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Home is Where the Heartache Lives

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So this is my new home. ’   The thought goes through my mind as I take in the little run down apartment.   A simple acceptance of the result of my choices. The peeling wallpaper, slightly defunct and musty smelling furniture, and the lack of light from cloudy windows are not much help in making things seem better.  The two decently sized suitcases by my feet are stuffed with all the clothing I felt comfortable bringing with me on this endeavor. Those went into the bedroom.

 

A bare twin bed of mattress and box spring along with a decently sized wardrobe greeted me.  Next to the bed was a simple nightstand followed by a dresser with a cracked wood framed mirror.  The woman staring back at me was muted in her coloring. The most noticeable are the wide emerald green eyes against olive toned skin.   Chocolate brown hair has been tied back into a tight bun. A slight frown reside on my lips before a faint sigh escapes.  

 

I turn from my image and begin the simple process of unpacking.  Hiding my more prized possessions in the small space under the wardrobe after hanging the few dresses I brought with me.  ‘ After this, I need to look into new bed sheets and some towels.  Not to mention some dishes along with pots and pans. ’ Lists of things I need to do start filtering through my head. 

 

It was at that point that my stomach decided to let me know of its displeasure at being empty. I guess food first then.  I could so use a good brew.   I pulled my new phone out and searched for a nearby eatery.  Grillby’s huh?  Monster establishment, just two blocks away.  Nothing closer. Mixed reviews, most negatives are racial.

 

I ran a hand down the back of my left leg.  ‘ Still feels good.  Two blocks there and two blocks back after sitting should be fine. ’ I snagged my bloodwood cane from where it rested against my bed. Then my purse as I headed out the door, locking it behind me.  No one else lived in the building, yet. Still, good habits have to start somewhere.

 

I glanced at my phone when I reached the bottom of the stairs leading to the apartments, gaining an idea on directions to reach this Grillby’s.  My cane made a nice steady staccato as I walked along, taking in the various smaller shops and buildings that lined the streets. Here was quieter.  I appreciated it compared to the bigger city where I used to live. Despite it being early evening, there were fewer vehicles on the roads. More bicyclists and pedestrians than actual motorists.

 

And the people.  So many shapes and forms of these people calling themselves monsters.  I made a mental note to find a nearby park so that I can people watch on some days in the future.

 

The sightseeing made the trip shorter than it should have been, for soon I saw a simple neon sign with the name Grillby’s lit up in the beginnings of a setting sun.  The exterior was a simple brick edifice with a few windows. The place seemed busy at a glance and walking through the door confirmed it. All the booths and smaller tables were taken.  It seemed that only one large table and a stool at the bar was the only available seating.

Forgoing the table, I made my way to the bar.  I could feel the stares of several of the patrons on me. More than likely since I was really the only human in this establishment at this time.  A fact that the stares made me aware of along with the whispering behind me.  

 

The bar stool I was aiming for sat between a rabbit looking person on the left with the softest brown fur, and someone wearing a fur lined, hooded jacket on the right.  My cane was rested against the bar itself before I worked to actually get up onto the stool. A few choice words escaped my lips during my struggle. This caught the person on the right as I could hear a low chuckle even as I finally managed to get up into the seat.

 

“A table woulda’ been easier for ya,” came the comment to my right, the baritone voice mocking.  Mentally, I rolled my eyes as I turned to face the actual bar.

 

“Yes, yes,” I replied a tad bit annoyed that I could see a smirk on his… skull? Odd.  “More than likely it would have been. Though I would not have a leg to stand on if a group came in since there is only one table free right now.”

 

My self-deprecating  pun only got a small snort from him.  The rabbit to my left seems to be ignoring us for the most part. Of course that is when the bartender shows up.  I could not help but stare slightly. He was made entirely of red-orange flame. From his hair down to more than likely his feet.  He was rather smartly dressed. I was snapped out of my thoughts when I saw him turn to me and issue a crackling pop from where a mouth normally is on a human.  HIs body language showed inquisitiveness.

 

“My apologies,” my voice colored by my apparent confusion. “What are you saying?”

 

“He’s askin’ what’re having’ doll,” the skeleton translates for the flame man.  A hint of amusement was detectable in his voice.

 

“Oh,” I could feel my cheeks heat up in my embarrassment.  I shook myself mentally before looking directly at the bartender.  “Well, what do you have in beers?” I was eager to try something new.  Two lighter patches behind the glasses blink off and on before I was handed a menu.

 

Guess he does not have a lot of new patrons, ’ I perused the menu already knowing I wanted something filling and a big burger sounded delicious right now.  Now the beer selection was interesting. I saw some of the big name brands, but what is golden flower beer like?   I gave him my order and settled back to wait.  

 

I took this time to surreptitiously study the skeleton to my right.  He was wearing a well worn, though lovingly taken care of dark leather(?) jacket.  The hood was trimmed in some type of light colored fur. I caught a glimpse of a red turtleneck.  And was that a collar? What I could see of his skull had a crack running from the top of the socket and a gold tooth replacing his top left cuspid.  There were no actual eyes in those sockets, just small little red lights.

 

My attention was brought back to the front of me as the bartender set down a burger, fries, and a glass of a pale golden liquid.  I could see little shimmers in the liquid that did not come from the carbonation or the condensation. I give him a smile while asking for ketchup and mustard for the burger.  The ketchup was handed over readily, but the bartender looked pointedly towards the bottle in the skeleton’s hand for the mustard.

 

“Thank you,” I gave in response only to be met with another crackle from him.  I shook my head to show that I did not understand and got a nod before the bartender walked off down the bar.

 

After squirting a small amount of ketchup on my sandwich, I turned to try and discreetly gain the attention of the skeleton to get the mustard that I desired.  I cleared my throat, said ‘Excuse me’ a couple of times. He was so lost in thought that I resorted to poking him in the arm that was nearest me. It took a few before he finally looked over.  I swear I thought he actually blinked. The little lights in his eyes went out and came back quickly.

 

“If you are done with the mustard, could I use some, please?” I asked when he finally turned to acknowledge me.  His lights did the blinking thing again as he stares at me a little.  

 

“Uh.. ya sure,” he finally replied and pushed the bottle over.  I snatched it up and poured an unhealthy amount onto the burger.  

 

“So do you actually get drunk from this?” I asked pushing the bottle a bit closer to him when I was finished.

 

“Nah, more tha’ i like th’ taste,” he replied before taking the bottle back up and squirting it between what I see now as pointed teeth.  Not just the cuspid then. All of them look sharp. “Though most can’t mustard up the courage to try it.”

 

I could feel my lips twitching up into a smile, feeling the pull of my scar. “I do agree that not many relish such strong flavors.  Guess they are just yellow bellied.” I finally took a bite of my burger.

 

The flavor was exceptional, though the texture was a bit unusual.  It tingled a bit as I chewed. And seemed to disappear halfway down my throat after swallowing.  However, I did feel that I had actually eaten something. So continued with my meal. The fries tasted as exceptional as the burger.  I then tried the beer.

 

The bitterness that accompanied a majority of beers was there as well as a floral taste.  “Interesting,” I murmured quietly. “Definitely stronger than I would have believed. Seems good chilled.  Got to let it warm up a little and see if that affects the flavor.”

 

“Th’ beer not ta ya likin’?” I heard from right as I chewed on another piece of my supper.

 

“Nothing like that.” I replied after swallowing. “More that some drinks like this are better warm than they are chilled.” I decided to inform him being a self stylized beer connoisseur.  “But it is better that I do not hop to conclusions since this does come from your old home.” I tap the glass in emphasis.

 

The skeleton’s permanent looking grin seems to get a bit wider at my small pun. “Tibia honest, ‘m surprised that ya would come ‘ere.  ‘S not many tha’ would’a come ta a monster bar.”

 

I gave a shrug as I cleaned the residual grease from my hands.  “It is for convenience that I came here,” I replied before I suddenly stuck my now clean hand out towards him.  “And here I forgot my most basic of manners. My name is Beronica.” 

 

“Th’ name’s sans.  Most jus’ call me red.”  I did not realize I was holding my breath until Sans actually touched my hand.  I could feel a small jolt and a spreading warmth from where his bones touched the skin of my hand.  However, he was quick to snatch his phalanges back and bury them into a pocket.  

 

“Well, it is a pleasure to meet you, Sans,” I replied, though I could feel my smile fading a bit.  “And thank you for not putting up too much of a fuss over my interruption of your personal time. It looked like you were doing some heavy thinking when I entered.”

 

I watched as Sans’s smile goes from tight to something of a smirk as he leaned against the bar. “Ya? Well thos’ thoughts were goin’ nowhere, doll.”  He leaned a little towards me. “Maybe you and I could go somewhere?”

 

My shoulders tensed a little at the pet name.  Though I only slightly hummed as I studied the skull in front of me and his spot at the bar. 

 

“First off, please do not call me ‘doll’.  I take offense to that,” I could practically taste the displeasure on my tongue. “Secondly, I am not anyone’s rebound girl.”

 

Sans sat back as a few drops of red appeared on his skull. “Rebound girl?  Wha’ makes ya think tha’?”

 

I just snorted while taking a rather large drink from my glass. ‘ Mmm.  The floral flavor is more prominent now and covers the bitterness.  Nice. ’  I set the glass down as I replied. “Two things mainly.  One is how you are drinking. Seems to be mostly hard liquor interspersed with lighter alcohol.”  I point out to Sans’s remaining full shot glass. “Secondly, you pushed that last shot of yours away and focused on the conversation.  I did both of those things two years ago myself. It seems to be a safe guess.”

