Chapter 1: If a Skeleton Falls in a Forest, He Makes a lot of Noise
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
It's the sound of snapping wood that jolts Sans from the fitful nap he'd been having at his sentry post. And it's not the quiet sound of some dried out stick getting trampled underfoot in the snow. No, this had been a noise more akin to a tree being split in two by a monster powerful enough to dust Sans with a look.
"The hell was that?" he asks himself in a whisper, eyes narrowed and mood soured. Cautiously, entire body tense and ready to react at the slightest hint of danger, Sans abandons his chair to investigate.
Sure enough, a few feet off to the west of his station there's a downed branch that had been happily attached to the tree above it when he'd shown up for work. More importantly, there's a lump of bright blue and white laying motionless on top of the victimized piece of pine.
Little hands hidden away by a pair of obnoxious, eye-searing cyan gloves twitch in the snow a bit before a loud groan fills the air. "Oh, ow," moans the unknown monster, "That was a rough landing. Guess I shouldn't have skipped that chapter!" A weak chuckle gets cut off by a pitiful whimper. "Wow. Okay. Feels like something broke." The monster gingerly pushes himself up into a sitting position and pulls up the t-shirt he's wearing to reveal several cracked ribs.
Sans' mind feels jumbled upon realizing this unfamiliar monster is another skeleton. He hadn't thought there were any left. Not beside himself and Papyrus, anyway. Of course, that will probably be the case again soon enough if this guy is actually as much of an imbecile as he seems to be.
Seriously, he's making a bunch of noise, advertising his injured status to all and sundry, and he hasn't even checked his surroundings yet! If there was anyone other than Sans around, this idiot would already be dust for whatever pathetic amount of EXP killing him is worth. Hell, Sans is half-tempted to do it himself, just for how stupid he's been acting.
The other skeleton's skull tips down and a gloved hand carefully prods at the cracks. He hisses a breath out between his teeth. "Yep," he announces to the world at large, "a real side-splitter."
Sans freezes stock still. ...Was that a pun?
"Heh he--" the stranger's laughter is instantly seized upon by a pained groan, "Gha! Ouch." The monster frowns down at his own rib cage. "Don't tell me that fall broke my funny bone, too."
This time, Sans is snickering before he can think better of it. "Kheh heh heh, classic."
"Oh!" the other skeleton gasps. He drops his shirt and looks over his shoulder at Sans in surprise before it's swiftly covered up with a wide grin. "Sorry, I didn't realize I had an audience! But you did laugh, so I guess it wouldn't be going too far out on a limb to assume you found my jokes punny?"
"Heh. I ain't got any bones to pick with your sense of humor, if that's what you're getting at," Sans replies, "though I may need to rib ya a little if you crack any worse than the ones I've already heard." He gives the other a shit-eating grin as he finishes.
"Snrk!" The skeleton bites back a chortle but his eyelights dance with mirth. He pushes himself to his feet and says as he approaches, "Wow, you don't like to leave any doubts when it comes to your punishing wordplay, do you? I always preferred a bone-dry delivery, myself." He holds out a hand to Sans. "What's your name, friend?"
He examines the offered hand suspiciously. He has no idea what could be hiding under that glove. His eyelights dart over the other skeleton in a knee-jerk threat assessment. The other guy is even smaller than he is, making him downright puny for a monster. He wears no armor and carries no visible weapon. Everything about him is open and friendly and screaming easy-target. To put it bluntly, this little guy may as well be a walking neon sign reading: 'Free EXP! Here it is!' And yet, here he stands with only minor injuries instead of being a pile of so much dust in some forgotten stretch of the Underground. If he isn't a walking trap, and Sans isn't quite ready to call it either way just yet, then there is something far stranger going on here than Sans has been able to guess at so far.
He tucks both hands into the pockets of his leather jacket, ignoring how the other's smile dims for an instant before stubbornly bouncing back. "I'm Sans," he answers as he watches the other retract their offered hand, "Sans the Skeleton."
The other skeleton's odd, cyan eyelights gutter out for a second before flaring back to life even brighter than they'd been previously. A slight magic flush that Sans hadn't noticed before disappears from his cheeks, leaving behind pale bone. The monster manages to stumble even though he'd been standing still. "I-I'm sorry, you..."
Sans feels his brow rise, curious about the monster's strange reaction, despite himself. "Ya heard of me before, buddy?"
"Y-yes? W-well, actually no. I'm starting to think -- Oh, boy," he flounders, eyelights skittering around their surroundings for several seconds until they once again settle on Sans, "S-sorry, I'm a bit disoriented. Could I have your full name? Please?" His hands tug anxiously on the tail end of his scarf.
This is definitely getting weird.
"Comic Sans," he states, his suspicions rising again, "Shouldn't ya be able to figure that out on your own?"
The other skeleton waves an absent-minded finger at his own temple and says, "Font blind."
"Really?" he asks curiously. There's no way to prove it, of course -- not beyond the other skeleton's claims, anyway -- and he's never heard of such a condition before, but it's an intriguing idea.
"Yep, no sneaky subtitles for me. If I didn't hear it the first time, I don't get a chance to catch up on my reading," he takes another uncertain glance at the towering trees that make up the immediate landscape, "This is, uh, the forest near Snowdin, right?"
"Sure is, short stuff," he smirks at the scowl he receives in response. "Ya haven't exactly given me a name," he reminds. The other skeleton flushes in embarrassment but, before he can say anything, Sans again taunts, "Short stuff."
The blue-clad monster huffs in annoyance and crosses his arms. "Ryan," he mutters in a petulant tone, "You can call me Ryan."
"'Ryan'? What sorta skeleton name is that?" he sneers. He's never heard of a font called 'Ryan.' It sounds like a --
'Ryan' shrugs. "It's not," he says, "but I'm kinda sans a font name."
"What? How can ya not know your own font?" Sans demands. The thought agitates him. It's not right for a skeleton to be without a font name. If he had to guess, 'Ryan' is probably the kid's old name.
And what sort of caretakers had this skeleton had that they would allow him to cling to his old name and, by extension, his old life? The second thought doesn't sit any better than the first one. Or the third, for that matter.
Ryan aborts a huff halfway through the action with a wince. "I told you, I'm fo--"
"And there weren't any other skeletons around when ya woke up to tell ya?" he challenges. Though, now that he's paying more attention to the shape of the words falling out of the little monster's mouth, it occurs to him that likely hadn't been the problem.
"Well, yes," the smaller skeleton shift uncomfortably, "but they said it was... strange."
"No kiddin'." Sans tilts his head and squints at the weird characters lingering in the air between them. They fade before he is satisfied with this study of them. "Keep talking, babybones."
"I am not a babybones!" he objects loudly, "And, uh, what do you want me to..."
Sans has already stopped listening, or even reading along, to the words of the skeleton in front of him. He's far more interested in the odd, shifting letters that make them up. The characters flicker between at least two fonts -- possibly even a third set, but he isn't certain. It's hard to tell when the differences are subtle and the characters keep changing at irregular intervals.
