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Fever

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Movie Night was so named because they all got together and watched a movie or two. Sometimes three, depending on the circumstances of the night. It was an ingenious title, really. For Toriel. (Or Asgore, depending on the ‘verse.) Not that Rus minded at all, but he might have preferred something more along the lines of Snack, Nap, and Argue Over Who Was Right About the Point of the Movie Night. Something more appropriate.

It had initially started out as Game Night when they first started getting together. Papyrus and Blue had set it up as a way to get to know each other. Edge and Razz had gone along with it as away to keep tabs on the goings on of the multiverse.

None of the other brothers ever really cared too much as long they got a few snacks out of the deal.

Game Night was a horrible failure in every conceivable way. Sans and Rus were sneaky cheaters when they thought they could get away with it. Red and Slim were usually too lazy or high to participate. Papyrus and Blue whined about everyone playing by the rules and getting along with each other.

And then there were Edge and Razz. The two ‘Fell monsters who cared so much about the outcome of a game that some nights nearly ended in a declaration of war between their two ‘verses.

Game Night quickly turned into Movie Night after only a month.

Edge and Razz were still competitive when it came to the movies they chose, but at least they both had good taste.

The change didn’t do much to ease the animosity between Razz and Red or Rus and Edge.

Red at least had a reason to bitch at Razz. Every time Razz said or did something to instigate Edge’s more competitive nature, it was rubbing salt in a wound that could have been healing instead. At some point, Red and Razz found the time to have a heart to heart, and Razz had all but stopped picking on Edge.

Rus had no reason to act the way he did toward Edge. At least, that was what was he was figuring out. He was learning that Edge wasn’t his LV. He was something much, much more.

Slowly but surely, with each movie night that came and went, Rus would see a side of Edge he’d never seen before. It didn’t happen until after Razz stopped antagonizing him. Then, one day, what had once seemed like cold indifference was instead stoic dignity.

Edge didn’t lend himself to showing emotion the way the other brothers did. Blue, Papyrus, and Razz were all over the top in their reactions and demeanor. Edge was not. He was silent and observant where the others were loud and obtrusive.

Rus had once thought it was a lack of interest in their activities, things that Blue took great pride in organizing. He sort of hated Edge for making Blue think his efforts weren’t good enough for him.

But Blue had never said that. It was only an assumption Rus made because he knew how his brother would feel if Edge truly didn’t like the outcome of his planning. Imagine his shock when Edge showed an actual, outward appreciation for Blue’s meticulous planning. The happiness that shone on Blue’s face was overwhelming, and Rus couldn’t even deny that he wanted to hug Edge just for making his brother that happy.

He decided to try an experiment.

It was a movie night like any other. This time, their entertainment had been chosen by Sans and Red both since they couldn’t decide whose turn it was actually supposed to be. They’d managed to settle on a combination of comedy and horror that included such gems as Odd Thomas and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil .

Rus had found a couple of books at the dump a few days prior that he had snagged thinking Papyrus might enjoy them. Being the swap of their universe, he might have read something similar, but Papyrus was a voracious reader of all things readable, and swapped versions of some of his favorite books was something he loved.

Rus kept one out to give to Edge just to see how he’d react. To make it less suspicious, he also kept one out for Razz.

“Do you have the books for Papyrus?” Blue asked before the movie started.

“sure do.” He handed Papyrus the books, who promptly squealed in delight and immediately began looking through the top one. Rus then turned to Edge. “i found a few extras i know he already has, but i snagged ‘em anyway. you wanna see if you want ‘em? you or razz?” He handed both to Edge.

Edge accepted the books with a strange expression. He almost looked angry, but then that was default for him. If Rus looked carefully, he could see the shocked surprise hidden in his eye lights. Interesting.

“Oh, um...thank you?”

He looked them both over. “I don’t have either of these. I’ve heard of this one before. Well, something like it.”

Rus thought for a second he was going to take both books, but then he turned to Razz.

“Would you like one of them?”

Razz immediately shook his head. “I don’t need handouts,” he huffed loftily.

Edge didn’t take the books back. “Neither do I, but books in good condition are hard to come by in a ‘Fell verse and you know it. Do you want one or not?”

Rolling his eye lights, Razz took the books from Edge’s hand and looked them over. He chose one with guarded excitement in his sockets and handed the other back to Edge. Edge nodded and tucked the book between his leg and the side of the chair he was sitting in.

Rus took a moment to mentally document the results of the experiment. As he did so, he made a separate mental note to grab more books for the ‘Fell monsters the next time he was at the dump.

Another experiment was conducted the next week, and the week after that. Each time, Edge reacted in a way Rus wouldn't have guessed with their past as it was. It was intriguing to see Edge fluster before haltingly accepting his kindness.

