as dramatic as a teenage drama show. Sans is losing his mind, laughing so hard that Papyrus is looking over at us with the most confused and possibly concern look on his face.

“Look- Look doll, I don’t fly like that. Oh my God, if I didn’t know you were joking, I’d probably take off and handle Alphys’ chaos about now.” He calmed down, gripping his shirt as he caught up with his breath. “Okay, okay, seriously. I’m glad you’re friends with my little bro. He really needs it, even if it’s just for a while. Glad that you listened to me. Now, I know you ain’t goin’ to do anythin’ but... I’ll warn you now.” His expression, despite the smile, grew serious. The smile didn’t reach his eyes anymore. “My lil bro? He’s trained a lot. He works hard, pushes himself hard, he’s a real hard worker, right? What he’s doing now could cost his life. He’s the only one I got. Now... You see where I’m going with this, right?” He turns to me. His eye lights are gone. “He’s been hurt once. If you ever hurt him like she did to him - even think about it?” He leans closer, voice as low as a whisper. “You’ll die right where you stand.”
If this was Papyrus, I would have just went with it. From Sans? It sends chills down my spine. I never thought he’d be so frightening and sound so cold. No amount of screaming and shouting Papyrus ever did could ever equal the chilling voice that left Sans’ mouth. His words promised more than death and that was the most chilling part.

“Sans! What are you doing with the human?!” Papyrus calls. Sans’ eye lights faded back and the devious, lax smile returned.

“Just talkin’ boss. Nothing to worry about.” Sans replies, walking to the fire. I tried to recall any time I saw Sans fight. Wait... Papyrus still has two bone swords. So if he has those still... Does Sans...? I almost don’t want to think about it. I don’t think I ever want to see Sans fight with full force. If Papyrus is strong and I could barely beat him in battle, what does that mean for Sans?

Chapter Text

“Human! You are not focused! How do you expect to improve if you do not take this seriously?!” Papyrus scolds. He’s right. Sans’ words from last night kept replaying in my head. Today, Papyrus is actually attempting to train me. Once he’s actually in teaching mode, he’s surprisingly good at teaching. Granted, his criticisms could be a little lighter, but he at least offers ways to improve.

“Sorry, Cuddles, I’m ready now.” He scowls at his nickname. Sans cackles behind him.

“Cuddles?! Where’d that come from?” He hollered. Papyrus refuses to answer. Instead, he growls and points his blade at me.

“You promised.” He growls at me. I shrug, throwing my own sword over my shoulders.

“I never did mention anything about Sans, did I?”

“Brat....” Papyrus huffs. “For that, I want you to practice that exercise. Three sets. Go!” He commands. Greaaat, five pushups, ten jumping jacks, ten sit ups, and five more pushups. Somehow, torturing me like this is supposed to make me stronger. I hear Sans laughing at my predicament, but it was cut short when Papyrus threatened to have Sans do the same thing. That made me smile, not gonna lie.

“Hear anything from Alphys?” Papyrus asks. Okay, now onto the jumping jacks. Sans’ devious grin grew, but Papyrus blocks his view. That’s what you get, you six perve.

“Nah, haven’t heard a peep. You mind moving outta the way? You’re blocking the view.” I can see Sans waving his hand from behind Papyrus.

“There’s only the human here. Nothing to see.” Papyrus says. For the first time, I can see a smug smile form on his face as Sans complains. Huh, who’d think he’d have the ability to be a little shit too? Though I really do appreciate his gesture. Okay, now sit ups.

“C’mon, Pap! Not fair hogging all the view to yourself!”

“If you’re so eager to view her, perhaps you’d like to join her side and do five sets?” Papyrus offers. Sans growls, but stays quiet. I can picture him pouting, resting his skull on his hand. Papyrus keeps an eye on me, but I know he’s watching in case I slip up. Okay, pushups again then I can rest...
After the so-called warmup, Papyrus instructs how I should hold my weapon. He doesn’t use a shield, but he seems to know what to do. I wonder what other weapons he can use... He shows me how to parry and how to face someone that dual wields like he does. After showing me what to do, we start sparring. He’s not nearly as harsh as he once was. He’s actually forcing me to use what I was taught. My HP doesn’t decrease at all. Anytime I was hit, he’d back off and allow the HP to restore itself, so I guess it did decrease actually...

“Not bad. I dare say, I’m pleasantly surprised, human. You learn quickly. With my mentoring skills, you might be as powerful as the Great and Terrible Papyrus, someday!” Papyrus declares. I roll my eyes, but what completely catches me off guard was his laugh. I might have heard him laugh once or twice, but it was quiet. This? This was almost too cute of a laugh to come out of a skeleton as scary as he looked. A triumphant ‘Nyeh heh heh’ left his chest and tugged at my heart. Even Sans seemed a little surprised.

“I, uh... Well, I’ll keep trying my best Papyrus. I won’t let you down.” I stammer.

“Good! I won’t accept anything less than your best!” He scolds. “Now, stretch out again before we resume traveling. It will reduce the soreness.”

“Actually, I wanted to try some of the spells out. If you don’t mind.” Papyrus puts his fingers on his chin, thinking for a moment, before nodding.

“Magic is important as well. It’s probably best to figure out your limits now.” He replies. I nod and look into my “Mercy” spells. There’s not a lot of spells. One however, looks really interesting. Papyrus readies for an attack, neither of us know what’s going to happen once I hit this ‘Charm’ spell. After a moment, he gets tired of waiting and charges for me. I hit the ‘Charm’ and the heart on my screen changes to pink. I manage to dodge his attack by spinning on my heel. I feel a strong pulse wash over my body and... Where did these pink petals come from?
Oh my God. This must look like some sort of shoujo manga. There’s a gust of pink cherry blossom petals that blows my hair back. As I was dodging, I instead collide into Papyrus’ ribcage. Do I dare look up? What am I going to see? Hesitantly, I look up. In mere seconds, he flung himself far from me. His entire face was red, despite how hard he tried to hide it in his hood.

“What was that?!” He almost screams. In the corner of my eye, I can see Sans laughing so hard, he had fallen over onto the ground holding his sides.

“A... Charm spell? I thought it was gonna make you dazed or something! I didn’t think that would happen!” I scream back.

“What happened to your eyes?! Where did those petals come from?! You looked like one of Undyne’s characters in her books!”

“Oh God, what?!”

 

Needless to say, the traveling was awkward the rest of the way. Papyrus won’t even look at me. I can’t blame him. Every now and then, I can hear Sans snickering to himself. I just wanted to see what that spell did. I didn’t expect all that to happen. I sure as hell didn’t expect to turn into a pretty shoujo girl, that’s for sure. Most charm spells I’ve seen in movies and cartoons just sorta daze the target for a while. Well, now I wonder if my appearance changes depending on the target. If that’s the case... Does that mean Papyrus knows what shoujo is? Does he read it? The thought of a tall, scary looking skeleton reading a cute, pretty romantic story with an adorable protagonist makes me giggle. Papyrus glares at me.

“What? What is so funny?” He demands.

“Nothing, nothing. Just thinking about something.” I reply, waving a dismissive hand. “Just thought that was all kinda silly.”

“It was horrifying...” Papyrus sighs.

“It was hilarious.” Sans snickers. Papyrus glares at him, but chooses not to take it further. Sans suddenly steps ahead and faces us, walking backwards. “Alright, love to stay and chat, but I’ve gotta go. We’re pretty close to the entrance to the Underground, so I’m gonna go talk to the Queen for ya until you get there.”

“What do you...? We can’t be that close already...?” Papyrus asks. Sans nods slowly.

“Sorry, boss. It’s the truth. I’ll see you when you get there.” Before anything else could be said or done, Sans is gone in a blink of an eye. I can’t believe we’re that close now... What’s the Queen like? What’s the state of the Underground? What’s really going to happen to me when my Soul is taken? I look to Papyrus for answers, but instead he looks... Lost? The air around him is heavy. He finally looks over at me, catching my eyes before looking away again.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have... I mean...” His voice has lost power. He sounds helpless. “This would be a lot easier if I had just stayed as your prison keeper...” He mutters. “I can’t let my friend die in there.”

“Papyrus-”

“There must be another way... A way that doesn’t involve you dying.” He turns all his attention to me. “I would have never guessed I’d be friends with a human before. If I was told so from the start, I would have called it blasphemy. But now....” His voice fades. Yeah... Maybe this would have been easier if we just hated each other...

“Maybe this would be easier if this happened three years ago...” I say, without thinking. He looks at me, confused.

“What do you mean? What happened three years ago?” He asks. Ah, dammit. I ran my mouth again. Well, if I was gonna go, then I might as well tell him everything. We’re friends, after all. Don’t friends usually tell each other things like this.

“It’s a long story. Are you sure you want to hear it?” I ask. Without hesitating, he nods. God... Where to start...? “It actually starts four years ago. I had a best friend. We were really close. We told each other everything, spent the night at each other’s places, helped each other the best we could. It was a good friendship... At least I thought.” I take a deep breath. This was going to be difficult to tell.

“Take your time. I’ve told you my story before. I will stay here until you are ready.” Papyrus assures me, gently gripping my shoulder. “Well, mostly because I don’t want to take you there quite yet...” Okay, that earned a smile. What a dork...