"...may as well start reciting the alphabet, for all you care..."
One font is instantly recognizable as a match to his own Comic Sans. (Not terribly surprising. It was a common enough font, once.) The other set of characters is also a Sans Serif font, but he can't place it offhand. He wishes he had access to a fonts directory. The
Doc's family copy had gotten trashed ages ago.
"...course, we never were able to figure out if being font blind was the reason my characters never settled, or if both were symptoms caused by something else. Yet another thing Wings decided to endlessly obsess over..."
The words manage to snag Sans' attention. Someone that's already spent time studying the phenomenon might have some interesting insights to share, so he asks, "Who is 'Wings'?"
"Doctor Wingdings Gaster."
Sans stiffens. It's been a long time since he last heard that name. "You knew the Doc?" he questions, trying to keep the renewed suspicion out of his voice.
It becomes immediately apparent that he failed.
Ryan's eyelights wink out once more and his face displays open regret for all of a split-second before it is smothered by a nervous smile. "Uh, no?" the other skeleton tries, "Pretty sure we're talking about two different people!"
"I doubt that," Sans growls. How many skeletons with two-font names can there be? Especially when one of those fonts is as rare as Wingdings?
Ryan glances around anxiously and holds his hands up in a helpless 'I'm unarmed, see?' gesture as he attempts to back away. Sans matches him step for step with a menacing scowl painted over his face.
"Welp, it was ice to meet you, Sans," Ryan says, "but I'm getting the feeling I've overstayed my welcome."
"Oh, you ain't goin' anywh--"
"I think it would be best if I skipped town."
Between one step and the next, the smaller monster vanishes.
Sans stares for a full three seconds at the empty space in front of him and the tracks in the snow that abruptly cut off. Then he starts swearing a blue streak.
Ryan can shortcut.
If Undertale and Underswap were unrelated but shared a cousin, that cousin would be the universe that 'Ryan' is from. I consider him to be a flavor of "blueberry," but those with a more strict view of how the popular AUs should be portrayed will probably hold a different opinion from my own. I'm not going to bother trying to change any minds on that front but hopefully some of you reading this will enjoy the story regardless of my playing fast and loose with the rules of well established AUs.
Chapter 2: An Extended Family Reunion
Do I think Sans and Papyrus were once human in Undertale canon? Not really. Where do I place the odds that Gaster somehow created or was in some way father to the Skele Bros? Doubtful. Do I buy the idea that Sans (or anyone else, for that matter) can interact with Void!Gaster at all? Nope. Am I going to play with these tropes anyway? ABSOLUTELY.
Sans stumbles and nearly lands on his coccyx as his feet go from trudging backward through snow to trampling over worn carpet. A quick look around the room confirms his fears.
The house he has arrived in is eerily familiar but ultimately foreign. He hasn't made it home. In fact, he's the farthest away from his home he's ever been before. It's hard to get farther than a reality away, after all.
At least, he thinks that is what happened, that somehow when he skipped he managed to accidentally jump universes rather than staying safely in his own, like he should have. But he could be wrong about that. He's never been the scientist in the family -- that was Wings, and then Papy -- though he's picked up a few things from his brothers, here and there. (And not all of them were socks! Ad-mitten-ly, there had been a lot of that, too, before he'd put his foot down. No, no! Focus, Sans! You need to find a way home!)
"Right!" Sans says and draws himself up to stand at his full height, only to wince and shrink back into a slouch as the motion pulls on his ribs. "Okay, bandages first. Can't get back to Papy if I dust myself before I even get started." It's probably not that bad. None of his bones are broken, just a little cracked. Not a big deal! If he had a bit more natural HP, he wouldn't even be worried.
Sans sighs, slow and shallow to keep from aggravating the injury, as he makes his way into the kitchen and mutters, "If only..." Another day, another problem to beat into submission via stubborn optimism. Just his own personal equivalent of determination, he supposes.
(He hopes Frisk will keep his end of the deal while Sans is away. Sans thinks he will, but Frisk might also try to fix Sans' absence with a RESET and Sans has no idea what will happen if he tries to do just that. Hopefully, either Flowey or Papy will be able to talk him out of attempting a RESET if Frisk tries to fall back on old habits.)
The small skeleton does his best to dismiss the worrisome thoughts with a shake of his skull. There isn't anything he can do about Frisk right now. He should be focussing on what he can do on his side of things.
Sans stops in front of the sink and gingerly bends down to fish the first aid kit out from the cabinet. He deposits it on the table and then hoists himself onto the nearest chair. Sans bites back the yelp of discomfort the action tries to draw out of him. He flips open the case of the first aid kit and stares.
"Wow, this, uh, this is a real bandaid solution, huh?" he asks the empty room. He's never seen such a poorly supplied medical kit in his life. There's a handful of adhesive bandages, a small roll of medical gauze -- none of which is imbued with any healing magic! -- and an empty bottle that claims it was once full of whiskey. There's a sticky note stuck to the bottle: boss, sorry i drank all the booze. i'll get more from grilbz. "I guess whoever put this together was really plastered."
Sans frowns down at the kit. Nothing here is going to do much for his ribs and he is loath to take any supplies from a source that is already so depleted. Someone else could need them more. Perhaps even this world's version of himself! Or... Does he even exist here?
This world's Comic Sans hadn't seemed inclined to compare him to anyone else. Come to that, this world still had its Comic Sans. Comic had gotten dusted during the Human-Monster War in his own world and Sans had never had the chance to meet him. Would Wingdings have any interest in Raising another skeleton when he already had two babybones to take care of?
Well, he knows one way to find out. Provided being scattered across time and space includes different worlds and universes, anyway.
"Hey, Wingdings, you there?" Sans asks.
The instant he finishes speaking, a large figure made of ink-black ichor topped with an ivory, mask-like face appears in front of him. Jagged cracks split the face nearly in two and the smile it wears looks far from friendly.
Sans screams and topples backward out of his chair.
"Calm down, Brother. This is merely the version of myself that once lived in this universe. He insisted on coming along to make your acquaintance."
Sans' gaze jerks from the horror in front of him to the source of the voice. "Wings!" he greets in a relieved sigh.
Wingdings looks perfectly at ease, leaning with a hip resting against the table a bit off to Sans' right side. "Hello, Ryan," he returns, face shifting subtly to take on a softer look, "It's been a long time since you last insisted on anyone calling you by your Human name."
Sans wrings the phalanges of his hands. "I'm sorry. I know it isn't proper etiquette, but the idea of asking Comic to call me 'Sans' feels wrong and I didn't have another name ready to give him."
"As we've discussed on numerous occasions before, 'Sans' was a very common diminutive among skeletons. This world's Comic would have thought very little of it."
