Chapter 1: Chapter One
Click. Click. Click.
Sans attempted to fire the gun three times. No bullet came forth from the muzzle, nor the crack of a gunshot. Just a muted pop and a puff of smoke. He set the gun down on the table in front of him, staring down the man who sat across from him, with two other men on either side of him. They all looked nervous. Of course they did. They knew what they had done, and they knew it wouldn’t be long before Sans found out.
The gun is pushed toward the man sitting down--Adam was his name.
“so, whaddya got to say for yerself?”
Adam shifted in his seat, looking at the faulty gun nervously. “I--I don’t know, sir. We checked all of your weapons twice. It--it could be a lack of maintenance that are causing the bullets not to fire…”
A lack of maintenance. At that, Sans laughed darkly. Now, he wasn’t unreasonable; he could understand faulty equipment being provided by his suppliers. It happened once in a while. But for a supplier to deliver a shipment of nothing but malfunctioning weapons and ammunition, and try to lie to Sans about it? The skeleton snorted, looking over to his right at Nails. “ya heard that? ‘s a ‘lack of maintenance’ causin’ these guns not to fire.”
Nails never slacked on maintenance. She was the one in charge of each and every weapon. Sales, trade, repair, and the like. To say that she didn’t, the mere
that she hadn’t was a grave offense. On top of her extensive knowledge of firearms and her impeccable aim, Nails kept every gun that ever touched her hands in top working condition. The weapons weren’t even allowed to be moved until she deemed them suitable for use.
“Adam.” Nails said as she stepped forward. “How certain are you that lack of maintenance is the issue?”
He looked at her nervously, then to Sans, then back to her. “One--one hundred percent.”
“Hm.” She reached into her jacket, and in the blink of an eye, she had pulled her own gun out, took aim at the man on Adam’s left, and shot him right in the throat. Both of the other men jumped as they watched their companion sink to the floor, gurgling as he grabbed at his throat.
“Well, would you look at that. It fired. It’s been maintained, and checked by me. As has this gun.” She looked at the faulted gun, then up to Adam, who had started to sweat profusely. “The bullets are no good. You’ve been giving us faulty ammunition, Adam.”
He squirmed in his seat, glancing down at the floor where his shot companion still writhed on the ground. Adam looked to Sans with a desperate expression on his face, one that pleaded for forgiveness. If he wanted forgiveness, he should have weighed out the consequences of trying to slip shitty bullets under their noses. Had they gotten into a firefight with a malfunctioning gun, someone would have died, or been injured. And Sans knew for a fact that someone like Adam wouldn’t own up to it. He’d try to keep hiding it as best as he could. It was insulting that this man believed he could pull the wool over their eyes like this.
“I---I’m sorry. I was just---I was just---I---”
“save it.” Sans interrupted with a raised hand as he stood from the table. “ya don’t need to go into detail on why ya decided to betray us. a backstab is still a backstab, innit?”
“Sir, please, I--I’m sorry. I’m sorry--I wanted---I’m so sorry! I can make it right! I can get you more weapons! Better ammunition! I’ll---I’ll---I’ll triple my protection pay. I’ll do anything for your forgiveness. Just---please, sir!
Adam wailed as he leaned across the table with his hands folded in a begging motion.
“‘anything, huh?” He regarded the man for a moment before leaning back in his chair with his hands folded over his chest.
“Yes sir! Anything! ”
“a’ight.” With a grunt, Sans stood up from his chair and adjusting his jacket. “ya wanna know what you can do for me?”
“Yes, sir. Yes!” Adam breathed, his eyes filled with tears of joy. Behind Adam, two feathered hands grabbed at his forehead and the other at his neck, and his eyes went wide as dinner plates as he looked up to Sans.
A gut-turning crack resounded throughout the room as the hands twisted Adam’s neck and broke it in a swift motion. Hammer dropped the corpse on the floor to join the other, before turning to the remaining man and breaking his neck with ease in a similar manner. Hammer huffed, dusting his hands off after he dropped the body to the floor, his tail twitching irritably as he looked at the pile of bodies.
Sans sighed, motioning both Hammer, Nails, and the rest of the crew to leave Adam’s apartment, not even bothering with clean up this time. It served as a message to the rest in the apartment complex of what would happen if they tried what Adam did.
“Lack of maintenance, my ass.” Nails spat bitterly, looking at her gun. “Did you fucking hear that guy? Trying to pin this on me? ”
“I heard it alright.” Hammer said. “Don’t worry, everyone and their mother knows better than to question your weapons expertise.”
“Not Adam’s apparently.” Nails snorted. “Claiming I don’t take care of my weapons is like...like...claiming the boss never pays his bets back. Oh...wait.”
“nails, don’t even go there.”
“I won’t if you just pay me and Hammer back for all your lost bets. How much is he in for? 200? 250?”
“450 dollars. And 22 cents.”
Sans glowered back at Hammer who held his hands up in a placating manner. Sometimes that monster was too skilled at keeping tabs on numbers for his own good. Especially when it came to harassing Sans to pay back his debts. Sans had threatened Hammer once or twice if he kept reminding him, but of course, Hammer kept worrying him over it just when Sans had forgotten. Had it been anyone else, he would have torn them apart---literally. But Hammer and Nails got a pass due to their status in the Syndicate, and being close friends of Sans.
“So where do you want us to send the bill?” Hammer asked.
“up yer ass.” Sans said dismissively, and Nails snorted from behind.
“One less headache if you’d just pay us back, you know. Otherwise, we’re going to start charging interest.” She drawled, shoving him hard in the shoulder, and Sans responded by giving her a shove back.
“well it’s in yer best interest to stop buggin’ me about it before ya find yer self face-down in a fuckin’---”
“Hey, boss. Hold up a second.”
Sans stopped walking, turning back to glance at Hammer, who had a feathered finger aimed in the direction of a lounge down the street. One that the Syndicate had already staked claims on, what with it being in their territory. It wasn’t one they occupied often, save for the occasional check-in and the collection of the protection fees, which had already been conducted earlier that week. So that raised the question of why there was an additional car parked outside of the lounge well past closing time.
The skeleton made his way over to Hammer, narrowing his eye sockets. A few shadowy figures filtered past the window occasionally, but Sans couldn’t make them out as well as his fellow monster could; Hammer had the best vision of all of them combined. Hammer gave a quick squint at the windows before turning to Sans.