“Okay... Well, they were... Depressed. Their mind was really unkind to them. They thought they were the worst. They thought they deserved punishment even though they didn’t deserve it. No matter what I said or did, they sought out their own suffering.” I’m trying to put this the least horrible way possible, but there was no good way around it.

“They sought out their own suffering? Why...?”

“Because they thought they deserve it? In all honesty, I don’t know the full truth. However, it gets worse.” I take a deep breath.

(I’m okay. He’s patient. He’s not like them .)

“We began dating. If I’m totally honest, I think I convinced myself that I loved them. Or, maybe I really did love them. They were funny, charming, talented, and cared about me... At their convenience... It only got worse. I thought they would get better. You know, like in the movies where the two star-crossed lovers supported each other and their weaknesses become stronger?”

“But it doesn’t quite work like that...”

“I know that now... But then? No. I was convinced that I just wasn’t trying hard enough. I wasn’t being supportive enough. In some ways, I did become stronger than I once was from being with them. But then... They blamed me for everything. If they were unhappy, it was my fault somehow. They made me feel like they could ever love me. They convinced me that no one else loved me. That I was only made for them.” I had to stop for a moment. My chest began to ache the more I tried to hold everything in. Papyrus squeezes my shoulder.

“Take your time...” He repeats.

“.... I was caged. They hated me, yet also loved me. No one else could have me, in their eyes. I lived only to make them happy. I tried, Papyrus... You have no idea how much I tried to make them happy, but it was never enough. They punished themselves and they punished me too. It wasn’t until I was ripped away from them that I finally knew peace.” My vision blurs. Memories were flooding back to me. How I felt during that time. How lost and alone I felt. It felt like I was dropped in the middle of an ocean of despair.
“I hated everything. I hated how the world lied to me. I hated that the person I trusted the most ended up becoming my worst enemy. I was so angry, Papyrus. An entire year of being tortured by them... Three years ago... If we had met three years ago, we would be at each other’s throats. I wasn’t like this. I was angry and bitter and betrayed.” Papyrus was silent. He stood with me even when I began crying. I hated crying in front of people. I look horrible when I cry. Just a waterfall of gunk flowing from my dumb face. I hate it. Even though crying makes me feel better.
“I wasn’t happy... I didn’t think I deserve to be happy. I hated what I became. I wasn’t okay...”

“How did you get better? How did you become... You of today?” He asks. I wipe my eyes.

“I guess I just... Learned to laugh more. I watched a lot of people who made me laugh. Spent time with people who actually really cared about me. After a while, I just wanted to make other people laugh too. It made me feel better that someone else found the strength to smile. Then I learned how to smile too.” I can’t tell what he’s feeling. I can’t make out his face. I feel  him pull me closer and become surrounded by bones. I never thought I’d take comfort in the embrace of a skeleton before. It’s sorta surreal.

“I’m sorry.” I hear him say. “I’m sorry you had to live through that. I’m sorry that I can’t find a way to get you out of this mess.”

“Don’t be. Things are gonna get better, right? Let everyone be angry for a while. It helps. It sure as hell helped me some. Makes everyone feel alive. I’m just glad I had a part in that.” Papyrus squeezes me. I don’t want to go either. I don’t want to leave him alone, but I can picture him in a happier future. One where he wouldn’t have to do all this. He’ll be Captain. He’ll have everything he wants and deserves...

“If you believe so... Then I’ll help you get that. If peace is what you want in the end, I’ll make sure that the future becomes just that. It will be my promise to you.” His words are comforting. The future looks like it’s in good hands.
I’ll be okay.

“I just want one thing. Before I go into the Queen’s territory, could you show me what it’s like in the underground? Somewhere nice. Maybe someplace you liked to spend time at?” I ask. I just want some peace before I meet my doom. Papyrus looks skeptical.

“Are you sure? It’s not very interesting. It’s quite small in comparison to what you have seen on the surface.” He asks. I wouldn’t have asked if I wasn’t sure, you big, tall dork! Of course I don’t actually say that and just nod.

“Just one day. No training, no talking about the Queen. None of this business. Just one day to finally feel free.” He’s quiet for a while. He’s holding me still in his arms. Does he know that friends usually don’t hug for this long? Oh well. It feels nice. I wish I could see more of this side of him. His nicer side. This Papyrus and not The Great and Terrible Papyrus. Well, he’s still grumpy. He’s still strict and hates fun. But he’s nice, gets his job done, takes everything seriously (even though it gets ridiculous sometimes)...

“Very well. I will bring you somewhere I think you might like.” Papyrus sighs.

Chapter Text

Well, I’ve had enough of this downer mood! I’m not going to let that happen for the entire time! I searched through everything in my phone, looking for all the goofiest songs I can find and shuffle and sing my heart out. Papyrus is confused and doesn’t quite understand, being grumpy as always.

“You are really taking this to heart, aren’t you?” He asks in his usual grumpy tone.
“Well, no use being all mopey, right?” If he had eyes, he’d roll them. There’s a song on here that I don’t recognize at all, but it’s got a part vibe that has a ton of energy. Papyrus covers his non-existent ears to the noise. God, makes me wish I had my old bluetooth speakers. There’s a real good bass to this song. There’s some fast rapping and I can only make out some of the words upon the first listen, but I don’t mind. It just adds to the energy.
It’s like this for a while. Listening to high energy, fun songs. Some I actually know and sing along. Others I dance terribly to while walking. Yes, I tripped and fell on my face a number of times. Didn’t stop me once. Papyrus even began slowing his pace so he could catch me whenever I fall. He scolds me every time, but I know it’s because he cares. When he starts making the camp, probably our last camp together, I tried to get him to dance with me. He refused, stating (and I quote), “I will never, ever, ever, ever dance to something so irritating and insane.”

(See? He hates fun.)

Whatever. I don’t mind dancing on my own, Cuddles! More room on the dance floor for me. I almost fall again but he catches me.

“You are a danger to yourself, I swear...” He sighs.

“Yeah, but you’re always here to save me.” I point out. He huffs and puts me back on my feet.

“I can’t protect you from everything. Also, why are you so happy about this?”

“Oh, come on you debbie-downer. I just wanna be happy that I’m alive for a while.”

“Debbie-downer?” He repeats, raising a brow. What, he’s never heard that expression before? He doesn’t look like he’s joking, but it’s sort of endearing. I can’t believe I was ever scared of this guy. I take his hands and get him off his feet.

“Just dance with me! It’ll be fun!”

“I told you once, I’ll tell you again! No! I refuse to dance to such music!” He pulls his hands away and crosses his arms.

“Are you just saying that cuz you can’t dance, mista?” If this is another little factoid I learn about him, it’ll be another thing to tease him with. Not like I'm the one to say anything. I can’t dance properly if my life depended on it. Papyrus scowls,

“No, I can dance. Just not to this...Garbage.” I gasp as dramatically as I could and hold my phone to my chest.

“Are you calling my taste in music garbage? How could you?! I thought we were friends! How could you treat me like this?” I press the back of my hand against my forehead and turn dramatically away from him. Like they do in the soap operas.

“Oh God, if you were around longer, you might actually get along with Mettaton.” He sighs. “You two could be dramatic with each other so I don’t have to put up with it.”

“So now you’re saying that you have to put up with me? How rude...” I pout. He glares down at me, raising a brow.

“There are some things, yes, that I put up with. However, it’s now at a point where I find your dramatics... Amusing. Of sorts. It definitely helps that you’re not serious about them.” He thinks I’m amusing? Something about that thought pulls on my heartstrings. Pride, maybe? Whatever it was, it makes me smile like a huge dork.

“Alrighty! So, it’s settled! I’ll be your traveling bard the rest of the way!” I spin around to face him again and take a flamboyant bow. I hear him groan.

“Dear God, you even sound like Mettaton...” He runs a hand over his face and sits back down and starts a fire for the night. While he’s doing that, I scroll through my songs until a particular song catches my eye. It’s a song I haven’t heard before in a long time. It’s a song that I know. Something I used to listen to on repeat until I got sick of it. He might like it, but who cares if he likes it or not? These next couple of days are my last moments alive. I’m gonna do whatever the hell I want! So I hit play. Then “ Mr. Fear ” begins playing.

“Hello. My name is Mr. Fear...” I sing along. Papyrus sits up. It’s a more mature song than what I’ve been playing. He’s probably not used to it. He looks over at me as I continue to sing the lyrics, mainly to myself.
As the song went on, memories I shared with Papyrus flashed in my mind. He really was scary when I first met him. He looked terrifying. He was exactly how I’d imagine a Grim Reaper would look like. Merciless, cold, distant. He never showed me an ounce of kindness or mercy. He had no reason to. He had one task to carry and I was nothing to him at all. I purposely got on his nerves and hated him just as much as he hated me.
Then... Something changed. Maybe it was when I chose to fight by his side. Maybe it was when I got sick. Maybe it was when we both got tired of hating each other for no good reason. Either way, a wall was broken. Or maybe we were both broken and it took us a while to figure that out. Who knows when we really became friends? During training? Maybe when we finally spoke to each other and stopped yelling?
Either way, here we are now. He doesn’t look nearly as scary as before. He’s never glared into my Soul like he used to. He may act disgusted and pretend to hate me, but in the end I like to think he cares. Hell, the way he’s looking at me now. I know he doesn’t hate me. He cares. He doesn’t know how to show it. Especially since our time together is limited. He comforted me before though. Whether he knows how to or not, he seems to know when to be kind when he absolutely needs to.