Sans scuffs a bright cyan boot over the kitchen tile. "Still feels like stealing," he mutters softly to himself. Of course, his brother hears him anyway.
Wings sighs. "I made many mistakes Raising you, in both senses of the word," he states, "This lingering guilt over events and actions you had no part in is perhaps the biggest of them all. You haven't stolen or taken anything from Comic. I was grieving, that much is true, and terribly ill-informed on how to go about Raising another skeleton, but I don't regret my decision to bring you into our family. In fact, I'm quite proud to have been the one responsible for ushering the Magnificent Sans into monsterkind."
"Thanks, Wings," Sans chokes out, eyelights wobbling and liquid magic pooling at the corners of his sockets.
Wingdings expression turns ever-so-slightly mischievous. "Oh yes, you're definitely among my top five greatest creations. Perhaps after the Core?" he asks with a teasing lilt, holding his chin in mock contemplation, "That was certainly a grand achievement, I must say."
Sans makes a faux affronted sound that is just shy of a squawk and shoves his brother. Wingdings is kind enough to play along as if Sans' touch could actually affect a being outside of regular spacetime. "Please, Brother," he says, putting on a haughty air, "We both know I am your most magnificent achievement! Why, the world is not big enough to contain twice the amount of sheer greatness you put into me! Mweh heh heh!"
"Ah, yes. How silly of me to forget," Wings agrees, repressed mirth flicking in his eyelights and scrunching up the outer edges of his sockets.
"You two are very, very interesting," his brother's alternate rasps. His voice is every bit as disturbing as his visage and it sends a chill through Sans. "All these little games you play to protect his fragile, linear mind," the creature muses as he dismisses Sans with one last glance and focuses entirely on his counterpart, "Is he truly worth so much effort?"
Sans almost speaks up to remind this foreign version of his brother that he is playing the same game, talking in an easy-to-follow, linear fashion and appearing in only one place at a time, moving at the same speed consistent with the rest of the world. None of it is necessary for a being that exists so far outside of anything that Sans has the capability to understand, yet he is still constraining himself to within the limits of the 'game.'
"Oh, I am very aware, little monster," he replies before Sans can say a word, breaking the rules of linear interaction. That hadn't been a mistake. Sans is certain of it. It was a threat. A real one. "Ask the question, whelp!" he hisses as his mask-like face contorts into a scowl, "Neither I nor your 'brother' are mind-readers!"
Right, paradox is something to be avoided. It's one of the few things that can cause Wings further harm. A quick glance confirms that his brother is tied closely enough to this particular paradox to be affected, so Sans steels himself and asks, "You do realize you're playing by the rules of the game, too?" Except he's already broken the rules once, now. Not that linear time means much to a being of the Void. Regardless, Sans decides against saying anything else while this unpleasant Wingdings Gaster remains nearby. Or, at least, perceptively close. A being scattered across spacetime is never far away, but Sans tries not to think on that or its many implications often.
(It suddenly dawns on Sans that it would be very helpful to have nicknames of some kind to differentiate all of this world's monsters from his own world's inhabitants, if only in his head. And it only makes sense to start with the one in front of him. He thinks 'Gaster' might work. It seems like the right thing to call his brother's doppelganger. And even if he were inclined to such things, he isn't about to search for something disrespectful to call a being that could easily destroy his mind.)
Wings' and Gaster's expressions both ease as the paradox is resolved. But Sans has his suspicions that even that is a part of their linear 'game.'
"That's strike one and I'll thank you not to do it again," Wings growls, eyelights flaring deep purple, "We have a deal if you recall."
"Surely a simple experiment isn't worth such fuss?" Gaster asks. His tone is mocking.
"I only made the deal to help him," Wings tips his head to indicate Sans, "I won't hesitate to drop it if you endanger my brother. And do keep in mind that I am not the only one getting something from this deal. I have no qualms about leaving you alone and forgotten again."
Sans frowns. Things aren't adding up properly.
Gaster must never make it to strike three, or else the deal never would have been made and Wingdings wouldn't be here now. He thinks. Unless Void-beings can't see all of each other because they both exist outside of regular time and space? Is there a Void-spacetime they share and so are blind to one another's past and future? This is so far over his head.
Regardless, the Sans of this world definitely remembers his Wingdings Gaster. He had called Gaster 'the Doc,' and gotten pretty hostile. But still, that meant Gaster hasn't been forgotten. At least, not completely.
(And he really needs to think up a nickname for this Comic Sans, too. Sans is his name.
Usually. Sometimes it's nice to remember he was once Ryan, even if that is a memory best kept between just himself and Wings. Having two Sanses about would get confusing in a hurry, even if Wings insists that it wouldn't cause other problems. And Comic is the name of a brother he never got to know except through the stories Wings would sometimes tell. He's not sure what else would be appropriate.)
Sans is dragged back from his thoughts by the sound of the front door opening. Loud, sure footsteps herald the arrival of another monster. His eyelights travel up, up, up to meet those of the new addition as the other skeleton stops short in surprise.
Sans knows this monster isn't his brother but he still hadn't expected him to be so different from the lazybones he knows. This monster is all sharp edges with an air of promised danger. The contrast is staggering and causes him to doubt.
If he was thinking more clearly, perhaps he would have realized in time what a bad idea it was to call out to this strange monster, perhaps he would have skipped out before the introductions, even. But in his shock, Sans finds himself questioning, "Papyrus?"
Chapter 3: The Easiest Enemy
Papyrus stares at the ridiculously small home invader standing in the middle of his kitchen in stunned silence. Is he dreaming? Had Sans drugged his food in an attempt to force him to rest? His brother had promised not to do so again after the disastrous results of the last time, but the hypothetical treachery seems more likely than the idea that he is truly face-to-face with a monster -- a skeleton, no less! -- foolish enough to trespass in the house belonging to the Great and Terrible Lieutenant Papyrus.
Wide sockets stare up at him and the tiny skeleton -- even smaller than Sans! -- gasps, "Papyrus?"
It's enough to drag the tall skeleton back from his stupor. Papyrus raises a cage of bones around his unwelcome guest with a well-practiced flick of his wrist as he crosses his arms.
The little skeleton yelps at the sudden appearance of the conjured bones before freezing in place as the attacks quickly close in around the monster only to halt just shy of impact. The hastily constructed cage doesn't leave room for so much as a single step in any direction.
"Apparently, you are aware of who I am," Papyrus states, tone promising pain and regret should the other decide to test him, "Good! That means I shouldn't have to tell you how much trouble you have just found yourself in. Now, small skeleton, give me one good reason why I shouldn't eliminate you immediately for trespassing!"
Honestly, he hopes the other monster is able to give him an excuse. Papyrus hates the adrenalin-like rush of gaining EXP that leaves his hands shaking. There's also the dust to consider, and it gets everywhere. He'd really rather not deal with trying to clean up such a mess in his own home, not to mention the lingering smell of death it would no-doubt leave behind. Lastly, not that he will ever tell another soul -- although Sans has likely guessed as much long ago -- Papyrus would do nearly anything to avoid having to kill anyone ever again. The metaphorical weight of taking a life hangs heavily on his shoulders and presses firmly against the cervical vertebrae of his neck.
