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There's Always A Tomorrow

Chapter Text

After living in Ebott City for so long, it’d pretty much slipped your mind how busy it tended to be these days. You found it almost second nature to tend to all problems within the city, mostly construction or property related but occasionally personal. You almost found it surprising how many people trusted you enough to rely on you; back when you’d first been granted charge of the city by your father, you could never have imagined the position you were in now.

It was... Weird. But nice. You’d made a lot of friends since then, more than you would have otherwise. But you’d be lying if you didn’t want a break every now and then. In fact, lucky you had found a way to catch that break. You’d managed to put one of said friends in charge, and starting tomorrow, you’d be off the hook for at least a week. You would take an actual vacation if you could (maybe somewhere far away, even), but you knew that would be going a little too far, as your friend could only handle so much.

Besides, you weren’t entirely off the hook. As the person in charge, you still had a job to do, help or no help. So when he called you on account of needing your help, you weren’t that surprised.

What did surprise you was his claim as to why.

Instead of being directly in the city itself, your home was hidden in a quiet but rather populated suburb, near the forest and mountains themselves. You’d never considered moving, even though the trip into the city was an extra five minutes; you liked the scenery here, and you weren’t entirely sure why but something else drove you to stay.

Of course, along with the extra travelling time this also meant you usually left security up to the other officials, so unless you were in your office, you wouldn’t see anyone visiting Ebott from your house. (Not easily at least.) You trusted your security enough that they would handle it, even if you were away.

And yet, even with all this information, you couldn’t have anticipated what exactly would show up in your city.

At first, your friend, William, hadn’t known the details. All the local guardsmen had told him was that something was heading their way, and even a few minutes after, they still had no idea what or who it was they were seeing. One claimed to have seen a walking skeleton; others said they saw a large, muscular figure with blue skin, and following that were... Bipedal cows. Or goats, even, dressed in regal clothing.

You couldn’t have made this up if you tried.

Apparently, neither could William, as he sounded just as stunned when he told you. You demanded he get the officials on the phone again, and he did, but not much more information came out of that. Therefore, you took matters into your own hands and drove your small van back into the city, trying to prepare yourself for whatever you were about to see.

Try as you might, you ultimately couldn’t.

When you arrived at your usual building, William stood outside, flanked by a couple officers. Funnily enough, even they looked somewhat shaken by what they’d seen.

They explained in detail what had happened: how these odd creatures had just shown up, and the rest of the policemen and guards were currently keeping them outside the premises of the city. After hearing what they had to say, you led the small group to the far side of the city to check out what had been described.

There were about seven or so guards and ten policemen along the edge of the city, formatting a circle surrounding... Something. When you asked them to step aside, they obeyed, albeit reluctantly, and you saw exactly what all the fuss was about.

Well... Nobody had been lying. That was for sure.

And these things... These creatures, or visitors, or whatever they were were definitely not human. (Most of them, anyhow.)

They were a small group of curious-looking individuals. At the front were the aforementioned “goat” creatures. They were larger and taller than most of your men combined, but oddly enough, seemingly non-threatening. What perplexed you most, however, was the tiny figure in front of them.

Despite the rest of them clearly being not so, this figure was human. A mere child. You almost questioned your guardsmen right then and there why they weren’t taking the child away to safety, and away from these things, but you realized why they hadn’t. They hadn’t a need to, really.

The child seemed perfectly fine... Comfortable, even, if a bit nervous. That nervousness appeared to have nothing to do with the creatures behind them, however, and it didn’t take long for you to realize everyone was now looking at you. Even the human, and the creatures they were with. Their gazes were expectant, as though they anticipated what you would say; what your choice was, and how you would deal with this predicament.

Truly, your brief freedom had indeed been short-lived.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t that you’d never heard of monsters before. In fact, one of the first things your father warned you about before you accepted this role was that Ebott City in particular was known to bear many legends of these creatures; specifically, how they had once lived in peace with humans, but were suddenly banished to live under Mount Ebott for ill-fated reasons. Tales of war, and prejudice that made your skin crawl. Nobody knew why the humans living in the city all those years ago had done that, and therefore, those stories of betrayal faded into obscurity over time.

Eventually, they became nothing more than a fairy-tale; a bedtime fable to tell children when they refused to go to sleep right away. Nothing more than to scare them or settle their minds for the evening, promising that it really was just a fairy-tale.

Even when the news said human children had fallen into the mountain over years, mysteriously disappearing, it was chalked up to them simply falling to their death; despite there being rumors of sometimes hearing the children crying out for help in the mountain. The parents themselves believed these rumors from time to time, but not much could be done about it, as they were mostly labeled crazy for even considering that their children might be alive down there.

After all, they never did come back. So what was all the fuss about?

But that also begged the question: why had these rumors started? Why so many children? Why exactly seven humans, the same number of humans supposedly required to break the barrier that entrapped monsters in the first place?

Back then, when you read those seemingly fake history books, you had mostly decided it was just mere coincidence. There might have been some race opposed to the humans long ago, but surely, if there was they would have all died out by now.