The song is over. I go to change to a more lighter song, but-

“Play that one again. Please?” I look back up at Papyrus. He’s never requested a song before. When I meet his eyes, he quickly looks away. His jaw is clenched, which usually means he wants to say something else. “It’s... A nice song. You sing it well.”

“Oh! Uh- thank you...” That totally catches me off guard. How can I refuse now? He’s been complaining about my music choices up until now. Maybe he does like my singing after all? I glance back up at him. There’s a faint glow of red across his face.

(What a dork....)

 

In the morning, we arrive at my hometown. Ebott. The town is completely deserted. It’s sort of like a post-apocalyptic setting. Hell, even a forgotten newspaper tumbles across the street. Perfect. Wouldn’t be a post-apocalyptic setting without a newspaper page or plastic bag tumbling in the wind. Man... I remember when this little place was always busy. We actually had a pizza parlor that still had arcade games. My friends and I would go there sometimes...

“Are you alright?” Papyrus asks, snapping me back into reality.

“It’s just... A little strange coming here when there’s nothing...” I reply. “Where’s all the monsters though? Wouldn’t there be monsters living here after the humans evacuated?”

“Most are living closer to the mountain. They are weaker monsters that can’t fight for themselves. They don’t dare venture out until they feel safe enough to explore. They don’t want to end up as...” Papyrus stops. Yeah... Like those monsters I saw in the other village.

“I take those monsters just wanted to get out and go as far as they could from the underground?” I assume. Papyrus nods. I can’t blame them, really. If I was trapped for years and got a taste of freedom, I’d go all out too - not thinking of the consequences.

“I won’t take you to that part of the town. I don’t want rumors to reach the Queen.” He grasps my shoulder. “However, Sans should be somewhere around the outskirts here. I told him to meet me here after he was finished with his business with the Queen.” Speaking of which...

“What does Sans do, anyway? He doesn’t exactly look like the type to work for the guard like you, but he still works for the Queen?”

(Please say he’s a jester. Please, oh, please say that Sans is a court jester. That would make my day and I could die happy.)

“His work is a little complicated.” Papyrus explains. “He doesn’t tell me much about it, but it does involve his magic. I’m not even sure what he’s fully capable of, myself, but it’s none of my business frankly. As long as he gets his job done. Speaking of which, what is taking him so long?” He growls and crosses his arms. “He better not be slacking off somewhere...”

“What is the Queen like?” Papyrus’ demeanor changes. He looks... Uneasy. Not afraid, but something was definitely off.

“She’s... With all due respect to her highness, she’s changed...” He fidgets a bit. “Do not misunderstand me, I still want to be the Royal Captain and serve her highness! Though after the passing of King Asgore... She’s been distant. Which is normal given what happened to her. Everyone in the Underground was heartbroken after what happened to His Highness. However, after her isolation, she returned with a strange air surrounding her.” He paused and gave me his full attention. “Remember when you had asked me how the barrier shattered?”

“Yeah...?” Where’s he going with this?

“After the Queen returned from isolation, she somehow broke the barrier. She gave no explanation on how, just that there was ‘a weak spot’. No one questioned it. We were free, so why would it matter? Though ever since you asked, I’ve been pondering it for some time...”

“So it was the Queen who broke the barrier?”

“That’s what was said. Though, we should not speak of this anymore. She’s still just as kind and merciful as always. I’m possibly thinking too much of it.” He says, shaking his head. “Where the hell is Sans...?”

“Should we go without him?” I suggest.

“It will be more difficult to get inside, but if we keep waiting here any longer we won’t have much choice...” Papyrus sighs.

“Sorry I’m late Paps.” We both turn, seeing Sans. He looks tired. What happened..? “Don’t got much time. Gotta get back to the Queen as soon as I’m done here.”

“Wait, Sans! What happened?” I wanted to know. Papyrus looks at him as if he wanted to ask the same thing. Sans, however didn’t oblige. He grasps my shoulder, giving me a tired smile.

“Ready to go, doll? I know a shortcut.” He sounds tired. What’s going on with the Queen? What is he doing? He doesn’t wait for an answer. No matter what Papyrus or I say. In a blink of an eye, the world changes.
There’s nothingness. I’m floating, but I’m not in water. It’s cold and it feels empty. In a moment, I see an outline. Some sort of black figure in the far distance. I can’t make it out, but it looks like it’s calling out to me. There’s no words. I try to get away, but where can I run to? It’s an everlasting emptiness. A void of feeling and life.

Suddenly, I fall into a pile of snow. Am I still in the void? Where am I? I hear a chuckle come from Sans.

“Yeah. I was like that too the first time I took the shortcut.” He sighs. I pick myself up. Am I still alive? Where am I, really? “Easy, doll. Take your time. You might get shortcut sickness.”

“Wha... What was all that?” He shrugs.

“It’s nothing. Just a shortcut.” He says nonchalauntly. “Anyway, welcome to Snowdin. Our little hometown.” Sans leads the way, leaving me sitting in the snow. Okay... So... That was weird. I stand up, dusting off snow from my clothes and follow the sound of Sans’ footsteps. Wait, if this was underground... Why are there trees here? Do these types of trees thrive without sunlight? What a strange little place...
Sans leads me through an empty town. It looks like fresh snow had fallen. No footsteps left behind. Nothing. There’s a library, a place labeled “Grillby’s” but the sign is worn out that the “G” is almost gone. Just on the outside of town, there’s a little two story house. There’s two mailboxes, one neat and the other... Looks like it’s about to burst. Sans turns around to me, walking backwards.

“Welcome to our little humble abode, doll!” He announces. “Ain’t she a beaut?” He asks. As if on cue, a little snow pile falls from the roof and onto his head. We both look up, seeing a little bird perched on the ledge. He grumbles something under his breath, swatting off the remaining snow from his skull.

“Nice place, Six. Though I wasn’t expecting something so... Cozy and humble. Looks like a cabin I’d stay at by a lake.”

“Really? Six is my nickname now doll?” He asks, raising a brow. “Jesus, you’re gonna kill me.” He takes a key from his pocket and opens the front door. “Anyway, stick around here until Pap comes to get you. Make yourself at home, doll.” I nod and take a step inside. The living room is tidy, except for a lone sock leaning against a wall and a series of sticky notes. Sans laughs next to me.

“Lemme guess, sticky note argument?” I guess. I remember how Ma and I used to banter through sticky notes on the fridge.

“Heh, yeah. Glad to know we ain’t the only ones who do that.” Sans chuckles. “Alright, get cozy. I still got a skele-ton of work to do.” Before I can ask what he’s doing, he’s already vanished. Wonder if that void is what he has to put up with every time he does that?
Well, guess I have no choice but to look around and wait for Papyrus. Though the more I look around, the more ridiculous things are starting to look. Their kitchen sink is comically tall. I can’t even reach it. I open the door under the sink. There’s only a sticky note reading,

“SPECIAL ATTACKS - RESTOCK AS SOON AS POSSIBLE” It has a signature I can’t quite make out, but it’s so pristine that it has to be Papyrus. Everything else, even the fridge looks like it was cleaned out and forgotten. The living room has a television, but it won’t even turn on. Out of curiosity, I check the sticky note argument that was left behind.

“SANS, RETURN THIS SOCK TO ITS PROPER PLACE IN YOUR ROOM”

“ok”

“SANS IT’S BEEN A WEEK. WHY IS IT STILL HERE? MOVE IT.”

“ok”

“SANS, I SWEAR TO GOD, IF I SEE THIS STUPID SOCK THIS EVENING WHEN I GET BACK, I’M GOING TO KILL YOU”

“ok”

“DON’T YOU ‘OKAY’ ME YOU LAZY SACK OF BONES. CLEAN YOUR MESS, I’M NOT YOUR MAID.”

“ok”

“MOVING IT TWO INCHES DOES NOT COUNT. RETURN IT TO YOUR ROOM OR I WILL LOCK YOU OUT OF THE HOUSE AGAIN”

“i can shortcut, bitch”

“SANS, WE’RE MOVING OUT OF THE HOUSE. DO THE WORLD A FAVOR AND CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF”

“ok”

I’m dying. I can’t breathe. There’s tears in my eyes. It’s been so long since I’ve laughed this hard. I’m getting light-headed. I can almost hear their voices while reading these sticky notes. If this didn’t sum up how their relationship was, I didn’t know what could.
After I catch my breath, I check upstairs. I’m guessing this is where their rooms are. There’s only two doors up here. One had to be Papyrus’ room while the other must be Sans’. Which is which though... Alright, game time! If I can guess which one is Papyrus’ room without checking it, I win.... Bragging rights to myself, I guess.
First! I should inspect what I can from the outside. The outside of the first door from the stairs looks... Like a door. Not much else to say. The other door.... Is a door. Well, this is no fun. Guess I’m just going to go with a wild guess. Would Papyrus want a room closer to the stairs or farther? Then again, Sans might want the farthest room so he can make up the excuse that he didn’t hear his brother calling for him.

(Maybe that’s why Papyrus yells all the time.)