“I counted seven.” He reported. “Those suits belong to Willie’s group.”
“willie’s group?” Sans echoed, his brow bones coming together in disgust. “yer tellin’ me that these assholes are thinkin’ that they can just crawl in here as they please?”
Hammer gave a derisive snort. “I wouldn’t put it past them, boss. Always been a grandstander, that one.”
And grandstand he did. Willie was always sloppy in his work, believing that the mere fact that he or his boys hadn’t been busted (yet) meant that he was atop the pinnacle of the Mafia. He believed he was untouchable by authority, and rival chapters. Which was far from the truth. The only reason he went unchallenged was because there were no opposing chapters in his particular part of town. Chances were that since no one had existed to put Willie and his lackeys in his place, Willie wanted to expand outward to stake claim on a bigger part of the city.
But by coming to this part of the city, one owned and operated by the Syndicate for years, Willie had made a mistake. Sans was going to make that known tonight. No one operated in their territory without express consent. Those who opposed---well, they just had to be made an example of.
“So?” Nails came up on the other side of Sans. “What’re you thinking, boss?”
“i’m thinkin’ we clean house.” He said, retrieving his gun from his holster. Nails and Hammer soon followed, as well as the rest of their band. Sans held his fist up, watching the windows to the lounge. The moment a shadowy figure came in front of it, he pointed at Nails, who took aim and shot out the window. With the glass broken, Sans could make out her target which had gone to the floor in the next second.
It wasn’t long before fire was returned, and Sans quickly instructed his group to take cover and keep shooting. Nearly none of the returned bullets hit anywhere near their mark, spraying this way and that, and Sans could have laughed. It just went to show how incompetent these bastards were. Gunshots resonated through the night, with shouts mixing in from inside the bar as it continued.
As soon as the firefight started, it was over just as quickly, no fire being returned and no more shouting came from within the lounge. Sans held his fist up again. His group lowered their guns and went dead silent, waiting for any noise to come from the lounge. When none came, he emerged, beckoning his group to follow. They all fell in behind, making their way across the street and over to the lounge.
Nails kicked the door open, her gun brandished and at the ready. She carefully stepped inside, making sure to check every nook and cranny near the entrance before motioning the rest of the group inside.
“Check ‘em all.” She instructed two of her co-workers, and they set to work, surveying the bodies strewn all over the floor. Hammer went to the other side of the lounge, nudging bodies with the toe of his shoe.
“Dead.” He confirmed, looking over at Sans. “Willie’s boys trying to move out of their comfort zone finally, eh?”
“yeah.” Sans replied, looking at the bodies. “got a lot of nerve trying to move in on our side of town.” He replied coolly, reaching into his jacket for a cigar. Hopefully this would serve as a learning experience for Willie. Any other night, Sans would have paid his rival don a visit for this insult, but he’d let it slide. For now. After all, he’d taken out a good chunk of Willie’s group tonight. If he knew what was best for him and his group, he’d think twice before wriggling his way back onto the Syndicate’s turf.
“Damn straight, boss.” Hammer responded, moving out of the way as Sans looked over the carnage. Six bullet-riddled, bloodied bodies adorned in the suits of Willies gangs lay amongst shell casings, broken glass, and tables splintered by fire-hot ammunition.
Wait a moment. Sans blinked, looking over the bodies yet again.
Six of them. Hadn’t Hammer said there were seven people inside?
He counted the bodies again. Six total. He counted once more. Still six. Someone was missing. Sans set himself on high alert, surveying the entirety of the lounge. One of his employees was crouched over another body, one not bearing the suit of Willie’s gang. The owner of the lounge, he recognized.
“did he get caught up in the fire?” He asked his employee.
“I think Willie’s boys got to him before us, boss. No bullet wounds. Several stab wounds to the chest.” He told Sans, flipping the body over to show him.
So, the body count remained at six. At least, the bodies that the Syndicate had taken out. So where the fuck was the seventh? Had they escaped? Were they still in the bar? Or were they---
Hammer had made his way behind the bar, his eyes narrowed and his gun trained on something under the bar. Looks like he’d found the seventh one of Willie’s boys.
At least, Sans thought so, until the person crawled from under the bar as Hammer grabbed their arm and pulled them towards the center of the lounge.
This person didn’t wear Willie’s suit, just a dingy dress shirt, faded slacks, shoes, glasses and a golden watch that looked to be more expensive than everything else they wore combined. They were on the shorter side, even the shortest member of Sans’ group easily dwarfed them. Still, just because they didn’t wear Willie’s suit didn’t mean they were innocent. What he had now was a witness to what happened. And it went without saying that witnesses were just a big of a threat than a rival gang.
Nails wasted no time, stepping forward with her gun drawn and poking the stranger in the chest with the muzzle of it. “Who are you?” She demanded. The person mumbled something, their lips moving but no sound coming out. “Speak up.” Nails snapped.
“What’re you doing here?”
“I was in the bathroom.” They answered, wringing their hands nervously. “I had a few drinks and I--I didn’t know anyone was outside, I swear.”
Hammer scoffed and rolled his eyes. “Bullshit. I just found you under that bar there. You weren’t anywhere near the bathroom.”
“I--” Their voice began to shake. “I was. Just ask the owner. He saw me go in—“
“He’s dead." Nails interrupted. "The bastards in here before us got him. Well?" She prompted. “Who else saw you?”
The person---Casey---had lowered their head, unable to provide an answer.
“Didn’t think so.” Nails turned to Sans. “Boss? Whaddya wanna do?”
Sans made his way over to Nails, looking the person called Casey over. At this proximity, the height difference was more than apparent. The top of their head barely came up to his shoulder. From what he could tell through their baggy shirt, they barely had muscle on them. Judging by the way they shrank in on themself as he approached, they were clearly intimidated by him. To someone unseasoned, they could have just let a person like this go--after all, they lacked much of what was needed to be in the Mafia from what he could tell. They were weak. Easily frightened. Unable to talk their way out or reason.
They would be a waste.
However, even if they weren’t in the Mafia, they were still a witness. A witness who could easily squeal the moment that they were pardoned from his presence. And that was a risk Sans wasn’t willing to chance. He wasn’t swayed by their trembling or frightened expression as he took the cigar out of his mouth and knocked some of the ash off.
