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Small Town Skeleton and a Hunter

Chapter Text

 

 

Blue felt the demonic energy in the air as soon as he entered the village - it felt like a physically oppressive force weighing down on his SOUL, as if it was trying to pry his rib cage open and know him.

 

It was a gross feeling.

 

He noted that it was having a similar effect on his brother - whose usually lax posture was tense, chest puffed like there was something crawling down his spine.

 

“what th' hell …” The taller skeleton muttered, hand fidgeting with the inclination to reach into his hoodie pocket (he’d owned the article for years, and its once vibrant orange had been dulled by time, use, and dirt into a faded burnt sierra). He usually kept a pack of cigarettes in said pocket, but at his brother’s insistence, he’d not brought any to the village.

 

(Smoking was a deplorable habit, really. Part of The Academy’s training was to ‘overcome your personal demons’, and this certainly applied to Stretch’s smoking.)

 

Blue’s brow bone quirked at the taller’s nervous tell as he patted the other’s arm.

 

“Easy on the language, brother! We’re on a job, professionalism is key!”

 

A brief huff was all he got in response, along with a few mumbled choice words.

 

“The Good Goddess is listening at all times, you know.” Blue reminded him, starting towards the village entrance.

 

The brothers (Blue, specifically) had been called into town by the local priest who’d seen the rise of violence and debauchery among the youth and feared the worst.

 

Usually, Blue would send advice through letter correspondence - how to handle rebellious teens, words of comfort for the parents - and if the acts of defiance continued, perhaps he would send some cleansing incense. Unrest among the youth was common, and whilst Blue didn’t want to discredit the priest, he also wasn’t one to go on wild goose chases for demons that didn’t exist.

 

It had started that way, too - Blue hadn’t been particularly interested in this case since it was from a small and poor village, away from the action of the Capital where he’d done his apprenticeship and consequently gained an appetite for the high-risk and exciting life of an Exorcist - or as he preferred to refer to it - Demon Hunter .

 

As he’d worked up the ranks, however, the less action he got in on. Nowadays they had him cooped up in an office somewhere looking over legal work, giving speeches on new techniques (which he’d yet to be approved to be put into use) and, yes , sending correspondence to concerned priests.

 

He felt more like a glorified PR representative than a Hunter .

 

His taller, lazier, younger brother disagreed. As an apprentice himself, he had required quotas and strict training regimes. He often expressed his envy over Blue’s ‘Cushy Office Job’.

 

And - well, Blue couldn’t disagree with the cushy part. He got paid well - well enough to keep a decent roof over he and his brother’s skulls and to cover leisure expenses as well.

 

Back to the oddity of this specific case, though. As far as Blue had been concerned a week ago - it was a simple case of Pissy Priest Syndrome and nothing more.

 

That is, until the murder.

 

Again - sad as the reality of it was, murder was not the most uncommon thing in the world. What is uncommon is a brutalized corpse found in an ‘urban’ alley, completely mauled with bites taken out of the body.

 

Most concerning was that the bites didn’t match any natural animal that was native to the mountainous area around the village. Then there’d been the lack of DNA or clues that would lead to a suspect. The priest… the priest had enclosed photos of the crime scene.

 

Neither Blue nor The Academy could ignore his cries for help any longer, and, as the most knowledgeable Exorcist of the case, Blue had been quickly dispatched. Stretch had come along more as an afterthought since The Academy had gone on its summer break a few weeks prior. Blue… was understandably hesitant to leave his lazy brother home alone for any amount of time.

 

Last time he’d done something like this, Stretch had played video games for three days straight, not once getting up besides to get another fizzy, sugary drink or a bag of chisps.

 

He’d been so depraved that he’d started to drink honey of all things. To Blue’s chargin, Stretch had almost developed as much of a taste for the condiment (!!!) as he had his precious death sticks .

 

Successful as Blue had been in getting Stretch to leave behind said cancer bombs, he was reminded of his failure to get his brother to leave behind no less than ten bottles of the sticky, viscous condiment .

 

Two of which he’d already managed to down within the five hour train ride on the way to the village.

 

bro …!” Stretch wheezed out from behind Blue as he attempted to catch up. Amusingly, his long legs were still no match for Blue’s fast gate.

 

“Hurry along, brother! The priest of the village has been kind enough to pay for us to stay at a local hot spring, and I would not like to make a bad first impression by being late!”

 

Blue slowed marginally, if only out of pity for his brother who seemed rather unused to the weight of his packed bag on his back. Blue himself had no trouble with his own bag - he packed light, and besides that, trained regularly to keep himself in tip-top condition.

 

He briefly thought about contacting The Academy and alerting them of some of the student’s lack of weight-lifting ability.

 

“hot springs sound like heaven …” Stretch sighed, adjusting the pack on his back.

 

Blue hummed in agreement - the demonic energy was getting stronger the further inward of the village they traveled, feeling almost like it was slithering between his bones to better acquaint itself with him.

 

“I don’t think that it’ll be very relaxing considering the heavy Presence in this place - the demon is either very strong, or has been here for awhile… perhaps both…” He muttered the last part to himself, not wanting to concern his brother.

 

“yeh? think it could’a been a dormant type? could’a taken root years ago an’ came up an about when violent energy started up.”

 

“It’s possible. Buuuuutttt…. If it truly is an activation-type demon, then it’ll be…” Blue looked at his brother expectantly, trailing off on a high, questioning note.

 

Stretch thought for a number of moments as he followed Blue, even scratching at the top of his skull a few times before answering.

 

“rooted in an’ object?”

 

“Yes! Good job, brother. Most activation type demons are activated by violent intent or presence. Once it’s awakened, it’ll spread the same energy and slowly start to poison the SOULs of the occupants of the village.”

 

ugh . i thought school was on break, ” Stretch whined. However, despite his complaint, he continued to listen as Blue lectured.

 

“ - It’s an important lesson, Papy, especially since you’re going to be on the field with me. Anywho, since activation-type demons are low level and take root in inatimate objects, it’s unlikely to be the type we’re dealing with now. Remember the murder? Activation-types have been known to influence others into undertaking violent acts, but it would be happening on a mass scale.”

 

“sooooo… not an activation-type?”

 

“Most likely not,” Blue confirmed. “To me, it seems to be a textbook case of Summoning Gone Wrong - letting a fairly powerful demon loose. It would also explain the odd murder, which seems to be neither an animal, human nor monster act.”

 

Stretch grunted, “how’dya figure?”

 

“The priest mentioned rising conflict among youth. Most summonings gone awry are conducted by misguided youth in a tense living situation - which you’d know if you studied, by the way.”

 

Affonted, Stretch countered Blue’s theory.

 

“i study , mr. office job. also - th’ demon would have probably killed th’ kid if that was the case. th’ murder victim was an adult male. plus th’ presence in th’ village has been here for awhile. i can feel it in my bones .”

 

The elder skeleton simply offered a non-committal hum in response. Stretch was, however, very correct in his statement - the energy of this small town was too corrupted for a blitz demon summoning.

 

The Presence was thick . This demon was cocky - not even bothering to hide their presence. If Blue’s previous encounters with demons were any sort of indicators, the demon was likely full of themselves.

 

Blue had seen many prideful demons in his days working in the field. It was a fatal flaw of theirs and quite often the strongest tool in their downfall. Getting one to underestimate him, what with has, ahem, lacking height and round cheekbones, Blue wasn’t the most intimidating monster.

 

But. Annoying as it was to be looked down upon, the look of utter shock and the sudden spike of fear he could feel coming off of them always made up for it. More than made up for it, really.

 

… Blue wouldn’t let anybody know it, but he was a bit of a sadist.

 

“yeah?” Stretch teased, lightly bumping his hip into Blue’s side, “too high and might with yer fancy title to listen to yer kid bro?”

 

Blue gave a more aggressive shove to his brother, but Stretch anticipated it, so he did little more than sway to the other side slightly upon impact.

 

Unsatisfying. But. Someone needed to be the bigger person. And given Blue was unable to do so physically...

 

“I think that your theory was largely based on your ability to make a pun at the end.”

 

“an', i , the great papyrus, think that you are closed off to new theories that ain'tcher own.”

 

“OH. WOW. WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT??” Blue grabbed at his brother’s arm to drag him towards a building.

 

… According to the map the priest had drawn up, this should be the hot springs.

 

“GUESS WE’RE HERE!!!”

 

 

A few moments later, Blue looked up at his brother innocently.  “Sorry, Papy, did you say something?”

 

 

A small huff of laughter, “nah, bro.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Blue would have liked to say that the springs were delightful. They certainly were beautiful , with the surrounding forest area and the iridescent, magical pools of water out back (the springs had formed as the result of the area being naturally abundant in ambient magic), not to mention the tour guide had been so helpful and kind (if a little - a lot - chatty), however - 

 

The Presence. Got. Worse. And. Worse.

 

Stepping into the building was like stepping into a container of pressurized air - he got a headache within the first five minutes of the tour. Which. Might have been partly to the credit of the guide chatting the ears he didn't have right off his skull.

 

Stretch hadn’t done any better - Blue’s brother had stepped out for ‘some fresh air’ after only a few minutes.

 

Blue had gotten a text a few seconds later stating that Stretch was ‘scoping out’ the town. He’d be back in time for dinner.

 

Figured.

 

The tour guide seemed to be none the wiser of the Presence, but clued into Blue’s struggles fairly early.

 

“Are you okay?” She asked, gently placing her hand on his shoulder. “Is the hot air too much?”

 

Politely yet firmly, Blue pulled her hand off him, and smiled reassuringly. He stood up straighter and willed the sweat away from his forehead - he could not afford to show any weakness with a demon on the loose.

 

With his luck, it was likely hiding around the corner, waiting to strike.

 

“No, skeleton monsters aren’t sensitive to temperature like humans.” He explained. She was a bunny monster, hardly as clueless as most humans, but skeletons were a category unto themselves. Blue would have been far more concerned about her had she displayed any signs of heatstroke, seeing as she was covered in fur.

 

“Is it something else, then?”

 

Which completely threw the short skeleton through a loop, because wasn’t it obvious? The Presence was swirling around him, mingling with his magic and pressing down down down on him.

 

Honestly, it was a little astounding that she was still standing at all to Blue.

 

“You don’t….” Blue twirled his fingers in the air, pointing to nothing yet still attempting to get his idea across, “Feel that? At all?”

 

“Is it the humidity? It’s really terrible this time of year, but I’ve lived here for awhile,”

 

“No no no no,” Blue paused her, moving his hands around more insistently, “I mean the pressure .” He used that particular word to describe the feel of the Presence, because to most uneducated in Exorcism, demonic energy demonstrated itself as intense pressure.

 

Of course, having much experience in the realm of the unholy, Blue was able to recognize the probing feeling for what it was.

 

However, her own naivety shouldn’t shield her from feeling it at all, which is what made her tolerance for it so insane to him.

 

“... Press…. ure ?” The bunny’s head tilted between the syllables, ears drooping slightly before they perked back up. “Oh! That . Well. It’ll go away soon, think of it as an… adjustment period. If you want to move it along, I suggest you go to Grillby’s.”