But the Underground is no place for weakness and it is rarely a place for second chances. If this monster is unable to provide a way to justify an act of mercy, Papyrus will have to kill him. After all, if Papyrus were to let him go unpunished -- let alone without a good, solid reason! -- and if the incident were then to become known, it would mark Sans and himself as soft, easy targets. He will not risk Sans' safety for a stranger, and especially not for one that has so stupidly put himself in harm's way.
"Well?" he demands, patience waning as the other skeleton continues to stare at him mutely, "Are you such a miserable wretch that you will say nothing in the hope that I might spare your pathetic life?" Usually, there is at least mindless, worthless begging. The extended silence and unbroken stare are disconcerting. Thankfully, his question succeeds in breaking the former, if not the latter.
"You were serious about that?" the monster screeches in wide-eye-socketed horror.
"Of course! How else did you expect the Great and Terrible Papyrus would deal with an intruder caught in his own home?"
The monster's jaw works noiselessly for a moment and then, "Papy, you can't just kill people!"
Is... Is this tiny criminal attempting to scold him? The utter gall!
"I think you will find that I can," Papyrus growls lowly, but the little skeleton suddenly isn't paying attention to him.
"What do you mean murder is legal here?" the skeleton hisses through his teeth in the general direction of Papyrus' right shoulder.
The taller monster spins to confront the previously undetected interloper, magic gathering to --
There is nothing but empty space behind him.
"No! Wait! Don't go yet!"
Papyrus glances back and forth between his captive and the unoccupied area he seems to be addressing. Is the little monster touched in the head? Would dusting the wretch actually be a merciful action? The monster's apparent insanity isn't contagious, is it? The last thought is distressing. More information is needed.
Papyrus repurposes his half-summoned magic to perform a simple check on the monster in his kitchen. What he reads is bewildering. For many reasons.
* SANS 0 ATK 2 DEF
* Looks like free EXP.
* Can't even deal 1 damage.
"How are you not dust yet?" Papyrus wonders.
"Um..." The small skeleton blinks his eye sockets and says, "Through the power of Magic and Hope?"
"No! That isn't -- Ugh! Nevermind!" Papyrus runs a hand down his face and considers his options in dealing with the conundrum that's figuratively fallen into his lap. He reaches a decision in short order.
"Do not attempt to run," he warns and waves the bone-cage away with only the slightest of hesitations. This monster is hardly a threat and he can reconstruct it in a bare half-second if the other skeleton gives him cause to do so. "I have many questions and you are going to answer them, but we will do so sitting at the table like civilized monsters. You will use that chair, there." He points to the aforementioned chair as he stares down his unexpected guest, half-prepared for backtalk and snarling, or perhaps nervous excuses, before he remembers those are his brother's usual reactions and this strangely-similar-appearing monster -- who for some reason even has the same name as said brother! -- has been acting very differently.
"Okay, Papy," the new Sans says, obediently heading for the indicated piece of furniture.
He is, for the most part, pleasantly surprised by the compliance but he refuses to allow such a childish nickname to be continuously applied to his person. "My name is 'Papyrus,'" he growls, if a bit softer than he had upon first discovering the other in his home, "If that is too long for you, you may address me as 'Sir.'"
"O-oh, okay, Pap-yrus."
The near slip up is noticeable but appears to be genuine and not an attempt to slight him. It is acceptable for the time being.
"Now then," Papyrus begins after taking his own seat and folding his hands neatly on the table's surface, "What are you doing in my home? Why were you rifling through the first aid kit? Are you injured? What were you going to do next if I hadn't found you when I did? I was unaware there was a third skeleton in the Underground. Where did you come from? Where have you been living up to this point? Will there be anyone coming to find you? If so, will they come to reclaim you by force? Why do you look so similar to my brother? And why do you have the same name? Your font is not Comic Sans. It is... very strange. Well?"
"I, uh, that's a lot of questions," the little skeleton -- Sans, though he is definitely going to have to find something else to call him. -- says with anxious fidgeting.
"Yes. And I look forward to hearing the answer for every one of them."
"That might take a while," he says as if that will somehow change Papyrus' mind.
He stares down at the smaller monster with unwavering eyelights. Very pointedly, he says, "You have time. I suggest you start quickly, however, because my patience with your delays is beginning to wear thin."
Papyrus is known to be tenacious on a good day. Obtaining his goals has only ever been a matter of persistence and time, and, seeing as he has already finished his work for the day, he happens to have plenty of time available to devote to this particular venture. He'll get the answers he wants, no matter how much this Sans would rather keep his secrets.
Chapter 4: Sans' Problems
"I guess I should start by introducing myself?" Sans asks tentatively. At the taller skeleton's slight nod, he continues, "My name is Sans Serif, but everyone just calls me Sans!" He leans over the table and offers his hand for a handshake but the gesture is met with the same suspicion that the other Sans had given it earlier. Maybe it's something about this world's customs, then? Are handshakes considered rude here? Sans withdraws his arm and nervously taps his gloved phalanges against the tabletop instead.
"Anyway," Sans says, "I'm sorry for intruding in your home. I fell out of a tree earlier and this was the first place I could think of that might have something to patch up my ribs. It didn't look like you have much in your first aid kit that would help, though, so I didn't take anything.
"I don't really know where I should go now. I'm sure my brother will come to bring me home eventually, but there's no telling how long it will be before he's able to. Uh, you don't happen to know of someplace nearby where I could wait for him, do you?"
The Papyrus across from him is wearing a strange expression, something caught between anger and sadness. "'Eventually,' you say? Does that mean you expect him in a matter of hours or days?"
"I... don't know?" If he had to guess, though, it will be at least weeks and possibly months or years. He'll need to ask Wings the next time he has a chance to speak with his elder brother. Interdimensional retrieval is a tall order, even for a brilliant scientist like Papy.
"I see," Papyrus murmurs, "And in the meantime, you have no place to stay?"
Sans' eyelights skitter away from Papyrus' own. In this much, the tall skeleton is uncomfortably like Sans' brother. The intense stare feels as if it can spot and unravel every unspoken thought in his skull. "N-not really, no."
"How long have you and your brother been homeless?"
"We're not homeless!" Sans objects, vaguely offended even as he suddenly realizes how his words must have sounded to the other. He's worked hard ever since Wingdings' accident to meet his family's needs. There's actually been a good bit of spending money over the past few decades, once Papy started helping with the bills. "We have a home," he insists more calmly, "I'm just not sure how to get back to it from here."
"Where is your home? Waterfall? Hotland? Perhaps I could escort you back," the other suggests.
