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Lady Stardust

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At first, you have no idea what to do.

Ever since your first crazy visit to the skeletons' home five months ago, the bone quantity found in your day-to-day life has been steadily going up. That is to say: you may or may not have been becoming friends with some skeletons?? What started with a chance meeting with Sans Undertale himself led to becoming texting buddies with seven other skeletons. At first it was primarily just Papyrus and Blue - presumably out of enthusiasm and politeness - but then you started a "who can be the biggest shitlord" competition with Red, and just a month ago you bonded with Stretch and Rus enough that they started sending you their own brand of garbage too. While Black and Edge text you occasionally as well, you've hung out with the former five more times than you can count these days. And you've honestly had so much fun with them, that you steadily forgot about Sans' growing lack of communication with you.  

Although you've now had several different skeletons in your house at several different times, Sans has never once joined them or asked to be invited over for one of your (now rare) hangouts. In what feels like a lifetime ago - before you met the others - you would actually joke that you would NEVER invite him into your house, because he's a dumb loser and if his "shortcuts" work like vampires then he's gotta be a hot vampire to get the luxury of permanent access, sorry man. No invite into this sweet abode. Get like, completely fucking ripped or something and then maybe you’ll think about it. It was a great joke (just like all your jokes are), and you figured with his personality, you’d never be in a situation where he’d genuinely want to enter your place anyways.

But now here he is, asking to be let in.

"...Okay??" After staring in silence for far too long, you open the door wider and move to allow him access. Sans is frozen in place for a moment... before taking a step away.

"sorry, this is weird isn't it?" His chuckle is strained, and the sound sets off your empathy feels. "don't feel obligated to let me in, i can just go--"

"No, it's fine!" Your voice comes out louder than intended, and he’s apparently so on edge that it actually visibly startles him. Oops. "I mean... come in, man, it's cool. Don't worry about it."

Sans stares at you quietly a moment longer, hesitating, before slowly stepping inside. As you shut the door, he tries to wipe the bottom of his slippers against the carpet. With how waterlogged he looks, you have a feeling it's not going to help. You appreciate him for trying though.

"Go sit down, I'll grab a towel." You gesture in the direction of the living room before you head in the opposite direction. A moment later, you return with a stack of basically every clean towel you could find just to discover the skeleton standing awkwardly in the middle of the room, a puddle of water forming at his feet.

"i uh... didn't want to get anything wet."

"It's fine - really, don't worry about it." You throw a few towels down on the couch and Sans slowly sits down on them, still seeming reluctant to touch anything. It's clear how uncomfortable he is to be here and thus you really want to know why he's here, but you also don't want to pry. So you choose to focus on being a good host instead - hopefully the reason will become clear later. "Do you want anything to eat? Or drink?"

"i'm ok."

"Okay." Now this... is getting awkward. The skeleton doesn’t seem very motivated to strike up a conversation with you, instead choosing to stare dead-eyed at an empty space on your coffee table. "...Do you want me to put your hoodie in the drier, or...?"

Sans looks down at himself, and you’re already pretty sure he's going to decline. Have you ever seen him not wearing that thing? You can't think of a time you have - in person, in picture, or in "Undertale canon" - so maybe he's attached to it--

"ok." Without any sort of resistance, he shrugs off the hoodie and holds it out to you. "uh, if you don't mind... thanks." You don't know what you were expecting, but he looks smaller without it. He must have been out in the rain for awhile, because his t-shirt underneath is soaked to the bone, the fabric clinging to his ribcage-- NOPE haha don't make this weird, brain! They're just bones!! No reason to stare.

"No problem, my dude." You trade his hoodie for another dry towel - which you deliver by throwing it at his face ("oof."). "Dry yourself off, you soggy piece of shit."

He snorts, removing the towel from his skull. "thanks." The dry tone and expression he gives you makes you feel pretty confident that your attempt at lightening the mood worked. Hopefully you can keep this up for the rest of his visit! Satisfied, you exit the room with his hoodie in hand to make your way to the drier. You try your damnedest to ignore how absolutely fucking soaked this thing is - it's leaving a trail of water on the floor and there's a growing wet spot on your own clothes. What did Sans do - stand under a waterfall?? What was he even doing out in the rain that long when he can just warp from place to place? 

What was he doing at your place when he could have just warped home?

Ignoring that too-curious train of thought, you have enough sense to grab your special box of movies from your room on the way back to the living room. Briefly you wonder if you should change clothes or dry the floor but - eh. Fuck that. That water can dry itself - you got a skele to maybe comfort. (If that's what he's here for??)

When you reenter the living room, you almost burst out laughing.

"Having fun?" Sans has somehow successfully wrapped himself up in all of the towels you brought out for him, with the only part of him still visible being his skull. Can he even move, or is he just a towel burrito forever now?

"i had to get dry."

"You know I could have just lent you something to wear, right? Then you could be dry and warm under some nice blankets instead of stuck in a pile of damp towels."

He looks like he's about to counter with something... but then has to concede the point to you. "well. shut up."

You snicker as you sit down on the couch, putting the box on the coffee table. "Hey, maybe when you finally emerge from your cocoon you'll find you've turned into a beautiful skeleton butterfly."

"that would be neat. then i could just fly away from my problems, like a dumb useless piece of garbage."

"Exactly!" Yeah, despite the hint of lightness to his voice when saying that, you can still tell he’s here because something happened. Is it too soon to ask for details? You don't want to stick your nose where it doesn’t belong and he doesn't say anything further, suddenly leaving the two of you in a growing silence. Although this is kind of awkward and he's probably not here on completely comfortable terms, you do have to admit... it is nice to be able to joke with him again. You love all your skeleton friends, but some japes and good-natured ribbing (hehe) are just more fun with Sans. Man, you really missed hanging out with him. More than you realized. God, you’re a sap. You should say something before your internal emotions make it outside.

"Uh so--" 

"so what's in the-- oops, go ahead."

You both started speaking at the same time, and you can’t help but let out an awkward chuckle at the coincidence. Wow, you suck ass at this. Recovering quickly, you put a hand on your lil movie box.

"Movies! Want to watch one?"

"ok."

You try to nudge the box towards him so he can look for himself, but Sans just stares at it with his eyelights from afar. "Anything you want to watch? And if there's nothing here, we can always check Netflix or something..."

"nah, you can pick. i'm cool with whatever."

Well, that just won't do. You want to help him! How are you supposed to do that when he’s being so passive?!

"Okay then... what kind of mood are you in?"

"...mood?"

"Certain movies just help with certain moods, you know? Like, I have a go-to movie for when I'm happy, or when I'm mad, or for when life is miserable and I feel like I'm dying from the inside out."

"...yeah? which movie is that?"

With a grin, you take Jurassic Park out of the movie box. "Dinosaur movie, of course!!" It’s a classic and a timeless masterpiece. But most importantly: everyone likes dinosaurs. They are just too cool to resist.

"wow. how did i forget you’re a big dumb nerd?"

"Hey! Name one thing in life that is better than dinosaurs - other than Papyrus."

You've read him like a book and all he can do is offer you a sheepish grin. "welp. you got me there. go ahead, put it on."

"Are you sure? We can watch something else--"

"nah, go ahead. but i'm gonna judge you if you wanna smooch the t-rex."

"Who wouldn't want to smooch a dinosaur?" you muse aloud as you leap from the couch with the movie in hand. As great as big dinos tearing shit up is, you're really not sure if this movie is his thing - you really don’t know what his tastes are except for maybe space stuff?? - but hopefully it'll provide a decent distraction to... whatever is bothering him.

It does not take long for you to start second guessing your choice. This movie gets pretty gruesome sometimes - is Sans going to be bothered by that? What if the thing bothering him was very traumatic and violent and now you're just going to make it worse?? You try to make it subtle that you spend more time watching him than the movie - if he notices, he doesn't call you out on it. Instead, he's focused pretty intently on the screen. He doesn't even fall asleep during the early part of the movie, which you've heard some people consider boring (which is WRONG).

"whoa." He's surprisingly silent for most of the movie - no jokes or anything - only commenting every now and then to point out the obvious. "he's dead."