 

He is hurting. Grieving.  He must have cared a lot for them.’ I thought to myself as I watched him turn back towards the bar, catching his mumbled, “Didn’t know i was tha’ transparent.”  He took another long drink from the mustard bottle.  

 

I could not stop myself as I replied jokingly, “No, you are opaque, but most should be able to see right through you.”

 

Sans immediately started to sputter and choke on his ‘drink’.  Laughter rolling out in between coughs. “Good one,” he says when he finally regains his breath  ‘ Does he even need to breath?’   While curious, I was still amused by him.  “So sweetpea, if ya ain’t a rebound girl, then what are ya?”

 

Sweetpea is different.  Kind of nice.’   I thought while replying, “Right now?”  I paused and quickly looked him over. “A distraction for a seemingly bonely person who is grieving over a loss.  Perhaps friends later?” The last part came out quieter than I would have liked.

 

“With benefits?” was Sans’s snarky response. His grin growing wider.

 

I could feel my scar stretch as I frowned at him. “Casual is not my style, Sans,” I bit out while glaring at him. Next thing I knew, Sans was leaning into my personal space.

 

“Someone lookin’ like ya, sweetpea, makes a man wonder what’cha hidin’ under all them clothes.”  I could hear him take a deep breath as he got close to me. I noticed his eye lights go out as his sockets get smaller.  Like he was closing his eyes. “ How does his skull do that?’ A mix of emotions swirled in my head.  I ended up with my anger being most prominent, so I shoved him away from me.

 

“I said I was not your rebound girl, Sans,” I practically growled out to him.  It was at that moment that the bartender Grillby decided to come over. What I was able to read of his body language, he was simply checking in on things.  “I am fine, despite the certified donkey here,” jerking my thumb towards Sans.

 

“Donkey, sweetpea?” I could hear his laughter.  And that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.  

 

“Yes,” I start to turn about in the seat facing away from him. “You are a real jackass, Sans,” I snapped to him as I slid out of the seat carefully. “I have too much to do to sit here for this.”  I grabbed a couple of bills from my purse and set them on the bar with a little more force than necessary. “Do not worry about the change. It was a good meal and a good brew.” I grabbed my cane from its resting spot against the bar. “I may come back.  Good evening, Mister Grillby.” I give the flame elemental a small bow of my head before turning away.

 

I caught Sans in a glance and give a small huff at his shit eating grin.  With as much dignity as I could muster, I turned and made my way out of the bar.  My free hand rubbing at my sternum as I walked towards the exit.

 

The last thing I heard as the door shut behind me was Sans bursting out in laughter.  With an embarrassed blush blooming on my cheeks, I made my way to my new home.

 

Chapter Text

It was a few days before I found myself back at Grillby’s.  This time during the lunch hour. The sudden silence at my entrance made me nervous. ‘ Why is everyone staring at me?  I do not believe I stick out or something. ’  I did my best to keep a little smile on my lips and to not allow my nervousness to show.  Luckily, there was a booth available this time. A sigh of relief escaped from my lips as I realized I did not have to climb the mountain that was the bar stool.

 

The same flame elemental from my previous visit came as soon as I seemed settled; my bad leg was stretched across the space to rest on the seat across.  What appeared to be its mouth opened up and a string of crackles, pops, and hisses issued forth. ‘ He sounds like a campfire with a fresh piece of wood. ’  I shook my head while responding. “My apologies again.  I still cannot understand you.”

 

A hand of flame was suddenly thrust towards me.  Following the rules of polite society, I instantly grabbed it without much thought.  The moment my skin touched the flame of his hand, a sizzling sensation ran up my arm.  I snatched my hand back quickly and examined it, surprised to see that my palm was unharmed, not even the slightest reddening of the skin.

 

“I’m sorry about that.  I didn’t mean to startle you.” My head whipped up to look at the flame creature.  While I could still hear the crackling that were the words, another part of me now seemed to understand what they were saying.  His voice now having a deep tenor to compliment his regular tone.

 

“And what was that ?!” My surprise and confusion causing me to bite out the words.

 

“That was our magic touching,” he said calmly while taking a seat across from me.  He leaned forward on his arms a bit as his eyes seemed to be watching my face for something.

 

I arched an eyebrow at him crossing my arms in a huff. “Did we just have a quickie or something?”

 

“NO! No, nothing so intimate,” he was quick to reassure me, hands going up in a gesture of surrender.  The spot on his face where the cheeks would be became a brilliant blue. He cleared his throat before he spoke again.  “Tell me... What were you thinking right before you grabbed my hand?”

 

I stopped to think it over leaning back into the plushness of the booth. “Frustration at being unable to understand you and along with a desire to do so.” I answered him honestly.  This only earned a nod from him.  

 

“And my magic sensed that.” He gestured towards his then my own chest.  “My name is Grillby, owner of this establishment. And you are Veronica?”  His eyes narrow slightly in a curious manner.

 

“Beronica,” I instantly correct with a chuckle leaning forward again.  “With a ‘B’ not a ‘V’. My grandmother insisted that my mother went with traditional names.  My mother wanted them to be unique. So something of a compromise, Mister Grillby.”

 

“Please, just Grillby,” he replied with a crackle hiss that must have been his chuckle.

 

“Then call me Bear,” I replied with a grin of my own. One that turned to embarrassment as my stomach gave a growl.  He gave a small nod of his head as he stands up from the booth.

 

“Well, I seem to be amiss in my duties, Bear,”  the grin forming on his face made it seem brighter. “Same thing you had last time?”

 

“If you would not mind, though can you warm the beer up to room temperature?” I asked with a polite smile.  I could see the two points behind his glass blink.

“Warm beer?” he asks with slight confusion. 

 

“Yes, warm beer,” I confirmed chuckling softly. “It actually brings the floral flavor of the brew out more.  I tried it like that last time as well.”

 

With a thoughtful nod of his head, Grillby went through the exit to the back to get my order ready.   As I waited, I pulled out my phone, a notebook, and an accounting ledger. I started going over the various things I needed to get done.  Suppliers for my work, a contractor or two to fix up the building I now own. The location of a nearby grocery store that had a decent selection of human food.

 

The last seems to be the trickiest task of them all.  From what I have seen from online maps and searches, the nearest one is an hour bus ride at least.  Along with the nearest bus stop being several blocks from my new home.  

 

A small groan of frustration escapes my lips as my meal was placed in front of me.  “Not many people groan like that when I deliver them their food,” Grillby said as he looked over my spread of papers on the table.

 

“Not many people have the fun of trying to find a decent supermarket that they can get to easily without having to take an hour long bus trip,” I replied as I set aside my paperwork to focus on the food in front of me. “While I do enjoy the food here, I cannot make it a daily habit.  I was lucky that the minimart between here and my place had some human food.”

 

“Don’t you have a car?” He asked.  I could see his brows furrowed when I looked up.  “I do not own any vehicles at the moment. However,  I do have the goal of purchasing at least one vehicle for my personal use and another for business.”  I gestured to the paperwork next to me. “Until then though, it is either walk or the bus.”

 

“Do you mind if I ask what exactly you’re working on?”  He waved a hand towards the papers. “Seems like you’re deep in something.”

 

“Not at all, though perhaps in a few minutes?” I ask while calmly motioning to the food in front of me.  “Allow me to get a few bites in to tame the beast that is my stomach before we go to the conversational part of lunch?”

 

With a hearty crackle-pop of a chuckle, Grillby nodded and headed back to the bar. And I dug into my burger and fries.  This time, I favored the ketchup more than the mustard on the sandwich.   

 

As I was enjoying my burger, I heard someone clear their throat next to me.  “Mind if I have the ketchup? Grillby said he gave you the last of his special stuff and hasn’t had time to make more.”  I looked up at the speaker and saw... Sans? Though he looked a little rounder, softer currently. And blue. Who is to say monster’s can not change their appearances as dramatically as that.  His voice wasn’t as deep as before. Just a bit lighter.

 

“Oh, of course, Sans,” I replied passing over the bottle in question. “Though I thought you were more of mustard type of person.”  When I said his name, I noticed his eye lights disappearing.

 

“Really?  And when exactly did we meet?”  Sans’s voice got a little lower and a hint of a threat in his voice. His mouth was set more into a grimace rather than a grin.

 

“Just two days ago, right over there,” I said slowly while pointing toward the end of the bar that happened to be behind me. “You were drinking shots of whiskey and chasing it with mustard.”

 

His eye lights came back as his grin becomes more genuine  “Tha’s m’ cousin Red.” I blinked a bit before I started to chew my lip in thought. “Oh, right.  He did mention that most people called him that. My apologies” I held out my hand towards him. “My name is Beronica.  It is nice to meet you.”

 

“Sans.  sans the skeleton.” When he took my hand a loud and rather bemusing sound sputtered its way into the air.  The rubber against my skin caused me to chuckle lightly. 

 

“Well played, Sans,” I grinned towards him before gesturing to the space across from me. “Though please have a seat. I do not wish for you to be a puddle on the ground if you are without your skeleton as you mentioned.”

 

“I didn’t mean to interrupt …” He started to get a bit of what looked to be blue sweat on his skull as he glanced at the seat then back at me.  

 

“Oh, it is no bother,” I interrupted while picking up and organizing most of the papers before putting them back.  “I just have things that I need to work through. I only moved to Ebott a couple of days ago myself, so have a lot of planning and organizing.”