“can’t risk it.” He told Nails. “just kill--” His voice trailed off when he heard an all too familiar sound in the distance. Were his ears ringing from the gunshots, or was that---Sans strained his hearing to zero in on the noise, only to be interrupted by Hammer.
Sans raised a hand to silence him. “shh! shut the fuck up a second!” The bar became dead silent, and one by one, eyes went wide as the sound of sirens had begun to wail in the distance and were becoming closer and closer. Shit.
“we gotta go. now.” Sans ordered, pointing towards the back door of the lounge. “all a ya, move it!”
“Boss, what about the--” Hammer gestured to Casey.
He didn’t have time to deal with it now, not with the cops en route. Once he’d gotten to a safe place, he’d deal with it then. But as for the moment, the primary objective was to vacate the bar and get as far away as quickly as possible. “put ‘em in the car.”
“fuck’s sake, hammer!” Sans snapped impatiently. “get movin’ or i’m gonna dust yer ass!”
Hammer made a disgusted noise. That was just like him, always questioning some of Sans’ more...rash or spur of the moment decisions. He could argue it with Sans all he wanted to later, but right now, all that was on his mind was to escape. Leaving a witness couldn’t be chanced, and they couldn’t just shoot at them and hope that they died. They couldn’t wait around and make sure this person died...how long would that have taken? Hammer obeyed, taking Casey and hoisting them over his shoulder with ease as the group bolted to their cars. Casey is tossed into the back of Sans’ car with Nails sliding in the back seat, and he hopped in the passenger’s seat as another employee leapt in and drove off.
“nails bind ‘em and blind ‘em.”
“You got it.” A few shuffles come from the back seat, and a glance back revealed Casey obediently laying on the floor, offering their hands to Nails as she tied the rope around their wrists. They didn’t fight against her when she took the glasses off their face and wrapped the blindfold over their eyes. Once she was done, she took her gun out and cocked it. “Don’t try anything, or I’ll blow your brains out. Got it?”
They nodded, laying themself down on the floor of the vehicle and going completely still. For a moment, Sans had begun to wonder if they had somehow died with how still they were being, but even from here, they could see the rise and fall of their side as they breathed. Most people thrashed and fought when they were being restrained, or they spent the entire trip begging for their life. But this one was dead silent, which was rare to see. Probably a last ditch effort to save their life by obeying every order given to them.
Of course, their life being spared wasn’t guaranteed. Papyrus was going to find out what transpired tonight, and depending on his mood, there was a very slim chance that this person was going to make it through the night alive. Papyrus despised witnesses with a passion, but given the circumstances, he couldn’t be too mad at Sans. At least, he hoped.
A vain hope, but...a hope.
A trespass, a lounge destroyed, and a witness now in their custody.
It went without saying that the Boss was not going to be happy about this turn of events.
Hammer had volunteered to break the news of what had transpired to Papyrus once they had returned to the hideout. Sans was quick to shoot that offer down, seeing as things didn’t run smoothly as he’d liked tonight, and he knew for a fact that his younger brother’s infamous temper would not be quelled at that report. If anyone was going to give that news, it was going to be Sans himself. Due to the fact he was permitted to fight back.
Only Sans. Had any one of their other employees spoke up or fought back, Papyrus would not exercise restraint. He’d see that as insubordination, and the night would end with someone being smeared into every surface of the room that the disagreement had taken place in. Some may think it was due to the mere fact that they were family, which was partially true. But the main reason was that Papyrus knew that he and Sans kept each other in check. Even though they reached disagreements often, and most arguments ended up with shouting matches or fist fights, both Sans and Papyrus weren’t deaf to opposing sides of the argument.
Neither of them would admit it in the heat of a fight, but they had to admit that the opposing argument carried a point. And after a fight, they would take into account the downside to their proclamations or plans, and rectify them to be more effective. They never gave each other credit for bringing those concerns to light, but both of them knew better, and were grateful for it in a sense. But they wouldn’t say it out loud; stubbornness was a shared family trait. And a large reason why they squabbled so often.
Which was probably going to happen for the rest of the night, Sans thought to himself as he stepped into Papyrus’ office, not bothering to knock. Papyrus sat at the desk, his skull being cradled in his hands. Sans noticed a bottle of painkillers and a glass of water resting next to his elbow.
“we’re back, boss.” Sans announced, and Papyrus barely regarded him. “headache?”
“YES. OF THE SPLITTING KIND.” He hissed, his voice pinched. “THIS DAY HAS BEEN NOTHING BUT SPATS, DISPUTES, AND FOOLS STANDING UP WHERE THEY HAVE NO ROOM TO. EVER SINCE I STEPPED OUT OF BED, IT’S BEEN BAD NEWS EVER SINCE.” He groped for the glass of water, chugging it down to the halfway mark before setting it on the desk. “I PRAY YOU HAVE GOOD NEWS FOR ME, SANS.”
“nothin’ of the sort, boss.” He replied, holding his fingers up as he counted on them. “ first, adam’s been slipping us shit bullets and equipment--we killed him, by the way--- willie’s boys tried to slip into our territory….”
“OH...FOR FUCK’S SAKE!” Papyrus roared, sweeping his arm across the desk and sending the bottle of painkillers and the glass of water into the neighboring wall. Sans didn’t flinch as Papyrus stood up from his desk and pinched the ridge of his nasal bone as he grumbled irritably, anger practically radiating off of him. “WHAT ELSE?!” He spat, “WHAT ELSE COULD POSSIBLY MAKE THIS INSUFFERABLE DAY EVEN MORE SO?!”
“well, we did have a firefight with willie’s boys. shot out the lounge on rockefeller, police were en route-” Sans wasn’t permitted to finish that thought, as Papyrus had grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and began to shake him.
“YOU HAD A FIREFIGHT? ON ROCKEFELLER!? THAT’S ONE OF THE MORE HEAVILY POPULATED AREAS, AND YOU JUST SPRAYED YOUR BULLETS FOR EVERYONE WITHIN THE NEXT FEW BLOCKS TO HEAR?!” He shouted as he shook him roughly. “HAVE YOU LOST YOUR SENSES!? HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE, SANS?!”
Sans slapped Papyrus’ hand away and shoved him back, glowering up at him. “not as stupid as ignorin’ willie’s boys and lettin’ them operate as they please!”