"Super dead."

At one point you get up to fetch blankets and assorted snacks. Sans tries to decline both, but you just throw the blanket on him, not caring that it's going to get wet. You also do not care that skeletons probably (maybe?) don't need to be warm - he is getting a blanket and he is going to LIKE IT. You feel incredibly satisfied when you see him sink into the soft fabric out of the corner of your eye.

"that was pretty good," the skeleton says when the movie ends. "can you actually make dinosaurs like that? by mixing dna from different animals?"

Oh, of course he's interested in the science side. And he called you the nerd. You really should have seen this coming instead of second-guessing yourself. "I dunno, maybe? I'm sure we'll figure out how to do it someday - completely ignoring the entire movie series dedicated to showing us why that's a super bad idea."

"well, that's a scientist for ya. always messing with things they shouldn't." You catch his tone and look at him with a hint of concern. "...guess that wasn't subtle, huh?"

"Not really."

"you can't blame me - that's just what happens when someone turns your life into a video game. everyone knows everything about you. can't keep any secrets. why bother to bottle them up anymore?”

"Hey, that's not true." There's a definite bite to his tone even though he's desperately trying to make a joke out of it. "There's a ton of stuff I don't know about you. And I can't just assume everything I've seen in a work of fiction is real."

"but it's not fiction."

"Well... I don't know that."

"i think you do."

He's wrong - there really is no way for you to know the truth unless he tells you it himself. But you don't know what to say to get that across, because he seems convinced otherwise. How many times a day do people question him about things he’s spent his whole life keeping to himself? You can’t imagine what such a thing would do to your own morale.

Silence. 

Awkward.

Oh boy.

"...Do you want a change of clothes now??"

"...if you don't mind."

"I don't! At all! I'll be back!!" You're already escaping from the room as you holler that last bit behind you, not sticking around long enough to hear a response. Ugh, you're no good at making people feel better. You never know the right thing to say or how to say it. Plus, how could you possibly know what he's going through? Even though you share a reality, the two of you may as well still be existing in two separate universes with how different your lives must be. 

All you can really do is… be supportive and try to help him keep his mind off of things.

You take a detour to the drier to check on his hoodie. Nope, still damp - but you do take it out anyways and hang it so it doesn't start to shrink. You manage to find one last dry towel before you finally make the trek to your room. Alright, what the hell is in your wardrobe that Sans can wear? Bottoms are not a big deal - just make sure they are stretchy so as to accommodate his wider bone structure and are also short enough that they don't drag on the floor (haha he's short!). The shirt on the other hand... you should go with something a bit bigger than your typical clothing size...

Is it perhaps fate that your search gravitates you towards your Megalovania shirt?

...

God, Sans is going to hate you.

"You're going to hate me," you say as soon as you come back into the living room, unable to hide the smile on your face. The look he gives you is an equal mix of suspicion and curiosity, which falls to a deadpan once your memelord snickering ass shows him the shirt.

"you're right, i do hate you. gimmie--" Sans pushes his way out of the towel burrito and reaches for the shirt, narrowing his eyes as he studies it. "this is the most cursed thing i have ever seen. i'm going to have to confiscate this permanently and destroy it for the good of all."

You can't stop yourself from giggling at his clear distaste for it. "You know what? That's fair. I haven't worn it in years anyways, so I probably wouldn't miss it." After monsters emerged from the Underground and revealed themselves to be Extremely Real, you wore this shirt maybe once before banishing it to the back of your wardrobe. You honestly agree with him - this shirt is cursed. Much more so now that you know that Sans is just a big dumb goober, making this edgy old thing seem like a horrible interpretation of his character.

"what? you telling me you don't wear this thing every day?" he asks sarcastically, turning it around so you can look at the picture directly. As if you haven’t gazed upon it a million times already, searing the design into your brain. "but look at how cool and epic it is! how else are you supposed to show off your undying love for your favourite video game ‘undertale’??"

"I have never in my life had an Undertale phase and you can't prove it," you lie, even though the proof is right in his hands. He may know that you used to be pretty into the game, but you will never let on just how bad it was. That's a secret you will take to your grave (or at least until your old friends rat you out... or somebody digs up your old social media posts).

"oh, i guess that's true." He stands from the couch and retrieves the comparatively plain pants you brought for him. "well, since you want me to die so much, guess i'm going to go change into this and then lie down in a fire until all traces of both me and this shirt are gone forever."

"Dust in the wind..." You nod solemnly, and Sans snorts. "Okay, but don't die unless you record it. I wanna see you b--"

"’burn in hell’??" Sans cuts you off with an expression that's somewhere between smug and manic. "ok but only if you get some better material while i'm gone - your jokes are getting predictable."

You can't help but snicker as he leaves the room to go change. Damn, maybe your shitty Undertale jokes are getting stale... You've honestly been worried that Sans resents you for them and that's why he doesn't really talk to you anymore, but... he seemed pretty chill about it just now?? Maybe he's just hiding his discomfort. Ugh, you just don't know! Why is your brain making this impromptu hangout more complicated than it needs to be?! Even your hangouts with Rus don't make you doubt yourself this much anymore! You need to stop being so self-conscious about Sans' feelings and just... be normal!! (But also be conscious about his feelings because you don't want to upset him when he’s having a hard time UGH this is so dumb!!!)

You spend a few minutes looking at your movies before you pull out two for Sans to choose between, and then take to looking at your phone. Coincidentally, Sans wasn't the only skeleton you had been talking to today. Three of them texted you during the movie - Blue, Rus, and Papyrus - and the frequency honestly made you suspicious that they were trying to interrupt your hangout with Sans, but... how would they even know about it?? Unless... they were aware of what happened to him today?! Were they INVOLVED??? No, that’s impossible - Rus is a shitlord, but you don’t think Blue or Papyrus would have anything to do with something so horrible. Besides, you haven’t heard from the usual suspects of such dunking antics - Red last texted you about an hour before Sans showed up, and Stretch's last message had been one of his signature delirious three-in-the-morning jokes. And just to complete the gang for reference’s sake: you hadn't spoken to Edge or Black today at all. So yeah, you probably just have an overactive imagination. Not everything is about you! And not everything is about dunking on Sans! Shaking off your conspiracy theories, you tap Blue's name to open up his messages.

Highway Unicorn: HELLO DEAREST FRIEND!!! HOW ARE YOU TODAY?
You: p good, watching a movie about dinosaurs. How about u?
Highway Unicorn: OOOH, THAT SOUNDS EXCITING! WHAT'S THE MOVIE CALLED??

(You notice that he didn't answer your question, but you chalk it up to him forgetting it due to the sheer excitement that is DINOSAURS.)

You: Jurassic park, it's like the best dinosaur movie ever
Highway Unicorn: I DON'T THINK I'VE SEEN THAT ONE YET! MAYBE WE CAN WATCH IT NEXT TIME WE HANG OUT??
Highway Unicorn: I MEAN, ONLY IF YOU WANT TO!
You: yea sure i'm always down for it
Highway Unicorn: YES!!! I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO IT!!!
You: so what u doin bro
Highway Unicorn: OH, I'M JUST HANGING OUT WITH SOME FRIENDS RIGHT NOW.
You: o shit I hope im not distracting you dude

(Now that you're rereading the message log in the present time... you realize he texted you first. That's strange of him to do when he's with someone else.)

Highway Unicorn: DON'T WORRY! I AM A MAGNIFICENT MULTITASKER, SO I HAVE TIME FOR BOTH YOU AND MY FANS.
Highway Unicorn: *FRIENDS
Highway Unicorn: UM I MEAN THEY ARE BOTH MY FANS AND MY FRIENDS
Highway Unicorn: YOU KNOW???
You: i totes get it dude no worries

You want to say more but your brain is hitting a conversation block, so you decide to leave it at that until he replies. Next, you jump to Rus' messages - he started texting you towards the end of the movie, so there isn't quite as much as an on-going conversation like there is with Blue.

Dope: wyd
You: watchin dinosaur movie, how about u?
Dope: nm
You: is black hanging out with his friends again 
You: are u textin me cuz ur bored
Dope: maybe
You: wow russel t bones why don't you get some friends lol

Shooting off that reply, you back out and open the log for the last skeleton that's been texting you today. Papyrus is such a sweetheart, you can't help but reread his messages up until now with a smile.