 

“And you came to Grillby’s…?” He asked even as he took a seat across from me.  His gaze went from my face to my chest and seemed to be stuck. I did not know what he saw there since I normally dressed rather conservatively.

 

“Nearest place to where I moved that sells food,” I answered tilting my head down to catch his eye lights.  A blue glow started up on his zygomatic arches as those lights followed my face as I straightened back up. I carefully nudged the ketchup bottle towards him before I grabbed up my beer and took a drink.  ‘ Ah, the floral flavor is just as strong as I remember it. ’ With a sigh of contentment, I set the beer down.  Glancing towards Sans, I noticed that the glow got a little brighter and he as rubbing his sternum.

 

“Is your chest doing alright?” I asked furrowing my brows in concern. Sans paused in his rubbing before grabbing the ketchup bottle and taking a large swig of the contents.  It was at that moment that Grillby decided to come by and check up.  

 

“Everything doing okay, Bear?” he asked while giving Sans a look before turning his attention completely to me. 

 

“Everything is wonderful, just like last time, Grillby,” I replied with a warm smile.  “The beer is at an excellent temperature, and Sans is at the start of being good company.”

 

“Bear?” I heard from Sans.  There was teasing tone to his voice which just caused me to roll my eyes. 

 

“Yes, ‘Bear’,” I replied with a small shake of my head a tiny grin on my lips. “For a number of reasons.  One of which is to help remind my friends how to spell and pronounce my name correctly.”

 

“So how come yer able to understand Grillby?” Sans asked glancing between the two of us.  I shrugged while glancing towards the elemental. “You will have to ask him. His basic explanation was ‘magic.”  I dug into the last of my fries as the two exchanged glances.

 

“So, what’re your plans for the rest of the day?” I heard Sans ask as Grillby moved away at the call of another customer in the establishment.

 

“Mostly looking up contractors to repair the building I own and attempting to find a nearby grocer that sells human food,” I answered instantly as I rummaged through my purse for my wallet.  “Though I may have to go car shopping sooner rather than later. This district is not particularly set up for humans right now.”

 

“Funny, I didn’t hear about any buildings being bought out in this area recently,” Sans asked with a slightly darker edge to his voice.  I glanced up from my wallet and noticed his eye lights have become practical pin pricks in his sockets.

 

“Of course not,” I replied with a faint frown at the obvious threat. “I inherited it from my grandmother who purchased it twenty-six  years ago. She had it in her will that I was not to know of or take ownership of it until three months ago. So no need to get defensive.  I understand that a number of realtors are still monster phobic.” I rolled my eyes as I finished fishing out the money for my lunch and the tip setting it on the table.  

 

I started gathering my things to get ready to leave, when I felt something like soft, warm ceramic touch my hand.  The sensation that went up my arm reminded me of when the other Sans touched me. A jolt followed by a spreading warmth even as I snatched my hand back and set it against the sudden ache in my chest.

 

“Sorry, sorry,” Sans quickly said while holding his hands up in caution. “Didn’t mean to startle ya.  Was jus’ goin’ to ask if I could walk ya home?”

 

A soft sigh escapes my lips as I took a moment to study the skeleton in front of me.  What I could read of his expression was earnest and sincere. “I suppose.” I replied grudgingly,  “My leg has been acting up on me today, and it would be a good idea if someone was next to me in case it went out.”

 

Sans’s eye lights shifted down to the table like he could see my leg through the wood, even as I was removing it from next to him. “What’s wrong with your leg?”

 

“Hmm…?” I hummed distractedly as I moved to the edge of my seat.  Grabbing my cane which was tucked in the crevice behind me, I moved to stand up. “Oh, a car accident a couple years ago ripped out a fair chunk of the muscles in the back of my left thigh.  Not enough that I am unable to walk, but enough that I cannot walk a lot. And running is nearly out of the question.”

 

By this time, Sans had stood up at the end of the table and was offering me his hand to help stand.  With a grateful smile, I grabbed it and pulled myself to my feet. There was no jolt this time, just the spreading warmth.  I heard a sharp intake of breath and glanced up towards Sans. A look of surprise and a bit of wonder was on his face as he looked down at me. Eye lights big, bright, and a bit fuzzy around the edges

 

I narrowed my eyes at him as my agitation bubbled up. “Yes, I am short.  Nothing to make a big deal out of.” My tone seems to have snapped him out of his reverie.

 

“C’mon, I’m sure with some help ya could reach some new heights,” He had a shit eating grin on his feature  I could feel my face heat up in either anger or embarrassment. I couldn’t decide which.  

 

“Stop being so short-sighted yourself,” I practically growled back, poking him lightly in his sternum. His grin grew wider at my words. “Otherwise, I will rescind my acceptance of your offer.”

 

“That’s a rather tall order for me to fill.”  I just rolled my eyes and started making my way out of the bar, only to stop when I hear my name called.  Turning to look, I saw Grillby moving towards us.  

 

“I was wondering if we could continue our interrupted conversation at another time,”  he asked giving me a small smile. “Perhaps over coffee?”

 

I returned the smile with one of my own.  “I would like that, Grillby. I am currently free nearly anytime at the moment.” I snagged a nearby napkin and a pen from my purse, handing the former over after writing down my phone number. “Give me a call or send a text on the when and where.”

 

Grillby’s face split into a wide grin as he accepted the napkin with my number on it. “It’ll probably be this coming Monday.  I’ll let you know the details later. Until then.” He brings my free hand up and places a kiss on the back.  

 

I could feel my face heat up as I pulled my hand away. “Until then, Mr. Grillby.”  I bowed my head slightly towards Grillby before turning back around to head out. “Shall we, Mr. Sans?” I asked while passing the skeleton.  

 

He paused a moment before catching up with me at the door and holding it open. “Sure, bear, lead the way.”

 

Chapter Text

It was a warm, clear spring day as Sans and I exited from Grillby’s.  The kind that hinted at the coming summer months. I took a deep breath of the clean air, eyes closed for just a moment.  Then I felt a hand on my shoulder.

 

“Ya said ya was new to Ebott,” Sans started when I opened my eyes to look at him. “Why don’ I show you around this neck of the city?  We can take breaks between legs of the walk.”

 

“That…” I hesitated a moment before glancing up at the sky. “That sounds good actually.  I really do not have much planned.” Sans’s grin became wider as his eye lights became bigger and brighter. 

 

“This way then.”  He started walking down the sidewalk in the direction opposite of the way home.  His pace was slow, perfect for me to keep up with him. He pointed out some of the various shops that we passed. Like the boutiques full of clothing that is often custom made for the various types of monsters.  A store that specializes in kitchen wares, from the latest ‘As Seen on TV’ gadget to professional grade pots and pans. 

 

I made notes on my phone as we walked.  He filled the time in between shops with pun after bad pun along with horrible jokes.  Some had me laughing, others groaning. I was proud for the few times I got him to laugh with my own sense of humor.  

 

Luckily for me, I only had to ask for a break once, causing Sans to escort me into a nearby bakery.  It was cute. Mostly purples with the black accents. I was amused by the entire spider motif. The smells of warm cinnamon, vanilla, and chocolate becoming stronger as Sans escorted me towards the front.

 

“Fufufufu,” I heard coming from the back. ”I’ll be with you in a moment, dearies~” 

 

With a grin, I turned towards Sans. “this is Muffet’s place,” he explained waving a hand around the bakery. “She’s one of the best bakers from the underground.”

 

“Not ‘one of’ but ‘THE’ best baker,” the words getting easier to hear as the monster from the back came out.

 

I froze.  Five eyes, eight limbs, and fangs dripping something.  I could only stare. Everything was muffled so much the only thing I could hear was the ‘ Ohgodohgodohgod… ’ of my thoughts.   My panic was interrupted when Sans moved cutting off my view of Muffet, forcing me to focus on him.

 

“Bear…?” he asked cautiously, one hand raised. His grin was pulled down into a frown and somehow the bones between his sockets were furrowed. “You there?”

 

I blinked a few times, finally able to get back into focus.  My breathing heavy. “Oh sweet Mother. I was not expecting an actual spider.”  I kept my gaze down as I consciously loosened my grip on my cane.  

 

“Err…” I could hear the hesitancy in Sans’s voice as I inhaled deeply then exhaled slowly, calming myself down.

 

“I have a bit of arachnophobia,” I explained as I kept my gaze averted from the front and the counter.  “I am personally okay with the smaller spiders that are running about. I just get nervous or scared of any that are the size of or larger than the palm of my hand.”

 

“If I knew that, i wouldn’t have brought ya here,” Sans told me softly while his eyes stared into my own.  A gentle smile was given in return. 

 

“You could not have known, since we only just met today,” I pointed out to him.  He huffed slightly in laughter as his features mostly relaxed from their concerned visage.

 

I closed my eyes, taking a few deep, calming breaths before deliberately stepping around Sans.  I opened them and stared at Muffet for a little while. My nerves and fear were starting to rise, but I mentally squashed them with ruthlessness.  She was born the way she was born. I will not be rude or afraid of her because of something she has no control over. ‘ Yay for the human ability to ignore our own feelings with logic. ’ 

 

“My apologies, Ms Muffet,” I said stepping forward and offering my hand in greeting. “You took me by surprise.”  The fear and nerves came back at the thought of one of her hands touching mine. They were again squished. Though I could feel the sweat that had pooled in my palm.

 

“You’re not going to faint on me, dearie~?” She asked eyeing my hand and my strained smile. 