Or, perhaps, I’m overthinking this way too much? Oh well, now I’m bored of my own game. I check the first room. It’s unlocked, luckily for me. The first thing that grabs my attention is a race car bed. It looks like it’s been painted over several times. Right now, it’s all black and decorated with flames and skulls. The bed is neatly made with black covers and - Oh God, just looking at how the bed is made clearly tells me this is Papyrus’ room.
The rest of his room is neatly organized and just screams ‘Papyrus’. There’s a big, ripped up pirate flag hung on the wall and a desk full of action figures. Actually, I think they’re anime figurines. Maybe both? Either way, the characters look like the dark rival type characters. They’re organized as if the desk was a battlefield. Everything else looks just about what I’d expect from Papyrus. The bookshelf is full of battle strategies, workout routines, and different books that teach different fighting styles. There’s a few books at the very bottom of the bookshelf that look like they don’t belong. Like... Oh my God, is that an actual shoujo manga? I was right! He does read them! I have to see what kind it is.
..............
Okay he actually has good taste. I’m hooked on it. I don’t even care if it’s his, I need more volumes now. Ugh, but that’ll have to wait because I hear the door open from downstairs.

“Human? Are you upstairs? You better not be snooping around!” Papyrus calls from the living room. Too late, I know all, Cuddles. I hear heavy boots march up the stairs and Papyrus freezes in his doorway. He points at the manga in my hands. “That. Is not. Mine.” He growls.

“Okay, but how else can you convince me that it’s not?” I grin, holding the book to my chest. A red glow paints his face.

“I’m holding onto that for Undyne! It’s not mine! Why would I read such... Such....” He fumbles over his words. Yeah, insult it. You know it’s a good story. “Okay fine! I was curious and read a little of it! I’m serious though! I am just holding onto it for Undyne!” He spats.

“The rival is kind of a dick though, isn’t she?”

“Oh my God! I thought the same th- I mean how would I know?! I only read some of it! Now put that back!” He rips the book from my hands and slams it on the desk beside him. I have to keep this up.

“You know, I don’t blame you for reading some of it. The main character is adorable, isn’t she?” I prod. Papyrus is glaring daggers at me, but the blush across his face is telling me everything I need to know.

“She... She is no interest of mine! Why on Angel’s green Earth would I find something so... So... Soft and cutesy interesting?”

(Because it’s soft and cutesy?)

“Whatever you say, Cuddles.” He growls something under his breath and he starts pouting. He’s an absolute dork... I keep thinking that, but it’s true! He’s a dork and he somehow keeps getting more interesting. The more I learn about him, the more charm he seems to have. He clears his throat.

“Anyway, you requested something from me. A day where you can forget about your demise. I made a promise and I intend to fulfill that promise today.”

Chapter Text

I’m not used to the cold. The snow is soaking up my shoes and socks. I’m not sure where Papyrus is taking me, but hopefully it’s somewhere nice. He glances down at me.

“Are you alright, human?” He asks.

“Yeah, I’m fine. The snow takes some getting used to.” I reply. I don’t want him to worry about me. Besides, it’s been forever since I’ve been in the snow. “Where are we going, by the way? Is it far?”

“Not too far. Just outside of Snowdin.” He says. He glances at me again and pulls off his coat. “Here.” He hands me his coat.

“Aren’t you going to get cold?” He looks at me as if I said the most stupid thing ever.

“I am the Great and Terrible Papyrus. If cold weather is all that it takes to stop me, then I wouldn’t be great or terrible, would I?” He huffs. I roll my eyes and take his coat. Fine, if he’s offering, then I might as well. I put on the coat that’s way too big for me. It might as well be a dress on me. I’m surrounded by the smell of flowers and sunlight. There’s another smell inside his coat. It smells like... Water? It’s hard to describe. The inside smells like rain. That deep, Earthy smell and damp air that just screams ‘rain is near’. This is weird... The fur on his hood smells so different than the inside. Maybe I’m looking too much into it. I hurry myself so I’m next to Papyrus again. He looks at me then immediately looks away, jaw clenched.

“I didn’t think it would be that big on you...” He murmurs. He really isn’t quiet even when he tries to be.

“I like it! It’s cozy.” I give my two cents, holding the sleeves up to my chest to keep them from dragging. His jaw clenches even more. I swear, any more dude and you’re gonna crack a tooth. We cross a huge bridge and everything is just a blanket of white. I now have... The strongest urge... To make snow angels. I look up, to make sure Papyrus isn’t too far from me. Do I really want to make a snow angel right now and risk getting lost?
Of course I do. I flop my back into the snow with a soft ‘thud’ and proceed to wave my arms and legs. I hear Papyrus’ heavy footsteps coming close to me. He leers down at me, arms crossed.

“What. The hell. Are you doing?” He growls.

“Making snow angels.” I say plainly.

“Why are you doing that?”

“Because it’s fun?” I suggest. He only raised a brow. Does... Does he really not know what fun is? I sit up, grab his arm, and then pull him into the snow. He makes that odd squeak/scream noise and falls into the snow face-first.

“Why do you insist on dragging me into your childish ways?” He complains, voice muffled in the snow.

“Oh, quit being a party pooper and just try it! No one’s here to judge you! Just you and me, Cuddles.” I hear him goan before he rolls onto his back.

“So you just flail around like a maniac?” He asks.

“You’ve never made a snow angel before?”

“It’s been a while.”

(He can’t be serious, right?)

“Just move your arms and legs up and down. Like jumping jacks!” I explain. He looks so uninterested and bored, but he does as I instructed.

“How long do I do this?” He huffs.

“You’re good! Now get up carefully or you’ll leave footprints on the angel!” I offer my hand (or whatever can be seen as a hand under all that sleeve) to him to help him get up. He takes it and slowly stands up. Side by side in the snow now are two angels. One small one and one giant one.

“Well, that was pointless.”

“Oh, stop being such a grump!!”

 

Now without further distractions, Papyrus finally takes me to the place he wanted to show me. It’s simply a river that looks like it travels through Snowdin. It’s oddly peaceful, despite everywhere else being just as quiet. Though the sound of the water flowing down gently... The faint sounds of birds singing... All in this little, isolated place. Judging by the many houses in Snowdin, I can only imagine how many times Papyrus needed to get away from it all. It’s nice.
In the corner of my eye, I can see him. Without his coat, he’s wearing just a black turtleneck with sleeves that stop to his elbows. The cloth hugs his ribcage, but it looks loose from there. He catches me staring and crosses his arms.

“What is it? Is there something on me?”

“Oh-um-!” Was I checking him out? Does he think I’m checking him out? Quick! Find something stupid to do before he asks more questions and I embarrass myself more!
I flop down and make another snow angel. I can hear the sound of a hand slapping a forehead, followed by a long sigh. Well, it got him to stop asking questions, right? It also buys me some time to think.

“Uh, can we make a snowman? I want to make the biggest one!” I ask. “No one’s ever really helped me make a snowman before, so...”

“....... Where do you want to build it?” He asks.

 

He was right. This was a place that I’d like. This endless amounts of snow to build and romp around in... It makes me feel like a giddy little kid again. I remember in Ebott, we would get snow, but not much. Or, if we did, all of it was shoveled off. If kids wanted to play in the snow, they would have to get out of town. The snow here? Perfect. There were deeper mounds of snow, perfect for hiding in (despite Papyrus furiously looking for me a few times. He even threatened to start using magical attacks to find me even though we were playing hide and seek...) We both made an impressive snowman too. The biggest one I’ve ever seen anyway.
Then there’s this huge ice patch. I don’t know if it was a lake, given it’s odd shape. According to Papyrus, it was once a puzzle he had made, but the monster kids of Snowdin would use it as an ice rink all the time so he scrapped it.

“Can you teach me how to skate?” I ask. “Just enough to learn how not to fall on my ass.”

“Human, we don’t even have ice skates.” Papyrus sighs.

“There’s gotta be a way to skate without them, right? C’mon!” I take a step on the ice. It doesn’t crack or make a sound under my foot, so it’s got to be safe right? Before Papyrus could stop me, I’m already sliding across the way and fall right into a snow mound.

“Human! Are you alright?!” He calls. I hear the sound of heavy boots thudding against ice, then Papyrus shouting something unintelligible, then he falls into the snow mound next to me. I can’t hold in my giggles. I start laughing. Did he really panic over me falling into the snow? I’ve only fallen in the snow two, three times now? He’s such a dork... His skull pops out of the snow and he glares at me.

“You need to be more careful!” He scolds. “You could have gotten seriously hurt!” I can only giggle even more. “What are you laughing at?! I’m being serious!”

“I-I know! I know, Papyrus!” I say between breaths. “I know you are. It’s sweet.” Papyrus stares at me for a while and lays his skull back into the snow.

“You’re doing this on purpose, aren’t you...?” He murmurs. What? What’s that supposed to mean?

“Doing what on purpose? I’m just grateful for this day you’ve given me, that’s all.” I’m not sure what I’m doing that would prompt that. I haven’t really changed, have I?

“No... Nevermind.” He sighs and pulls himself out of the snow. “You asked if I could teach you to skate, right? I’ll show you what I know.” He offers his hand to me. I take it and he carefully leads me onto the ice.
Turns out, he knows nothing about skating. He falls on his ass as much as - if not more - times than me! We both agreed that it was a horrible idea and stay on the more solid snow. The ice isn’t worth my limited time.
So, I initiate a snowball fight. The first snowball I throw, Papyrus looks so offended. So, I go to make more ammo, little did I know he’s gathering up snow piles with his magic. Now, there’s a huge snowball hurling in my direction.