Born This Way: I AM SO SORRY FRIEND FOR I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, HAVE MADE A HORRIBLE ERROR!!! I WAS SO BUSY YESTERDAY THAT I COMPLETELY FORGOT TO TEXT YOU, AND NOW I DON'T KNOW IF YOU HAD A GOOD YESTERDAY OR NOT! I AM SO ASHAMED!
Born This Way: I HOPE YOU CAN FORGIVE ME!!! :(
You: of course I forgive you!!! Everyone gets busy sometimes, I totally understand dude
Born This Way: PHEW! I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE NOT UPSET WITH ME! OF COURSE, THIS JUST MEANS I HAVE TO MAKE UP FOR IT BY ASKING YOU HOW YESTERDAY WAS TOO!!! B)
Born This Way: HOW HAS YOUR YESTERDAY AND TODAY BEEN? DON'T FORGET TO EAT WELL AND TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!
You: all my days been good, my sweet bone friend. Hope yours have been good too!
Born This Way: I'M SO GLAD TO HEAR IT!! WE REALLY NEED TO HANG OUT AGAIN SOON, IT'S BEEN SO LONG! IF ONLY I DIDN'T FIND MYSELF SO BUSY ALL THE TIME. :(
Born This Way: BY THE WAY, IF IT ISN'T ANY TROUBLE... COULD YOU PERHAPS FIND TIME TO HANG OUT WITH MY BROTHER SOON??? LATELY HE'S BEEN KINDA OF...
Born This Way: DISTANT???
Born This Way: I MEAN MORE THAN USUAL. EVEN MORE THAN HE HAS BEEN IN THE LAST FEW MONTHS! HE SEEMS TO OPEN UP MORE WITH YOU SOOOOO..........
Born This Way: ;)

Oh my god Papyrus, you cute little shit. With anyone else you'd assume that winky face had implications attached to it, but with Papyrus... you're genuinely not sure?? Sheesh, don't let your imagination run wild! This is Papyrus we're talking about - he's just happy that his brother has a friend. A FRIEND. There is no subtext here. Why would there be?

What a coincidence that he'd ask you this while you're already hanging out though! Despite your earlier suspicions, you're almost certain that nobody knows Sans is here, so you're wondering if he'd like it better if you kept it that way. May as well play it safe. As you're typing a response back, your phone vibrates and a notification pops up to alert you that Rus has already replied to your newest message. Geez, he must be really bored to be responding that fast! You tap back to his as soon as you've replied to Papyrus.

Born This Way: ;)
You: oh yea sure dude, I'll see what that lil goober is up to and we'll try planning something

Dope: that sounds like work
You: oh so are you saying i'm your only friend? huh?? rus am I your bf (best friend) ? ;p

You've started scrolling through social media when he responds again.

Dope: ok i can't let you go believing that. i have plenty of friends
Dope: just don't feel like talking to them right now
You: so you want to talk to ME instead?? aww I'm so flattered!!! <3 <3 <3
Dope: well youre decent entertainment
You: wow i don't know if i should be offended or not

Your conversation continues a little bit longer as you catch up on posts you missed while watching the movie. It's a solid fifteen minutes later when you realize something's amiss.

Sans isn't back yet.

You find yourself staring at the room's exit, as if your sudden attention will make him magically appear. Did he get lost? Impossible - there's no way he could have missed the bathroom. However...

You suddenly remember that you left the door to your room unlocked.

You're normally very good at locking it whenever you have guests over - especially whenever said guests were skeletal in nature. It's where you keep all your stupid things - your embarrassing secrets! - and very few people were at the appropriate friendship level to be granted access. Your skeleton pals? Definitely haven't unlocked that rank yet. From an outsider’s perspective, it probably seems like you’ve become pretty good friends with them all, but you know you’re not anyone’s first choice for a hangout. If you ever see any particular bonehead more than once a week, it’s almost always a coincidence or a case of them tagging along when you’re with one of the others. Heck, just look at the three you were texting! Papyrus is perpetually busy, Blue is always sending you pics and experiences he’s having with other people, and Rus is just bored. “Close” doesn’t even slightly describe your relationship with any of them - Rus is the only one who has opened up with you even a tiny bit… and even he’s doubtless still got a lot going on under the surface that he’ll tell others about but not you. You’re just one person in the sea of many “cool friends”, and that’s totally fine! As previously established: none of them have hit “trusted friend” status with you either. Which is why your room has remained a safely guarded secret up until now.

Your room… is a nightmare. One look would lead anybody to believe you are just another crazy, obsessed fan of your select top interests. If any of the skeletons saw the embarrassing amount of UNDERTALE MERCH in your room, you would not only probably lose any sort of respect they have for your assumed not-obsessed ass, but also they would never let you live it down. You will be tormented for eternity for your sins - and that might just be worse than them never speaking to you again. Maybe.

Regardless, now that the idea of Sans possibly stumbling upon that shit has entered your head... you have to check.

You give Sans exactly one more minute before you rise from the couch and make your way out of the room. A stop at the bathroom confirms part one of your suspicion - Sans is no longer in there. Your heartbeat quickens as you follow the path to your room, a sudden anxiety rolling around your gut and threatening to consume you whole. This is really happening, isn't it? This is how your life ends. With more dread than you've felt in your entire life, you peek inside your room... and… and...

There he is.

Sans Undertale is snooping in your fucking room.

Miracuously, he doesn't see you in the doorway yet so you get to study him with a narrowed gaze. Man he has just found everything, hasn't he? Not only is the clown wearing the dumb Megalovania shirt you gave him, but he's also found your "official" Sans Undertale hoodie (which looks familiar yet EXTREMELY BIZARRE on him due to the minor differences) to wear as well. There are plush versions of himself and his brother under one arm, while the other reaches for your collection of Undertale charms that are hanging from your desk. Oh hell no, he's not messing up the arrangement you've got there--

"Snoo ping as usual, I see." You think that's meme is a bit too old for him, but you get your enjoyment out of seeing him jerk away due to the sudden appearance of you and your voice. His skull turns so his eyelights can stare intently at you, reminiscent of a deer in headlights or a kid caught doing something they shouldn't have been doing. After a moment, his expression shifts into amusement and... something else that you can't quite pinpoint.

"you liar." He turns the rest of his body to face you, holding the plushies a bit tighter to himself. " 'i've never had an undertale phase you can't prove it' - bitch i just did. get owned, scrub."

He must be sooo disappointed in you. You are going to be banned from talking to him or the other skeletons ever again. This absurd fear weighs on your panicked mind, but the stupidass levity in his tone forces a laugh from your throat. Well, even if he never talks to you again, at least you can take pride in the knowledge that you have infected Sans Undertale's vocabulary with numerous bad words and Internet slang. "Okayyy, you got me. What are you going to do now - burn it all?"

"yes." He glances towards your collection of skeleton and monster charms. "your place is extremely cursed, so i'm going to confiscate all this and destroy it so you can finally go back to living a normal life."

"Thank the stars, now my mind won't be plagued by skeleton dicks every second of every day!" Sans grimaces and lets out an "ugh" - there's one joke he still hasn't been able to get used to! He'll play along or counter just about anything else, but nothing involving that. You're unable to stop yourself from smiling at his reaction as you enter the room and take a seat on your bed. "Can you spare Lil Sans and Lil Papyrus though? They are sweet little peas who have never done anything wrong ever."

The skeleton gives you a blank look for a moment before looking down at the plushies in his arms. "oh, them? wow, for once i'm not the target of one of your height jokes. unless the mini me counts? i dunno."

"Noooo, that's just their names! I can't just call them 'Sans' and 'Papyrus' when there are different skeletons that already use those names. Lil Sans and Lil Pap are different."

"very creative names, then." Sans snorts and makes his way over to sit beside you, lifting up the plush version of himself to examine it further. "so what's this universe called? plushtale? underplush?"