 

“Despite my fear of spiders, I could see myself falling for you,” I gave her a small wink along with a nervous chuckle.

 

She took my hand then.  I could feel myself tense up, but nothing happened.  I let out the breath I did not realize I was holding before I finished the gesture by shaking her hand. 

 

“Well, now that I know what to expect here, I should be good with the occasional visit,” I smiled a bit more freely and warmly at Muffet.  Tilting my head towards the display. “So what do you recommend of your wares?”

 

Muffet’s expression brightened as she started explaining the different pastries and confectioneries she had to offer. “All of these were made by spiders, for spiders, of spiders.”

 

“Of spiders?” I asked with a raised eyebrow. “You put actual spiders into your food?”

“Just the dust, dearie~.” She said like that explained it all. 

 

“And…” I paused as I thought it through.  Obviously the health board either did not know or Muffet had an exemption. “Why?  Is it a cultural thing with your type of monster?”

 

“Oh very much so, dearie.~   We spiders are always thinking about how can help the rest of the community.  Even to the point of what to do after their death.” Muffet’s fond little smile as she explained this calmed me down even more. “Let me get you a spider cider along with a spider doughnut.  Those are the best ones to start with.”

 

“Make that two, Muffet,” Sans speaks up from behind me as he makes his way to my side.   Despite my fears, I was fascinated as each hand worked with the others and managed to get everything together efficiently.  Along with taking money from Sans.

 

“I could have paid,” I protested as he was handed back his change.  

 

“My treat,” Sans insisted as he ushered me to one of the seats.  His phalanges press into the small of my back. Their warmth I could feel through the fabric of my shirt.

 

“You do not have to treat me, Sans,” I replied with a shake of my head as we settled into a booth.  I angled myself to where I could stretch my bad leg along the seat, leaving Sans to take the seat across from me.

 

Sans simply shrugged at me as he slumped into his seat.  “How’s the leg? We haven’t done too much walking yet?”

 

“Yet?” I asked with a raised eyebrow. “Usually resting it for about twenty minutes helps get me home.”

 

“Was thinkin’ we could head to the nearby park after this.”

 

I sat up a little straighter and couldn’t help but give him a wide smile.  “I was wondering if there was one in the area.” I pulled my phone out and brought up my map, making a note for our current location.  I zoomed out a little and noticed the park about two blocks from the bakery.

 

“This is great,” I could not help the excitement.  “While I cannot run much, I do enjoy some daily walks and people watching.”

 

A boney hand touches mine.  ‘ That warmth… Why do I feel everytime he touches me? ’  I wondered while looking up towards his face.  His eye lights were bright and a little fuzzy around the edges.

 

“Slow down, we haven’ even had our snack yet,” He said gently. “The park won’t up and leaf in the next while.”  The small pun had me giggling a little. Of course, that was the moment Muffet showed up with our order.

 

“Sorry things took me so long, dearies,” Muffet started as she set down the food and drinks.  “I had to keep Cupcake from coming out I didn’t want you to get another scare today.”

 

“I appreciate the forethought, Ms Muffet.”  A tilt of my head along with a wry grin accompanied my words. ‘ Probably a bigger more spider looking creature. ’ 

 

“Well, please let me know if you need anything else. And enjoy the rest of your date, dearie~,” Muffet said with a wink of one of her eyes. “Sansy here is a real catch.”  Before I could even protest, Muffet went back to her kitchen.

 

“Sweet Mother, what did we do that made her infer that we were on a date?” I grumbled out loud as I started pulling apart the doughnut in front of me.  It looked like a regular cake doughnut with a dark chocolate icing decorated with purple spider-shaped sprinkles.

 

“Doughnut worry about it,” Sans tried to assure me, somehow slipping a pun in there. “Muffet is not the type to gossip, so it is the yeast of your worries. Don’cha have a list of things you need to get done, anyways?”

 

“You do have a point. And you seem able to roll out those puns.  Even when they are rather a stretch.” I deadpanned at Sans before giving a sigh and eating a piece of the confection.  A small moan issued from my lips as the taste of the doughnut danced along my tongue. “Why does monster food taste so good?”

 

Sans made a choking sound then cleared his throat.  I looked over at him with an arched eyebrow. There was a blue glow tinting his features.  “Are you doing well?” I asked with a concerned frown. 

 

“Yea, just peachy,” Sans answered after taking a drink of his cider.  “And the answer to your last question is ‘magic’.” When he included jazz hands, I just rolled my eyes and went back to my snack.  “Plus most monster food has some healing qualities. Thought it might help your leg recover quicker.” 

 

“How considerate,” I chuckled before going back to looking at my surroundings.  A natural silence fell between the two of us as we idly ate, watching the coming and going of a few patrons.  ‘ Allura would have loved it here. ’  I thought sighing faintly before finishing up my snack.

 

The silence was broken when I heard in my ear, “A G for yer thoughts, sweetpea?”  Pulling my head away, I turned and saw the Sans from two nights ago practically hanging over the back of the booth behind me.

“Red, what are you doing here?” Sans greeted the other coolly.  His eyelights turned to tiny pinpricks. 

 

“Ease up, Vanilla.  I only came cause I had a feeling in m’ bones,”  the Sans behind me replied with one of his boney hands over his sternum.  With that, he slid into the unoccupied part of my side of the booth, behind me.  A part of him brushing my back causing the same warmth I would feel anytime the Blue Sans touched me.  

 

 ‘ I can’t keep calling them both Sans when they’re next to each other. ’  I glanced between the two.  ‘ Wait, the one behind me was called Red just now, and he called the one across from me Vanilla.  Guess those would do for now. ’  With a small nod to myself, I turned so that I could address the newcomer.

 

“Well, Red,” I started and I noticed his own grin turning down.  “I was just thinking that my daughter would have loved coming here.”

 

“Bring her next time,” Vanilla quickly responded leaning forward. My breath hitched slightly as I flinched away from his suddenness.  I could feel the start of tears pricking at the corner of my eyes. 

 

“If only I could,” I said softly as I rubbed the ache that started up in my chest while I glanced away. “Her ashes are scattered over her favorite flower bed back east.  Now pardon me, I need to use the restroom.” 

 

I quickly got up and made my way to the restroom.  Taking my time, I splashed cold water on my face to help calm me down.  I took a glance in the mirror and snorted at the slight redness that lined my eyes.  One of the many times I am grateful that I do not wear make-up..

 

Exiting the restroom, I was able to see the booth.  Both Sans were sitting back in their seats, seemingly relaxed.  I noted that their grins looked strained as they side-eyed each other.  There was a thickness in the air as I approached. It tingled along my skin, not unpleasantly.

 

As I made my way back to them, I brushed my hand against the back of a chair, putting a little of myself into it. ‘ Would you care to follow me and give me a seat please as long as I am here? ’  I asked mentally the moment I felt the connection was made.  The response I got back was positive. Well as positive as a wooden object could be.

 

“Gentlemen,” I addressed the two skeletons in the booth, my voice stern. “I do not appreciate coming back to a pissing contest.  Whatever is the cause of the tension between the two of you, drop it.” Without looking, I dropped into the chair that I had following me.  My posture was straight. The tip of my cane planted firmly on the ground in front of me. My fingers idly ran along the carvings, my only sign of nervousness.




Vanilla and Red shared a look before the former spoke up. “Red was wanting to come along with us for the rest of the walk.”  

 

“Sorry, sweetpea,” Red spoke up, one bony hand on his sternum. Eye lights firmly on me. “Something in m’ soul is demanding tha’ I be near ya.  An’ befor’ ya ask, it has notin’ to do wit’ why I was drinking the other night. Meetin’ ya made me realize that she honestly wasn’ comin’ back.  At least, na in the way I was hoping.”

 

I studied Red quietly.  Red drops of something was decorating his skull and his eye lights flitting around after he spoke.  Phalanges still rubbing his sternum.

 

“Very well, Red,” I acquiesced with a slight bow of my head.  “You may accompany us. Just please remember that I do not like the mulish behaviour you displayed the other night.  At least, not in public.” 

 

At the sound of Vanilla’s protest, I held up a hand. “Sans,” I started looking directly at him. “First off it is partly my decision, since I am one of the parties involved.  Secondly, it is wrong to force someone to deny a part of themselves.” I glanced significantly at Red.

 

“Fine,” he groaned out before shooting a look at Red.  Who just smirked back.

 

“Now,” I started standing up.  I touched the chair behind me and sent it back to its original position  with a mental ‘ Thank you ’  “Vanilla said something about heading to a nearby park  Shall we?“ I started to head towards the door.

 

“Bear,” I heard Vanilla speak up behind me.  Turning, I saw he and Red were looking where the chair was. “What was up with that chair?”  

 

“There is a simple answer for that,” I replied, causing both sets of eyelights to come over to me. 

 

“And wha’ ‘s tha’, sweetpea?”  Red asked as they got up from the booth and headed towards me. 

 

With a smirk, I replied, “Magic”  Jazz hand included.






Chapter Text

The sounds of giggles floated into the air as we headed out to our next destination.  Both Sanses trailing behind me. Both firing questions at me to the point where I could not make out the words.

 

“Guys,” I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk holding my hand up.  “I really do not feel like explaining that part of myself right now.   Most I would like to do is head to the park Vanilla mentioned. So, can we please table this particular discussion after we get to know each other better?”

 

They both looked like they were wanting to argue and continue.  However, a significant look from Red to Vanilla made the latter quiet down.