Sans grins ruefully. "Thank you for offering, Papyrus. That's very kind of you!" For some reason, the skeleton sitting across from him shifts in agitation at the words. "But I'm afraid I live a bit farther away than that."
"New Home? What are you doing on the other side of the Underground if you live in the capitol?"
"No, no! That's not... I don't live in New Home, either." Sans sighs and scratches his temple with one finger as he considers the options set before him. Other than the likelihood of not being believed, is there any reason not to tell this Papyrus the truth about his circumstances? Wings hadn't said much before he left, but he wouldn't leave him alone in a situation that was particularly dangerous.
Especially if that danger was wearing a face that Sans would have a difficult time not trusting. "Okay, I'm going to tell you the truth."
Papyrus raises a browbone at him. "Please, do."
"I don't belong in this universe. I'd go back to my world the same way I ended up here, except it was kind of an accident that brought me here and I'm not sure how I did it the first time." And Wings had also told him to wait for Papy's rescue instead of trying to get home on his own. "So, I have to wait for my brother to come collect me."
Papyrus wears an expression that Sans has only seen a handful of times on his brother's face, but has hoped every time he sees it that it will be the last time he does.
"I'm not crazy!" he shouts.
"I didn't say you were," the other placates, that odd angry-sad look coming over his face once more.
Sans doesn't think he has ever heard a more patronizing tone in his life. "Papyrus Lil Bro Gaster, I am not crazy! And you will treat me with proper respect or I will ground you!"
The following silence is broken when Papyrus asks, "Excuse me?"
Sans eyelights shrink to pinpoints as he realizes what he has just done. "I'm so sorry!" he says quickly, "You reminded me of my brother for a second and I -- I'm sorry!"
Papyrus regards him quietly for a few seconds, but the time stretches out unbearably long as Sans waits for the other's reaction. "Your brother is also a Papyrus?"
More silence that has Sans fidgeting in his seat. Eventually, the tall skeleton monster asks, "'Lil Bro Gaster'?"
Sans flushes. "Th-that's a long story," he answers, "and Papy gets embarrassed whenever I tell it."
Papyrus hums an acknowledgement and brings a hand to his chin. "So, you claim to be the Sans from another world. You came to ours by accident and are stranded here until such a time that your Papyrus can retrieve you. For the time being, you are without any shelter, provisions, or allies. Does that sum it up?"
"Mostly," Sans admits but then forces himself to clarify, "My name is Sans Serif, though, not Comic Sans. I know I look a lot like Comic, but I'm not a different version of your brother. We lost our Comic during the war."
An expression flickers over the tall skeleton's face too quickly for Sans to identify as anything beyond 'unhappy' before it's swallowed by a look of concentration. "But your Papyrus is my counterpart in this other world?" he questions, eyesockets narrowing slightly.
"Then what could have happened to your counterpart here?" Papyrus asks with a frown, more thinking aloud than seeking answers from the smaller skeleton, "I've only ever had one brother."
"I'm adopted," Sans rushes to assure the monster that looks too similar to the brother he left at home. He's always hated seeing Papyrus upset.
(Funny, just a few minutes ago he'd seen nothing but sharp angles and almost hadn't been able to recognize the Papyrus in front of him for what and who he is. And now, such a short time later, all he can see is his baby bro. It's in the facial expressions, Sans thinks, especially in the way the taller skeleton's sockets tense and relax. Papy only makes those kinds of faces when he's thinking hard, but unwilling to talk about what is really running through his skull.)
Papyrus' eyelights meet Sans' own. The taller skeleton's eye sockets are tight with worry.
"Be that as it may," Papyrus says, "the only skeletons still living that I know of are Sans and myself."
That's probably an accurate count for this world. He'd forgotten to ask Wings about his counterpart, but Gaster hadn't seemed the kind to have compassion for a Human child that had been accidentally sealed in the Underground alongside Monsterkind. He doesn't know how this world's Ryan died, but he doubts a Sans Serif was ever Raised in his place.
"I, uh, actually don't think this Underground has another version of me." He doesn't elaborate.
Papyrus looks away with a scowl and Sans allows him several moments to process the news.
"So, uh," Sans says, carefully tempering the embers of hope burning in his soul, "does this mean you believe me?"
Papyrus stiffens and sits up so straight that Sans is surprised he doesn't hear a series of cracks and pops to accompany the motion. He shakes his skull and blinks his sockets as if coming out of a trance. As his eyelights refocus on Sans, he states, "Your story is fantastical."
"However!" his brother's alternate interrupts before he can get any more out, "I have a discomforting feeling that you may convince me to change my opinion, given time. Regardless, I cannot allow you to wander the Underground without protection, so you will stay here with me and Sans -- my brother, Sans -- until you can return home."
"You mean that? I can stay with you?" Sans asks, leaning forward over the table as his eyelights form stars.
Papyrus seems startled but recovers quickly. "Of course! It would be unseemly to turn away a family member in need."
Sans hardly thinks about what he's doing when he bends spacetime on a whim and skips straight to Papyrus' side. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" he says as he throws his arms around the other skeleton's rib cage in an impulsive hug.
"How did you --"
Sans looks up at him with a wide grin. "You're so cool, Brother!"
Magic flares brightly over Papyrus' cheekbones. He turns his skull away abruptly but gently pats the crown of Sans' head with one hand. "You are overreacting."
"Mweh heh heh! The Magnificent Sans is reacting with the exact right amount of enthusiasm! I am honored to be considered a member of your family, Papyrus."
Papyrus huffs, but it does nothing to diminish the deepening flush of magic or the pleased tilt of his skeletal grin. "As well you should be! Come, Sans, let us see about getting you settled in."
"Whatever you say, Papyrus!" Sans replies, releasing the tall skeleton.
"You'll have to sleep on the couch, I'm afraid," he says as he rises from his chair and leads the shorter monster out of the kitchen, "The house doesn't have a guestroom and it will take time to make any other arrangements to accommodate you."
"That's okay, Papyrus. We've expanded the family pretty recently in my world, too, and we had to juggle that with moving at the same time. Though, really, the moving helped in some ways."
"Do tell. I'd like to hear more about your world. Who are these new family members?"
Sans' grin grows. "Their names are Frisk and Flowey. And if you have trouble believing I skipped dimensions, you're really going to have a really hard time believing their story!"
That doesn't stop Sans from telling Papyrus the whole tale. Well, everything starting just after Frisk's last RESET. Sans doesn't see a reason to bring up the events from erased timelines when they technically didn't happen in the first place. After all, what would be the point in bringing up that unpleasantness?
Chapter 5: Seeing Red
Happy fourth anniversary, Undertale!
Sans stands frozen just inside the doorway of his home and stares. Vaguely he wonders if he's managed to shortcut himself into some kind of alternate reality because the sight in front of him makes no sense in the slightest. He's been out searching for 'Ryan' for hours, only to find the tiny skeleton sitting on his living room couch after he gives up any hope of being able to track him down. What's more, Papyrus is towering over the small monster, holding a child's sweater, and the two are obviously mid-argument when Sans walks into the house. "Uh, Boss? What's going on?"