"It's--" You can't help but make a face at what he's asking you. He's probably joking, but for some reason you feel like being defensive instead of going along with it. "No universe, just... whatever! They're not one of you guys; they are just… themselves." Unsurprisingly, you are having trouble explaining this. It would be a lie to say you've never taken a page out of Toy Story's book and thought "hey what if these toys were ALIVE?!", but... not to the extent of making an AU. After all, there was already a "smol skele" AU in the form of Bittybones - this would have been redundant. All you wanted was some cuddle boiz.

"really? could have fooled me. didn't know there was another skeleton in undertale that wears a blue hoodie, shorts, and slippers." He flips Lil Sans so you have perfect view of the tag that says "UNDERTALE" on it. Again, you are making a face.

"Sans, you're not a fictional character."

"huh. i never knew."

"Seriously man, this is-- this is what I meant earlier." You can't help but notice the change in his tone, bringing back the awkwardness between you two that was present earlier. "Video Game Sans is different from Real Sans. You're different." Knowing you have little chance at keeping up this SERIOUS DIALOGUE, you pluck the plush from his hand. "Lil Sans is also different from both of you. He is his own entity."

"oh? how so?"

"He protects you from having bad times," you blurt, like the stupid idiot you are. Amused, Sans quirks a bone brow.

"wow, that is different from us."

"He's a good boy!! They both are--" You reach out to take Lil Papyrus away from Sans too, but he doesn't let go even after a little bit of tugging. "--and that is why I humbly ask you spare them from your Undertale Merch Genocide Run. "

He lets out a noise somewhere between a snort and a sigh. "hmmm, i dunno... i really think you'd be better off living an undertale-free life. just think of all the money you wasted on this junk."

Again, you're sure he's joking, but now you're defensive times two. "Hey, I didn't waste any money. They were all great and valuable purchases."

"really?" He holds up Lil Papyrus. "these guys were valuable and necessary?"

"Actually, those were gifts. So no money spent on my part." Okay, ONE of them was a gift. And you just couldn't have one bro without the other!! 

"ok, fair enough. it would be rude to get rid of a gift. what about those though?" He points at your collection of charms, prints, and other related merch.

"Supporting independent artists." The art was just too cute to resist.

"special edition?" 

"Supporting the creator - ALSO, digital media can potentially be lost forever so I wanted to have it physical." It looks nice on your shelf!

"not sure why you'd want that - or why you think that dog needs more money - but ok. how do you explain the body pillow then?"

"That's-- hey!!"

Sans chuckles at your reaction, expression turning shit-eating. "i know you have one somewhere. where ya hiding it? c'mon, lemee see who's on it."

"I don't have a body pillow!" you insist, but he's clearly not buying it. Wow, you hate this. Can he go back to being disappointed in your life choices instead of making fun of them? That was much better.

"ok ok, i'm sure i'll get to see it eventually." His expression remains unchanging as you frown even harder at him. The way-too-pleased-with-himself skeleton is silent for a moment - either revelling in your displeasure or looking for more paraphernalia to call you out on - before he remembers what he's currently wearing. He gestures to his-- your hoodie with that mischievous twinkle in his sockets. "how about this? this hoodie isn't even anything like mine aside from the colour - was it really worth it?"

"My old one was falling apart, and I needed a new one anyways." ONE pocket broke, and that was enough of an excuse for you. "That one happened to be announced and open for pre-order at the same time."

"yeah? and how much did it cost?"

Oh, you can already tell you're going to hate answering this. "...Sixty dollars plus shipping."

"oh. my god." His voice is hushed as he almost looks pitied for you. "you... are so dumb. i actually feel bad about how dumb you are. you wanna know how much i got mine for?"

"Let me guess: zero dollars because you found it in the dump?"

"it was--" He furrows his bone brow at you, putting a hand to his sternum in mock-hurt. "um, ok, wow, that might be the meanest thing you've ever said to me? what the hell."

You find yourself laughing before he's even done speaking. "I'm sorry, you're right! That was really mean." There's a joke about the dump being where Sans belongs somewhere around here, but your brain can't quite put two and two together to make it. Also now you actually feel legitimately bad about being a big dumb meanie. "I'm sorry, continue. Please tell me how much you got your hoodie for."

"...with today's monster gold exchange rate, maybe like... five dollars?"

"You're joking."

"it was a thrift shop."

"Oh my god." This is nonsense. You legitimately can't tell if he's lying or not. ...Honestly, you don't think you want to ask - you’re going to end up experiencing buyer’s remorse several years after your dumb impulse purchase happened. "Alright, mine was a steep price to pay but it is comfy and warm and it helped me get through some bad times so I have no regrets."

"ha." What-- oh, you made a bad time reference. That one was honestly by complete accident - you were being sincere for once and your poor word choice had it go right over his head! Maybe memes are bad after all. "well i guess i can believe at least one of those things. this thing is really comfy."

"Right?! I was always so upset when it got too warm to wear it - it was way better than any other sweater I had."

"'was'?"

"Well...I don't wear it anymore?"

"why?" He looks... genuinely puzzled?? Of all people, you thought he'd understand your reasoning. Have you really never talked about this? Did he really think you just weren't that big of an Undertale fan and that's why you never wore or used any of this old merch in public? You have some ACTUALLY OFFICIAL Blooky and Mettaton merch - the production okayed by them personally - and Sans knows you have that... What did he assume about the rest of your collection - specifically the skeleton part of it?

"...Because it's weird??? Same reason I don't wear that shirt anymore, or put these pins and keychains on my bags, or listen to the Undertale soundtrack a billion times a week anymore. It's just... weird!!"

"what makes it weird?"

"Well don't you think it's weird??"

"why does it matter what i think?"

Oh. 

That's why he doesn't get it.

"Because..." You almost say "because I care about what you think", but that sounds too... mushy?? It could also be taken the wrong way - like you're going out of your way to not seem like a fan so he and the other skeletons would warm up to you. And that's just not true at all. You’d never lie to gain someone’s friendship like that.

"If I found out somebody was writing stories about me and selling stuff that used my likeness, I'd probably find it pretty weird?? I just... when it's a real person, doing that kind of stuff feels really... gross. Buying merch, reading fanfics - hell, even playing the original game - it's just not fun anymore when you know the people being represented might not be comfortable with any of it."

Sans is shocked, staring at you like you're an unknown entity. When he finally speaks up, his voice is soft and almost a bit... sad??

"...you stopped because of me?"

"What? No! I stopped waaaay before meeting you - like, back when monsters came to the surface." You grin and give him a playful shove to try and lighten the mood. "Sheesh, self-centered much? I know your follower count suggests otherwise, but the world doesn't actually revolve around you."

"o-oh, right..." Sheepish, Sans looks away from you and down at Lil Papyrus in his hands. "but... if it really bothers you that much, then why don't you at least put all this stuff away? doesn't looking at it remind you of... that?"

You stare at your collection of Undertale charms - several of them being AU skelebros - and take a moment to think so you can give him a genuine answer. "...Honestly? Sometimes, yeah, I look at it and feel pretty icky. I actually used to rearrange it all the time - taking it down, putting it away, putting it back up... I'll look at it and remember how much of an embarrassing nerd I was, and then feel horrible about it for days."

"pretty sure you're still an embarrassing nerd."

You snort. "Maybe. ...But other times I look at it and remember how much the game affected me. It and everything around it helped me get through some... dark times."

There is an uncomfortable silence, and you don't want to look at Sans to see what kind of face he's making... so you keep staring at the small inanimate 2D versions of your friends instead.

"...A-Also! Uh, sometimes looking at it all just... makes me feel hopeful?? Like... wow, this video game-- these coolass monsters are real, and alternate universes are real, so like?? Literally anything is possible. And maybe that means there's… more to the world than we know. More than we could ever imagine. And maybe that means there’s... something out there for me after all. Some purpose I don’t know about yet..."

You're embarrassed to be rambling, and you're worried about getting too personal. Your thoughts feel like they're going a mile a minute - you really don't know if you're conveying them very well. Out of the corner of your eye, you can't help but peek at Sans to assess his reaction, but he's staring straight ahead as well. When he starts talking, he's quiet enough that you almost think you're mishearing him.

