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Heavy Shackles and Soft Collars

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His collar falls away and takes its warmth with it. Sans doesn’t watch it hit the floor but his soul still aches hearing it clatter.

Asgore’s hands sit on his shoulders. Sans can feel the breath from his bittersweet voice. “There we are, My Judge. Isn’t that so much better?“

“Your Highness, may I now—“

Papyrus.

When Asgore announced that “the Lieutenant” would be coming to visit, Sans had been scared. He had been trying to reach his brother for months. But to hear he was actually coming, walking into the pitfall that was the home of their insane king, was terrifying.

He guessed Asgore had called Papyrus to come rid him of his “damned collar.” It wasn’t like Sans would remove it. But he was wrong.

The King of the Underground didn’t need approval to uncollar a monster. Not when he was unfazed by the collar’s message of

Mine. Don’t Touch.

Not when all the intent crammed into that collar didn’t even come close to burning him. And definitely not when he was simply strong enough to tear through the leather like paper.

Sans supposes that’s all his collar really is, or was. A paper declaring that Sans belonged to Papyrus.

(That Papyrus belonged to Sans.)

And now it’s worthless. Ruined on the tiled floor.

His brother is likely relieved. Even with Asgore’s increasingly desperate attempts to block Sans’ contact with other monsters, Sans still got a few calls and texts through. All were ignored. So Sans doesn’t understand why Asgore thought Papyrus would care to watch.

“Not yet, Lieutenant,” Asgore speaks as if reprimanding a child. “I still have one thing planned, if you do not mind. I hope to go about this the traditional way!” Asgore walks from behind Sans, his hands sliding from his shoulders.

Sans keeps his gaze away from his brother’s face.

“Of course, how can I assist, Your Highness?”

Asgore appears to reach into his inventory and—

Sans can’t help the noise that escapes before his throat closes.

Asgore dangles a collar in front of him. While hilariously small in Asgore’s hand, it’s obviously expensive. He’s glad he can’t read its tag.

“May I have your blessing in collaring your brother? Golly, I hope I’m not being rude, but we both know he isn’t a monster who would be safe uncollared.”

Papyrus’ voice is rough. “It’s not rude at all, Your Highness.”

“I’m glad! So, the blessing, if you would?” Asgore says.

Even unspoken, the message is clear.

This is for his sake.
I don’t need your blessing.

Papyrus opens his mouth to speak, then shuts it.

“Lieutenant.” Sans shuts his eyes.

The words come rushed and, seemingly, rehearsed? “May your years ahead be filled with lasting joy.”

Papyrus knew about this? Sans forcibly releases the breath he didn’t know he was holding. But then goes rigid at the feel of soft robes by his legs.

“Thank you. My Judge?”

Sans’ eyes open to Asgore’s. He’s hunched, kneeling, and much too close.

“There you are,” Asgore breathes. Again, a large clawed hand rests on his shoulder, a weight he’ll never get used to. “My loyal Judge.”

The hand moves. His chin is cupped and raised, exposing his newly bare neck. Sans can’t see the collar in Asgore’s other hand, but he knows it’s there. It’s close enough that its intent is screaming.

My Judge. Only Mine.

He can’t breathe. His soul is hammering and he closes his eyes. He doesn’t want to see, he doesn’t want—

He doesn’t want Papyrus to see.

Asgore’s hands move and the collar now sits around his neck. It’s soft, maybe softer than his former. But with its intent, it feels heavy. Heavy enough like it’ll break him.

The snap of the metal clasp is sudden and rings through his skull. His wailing soul goes starkly quiet and Sans knows he’d be falling to his knees if Asgore wasn’t holding him.

A claw snags under the collar. “Oh goodie! A perfect fit.”

With some shuffling, Sans blearily recognizes he’s being lifted. He’s surrounded by cold armor and warm fur.

“Thank you, Lieutenant. You are dismissed.”

“But,” Papyrus pauses. “You said I could talk to Sa—“

Asgore snarls something back but his words are fuzzy. The collar’s soft leather now only feels suffocating. Opening his eyes doesn’t help. The room is spinning and the voices filling it are upset.

Though, the voices stop with a final shiver-inducing tone. A threat.

And just faintly, Sans thinks he hears the heavy thumps of the throne room doors closing.