 

“Sure thing, sweetpea,” Red gave a nod looking back towards me. “Though I do need ta ask.  How good’s yer control?”

 

“I have not had a major wild expression of my magic since it first manifested,” I answered with a shrug.  Pulling out my phone, I noted the direction of the park and started heading that way. “After that I clamped down on it and took several months to come to understand it.  It did not help that I was also going through physical therapy at the time.”

 

“Before or after the accident?” Vanilla asked as he caught up to me and took up position on my right.  Red sauntered he way over to my left. Both hand their hands in their hoodies.

 

“After, and that is the last question I will answer about it,” I stated firmly glancing between the two.

 

The rest of the walk to the park was in a comfortable silence.  I took in some of the shops that we passed, made a few notes on my phone.  Vanilla was on his and seemed to be texting someone. While Red, seem to be either giving me a smile or glaring at any males that passed us on this side of the road.  Throughout this time, some part of me was missing that odd warmth from their touch.

 

When we did arrive, I was happy to see that there were no walls around the park.  Several walking paths that extended from the sidewalk snaked through the grass and flowers with plenty of benches for those that need to rest or just sit and enjoy nature.  A majority of the trees were young, though I could spy a few that were rather wide from true age. Flower beds dotted the landscape along with the occasional gazebo or shelter.

 

“Oh, my…” My voice trailed off taking it all in. I started bouncing in place, eager to head across the street to enter the greenery.  “This is absolutely fantastic. I can hardly wait to get lost in there.”

 

“If ya get lost in there, sweetpea, I don’ think we’ll eva find ya,” Red said to me with an actual wink.  Not one of his eye lights blinking out, but his socket actually become covered by bone. ‘ How the heck? Oh right.  ‘Magic.’ Their explanation for everything. ’  My thoughts stopped for a moment before I gave Red a narrowed look as I finally parsed his words.

 

“And what exactly are you implying, Red?” I asked with a frown, though I was trying hard to suppress a grin.   A few drops of red liquid developed on Red’s skull as he took a slight step back.  

 

“Yer just so tiny, sweetpea,” Red stated though his grin got wider. “Feel like I could pick ya up and stuff ya in m’ pocket.”

 

I deadpanned.  “So, you are telling me that the bar for your teasing is so low that your repertoire of jokes is coming up rather short?” I started taking a careful step towards Red, who took another step back, my gaze never wavering from his. The drops getting more numerous as his red eye lights contracted and darted every which way.  I could hear Vanilla’s bones rattle behind, making a mental note to apologize after this. I gave a small snort before shaking my head. “If that is the height of your humor, I guess I should count myself lucky that there is Vanilla to pick it up, since it is rather close to the ground.”

 

The sound of bones hitting concrete had me spinning around to look for Vanilla.  I was shocked though. Instead of being scared like I originally thought, he was rolling on the ground, holding his middle, and laughing his skull off.  His eye sockets were closed and blue drops were dripping from the corners.

 

“Um… Sans?” I crouched down, ignoring the twinge in my leg as I did so, rather concerned as he kept laughing and seemed to have a hard time breathing. “Everything okay?” 

 

He took a deep breath. ‘ Why does he need to breath? ’  “S-Sorry,” he finally managed to gasp out while wiping away some of what I presumed to be tears.  “Tha’ was the first time I ever heard anyone get truly pun ished.  Stars, I feel like I have to reach to really get to that level.”  He eventually calmed down and brushed off his shorts when he stood up, still chuckling every now and then.  Especially when he looked over to Red.

 

“You have to admit, Red,” he called out to the red faced skeleton who seemed to be trying to hide in his hoodie. “That was really humerus.”

 

“Yeah, tibia honest, I wasn’ expecting tha’,” Red nodded in acknowledgement, his grin getting wider as he looked at me. 

 

“I may have a femur in me,” I said with a shrug as I carefully stood up from the crouch.  “But can we head across the street now?”

 

Vanilla took my hand with a small chuckle and lead me across the street.  Red following along behind. I could feel his gaze along my backside, but I let it slide since he wasn’t making any crude comments.

 

The warmth was coming back, and I allowed myself to enjoy the feeling.  I glanced down to where Vanilla held my hand and noted just how well my own fitted against his phalanges.  His other one was pointing out a few places, but I was not paying that much attention.

 

“A couple times during the week, I’ll come out here and set up a hotdog stand,” his voice snapped me out of my reverie.  “Selling hotdogs and hotcats.”

 

“Hotcats?”  I asked curiously. “How is it different from a hotdog?” We had travelled down one of the walking paths.  Red still behind Vanilla and myself, glaring at anything that came close to us.

 

“We jus’ hav’ ta make ya one fer ya ta see,” Red said as he moved to where he was more alongside me.  Then he went towards one of the benches and sat down heavily “C’mon hav’ a seat, sweetpea.” He patted the seat next to him.  “Can tell yer gettin’ tired from th’ walkin’”

 

I opened my mouth to protest, but the sudden feel of Vanilla’s hand on the small of my back stopped me.


“He’s right,” Vanilla said as he gently urged me towards the bench. “You’re leaning on your cane more so than before.  Don’t think you want people to see either of us carry you home.” 

 

A faint flush came to my cheeks at the thought of such an embarrassing scene. “Fine,” I sighed as I allowed myself to be guided to the bench.

 

I made sure that there was some space between Red, Vanilla, and myself on the bench.  My cane acting like a barrier between Red and me. I started to rub the back of my injured leg as my gaze took in this particular area of the park.

 

“So peaceful here,” I commented quietly as I watched an elderly lady walk her dog along the path.

 

“Eh, usually is at this time,” Vanilla added. “Though it does pick up when the schools get out and then the nearby offices close.”

 

“Hopefully, I am not keeping either of you from your work,” I said as I pulled my phone to check my messages.  For some odd reason, it doesn’t always give me a notice when I do have one. Both shook their head giving some kind of negative sound as I read a series of texts that came a couple hours ago.

 

(XXX)XXX-XXXX: (13:23 04/XX/XX)   Are you okay?

(XXX)XXX-XXXX: (13:28 04/XX/XX) Seriously, are you okay?

 

(XXX)XXX-XXXX: (13:35 04/XX/XX) Please, can you respond?

 

(XXX)XXX-XXXX: (13:51 04/XX/XX) I’m texting Sans since you’re not responding.

 

With a furrowed brow, I got Vanilla’s attention and showed him the series of texts.  “Do you know who this is?” I asked as he glanced over. 

 

“Oh, that’s Grillby’s number,” He answered quickly.  “Are you only just now getting his texts?” He looked up at me with a slightly furrowed browbone.

 

“Yes,” I grumbled as I sent Grillby a reply. “For some reason my phone sometimes does not like to let me know when I get a new text message.  You saw me on my phone often as we walked.”

 

ME: Sans informed me that this was your number Grillby.  I am fine. Just had a small scare around the time of your texts.  Please be advised that there are times when I do not get a notice for any new text messages.  It is something that has to do with either my service or my phone. (More than likely the latter).

 

“Guess ya should get a new phone,” Red commented from beside me as he glanced over my other shoulder.

 

“I probably should,” I murmured as I saved Grillby’s contact information.  Nothing fancy just his name. Then a new text popped up.

 

Grillby: Thank you for explaining.  I’ll text you later about continuing that conversation.

 

Me:  Look forward to it.

 

“Wha’ conversation?” Red practically growled out in my ear, causing me to turn and raise an eyebrow at his behaviour. 

 

“One that is between me and him,” I responded firmly, pushing his skull away from me.  He settled into the corner of the bench with his arm slung across the back. Vanilla took up a similar position on my other side. We fell into a comfortable silence as we watched people walk by.

 

I don’t know who started it, but they started rubbing small circles.  I gave a small hum as I leaned into the warmth. I could feel my body relaxing.  I didn’t know my eyes had closed until my head snapped up from trying not to fall asleep.

 

“Ugh,” I groaned while rubbing my face. “I should get home.  Especially if I feel the need for a nap.” 

“No worries,  sweetpea,” Red piped up from beside me.  “Vanilla and I take naps all the time.”

 

“That is nice and all, Red, but I just have too much to do to even think about taking one.”  I pulled out my phone and checked the time. “I still need to find a contractor to get my place redone. And I am still trying to find a grocery store that is within a reasonable distance that does not make me walk a lot.”

 

“Sounds like ya just moved in,” Re commented while glancing over my head towards Vanilla.  “So why’re ya needin’ yer building remodelled?”

 

I gave a sigh as I leaned against the back of the bench.  My gaze travelling up to the cloudless afternoon sky. “After looking things over the past couple of days, there is a rather sizeable list. Mainly, there are several floorboards and walls that need to be replaced, and the power grid needs to be updated from the 1940’s.”

 

I frowned slightly as I looked back down and towards Red. “I do not know who was in charge of maintenance, but I can tell you that they did a rather horrible job of it.”

 

“Well, if you’re tired, let’s get you home,” Vanilla said standing up and offering me his hand.  “I can ask around and see if anyone would be up for the task.” He looks over to Red as he gently pulls me up. “You headin’ home, Red?”  His voice was a bit hard, like he was giving an order.

 

Red got up from the bench and gave Vanilla a wide smile. “I wouldn’t mind comin’ along.  As long as Veronica, doesn’ mind.” 

 

“Beronica,” I absently corrected. “With a ‘B’. And no, I do not mind you coming with us.”  I opened up my phone and brought up the map, this time looking for directions from here to my new home.  “It is why I tell people to call me ‘Bear’.” I explained while setting off where the application was sending me.  “It reminds them on how to properly say my name.”