"...me too. ...u-uhh, i mean..." He clears his non-existent throat and turns slightly to look at you. "i hope there's something for you out there too. y'know, other than torturing me and ruining my life."

There's a weird feeling inside you, but you’re having trouble making sense of it. All you can really pinpoint is relief. "I dunno man, dunking on you is the best thing to ever happen to me. I think we might be soulmates."

"boo, never say that again." 

"Never say what again? That we're soulmates?"

"please don't do this to me."

You can't help but laugh a bit. "But Sans... don't you feel this connection between us? An unshakeable emotional pull? Like we were destined to meet so I could eternally give you a bad time??"

"you have no idea how many-- how many times i have to-- mmmrghh--" He squeezes his eyesockets shut and shakes his head, burying his face in the softness of Lil Papyrus' plush skull before exhaling his anguish loudly. You wonder just how often he has to deal with obsessive fans pulling the "soulmate" line on him. It was always a popular trope in the fanfic community, and celebrities have to deal with fans that think they’re “the one” all the time. While his frustration is fantastic to watch, this is definitely the worst he's reacted to one of your japes in awhile so you decide to cut him some slack.

"Alright, I'll refrain from saying that cursed word for just a little while." You hear him mumble a "thank you" . "Instead, how about I tell you about my stupid dumbass idiot theory I have that you'll definitely laugh at?"

He lifts his head and looks at you with interest, previous discomfort ebbing away. "yes please, give it to me."

Embarrassment and anxiety begin to return to you. This should NOT feel as personal as it actually is! Unable to take back your offer and wanting to make it up to him for always being a little shit, you steel yourself for your Stupid Confession.

"Okay, uh... y-you know how like, when you were a kid, you'd imagine yourself being a character in the stories you read or heard about?"

"sure. is the secret that you still do this? because that's not surprising at all."

"No! I-I mean..." Him and his dumb amused smirk can see right through you, catching you in your lie. Listen: self-inserts are a drug that you can't get enough of. But that's not the point. "Okay, but, uhh, those stories! Those worlds and the characters from them, you kinda believed they were real, right? That they were somewhere and you could meet them someday..."

Sans' amusement fades, expression settling into something neutral. "...yeah, i guess." Are you imagining it, or does his tentative tone sound like he might know where you're going with this?

"W-Well like, what if... What if ALL the stories were real somewhere out there? Whether it be in our world or in another universe! Wh-What if like... information... just leaks into our world, and everything anyone has ever imagined is real in some alternate universe?” You clap your hands together to signal the end of your childish, embarrassing thought. “ That's it! Thaaat's it! That's my dumbass theory that y'all existing has helped me perpetuate! Isn't it super dumb?? Hahahaha...!"

Your pitiful laughter dies out when you notice Sans hasn't started laughing with you. When you look back at him, his expression is unreadable - eyelights small and focused on something you can't see. 

"can i share my stupid dumbass idiot theory too?"

"Umm, okay...?"

"what if you're not only right, but monsters aren't supposed to be here at all?" He doesn't look at you as he speaks, voice slightly hushed. "what if... what if this universe was just supposed to have the games and the stories, and the stuff from them are supposed to be... somewhere else."

You... don't know what to say. His inflections almost sound like he's making a statement instead of proposing a what-if scenario. Is this something he thinks about too…? Or… maybe...

"what if monsters and magic were supposed to be in their own world, but then one day something went wrong? what if someone... did something that broke the barriers of our universes and merged our worlds together? what if... wh-what if it's not supposed to be like this??"

Whatever narrative is running through his mind is clearly causing him distress. Sans' phalanges ball into fists as he holds Lil Papyrus against his torso tighter. There’s some deep-rooted paranoia (or knowledge?) wracking him to his core, but he’s doing all he can to keep it together in front of you.

"...i'm sorry. i didn't..."

He trails off, releasing a shaky sound that sounds like a sigh. You don't think there's anything you can say to help or make him feel better - it’s not your place to comment or counter his “theory” - but... You and your dumb mouth: you can't just say nothing.

"Hey, um... F-For what it's worth: no matter what the truths of our weird universe are, I'm... really happy I got to meet you." When he doesn't respond immediately, it hits you how dumb you sound. "Wow, that's really self-centered of me?? I am SO sorry, I don't know why I..."

"...that is the sappiest thing i've ever heard." It takes a second for you to process his words, but relief washes over you when you realize he's not mad or offended. For once, you are happy to be made fun of by this skeletal dweeb. "really never thought i'd hear you say something like that."

"Shut up."

"oh yeah, and i guess you're alright too. i could have creeped on and stolen the phone number of a worse human."

"Geez, I need to step up my game if I'm not the worst person you've ever met," you joke. Sans lets out a small, tired laugh.

"faaaar from it, kiddo. you're a saint compared to some people i've met. so, y'know..." He awkwardly scratches his skull. "uh, if all this--” He gestures to your collection of Undertale junk. “--stuff makes you comfortable? that's cool, you're allowed to enjoy it."

You're taken aback by his offer. Not in a thousand years did you think he’d ever approve of your old obsession. Sure, maybe he’d poke fun at you for it or learn to turn the  other way, but… actual permission to keep being a collector weirdo?? Are you still talking to the same Sans right now?? "What? Hey, no, it's alright dude--"

"no no, i'm fine with it. really." The smile he gives you is tired, but it looks genuine. "you wanna wear a comfy hoodie? go for it. wanna cuddle some toy skeletons? hey, who am i to judge? don't let other people's opinions stand in the way of doing something that makes you happy."

"I... I'm fine, really. I don't need any of this stuff--"

"but would it make you happier if you didn't have to feel so guilty about still liking it?"

It would. While the real monsters have distinguished themselves from the monsters of Undertale in your brain, there is still enough of a thread that unwillingly keeps them bound together. Sometimes you can look at art or merchandise and exclusively see the fictional character that you like, and other times... other times it's just too real. You genuinely hope that one day your mind can completely separate the two. 

"hmmmm? what's that, lil papyrus?" Sans looks at the plush in his hands, his grin lighting up his eyesockets. "you'd be sad if you and your bro didn't get cuddles anymore? aww, did you hear that? you can’t just put him away after hearing that, can you?"

"Ugh, shut up. " You feel embarrassed, but you can't help but laugh anyways. "That's not what he would say."

"ok, what would he say?"

"Lil Papyrus would say something like... 'Human! You are perfect and I love you, please accept this hug and gaze upon my cute face so you don't have to be sad anymore!' " You don't even bother trying to do a Papyrus imitation. You wouldn’t be able to capture his perfection.

"that does sound a lot more accurate. does he hug skeletons too?"

"Of course!"

"nice." And with a goofy grin, Sans hugs the plush Papyrus close to himself. What the fuck that's so cute. "what about lil sans?"

"He's pretty chill about hugs but he's also a bit of a prankster so you gotta be careful with him. You never know what he'll do if you try." 

"oh no," Sans whispers, staring at the plush in your lap with mock-fear. "maybe i won't press my luck today - he seems pretty happy where he is."

You give Lil Sans a pat on the head and smile warmly. "He's always happy - he is just a happy lil babybones."

"well, i don't blame him. he's got a good person looking after him and his bro." You give Sans an amused, questioning look - because just a minute ago he said you were just "alright" - and he shrugs in response. "hey, i meant everything i said, ok? if it's you... if the games, the toys, the art, hell even the fanfiction - if that's all helping someone live their life, then... none of it bothers me. i don't think i... really understood why people went so crazy about all this? not until now." The skeleton sighs. "makes me feel like kind of an ass now, honestly. people were just indulging in stuff that makes them happy, and i… looked down on it."

"Hey, there is some fucked up shit out there man so I really don't blame you!" It actually makes you feel kind of warm to realize you helped Sans reach a small change of heart about the whole celebrity status thing. "If people were drawing and writing about my dick, I'd definitely lose faith in humanity too." Even though things may never get better for him, you hope that knowing wholesome, good-natured fans exist can help him find some peace of mind.

You expect the usual disgusted reaction from him at the subject matter you’ve introduced into the conversation, but he just furrows his bone brow in frustration and speaks softly, as if sharing a very intimate secret:

"skeletons don't even have dicks. why are people like this??"