 

Adjustment period.

 

“I’ve lived here all my life, but I just recently started working at the Springs last summer - it hit me hard , but it went away after only a few days…”

 

The tour guide continued to ramble on, but Blue didn’t hear her.

 

Could what he had previously assumed to be demonic energy simply be an effect of the ambient magic of the valley this village was rooted in? Was Blue's experience not as extensive as he'd assumed. He could have figured the dense aura of magic would feel more… relaxing, though.

 

But. There was still the matter of its aggressiveness . Ambient magic didn’t try to get into your head like demonic energy.

 

“And you say it’ll help if I go to this… Grillby’s ?” He asked.

 

She brightened, “Yup! The Master always suggests it to guests who are staying in town for a short while, and it seems to work for each one! They come back here as good as new, and with full bellies!”

 

Blue assumed the ‘Master’ to be the owner of the Springs, who he’s yet to have met.

 

“All of his stock is local, so maybe it has something to do with helping your body adjust to the magic? I don’t know, but I’m sure you’ll be fine either way. The Master told me you were here on business, though, so I think you’d be able to focus better if you went sooner…”

 

And she started off again with the rambling. Blue knew that he should be paying attention - any scrap of information about this town was helpful when trying to root out a demon, but the energy around him was simply draining .

 

She had mentioned that Grillby’s was a restaurant… likely a good place to start with his investigation.

 

“Is Grillby’s popular among locals?” Blue tried his best to make the question casual as he didn’t want to potentially tip off any locals to his investigation.

 

Telling people their village was under surveillance to find a demon was a good way to not only incite panic, but also many a nasty looks. They always seemed to think that Blue was the one who brought the demon, disregarding the fact that his job was to get rid of it .

 

“Yup! Personally, I don’t make it out that often, but some of the other girls who work here don’t mind picking some up for me during lunch -”

 

“Thank you, you’ve been very helpful,” Blue cut her off. “But I have some business to attend to. May I have my room key?”

 

The bunny lady fumbled around in her pockets for a few moments before handing over a key.

 

“Sorry about that! Me and the other girls have been trying to convince the Master to switch to key cards, but technology like that always fritzes out here!”

 

Blue offered her a tired grin - emphasis on the tired. How much air did her lungs need to talk so much??

 

“No problem. I’ll take my leave now.”

 

But, as he was walking away - 

 

“Excuse me?? Sir? You’re going the wrong way! Room fourteen is in the east wing!”

 

“Sorry, thank you…” Blue murmured, hurriedly walking in the opposite direction, a slight blue flush overtaking his skull.

 

Maybe he shouldn’t have tuned so much of the tour out, after all…

 

“It’s no problem! When I first started working here, I got lost at least five times a day - Oh! Okay, bye, sir!“

 

On the other hand, maybe it was justified.

 

---

 

Once safely inside his room, Blue sat down heavily on one of the twin-sized beds and took out his phone to text Stretch.

 

MagnificentMe

4:17 p.m.

 

BROTHER!!!!

WHERE ARE YOU???

I HAVE A LEAD!!

A RESTAURANT… CALLED GRILLBY’S!

I BELIEVE SOMEONE THERE MIGHT HAVE INFORMATION!!

IT’S APPARENTLY POPULAR AMONG LOCALS!!

 

TallLazyBrother

4:19 p.m.

 

kay

meet u ther?

 

Blue rolled his eye lights in his skull - his brother’s grammar got worse everyday.

 

MagnificentMe

4:19 p.m.

 

I’LL BE THERE IN THIRTY MINUTES!!!

YOU BETTER BE THERE!!!

OR ELSE….

NO HONEY FOR THE REST OF THE TRIP!!!

I MEANT!

BUSINESS TRIP!

BECAUSE…

WE’RE HERE ON BUSINESS!!

STRICTLY SERIOUS BUSINESS….

NOT!!

FUNNY BUSINESS!!!

 

TallLazyBrother

4:20 p.m.

 

lol.

no probb

<image attached>

 

It was a picture of Stretch at the bar of some restaurant. Wait… the neon, light-up sign he was posing in front of… said… Grillby’s?! If Blue had eyes, they would have been nearly popping out of his eye sockets in frustration.

 

MagnificentMe

4:21 p.m.

 

HOW??

DID YOU GET THERE BEFORE ME????

NEVER MIND.
DON’T TELL ME.

STAY THERE AND START INTERROGATING THE LOCALS!!

I MEAN QUESTIONING!!

ACTUALLY…

DON’T TALK TO ANYONE UNTIL I GET THERE!!

I MEAN IT!!

I BETTER NOT HEAR ABOUT A TALL, LAZY, ORANGE SKELETON CAUSING MISCHIEF!

YOU’LL RUIN OUR REPUTATION BEFORE WE DO ANYTHING!!

… ALSO

DON’T TELL ANYBODY WHAT WE’RE HERE FOR!!

WE MUST NOT CAUSE ANY PANIC!

ALSO ALSO… WE MUST HAVE THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE AGAINST THE DEMON!

 

TallLazyBrother

4:23 p.m.

 

uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

okjay

i wonyt tell any1 elsw

 

MagnificentMe

4:23 p.m.

 

WHAT DO YOU MEAN, ‘ANYONE ELSE’???

PAPY????

HOW MANY PEOPLE DID YOU TELL??

ANSWER ME!!!!

 

Three minutes ticked by without a reply, so Blue once again pocketed his phone and exited his room. 

 

He really had to do everything, didn’t he?

 

Luckily, Grillby’s was a short walk from the Springs, especially with Blue’s brisk pace, so he arrived in around twenty minutes, well ahead of the time he’d set. Sure enough, his lazy (and possibly inebriated brother - Good Goddess, did he lie about his age again?) was sitting at the bar, head pillowed in his arms.

 

Blue calmly stalked up to the bar, standing behind his giggling brother for a few moments, gathering himself.

 

“sir?”

 

A voice to Blue’s right caught his attention before he could start scolding his brother, causing him to turn.Stretch, apparently recognizing the voice, turned in his seat, as well, grinning widely.

 

“ooooooohhh~ hey, spikey bro…. w-watchu doin’ here?”

 

The owner of the voice, a short and stocky skeleton, only slightly taller than Blue himself with shark-like triangle teeth (one being gold), a large crack traveling up from his right eye socket and clawed phalanges, gave an exasperated sigh.

 

“i wadn’t talkin’ ta ya , brat.”

 

The skeleton turned to the very confused Blue and put on a customer-service smile he was all too familiar with. Stretch grumbled and put his skull in his arms to close his eyes.

 

“sorry ‘bout dat, sir. anythin’ i c’n getcha? a seat? drink?”

 

Blue shook his head negative, feeling a little miffed. Who was this skeleton…?

 

A cursory glance at his attire clued Blue into the fact that he was a server, but there was something… off about him.

 

“No, no….” Blue said, then immediately felt like kicking himself. He was supposed to be investigating this joint!! Which would be very hard to do without getting a seat.

 

“I-I mean, yes,” he corrected, “I’m sorry about my brother here. I was going to have a bite, but it seems he needs to be taken back to our living arrangements.”

 

The other skeleton gave Blue a once over, as well. 

 

“yer dis kid’s bro?”

 

“Yes, sorry for the trouble.”

 

At Blue’s confirmation, the server’s demeanor changed. He was still smiling, but it seemed off. More off than before. He looked like he was evaluating Blue, grin between a smirk and something else.

 

“ey, it ain’t a problem. get brats in ‘ere like ‘im all da damn time. ’fact, my own kid bro’s prone ta trouble.” He snickered, patting the stool next to Stretch for Blue to take a seat before heading around to the other side of the bar.

 

“‘s it true what ‘e said, tho? yer both exorcists?”

 

Stretch drug his skull up from where it had been pillowed on his arms to give an indignant look over to the server. “i’mmmmnot a liar!!”

 

“ya ain’t ‘xactly sober, ei’der, kid.”

 

“i’mmmnot a kid…” 

 

Blue groaned, ignoring his brother’s whining. Was this what he meant when he said he wouldn’t tell ‘anybody else’? He’d already spilled his metaphorical guts to the bartender like a classic drunk.

 

“Don’t listen to him, he’s only eighteen.” The short skeleton snapped in Stretch’s direction.

 

The other skeleton - Red , if his name tag was accurate - blinked in surprise. “really? thought ‘e was younger.”

 

“And yet you still served him alcohol?” Blue couldn’t hold back the bite in his tone if he’d tried to. Not that he had.

 

“woah, woah,” Red defended, holding up his hands in surrender. “‘course not. th’ brat grabbed a drink i was slidin’ towards sum’mon else and drank it all down in ‘un go. i wan’ned t’ call sum’on, but ‘e said ‘is bro was pickin’ ‘im up.”

 

“yyyyooouu said it was coke!” Stretch grouched.

 

“short fer rum an’ coke , brat.” Red spat back.

 

yyyooouuuu’rrree shoorrrttt, spikey bro.” Stretch's skull once again fell to his arms, where it didn't lift again. Blue assumed his brother must have passed out. Well. Might as well make himself comfortable.

 

“whatevah,” Red rolled his (hypnotizing, crimson) eye lights before turning back to Blue. His gaze was intense again, grin funny. “so, what? never answered mah quest’in. y’all exorcists ‘r what?”

 

Blue saw no reason to lie when Stretch had already spilled the beans - the best he could hope for was to do some damage control.

 

“Yes, we’re here investigating a supposed demon. I’m meeting with the local priest tomorrow.”

 

“that asshole? heh, he try an’ convince ya we got sum spooky shit goin’ on?” Red laughed, but he looked tense.

 

“Language, Red . And, yes. He’s been sending me letters for months trying to get me to visit, but I refused until the recent murder.”

 

Red stiffened further, grin souring before it turned up again, fakely . “hnn? oh, yeh. happened jus’ down th’ street. real spooky. if ya ask me , tho, fucker deserved it.”

 

Blue quirked his brow ridge up at the other skeleton, “I don’t believe anybody deserves to be mauled by a demon, or to have his SOUL eaten.”

 

“... his SOUL was eaten?”

 

Realizing he’d given away too much information, Blue shut his mouth. “I, uh, sorry. That’s classified information. Don’t be afraid, though, I’m quite good at what I do. I’m sure I’ll have that demon gone in no time, so be it, or if I’m not the Magnificent Blue, mweh!”

 

Red’s tense shoulders dropped a little, a small, genuine laugh leaving his teeth. “guess dat’s good, then, huh?”

 

Something that felt suspiciously like Blue’s SOUL gave a little flutter, but he disguised his sudden fluster by covering his teeth with the back of his hand.

 

“Y-Yes! If you wouldn’t mind, could I get a drink…?”

 

Red smirked, grabbing a glass from under the bar. “got any special requests?”

 

Blue waved his hand, slight blush now gone.

 

“House special, if you will? I’m not exactly a lightweight.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

How did I get this drunk?