"Sans, you're finally home!" Papyrus says in lieu of a real greeting. "This," he gestures with his free hand, "is Sans Serif." So, the little deviant does have a font name, kinda. "He'll be staying here as my guest for an indefinite amount of time. Behave yourself." He turns back to address the third skeleton in the room. "Sans," he says, "this is my brother, Comic Sans, as I'm sure you've already figured out."
"We've, uh, already met, actually," the other monster admits before giving Sans an awkward little wave, "Hello, again."
"Hey there, buddy," Sans says, "You, heh, skipped out on me before we could finish our chat." He flares his magic, his left eyelight growing large and bright as it takes on a dangerous crimson hue. His right eyelight winks out entirely.
The smallest skeleton's eye sockets grow wide at the aggressive display, properly intimidated, but then something happens that Sans hadn't been expecting. The little interloper mirrors him, the other's left eyelight disappears and the right flashes a yellow color that fills Sans with a sense of foreboding. He can't remember what yellow signifies, but whatever it is, it makes him want to run the other direction.
"Sans!" Papyrus yells, causing both of the other monsters in the room to startle, effectively ending the impromptu staring competition.
"No, not --" Papyrus huffs and addresses the monster sitting on the couch first, "Not you." He then turns his attention on Sans with crossed arms, "Brother! I just told you to behave yourself! Sans is a guest! One should not threaten their house guests!"
"Sorry, Bro," Sans mutters, cautiously shuffling further into the room.
"That's probably my fault," their 'house guest' pipes up, "I'm usually a pretty ice guy, but Sans is right, the way I left was very un-cool of me. I can't blame him for giving me a chilly reception, after my flaky behavior. Really, it's snow problem. In fact, the cold-shoulder treatment would be justified."
Sans can't help snickering, both at the puns and his brother's horrified expression.
"No! Not you, too!" Papyrus objects, "I hate puns! And you don't change tone or cadence as you say them. You don't even italicize! Like, like you think they're the proper words to use!" Another thought seems to dawn on the tall monster and he demands, "How long have you been stealth punning?"
"Well, eyelight to think I've always had an appreciation for puns, but I'm sure I had to glow up enough to talk before eye could begin telling my own."
"One of those wouldn't even be noticeable to a non-skeleton!" Papyrus fumes, "It's like you're targeting me with your awful puns!"
"Alright there, bud," Sans cuts in, "Icy what you're doing here, and you may want to chill out before you make the Boss lose his cool. Or it cold end with you sleeping in the shed."
"Augh! Brother, you are not helping!" the tallest of the three growls, "And I refuse to call either of you 'Sans' any longer! Both of you are too similar without sharing a name!" Critical eyelights dart over the smaller monsters for a brief moment before he declares his judgement. "You," he says, pointing at Sans, "are 'Red.' And you," he continues, now pointing to their new guest, "are 'Blue'."
Sans blinks his sockets and asks, "Did you seriously just color-code us?"
The skeleton on the couch seems to have a completely different complaint about the new nicknames. He tugs lightly on the scarf around his cervical vertebrae with one hand and points at it with the index phalanges of the opposite hand. "This is cyan," he corrects.
Papyrus looks down at the little monster with a distinctly unimpressed expression on his face. "And now your name is 'Runt'," he states.
Sans bursts into unrestrained laughter. The gobsmacked look on the small monster's face is priceless.
The shortest frowns up at the tallest and says with a huff, "Papy, that's not very nice."
"I have told you not to call me by that childish moniker!"
"And I told you I'm not going to wear children's stripes!" the freshly dubbed 'Runt' retorts.
It would seem the other two monsters have managed to return to the same argument Sans had inadvertently interrupted earlier. Wait, isn't that one of his old jumpers? And his shorts! ...Of course, they are. Where else would Papyrus find clothes small enough to fit the new skeleton -- on short notice, pfft! -- if not by rifling through Sans' old outfits?
"Your own clothes are filthy and need to be washed!"
"I'm not saying they aren't!" Runt exclaims, throwing his arms up in exasperation, "But there has to be something I could wear that isn't striped!"
"The stripes would help keep you safe," Papyrus attempts to persuade the other.
"Papyrus, I haven't worn stripes in centuries and I don't need to wear them now," Runt says stubbornly, "I can handle myself just fine."
"You have zero attack power, Runt!" Papyrus bursts in agitation.
Wait, what? Boss couldn't mean that literally. Could he?
"You were serious about calling me that?" Runt asks, tone balanced somewhere between incredulous and scandalized.
Papyrus, however, isn't finished speaking and ignores the other's question. "The moment anyone checks your stats they are going to see you as easy EXP and they are going to try to dust you. Do you understand that? I am trying to protect you. Now, for the Angel's sake, put on the stupid sweater!" He gives the aforementioned article of clothing in his fist a sharp shake as he holds it out to the other skeleton.
Tears of frustration start to pool at the edges of Papyrus' eye sockets and Sans is a half-second away from giving the Runt a Bad Time for making his brother want to cry. Fortunately for everyone involved, Runt moves faster.
A small arm darts out and grabs a fistful of the black and red cloth. "I'm sorry, Brother," Runt says, eyelights focussed entirely on Papyrus' face, "I'm being stubborn. Thank you for the change of clothes. Is it alright if I get dressed in the bathroom?"
Papyrus gives a stiff nod and relinquishes the bundle of clothing.
"Thank you, Papyrus," Runt says one more time before dashing out of the living room and up the staircase. A bare second later the sound of a door slamming echoes through the house.
Boss collapses onto the couch with a groan and covers his face with his hands.
"Whoa there, Bro!" Sans says, leaning over the arm to grab the other skeleton's shoulder, "You okay?"
"Fine," Papyrus dismisses his concern without so much as peeking at him through his fingers.
Sans sighs before rounding the corner of the couch and then sinking into its cushions beside his brother. And on that note... "He calls you 'Brother'?"
"Yes." Papyrus lets his hands fall into his lap. "Apparently I remind him of his brother, another Papyrus skeleton. I find that I don't mind that, but... I don't think his mind is entirely there, Red." That name is going to take some getting used to, he can already tell. "He told me a strange story when I asked him about where he came from. And he spoke about people I've never met as if he expected me to know them. ...Shortly after I found him, he began speaking to thin air as if he was seeing someone there that simply didn't exist. The episode didn't last long and it's yet to happen again, but..."
"Boss, ya know I'll go along with whatever ya want," Sans says, "but is there a reason you decided to invite loony toons into the house?"
Papyrus scowls. "Sans, I could hardly turn him away! I wasn't exaggerating earlier. His attack power is actually zero! I have no idea how he has survived as long as he has in such a state, and I have no way of knowing how much of what he says reflects reality or the fantasy of his mind. What I do know is that someone will dust him at the first opportunity if no one steps in to protect him, and I don't see anyone else willing to do so.