 

They both were quiet as we headed out of the park.

 

“Nah,” Red said with a shake of his head and a grin towards me. “I like sweetpea better for ya.”

 

“As long as it is not derogatory or variations of the one you first tried to call me the other night,” I replied with a faint chuckle. 

 

“And what name would that be?” Vanilla asked from the other side of me. 

 

“Don’ worry about it, Vanilla,” Red said before I could say anything. “With ya calling Kitten ‘buddy’ or ‘kiddo’, ya should be fine.”  Red glanced down at me as we passed a small boutique. “‘Sides, feel like she’s the kind tha’ woul’ tell ya if ya fucked up.”

 

I nodded in agreement as we waited to cross a street. “I am a strong supporter of open communication.  I prefer to talk things out rather than any sort of physical confrontation.” I gave both a significant look. “Especially with the two of you as my friends now.  I do not wish to inadvertently hurt or insult you simple because of a clash of cultures.” With that last statement, I stopped in front of the building that I now call home.  The skeletons continued to walk for a little bit before realizing I had stopped.

 

“We already there?” Vanilla asked coming back to me.  At my nod, he turned and looked at the building we were in front. “The Corsica building?  You own the Corsica building?” He looked back at me and I simply arched an eyebrow.

 

“Does it matter?” I asked while pulling out my keys and making my way to the door that lead to the apartments.

 

“Tori has been trying to get this building since we were first arranged to live in this part of Ebott,” he explained before shaking his head. “They wouldn’t tell us exactly why they wouldn’t sell it to us.”

 

“Considering it was being held in trust for me, the lawyers could not actually sell it,” I explained while unlocking the door. “Even I did not know I owned it until a few months ago.”

 

“Are you willing to sell it?” Vanilla asked looking at me almost eagerly.  Red made a sound nearby, but I didn’t look to see what he was doing.

 

“This is my home now, Sans,” I said gently. “While it needs some major work done, I am not going to give it up.”

 

“Is it because we’re monsters?” His expression grew dark and his eye lights became so small that they were practically gone from his sockets. His grin turning down at the corners to look more like a frown.

 

“Really now,” I said with a roll of my eyes before looking significantly between him and Red. “If I had something against monsters, would I have chosen to spend my afternoon with two? On top of having lunch at a monster owned restaurant?”

 

I reached out and touched Vanilla’s hoodie covered arm. “This is my home now, Sans.  The first place I can call such in the past few years. It needs a lot of work, I will give you that, but it still is and will be home for me.”

 

Vanilla looked down to where I was touching him before letting out a noise that sounded like a sigh. “Fine,” he finally said before his eye lights as well as his grin came back.  Though the latter looked more forced.

 

“So wha’ are ya plans for the first floor?” Red piped up cutting through the sudden tension.  

 

I turned to him with a wide smile. “Carpentry,” I immediately replied.  “Things like woodworking, furniture making and restoration and the like.  I am going to ensure that there is plenty of soundproofing when I have the place redone so that my work does not disturb any future tenants.”

 

I looked up at the facade of the building with a fondness.  To me, this place was not just a new home. It was a new chapter of my life.  A way to grow as a person without my family breathing down my neck.

 

“Anyways,” I said  looking back to the two skeletons. “Thank you for showing around a bit, Vanilla.  And thank you both for seeing me home. Now I would like to get that nap in and try and get a few phone calls made.”

 

“‘S no problem, sweetpea,” Red said while walking up to me nudging Vanilla a little on his way.  He gazed down at me with an expression I couldn’t interpret. “I’ll see ya around Grillby’s, or maybe pop by to say hi.”

 

“Feel free to stop by any time, Red,” I replied with a small smile. “Just remember to leave the donkeys at the door.”

 

“No promises, sweetpea,” he said before walking off with a backwards wave.

 

I turned to my other companion from the day. “So, Sans, should I give you my number so that you can let me know about those possible contractors?”

 

“Huh? Oh sure,” he was quick to hand me his phone.  After a little fumbling, I finally managed to get my contact information in along with a text message to me so that I would know whose number it was.

 

“Please, do not be a stranger,” I said while handing back his phone. “I enjoyed our time today and would like to hang out more as friends.”

 

“Yeah, friends,” He said looking down at the sidewalk before looking back up at me with his eye lights bright. “I’ll give ya a call when I find something out.  And you’re sure you’re not willing to sell?”

 

“No Sans,” I gave a small shake of my head and a small smile.

 

“Later, Bear,”  he bid before walking off as well. 

 

“Have a good afternoon, Sans,”  I bade after him with a warm feeling in my chest.

Chapter Text

It’s been a few days since my walk in the park with the Sanses.  Thoughts of one or the other flit through my mind, sometimes both.  Like how they are very similar to each other, yet different. Vanilla Sans seemed easy going, laid back.  While Red Sans still had that laid back air, he was constantly on guard. Ever watchful of his surroundings. 

 

The main thought that kept bugging me as I cleaned one of the vacant apartments that weekend was the warmth.  Not just from where they would touch me, either idle or deliberate. But the warmth that would sprout in my chest.  I would catch myself absently rubbing the spot whenever thoughts of them would crop up. Even when I think about my forthcoming talk with Grillby.

 

I managed to catch his text the day after.  We were meeting at his closed restaurant Monday afternoon.  In the meantime, I did manage to find a grocer that delivered.  Which was a godsend for me. Yet when they delivered that Saturday morning after I placed my order, there was an extra fee on top of the delivery fee.  

 

“Pardon me,” I stopped the delivery driver before they could leave. “But could you kindly explain why there is an extra charge on the bill?”  I showed him on the receipt what I was talking about.

 

“Oh, that…” He replied with a nervous hint to his voice.  “The boss said that if you asked I was to say hazard pay.”

 

“Hazard pay?” I asked furrowing my brow.  “I know this building is in a bit of a shambles, but it is not hazardous.”

 

“Erm…” The driver scuffed his shoe a little before glancing back at me. “It’s because you live in the monster district.”

 

I blink at the driver before shaking my head. “Twenty dollars extra because I live in the monster district?  I am safer here than I would be in a primarily human neighborhood.”

 

“Sorry, lady,” the driver just shrugged.  “But that is what the boss said. I just deliver the goods.”

 

With a faint sigh, I gave a small nod to the delivery boy and waved him off with a kind smile. “Thank you for delivering them.  Though I should get that ice cream in the freezer.”

 

“Have a good day, Lady,” The driver bade before leaving my apartment.

 

The driver’s comment about the monsters being dangerous brought Red to mind.  I will grant that particular skeleton looks rather menacing. All sharp points, gold tooth, and an air of mess with me, I mess with you.  However, seeing him that first night, when he was at a low point. I just couldn’t see him as a threat. He’s a person just like the rest of us.  

 

With a shake of my head, I gathered some of my newly delivered cleaning supplies.  Since this was the weekend, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do any sort of calling. So I grabbed my phone and headed to the nearest apartment in the empty building.  I turned on my pandora, allowing hard rock to fill the area, and I got to work.

 

It took me most of the day to get that one cleaned up.  By the time I was done, my leg was aching something fierce, sweat slightly soaking my clothes, and an apartment that smells like bleach. 

 

The music from my phone was interrupted with the tone for an incoming text.  I paused the music and looked at who texted me. It was Vanilla.

 

V.Sans: knock knock

 

I raised an eyebrow at the message before replying.

 

Me: Who’s there?

 

V.Sans: watch

 

Me: watch who?

 

V.Sans: watch’a doing?

 

I snorted faintly at the bad joke.

 

Me: Resting.  Been cleaning out one of the other apartments today.

 

V.Sans: ugh.  Too much work.

 

Me: Agreed. It still needs to be done.  I have four more to do.

 

Me: any luck on that contractor?

 

V.Sans: it’s only been a day, babe.  Gotta give me time to talk to people.

 

My eyes narrowed at San’s text as I gathered up the cleaning supplies.  

 

Me: Babe? As it stands right now, I’m not your ‘babe’.

 

V.Sans: Heh, my bad.  Guess I need rattle out a better nickname for you.

 

Me:  Bear is good enough, and one that I feel that I’ve earned.

I headed out of the apartment and carefully took the stairs down to my own.  There wasn’t anyone else in the build to help if I fell. ‘ An elevator will be installed.  I don’t care if it takes away from a few of the apartments.  I need one in here. ’ My thoughts grumbled as I opened my door and returned the supplies back to their spot.

 

Checking my phone I see I got a couple more messages from Sans.

 

V.Sans: Guess it’ll be bearable for now.

 

V.Sans: So what are your plans for dinner?

 

I arched an eyebrow at the question taking a quick glance at the crock pot sitting on the kitchen counter.

 

Me: My dinner has been cooking since this morning. Just need to add a few things and it’ll be ready in about an hour.

 

I grabbed the few ingredients I needed and added them to the pot before closing the lid.  A shower sounded heavenly at this point. Of course, Sans texted me again.

 

V.Sans: So you managed to find a grocer near you.

 

Me:  Actually one that delivers.  But I would rather take the pain of walking over being charged extra cause of some prejudiced asshole.

 

V.Sans: Wha?  What makes you say that?

 

I shook my head a little as I deliberated on whether answer him as I puttered about gathering things for a shower.  I was thankful that I was the only one in the building since I didn’t need to worry about taking all the hot water. I finally decided to tell him.