“WE WOULD HAVE DEALT WITH IT IN TIME! BUT FOR YOU TO GO ALL TRIGGER HAPPY INTO IT MEANS WE’LL HAVE TO PUT A HOLD ON OUR OPERATIONS ON THAT SIDE OF TOWN INDEFINITELY! YOU THINK THE POLICE ARE GOING TO SIMPLY LEAVE THAT AREA AFTER TONIGHT!?”
Christ. Sans was half tempted to take a few painkillers himself as Papyrus continued his verbal onslaught. Hammer owed him big time for this. If it had been Hammer in here, the poor guy would have probably been dusted minutes ago. Especially after this next fact. “look, ya got nothin’ to worry about, boss!” Sans snapped back. “no survivors on willie’s side. there ain’t no one to squeal, but….”
“OH GOOD. ” Papyrus said with sarcastic enthusiasm. “A BUT. YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT ‘BUT’S!”
Of course he was jumping to conclusions. Sans simply beckoned his brother to follow him to the room he had the human in. Papyrus trailed closely behind, not letting up on the verbal assault of Sans. “SO WE LOSE TWO RESOURCES IN ONE NIGHT, YOU GET INTO A PROPERTY DISPUTE IN THE MORE POPULATED PART OF TOWN BECAUSE OF YOUR CALL, AND NOW THE COPS ARE INVOLVED, THANKS TO YOU.” He stepped in front of Sans, throwing the door open with a loud bang! “YOU DIDN’T THINK TO SURVEY THE GODDAMN LOUNGE BEFORE YOU AND YOUR IDIOTS EMPTIED YOUR CLIPS INTO IT?”
“we did , boss. place was closed. nobody there but the owner and willie’s pricks from the upside of the tracks.”
“‘NOBODY’?” Papyrus bellowed, finally noticing the human restrained in the chair in the room. “THEN WHAT DO YOU CALL THIS?!” He folded his arms over his chest, waiting for Sans to explain...or try to before Papyrus drew his own conclusions and made this more of a headache than it already was.
“a…” Sans tried to avoid the dreaded word, but there was no other way he could call it. He knew full well how Papyrus hated witnesses, but trying to call this person anything else would be an insult to Papyrus’ intelligence, he knew that for a fact. Papyrus wasn’t stupid, and Sans wasn’t going to act like he was. “...a...witness?”
He threw his hand up in the air in exasperation before storming over to the table to yank a chair out and sit himself down in it rather roughly. “A WITNESS. EVIDENCE OF A FUCKING MISTAKE ON YOUR PART.”
“i’m fuckin’ takin’ care of it!” Sans said harshly, storming over to the table. “look, boss, yer gettin’ yerself worked up. sure tonight didn’t run as smoothly as it could , but we stopped them assholes from gettin’ too close and comfy tryin’ to operate this side of town. they got ballsy taking that lounge a block from our turf. we took it back.” yer fuckin’ welcome. how about a ‘thank you, sans’ for once? for goddamn once?
“AND NOW WHAT? THE POLICE ARE GOING TO BE ON THAT PLACE LIKE FLIES ON SHIT. AFTER TONIGHT, WHO KNOWS HOW LONG THEY’LL BE PATROLLING THAT PLACE LESS THAN A GODDAMN BLOCK FROM WHERE WE OPERATE!” The shouting was punctuated by hard slams of Papyrus’ hand on the metal table. “ BECAUSE OF YOUR STUPIDITY, WE RISK BEING SMOKED OUT! EVERYTHING WE’VE BUILT HERE OVER THE YEARS GONE WITHIN THE FUCKING HOUR. SO FORGIVE ME FOR BEING ‘WORKED UP’, SANS!”
God. It was like arguing with a brick wall. Sans was exhausted. What with what transpired with Adam, and the turf war that night, he just wanted nothing more than to be done with this entire thing, put it to the back of his mind, and go home for some well-earned rest. But until Papyrus was done reminding him about this entire thing, there would be no rest for him until this was resolved. The sooner the better. Sans gave a tired sigh, rolling his eye lights.
“....sorry, boss. won’t happen again.”
“IT HAD BETTER NOT, FOR YOUR SAKE. SINCE THIS IS YOUR MESS, SO IT’S ONLY APPROPRIATE THAT YOU CLEAN IT UP. STARTING WITH…THIS.” He gestured to the human, who had tensed up during the entire ordeal.
“alright. alright.” Sans made his way over to the human reaching behind their head to remove the blindfold. They blinked a few times, looking around the room before their gaze fell onto Papyrus. They shrunk in on themself, no doubt intimidated by the tall skeleton seated across from them. A natural reaction, given his murderous gaze and sour mood at the moment. Sans tossed the blindfold onto the table and stood next to Papyrus, looking down at the human.
He could hear them swallow audibly. “Casey.” When they didn’t provide a last name, his gaze hardened.
“where do you live?”
They went silent, bowing their head and turning their eyes to the floor. Sans grew irritated, barely resisting the urge to go across the room and yank their head up to demand an answer. This asshole wasn’t making his shitty night any less shitty, were they? Papyrus seemed to be in agreement as he snapped at the human.
They shivered slightly, their voice trembling as they spoke. “1450 Clay Avenue. U-unit 34.”
“got any family?”
Their head snapped up and their eyes went wide. The human stared at the two of them before they looked away. Sans narrowed his eye sockets, becoming even more annoyed.
“i asked ya a question. do you have any family?”
“I’m not saying anything.” They spat.
Of course. Why did he expect this to be easy? That fact did nothing for is rapidly souring mood. After the constant bitching from the Boss, and shit going south tonight, Sans’ patience was basically nonexistent. He was just about ready to pull them out of the chair, undo their restraints and beat them down until they spoke, taking a step forward with his fists balled. But before he could move, Papyrus was already up and across the table, grabbing them by the collar of their shirt as he lifted them with ease out of the chair they were tied to. The air around them crackled, and Papyrus spoke with a cold note in his voice.
“WOULD YOU LIKE TO DIE RIGHT NOW? BECAUSE MY PATIENCE IS WEARING THIN AS IS. IF YOU KEEP THIS UP, I WILL SPLATTER YOU ALL OVER THESE GODDAMNED WALLS.”