“Hey, no fair! Using magic is cheating!” I scream, just as the snowball engulfs me. I can hear Papyrus laughing. It’s a cute ‘Nyeh heh heh’ sort of laugh. Dammit, something that cute should not be coming from a skeleton that scary looking. He digs me out and I just see the smuggest grin on his face.

“All is fair in love and war, human.” Oh you coy little bastard. I knew you weren’t all serious business. He helps me to my feet and his grin is just growing. “Pouting because you lost?”

“You cheated.” I stock my tongue out at him. He laughs again. Dammit, stop laughing, it’s cute.

“No matter. We should head back inside. Your face is getting red. Must be from falling too many times in the snow.” He remarks, running a finger across his own cheekbones. I feel my cheeks. Dear God, every part of me was freezing. I’m sniffling a lot too. “Here.”

“Whoa-wha-?!” I’m suddenly picked out of the snow and I’m in his arms. My legs dangle a little over his arms and my cheek is pressed against his ribcage.

“You need to gradually warm up. The sooner you’re out of the cold, the better.” He states. He pulls the hood over my head and makes sure his coat covers me as much as it can. The only thing exposed are my legs. Which is great, because now he can’t see how red my face is now. Man, he really does care, doesn’t he? He’s carrying me like this instead of his back. In his arms... It’s nice. It’s warm... I could almost fall asleep like this... If it wasn’t for the fact that my heart feels like it’s going to explode.
I snap out of my own thoughts when I feel something. It’s... Familiar. It’s a warm pulsing feeling. It has to be coming from him, right? I nuzzle closer to his ribcage and close my eyes to feel it better. The pulse quickens a bit.

“Is that your heart...?” I ask.

“It’s... Well... Uh....” Papyrus stammers. I can’t see his face under this hood, but he has to be blushing, right? “Yes and no. It’s like a heart. What you’re feeling now... It’s a soul pulse. It’s like a human heartbeat. Monsters are made of magic, so...” His voice trails off.

“It feels nice...” I murmur.

“Nice how, exactly?”

“It’s warm... And it just... Feels nice...” I don’t know how else to describe it. Papyrus fumbles over his words, but falls silent. It’s okay, you don’t need to tell me anything. Your Soul is telling me everything I need to know right now.

 

He takes me inside of the Grillby’s building. It’s oddly warmer in here compared to his home. Maybe that’s why he brought me here. The place looks like a cozy little lounge. I can picture people gathering here, enjoying each other’s company. Now, it’s completely empty. Just a shell of what it once was. It’s a little sad, seeing such a warm and inviting place being completely hollow. The smell of food ghosts in the air. Papyrus sets me down carefully on the wooden floor and shuts the door behind him.

“Take your time.” He says. “Sit down and let yourself get warm.” I nod and take a seat in one of the booths. Papyrus heads into the back and I take in all of the surroundings. It’s either a lounge or a bar. I never know the actual difference between the two. I’ve never been to either. There’s a few tables with lace tablecloths. The booths are against the right wall and there’s a black and white marbled counter towards the back of the room. There’s a small stage against the left wall, complete with satin red curtains. There’s an upright, black piano on the right side of the stage. While Papyrus is gone, I get up from the booth and pull the curtains open. The stage is big enough for probably two people, at most. It makes me imagine a singer or two performing on the stage for the patrons.
I get up on the stage, using the stairs on the right side of the stage. Looking over empty chairs. No audience.... I try to imagine what it’s like being a performer up here. I get out my phone and put it on shuffle. I hear a door open, making me jolt up. I almost forgot Papyrus was still here. I hear the sounds of a piano playing. It took me a moment to register that it was coming from my phone and not the upright piano.

“Are you alright?” He asks.

“Yeah...” The piano is nice. It sounds really pretty. I set my phone down on the ground and close my eyes. I can imagine the field of flowers outside my village. I can feel the warm wind guiding my steps. I’m not a good dancer, but I dance with my heart at least. I hear Papyrus’ footsteps come onto the stage. He takes my hand.

“This.” His voice is strangely soft. “This I can dance to. If you still want me to.” He’s asking me... To dance with him? I think?

“Uh... Yeah, sure.” I say. As best as he can, he gently twirls me around until I’m in his arms. I’m so small compared to him. He gently sways to the music, but I can barely keep up with him. As if he caught on to my struggle, he lifts me up and holds me to his chest. I’m not sure if what’s happening is actually real. We both get lost in the music. All I can hear is his steps, delicate, against the wooden stage. His soul radiating a comforting warmth. I forget where I am and why I’m here. It’s just me and him. Alone in this building. As the piano softens, he just stares at me. I can’t tell what he’s thinking...

“It’s not too late.” His voice is soft, yearning, almost. “You can get away. I won’t come after you. You don’t have to die for us. I’ll find another human. Sans and I can make something up.” Why...? Why is he telling me this? Why is he offering me an escape now that we’re here?

“Papyrus... I can’t do that to you.” I can see the confusion in his face.

“What...?”

“You’d be in serious trouble if you lost me. You and Sans both will be in trouble. I can’t be that selfish.”

“This is your life at stake! You don’t have to die for all of us. You can live your life elsewhere! In peace! You don’t-” I put my hand up.

“Papyrus, I won’t do it. I’m here to help all monsters, remember? I’m here to make things better for the future.” There’s something... In his eyes. Are those tears? Can skeletons even cry...?

“Please... You don’t have to. Please...” Why is he begging me to escape? Why is he doing this? “I don’t want to lose you just yet... I’ve only just now gotten to know more of you. I can’t...” He’s breaking my heart. It hurts me too. I... I have an idea.

“Papyrus, put me down.” I command. He does so. His face... He looks so pained. I have to think of my next words carefully. “So... All it takes is my Soul, right? That’s all the Queen needs?” He nods. “And any monster that has my Soul will be stronger, right?” He nods again. I place a hand over my chest. I’ve never done this before, so I’m not sure if it will even work. I try to picture my Soul. I want my Soul in my hand... I try to focus. There’s a light and slowly, my Soul materializes in the palm of my hand. Papyrus’ sockets grow wide.

“No...”

“Take it.” I hold out the heart shaped Soul to him. He backs away, shaking his head.

“No... No... I can’t. I don’t deserve that sort of power...” He looks... Scared? “Human, I beg of you... Please, put it back.” I don’t understand....

“Isn’t this what everyone wants? If there’s anyone I trust with it, it’s you!” He shakes his head and pushes my Soul back to me.

“Please...” His voice is breaking. “I don’t deserve it... Don’t... You don’t know what you’re doing. Return it, please.” It hurts... I can’t stand hearing him sound so heartbroken. I return my Soul back where it came from. He drops to his knees and pulls me into his arms. “Don’t ever... Ever, do that again. Promise me. Don’t offer your Soul like that ever again. Please.” I don’t understand. I don’t understand at all. He sounds so pained and hurt... There’s only one answer to his pleas.

“Okay... I promise.”

Chapter Text

Papyrus was quiet. He stays like this, holding me in his arms for a while longer. I still don’t understand... Why doesn’t he take my Soul? If my Soul is needed that badly and any monster could take it why wouldn’t he take my offer?

(“I don’t deserve it...”)

Does he really believe that? All this ego-showing, all this and that about the Great and Terrible Papyrus, and yet... He didn’t take my Soul.

“.... Why?” My voice leaves me without thinking. He just holds me tighter. His fingers grasp my hair.

“.... I couldn’t do that to a friend. I’d truly be a monster then.” He says softly. “There must be a better way... A way where you can still live and monsterkind can thrive. I want to know more about you. I want to...” His voice fades and he continues to hold me.

(Bones aren’t exactly comfortable....)

“What other way could there be...? The Queen wants my Soul, and we’re already in the Underground. It’s too late to turn back and run, isn’t it?” He nods slowly. Suddenly he stiffens. He pulls away, grasping my shoulders.

“Undyne.” He says. Wait.... What about Alphys’ wife?

“I’m.... Gonna need some more explaining, here...”

“Undyne. She might be able to help us.” Okay, maybe he’s spiraling into denial here...

“Isn’t Undyne Alphys’ wife? You know - your boss? AKA, scary dragon lady who probably would want you dead and might skewer me?”

“Actually, Undyne is scarier.” He admits. Okay, coming from him, that could be saying something.

“And... You want to go to someone scarier, because....?”

“Ever since you asked me about the Queen, I’ve been thinking a lot about it. Something, no... Everything about this is off. This isn’t mercy on her part. I didn’t understand then and now I understand even less. Nothing good comes out of death. She, herself, lived by those rules. So why would she suddenly change her mind...?”

“Because the death of one may save the lives of many?” I suggest. He shakes his head.

“Even if that were true, she would do everything she could to avoid it. She hated violence. It was once King Asgore who led the Underground with hatred and violence. She stood for peace and constantly had to convince the King to tone down his behavior.”

“Okaaay... What does this have to do with Undyne?” If Papyrus has a point to all this, I really need to know.