 

Blue’s body was hot, burning with intoxication. His eye lights occasionally grazed the bar and its occupants - however, every minute or so he found his gaze trained on the red skeleton moving around, taking orders, serving drinks and laughing with certain patrons.

 

Whilst his eye lights were free to wander, however, his body had lost most of its function - his skull was heavy and his bones sluggish. In contrast, his magic was buzzing excitedly in his bones, amped with the added magic that came from the alcohol he drank.

 

He was lapsing between moments of consciousness, almost like he was only seeing the night in brief flashes.

 

Blue only remembered the burn of alcohol, getting duller with every drink he consumed.

 

He remembered concerned voices, a basket of fries placed in front of him, someone was giving him a glass of something clear and cool… water…

 

Then his brother was nudging gently at his lax body, Blue closing his eyes as he was moved…

 

 

 And he awoke with the worst hangover of his life. His skull felt as though it was imploding, his tongue had manifested itself due to his extremely dry mouth, and his vision was blurry when he tried to blink away the pain in his head.

 

“Papy?” Blue weakly called, hoping to at least get some reassurance that his brother was okay - especially after a night of drinking so heavily he could hardly remember what had happened.

 

He doesn’t even remember how he got back to the hotel room…

 

And he was at the hotel room - the bed felt the same, and the light that was currently irritating the shit out of him was coming from the same direction he remembered the window being in.

 

A quiet snore was the only response he got.

 

Blue sighed. At least it was confirmation of life.

 

Pushing himself up with a groan, Blue glanced around the room.

 

Just as he remembered it, albeit a tad… messier. Out of the corner of his socket, Blue glanced at the time and nearly dropped back onto the bed. He nearly dropped out of existence.

 

It was already past noon. Meaning.

 

That he was late by more than a few hours to his meeting with the priest.

 

He was LATE!!! To a MEETING!!!

 

Not to mention that he was hungover, and there was a large chance his underage brother was too, and didn’t that just set the best example - !

 

If this got back to the Academy, Blue was screwed. He dropped his head to his phalanges with a painful ‘thunk’ and groaned pitifully.

 

…. Was it too late to ask the priest for a rain check? Say something came up? Maybe that he was following a new lead?

 

Not that there was a lead - last night he was supposed to question the locals, but ended up overestimating his drinking ability (had it really been that long?) and getting too drunk to move.

 

Blue might have banged his skull against the wall if it didn’t already feel like his mistakes from last night where already doing it for him. “Mweh…” He bemoaned.

 

Extracting himself from his bed, Blue headed straight for the shower to get ready and hopefully push the steady ache out of his head. He passed Stretch on his way there and gave him a small kick to help with the ‘waking up’ process.

 

“GET UP, LAZYBONES!!”

 

Ow ow ow ow.

 

Going on Stretch’s merely half annoyed response, it had definitely hurt Blue more than him to do that.

 

Oh well. The sacrifices he makes as an older brother.

 

//////

 

Blue’s shower was quick, but did a number on his hangover, helping him to thankfully restrain it to a tiny annoyance at the back of his mind. Luckily, Stretch was also being particularly agreeable for once, already dressed in one of his cleaner outfits, staring at his phone on his bed by the time Blue was fully ready in his dark jeans and a sweater.

 

“hey, bro?” He asked, idly swiping at the screen.

 

“What, Papy?”

 

“you think they got internet here? don’t really want to use all of my data for the month on your ‘business trip’.” He showed Blue his screen, which was opened up to the settings where it showed zero nearby networks to connect to.

 

“plus, the service sucks. takes, like, ten minutes for something to load up.”

 

Looking for too long at the device caused the pounding in Blue’s head to start up again, so he pushed it away. “I don’t know, Jerry . Ask one of the employees here.”

 

Stretch raised a brow ridge at Blue in surprise, “ some one’s grumpy this morning. what, did that waiter guy turn you down?”

 

It took Blue a few moments to connect the dots, a brilliant azure flush covering his skull at the implication. He nearly screeched into his hands as he hid his face.

 

“W-WHAT???” He took a few deep breaths before lowering his hands and giving his brother a stern expression. Which. Probably wasn’t too effective since he was still blushing like mad. “Why?? Why would you even ASK something like that?”

 

Sure, Red was interesting and certainly not unattractive , but the point stands that Blue’s known him for less than a day and only while he was working… while they were both…. ‘Working’....

 

Blue uses the term lightly to describe what he’d been doing at the bar that night.

 

Stretch shrugged, going back to tapping on his phone. “you seemed pretty in to him last night.” he snickered lightly at his own joke.

 

Blue’s blush steadily rose.

 

“I-I didn’t, did I…?”

 

Snorting, Stretch tossed his apparently now useless phone to the side as he made himself more comfortable on the bed - putting his arms up and behind his head like a pillow.

 

“nah, you don’t have that much game. plus i was there so it probably woulda been pretty awkward if the two of you started hooking up.”

 

Blue’s flat look returned. “So glad I have a brother like you to watch out for me.”

 

Fluttering fake eyelashes, Stretch fanned his face, “awe, shucks, bro. still didn’t tell me why you’re in such a bad mood.”

 

“It’s called a hangover.”

 

Stretch blinked, actually surprised.

 

“skeletons get those?”

 

This earned an even flatter look from Blue.

 

“Being a skeleton does not exclude you from basic monster soul biology.”

 

Blue’s younger brother whistled, expression growing smug.

 

“heh, maybe it’s just a me thing then, ‘cause i don’t feel any worse than usual.”

 

Blue tried to shove down his jealousy and sighed. “As wonderful as this conversation is, we’re late for a meeting - “

 

“that’s still on? i thought the priest woulda cancelled since you slept in so long.”

 

Grinding his teeth, the shorter skeleton continues, “As I was saying, we’re late for an important meeting so we should head out now .”

 

Stretch reluctantly followed Blue out into the hallway, where to his eternal luck , the bunny lady from yesterday was walking by.

 

Oh joy.

 

What a gift.

 

To make matters even better , she recognized them instantly.

 

“Mister Blue!! I was worried about you when you didn’t leave your room this morning, I’m glad to see that you’re alright - “

 

Stretch grumbled something about being “chopped liver”, but Blue ignored him.

 

Blue offered the lady a sheepish grin, “Ah, I’m okay, just had a bit too much fun at Grillby’s yesterday.”

 

She giggled.

 

“I figured! Mister Red doesn’t usually bring people back to the Springs, but I recognized you and your brother and figured that must have been what happened! By the way, how are you feeling? Is the pressure still bothering you?”

 

Red ...? Brought him back ...? How had the server even known where he was staying? There was something distinctly suspicious about this.

 

“I’m feeling…” Actually, besides the hangover, Blue was feeling much better than yesterday. The Demonic Presence that had plagued him yesterday was gone. If he dug deep into himself to feel around, all he could detect now was a gentle, almost curious probing. Curious.

 

Imagine that. The thought of a demon being curious , almost amused , as the almost playful edge to the magic would have suggested.

 

“Great. Actually. But, about Red,”

 

Bunny Lady squealed, waving to someone behind Blue, much to his confusion. Beside Blue, Stretch glanced back and straightened in surprise.

 

“speak of th’ devil,” Stretch intoned.

 

“i ain’t th’ devil, but ‘m pretty close,” A rough voice joked. A rough voice that sounded very familiar and very much like a certain Red skeleton whose name was also Red. Blue whirled around in shock, coming face-to-face with, yes, the skeleton of the hour, Red.

 

Well. Not exactly face-to-face seeing as Red maintained a respectful distance. The skeleton’s cordiality was something Blue found himself appreciating quite a bit.

 

“Good morning, Mister Red!” The bunny called.

 

“mornin’, bun.” He replied, then turned his attention to the skeletons in front of him. “how’re ya two doin’?”

 

Bun, apparently, waved goodbye soon after, leaving the skeletons to talk among themselves.

 

Stretch hummed, pointing to Blue. “this one’s hungover as all hell but i’m fired up.

 

The smallest, blue skeleton sighed in a dismayed manner, dragging his hand down his face. Well. There goes what little credibility the brothers had left in this town. Their reputation would be forever tarnished by the scene they undoubtedly caused last night, and , as a cherry on top, Stretch was making puns again.

 

To Blue’s surprise, the slightly taller skeleton let out a few chortles of laughter. “awe, man, ya got quite th’ funny bone onya , don’tcha?” Red turned to Blue, next, pointing to the tallest skeleton. “ey, i take it back, this kid’s great. ya raised ‘im real good.”

 

Stretch took the opportunity to show off, throwing his arm over an irritated Blue’s head to talk casually with Red. “he doesn’t got anything to do with it! tibia honest, he’s real sternum about my humor.”

 

“eyyyy,” Red snickered. “looks like ya got a femur up yer sleeve, huh? heh, my bro’s the same though. think i mentioned him last night? fucker’d have a stars damned conniption if ‘e heard us right now…”

 

Blue prayed to the Good Goddess Toriel for patience in this trying time. When the two were finished with their sub-par jokes, he pried his brother’s arm from his skull and crossed his own arms over his rib cage.

 

Tibia honest, I wouldn’t blame him. The two of you simply aren’t humerus.

 

Stretch pouted while Red absolutely exploded with laughter.

 

Goddess… Red was easily amused… Blue didn’t find himself quite minding, though. In fact, he almost felt something akin to pride bubbling up in his rib cage as he observed the skeleton who was laughing himself into stitches.

 

… That red flush over his face looked kind of nice, actually…

 

!!

 

Blue found himself startling at the thought that had popped into his skull, unbidden. The oddness of it (and yes, only that, Blue refused to think further into the warmth that was spreading in his SOUL) caused a small blue blush to overcome his own skull - though he easily hid it with a hand.

 

Stars…! And he wasn’t even drunk this time.

 

This time. Oh Goddess… the guide… Bun, had it been? Had mentioned Red carrying Blue in. That was something he was never going to live down - if it was true, of course.

 

“heh, maybe ya ain’t th’ stick in th’ mud yer brother made’ja out t’ be.” Red’s voice was a deep, rolling timbre still lightened from his laughter, and no, Blue did not find it particularly enjoyable, not at all.

 

That would be unprofessional and childish .

 

“Well, I would say he loves to drag my name through that very same mud , but that would be giving him too much credit. I don’t think he could drag anything heavier than his own feet to the refrigerator.”

 

“hey!” 

 

Stretch’s protest went largely unheaded as the two continued in their banter, however.

 

“hm? so yer name’s pretty weighty, then?” Red’s tone was curious and slightly flirtatious - that was, if Blue wasn’t getting to full of himself to assume that this skeleton might be interested.

 

“I’m proficient in my field, but I wouldn’t go throwing it around if I were you, no.” Obviously, Blue was only engaging back in order to be polite.

 

“makes sense that a priest would say somethin’ like tha’.” The red-toned skeleton was almost purring , which Blue was certain wasn’t his own ego or imagination. (But the slight bite as Red mentioned Blue’s profession could have been.)