A few weeks later, something happened that Rus hadn’t planned on.

It was Edge’s turn to pick the movie, and he chose a documentary as he always did. Interestingly, his choice this time was one Rus was actually interested in watching.  

“excellent choice,” Rus told him, reaching over Red on the end of the couch to pat Edge’s shoulder.

Red growled, but he ignored it.

Edge didn’t say anything, but Rus noticed him shift uncomfortably in his seat. Okay, maybe compliments were not a good thing? Or maybe it was the touch. He’d have to gather more data before he could come to a conclusion.

A while later, Blue asked Rus to help with snacks in the kitchen. He went without question and took the platter Blue handed him.

“Whatever you’re doing, you need to stop,” Blue told him with a hushed voice.

“what do you mean?”

“I mean, Edge asked me a little while ago if you’re feeling ill. I think you’re making him uncomfortable. I’m not asking you to go back to annoying him, but maybe stop trying so hard to flirt with him.”

Rus coughed, a hot blush erupting over his face. “flirting?! i’m not flirting with anyone, bro!”

“Hmm. Well, whatever you are doing, please stop.”

Experiment failed, it seemed.

Halfway through the movie, Red stood up and turned to Rus. “gonna go smoke. wanna come with?”

Rus looked at him skeptically. “depends on what you’re smoking.”

Red rolled his eye lights. “i know you wanna pretend you don’t like gettin’ high, but i’m talkin’ ‘bout cigarettes this time. come on.”

“i didn’t say i want to come.” He had secretly been trying to cut down on smoking for his brother’s sake. Blue hated the habit.

Red glared. “an’ i wasn’t really askin’. get off yer ass ‘n’ come with me.”

Okay. Rus got up, feeling a bit like he’d just been scorned, and followed Red out the front door to the side of the house.

“why me? why not slim? he looked like he wanted to come join you.”

Red shrugged. “prob’ly did, but i don’t got a bone ta pick wit’ him.”

Rus was silent for a moment as they lit their cigs and took a drag. He just waited for Red to come up with the words to tell him to back off his bro and leave them alone.

“what are you tryin’ to do wit’ my bro?” he finally asked.

“i’m not trying anything,” Rus tried. He was innocent. Really. Probably.

Red huffed. “you’re tryin’ somethin’; i just can’t decide if i should let you. see, he’s likin’ this new side’a ya, all polite ‘n’ shit like you give a damn ‘bout anyone but yerself.”

“hey!”

“but that means he’s lettin’ his guard down, an’ the minute you decide ta go back ta bein’ an ass ta him is gonna hurt. i ain’t about lettin’ my bro get hurt. you get me?”

Rus found the idea of Edge actually being hurt by him preposterous. He let Red know it, too.

Red’s eye lights flared. “you think this is some stupid game i’m playin’ here? my bro ain’t your toy to fuck around with.”

“hey, okay, i get it.” Rus raised his hands in surrender and took a step back. “don’t gotta get all pissy on me, geez. i’ll leave your damn bro alone, fucking hell.”

He didn’t bother lighting another cigarette. Instead, he walked away to go back into the house. Red didn’t try to stop him, so Rus figured he’d said all he needed to.

In the house, Rus firmly kept his eye lights off of Edge. He knew how protective brothers could get. He knew exactly how he’d react if he thought someone was fucking with Blue for shits and giggles. Blue held friendship in high regard, and if he ever found out someone was just pretending to be his friend for some experiment? Yeah, he’d be hurt. And Rus wouldn’t let that shit fly.

Somehow, he just couldn’t see Edge reacting the same way. He was always so...distant. Like he didn’t care one way or the other what anyone thought of him. Besides, it wasn’t like Rus was going so far as being actual friends with the guy. He was just being nice.

“Is everything okay, Brother?” Blue asked as Rus sat down. The movie had been paused, and Rus made a mental note to thank Blue for that later.

“yeah, everything’s cool.”

He dug out a handful of popcorn as the movie was played again and spent the remainder of the time both eating it and tossing kernels at either Sans or Slim. One hit Papyrus on the side of the skull as he leaned forward, and Rus quickly apologized, trying to hide his laughter as he did. It wasn’t so easy with Sans and Slim both trying their hardest to bust a gut they didn’t have. Papyrus gave him a side eye but forgave him anyway.

Red didn’t come back in for a while, but Rus had no doubt he was still watching them, seeing what Rus might do when he wasn’t there to play nanny.

After the movie was over, Sans and Rus started an animated discussion about the space station and what it might be like to one day visit or even work on it. Granted, they’d all have to reach the surface first, but that wasn’t the point. Slim had a few thoughts to add, although his passion was more physics than astronomy.

Red finally came back in when Razz and Slim were getting ready to leave. Red and Slim performed their signature stoner handshake, which usually meant that Edge and Red would leave soon as well.