“After the king’s death, no one knew where the Queen went. She vanished, isolated herself and when she came back, she appointed Alphys as the new Captain of the Guard. Since we obviously can’t go to Alphys for information-”

“Then her wife may know some insight.” Ah, I finally get it. “But won’t putting off meeting the Queen make you look suspicious?”

“Yes, but these are things I must know. I... I want to protect you. You’re still not strong enough to fight a Boss monster on your own.” His sockets narrow, determined. “If there really is something that has happened to the Queen, I cannot put my friend in danger under good conscious.” His grip on my shoulders tighten. My heart skips a beat. There’s something deep in the void of his sockets - perhaps his own Soul - that shines through, bright and determined. I’m not one for being a damsel in distress type, but God it feels nice to feel safe with someone. My cheeks grow hot and I can’t help but throw my arms around his neck.

“Thank you...” I really don’t want to die, even though I still think it’s the best way. I don’t want anyone to fight. I don’t want anyone else to get hurt, but if Papyrus thinks this is all wrong and he has a plan, then I trust him.
Though... I don’t know much about this Undyne.... From what little I heard about her, she likes robots and is pretty damn scary... She’s also Alphys’ wife, which means she’s got to be pretty scary anyway, right? But if Papyrus has shown me anything, scary doesn’t have to mean bad...
Right...?

 

We leave Grilly’s. Papyrus still carries me all bundled up in his coat. We’ll be getting closer to monster territory. These ones, he told me, have already made a life in the Underground. They don’t want to be any part of the surface whatsoever.
And they absolutely despise humans.
So as he was traveling, I didn’t get to see much. It only got darker. I can hear water flowing... Crashing... Like a waterfall. Occasionally, I can see mushrooms glowing from under the hood, but Papyrus makes sure that I can’t be seen at all and keeps the hood down as much as he can. His Soul pulse is strong...

Finally, what felt like forever, Papyrus puts me down. I’m standing in front of a quirky little house that looks like a crazed fish. The windows look like eyes and there’s a spiral design on them. There’s an iron bar that connects the two windows, making it look like glasses. The front door looks like a pair of jaws. I turn to Papyrus. He looks... Nervous. Though, he notices me and straightens up. He walks to the door and gives it a firm knock. The jaws open up and suddenly black smoke flies out, followed by an insane laugh.

“You DARE come into the lair of Undyne?! Ohohoho! You must either be a fool or a brave fool! Either way, you shall- Wait, shit, Papyrus is that you?” A tall, blue woman emerges from the smoke. She has flippers on the sides of her head and long, bright red hair. Her glasses are stained yellow with a typical mad scientist red spiral swirled around the glass. She’s wearing a lab coat, a black shirt, jeans and a pair of combat boots. A pair of bright yellow, gloved arms emerge from behind her. It took me a moment to realize that, yes, those were her own arms. The color of her gloves just threw me off. She pats Papyrus’ face, earning some annoyed grunts.

“Undyne, we need to talk.” He huffs, grabbing one of her arms. A large toothy grin spreads across her face and I am... Stunned. Those are some impressive chompers -

(Wait, am I really a monster fucker? Damn, I can’t let Sans ever know that.)

“Of course, of course! Come in... If you dare. ” She cackles, backing into the void of black smoke. Papyrus sighs and beckons me over. He pulls the hood completely over my face.

“Don’t breathe in until I tell you to. This smoke was created to poison humans.” He whispers. Thanks! Wasn’t going to breathe in before, now I’m going to be paranoid! I take a deep breath and pinch my nose shut. Papyrus guides me, holding me by the shoulders. I can’t see a damn thing. I can only put my trust in Papyrus right now. He keeps me close, gripping my shoulders tightly. I’m starting to get light-headed... I can’t breathe in yet though. Papyrus hasn’t told me that it’s okay. I’ve just got to hold on a little... While... Longer.
Suddenly, lights flash on. I hear insane cackling coming from... Somewhere. Papyrus sighs and pats my shoulder. Was that the sign for ‘you’re okay’? I don’t see any smoke, so maybe...? I see a subtle thumbs up from under my hood. I let out the breath I was holding quietly. Even though it might be dangerous, I just have to see what’s in this building.
I raise my head up high enough to see that we’re in a small room. Or, at least, it looks small. There’s boxes and glass containers everywhere. On the far left of the room, I can make out an ebony piano, but even that is covered with test tubes, documents and God knows what. Right now, I’m standing beside a table. The table has towers of paper, books and a big test tube. I think it has something in it.... Is that... A robot? I hear a door burst open and Papyrus shoves my hood down.

“How strange, Papyrus... It’s not like you to visit. Especially when it looks like you’ve found somebody.” She cooes. “She is a bit on the smaller side though, isn’t she? Come on now, lemme see!” I hear her gloves squeak repeatedly. Papyrus stands in front of me.

“I’m sorry. I can’t allow you to hurt my dear friend.” He growls. Undyne whines,

“Oh, Papy! Come on, please? I promise, I won’t scare her! Well, too much anyway. Might feel a little poke-y if she’s interesting.” She cackles. I suddenly get chills down my spine. She’s the wife of the Captain? How?

“Again, Undyne, no. I’m here for some answers.” I peek up from my hood. Undyne is smiling like a maniac. She- Holy crap! Her head snaps in my direction, scaring the shit out of me! She couldn’t see me, right?

“Aaw, she’s so shy! Don’t worry sweetie, I don’t bite.” She cooes. “Well... Unless I really want to.” I grab onto Papyrus’ arm. She’s starting to kinda freak me out. I don’t really know if she’s telling the truth or not, but I’m not risking it. Papyrus keeps me close. She whines again. God, I hope she doesn’t know I’m human. I have no idea what she would do. Not to mention, she could report to Alphys on a whim.

“First off, I want you to promise me that you won’t tell Alphys about my arrival.”

“You want me to lie? To my dear, precious, adorable wife? Now, why on Earth would I do that? Unless... You’re hiding something?” I can just hear her grin from here. Papyrus doesn’t move. He lets out a coy sigh.

“Then... I suppose you don’t want to add to your comic collection. I just found the next chapter, too. Looks like there’s a love triangle-”

Don’t spoil it for me!! ” Undyne yells, throwing her hands down and stomping her foot. “You better give me that manga, or else-!”

“Then Alphys doesn’t need to know about this. Right?” Undyne growls and huffs.

“Okay. Fine. Whatever. I don’t know what’s going on with you two, but it’s none of my business. Now, gimmie .” I hear her gloves squeak again. Wait, so if she likes shoujo... Is she that bad? But if Papyrus thinks she’s scary too...  What am I supposed to think of her?! She suddenly squeals like a little girl and a gentle thud.

“Now, you will answer my questions.” Papyrus says sternly. Undyne hums and something clicks.

“Yeah, okay Papy. Firstly, the girl. Who is she? You know I can’t just let any cute stray into my lab. She’s awfully quiet too...” I suddenly see a flash of pointed teeth from the hood. Without a second thought, I summon my shield and push her back. Papyrus yanks me behind him, but it’s too late. Undyne laughs menacingly - loud enough to echo in her own home.
“Ohohoho! You’ve brought an interesting little guest, haven’t you Papy?” She cackles. “Since she’s a little spitfire, how about she pay a little visit to dear, sweet Mettaton?”

“Undyne, wait-!” His voice is suddenly cut off as the floor under me falls. A trap door?! Really?! She’s just like a cartoon mad scientist!

(Maybe even worse...)

I finally land on something smooth, but before I can react, I’m sliding down at an almost blinding speed. This reminds me of those big slides I used to ride on in the fair. They were made of metal, so people were given a short towel or something to sit on to not hurt ourselves. They would be bumpy along the way. I used to love that ride and would constantly return to the line.
This, however, is terrifying.
I have no idea where I’m going. The world is spinning around me. I’m not even supposed to be here! This is the first time that I’ve been separated from Papyrus. Well, except that time I got kidnapped by cats.

(Now that I say that, it’s kind of sounds ridiculous.)

I wonder.... I saw this in a video game once. I pull up my magic shield and try to put it under my feet. Despite the blinding speeds, I try to force myself onto my feet. Instead, I fall off the slide. Welp. This would be how I actually die. From my own stupidity. This seems more fitting, somehow.

And then I’m caught. I fall into a pair of cold, hard arms. It’s not Papyrus, but I haven’t a clue who else could have caught me.

“Well, well, well! Looks like we have a surprise guest today, folks!” The voice is loud, announcer-sounding. Maybe a little bit on the flamboyant side? “How nice of you to drop by, sweetie!”

“Oh, the pleasure is all mine.” I huff. My back hurts... What’s this guy made of - metal?! I lift my hood up a little. Welp. It’s a robot. His hair (Is it even hair?) is styled, wavy. I can see two pairs of red eyes on one side of his face. Black lips. Slim face. To whatever God is listening, please tell me he hasn’t figured out I’m human. He puts me down, twirling me as soon as soon as my feet hit the ground.