“Do it. I’m not sending you after him--”
Sans nearly did a double take. Had he just heard correctly? Did this person just challenge the boss to kill them? Most people knew better than to bluff Papyrus, even if they hadn’t met him before. He was always a man of his word, especially when it came to threats. Sans examined the human. They still shook like a leaf, and their pupils were constricted, but their challenging look still remained. This human had to have a death wish.
“‘HIM’, YOU SAY?”
He blinked, tuning in to what the human had said. They closed their mouth, and their eyes shifted nervously. Only then did Papyrus seem satisfied, a twisted grin making itself apparent on his face.
“YOU SAID IT YOURSELF. YOU MAY AS WELL ELABORATE.” Papyrus dropped them, setting the chair back onto the floor. The human dropped their head yet again, their voice tight when they spoke.
“....My brother. I just--he’s just a kid. Don’t go after him. I’ll give you whatever you want. Money, my belongings, anything. I swear, it’s all yours if you want it. Just leave him alone....” They begged, voice becoming increasingly desperate. Papyrus didn’t seem swayed as he seated himself back down in his chair.
“YOU’RE SAYING YOU WANT PROTECTION FOR YOU AND YOUR BROTHER, IS THAT IT? OUR PROTECTION COSTS ARE NOT CHEAP.”
“How much would it be for just my brother?”
“300 a week.” Sans spoke up. “and we don’t tolerate late payments. Period.”
Their eyes went wide, throat working as they swallowed. “I--I can’t afford…”
“THEN WE CAN’T HELP YOU.” Papyrus said, turning to Sans and giving him a look then nodding to the human. Sans had stepped forward, ready to kill the human before their eyes went wide, and looked up from the floor to the two skeletons.
“Wait. The police commissioner.”
Sans paused. Was that a threat? “what about him?”
“He’s....my uncle.” They responded.
If Sans had skin, all the blood would have drained from his face. Not only did he bring a witness to the Syndicate’s hideout, it was a relative of the fucking police commissioner. Papyrus seemed to be thinking the exact same thing. After the initial shock wore off, he wasted no time, jumping out of his chair, grabbing Sans by the jacket and slamming him hard into the wall.
“YOU BROUGHT A FAMILY MEMBER OF THE POLICE COMMISSIONER TO OUR HIDEOUT!?” He shrieked, shaking him roughly. “HE AND HIS TEAM COULD BE KICKING IN DOORS LOOKING FOR THEM ANY MINUTE! YOU’VE FUCKED US OVER FOR THE LAST TIME, SANS!” A red glow enveloped one of his eyes, and he drew back his fist. Sans held up his hands in a vain attempt to placate his brother.
“woah! woah, woah, woah, boss, wait--i didn’t know they were---how was i supposed to---”
“ENOUGH EXCUSES! YOU STUPID ASS, I’M GOING TO--”
“Wait! It’s not like that! It can help you!” The human called from behind, and Papyrus turned on them.
“HOW IS THAT SUPPOSED TO HELP US?! ”
“My Uncle has access to countless records. Addresses, crime reports, police activity, and so much more. If you were to need information on a person or a place, I could use him to get those files to you.” They said in one breath, looking to Papyrus. He let Sans go, and Sans adjusted his jacket. “I get these files, copy the information, and I relay whatever I’ve learned to you.” They continued. “I can also listen in if the police are planning any sting operations or stakeouts . Once I find out the time and place, I’ll let you know right away so it can be avoided by your... group.”
“HMM.” Papyrus hummed as he returned to his seat. “THAT DOES SOUND...PROMISING.”
They also have an anonymous tip line. If you have anyone you want out of your way, all you have to do is tell me where you last saw them. I call in a tip, and the police will follow it.”
He rubbed his chin. “HOW DO WE KNOW YOU’LL MAKE GOOD ON THAT PROPOSITION? FOR ALL WE KNOW, YOU COULD BE PLANNING TO RAT US OUT THE MOMENT WE LET YOU GO.”
they won’t. Sans thought to himself. Empty talk is all it was. A last effort to save their skin by throwing whatever they had of use to Papyrus. He couldn’t believe Papyrus was even considering this. He knew that the moment they were let go, this human was going to make a beeline to the nearest police station and squeal. Sans was going to have to head them off as they left. Sure, Papyrus wouldn’t be too happy about it, but Sans wasn’t going to chance the Syndicate’s exposure because of some loose lips. He’d kill them, dump their body outside of town, make it look like an accident so---
“SANS!” Papyrus barked, making Sans jump out of thought.
“YOU’LL WATCH THEM. SEE HOW THIS PLAYS OUT.”
“what? Why the hell am i the one who has to--”
“BECAUSE, SANS, YOUR FOOL CALL TONIGHT NEARLY LEAD TO DISASTER. I REITERATE THAT YOUR MESS SHOULD BE CLEANED UP BY YOU .” His voice dropped an octave. “THAT’S NOT A PROBLEM, IS IT?”
Sans sighed, not wanting to deal with another round of arguments for the night. “no, boss.”
“GOOD.” He looked at the human. “IF YOU COME THROUGH, MAYBE WE CAN WORK SOMETHING OUT A BIT MORE PERMANENT DOWN THE LINE, INCLUDING PROTECTION FOR YOUR BROTHER. YOU HAVE THREE WEEKS.”
“I understand.” They said with a nod.
“DON’T DISAPPOINT US. AND DON’T TRY ANYTHING, OR ELSE WE WILL KILL YOU ON THE SPOT.” With that, he stood up from the table, adjusting his jacket before turning to Sans. “TAKE THEM HOME.” He said before leaving, and Sans had to bite back a disgusted groan, looking to the human who had slumped forward in their chair.
“don’t get too comfortable. yer still ain’t out of the woods yet.” He said, freeing them from the restraints on their chair and handing them back their glasses. “c’mon. let’s go.”
Ever since the two of them left the hideout, not a word was said. The human stared out the window with their elbow on the car door. Sans wasn’t too upset about the silence, he’d rather they be quiet than to be thanking him endlessly for Papyrus sparing their life. Sans frowned, glancing over at them. He didn’t have the energy to argue tonight, but tomorrow, he’d be certain to tell Papyrus that this could very well be a big mistake. It was just another waste of resources and time to even bother watching this person. Plus, given their reluctance to follow orders tonight, it just seemed like they were another headache in the making. A headache that he now had to drive home and watch. Without the boss here to interfere, he could now tell this human what he truly thought about them.