"I'm tired of watching monsters senselessly dust each other, and, and... And I especially don't want to see Runt dusted! Despite his terrible puns. He doesn't deserve to be dusted for cheap EXP, and I refuse to stand by and let it happen!"
"Uh, wow. Okay, Boss," Sans murmurs, patting his younger brother's clenched fist, "If you're that serious about it... Guess I'll have to help you watch after the pipsqueak. Make sure he doesn't go wandering off while you have your back turned or nothin'."
Papyrus' frame loses some of its tension and a soft sigh escapes him. "Thank you, Red. The Great and Terrible Papyrus could manage on his own, of course, but your assistance in this matter would be... very welcome, Brother."
Sans offers up a wide grin. "Anytime, Boss."
He absolutely will help to keep a watchful eyelight on the newest skeleton. But, for the time being, he'll stay quiet about his own suspicions regarding Runt. After all, there's no need to upset Papyrus until he can confirm his fears.
Chapter 6: The Face in the Mirror
Sans glares over the bathroom sink at his reflection in the mirror. More specifically, he glares at the black and red striped jumper he's just tugged on in place of his dirty t-shirt. It must have been one of the last striped shirts 'Red' had worn as a child because it's still a little baggy on Sans' admittedly small frame. For that matter, it's a good thing the shorts have a drawstring to help tighten them, or they'd be down around his ankles. Papyrus hadn't provided any socks, but Sans doesn't mind being barefoot around the house until the melted snow soaking his own footwear has had a chance to evaporate.
Dressed as he is, Sans can see why this Papyrus is treating him like a child. He looks like one. And given the harsh edge he's witnessed firsthand in both brothers, he can only guess that the universe that shaped them is equally harsh. (It apparently allows legal murder, after all.) Taking that into consideration, it wouldn't be shocking if his optimism and friendliness were to be mistaken for naivete and childishness in this world.
It's still frustrating.
Maybe if he had some of Papy's height, that would help combat his deceptively youthful appearance. (How many times had others mistaken Papy for the elder brother based on nothing more than their difference in stature and Papy's seemingly more laid-back nature?) Unfortunately, something had gone not-quite-right when Wings had Raised him and it had seriously stunted Sans' growth. He's grown roughly a foot since his last day as Ryan, but he remains decidedly on the short side.
And on that note...
"Wings! You ditched me!" he accuses the mirror in a quiet (for him) hiss.
His older brother materializes at his side, also facing the reflective surface mounted to the wall. "Forgive me, Sans, but I was distracting you and you needed to focus. This Papyrus has many similarities to our brother, but this universe has made him... Well, it was imperative that you pay attention to the reality of your situation."
"Gah! " Sans screams when Gaster suddenly makes his own appearance, looming menacingly behind him. The short skeleton twists around and attempts to put distance between himself and what the primal part of his mind has identified as a threat. In his panic, he backs into the counter he'd been facing only a second ago and rams his ribs harshly against its edge. Sans hisses out a pained breath through his teeth as he regains his senses. He glares up at the creature in front of him. Gaster knew and fully intended for the consequences of his sudden appearance to happen.
Gaster ever so graciously waits for Sans to collect himself somewhat before rasping out, "What my squeamish counterpart is failing to say is that Subject 2-P is fully capable of killing you on the spot and would have done so had he deemed you to be a threat."
Sans opens his teeth to make a retort but holds his words back when he hears loud, hurried footsteps on the stairs. Three hard knocks on the bathroom door sound shortly thereafter. "Runt? Are you alright in there?" Papyrus calls, "We heard a scream."
"I tripped," Sans calls back, easily switching to a cheery tone for his (newest) younger brother, "but I'm okay. Sorry I worried you! I'll be more careful!"
He wouldn't have heard the following sigh if it had been Papy on the other side of the wooden barrier separating them, but this Papyrus isn't nearly as quiet as his first baby brother generally is, so he hears the exasperated exhale as clearly as if he were standing right next to the other skeleton. "Very well. Please join us downstairs once you are finished."
"Okay!" Sans waits until he hears footfalls retreating down the staircase before whirling around to confront Gaster. "What are you doing lurking in the bathtub?" Sans demands, "Is that just the creepiest place you could think of to scare me from? And, and there is so much wrong with what you said that I don't even know where to start!"
Despite his words, Sans finds himself listing off everything he finds objectionable. "Wings isn't squeamish; you're just cruel! And this Papyrus might have grown up in a harder world, but I refuse to believe it's turned him into some kind of senseless murderer! He wouldn't have hurt me because I wouldn't have given him any reason to hurt me. Most importantly, why did you call him 'Subject 2-P'? He's your brother --"
Wings coughs lightly to catch his attention. "Cousin," he corrects gently, "He never restructured the family after the war. I likely wouldn't have either if I hadn't found you."
Sans takes the new information in stride. "He's your cousin, your family, not an experiment!"
Gaster seems to shrug and his strange, goopy body moves in disconcerting ways with what should be a simple action. "He was both. In many ways, he has proven to be a far greater success than Subject 1-S has turned out to be."
Sans feels disgust and anger well up in his soul before it is just as quickly drained from his being and replaced with an almost apathetic sorrow.
"No wonder Red was so quick to make threats when he heard your name," Sans says, the hollow ache in the core of his being turning his voice flat, "You didn't treat them like family at all, did you? And I'll bet Sans and Papyrus paid a high price because of it. Normally, I like to think that anyone can be a little better if they work at it, if they really want to change, but Void Beings are what they are. Time is meaningless to you.
"I pity you, Gaster. You will always be the same sick creature that threw away what should have been most precious to you. You will never grow as a person. You will never conquer the failings in your character. And you will forever be a broken shade, doomed to watch a world you cannot touch as it moves on without you, because there is no one who loves you enough to try to save you."
Gaster's mask-like face doesn't move but he manages to give off the impression of a scowl regardless. "I have no need of, or desire for, your pity, little monster."
"You have it anyway," Sans answers.
Gaster looks past Sans at Wings. "I do not understand your investment in this foolish creature."
Sans peers back at his brother in time to see him shrug lightly.
"No one is asking you to, Doctor Gaster," Wingdings states calmly, "but you should know that I have always found Sans' judgement to be wise beyond his years. If you are unable to see it, well, that does not diminish my pride in him."
Sans grins up at his brother even as he feels Gaster's gaze fall on him again. Eventually, Gaster announces, "Your universe must be very soft indeed." The Void Being vanishes from sight before any more can be said.
Wings sighs quietly. "I wish I could stay longer, Sans, but we've drawn out this visit too long already. I'll return when you need me. Until then, remember that this world can be very different from the one that we grew up in. Listen to Boss, and be patient with Red."
Is that what he settles on calling this Papyrus? 'Boss?' He's pretty sure he heard Red call his brother as much, but it seems like a strange nickname to adopt. Then again, 'Runt' is apparently just fine to give out as an address here, and 'Boss' is leagues better than that.