 

It felt almost… nice… to be doing something like this after so long of focusing on his job. 

 

Except. Blue was literally on the job . Right now. At this moment. Great. Two days back in the field and Blue was getting drunk and flirting with potential leads.

 

Exorcist . I don’t teach sermons.” Blue felt it was an important distinction.

 

“shucks,  guess i can’ call ya father, then.”

 

Blue almost choked. He was sure his skull was burning as he replied. This skeleton…!

 

“T-Technically, that would not be a… proper title.”

 

“can we please stop talking about your daddy kink.” Stretch sounded casual as he said this, but one glance revealed that his own skull was neon orange. Maybe it was time to end this line of conversation….

 

Thankfully, Red relented, clicking his tongue.

 

“priests were always a lil’ too preachy fer me, anyways.” Red shrugged.

 

“Well!” Blue clasped his hands together, smiling kindly at the slightly taller skeleton. “This conversation has been lovely, and I do hope to see you again! Unfortunately, my brother and I have business in town, but I wish you a blessed day.”

 

Red gave the brothers an easy smile, looking so soft for a moment, that Blue completely disregarded the spiky teeth, cracks and chips that marred the skeleton in front of them. All he could see was Red . Kind and gentlemanly…

 

“hey, everyday under th’ sun is a blessin’, huh?”

 

“I couldn’t put it better myself!” Blue returned the soft smile, before remembering, “Oh! And thank you for the assist last night. Ms. Bun mentioned that you brought us back here, I’m sorry for the inconvenience.”

 

Almost as if he’d just recalled it himself, a small pink hue barely covered Red’s cheekbones, and his hand came up to scratch at it like it was an itch. “oh, don’ worry ‘bout that. i live here, too, y’know? fells- i mean, m’ dad, he own’s th’ place.”

 

Interesting. Well. That explained how Red had found the place and known Bun.

 

“‘kay. thanks for everything, reddy-boy, but we got somewhere to be ~ ” Stretch, after finishing, promptly began to drag Blue away faster than he thought his brother was capable of going.

 

When they were out of earshot of the red skeleton, Stretch turned to his brother with a cheeky grin.

 

“Don’t say it…” Blue grumbled.

 

 

Chapter Text

“you’re so into him.”

 

You’re about to be into some trouble if you don’t drop it.” Blue replied in a warning tone, avoiding eye contact with his brother. Mostly because Stretch was One Hundred Percent Correct. Blue, apparently, did have quite a ‘thing’ for the red skeleton.

 

But that would be absolutely endless teasing material for his younger brother, so Blue was trying to let that die out.

 

“can’t fool me, bro. i saw you two last night… nyeh… you want to bone him, hmm?” Stretch snickered, patting his pockets before turning glum. “damn, forgot i left my cigs at home…”

 

Scowling, Blue huffed. His skull was probably bright Blue (when was the last time he’d met a monster who interested him like Red did…?) as he replied, “I do NOT want to hear anymore about me and… the son of the Springs’ owner.”

 

“alright… alright…” Stretch relented, even while holding a small quirk to his grin.

 

“I mean it!” Blue reiterated.

 

“i gotcha, bro, seriously. ‘sides, don’t we have a meeting with that priest?”

 

Finally calming, Blue nodded. “Yes! Originally, we were supposed to meet at nine o’ clock at the church… but something tells me he’s still there.”

 

“there’s those powers of deduction you’re famous for.”

 

“Watch it,” Blue scolded with a playful eye roll. “Besides, it’s only the second day! Everybody… ah… has trouble the first days!”

 

“uh huh.”

 

“Excuse me, but who here has seven years of experience as an exorcist?”

 

“way to toot your own horn, bro, but you’d have experience being horny , wouldn’t y-” Blue jumped up to slap a hand over Stretch’s mouth, giving him an exasperated look, cheeks bright blue.

 

“STOP IT!! No more talking about Red today, got it??? Zip, Zilch, Nada.”

 

“...”

 

Stretch grinned. Blue’s face paled in realization.

 

“... i didn’t say anything about red…”

 

“Well… you were implying it!” Blue insisted with narrow and suspicious sockets.

 

“i wasn’t, actually.” Stretch countered with a victorious look, “was supposed to be a joke abut blue balls, but go on, incriminate yourself.”

 

“DESIRING RELATIONS WITH A FELLOW ADULT IS NOT A CRIME!” Blue burst with a neon skull, slapping his hands over his teeth right after.

 

“woah, bro, might not want to talk about your desires in public.”

 

Blue’s expression became downright poisonous before Stretch relented. “okay, okay, for real, i’ll stop.” When Blue didn’t let up, he showed his hands in a display of surrender. “no joke, promise.”

 

Still mistrustful, Blue hesitantly changed the conversation. “Regarding the Presence - “

 

“‘s that still bothering you?”

 

“If you would let me finish ,” Blue made a noise like he was clearing his throat, “It seems to have changed intent. This is… rare, unprecedented , even. The demon must be smarter than I originally gave it credit for.”

 

“you’re saying it’s… trying to hide?”

 

“Not quite . It’s… playful. It might see us as a sort of challenge, or even a game .”

 

Stretch shrugged, “maybe it’s a nice demon.”

 

“As much as I would like to believe in such a thing as nice demons, I would like to remind you of the brutally maimed corpse it left as a little present for us a week ago.” Blue sighed as he said, looking to the side thoughtfully.

 

What did the sudden change in intent mean…? Blue could make speculations, sure, and he was fairly confident in his ability to make accurate guesses, too.

 

Demons were sentient creatures, just like monsters and humans, though. Trying to guess their motivation was like trying to guess the motivation behind a blitz murder commited by a stranger. Which is, essentially, exactly what Blue was trying to do.

 

Unlike any other monster or human, though, demons were slippery. Their ability to lie and hide outmatched any criminal.

 

It was possible that anybody in Grillby’s bar last night was the demon, watching them. It was a slightly unnerving thought, considering Blue had let his guard down…

 

“hey, you never asked red more about the murder. it did happen across the street from where he works.”

 

Before Blue could scold Stretch for bringing up Red again, he realized that his brother had a point. Inwardly, he kicked himself for passing up the opportunity to investigate. In fact, it seemed like Red had been the one doing an interrogation when Blue looked back on it…

 

“Well,” Blue considered, “he does live here. I’m sure I can request a meet-up and try to get a little information then.”

 

“...” 

 

It went unsaid, but the two brothers were thinking the exact same thing.

 

So, a date, then .

 

...

 

The brothers chose to walk in silence from that point on, indulging in a semi-comfortable silence.

 

At least , Blue reasoned, we’re not talking about my love life anymore…

 

Not that… Blue had a love life… 

 

He often times told himself it was because his job kept him busy, but seeing as his old boss, Alphys, had a girlfriend, he really couldn’t keep feeding himself and his brother the same excuses. The more time went on, the more Blue thought that maybe he just wasn’t cut out for romance.

 

It wasn’t as if he didn’t want to have that perfect, fairy-tale romance (He’d always fancied the idea of being a knight, known for his bravery and charm - and likewise, the idea of finding a maiden or someone to protect and impress), but it simply wasn’t realistic. He was a monster based on schedules and logic.

 

Romance relied on neither.

 

“bro.”

 

Maybe he was setting a bad example for his younger brother? The younger skeleton didn’t have any examples of healthy relationships in his life…

 

“bro.”

 

Of course, there was Undyne and Alphys, who were a lovely couple, but they were rarely around since Alphys got transferred to a different department two towns away and Undyne followed…

 

bro.

 

Perhaps he should have a conversation with his brother about toxic relationships and how to set proper boundaries…?

 

“bro…” Stretch grabbed Blue’s shoulder and dragged him back a few feet. “you overshot the church by a few buildings…”

 

Blue looked up to see that he had, indeed, walked right by the large stone building. “By the Stars! I nearly made us even later…”

 

“no complaint here, bro. churches give me the creeps. y’know, they send shivers down my spine and everything.” Even despite the pun, the tension in Stretch’s tension betrayed his real discomfort.

 

Lending an annoyed look to his brother, Blue climbed the steps up to the giant wooden doors of the church. “Entitled as you are to your own opinions, I’d rather you not repeat that in front of the priest. He’s been very patient throughout this entire ordeal, so I’d like you to be respectful.”

 

“you know me. my middle name’s respect.”

 

“I seem to remember dad naming you - “

 

The doors swung open before Blue could finish calling Stretch out, revealing an angry old human man. He donned neat clothes and the signature white collar worn by priests. And. The foulest scowl on his face since Stretch had accused Blue of being horny on main.

 

“Demons! Get out of here, haven’t I told you!” The man shouted, fleshy face red .

 

“Excuse me?” Blue asked, absorbing the abuse as amicably as possible. “Father Rodger?”

 

“Don’t speak my name, you foul beast!” As he was about to slam the door shut in their faces, Stretch caught the momentum of the giant wooden doors with magic and kept them open. The spark of orange light in the taller skeleton’s eye socket seemed to frighten the man, whose face turned from red to white.

 

“nyeh. sure is a strange way to greet the guys you begged to be here.”

 

“Y-you… you’re…”

 

“Blue, and this is my brother, Papyrus.”

 

(Disapproving as Blue was of his brother’s intimidation tactics, it was a little more than gratifying to see the man who’d cursed them reduced to such a fearful state.)

 

“yo, call me stretch.”

 

“This is…” The man, pulling a complete one eighty, became quiet, releasing the doors he had attempted to slam. Stretch released them from his magical control after, casually walking in.

 

Blue followed him, albeit reluctantly. 

 

This was... not the sort of welcoming he had anticipated.

 

“... Not what I was expecting.” Father Rodger finished, giving the brothers apprehensive looks. Slowly, the man sat in one of the pews, which were lined parallely to each other, facing the front of the building.

 

Blue chose to remain standing close to the door, while Stretch laid himself across one of the rows a few aisles down from Father Rodger.

 

The stone church was as bare and simple as it was on the outside, only notable features being the high rafted ceilings, stained glass windows depicting The Good Goddess and some of her patrons. At the front of the giant room was an altar with typical offerings to The Goddess, like flowers or fine crops.

 

“How so?” Blue inquired, folding his hands like he did when he knew he was going to want to slap a bitch.

 

“So…” Father Rodger gestured to Blue, “beast-like. Unholy.”

 

Oh yeah. Blue was definitely going to have to restrain himself on this. His fingers twitched, as did his grin.

 

“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean, Father Rodger…?”

 

Father Rodger, unaware of his offense, rambled on. “Oh, I’m sure you’ve gotten it before. Not to be crass, but you look deathly . There’s a few miscreants in the town who bear a striking resemblance to the two of you… as you’ve noticed, I don’t take well to them being near my church.”

 

Blue had a feeling he knew exactly (or at least one of) the skeletons Father Rodger was speaking about. Though he knew Red to have a rough exterior, Blue also knew through conversation that Red was a kind monster.

 

It was rather obvious that the priest was biased.