For some reason, you can't help but burst out laughing, and Sans snaps his gaze onto you. How amazing is it that Sans has never countered you with this extremely obvious line in your months of knowing him and dunking on him?

"what?? what's so funny??" His expression and tone grow a bit more frantic when you are unable to calm down and tell him why you're dying right now. "a-am i wrong?? they don't have them, right???"

"Why are you asking me?!" you manage, his sudden panic and apparent lack of skeleton knowledge making this all the funnier.

"i dunno! the only skeleton i know things about is me - i don't know what human skeletons are like! you guys did invent the word 'boner' after all - how am i supposed to know where that comes from?"

"Yes Sans, when humans die and become a pile of bones, those bones gain the ability to create a magic glowy ecto dong. That’s the circle of life."

"see, you're probably joking with me right now but i honestly don't know--"

"Oh my god, of course I'm joking!!!" You laugh and elbow him, still snickering as he looks at you with a displeased expression. "Humans don't have magic, why would our rotting corpses have it??"

Sans huffs. "well i don't know. i don't go looking for 'fun facts' about humans. you're all gross and fleshy - why would i want to look at you or your skeleton? that's weird. it’s also weird that humans will memorize the names of all the bones in the body so they can be extremely specific when writing fanfiction."

You can’t help but snicker at that last bit. Ain’t that the truth. "Is it really that weird for you to look at a human's skeleton?"

"no. well--" He pauses to think it over with a hint of a grimace. "...maybe a little bit. it's like... i dunno, looking at a mannequin maybe? it looks like you but it's not... alive?" He shrugs. "i can't really explain it. you'd rather look at the clothes it's wearing than at the actual mannequin itself, you know? because if you look at it too long, it just… creeps you out."

"So you're saying you'd rather look at a human's skin than the skeleton underneath." You intended to make a double entendre, but Sans takes your words at face value.

"i... guess?" He scratches his skull. "human skeletons are associated with the dead, so i dunno, it's just... kind of weird to me if we're talking about a human's actual skeleton. stuff like halloween props are mostly alright though - that stuff is more funny." Finally he shrugs. "buuut, that's just me. i'm sure all the others have their own thoughts about it."

Mention of the other skeletons prompts a cursed thought to enter your head. Uh oh. Not a force in the world can stop it from emerging from your lips. 

"Hey so even if you don’t, what if your AU counterparts actually have ecto dongs?"

"why--" His reaction is immediate, his voice raising in volume to punctuate his immense displeasure in what you just said. "--would you say that? why?? "

"Bro what if tho?"

Sans presses both of his hands to his cranium, making a long, strangled noise that’s gotta be at least an octave above his normal voice. "not only do i have to think about that now for the rest of my life, but i literally cannot confirm or deny it. i hate you. i hate you so, so much."

What a conversation you two have had in the past few minutes! You've gone from having a heartfelt conversation about what Undertale merch means to you... to a discussion about skeleton dicks. And hilariously enough, all you can conclude from this is that Sans does not have a magic blue ecto dong. Because, let's face it: this reveals NOTHING about the others. If Red can manifest a gross glowy tongue whenever he wants, what's going to stop his horny ass from using his magic to manifest a you-know-what? 

...Hmm, does that mean Sans is ace? Or does his magic just work differently than the other skeletons??? All their "shortcuts" have felt different when you experienced them, so you wouldn't be surprised if that was the case. Although, Sans' general behaviour about sexual topics doesn't rule out the former either. Maybe a bit of both? ...Then again, it's definitely none of your business.

"can we switch lil skels? i'm having a bad time right now."

Chuckling, you hold out Lil Sans for the skeleton to take and he gives you Lil Papyrus in return. Sans sighs in relief and flops sideways to lie his head down on your pillow. He curls inward a bit, holding Lil Sans against his sternum, resting his mandible against the plush’s soft lil head. Shit, you wish you thought to bring your phone when you came lookin' for this little goober - you could have had so many cute blackmail pics by now! But you don't and you can't, so you both sit in silence for a few minutes... and for the first time today it's not awkward. You're just... content to be in each other's presence for now. 

Just as you're wondering if you should relocate the Movie Hangout to be in this room instead, he speaks up again.

"thanks."

"For what?"

"for putting up with me. for letting me in. for..." He lets out a weak laugh. "sorry, i kinda had a rough day."

And so he finally admits the thing you’ve been wondering all day. "No problem. You and your pasty skeleton no-dick-having ass are welcome here any time, man."

"thanks. you're nice." There's a stressed edge to his tone, and he refuses to look at you. "like, really nice."

"Uhh, not really. I'm kind of a huge jackass, actually--"

"no, you're a good person. you're always helping me out without me asking, and you don't get anything in return for it. it actually makes you... really really cool??"

When have you helped him out? Today? When you first met? You really can't think of any other instances - you don't think texting him café recommendations and horrible memes counts as "helping". You're reminded of a similar talk you had with Rus a month ago, where he called you weird for being "considerate". You didn't really understand what he was getting at, but maybe it was just another way - a less emotional way - of saying what Sans is saying right now. The way that Sans says it makes you feel warm... and also a little weird. As much as you love to be recognized as "cool", you don't think you deserve the praise right now.

"U-Uhh, thanks." Because you really don't know how else to respond. His compliment has caught you off guard, so a usual retort to downplay yourself isn't coming to mind. Sans doesn't seem to hear your continued stuttering as you open and close your mouth indecisively, because he starts speaking again in a moment:

"i..." The skeleton pauses, just long enough that you think he might not continue... and then he does. 

"i wish i was more like that. i'm... not a very good person."

"That's not true--!"

"yeah, it is. it's ok. i just... don't have it in me to get involved in people's problems. everyone seems to think i can help them-- that i will help them, but i... how am i supposed to do that when i can't even help myself? i have my own problems! and i really really don’t know what i’m doing."

You scoot back on the bed until you can lie down behind him, taking Lil Papyrus with you to sit between the two of you. After a moment's hesitation, Sans rolls over to face you. The two of you are so close that you can see his eyelights shuddering from within the darkness of his wide sockets, his compounding stress clear as day.

"i just... everyone seems to think that because they got me all figured out, that i must've figured things out too. but i don't? at all?? all the others are really good at being the skeletons everyone thinks they are, but i just... i can't. everything feels wrong all the time and i really don't know what i'm supposed to be doing, or what's right and what's wrong..."

Although your situations are vastly different, you can relate to how he's feeling right now. There have been people who've come to you for help constantly, wanting you to exhaust all your energy on them alone. And then if you stood up for yourself or politely explained you couldn't help them, they'd have the gall to get upset with you. To guilt you into helping them.

And then there's the people who think they know you - either because they're only seeing what they want to see, or they're basing their opinion on a single facet of you. Maybe you used to act a certain way, or only showed them part of your personality... and sometimes you wonder if it would be easier to just go along with their idea of you instead of suffering the anguish and frustration of setting things straight with someone who might not even want to listen. Because some people would rather hold onto their unbreakable, false ideas of what you could be instead of accepting the truth of what you are and what you want to be.

You and Sans are very different, but… there are certain types of people who are a constant in all worlds.

"Hey." You gently lift a hand and rest it on his cheekbone. "There's nobody that knows you better than yourself, okay?"

"i dunno about that--"

"It's true. There may be a fictional skeleton with experiences and feelings crazy similar to yours, but that doesn't mean you're the same person. You're you, Sans. Not Sans from a game called Undertale, but Sans with real feelings and real thoughts. You’re a Sans that has the ability to change bit by bit every single day, while the other one stays the same forever. So don't let anybody ever tell you you're both the same person, okay?"

This is what you wanted to say to him twice today, but couldn't find the right words at the time. It took three attempts, but it finally seems like your message is getting through. His eyelights study your face as he visibly begins to calm down.

"ok."

"Also it's okay to not know what the hell is going on and not know what to do in life. That's like, completely normal. Life is a dumb, confusing and hectic mess."

"ok."

"And you should never feel obligated to help people. If they're being pushy or aggressive or whiny, then they are just being selfish. You should always be putting your feelings and sanity first in those types of situations."