“sure were a pain in the ass tonight, weren’t ya.” He said, thinking aloud. They looked at him for a moment with a confused expression before it settled into something more neutral.
“...That’s one way to put it.”
Sans blinked. They hadn’t taken offense to that? Apparently not, since they went quiet for a while more. But he wasn’t done yet.
“pretty fuckin’ stupid of ya to try and stand up to the boss like that. he could of killed ya on the spot.”
They didn’t turn back to look at him, simply shrugging. “I don’t take well to people threatening my brother.
Again, they went quiet. Sans raised a brow, looking at the human again. “i’m guessin’ yer uncle’s not gonna take too well to you keepin’ us out of trouble.”
They snorted. “He’s an ass. I don’t give a damn how he’d feel about it.”
“hm.” It wasn’t a tangible comment, after all, they could have been making that little fact up, if they really were related to the police commissioner as they claimed. But if they weren’t, and this entire thing was just a ruse, and they made Sans waste his time, well, he was going to let them know how displeased he was being strung along on a wild goose chase.
“the boss means it, though. if ya don’t come through, ya will be killed.”
“I’ll try not to disappoint.”
It wasn’t long before Sans reached their apartment complex. It was practically falling apart. Windows were caked with dust, the roof was missing shingles, paint was chipped, shutters were falling off. He looked up at it with his brow bones knit. Sure. A family member of the goddamn police commissioner lived in an apartment as shitty as this. sure made a bad call this time, boss.
“...Uh...thanks for the lift.” The human said, getting out of his car.
“remember. three weeks. and don’t forget; we’re watching ya.” He pulled out of the driveway and drove off, glancing in the rearview mirror to see them going inside. It wouldn’t be long before he saw them again, he didn’t doubt it. Soon they would try to come clean to the cops, and Sans would have the immense satisfaction of having this asshole no longer be a problem to him. Now all he had to do was wait for the opportunity.
“OH GOOD. A BUT. YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT ‘BUT’S!”
I'm a serious writer.
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
For the rest of the night, Sans was kept busy, driving across town to collect payments with Hammer, marking up for the next shipment of weapons, recording reports from his employees, and dealing with Papyrus not shutting up about the new human informant that he had recruited that night. By the time Sans was finished with it all, the sun had soon began to creep over the horizon, nearly blinding him when it shone brightly into the living room. With a disgusted grunt, Sans went over to the window and drew the curtains closed. He kicked off his shoes, threw his jacket wherever, and laid himself out on the sofa, much too physically and mentally exhausted to make the trek up to his bedroom.
He would have been content to sleep throughout today and the rest of tomorrow, but Papyrus apparently had different plans for his brother.
Without a single regard to Sans nearly being asleep, he stomped over to the curtains and threw them open, and Sans made a loud noise of protest, his hands coming up to cover his eye sockets to prevent himself from being blinded.
“i’m fuckin’ sleepin’ here!” He snarled at the taller skeleton who had turned to face Sans.
“SLEEP ON YOUR OWN TIME.” Papyrus snapped, his slender arms folding over his chest. “AS I RECALL, YOU HAVE AN ASSIGNMENT TO DO. REMEMBER? CASEY?”
He yawned. “who?”
“CASEY! THE WITNESS THAT YOU FOOLISHLY LET LIVE AFTER YOUR FOOLISH CALL TO HAVE A FOOLISH FIREFIGHT AT THE LOUNGE. DOES THAT RING A BELL?”
Far too many. Sans grumbled, rubbing his face with his hand. He should have forced himself to go upstairs to his bedroom. At least his door had a lock on it. Then again, Papyrus wasn’t the kind to let locks deter him. He’d either bang on the door until Sans answered, or pick the lock from the other side. The outcome probably would have ended up here anyhow, with Sans tired as hell and Papyrus nagging him to death. He strode over to Sans, jamming a finger into his face.
“YOU’RE MEANT TO BE WATCHING THEM!” He reminded him for the umpteenth time. Sans sighed tiredly, not having the energy for more back and forth so early in the morning.
“fuck’s sake, boss. i will. after i rest, a’ight? i’m dead tired.”
Papyrus didn’t seem too pleased about his request, but he wasn’t unreasonable, uncrossing his arms and giving his skull a shake. “FINE. YOU MAY REST FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF. BUT THE MOMENT YOU ARE AWAKE AND ALERT, YOU ARE TO FIND CASEY AND CARRY OUT YOUR JOB WHICH--” He sneered as he took his fedora off the coat rack and plonked it on his head. “---I SHOULDN’T EVEN HAVE TO TELL YOU TO DO.” Papyrus left the apartment in a huff, and Sans glared after him as the door shut behind him.
didn’t even have the fuckin’ courtesy of closin’ the curtains.
He thought bitterly as he went over to the window and closed them for a second time. Sans trudged over to the sofa and laid himself down again, his eye sockets slowly sliding closed as he relished in the silence that was now oh-so-graciously allowed to him.
Papyrus was being utterly unfair; when he slept through the day, he expected complete and total silence. Any offense was met with a severe thrashing, followed by an extremely cranky Papyrus, who would go on and on about how tired he was, rather than trying to resolve the issue by simply going back to sleep. (“I’M TOO PISSED OFF TO SLEEP NOW!” Was his excuse for not doing so.)
But Sans was expected to jump out of bed at his brother’s beck and call, no matter how tired he was, or how dire (or not) Papyrus’ need for his presence was. It wasn’t even reserved for emergencies; it was used for petty things as well, such as Sans leaving articles of clothing on the floor, not doing the dishes, misplacing something that Papyrus needed to find or accidentally leaving the front door unlocked when he came in. Which left Sans incredibly sleep deprived and more snappy than usual, and in turn, that would make Papyrus just as snappy as a result of Sans’ attitude.
Just one solid night’s sleep. Was that too much to ask for?
He cursed under his breath as he pushed himself up from off the sofa, making his way to the ringing telephone. He yanked it off its cradle, holding it up with a disgusted groan. “what?!” He snapped.
“Geez. Good morning to you too, sleeping beauty.” Nails snorted. Sans rolled his eye lights.
“whaddya want, nails?”