 

“Well… appearences aside, I would like to speak with you about the recent murder,”

 

“Yes! Of course, I’ve compiled a list of the local riff-raff, among them those who I believe to be capable of committing the foul act of summoning a demon - “ The priest, in his haste to accuse, seemed almost excited about the prospects of one of his suspects being the perpetrator.

 

“... I’m sure that will be…” Blue chose his words carefully, “helpful, in the future, but at the moment I want to talk more about the murder itself.”

 

The priest nodded, placing his hands in his lap while he recounted the event.

 

“It was quite terrible! They found him the morning after, you know the police in this area are awful at their jobs! He was in an alley across from that bar, you know…” Another vague gesture was made, similar to the one where Father Rodger had called Blue’s appearance unholy .

 

“The monster one.” The human decided on. “His body was all bent out of shape, with beastly bites taken out of him - “

 

Blue held up a hand, remembering the grisly photos he’d seen. “That’s… well, I saw the photos. Is there anything you can tell me about the man? Anybody who might have wanted to harm him?”

 

The priest looked a little irked at being interrupted, but continued on without delay.

 

“Thomas was a good man, I can’t think of a single righteous SOUL who would do such a thing. He was a member of the church, came in every thursday.” Father Rodger’s face twisted, “quite prone to… temptation… though. I’m not surprise hanging around that establishment is what did him in. Especially with the type who hung around.”

 

Trying his best to ignore the blatant racism, Blue grit his teeth and asked another question.

 

“So you would say he hung around Grillby’s often, then? Did he have any friends, there?”

 

“Not by his own fault, I assure you!” The priest huffed, “it’s those… unholy ones! They tempt him and many others of our once great community, to intermingle, to - it’s, it’s not right, I tell you!”

 

Blue’s brow bone twitched.

 

“Sorry, Father Rodger, you didn’t answer my question.”

 

YES! ” The old man exclaimed, “Tommy was very familiar with those monsters! I wouldn’t say they were friends of his, he seemed to enjoy dalliances with the beasts.”

 

The blue skeleton elected to ignore that. He needed to focus on his job - as much as Blue wished he could leave this man to the hands of a hungry demon, there were many innocents in this town who didn’t deserve the fate of being killed like Thomas was.

 

“You need to get rid of this demon - It was toying with his mind, I’m sure, to make him want creatures - no offense, but really, I’m sure you agree that our species should not mix. It’s just not right! Perverted, disgusting!”

 

“Father Thomas.”

 

“I’m sure you have a nice monster lady waiting for you at home, don’t you? Perhaps you can talk some sense into those others . You seem to be exceptionally civilised for your kind.”

 

“Father - “

 

“Maybe you can even reason with that half-wit youngest son of the owner of the Springs, the little bastard seems to enjoy causing mischief,”

 

“Father!”

 

The old man stopped, looking at Blue in shock.

 

“That’s quite enough,” Blue scolded. “I’ve heard more than I needed to. I’ll investigate Grillby’s. If I find anything of interest I’ll notify you.”

 

And with that, Blue swept out of the church, barely resisting the urge to slam the doors shut in a show of anger.

 

Stretch was already waiting outside, leaning on the wall of the building with his hands in his pockets. The last time Blue had seen him, he was still laid out on the pews. Must have teleported.

 

“i could really use a smoke after that.”

 

Blue might have chided Stretch if he didn’t share a very similar sentiment.

 

“We’re going to Grillby’s.”

 

“lit. a drink works, too.”

 

“You’re not drinking.”

 

“damn.”


“The Good Goddess is - You know what. Fuck it. DAMN .”

Chapter Text

 

 

The bar was exactly the same as when Blue had first entered. It had a nice, warm feeling that wasn’t overpowering and an atmosphere of grease . Blue loved it. Stretch seemed much less tolerable of the establishment when he wasn’t hammered.

 

“this place feels grosser than i remember.”

 

“Says the one who left a puddle of honey on his bathroom floor, stepped in it with his socks then didn’t change them for a week.”

 

“you said you wouldn’t talk about that!”

 

“I make no promises.”

 

“HEYYYY!” A monster, a muscular rabbit who looked like he belonged in Alphys’ guard called out. “It’s YOU!!” He looked around his table, a group of bunnies playing go-fish and grinned.

 

“It’s the guy! I told you about him, he’s the one who - “

 

“nothin’. did nothin’.” A new vice piped up - Blue recognized it as the Red’s soothing timbre.

 

“Awww… C’mon, Red, you were there .”

 

“yeah. nothin’ happened. an’ it’ll stay that way, capiche?”

 

“...”

 

“Yeah, okay, whatever, man.” The bunny went back to his game, looking thoroughly chastised.

 

Blue gave Red a thankful look, receiving a grin in turn. The slightly taller skeleton waved them over, patting the bar.

 

“hey, got sum open seats o’er here.”

 

There was no hesitance in Blue’s movements as he went right up and sat down in the seat closest to where Red was shining glasses. Stretch shuffled over and sat next to him, still displeased with his brother’s betrayal.

 

“So!” Blue started, “do you know what that rabbit was on about?”

 

Red’s face became thoughtful, like he was contemplating. “‘m not sure if ya wanna know.”

 

“trust me, he doesn’t.” Stretch replied.

 

“Hey now, I’m an adult… I think I can handle knowing what I did while drunk.”

 

Both taller skeletons gave each other ‘a look’, a hidden message passing through their gaze. Not so hidden tha Blue couldn’t make any guesses, though.

 

no he can’t.

 

“It’s not… that bad , is it?” Blue was actually kind of worried - he knew he had a naturally exuberant personality, and with alcohol to lower his restraints… well… let’s just say Alphys has a few stories of her own.

 

“ya jumped on a table an’ danced topless.” Red lied.

 

And Blue could tell Red was lying, because his face was pink and he wasn’t making eye contact.

 

Stretch snorted, but didn’t call Red out on his fib. “yeah,” his brother confirmed, “you started singing ‘oops i did it again’.”

 

“Well,” Blue huffed, “that’s a terrible lie. I would never sing that delta-crossed song.”

 

“it’s best if ya think that’s all ya did.” Red consoled.

 

The smaller skeleton sighed, cheek bones tinted blue. “Well, fine then, be that way. But I didn’t come here to discuss my drunk tendencies. I came here to ask about the murder.”

 

“awwww… an’ here i thought is was fer more o’ my terrific humor.”

 

“Stars, no.” Blue laughed, “I wanted to ask about Thomas. I had a meeting with the priest today - “

 

“fuck. tha’ couldn’a gone well.”

 

“I’ll admit that it wasn’t the highlight of my day.” The blue toned skeleton said dryly. “But he mentioned Thomas coming around here often. Do you know him?”

 

Red’s face soured, like Blue had just shoved a lemon in his mouth, “hell yeah, i know him - “ Before the taller skeleton could get into it, though, he seemed to realize himself. “shit. i ain’t… uh… really s’pposed t’ talk about things like murder an’ thomas while i’m workin’. catch my drift?”

 

“I think so.” Blue replied, a little put-out. Well. As much as he wanted answers, he wasn’t about to get Red in trouble for discussing dark topics at work.

 

“hey, that dun’ mean i won’t tell ya about him - jus’... after work… i get off at ten, then grillz takes ova’.”

 

The slightly smaller skeleton perked, eye lights bright. “Great! I’ll… see you then?”

 

Red smiled. He looked genuinely happy to hear Blue say that which was just - if that wasn’t all kinds of flustering, then Blue didn’t know what was!

 

Stretch made a gagging noise in the background. Nobody paid any attention to him, though.

 

“yeah… but…. it’s pretty early now, so i’d understand if ya’d wanna go back t’ the springs an’ rest up.”

 

Red was right - it was only a little after five, meaning that Blue would be sitting in the bar for about five hours if he wanted to wait for Red to get off work. He felt a little guilty just ditching the skeleton, though, especially after he had made plans to talk about murder .

 

“I think I’ll stay a little.” Blue told the other.

 

“iiiiiiiiii’m out, then.” Stretch said, waving Blue and Red off before disappearing.

 

“... yer bro’s an odd one, y’know?”

 

“I really don’t know where I went wrong.” Blue playfully bemoaned. The taller skeleton chuckled and took a glass out from underneath the bar, starting to pour something into it.

 

“here, lemme getcha a drink. dun’ worry, ‘s on the house.”

 

“Oh.” Blue said, “No thanks… I’m not really looking to drink after what happened last night.”

 

“snrk…. what happened t’ ‘not bein’ a lightweight’?” Red teased, putting the drink in front of Blue.

 

“Whatever delta-crossed concoction you served me last time’s what happened. And this killer hangover I woke up with.”

 

Red leaned over the bar to tap at Blue’s skull, clawed phalanx gentle as he probed. “guess that would be kinda a drag.”

 

Blue’s eyelids went half mast as he leaned into the casual touch. “I won’t die or anything. Even if it may make me feel like I want to.”

 

“pft. ‘kay, blue boy. an’ dun’ worry, the drink ain’t alcoholic, ‘s just a local specialty.” Red snorted as he pulled away, pointing again to the drink.

 

Cautiously, Blue brought it up to his nasal cavity to sniff. It… smelled sweet. It definitely had an earthy quality, though.

 

“What’s it made of?”

 

“hm? oh, ‘s derived from the root o’ a tree that only grows locally. kinda like root beer, but sweeter.”

 

Swirling the liquid around in its glass, Blue contimplated whether or not he should chance it. “It doesn’t have any side effects, does it? I’m not really looking to get intoxicated tonight.” Not only did Blue have a very important meeting with the skeleton he was currently across from, but it would make the second night in a row he drank, which didn’t bode well with his morals, anyway.

 

“nothin’ but makin’ every other drink taste like shit.” Red joked, “trust me, ‘s good.”

 

Blue took a chance and took a long sip.

 

It was…

 

“This really is good!” He said in awe, looking down at the cup of liquid gold in front of him. He knew his eye lights were probably stars at the moment - they had a tendency to do that when he got excited.

 

Red laughed, leaning forward over the bar on his elbows. 

 

“toldja.”

 

“You did.” Blue conceded, taking another long drink from the cup.

 

“Hey, Red!” A patron from the bar called, raising their hand as the hollered over at the red skeleton.

 

“what?” Red called back, looking irritated.

 

“I want more fries!”

 

The red skeleton grumbled as he flipped the other off (to which they laughed at), then shuffled to the door labeled ‘fire exit’.

 

He flashed Blue a quick smile before he left, “sorry, fergot i’m still workin’.”

 

“It’s no problem.” Blue replied, waving the other skelton’s concerns off. “I have this drink to keep me company!”

 

And what sweet company it was. Blue didn’t usually appreciate sweet things (he was prone to fits of sugar-highs due to his large magic reserve), but this really was a good drink. Stretch would appreciate it, too, Blue knew. (Maybe it would even be good enough for Stretch to quit drinking honey?)

 

While Blue finished his drink, Red brought out fries and tended to other customer’s needs, refilling drinks and getting more food. It was another half hour before the red-toned skeleton returned, looking slightly haggard.