Sans hesitates this time. "...ok."

You hesitate on what to say next too - mainly because it's something you've been trying not to ask all day. But he's already confided this much in you, so maybe it's natural that you finally ask the question:

"Are you alright?"

"not... really." His response is a bit clipped as the emotions seem to overtake him again. "i-i'm sorry, uhh..."

You can't help but make a sympathetic noise as you sit up a little bit so you can pull him into an embrace. He's stiff at first - you two have never hugged before, huh? - but then gradually begins to melt against you, relaxing his head against your shoulder. You give him Lil Papyrus so he can have the effects of both the Good Vibe skeleplushies, and he wordlessly accepts, holding the plush skelebros in his arms against his ribcage. 

"You're doing just fine Sans, I promise." You rest your cheek against the top of his skull as you hold him close. "It's going to be okay."

Instead of saying anything, he just exhales deeply and shifts slightly to get closer, now resting his skull in the crook of your neck. Now that you're close enough to feel that he's not breathing, you can't help but wonder how natural sighing is for him. Is the reflex magic-related, or is it just a weird habit picked up from the monsters and humans that do breathe? You're not sure why you're suddenly thinking about this - maybe you're self-conscious about your own breathing. Does your involuntarily inhaling and exhaling bother him? What about your heartbeat, or the rushing of your blood? How aware would he be of sounds and movement like that when he's not accustomed to it?

"heh, guess this is probably something nobody would expect 'sans undertale' to do." Sans' voice snaps you from your anxious thoughts, and you're relieved to hear his tone is approaching lightness again. "crying on some human's shoulder, holding doll versions of me and my bro, wearing both a hoodie and a shirt with my face on it... this is it: this is me. it's who i am now."

"See? You are a totally different person from that Undertale guy." Still smiling, you continue with a tiny bit more seriousness. "Now don't forget the little moments like these - it's what makes you unique from every other clown in the world - including the fake you. That guy’s never going to experience something like this."

"ok, i won't forget." Content to stay where you are in both this time and place, the both of you remain in a comfortable silence for a few moments, cuddling like a couple of dorks. Aren't you two just the picture of cuteness right now? Maybe it’s for the best that neither of you have a camera, so one of you could ruin it with a double-edged blackmail selfie.

And then Sans has to go and ruin the moment anyways by lifting his head and looking at you with a tentative expression.

"so, uhh, you seem to be really good at finding ways to cheer yourself up." He looks visibly awkward to be breaching the subject - like you're going to be offended or something that everything up until now hasn’t been enough for him. "do you... have anything else you do? just curious."

You've got your movies and video games that help calm you down when your anxiety runs rampant. Then there's your impulse purchases - which may or may not provide bonus good vibes by helping artists and creators. You've got cuddly plushies to stave away the bad thoughts and help you sleep at night. Negativity and depression just be like that sometimes: the same thing isn't always going to work for you every time you get into that rut. You need to keep finding new solutions to keep it at bay.

So of course you have more tips and tricks for him.

"Heck yeah I do - we haven't even touched the subject of music yet." You smile fondly as you recall the good shit. "There are albums that can calm me down within minutes - if not seconds into the first song. And sometimes all you need is just a good song that combats your mood to put on loop."

"hmm, interesting. one of those albums wouldn't happen to be the undertale soundtrack, would it?"

You open your mouth to reply before shutting it and giving him A Look. Sans just grins in response, knowing the answer without you saying anything. And you are going to continue to not answer that question.

"Listen here you little shit: you may not know this but there's more to life than Undertale."

"holy shit, really??"

With a grin of your own, you boop him on the space above where his nasal hole is. His eyelights briefly go cross-eyed to follow your finger. "Yes. What do you think my life was before Undertale and after I swore off it?"

"miserable?"

"Absolutely. And that is how the most perfect and tastiest jams weaved their way into my life. Wanna try listening to some of them?"

"sure." He looks genuinely interested, and that motivates you to untangle yourself from the cuddle pile and scoot off the bed, making your way to your computer so you can access The Jams. You have no idea what kind of music Sans likes, but you've already got something in mind to try out on him - one of your favourites, coincidentally. While you wait for your computer to do its usual slowish start up, your mind wanders to other things you've wanted to mention to Sans, but just couldn't find the right place to fit it into your rollercoaster of a conversation. Specifically, you end up thinking about a certain other skeleton.

"Hey, do you ever talk to Rus?"

"uh... rus?"

"Yeah. ...Oh, sorry - I mean Mutt." Right, not even the other skeletons call him by that name. You think Stretch might, since he seemed to know who you were talking about when you slipped up once - not to mention he's doubtless heard Muffet use it - but you've never actually heard him call him that himself.

"oh, him." The look on Sans' face goes from puzzled to unreadable, though his tone seems to imply he's not terribly excited to be talking about Rus. Welp. "no, not really. why?"

You try to nonchalantly shrug it off to mask your disappointment. "I dunno, just thought you two would get along if you talked for a bit." Your heart-to-heart with Sans today reminded you of talking to Rus at several different points. They seem to be going through some of the same problems - namely, people's expectations for them are well beyond what the skeletons are comfortable with. Unwanted or exaggerated sympathy from strangers, selfish behaviour from admirers, people having all the wrong ideas about them... The two of them make an odd friendship that you never would have considered plausible before meeting them, but they just fit the more you get to know them.

But then again, maybe they've isolated themselves too much to ever get deep enough and realize what they have in common.

"...i don't really think we would. but i guess i could try talking to him if that's really what you think." Still unreadable but clearly having something on his mind, Sans continues: "so uh... guess you two are friends then?"

You shrug, not entirely sure if that's the right word for the bond you two have formed. It has only been about a month since you two started regularly(ish) talking to each other, after all. Is that really enough time to call him a friend? "We talk and hang out sometimes. I think he just gets bored whenever Black isn't around."

Sans continues to look troubled, and you really wish he would just tell you why. "really wish he'd keep a better eye on him," he mumbles, and then speaks up before you have the chance to question him: "so i guess that means you're probably pals with stretch too? since they like to hang out and all..."

Yowch, now that had a little bit of a bite to it.

"Does texting me at 3am and sending me 2000s pop songs and Rickrolls count as friendship?" you ask with a smile, which surprisingly doesn't get you a chuckle in return. Geez, what happened between them?

"probably. 's more than what i get from him."

"Oh." Well, apparently so. Before talking to Rus, you always thought Stretch would be the one who'd have the closest feelings to Sans (at least out of all the skeletons you've met) because of how chill he was compared to the rest of the "family". Like he was someone who had enough sense to keep his priorities in order. It sounds like they were at least friends enough that Sans is bothered by being ignored. Does that mean Stretch is ghosting him? 

"Well that's rude," you add aloud, forgetting that Sans can't hear the deductive monologue in your head. But he seems to recognize you've hit the bullseye, chuckling at your perturbed face.

"yeah, a little bit. guess i can't really blame him though."

"Well I can! That's super uncool - I hate when people are like that. It's like: at least tell me you don't want to talk to me? Seriously, if I ever found out he was blowing you off to hang out with me, I'd beat him up."

The look that Sans gives you is a weird one - again, completely unreadable to you. Wait, that hasn't actually happened, has it?? ...Nah, it couldn't have! You and Stretch really don't hang out that often - it's mostly just texting. Aside from when he crashed your hangout with Rus a month ago (although technically you ended up being the hangout crasher), nearly all of your subsequent hangouts have been... him crashing your time with the other skeletons. Hm, he likes doing that a lot, doesn't he? Regardless, you're pretty sure you two aren't close enough for him to have ever used you to avoid Sans. That would simply be awful.

Oh hey - music's ready.

"Okay, no more talk about dumb loser skeletons and sad times! Good and chill vibes only from here on!" With only a hint of anxiety, you set the music to play before returning to Sans' side. You lie back down and urge him to do the same. "The trick is to focus entirely on the music. Focus on the lyrics, the meaning, the emotions - all of it. Sometimes it helps if I imagine myself singing it, or someone singing it to me."