No, focus, Sans! Now is not the time!
"Wait!" Sans pleads, "How is everyone at home?"
"Everything at home is as it should be," Wings assures him, "Frisk has been convinced not to RESET and Papyrus is working with Alphys to bring you home. Your family and friends are worried but otherwise fine. Papy will come to retrieve you in due time."
"You promise you'd tell me if something bad was going to happen, right?" Sans asks, eyelights searching his brother's face intently.
"I tell you everything you need to know, when you need to know it. But time and information are both powerful abstracts that must be carefully weighed. There are many experiences to have in life that you are better off having without my meddling, Sans. You know that," Wings says. The scattered monster glances over his shoulder at the bathroom door before adding, "Go on, now. Your hosts are getting restless."
"Alright." Sans tries to stifle the desire to mope and pout over his brother's answer. It's difficult, though, and a soft sigh passes his teeth before he can catch it. "Goodbye, Wings."
Wings gifts him with a sympathetic expression as he says his own farewell, "Goodbye, Sans."
His brother vanishes as if he was never there to begin with
From a certain point of view, he never was. From another point of view, he always is. and Sans is left alone to face whatever lies waiting for him in an Underground that seems to be hungry for Dust.
Chapter 7: Left Behind
Papyrus paces the living room floor in pent up anxiety. Sans should have been home by now. Even if his older brother hadn't been able to skip directly ho-- to the old house, even if he had to make a few stops along the way, Sans still should have been back by now.
The sound of the front door opening catches Papyrus' attention immediately. "Thank the Angel," he mutters under his breath before raising his voice to say, "Sans, you --"
Frisk and Flowey stare at him from the doorway in confusion.
"Sorry, just us," Frisk says, voice quiet.
Not that the murder-child is ever loud. He reaches back and gently closes the door, all the while being careful to keep his eyes on Papyrus. The boy bites his lip briefly before asking, "Is Sans not home?"
"No," Papyrus admits bluntly.
"Well, where is he, then?" Flowey demands, easily the loudest voice in the house when Sans isn't home, "Don't tell me he already forgot what happened the last time he left you in charge!"
It hadn't been pretty, but the time-altering brats in front of him had been responsible for a good ninety percent of the chaos Sans had come back to. He'd say it was all their fault, but claiming that remaining ten percent as his own failing ensured that his brother would never ask him to babysit the twin freakshows again.
"He went to grab some stuff from Snowdin, but he should've been back by now. I'm gonna go look for 'im," the monster decides. He can't take any more of this waiting. Honestly, he should have left to track the smaller skeleton down much sooner. "You two are good to make yourselves dinner, right?"
Frisk nods as Papyrus shoos (ha!) him out of the way so he can pull on his tennis shoes, but the monster hardly registers the silent answer. He doesn't really care what the answer is. He only asks to begin with because he knows Sans would, and it's all he can do to mimic the other monster in an attempt not to fall apart.
"If I'm not back with my bro in thirty minutes, go to Asgore's," he instructs.
"Our brother," Frisk corrects, quiet as ever but with that edge of determination in his voice that never fails to raise Papyrus' hackles.
Before he can snap at the human (which, admittedly, would be a mistake for several reasons) Flowey adds a correction of his own, "Sans would tell us to go to Toriel's. Or maybe Alphys' place. But he wouldn't tell us to go to Asgore."
Papyrus huffs. He redirects his annoyed glare to the occupant of the flower pot in Frisk's arms. "What are you talking about?" he asks in exasperation, "You two go visit him all the time!"
"Well, yeah, dingbat!" Flowey snaps, "But have you ever noticed that those visits are always short unless Sans comes with us? Or it's at a gathering with a whole bunch of people? There's a reason for that!" After a second's thought, he adds in a displeased grumble, "A lot more than just one, actually."
Papyrus scowls. He has an idea of where this is going, but for the flower's sake, he better be wrong. "And why might that be?" he asks in a tone just shy of becoming a snarl, "Sans trusts him. Isn't that good enough?"
"Psh, not nearly. I doubt Asgore would be comfortable with it, for starters. And Toriel would blow a gasket for sure if she ever found out. We'd be lucky if she didn't get the Human authorities involved! But, yeah, why not? We can go to Asgore's if you want," the flower snarks, "I'm sure the Humans will stay completely calm and rational when Toriel tells them that Asgore's murdered six of their children."
He hates that he knows Flowey is right. "Fine!" Papyrus snaps, "Go bother the queen! I'm sure she has time to waste on the likes of you while she's busy trying to smooth the integration of Monsters into Human society. Hell, do whatever you want! What do I care? It's not like anyone can stop you freaks, anyway!"
Papyrus skips out before Flowey (or Frisk, for that matter) has a chance to respond.
He lands on the edge of town about half a foot in the air and has to catch himself on his elbows and knees. Papyrus scowls. He isn't nearly as good at skipping as Sans is, let alone when he attempts to do it blind. Keeping his landing point in sight limits his range, but ultimately makes the journey far easier to manage. For all that he lacks Sans' easy skill in manipulating spacetime, he's always had good stamina, and chaining the skips together is (heh!) child's play.
He takes a winding route up Mount Ebott before landing just in front of the entrance to the Underground. The tall skeleton spares a moment to glance around the surrounding landscape, sending a small amount of magic out to test the area for the familiar effects left behind by his brother's magic. Failing to sense any of the subtle, tell-tale ripples in reality that are caused by Sans' skipping ability, Papyrus frowns and enters the mountain.
"Did you hear that? Did you hear what he said?" Flowey demands as he stares at the spot Papyrus had vanished from only a moment ago, "Oh, Sans is going to hit the roof when we tell him! Golly, and cursing, too! Do you think he'll make Papyrus wash his mouth out with soap? Can skeletons even do that?"
"I don't know," Frisk murmurs, finally turning away from their home's front entrance and heading for the living room.
Flowey hums a contemplative note from his place in Frisk's arms. "No," he decides, "I doubt they can. I don't think there's enough of a 'mouth' there to wash. Maybe the soap would just disappear like the food does!" The plant giggles. "Now, that's a thought. We should try that sometime!"
"No," Frisk murmurs as he sets the ceramic pot containing his companion on the coffee table before perching on the edge of the couch, "And we're not going to tell Sans."
"What?" Flowey demands as he stares up at the human in shock, "Why not?"
Frisk shrugs and picks at his dirty nails. "He's scared."
Frisk bites his lower lip lightly before saying, "We didn't do nice things when we were scared, either."
Flowey sputters helplessly for a short while. Eventually, the small plant crosses his leaves over his stem and huffs, "You're starting to sound like Sans."
Frisk smiles. "Good."
Flowey blinks, snorts in amusement, and admits, "I guess there are worse people to be like. He is the Magnificent Sans, after all."