“Never seen a little thing like you in the Underground before! But you must have come from Undyne, yes?” He seems friendly.... Too friendly. He doesn’t wait for my answer. “Of course you are dear! Which means only one thing!” He flashes a devious grin. “ Your judgement awaits. ” His voice suddenly sounds glitchy, deep and demonic. I freeze on the spot. I swear to God, I think my Soul left my body. He turns, clapping his hands. “Let’s give her a round of applause for her participation!” Wait, huh? Is this a performance? Where’s the cameras? Where am I? It’s dar-

“Gah!” Lights flashed on blinding me. I hear the robot beside me laughing. Once my vision clears, it looks like we’re on one giant stage. Or... Recording room? A set??? There’s a couch and a desk behind us, as a typical talk show set should look like. The robot snaps his fingers (can robots even do that?) and the set changes to a colorful game show set. There’s a giant nine by nine grid board with white cards. The border of the grid is lit up with round bulbs, blinking. Music blares from God knows where and I have never been so confused in my life.
Then I hear tapping. Above me? I try to find the source, until I see a small window. There’s Undyne and Papyrus, sitting next to each other. Papyrus is tapping on the glass. Is he trying to tell me something? He’s spelling something on the glass, but he’s too far away to make it all out. M? Me? What about me- wait. M-E-T-

“Hello again ladies and gents! I’m your wondrous host, Mettaton and welcome to another thrilling show of Truth or DEATH . Here with me is a guest from Undyne’s lair! Say hi to the people, honey!” A microphone pops outta nowhere, getting close to my face.

“Uh, hel-”

“ANYWAY! Let’s get this show on the road, shall we dear?” He grins. This.... Is Mettaton? This is who Papyrus was comparing me with before? I look back up in the window. Papyrus’ face is in his hands while Undyne is smiling like a maniac and... Does she have popcorn? “The rules are simple! Answer a series of questions to survive, or you can pass. If you pass, then you must choose a death card and we will act out the wild and crazy things that’s written on there!”

“Sounds like there’s no pressure.” I’m totally going to get my ass beat. Mettaton laughs.

“Oh, it’ll be easy dear! Unless you really wow the crowd, there’s no hope for you. ” How the hell could Papyrus compare me to this guy?! Reminder: if I get out of here alive, make Papyrus’ life a living hell. “So, honey, are you ready to start?”

“Can I phone in a friend?” This is such a stupid question. Mettaton gives pause. He presses something in his ear.

“Do... Do we have that rule? .... Is she really?” Mettaton glances at me. “Well, okay. If you say so, hun.” Mettaton smiles as me, though it’s so obvious that he’s faking it. “Turns out, yes! You can! We conveniently have a little pay phone right over there! The cost is either one soul or 5 gold!” Gold? Who the hell carries gold- Oh, that’s right. Papyrus had a pouch of them.

“Can I borrow 5 gold?” Can’t hurt asking right? Mettaton pauses, thinks, and finally gives me a gold coin. All while posing dramatically. Okay, I think I now know why Papyrus said what he did.
I scurry over to the little pay phone off set. I don’t even know how to reach Papyrus, but- oh. Instead of numbers, there’s buttons with names scribbled beside them. Alphys was at the top and surrounded by little doodled hearts, which is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Followed by Toriel, Asgore - though his name is scribbled out - Sans and Papyrus was at the bottom. Also, there’s nothing to insert the coin. I roll my eyes. I can’t believe I even thought for a second... I pick up the phone and push the button labeled ‘Papyrus’.
One ring. Two rings. Then, he picks up.

“I don’t even know how this is working.” Papyrus sighs on the other end.

“What do I do here?! What the hell is happening?”

“Firstly, calm down. Secondly, Undyne is not going to be cooperative unless you play her and Mettaton’s game. You’re doing great so far.”

“How do I win?” There’s some silence. Oh, right, Undyne is next to him. I forgot that.

“Beat Mettaton at his own game.”

“Time’s up darling!” Mettaton calls. “It’s showtime!” My heart leaps to my throat.

“You can do this, human. I won’t let you fail.”

Chapter Text

I’m standing behind a podium with a button. I’m assuming it’s for a buzzer so I can answer questions. Mettaton stands in the center of the set, posing as if it’s a glamour shot. Am I really going to play this game show where my life is at risk?

(“Beat Mettaton at his own game.”)

Right... How am I supposed to do that, Papyrus? I’m not a death machine who looks like something that came out Eggman’s closet on a Saturday night. Wait... Maybe that’s Papyrus meant. I wonder-

“First question, honey!” Oh right, I’m literally playing with my life here. “What is the outcome for answering this question correctly?” Mettaton asks, smiling ear to ear. Seriously?! Who starts off with a question like that?! “And no, you can’t phone in a friend this time, darling!” Well, there goes asking Papyrus... Hell, I can deal with this without him, right? How can I answer this correctly....?

“I guess that it means I get to see more of you, yeah?” I suggest. Mettaton laughs.

“Flattery won’t get you anywhere here, honey!” He laughs like a stereotypical arrogant character from an anime.

“But, am I wrong?” He takes pause, staring at me. He puts his hands on his hips and pouts.

“Well... Not really-”

“Then I win this round!”

“Darling, that’s not how this works.”

“But, I answered.” Mettaton groans and whips his hair back.

“Fine, darling. Next time, I won’t let you off so easily.” He shuffles a deck of flashcards in his hands. The lights flicker and fanfare goes off. Alright, I think this is what Paps was talking about! I’ve gotta tease him like I do with Papyrus! Just maybe.... Maybe before Paps and I became friends. I’ll be merciless.

“Next question-”

“Hey, may I ask a question metal Manroe?” Mettaton does a double-take at me.

“I beg your pardon?”

“I was just wondering how long do I have to be up here. Y’know, do we get a break or something? I can only stand your Hot Topic clearance bin look for so long.” I heard audible gasps. Or... Was that a sound bit?

Excuse me?” Mettaton growls, glaring daggers at me. He towers over the podium, obviously trying to intimidate me.

“If you’re trying to scare me, good luck. Papyrus has already taken all the fright out of me.” I can’t help but smile. It’s true. There’s nothing he could threaten to do to me that would scare me that Papyrus hasn’t threatened with already. I was truly terrified of Papyrus and now we’re friends. You aren’t going to shake me, you glittery trash man.
A smile spreads across his face,

“I know what you’re doing.” He whispers. I tilt my head to the side. What? What does he mean? “You’re trying to play the rebel. Making more drama for the viewers, yes?”

“If that’s what you want, that’s what I’m serving, metal man.” The crowd murmurs. Mettaton stands straight. There’s a glint in his eye that I can’t describe. Should I be scared or excited?

“News flash!” Mettaton snaps his fingers and a chair is suddenly under me. Before I can react, I’m whisked away in a flash toward the back of the room. A flash of bright light blinds me until I see a variety of colors. Or am I just blinded now? There’s been so many lights blinking and flashing, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m actually, legitimately blind right now.

“Human?” A familiar voice whispers to me.

“Paps?” I ask. I blink until I can see again. The colors I was seeing is actually clothes and costumes. Dozens of them. A dressing room, I’m assuming. Where’s Papyrus though? My silent question is answered as his gloved hand pops out from a rack of outfits, motioning me over. I get up from the chair and hurry over to him. He grabs the coat and pulls me in.... Where I’m sitting on his lap. Good Lord, haven’t you heard of personal space?!

“Human, you’re doing well. If you can keep Mettaton distracted long enough, I can drag enough answers from Undyne.”

“Uh, Paps-”

“Also, as far as I know, this coat is either perfect for hiding your true identity or Undyne is simply overlooking the fact you’re human. For whatever reason, I do not know. Do not let your guard down.”

“How did you get here? And how do I get out? Also, why are we hiding this close together?!” I huffed. Seriously, how is he not bothered by how close we are? His jaw clenches.

“We... Well, if we’re caught, it will only be fuel for Mettaton. It will be even worse if they discover that I’m friends with a human. It will broadcast all over the Underground and it will reach the Queen’s ears. This is the only hiding spot I could find that could fit both of us.” He tilts his head to the side, raising a brow. “I don’t understand why you’re drawing attention to this.”

“Ugh, nevermind...” I sigh. Okay, note to self, once we’re out of here, I’ve got to teach him what personal space is. “How much time do you need? I think I can keep up with Mettaton. I’ve seen enough trash reality shows to know what to do.”

“As much as you can. If you’re in any trouble, I’ll save you. You are not strong enough to fight Undyne nor Mettaton. Keep doing what you’re doing. Just....” His jaw clenches. “Be careful.” I puff my cheeks. He’s not telling me something. It’s such a tell sign too. He arches his brow. “What?”

“You’re hiding something from me.” I grip his shirt. I’m not letting him get away with this. “What is it?”

“It’s nothing. I wouldn’t hide anything from you. You’re my friend.” He assures, taking his hands and grasping them over my wrists. “Let me go. You have limited time.”

“Pap-”

“We’ll talk another time. You need to be on that set. Just be careful and hide yourself as best you can.” Before I could pry further, he pushes me out from the rack of clothes. I land right on my ass and I see a window above the rack just slightly ajar. Huh, so that’s how he got in. And it’s how he’s getting out too. He stands up and climbs out without effort. He stretches his arm out. “My coat. I need it.”

“Aw, but it’s cozy. Can’t I keep it?” I hug the coat tightly around myself. I hear him grumble something to himself.