 

“wanna refill?” He asked.

 

“Sure, why not?” Blue watched Red as the taller filled his drink with more of the drink, taking in the curve of his shoulders and the way the light bounced off his tooth.

 

The taller skeleton noticed, and went to tease Blue.

 

“see somethin’ ya like?” Red smirked, displaying that tooth.

 

Blue resisted the urge to say, ‘Yes, very much’ , and just grinned back. His face might have been a little blue, though.

 

“Say, we don’t know each other very much for people who are going to be discussing murder.”

 

Red quirked a brow bone, “yes, and?”

“You said you had a brother?”

 

Red took a quick glance to the side, like he was worried someone might be listening in before turning back to Blue.

 

“yeah, ‘e’s a scamp, but i love ‘im anyways.”

 

“Glad to know my brother isn’t the only one.... I swear, sometimes I wouldn’t even believe we were related if I didn’t raise him!” Blue joked.

 

Blue didn’t notice Red’s momentarily blank face.

 

“heh. yeah. guess me an’ my bro are th’ same way…”

 

The smaller skeleton drummed his phalanges on the bar, accepting the refilled drink Red slid towards him. He gave the taller skeleton an inquisitive look.

 

“Tell me about him.”

 

Red let out a low whistle, idly catching a glass someone slid towards him and using his magic to put it in a sink behind him.

 

“‘is name is papyrus, but we call him edge, least that’s what he prefers… he’s, uh, sixteen an’ it shows… heheheh…. puberty hit that kid hard! he shot up at least half a foot since last year!”

 

Blue watched in silent admiration as Red started to get more enthusiastic, smiling widely as he talked about his sibling. (He didn’t mention it… but it was interesting that their brothers were named similarly - the same, in fact!)

 

“bastard’s a bit o’ a hot head, though. he likes to pick fights and piss off the authority… i’m sure father rodger mentioned somethin’ about it t’ ya, considering…” Red made a vague motion at his own face, “he ain’t th’ most progressive tool in th’ shed.”

 

“i try and give ‘im shit fer bein’ a brat, but he’s stubborn as hell.” Red continued, tone simmering. “he… uh… if ya see a bratty lookin’ skeleton, ‘s prolly him. he’s angry at me right now fer… uh… buttin’ in. he ain’t been home in a few days…”

 

Blue felt his SOUL clench - that’s terrible! He felt even worse for getting drunk and making Red carry him back to the Springs… and for taking up his time tonight.

 

“If… If you want, I can help you look for him…?”

 

“nah,” Red chuckled (tensely), “i seen him around… he’s just ignorin’ me is all… buuuttt…” Red leaned in closer, and Blue obliged, meeting him halfway so Red could deliver his message, “if ya see him… ah… tell him he’s in a shitload of trouble wit’ dad, alwright?”

 

“I thought you wanted him home …” Blue stated, confused.

 

“trust me, he’ll come runnin’ if dad ‘r his temper involved.”

 

The skeletons shared a good laugh before they calmed, still giving occasional snickers when they made eye contact.

 

“Honestly…! Stretch is the opposite, my dad’s almost never home, but just the words ‘dad wants to see you’ will send Stretch running for the hills..!” Blue confessed.

 

“awww…. he’s a good kid…” Red said.

 

“Hmph.” Blue responded appreciatively, “Yes, I know. He could have started smoking, drinking straight up honey and have gotten drunk last night as a minor. Aren’t I lucky?”

 

“shit…!” The two shared another laugh. “fuck, i hope things work out fer ya two. yer good people, y’know?”

 

“You too, Red.” Blue told the other sincerely, “I can’t even imagine having to live in a town with such… unfriendly people. Did you know Father Rodger called me beastly ?”

 

A look came over Red’s face - something like guilt . But it wasn’t Red’s fault… The other couldn't help having a resemblance to Blue, and neither should feel bad for what they were born as…!

 

“fuck, sorry. bastard’s, well, a bastard , but he’s had it out fer me since i moved here. y’know. since i’m kinda the antithesis of everythin’ his church stands fer.”

 

“Nonsense!” Blue exclaimed, “Being a skeleton doesn’t mean you have to wear a symbol of death! The Good Goddess promotes equality and love !” Honestly, Blue had gotten sick of people telling him the same thing.

 

‘She’s the goddess of fertility and growth… isn’t death the opposite?”

 

“Aren’t you a little gloomy to represent The Good Goddess..?”

 

“... So… beast-like. Unholy.”

 

“hm. mebbe…” Red said reluctantly.

 

“Red.” Blue looked the other in the eye lights, pinning him with his stare. “are you going to tell me that I’m evil for being a skeleton?”

 

Red’s eye lights constricted, “no! ‘course not! yer… good… yer real good.” The taller held Blue’s gaze.

 

Neither of them blinked or looked away.

 

… Red’s face started to light up in his namesake, and Blue felt his skull own mirror it.

 

“yer… shiny. pretty. ya and yer bro… ya dun’ deserve that shit. my bro dun’, either, but i figure he dun’ pissed off enough people t’ have it comin’.”

 

Blue wanted so badly to shove a fist full of self-esteem into Red’s face and make the skeleton love himself… but… he couldn’t. Not while the two were both technically working. It would take more than a few compliments to change Red’s mind, Blue knew.

 

It was just so SOUL breaking to see such a nice person be so down on themselves.

 

“... Thanks.” Blue nodded, returning to his original position in his chair. “I don’t get compliments like that everyday!”

 

“ya deserve ‘em…” Red said quietly.

 

To keep himself from imploding, Blue pulled a masterful change of topic. 

 

“SO!! YOU UH - You mentioned moving here?”

 

Very subtle. Blue was a master of conversation, obviously.

 

“oh, uh, yeh.” Red replied, looking caught off guard. “‘bout five years ago, why?”

 

“Did your father take over the Springs from a relative, then?”

 

… Red….

 

Looked like he had just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The color in his face drained.

 

Honestly, it left Blue a little concerned.

 

“Red?”

 

“a-ah, n-no… uhhh… he’s, uh, lived here fer a long time.”

 

“...?”

 

“oh, jeez, it’s, uh… it’s a long story.” Red sighed. “i dun’… look. talkin’ with ya’s been real nice, i mean, more than nice , but, uh… i gotta work.”

 

“Yes… of course…” Blue replied. It fel like Red had just completely shut himself off from Blue… was the topic really that sensitive…?

 

“i c’n… if ya really wanna know, i can tell ya after i get off o’ work.”

 

Red gave Blue a small, hopeful grin. “if we’re still on…?”

 

“YES! I MEAN… I mean... Yes! Definitely. I’ll… see you at ten?”

 

Red nodded, grin getting bigger.

 

“rest up, blue boy. i’m sorta nocturnal, so you’ll hafta get used t’ it if ya wanna keep up.”

 

“The Magnificent Blue has boundless energy!” Blue assured the other playfully, “But I’ll take your advice… see you in a few!” The skeleton hopped off the barstool and walked towards the door, repeatedly looking back to give Red conspiratorial little grins.

 

It was only halfway down the street from the bar that Blue realized…

 

Delta. I really do have it bad…

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Preparing for a meeting with Red was far more difficult than it should have been. For instance, Blue should not be rifling through the clothes he packed, trying to find something ‘suitable’ for his meeting .

 

Not date.

 

Meeting .

 

Strictly business.

 

Even in the face of his - tiny - crush on the slightly taller skeleton, Blue stalwartly remained firm in the fact that this was a business meeting .

 

Which.

 

Of course meant Blue had to dress nicely.

 

“that’s bullshit and you know it.” Stretch had told his brother when Blue had come back to the Springs and started going through his luggage.

 

“Language, Papy! The Good Goddess is listening!” Blue chimed as he normally would, happily ignoring the younger.

 

“... okay, i’ll humerus you. what’s different between meeting him earlier and now?”

 

“You used that joke earlier… AND...  this is a business meeting! Before, I was just trying to investigate a little, but this is… official!” Blue victoriously pulled out a soft blue sweater. He always packed at least one nice shirt when he went out on the field.

 

But… Stars… what if Red wanted to have another da - 

 

Business meeting . Business. Right. Strictly.

 

“sounds to me like you’ve officially lost your mind. you didn’t get this crazy when we went to meet that douchebag priest.”

 

“I was…” Blue cleared his throat, “ In a rush . This morning.”

 

“Hungover.” Stretch supplied.

 

“Hush, you.” Blue grumbled, “We don’t speak of that.”

 

“you’re just out of excuses.”

 

“The Magnificent Blue is never out of excuses.” Blue sassed, “Why not dress nicely when the opportunity presents itself?”

 

“right.” Stretch sassed back. “and i’m sure that if he offers you coffee at his place, you’ll take one for the team?”

 

“He lives here ,” Blue rolled his eye lights. “And you know, I don’t really think he’s the coffee type.”

 

Skeptically, Stretch lifted a brow bone. Don’t get him wrong, he was happy to see his usually worked down to the bone brother find interest in somebody, but seeing how Blue was handling it was... frustrating.

 

If you like someone, why not just go for it? As Blue had mentioned, they were only going to be in town until the demon was caught. All the more reason for his older brother to go for it… right?

 

“and you’re so sure of this because…?”

 

Instead of voicing these thoughts, however, he just continued along the converation they were having. Maybe Blue would get so annoyed with his brother that he would lay the red skeleton out of spite.

 

“He’s sensitive .” Blue replied, like that explained everything .

 

“to caffiene?” Delta…. Blue sounds like a teenage girl....

 

No. Maybe. I didn’t ask him. Should I have asked him? Goddess….” Blue took a moment to rub his face with his hands, burning bright blue. “It’s been a long time since I’ve… done anything like this…”

 

“hey, i’ve heard dating’s like riding a bike.” Stretch paused for comedic timing before delivering the punch line, “if you can’t get a handle on it and you’re two tired , then you need to hit the breaks .”

 

“You make no sense, Papy. And I meant … ah… investigative work…” Blue finished lamely.

 

“it was a good joke.” Stretch protested. He left it at that, though. Trying to get Blue to be self aware was like trying to teach a baby quantum physics. Maybe an ‘official’ meeting with Red would get Blue to take initiative. Also, Stretch was a very lazy skeleton.

 

“It was creative, I’ll give you that.” Blue told his brother. “I’m going to shower again… do I need to shower?” Blue idly pulled the collar of his shirt to his nose and took a deep breath. His skull soured.

 

“Uck. Definitely. How did I sweat so much today…?”

 

“hangover.” Stretch supplied.

 

“I told you we don’t speak of that in this house!” Blue whined, “I’ll be in the shower. Don’t bother me unless the demon shows up or the hotel is burning down.”

 

“sounds cool, bro. i’ll be asking around for good service.” Stretch told his brother, waving around his phone. He still couldn’t find a single network nearby to even consider hooking up to, and his data was taking forever to load. At this point, Stretch might as well have become the reigning king of the dinosaur game.

 

Do try not to annoy the staff too much, Papy.” Blue warned before he disappeared into the bathroom, the sound of the shower starting up following not too long after.