 

Me: Either the manager on duty or the owner charged me $20 extra just because I live in the monster district.  Driver was told to tell me it was ‘hazard pay.’

 

The phone was set on the counter in the bathroom before I proceeded to take a shower.  Hot water sluiced down along my body, easing some of the soreness in my muscles. Feeling my wet tips of my hair brush the back of my thighs, I sighed slightly as I went about the task of washing and conditioning its length.

 

There were a few more texts from Sans when I exited the shower.  Mostly along the lines asking about which store and for me to have a good night.  I sent back the name of the store and bade him a good night as well.

 

I got dressed in one of my favorite flannel nightgowns.  High-necked, floor-length, long sleeved. The kind you would think grandma or prude when you saw it.  I loved them. They were always soft and comfortable to me. I left my hair down to allow it to air dry before bed, and it trailed behind me as I made my way back to the kitchen.

 

Humming a song under my breath, I started taking bowls out of the cupboard.  Filling two and only putting a half ladle’s worth of the stew in the third. Silverware, drinks, napkins and then the food was placed down.

 

“David! Allura!” I called out the smile not leaving my face. “Supper’s ready!”  I listened for the usual noise of padding little feet. Five minutes go by, no sounds.  A couple more, and I still don’t hear anything.  

 

A small frown tugged the corner of my mouth as I looked around me.  ‘ Where am I? ’ I thought, not recognizing the place. ‘ This isn’t my house.’  Panic started welling up in my chest.  ‘ Where’s David?’  I looked around frantically.  

 

“David!”  I called out, looking from room to room, though there were only a couple.  “Allura!” My calls getting more desperate. “C’mon. It’s time for supper.  We aren’t playing games!” I looked under the different pieces of furniture in the living area.  “Allura come out this instant!” I snapped out. Worry gnawing on my mind.

 

“David, where did you go?” I headed to the next room.  Was some sort of bedroom. Not mine. It was too small.  I still looked around the furniture. My movements becoming even more panicked as my searches were fruitless.  My chest was getting tighter and tighter with each passing second.  

 

A door.  There. Maybe they went outside.  I rushed over to the door, nearly falling as my left leg tried to go out from under me  ‘ What happened to my leg?  Where’s David?’ I got up and quickly opened it to a hallway.  Looking left and right, I didn’t see either one, though I saw stairs to my left.  

 

I quickly made my way to the stairs, stumbling as my leg kept wanting to not support me.  I heard footsteps rushing up the stairs. “David, is that you?” I saw someone that seemed vaguely familiar.  Though with their messy appearance, they’re probably the gardener.  

 

“Sorry to bother you,” I started heading towards them only for my left leg to truly fall out from under me this time.  Some choice swears left my mouth as I struggled to regain my footing.

 

Strong thin fingers gently hooked under my arms and hoisted me to my feet.  The smell of oil, musk, and mustard filled my nose as I was escorted back to the place I came from. 

 

“I need to find Allura,” I protested as I strained against their hold.  It wasn’t hurtful, just firm. “Or at least David. He’ll know where our daughter is.”  The hand on me tightened just a fraction. No matter how I struggled, I was inevitably lead back.  

 

Warm words were said to me, but I couldn’t hear what was being said.  Eventually, I was sat at the table in front of one of the full bowls. The hands leaving me a brief moment before I felt something card through my hair.

 

“Oh, there you are David,” I said with some relief.  He always did enjoy running his fingers through my hair.  “Is Allura doing better?” I asked, though I frowned slightly at the bowl to my left.  If Allura was sick, then I wouldn’t have made something so heavy.

 

A soft murmur was all I heard in response.  “Please, sit down and eat. Supper is getting cold.  I can make something lighter for her when she is feeling better,” I gestured for them to take the seat to my right.

 

‘David’ hesitated a moment before he sat down.  The chair groaning slightly under his weight. ‘David’ seemed reluctant at first but started eating after the first bite.  I filled the air between us with idle chatter as we ate.

 

When we were finished, ‘David’ pulled me up from the chair and walked me towards the too small bedroom  “But the dishes,” I protested looking back to the table. His hands were insistent on me following him.  

 

When we got to the bedroom, he pulled me down into the bed with him.  He tucked me against his chest, a low rumble coming deep from his ribs.  His warmth seeped deep into my chest. Combined with the rumble and his continued stroking of my hair I soon fell asleep.



******

(Red’s POV)

 

When Red heard Beronica’s breathing slow and even out, a sigh of relief came from him.  Careful maneuvering allowed him to get his phone from his pocket without releasing his mate in his arms.  After a quick nuzzle into her hair, he shot off a message to Vanilla.

 

Red:  Found our mate wandering.  Wasn’t completely there.

 

Red went back to cuddling his mate, breathing deep of her earthy scent.  He continued his soft purrs to help keep her relaxed, his own sockets drooping  with the want for sleep.  

 

His sockets snap open at the sound of his phone alerting him to a new text.

 

Vanilla: what do you mean, ‘not all there’?

 

Red: Didn’t recognize me, where she was at.  She didn’t even have her cane. Kept asking for a ‘David’ and ‘Allura’  Came over cause I was feeling a sense of panic. 

 

Vanilla: how is she now?

 

Red: Asleep.  I’m keeping an eye on her.

 

Vanilla: something is going on here.  We’ve only known her for a day in my case and a 4 in yours and we’re already this attached.

 

Red: Talk to Sin and Pink.  They probably know more about SOULmates than any other ‘cousin’.

 

Vanilla: will do.  Talk to ya when you get home.

 

Red: will be sometime tomorrow.  



Red looked down at the top of Beronica's form curled into his chest.  He shot off a quick text to his brother to let him know he won’t be home that night and set his phone to the side. 

 

He pulled his mate’s body closer to his, running a nasal ridge into her hair.  Instincts screaming at him to mark her. His soul was content though, so he sighed and did his best to cover her in his scent.

 

A beep from his phone alerted him to a received message.  Waking up just enough, he saw his bro’s acknowledgement. Which reminded him that he said he would do the dishes.

 

With a small grumble he attempted to leave the bed.  Only to stop when he realized Beronica had a firm grasp on his jacket.  Some careful movements left one undisturbed mate with his favorite jacket.  She snuggled deeper into the cloth with soft, indecipherable murmurs.

 

Red made quick work of the kitchen.  Putting away the leftovers and cleaning up the dishes.  He chuckled softly to himself. Papyrus would be flabbergasted if he saw him now.  He would demand what sort of witchery his mate casted on him to actually do chores.  Or worship the ground she walked on. Probably the former.

 

As Red went about his task, he noticed that the kitchen was rather bare.  There weren’t any real decorations or personal touches. Nor were there that many dishes.  While the fridge looked somewhat stocked, there still wasn’t much in there.

 

With his job done, Red went back to his mate’s side, eager to feel her warmth against his bones.  It was as he was crawling back into bed that his eyelights got caught on something on the bedside table.  The street lights outside glinted off a metal double frame. With a side glance towards the sleeping woman, he plucked the photos up and took the time to study them.

 

A low growl issued from his throat when he saw the first one.  It was of his mate with another male. She was dressed all in white looking radiant.  The male towered over her. Both wore smiles and from the way they looked at each other in the photograph, there was a lot of love there.

 

The other photograph was of a little girl with Beronica.  Brown hair done in pig tails though he couldn’t judge the age..  The same emerald eyes shared between them. It looked like they were out in a garden, judging by all the flowers surrounding them.  Nearly identical smudges of dirt were on their faces. Red felt he could hear the joyous laughter the two shared.

 

With a sort of reverence, he returned the photos back to their spot on the nightstand.  He gently tugged his jacket out of Beronica’s hands as he settled back down next to her.  Covering both of them with it and with the duvet.  

 

One last look at his mate’s peaceful features, Red pulled her in and nuzzled into her neck.  “I’ll do wha’ eva’ I can to help ya ease yer own grief,” he whispered quietly into her ear. “I promise.”

Chapter Text

The sunlight streaming into my eyes slowly woke me up .  Mind foggy from sleep. The warmth surrounding me lent an urge to just snuggle closer into the arms holding me and fall back into slumber.  

 

Wait… arms?’ My eyes shot open and saw nothing but red.  Pulling back, I saw it was a red shirt. My eyes followed the material up towards the peaceful face of the owner.  Red’s slow, even breathing indicated he was still asleep.

 

I looked around as much as I could from my position, trying to remember when exactly he showed up.  Nothing came to mind. Come to think of it. I don’t exactly remember going to bed either. His jacket was on top both of us with one of my hands clutching the fur lining on the hood.

 

“‘S too early, sweetheart,” I heard Red mumble.  Glancing up towards his face, I noticed that his sockets were barely open revealing his heavily fuzzy red eyelights that were trained on me.  “Go back ta sleep.” I could feel more than hear the low rumble of his voice, starting from his chest and vibrating deep into my own. A sense of warmth spread widely from that point in my chest.

 

Red’s hands shifted a little on their spot on my back and pulled my more firmly up his chest to the point where his jaw could rest on my shoulder.  He then proceeded to bury his nasal ridge against the juncture of my neck, taking a large inhale, then exhaled in a low rolling rumble.

 

He’s purring… ’ I thought while I felt my face flush as the warmth in my chest expanded.  ‘ That...That is certainly unexpected.’   Even as the purring pile of bones started to ease me back into slumber, a rather pressing need arose.  I did attempt to wiggle out of his embrace a few times, unsuccessfully.