"ok." Sans makes no comments about your music taste or whether he's heard the song before, instead silently listening to the song while staring at you. You have no idea if he's enjoying it or not, but your comfort music is able to lull you into a peacefulness that prevents you from caring. 

Following your own advice, you press your forehead to his and close your eyes, humming the chorus to the song quietly. All the stress and emotions of the day fade away to make way for your catharsis as you envision passionate performances of each song, and you let yourself forget about all the trash that life likes to throw your way. All the toxic people, the bad luck, the stress that your friends are having - none of that matters right now, right here: where things are good and safe. You get so engrossed in the music - forgetting about everything outside this safe little haven you've built for yourself - that you eventually just...

...fall asleep.


When you awaken, you're alone in your room and music is no longer playing. Lil Papyrus is tangled between you and the blanket - huh, you don't remember falling asleep with the blanket on you - but his brother, Lil Sans, is nowhere to be seen.

You're stretching and popping your stiff joints and readjusting your slept-in clothes as you wander around your home in search for the skeleton you know was just here, but the only trace of him is the now-dry hoodie that remains hanging where you left it. When you end up in the living room again, you find yourself drawn to your phone in search for answers, where you are greeted with several unread messages. Some of them are from hours ago - during the time you and Sans were boosting your friendship levels - but the most eye-catching ones were sent within the last hour. You tap the most recent one and start going backwards.

Bad Romance: sweetheart i don't know what ya did or if i like it r not 
Bad Romance: but vanillas driving my bro crazy n im fuckin losing it 

The Edge Of Glory: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE???

Born This Way: I DIDN'T EXPECT YOU TO HANG OUT WITH SANS SO SOON??? WOWIE, YOU'RE AMAZING!
Born This Way: I DON'T REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT HAPPENED TO CHANGE HIM SO MUCH, BUT HE SEEMS A LOT HAPPIER NOW - SO THANK YOU!

When you reach Sans' text message, you choke on a bubble of laughter that tries to force itself out of your throat upon seeing the picture that greets you. It's a selfie of him back home, not only still wearing your shirt and hoodie, but also holding Lil Sans in his arm. Both Sans and your plush are each wearing a pair of your sunglasses.

Paparazzi: my son now lol
Paparazzi: (btw if you sell my sweater you better split that shit 50/50 kthx)


You and Sans are sitting on the floor of your living room, the both of you wearing those silly official Sans Undertale hoodies. Notably, Sans is also wearing your Megalovania shirt - which you're pretty sure is now legally his, considering the only time you see it anymore is when he's wearing it. Lil Sans and Lil Papyrus are also with you, having become regular company for your hangouts together. You are counting out more money than you've ever had in your hands in your life.

"I cannot believe someone paid over two thousand dollars for your shitty old hoodie," you say, recounting to make sure you're splitting the money correctly. "Seriously, it took me days to convince myself to buy a fake one for less than a small piece of that amount - how does someone just do that??"

"yeah, i can't believe it didn't go for higher," Sans half-jokes as he casually holds Lil Papyrus in his arms. "i read some human celeb's jacket sold for almost two million. was kinda hoping the same thing would happen for us."

"Okay but that 'some human' was Michael Jackson, you clown. You probably feel pretty popular sometimes but you'd have to change the entertainment industry as we know it to be worth even half as much as him a decade ago.” You pause, thinking about it seriously. “It was probably also made of like... real leather or something instead of ratty old cotton that you got from the dump. "

Sans sighs longingly, staring at Lil Sans’ - who is sitting happily beside you - and the sweater he’s wearing. "welp, guess there's no hope for me, but maybe the singing 'n dancing version of me will make it big and his hoodie will sell for two million dollars. maybe even three million."

You laugh, thinking about the musical Sans that you see on TV every now and then. Hilariously enough, you're pretty sure his hoodie isn't just plain ol' cotton either - it's definitely a lot more floofy than your pal Regular Sans' is. Was. "Hey uh, are you really feeling totally okay about selling that thing off? It really didn't have any sentimental value or anything?"

"nope. i've just been too lazy to buy another one. but then one day i found something comfier and i realized i could use the replacement - even if it was unreasonably expensive." You crack a smile. "besides, i bet this new one will confuse people for a while. they'll look at me and think 'oh that can't be the real sans undertale, he'd never be tacky enough to wear a replica of his own hoodie that has his own face on it'. well guess what bitch: i am."

You're snickering as you split the stacks of bills into their appropriate amounts. "You can just tell everyone you're an extreme perfectionist when it comes to cosplay. Although, I'm sure you won't be too upset if the zipper mysteriously breaks off."

"oh, definitely not."

"I'll be there if you need me to help hide the evidence." You're still grinning even as you hand him the money. "Anyways, here's your share of the spoils!" 

He accepts the money eagerly, taking it into his phalanges with a goofy grin. However, his expression quickly falls as he realizes the quantity of cash in his hand is not what he expected.

"uh, hey, buddy? you can count, right? cuz this is way more than half." The skeleton chuckles, a questioning look on his face. Yeah, you knew this was coming.

"Well, yeah, it makes sense that you get more. It was YOUR sweater." Honestly, you would have been content if he got 100% of the profits, but you knew that he'd insist... just as he is doing now. Sans furrows his bone brow at you.

"we agreed on 50/50 though."

You shrug. "It's fine."

"...mmmmmm, yeah, nope, this ain't gonna fly. here let me fix this--" He splits his stack in half (with no actual regard for which bill values end up in each half) and holds it out to you with a smug look on his face. "if you're gonna be that way, then you're the one who should be getting the bigger split. i just wore the thing, you did all the hard work in listing it and selling it."

"That wasn't..." You can already tell he's not going to budge on this. With a sigh, you begrudgingly relent and try to grab just what you need from the wad of bills in his hand. "Fine! We'll do 50/50."

The skeleton continues to look far too smug for your liking. "see? was that so hard?"

"Yes," you grumble, pretending it is this WHOLE TERRIBLE ORDEAL for you to be accepting money from him. "Ugh, stop moving you dummy!" You have to grab his bony wrist so you can accurately count out the cash to take your share - he's been waving it back and forth even after you agreed to his terms. With a chuckle and a glimmer in his sockets, he lets you finally take the money with no further distractions. Once your haul is finally split between you equally, he puts his sloppy pile down beside him and flops onto the floor. The skeleton rolls onto his back and balances Lil Papyrus on his stomach (s-somehow?? is that not just an empty space???).

"so, whatcha gonna do with it?"

"Uh, I dunno. Put it in savings?"

"boo, boring!" 

"Never said I wasn't!" You smile as you organize your stack of money by bill value. Sheesh, you can't believe you just made over a thousand dollars by doing basically nothing. It doesn't feel real - you're honestly not sure what to do with it yet. "I don't know, uhhh... maybe I'll donate some to charity?"

Sans tilts his head back so he can look up at you. "you should buy yourself something nice - you deserve it."

This fuckin' dork. You give him The Face to show you are not down for these clown-ass unwarranted compliments. "Only if you get yourself something nice too."

"deal." Satisfied, Sans rolls onto his side - taking Lil Papyrus with him. Somehow, this position looks like it takes even more effort for him to look at you. "hey, you wanna watch a movie?"

"Sure. Are we going to keep sitting on the floor though like a couple of filthy animals? Should I be building us a fort?"

Now that has his full attention, and he sits up to show his full enthusiasm at your childish idea. "um, yes?? let's make a fort." There's a subtle sparkling in his eyesockets that you've only ever associated with Blue... turns out that despite their drastically different personalities, some of the Sanses still have plenty of similarities after all.

As soon as it comes time to figure out how to put a roof that won't cave in on your fort, the two of you give up and instead just watch a movie from atop a pile of couch cushions, pillows, and blankets on the floor, surrounded by snacks and garbage that you're sure you'll still be finding the remains of around your living room weeks from now. Halfway through your second movie, everything has to be put on hold so you can start a home-wide search for an MIA Lil Sans. The real Sans proves to be negative help in finding him, spending the whole time giggling at your efforts.

You eventually find Lil Sans in the living room again, sitting on top of your fort pile and hogging all the snacks for himself.