“Just give it back. Do not dilly-dally.” I puff my cheeks, but I give him back his coat. It feels more chilly in here than before... And less safe. As soon as I’m sure Papyrus is gone, I change into the most reality-show trash looking outfit I could find.... But it all depends on what kind of character I could play.... I need to be someone who needs to either outshine Mettaton or be equal with him... Two tropes come into mind: The preppy-no-bullshit type or the chaotic-wild-child trope. Both in the right light could be perfect, but I think in this case...

 

I sit back on the chair. Mettaton is going to lose this. I’m stealing his limelight, and I’m going to fight tooth and nail for it. Of course, without laying an actual finger on him. Papyrus has educated me on physical fights. However, little does he know I know everything about drama fights . One thing a dramatic person hates is when they aren’t given the attention they want. Or, when someone bigger, badder and louder comes along.

“Welcome back darl-” Mettaton stops. The set changed, again, making look like a standard living room set. Well, as standard as you can imagine coming from a robot with a superiority complex. The set has a deep crimson couch and at arm’s reach a glass coffee table lined with gold. The floor is black, a geometric scarlet/ebony round carpet covers the area. An unlit fireplace is at the far back and around its perimeter is mirrors. Where I can see my outfit of choice.
I had to be the chaotic-wild-child trope, but I had to look the part. I’m talking leather, ripped clothes, big boots, chain belt, fingerless gloves. You name it, I found it and you’re sure as hell I’m wearing it. Luckily, there was prosthetics (or at least I hope they are, because who knows what Undyne is capable of) that made me look more like a monster. You’re damn right I gave myself some fake, big teeth too. Mettaton scowls and scoffs in my direction.

“Oh. Now it makes sense how you’re friends with that bonehead.” He sighs.

“Hey, what the hell is wrong with him?!” Though, what I say is true, I played it up more for dramatic effect. Mettaton waves at me dismissively.

“Oh, nothing. Just that he would have found you in the garbage. Ohohoho! I bet he made you think you actually had worth!” He laughs. Okay, you metal Twilight vampire wannbe. I know part of this is just for entertainment, but you’re going to piss me off for real. Papyrus is no liar. He’s made that very clear to me.

“Tch, well, you know what? I think I’m still in good hands. Not like you can do anything better. You look like something KISS and Daft Punk made and forgotten about.” Loud ‘ohs’ bellowed from the audience (if there is one). Mettaton glares daggers at me.

How dare you. ” He looms over me, but it’s difficult to find him scary when Papyrus is much scarier than him. “You look like the illegitimate child of a monster and human that they left in the dumpster overnight.” I can’t help but laugh.

“You know it baby! I’m a dumpster gremlin!” Best thing you can do when someone is dissing you? Laugh. They hate it .

Now, picture yourself watching a reality TV show. Now, think of all the tropes you have seen in these shows, minus getting voted off for something. We haven’t gotten to the games yet, since Mettaton is too busy trying to get the right reaction out of me. He’s not having any luck. We’ve pretty much done everything we can here for the drama section. I gotta urge him to do a game before the audience gets bored of just drama.

“Hey, host! If you’re even still a host, ain’t it time for a fucking game or something? You can flap your gums all day, but I think the people here finally wanna see some action.” There’s loud cheers of approval. Mettaton for a moment has death in his eyes, but he smiles and re-adjusts himself.

“Yes... You’re absolutely right. This is Truth or Death after all. You still need to answer some questions.” He says coyly as he takes out a card. I shrug.

“Eh, forget the card. I ain’t answering. We talked enough already, haven’t we?”

“But I haven’t even asked the question! You can’t just dismiss it when you haven’t heard it already!”

“Fuck it. Why the hell not? Let’s get some action in this show finally! Action! Action! Action!” Before I know it, I start chanting. One by one, the audience chants with me, demanding some action. Mettaton is fuming. I swear I can see steam come out from his ears.

“Alright, enough! Who’s the host here?!” He scolds. “Fine, you want action?! I’ll give you action. With a snap of his fingers, the set spins around, with us on it. Behind this set is a crew of various, small looking monsters. Mettaton sighs and starts fanning himself with the cards. “I think I almost blew a gasket, darling. You’re too good at this!”

“It’s just show business, ain’t it?” I ask, shrugging my shoulders. Mettaton laughs and sets the cards on a table. The monsters suddenly panic and scurry about, getting out of the way for the shiny bot.

“Indeed darling. Glad you understand. Now,” He turns and puts his hands on his hips. “Burgerpants?! Where are you?! I need my damn sparkling water now! Blooky, keep up with the audience clips! I need the views and don’t even think about pointing the show at the guest too long! Remember who’s fucking show it is!”
Damn. Demanding much? He’s talking about me as if I’m not here, but things have been happening so fast. If this is show business, I want no part of this. A lanky, cat-like monster scurries to me.

“Uh, hey. Little bud, before I go off, just wanna, uh, say... Thanks for keeping Mettaton busy for us. He usually bosses us around and he’s not exactly... Nice about it.” He looks over his shoulder, then whispers, “He was so much better when he was just a ghost. He’s been like this since Undyne made him a body...”

Burgerpants, are you wasting your time on our side character and not paying attention to the true star here?

“Eep! Gotta go, bud!” The monster runs away. I hope to God that his name isn’t actually Burgerpants and it’s just an unfortunate nickname. Everyone here is terrified of Mettaton, but I’ve yet to see what makes him so scary. He sounds scary, sure, but he’s not exactly terrifying to look at. Then again, I have no doubt he can rip someone apart. Is he just all bark and no bite though?

“Darling, what are you doing standing around for? Come along. Talk with me.” One of Mettaton’s arms extend and he grabs my shoulder. Before I know it, I’m right next to him. He’s got a grip on my shoulder so I can’t escape now. “You are quite a little sparkler aren’t you? How did someone like you get to be friends with someone like Papyrus?”

(Reality TV. Remember...)

“We didn’t start as friends. We hated each other at first. Then we just sorta... Got bored of hating each other.” I can’t go around giving him details. The less he knows, the better. I want to focus the drama on him, not me.

“Oh, darling, don’t be like that. You have to give me those juicy details! It couldn’t have been that simple.”

“It was. Or, I’m sorry, is simple just not in or glorious dictionary?” Mettaton feigns a smile and grips my shoulder tighter.

“Keep that up, honey. It won’t last long. ” He lets me go and struts off. “Get ready for the next set, hun! You want action? I’ll give all the action you and the audience wants.” Something tells me I’m going to regret this in the back of my mind.

 

I’m back on the game show set, standing in front of the nine by nine grid. Mettaton is explaining the rules and it’s at this point I’m beginning to care less and less. His threats from earlier seem to be empty now. He threatens all he likes, but I’m not too sure if he can hurt me. Besides, if he lays a finger on me, Papyrus can help me. I just need some more time.

“And now, the action you so deserve!” Mettaton announces. The grid flashes with different images. Chainsaws, swords, chains..... Dog? Dogs? I’m pretty sure I saw a dog in there. At long last, a skull covers the entire board. The audience cheers as Mettaton’s smile grows devious. “Oooh, looks like it’s a fight to the death with our dear friend-” The set walls explode. When the dust clears, my heart fills with dread. There’s Papyrus, cuffed with magic restraints and jaw clenched.

“P-Pap...?” I can’t believe it. How is he here? Why is he here? This is a nightmare.

“We caught someone slipping into the dressing room earlier. How scandalous!” Mettaton saunters over the Papyrus’ side. “Not to mention, you slipped him back his coat. Are you two actually friends, or... Is there something more?

“We are friends!” Papyrus barks. “What more can we be besides friends?”

“Oh, I don’t know.... Lovers? ” Mettaton coos. Papyrus is growling at him, eye sockets narrow in a glare. “Ohohoho! The passion! The romance! The BLOODSHED ! Let the fight of two beloveds begin!”

“We’re not beloveds!” Both Papyrus and I shout, but Mettaton has already rocketed off above us. The restraints around his wrists break off. The audience is cheering. I can’t believe what is happening. How did Mettaton see that? I came here with Papyrus’ coat initially. Now he wants to make a big deal of it? There’s no way I can win against Papyrus. Not then and not now.

“Hu-” He stops himself. “... Gremlin. You and I are destined to fight it seems. I... Cannot kill you in battle. I refuse.” Papyrus declines. “You are a close friend to me. I cannot hurt the one I swore to protect.”

“Aaw, what a sweet little promise!” Mettaton’s announcer-like voice echoes through the building. “How horrible that one of these two are fated to die from the other’s hands! How terrible!”

“What if we don’t fight?” I ask. “What are you gonna do about that, glitter man?”

“Ohohoho! Well, if you have to ask, then I guess I’ll just have to kill both of you .” The sound of metal, that ‘ shink’ sound, comes from above. Papyrus and I look up. The ceiling is covered in spikes and it’s slowly descending. Ah, typical villain setup.

“That’s cliched....” The spikes stop.

“What?” Mettaton descends down, glaring at me.

“Can you do anything original? At all?” I’m going to die. Me and my dumb mouth. Even Papyrus is looking at me like I’ve said the most stupid thing on Earth. Mettaton is quiet for way too long. Oh God. Oh God what is he thinking?

“You know what? You don’t have to fight.” He smiles. “Why fight when you can just die?” With a snap of his fingers, the ceiling falls. The spikes are hurling towards us. Papyrus launches himself to me and shields me from the spikes. I shut my eyes tight and grip onto his coat.
(Mercy.)