 

Stretch chuckled as he tapped at his screen, releasing the little wifi dinosaur from his static state to run and jump over cacti.

 

///////////

 

Stretch was gone by the time Blue was finished getting ready, although the small skeleton didn’t know where exactly the taller was hiding out. It was a little concerning - although, Blue knew there was nothing to be concerned about - to have his brother out so late in a strange, unfamiliar town with a demon lurking about.

 

Of course, Stretch had been training for years to take down demons, and Blue was fairly certain that whatever demon lived in this town was biding their time… but…

 

Stretch has always been Blue’s baby brother, and he always will be. Taller than him, maybe, but still hilariously bad at self-care or anything even resembling adulting. Inevitably, though, as Blue feared… the brothers would grow apart.

 

And wasn’t finding romance just the beginning of that…? 

 

Which is why. Of course. Blue isn’t pursuing anything like that. That would be dumb. And childish. And unprofessional.

 

(And of course, Blue, the utter hypocrite told this to himself as he smoothed out the sweater in the mirror and brushed his teeth for five minutes before leaving the Springs)

 

Strangely, Blue found not only a great many staff members of the Springs, but also random monsters on the street greeting him by name. It was almost frightening how quickly the ‘Small Town Vibe’ could get to one, Blue noted as he found himself smiling and greeting them back.

 

Frightening because Blue couldn’t let himself get attached.

 

He lived for excitement… this town was the opposite. After he took down the demon, the place would be nothing more than a speck on the map, once again quiet and dull. The exact antithesis of what Blue had worked so hard for.

 

He wanted to be the best of the best, and with that came the life of a monster on the hunt for demons. Blue delighted in the chase, was enthralled with the fight. He couldn’t imagine a life without city lights and the subsequent dark alleys, home to demons laying in wait…

 

Blue belonged in the Capital. He’s been hooked ever since his apprenticeship, and he knew it. Being transferred to the office had been nearly SOUL-crushing to the small-ish skeleton. It had felt like he was being stripped of his status rather than promoted, a punishment more than a reward.

 

And after all these years… after being placed on the first field mission since his rookie days… Blue was not keen on going back to routine and boring. In fact, he was going to try to do everything it took to stay far, far away from ‘safe’, ‘comfortable’, and ‘quiet’.

 

He was going to catch a demon, and he was going to get his job back.

 

Sadly, this did not include dating, it did not include bars, and… it didn’t include funny skeletons with red magic and a kind smile.

 

Blue felt his SOUL squeeze painfully in his chest - for the grief of losing a friend so soon…

 

Because that’s all Red would be to Blue, all Blue would let Red be to him. He had to squash this little rebellion in his SOUL before it got out of hand. Feelings were temporary… Blue would grow out of the odd infatuation Red seemed to have unknowingly trapped him in.

 

The dapper skeleton sighed, looking up at the bar that he’d stopped in front of. Red’s shift should be ending soon - he’d mentioned that the owner of the bar took over for the night and early mornings.

 

Almost as if he was proving Blue right, Red stumbled out the door, looking over his shoulder and grinning, “yeah, yeah, ya overgrown candle!” When he turned around, he was surprised to see Blue’s face less than inches away from his own.

 

The two quickly stepped apart, each stuttering out an apology.

 

“jeez… sorry, kid, i, uh… i gotta watch where i’m goin’, huh?” The red skeleton muttered, lightly scratching at the back of his skull.

 

“No, not at all!” Blue denied, “It was me, I shouldn’t have been standing so close to the door…”

 

His words fell into the space between them, fuel for the awkward tension that rose as the two regarded each other’s appearance.

 

Oh no , Blue internally gulped, he’s hot.

 

Red obviously hadn’t had time to change out of his work clothes - he still wore his uniform, albeit more ruffled than Blue had seen before. His black slacks seemed tidy, but his white button up was wrinkled, the top two buttons were undone and there was a stain of something (likely alcohol) on the left sleeve. Red’s bowtie was untied and left around the collar of his shirt, suspenders at his sides.

 

… Even so, Red looked straight out of some sort of fantasy Blue shouldn’t be having. In the smaller skeleton’s opinion, Red had no right to look so good after working a shift at a bar….

 

“fuck, imma mess…” Red groaned, belatedly trying to redo the bow around his neck.

 

“Honestly, it’s no problem,” Blue insisted earnestly, “I’m the one intruding on your schedule, anyways.”

 

“yeah, but’cha look nice, an’ here i am…”

 

He thinks I look nice…

 

“I had more time to prepare, like I said, I’m intruding on your night…”

 

Red offered Blue a grin and his hand. “‘s no skin off my nose .” The taller told him, “i woulda prolly just sat in all night doin’ nuthin’ if ya didn’ offer.”

 

“Well, I’m sure you need your rest…” Blue mumbled, taking the offered hand and letting himself be lead.

 

“eh, i sleep all day. i wadn’t lyin’ earlier when i said i was nocturnal.”

 

It was an interesting way to live, Blue would give Red that… but it made sense that in such a small town you could set your own schedule. Red probably wasn’t missing much by staying during the day. If anything, the whole town seemed to be livelier at night. The monster population, at least.

 

“So, where are we going?” Blue asked.

 

“i guess i wan’ned ta talk at the springs, but seein’ as ya got dressed up all nice, i figure i should take ya sumplace t’ match, huh?”

 

“You don’t need to!” Blue blurted, guilty. Red had just gotten off from a shift, he probably didn’t want to go somewhere with more people. Plus, the way he said it…

 

Kind of sounded like a date .

 

And Blue had been very adamant in his internal monologuing that he was not looking to date.

 

… But it would be rather rude to put intentions into Red’s SOUL like that. For all Blue knew, this was just Red being friendly. The skeleton hadn’t given any indication of flirtation, earlier. Not since that first night, at least.

 

So it was okay to enjoy this, right? As long as there wasn’t any sort of romantic intent, then Blue could go out with Red and have a nice time… nobody ever said you weren’t allowed to have fun on the job.

 

“I’d hate to put you out.” Blue replied. He didn’t object, though.

 

“aww, c’mon, y’ain’t gonna be here long, right? might as well show ya around while yer here. i could be yer tour guide. dun’ mind, really.”

 

Blue tightened his hold on Red’s hand in reply, showing rather than telling the taller that he agreed and trusted him.

 

Red quirked a grin in Blue’s direction and set off at a lazy pace. The rate at which they were walking didn’t match Blue’s thundering SOUL beat in the least.

 

“So,” Blue started, looking anywhere but their conjoined hands, “Are there many places to have fun here?”

 

Red snorted, like Blue had just told a joke.

 

here? yer funny, aint’cha? guess i already knew that, though… nah… i’d say the only place t’ have good time is grillb’z. th’ rest of th’ town is a certified bummer.”

 

“So what do you do when you’re off the clock?” Red didn’t seem like the kind of monster who would waste his time doing something he found to be a ‘bummer’.

 

“this an’ that. i’m at grillb’z most o’ th’ time an’ sleep when i’m not.” 

 

“Sounds not fun.” Blue told the other truthfully. He couldn’t imagine a world where he was confined to two locations. He’d probably combust.

 

Red shrugged, “i lost my taste fer adventure awhile ago. ‘s long as i got food an’ a place t’ stay, who am i ta complain?”

 

“I couldn’t do it. I’m something of a busy body.” Blue admitted.

 

“yeah, i got that…” Red shot Blue a smirk, “guess ya hit th’ jackpot, right? fightin’ demons is right up yer alley.”

 

Don’t. Get me started….” The smaller skeleton groaned. “This is the first field mission I’ve been given in years… and it’s here . No offense, really, but your town is so. Boring .”

 

The red toned skeleton snickered, “none taken, kid, i get it.”

 

“And to top it off, I’ve got to deal with a racist priest and my brother tagging along. Then, I’ve got this weird demon thing going on -”

 

“weird?”

 

“Well, “ Blue huffed, “It started out by mauling someone and eating their SOUL, but hasn’t made a move since. Usually aggressive demons escalate, especially when they consume human SOULs, which are kind of like steroids - “

 

“what if it didn'?” Red interjected.

 

“Didn’t what?” The exorcist paused.

 

“what if th’ demon didn’ eat th’ SOUL?”

 

“... The chances are pretty low, but I don’t see how that would change anything, besides giving me a new suspect. Aggressive demons escalate after attacks.”

 

“Yeah,” A continued, “but… what if it’s a nice demon?”

 

… 

 

“Funny, my brother asked the same thing.” Blue mentioned.

 

“And….?” 

 

“I told him that there are no such things as nice demons. Especially not the ones who maim a man, eat his SOUL then leave him for dead to be found in an alley.”

 

… 

 

Quietly, Red responded, “yeah. i guess so.”

 

Blue frowned, “I’m not putting you off, am I? We don’t have to talk about the demon anymore, if you don’t want.”

 

“nah,” Red told him, “‘s all good. murder is kinda th’ thing ya wanna get ta th’ bottom of quick, y’know what i mean?”

 

“I couldn’t agree more!”

 

Red grinned that smile - the one where it felt like everything else was melting away in the wake of how he looked at Blue - and the smaller was instantly captivated again.

 

I’m going to miss you, Red.

 

The thought slipped past his mental barriers before Blue could help it, causing the smile he returned to be sad.

 

None of this could last, after all…

 

Red pulled Blue towards a small building. The lights were still on and there was a sign in the window that proudly declared the establishment open.

 

“sec’nd best place in town,” He began.

 

Before he was grabbed by a large, furry paw, that is, and pulled into the building by a snarling dog-like monster.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

… Blue isn’t proud to admit that he may have panicked a little.

 

Thankfully, however, that panic proved to be unfounded when Blue saw the grin on Red’s face, and the annoyed look on the dog’s.

 

The dog monster was a lady, Blue was fairly certain. She was tall - perhaps a bit shorter than Stretch, with fluffy white fur and extremely long eyelashes.

 

“Red!” She barked, “you weird little puppy! I heard what happened! I’ve been worried sick!”

 

Red laughed nervously, squirming to be let go.

 

“s-sorry, ressa, y’know how busy it get’s at th’ bar, y’know?”

 

The tall dog lady ( Ressa?) let Red go, huffing angrily. “Honestly, after five years of working for me, you couldn’t make time to tell me you were okay?”

 

Red, working for her? Didn’t Red work at the bar?

 

What was Ressa talking about? Had Red gotten into a fight?

 

“ya didn’ need me.” Red shrugged.

 

“The pups missed you. I have half the mind to wake them up right now!”

 

“shucks,” Red psuedo-cursed, sweating, “‘ressa, i gotta guest.”

 

Ressa looked from Red over to Blue, nearly doing a double take. She dropped her angry look and adopted a smile, extending a large paw to Blue.

 

“Excuse me! I didn’t realize Red had decided to be social for once. I’m Dogaressa, co-owner of the cafe.”

 

Blue gave her his best grin and took her paw in his hand, shaking it firmly. She raised a brow, but returned the grip.