 

“Sans,” I finally said softly against his skull.  Red mumbled slightly even as his hold on me tightened just a shade more.  “Sans, I need to get up.”

 

“Nah.  Sleep‘s good for ya, sweetheart,” He mumbled back.

 

“Suit yourself, Sans,” I gave a small shrug. “Enjoy being pissed on when I can’t hold it in any longer.”

 

I was standing up out of bed before I could blink.  After a glance around the room I asked, “Where’s my cane?”

 

“Probably still in th’ kitchen where ya left it,” came the sleepy reply.

 

With a small huff, I carefully and quickly moved to the bathroom to do my business.  Glancing in the mirror after washing my hands and face I was greeted with a rather tired image.  Dark circles were starting under my eyes and my hair was in shambles. A quick brush out (about 3 minutes) and a few (7-8) minutes later, I had my hair righted as a long braid.  

 

When I made my way back to my bedroom, Red was up and scrolling through his phone, jacket back on.  My cane was resting against the bedside table. “Didn’t think ya would ‘preciate me standin’ outside ya bathroom door.” He said looking up from his phone towards me.  “‘N ya should let ya hair down.”  

 

“My hair is fine,” I replied with a roll of my eyes as I headed over to the wardrobe. “I have things to do, and it needs to be up to keep out of my way.” I pulled out another set of my usual long, plain colored skirt and long sleeved button up.  I looked back towards Red and he seems to be watching me with a wide smirk. “Do you mind?” I asked with a bite to my tone.

 

“Not at all, sweetpea,” He drawled leaning back against the headboard.  “Would love ta watcha undress in fron’ of me.”

 

I could feel my magic spike a little as I narrowed my eyes at him. “Sans, out.” I pointed towards the door with my free hand.   

 

“Make me,” came the quick snarky reply.  I narrowed my eyes at the skeleton in my bed before placing my hand on the mattress he was resting on.

 

“Gladly,”  and allowed some of my magic to seep into the room around me.  ‘ Please?’ was the only actual word I thought as an image of Red being flung out of the room by the mattress with the door opening and shutting behind him.  With a slight pull on my magic, that is exactly what happened. The surprise on Red’s face was a sight to behold before I locked my bedroom door.

 

I allowed the magic to still permeate the room as I got changed into my everyday clothes.  A quiet thud the only indication that my ‘guest’ was trying to re-enter. I took a deep breath when I was done and gathered back up what I could of that magic, replacing the iron grasp I typically kept on it.

 

When I stepped out into the living area, Red was on his phone looking agitated.  Ruby colored sweat drops littered the back of his skull as he paced in front of the slightly decrepit couch.  As I caught his eye while he was talking, he seemed to straighten his posture and speak more earnestly into the phone.

 

I walked by him towards the kitchen, pointedly ignoring his conversation.  The clean counters and lack of dishes caused me to pause. I certainly didn't remember cleaning up before going to sleep.  A frown tugged at my lips and my scar as I started water for tea.

 

'Did I put things away and just not recall?' I thought to myself as I prepared two cups for tea.

Along with it, I made some toast and sliced up some of the few fresh fruits I had on hand.

“No coffee?” came the question as I set the last plate on the table. Red walking into the kitchen with a glance towards the mugs on the table.

 

“Mmm…” I hummed a bit as I took a seat. “Haven’t had much of a chance to purchase a Keurig yet.  With living by myself, I really can’t justify purchasing a coffee pot. Plus I prefer tea. There is a lot more varieties”  I waved towards the milk and sugar I had set on the table. “Go ahead and doctor it up like you would coffee. Earl grey I’ve found needs it.”

 

Red gave a small grunt as he sat down across from me and did as I suggested.  His eyelights brightened a little as he took his first sip. “Heh, need ta remember tha’ next time we run outa coffee in th’ house.”

 

We ate the simple breakfast I made in a peaceful quiet.  Like it was something we have done before. I was pulled from my reverie when Red cleared his nonexistent throat.  “So wha’ happened las’ night?” His eyelights were trained are me and relatively small.

 

“I have no clue as to what you mean, Sans,” came my reply as I moved to pick up the plates.  Red beat me to it and took them over to the sink and set them in there.  

 

“I came over ta see if ya wanted ta han’ out or somethin’,” He began turning from the sink to lean back against it, his eyelights not wavering from their gaze at me. “And I find ya wanderin’ th’ halls outside yer place.  No clue as ta who I was and where ya were. Askin’ if I knew where a David and Allura were.”

 

I blinked at Red’s words and shook my head a little. “I don’t recall any of that.  I know they’re gone, so I have no reason to go looking for them.”

 

“Wha’ ‘s the las’ thin’ ya remember doin’ last night?” Red then asked, his boney arms crossing each other as his eyelights continued to stare at me.

 

My brow furrowed as I racked my brain to recall last night’s events.  “Last thing I clearly recall is putting on my favorite nightgown, then exiting my bedroom to get some of the stew I made yesterday.”  My hands started shaking as I took in what I was saying. I gripped my mug tightly to keep Red from seeing. “I was texting Vanilla right before that, but don’t remember there being anything odd about the conversation.”

 

“Has this happened ta ya before?” Red asked as his eyelights continued to search not just my face but something else deeper inside of me. 

 

“Not that I can recall.” I turned my head away, studying what was left of the cold tea in my mug..  “Of course, I wouldn’t put it past my family not to say something of this magnitude.” I looked back towards Red who had an arched brow bone.  “They tend to treat me like I’m a little china doll.”

 

“Well,” he began, pushing off from the counter.  “It looks like ya haven’t had much time ta truly settle ‘n here, so we can get ya packed up and moved in ta th’ mansion.  I know we ha’ a spare room on th’ ground floor near a bathroom.”  

 

I gripped my mug as I felt anger starting to bubble up.  “Excuse me?” I ground out looking at Red with a hard stare.  “What makes you think I’m going to move in with you?” 

 

“Sweetpea,” Red started as he held up his phalanges in a placating gesture. “Ya don’ know if ya goin’ to have another episode like last night.  And as a possible friend, it scares th’ hell outta me jus’ thinkin’ about wha’ could ha’ happened if I hadn’t happened ta come over.”

 

Red started pacing the small space of the kitchen.  “Ya fell twice. Twice! As I came up th’ stairs. Both times cause ya didn’t remember tha’ ya had bad leg.”  He started waving his hands and arms about as he got more agitated. “Ya coulda fallen down th’ stairs and broken ya neck!”

 

The grip on my mug tightened as I felt my magic pulse angrily under my fingers.  “Be that as it may, Sans,” I ground out even as my magic started slipping from my control. I didn’t care though.  “It gives you NO right to tell me what to do.”  I stood up and glared at the skeleton across the table.  “Even if I do have another episode, Sans, I can take care of myself.”

 

“No, ya can’t,” he stated bluntly.  His tone challenging me to refute him..

 

Anger settled cold in my chest at the words.  My eyes narrowed at Red as I growled lowly, “get out.”

 

“Why?” He stepped closer to the table.  “Gonna fling me out again? No mattresses here, doll.”

 

“Don’t call me ‘Doll’,” I edged closer across the table.  By this time, my magic was fluctuating, seeping into the room around us.  I didn’t notice though. My entire focus was on the asshole in front of me.  “I just told you that I’ve been treated like a china doll. Told what to do, how to act, what I’m supposed to be. Said to me by those who claimed they LOVED me!”

 

“Bear, I’m not tryin’ ta tell ya wha’ ta do,” Red tried again, sweat dripping down the back of his skull.  “All I want ‘s ta keep ya safe.” His voice grew soft. Eyelights pleading as they gazed at me.

 

“They said that as well,” I snarled back. “There is nothing you can say right now that will not just piss me off more.”  I pointed towards the door. “Get out.”

 

“Bear, please,” he reached out to touch my hand.

 

OUT! ”  I slammed my hand against the table in my anger.  That seemed to have been some sort of que. I felt a sharp tug at my magic then anything loose in the kitchen began to fling itself at Red.  I hesitated at the sudden attack. Thankfully, Red was able to dodge the flying debris.

 

“Wha th’ hell?!” Red exclaimed as he narrowly ducked a wooden spoon aiming for his face.  “Stop throwing things at me!” He dodged one of the mugs of tea. While the mug missed, the contents splashed across his face.  His astonishment got him nearly hit with the broad side of a butter knife.

 

Snapping out of my stupor at the sight, I inhaled before calling out, “ENOUGH!” The various dishes and vases halted in midair.  I took the time to look at every frozen piece. “Back to where you were.” I could feel the hesitancy. “Now.” I ordered sternly. The dishware shuddered slightly before it headed back where they came from.  While they did that, I reached down another link that was agitated. Calming the one on the other end. As the last piece resettled itself, I calmly reined in my magic. Gathering it back up and into my being.

 

Opening my eyes, I gave Red the flattest look possible.  He wasn’t paying much attention, of course. His attention was on his surroundings as if he was waiting for another attack.

 

“My apologies for that immature display, Sans,” My voice flat and cold.  “I highly suggest you leave now before my control slips again.”

 

“Sweetpea?” His voice questioning and soft as he looked back at me.  He must have seen something in my visage for the words that looked like they were about to spill from his teeth were swallowed.

 

“I uh?...” He sweated a little as he took a step back and towards the entrance of the apartment. “Uh, I guess I’ll see ya at Grillby’s.”  He finally stated before literally disappearing.

 

I stared at the spot he just vacated for a few minutes before collapsing onto the dingy couch. Heavy sobs muffled by hands the only sound.