“A proper greeting when I pick up the phone, for starters. Also, a two-story mansion on the lakeside, a purple sports car, 10 million dollars, and---”
“fuck you. i’m hangin’ up.”
Nails cooed mockingly in her best “talking-to-a-toddler voice”. “Aw, did da boss wake our Sansy-Wansy up? Is Sansy-Wansy cwanky? Does Sansy-Wansy need a juice box and a naaaaap? Huh?”
“no, i need a rope, two cinder blocks, a deep lake, and you there.” He grumbled, wishing he could flip her off through the phone.
Nails scoffed, not bothered by his threat. “Lighten up, boss. You’re such a peach when you’re tired.”
“then tell me what the fuck ya want so i can go to bed and stop bein’ tired.”
“Alright, alright. The shooting’s all over the news. Police are swarming that place and they’ve got checkpoints from Carnegie to Rockefeller. If you’re going to the hideout, take State street down the back way. It’ll add 15 minutes to your commute, but you’ll avoid them. Got it?”
“yeah. thanks for the heads-up. did ya tell everyone else?”
“Working on it. News just broke 30 minutes ago, so I’ve got plenty of time before everyone starts trying to come to the hideout for work today.” She paused. “What’ve you got planned for the day, boss?”
“hammer n’ i are gonna be lookin’ into a few missed payments around the west side of town.”
“Hey, don’t worry about it. I’ll go with Hammer and take care of that with him. Get some rest, okay, boss?”
Sans could have sighed in relief at that point. “thanks. i owe ya one.”
“No problem. Later, boss.” She hung up and Sans set the phone back on the receiver, grateful for that his originally allotted time to rest had now been extended, thanks to Nails. He went over to the sofa yet again, this time actually succeeding in falling asleep soundly, without the nagging worry of being disturbed by work or the boss on his mind.
He’d slept a little too soundly.
After the initial haze of drowsiness wore off, and recollection hit him, Sans sat upright on the sofa, reaching for the lamp and checking the clock on the wall. It was 5:15 in the evening. Shit. Papyrus could have been home at any moment, no doubt demanding to know why he wasn’t at the hideout today. And the evening would end in yet another hour long bitching session from Papyrus, which Sans could only take so much of.
He thought for a moment. Perhaps he could drive over to that human’s house. Ca--Ca---something. That way he could tell Papyrus he was over there watching them. It wasn’t a complete lie. He was there, with the intent of watching them. But if they weren’t, well, that counted as some sort of information. Sans nodded to himself, grabbing his jacket and throwing his shoes on before making his way out to his car.
It wasn’t that far a drive, he made it to the human’s home in 20 minutes, glancing around the complex for any movement. He stayed down the road, lest they spotted him. The plan was he would stick around for another 20 minutes, 30 tops before returning home if no activity was spotted. But that plan quickly disintegrated when he saw the human exit their apartment. They were wearing a blue collared one-piece dress with shoes similar in color. They stopped at the edge of their driveway, looking this way and that before a taxi came by, and they hopped in.
Well, so much for just passively watching. Sans waited a moment before he followed behind the taxi at a safe distance. Occasionally, he’d drop speed or lag behind lest the driver or the human recognized his vehicle had been behind them for a while now. It was another 20 minute drive before the taxi slowed to a halt. Sans stopped down the street, craning his neck forward to see the human get out of the taxi, pay the fare, and walk up the intricate driveway to the mansion.
Sans recognized the mansion, it was no secret that the police commissioner liked to flaunt his wealth by holding grand parties with bankers, politicians, and other high-standing government officials. And with a guest list like that, with loose lips and gossip littering the place, the police commissioner’s address was known by nearly everyone this side of town.
That could be the reason why this human was here. Probably taking the report of what happened last night to the police commissioner himself.
fuck. can’t let that happen.
He shut off his vehicle and stepped out, the air around him crackling as he took a step through the Void, coming out in the shrubbery that lined the large staircase from the mansion’s front door. He ducked down, watching as the human rang the doorbell. It was but a few moments before the door opened, and shut moments later. Sans peeked up over the leaves to find the human gone and the door shut. He cursed inwardly, sneaking through the plants and glancing in through a window. The curtain was the slightest bit drawn, and it didn’t provide the best view of the room, but Sans could make out the human with their back turned towards him as they sat in a chair.
From this angle, he could make another pair of legs out sitting across from them. No doubt the police commissioner. God damn it, they were probably ratting the Syndicate out right now. Sans was going to have to corner them once they left, kill them, and go inside to destroy anything and anyone else who knew. Papyrus wasn’t going to be pleased with this new development in the slightest, Sans knew that for a fact.
A sharp sound came from inside, and Sans jumped, hearing a man’s voice shouting, followed by the human’s. What the hell had just happened? He tried to make out what was going on, but his view had been obstructed by the curtain. It went quiet for a few moments more, and Sans detected the occasional movement before the door opened, and the human emerged from the house. They came down the steps, stopping at the bottom and bending over, their hand clutching their cheek as they hissed in pain.
That...wasn’t what Sans was expecting.
He expected shouting, sure, but of the kind where this human would have told everything that had happened from the lounge to the Syndicate’s hideout. Then, the police commissioner would be absolutely outraged, calling for every available officer to find the hideout, and apprehend all assets and personnel. But the human just...stood there, holding the side of their face. Had they spilled to the commissioner?
Only one way to find out. If he made his presence known, and they ran, then that sealed the deal, if not...well, he doubted that they didn’t. “hey.” He called to them, loud enough for only them to hear. The human gave a start, stifling a curse as he stepped out from his cover among the plants. They didn’t run, or look nervous when he made himself known, but they did eye him suspiciously.
“....Why are you here?”
i could ask ya the same thing. “orders, remember? had to make sure ya weren’t tryin’ to squeal. although…” He looked to the window he’d been spying into. “with that shoutin’, sounds like that wasn’t the case.”
They winced in pain. “It wasn’t.”
“‘s what i thought.”
They reached into their dress and took out a folded piece of paper, offering it to him. “It’s all the information I could get for now, but I’ll keep sending more as soon as I can.”
Sans blinked, taking the piece of paper and unfolding it, reading it over. It was hastily scrawled, but the information was solid. The times and places of Willie’s last sightings, possible suspects and accomplices in Willie’s gang, and businesses that Willie collected protection fees on.
well i’ll be damned. they actually fuckin’ did what they said they were goin’ to do? He looked at the human, who watched him expectantly, before he folded the piece of paper up and put it in his pocket. “not bad. we can use this.”