 

“My name is Blue!”

 

She lead them inside, where Blue could see the interior of the shop. It was cozy, with lots of pictures on the seats and lots of cushy furniture. Dogaressa was quick to seat them as she talked.

 

“It’s so nice to see Red get out of his shell some.” She mentioned.

 

Red rolled his eye lights.

 

“are ya callin’ me a shell -eton?”

 

Both Dogaressa and Blue gave Red disappointed looks. He only laughed at the two, winking. “there’s a shell of a lot more where that came from, i shell dom pass up ‘n opportunity t’ shell out my jokes.”

 

Okay . Blue thought to himself, that was a little impressive .

 

The almost-snort he let out seemed to delight Red, the larger’s eye lights twinkling.

 

Dogaressa shook her head and sighed before leaving.

 

“I’ll get you boys a snack.”

 

When she was gone, Blue took another glance around the restaurant.

 

“So,” He started idly, “second best place in town, huh?”

 

Red raised a brow, leaning back in his seat. The position caused some of his shirt to shift, exposing more of his clavicle.

 

White bone, with little lines of healed fractures and chips…

 

What had caused Red to lead such a painful life? Surely, this town was safe.

 

But…

 

Red didn’t always live here, did he?

 

The taller skeleton was like an irresistible puzzle to Blue. Perhaps that’s what kept drawing him in.

 

Certainly not that he was attractive, or kind, or  - 

 

“yeh. th’ dogs ‘re pretty good comp’ny. i used t’ baby sit th’ pups when they was still needin’ lotsa ‘ttention. plus, ‘ressa’s cinna-puppies ‘re th’ fuckin’ bomb dot com.” Red snickered, laughing to himself.

 

Blue couldn’t help but watch fondly - Red was more crass off the job, but it was rather nice, in some sort of intimate way, to get to hear the red toned skeleton talk comfortably.

 

Not to say that Blue was encouraging cursing.

 

But… when Red did it….

 

Well.

 

He could make an exception.

 

Now was not the time to be engaging in small talk, though. This was, again, not a date . Nope. It was the furthest thing from a date, in fact. It was a business meeting . An interrogation, even. Blue’s sole purpose tonight was to find out more about the murder.

 

It had already been just about two days since Blue had gotten here, and he hadn’t found out a lick of information about the murder. At this point, he was starting to worry if he’d lost his touch.

 

“Let’s get started about the murder. What can you tell me about Thomas?”

 

Red’s friendly attitude seemed to sober up as he blinked.

 

“oh… right… well.” He tapped his clawed phalanges on the table and thought for a second.

 

“real piece o’ scum. bottom o’ th’ barrel shit. a real demon, if ya get my drift.”

 

Well. That contradicted what Father Rodger had said quite a bit.

 

“Can you tell me why? Did you See him that night? Did he have any enemies you knew of?” Blue might have been getting ahead of himself with all the questions, but it was refreshing to talk to someone who could actually tell him something.

 

Red hummed, “he liked t’ visit th’ bar. He was leavin’ from grillb’z at around the time mah shift ended, a lil’ before.”

 

That matched up with what Father Thomas had said, at least.

 

Then Red shrugged.

 

“an’ i didn’ see ‘im again. c’n tell ya one thing, though. if yer lookin’ fer enemies, th’ guy had no shortage of ‘em. he wasn’t real keen on hearin’ th’ word no .” Red scowled, “kinda’f a sick freak, if ya ask me. ‘e liked th’ bunny girls that came in, cornered ‘em. chased ‘em. had t’ beat him off with a delta damned stick more th’n once.”

 

“Oh.” Blue cleverly articulated.

 

Blue thought back on how Father Rodger had portrayed Thomas - a good man who too often fell to his ‘temptations’. He’d made it sound like the bunnies had been the ones seducing him. 

 

“And none of the… women he went after… they didn’t reciporicate his attraction?”

 

“nope.” Red confirmed.

 

The two of them stewed in silence for a little. Red was looking thoughtfully at Blue while the short skeleton took some time to process the information.

 

Thomas had enemies .

 

In the monster community, especially.

 

But where did that put the investigation, now?

 

Should he alert the authorities? Was this a murder, and not a demon attack at all?

 

Impossible… the demonic energy…

 

It was unmistakable.

 

And the SOUL. It had been eaten. But with new information… it’s possible that the SOUL was only stolen.

 

However, it was unlikely… but… monsters could steal SOULs, as well. Especially strong ones that were easy to draw out, like humans’ SOULs.

 

Despite how determined humans were, they weren’t able to control their SOULs at all. They couldn’t draw them out or fight with them. The most they could do is dodge.

 

And it would be consistent with how the demon hadn’t escalated like the one’s he’s seen before had, after consuming determination. 

 

“I… don’t know what to think.” Blue admitted, “this changes quite a bit. I’m unsure of how to proceed.”

 

Red gave Blue a soft look and reached over the table to pat his shoulder.

 

“then don’. take a break. ya’ve only been here two damned days, ain’t nobody ‘xpectin’ ya t’ figure it out so soon.”

 

Blue found himself nodding.

 

Right…

 

Blue… Blue had some time on this assignment. He hadn’t been given a deadline.

 

Maybe what he had to do was play detective for a little bit.

 

He obviously wasn’t getting anywhere as he was going now.

 

The thought of slowing down… of giving up , though, even temporarily, was maddening to Blue. Without progress, he felt like a failure.

 

Whether the murder was the work of a demon or not, there was still a demon in this town. Blue had felt it.

 

Which means it was his job to get to the bottom of it.

 

Blue slowly nodded his head, “Perhaps you’re right. I need to recooperate my thoughts. Make a new plan of action…”

 

Red grinned, “‘kay, then, just take a break with me right now. no need t’ stress yerself out, right?”

 

“Right. Yes. Let’s talk about you some,” Blue offered.

 

Right then, though, Dogaressa came back out with a plate in her paws.

 

“Eat up, boys. On the house for Red and his little friend.”

 

She put the plate down, and Blue saw two steaming cinnamon buns in the shape of little puppy faces.

 

“thanks, ‘ressa.”

 

She gave Red a matronly look and noogied his skull, “Next time, don’t keep me in the dark! I don’t care if you’re physically unable to walk, I better be getting a phone call.”

 

Blue smiled at Red getting flustered.

 

“Thank you, Dogaressa.”

 

She smiled back, “Of course, Blue. Keep this kid in line, will ya?”

 

The shorter skeleton and the dog shared a laugh as Red pouted. When Dogaressa left again, Red sulked to Blue.

 

“ey. ya didn’ hafta encourage her…”

 

“Sorry,” Blue chuckled, “It’s just so funny to see you all red!”

 

Said color returned to the taller’s cheekbones as he looked at Blue with wide-sockets. He tried to regain his confidence by making an angry face, but he just looked shy.

 

Blue was secretly in awe.

 

He didn’t know Red could look like that .

 

“yeh, yeh, rub it in…”

 

“Right then. Dogaressa mentioned something happening to you?” Blue inquired, trying to change the topic of conversation.

 

He didn’t need anymore stay thoughts of how handsome or cute Red looked right now.

 

Red’s face turned passive.

 

“‘s nuthin’ t’ get upset ova’.”

 

She certainly seemed worried. I just want to know that you aren’t in any trouble,” Blue told Red earnestly, “Someone like you doesn’t deserve that.”

 

The red toned skeleton blushed pink,

 

New, and much cuter than any of his previous reactions

 

… Delta…. Blue needed to stop letting these invasive thoughts getting into his skull…

 

“jus’ some idiots. thought they could get th’ jump on me. ‘s no biggie.”

 

“You were JUMPED ?” Blue asked incredulously.

 

Red cringed, “no biggie. i ain’t nuthin’ t’ sniff at, ya get me?”

 

Blue wanted to slap Red with a sense of self-preservation.

 

“It’s a huge deal! Did you alert any authorities?!”

 

“blue.” Red said seriously. He looked Blue straight in the eye lights as he spoke. “they were jus’ sum idiots from th’ church that like t’ get drunk and harass monsters from time t’ time. ain’t nuthin’ the authorities ‘re gonna do ‘bout it. nobody got hurt. ‘s’all good.”

 

Blue wrinkled his nose.

 

The church .

 

Something Blue had fought for since he knew he’d wanted to be an exorcist.

 

But Father Rodger seems to be doing a poor job of upholding the virtuous values that had been drilled into Blue since he was a babybones.

 

The Good Goddess was kind , fair , loving and accepting .

 

“I don’t like that. I don’t like anything about this town.” Blue blurted before he could sensor himself.

 

He paled and rushed to correct himself.

 

“I-I mean… nobody… nobody deserves to be treated like that… the church here, the authorities here… how do you live like this?”

 

Red was still giving Blue a shocked look.

 

“i, uh……. ya get used to it.” He said finally.

 

“How?” Blue stressed.

 

Red sighed, and looked away.

 

“mebbe i should tell ya how i ended up here in th’ first place, alright?”

 

Red cleared his throat, still looking away.

 

“i didn’ live with paps ‘r our dad fer a long time. in fact, i guess ya could say i never lived with them . i never met paps before five years ago.”

 

Red continued, looking down, “i was in a bad sich. but… paps… wrote me a letter. he said that… dad had told him ‘bout me… said that he wan’ned me t’ come here. th’ poor kid was lonely. what was i gonna do? my life sucked, so i packed my bags and came here.”

 

This time, when the taller skeleton began talking, he looked directly at Blue.

 

“an’ i dun’ regret it. not fer a second. paps is a brat, yeah, th’ people here fuckin’ suck, yeah, but th’ monsters here got a good community, an’ they stick tagether. an’ i happen t’ fuckin’ love that little brat. that’s how.”

 

“...”

 

Blue was the first to break away from their shared gaze, looking down to the untouched treats.

 

“I don’t care what you think. You’re a good person, Red.” Blue vowed.

 

Red looked like he was about to reject the statement, but his phone went off.

 

He gave Blue an apologetic look.

 

“i ain’t gonna argue with ya right now… uh… m’ dad’s callin’.”

 

Blue waved Red off, and the larger skeleton walked  a little ways away to talk.

 

The shorter skeleton didn’t try to listen in, but he couldn’t help but overhear.

 

th’ fuck??

 

Red hung up abruptly and made his way back to the table.

 

“look, blue, hate t’ cut this short, but sum’un broke a window at th’ springs, an’ i gotta go check it out.”

 

“Oh, I don’t mind!” Blue reassured him, “But, um..”

 

Blue took Red’s hand shortly and gave it a firm squeeze.

 

“Take care of yourself! Someone really cares about you!”

 

Red’s face looked shocked as he let his hand be taken.

 

“u-uh. y-yeh…”

 

Amusingly, Red took a few moments to get out a proper goodbye before he was out the door.

 

… 

 

“He really likes you.” Dogaressa commented from the counter. “Break his heart and you’re dead.”

 

Blue couldn’t even register the threat. He was too flustered over her first comment.

 

He can’t… can he?