As predicted, Edge stood up when the others were heading toward the door.

Rus didn’t expect him to reach out and place a hand on his arm, by his elbow.

“Come to the kitchen with me for a moment.”

His tone brooked no argument, and Rus followed without question. He figured he was in for yet another scolding. He had to roll his eye lights; enough was enough and he got the point already.

But he wasn’t prepared for what Edge said when he turned to him in the kitchen.

“I apologize for my brother’s behavior,” he said softly.

Rus stood silent. That was not what he expected Edge to say.

“what?” he finally managed.

Edge made a gesture of impatience with his right hand. “My brother. I’m sure he threatened you or something similar. I didn’t ask him to talk to you. In fact, I made it clear that I didn’t want him to talk to you. I can handle my own problems; he’s no longer my protector.”

That made Rus smile. “sure he is. i mean, yeah, you’re the captain of the underfell royal guard or whatever, but you know as well as i do that big bros never stop being overprotective.”

Edge lifted a brow bone. “Somehow I find it hard to see you as the overprotective type.”

Ah, yes, a jab at his laziness. Some things may never change.

What was surprising about that was the sting in his soul. Did Edge really doubt that Rus would protect his bro from anyone and anything that wanted to harm him? What kind of brother would he be if he didn’t?

It didn’t matter. Edge’s opinion of him might not have changed much, but Rus was determined to let it slide like he always had before.

“you’ve never seen him threatened,” was all Rus offered.

“True. I hope I never do.”

“yeah. same. is that all you needed?”

“No.”

He didn’t say anything else for a long moment.

Rus sighed impatiently. He didn’t want to stand here being judged by Mr. Prissy Pants.

“well, what is it? you gonna tell me to leave you alone, too? i get it, i overstepped whatever imaginary boundary there was between us and i feel like that’s all i’ve heard today. i’m sorry, okay? is that what you wanted? an apology? i’m sorry; i’ll stop trying to be a decent fucking person.”

He so wanted to just teleport out of there and chalk the whole thing up to a massive failure, but before he could so much as choose a destination, Edge’s hands were on his arms, holding gently.

“No, Rus, that’s not at all what I wanted. Who else told you to leave me alone?” His voice was calmer than Rus had ever heard it before. Supportive, almost caring even. It was a little unnerving.

Rus kept his eye lights downcast. “my brother thought i was trying to flirt with you and told me to cut it out.”

An odd noise made him look up. Rus realized then that he had never once heard Edge laugh. Not at any of the stupid comedies Sans picked or the uniquely bloody horror Red did. Not even at the ridiculous antics of Blue and Papyrus.

It wasn’t unpleasant.

“Your world must have strange views on flirting then.”

Rus just shrugged. He wasn’t up for a debate on methods of flirting from around the multiverse.

“so what do you want then?”

Edge’s face settled back into its usual scowl, and Rus realized he’d been smiling. He pulled his hands back, probably satisfied that Rus wasn’t going to ditch him yet.

“I wanted to thank you. You’ve been trying to play nice, and it took me entirely too long to realize it. I know I’m not the easiest person to get along with, but I do appreciate your efforts.”

And just like that, Rus felt like a complete asshole. He hadn’t been trying to play nice at all. Well, maybe as a byproduct of his experiments, but his main goal was just to see how Edge would react.

In that moment, he could see a vulnerability in Edge that he would never have guessed possible. It was some strange mirror of Blue, a tentative hope for friendship.

No wonder Red was so upset.

“i have a confession to make,” he started.

But could he really deflate Edge’s hope like that? If Rus really confessed, would they just go back to bickering like enemies again? Even if it had all been an experiment, he didn’t want to go back to that.

Edge nodded. “Okay?”

Rus could see the guarded look in Edge’s eye lights. He was waiting to hear Rus say it was all a sham.

He couldn’t do it.

“you’re easier to get along with than you think you are. i’ve got you figured out, edgelord.”

The relief in Edge’s expression, his whole fucking body, was nauseating. What the fuck kind of person was Rus?

“I highly doubt that. Thank you for talking with me, Rus. I’m sure my brother is waiting for me.”

Edge then turned and left the kitchen, leaving Rus standing there on his own.

It took him the entire week to figure out what to do about the whole thing. He talked to Blue, explained what was going on and made him swear on Queen Toriel’s honor that he wouldn’t breathe a word of his experiments to anyone else, especially Edge.

“The fact that you couldn’t tell Edge what was really going on means you do care, Papy,” Blue said over dinner. “You are a good person, even if you can’t see it. I see it, and I know others do, too. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing, but this time do it because they’re our friends.”

Rus gave him a half a smile. “yeah, i guess you’re right, bro. thanks.”

Blue beamed.