The human gave him a nod, before looking down the street. A breeze blew past, and they shivered something fierce before giving their arm a brisk rub and looking to the road, no doubt to begin the trek back home. “Well, goodnight.” They bid as they turned to head down the street.
“ya need a lift?”
They paused. “I don’t have any money.”
Sans rolled his eyes. “don’t be fuckin’ stupid. i ain’t askin’ for fare. ‘sides. ya earned it with providin’ info tonight. how’s about it?”
They seemed to regard him for a moment more before nodding. “Sure. Thanks.” With that, he beckoned them to the car, and once they were both in, he drove off. They didn’t look at him, keeping their gaze away as they touched their cheek, hissing in pain almost inaudibly. Their hand had barely left their face as since they came out the mansion. His brows came together as he tried to piece together a reason why.
Maybe all that shouting…
Sans gave an inaudible cleat of his throat. It did no good to assume. “what happened there?” He asked, looking at them when they touched their cheek again.
“you’ve been holdin’ yer face ever since ya left the house.”
Their hand fell away and they avoided his gaze. “Nothing.” He didn’t believe it was ‘nothing’, given the way they were wincing every time their cheek was touched. And the way they avoided the question didn’t make it seem like it was ‘nothing’. Still, if they didn’t want to talk about it, he wasn’t going to force them to speak. They tried to discreetly massage their cheek, and he noticed that time.
With a sigh, he reached into the glove compartment, pulling out a tube of salve that he kept in the car in case injuries occurred on the job. For a moment, he debates giving it to them or not. After all, because of this human, Papyrus had been riding his ass nonstop for the past few days, and they were just another leech of resources. But...they did prove him wrong tonight. And he had to admit, they surprised him by carrying out the orders given to them, and in such a short time, too.
It probably wasn’t going to happen again, though. It was probably a one time thing. Chances were the next time they tried to get information, they’d let something slip and this entire arrangement would go up in flames. He shrugged, tossing the bottle into their lap. They looked at him questioningly before opening the bottle and frowning at its potent odor. Once they were through massaging it in their cheek, they handed it back to him.
“...You didn’t have to do that.”
He rolled his eyes. “yer fuckin’ welcome.”
They sighed. “Thanks.”
He reached the human’s apartment not soon after, letting them out after they’d thanked him for the ride. Sans began his own trek home, making his way inside, nearly bumping into Papyrus the moment he opened the door. Papyrus stood in the doorway with his hands on his hips, spine bowed over as he stared at Sans with an accusatory look.
ugh. “what now, boss?”
“YOU WEREN’T AT WORK TODAY.”
“no. i wasn’t.”
Papyrus’ phalanges tapped irritably against his hip bones, no doubt waiting for Sans to elaborate. When he didn’t, the taller skeleton growled lowly in annoyance. “WELL? ARE YOU GOING TO TELL ME WHY?”
Sans rolled his eyes, taking the piece of paper from out of his pocket and handing it to Papyrus, who raised a brow bone.
“WHAT IS THIS?”
“the reason why i wasn’t at work today.” He replied, kicking his shoes off as Papyrus read the paper.
His grin only grew as he read through the information.“...SO...CASEY HAS COME THROUGH WITH SPEEDY...AND EFFECTIVE...RESULTS.” Sans offered a shrug in response, and Papyrus chuckled darkly. “VERY USEFUL. VERY USEFUL INDEED. GOOD WORK, SANS. TOMORROW, YOU WILL SEE IF YOU CAN---”
“all due respect, boss, i think this was a one time thing.” He interjected, hanging his coat up on the rack. “what makes ya think that they can keep recreating this?”
“WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT THEY CAN’T?”
“think about it. ya really think they’re gonna visit the police commissioner day in and day out without him figurin’ out there’s somethin’ fishy goin’ on? ya think they’re gonna keep their word to us? the people who kidnapped and interrogated them?”
“WELL, THEY’D BETTER, IF THEY VALUE THEIR LIFE.”
Which they didn’t. Sans remembered when they challenged Papyrus, who had just been ready to tear them to pieces for withholding information. “sure boss. whatever ya say.”
“HONESTLY, SANS, WOULD IT KILL YOU TO HAVE A BIT MORE FAITH IN MY CALLS? THIS ARRANGEMENT IS BENEFICIAL TO THE SCINTILLATING SKELETAL SYNDICATE!”
He visibly cringed that. God, how Sans wished he wouldn’t call their chapter by its full name. The Syndicate was just fine as it is. That was a name that drew fear. But the ‘Scintillating Skeletal Syndicate’ drew nothing but snickers. “i have faith in shit that gets results. constant results. i’m gonna need more proof before i start believin’. this human---”
“CASEY, SANS. THEIR NAME IS CASEY.” He interrupted.
“wha--what the fuck does that matter?”
“BECAUSE, THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE PAPYRUS IS JUST AS MUCH OF A GENTLEMAN AS A BUSINESSMAN.” He boomed, holding a finger up. “POTENTIAL BUSINESS PARTNERS YIELD MORE FAVORABLE RESULTS IF YOU REFER TO THEM BY NAME. IT’S BENEFICIAL, IT MAKES THEM BELIEVE THAT YOU KNOW THEM ON A PERSONAL LEVEL, AND IT MAKES THEM FEEL SPECIAL.
Sans looked up at Papyrus with a blank expression. “...but ya don’t know ‘em. and they ain’t special.”
“WELL, OF COURSE, BUT WE CAN’T LET THEM KNOW WE THINK THAT! AT LEAST, NOT TO THEIR FACE.”
“right. anyway, this human--”
“whatever! i’m bettin’ 40 bucks that casey or whatever can’t keep holdin’ up their end of the deal. just watch. soon they’ll get tired, stop slippin’ information, or rat us out.” Sans said, giving the boss a dismissive wave. “seen it happen before, boss. ya can’t let one good thing blind ya to the possible bad outcomes.”
“IT’S CALLED BEING ‘OPTIMISTIC’, SANS. YOU SHOULD TRY IT SOMETIME.”
“yeah? and i’m bein’ ‘realistic’.” He shot back as he headed up to his bedroom, and then added under his breath “ you should try it sometime.”