Apparently not. And apparently it wasn’t a mere coincidence those human children disappeared like they had.

Currently, reflecting on those past events, you are in your office signing paperwork unrelated to it. Almost a day has passed since that encounter, and you are still no closer to having an answer as to what to do. Upon seeing these monsters for the first time, fully corporeal and alive and not just pictures in a book, you think your brain might have spasmed a bit. What managed to confuse you further was the fact that they didn’t seem particularly mad at you, given the fact they’d just returned from a decades-long, even centuries-long imprisonment from your own species.

Asgore, the supposed King and one of the aforementioned goat-looking monsters, explained everything to you the second you made it obvious you didn’t understand anything. He talked about the war, the imprisonment, the barrier, and how the small human child with them had freed them. He even mentioned the disappearance of the seven children (Frisk, the human, was the seventh it turned out), though it was clearly a sore subject, and he was willing to tell you why.

Unfortunately, this specific discussion of his didn’t really make you more welcoming to their arrival; but he did make it clear he regretted his actions, and none of them seemed bloodthirsty in nature. After some prodding, from your guardsmen and one of the monsters alike—the blue-skinned one—you’d made your decision. At least, a temporary one, as anyone would be surprised if you knew right then and there how to deal with the matter at hand. You’d just told them you would think about letting them stay.

Thus, here you are now, trying to do decide what to do while you neglect most of your papers. (You hope whoever needs them signed won’t be too unforgiving.) You aren’t intent just yet on letting them into the city, of course; there are much too many variables to consider. But still, you refuse to send them back to the Underground for another hundred-odd years or so. Heaven forbid you do that; knowing they are real is hard enough.

So now, it’s more of an in-between. You’ve allowed them to stay outside the city for the time being, in some encampment of sorts. You let a few citizens and volunteers, who had long since heard about the visitors, bring them things they might need, though you have made sure a few guards stay with them in case there’s something you haven’t accounted for.

...Geez, you sound like an idiot, don’t you? Trusting these strangers out of the blue like this, knowing that the means of how they got here were... Less than ideal. You have taken the King into custody, but is that enough? What if you aren’t being careful, like you should be? You knew that sometimes, you could too nice for your own good. This might be one of those times.

You suppose you are going to find out, either way. But it still puts you on edge regardless. Maybe you should go visit them yourself tomorrow, just to be safe. That might help clear up a few things; and besides, there is also taking Frisk into account. They are their ambassador, and they seem to be okay so far. Why not ask them a few questions?

Yes, you decide, you will do that instead of just guessing. At least you could find some answers, even if they were questionable ones in of themselves. And, if anything does happen to go wrong, and you have to exile them anyway, at least you’ll be keeping your people safe.

That’s what truly matters in the end.

Chapter Text

You planned to leave around eight or so. The former Queen of Monsters, Toriel, about the only one you’ve really kept in contact with, had updated you yesterday on how things were going in the camp. When you made the announcement that you would visit in person, and why, she said you were more than welcome to stop by and talk to Frisk. Of course, you’d left out the fact that you were doing this merely out of a precaution opposed to her; she didn’t need to know that detail.

With a sigh, you pull yourself somewhat drowsily into your blue minivan and start towards the city, pretending you’d gotten more sleep than you actually had. You would have made coffee to help, but by the time you’d waken up this morning, it was already seven-thirty and you had chosen before to dedicate most of that half an hour to getting ready and filling out a few more papers. You almost hadn’t even taken a shower, much to your chagrin, but when you had really thought about it the last impression you wanted to leave was that of a crazy, sleep-deprived and unclean human. (You already fit two-thirds of that criteria right now, after all.)

Not long into the your drive, your phone goes off, chiming that short and cheery melody you’d set it to a few days ago. Ignoring your very own rules, you pick it up, one hand on the wheel and one hand clutching the device.

"Hey, uh, Lara?” comes William’s voice from the phone. “You... Do know you’re supposed to be here, right?”

Absentmindedly, your eyes give a little roll. “Yes, I do know. But I’m not. You think you could deal with it this time?”

"Again?” He sounds incredulous; almost fearful. “Last time you left me in charge—”

“What, you really think some other used-to-be-fictional beings are going to show up while I’m gone?” you retort. “Dude, I’ll be right outside the city; if anything else does show up, I’ll be first to see it.”

"Uh... Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why are you outside the city?” he adds quickly, hearing the bewilderment in your tone.

Ah. Guess you forgot to tell him that. “I’m visiting them, what else? The monsters,” you clarify, because you know he’s going to ask you no matter how obvious it may be.

“Oh! Oh. ...You are bringing security with you, right?”

You say no, and, of course, he flips out, but you’ve already arrived at your destination so you tell him you’ll talk to him later and hang up. Thankfully, he resorts to almost-frantic texting instead, and you type out a quick reply (“Will I will scream at the top of my lungs if I so much as THINK something’s wrong so shut up”) as you climb out of your vehicle. He seems to settle after that, and you shove your phone into your jacket’s pocket.

Since you refuse to get your car stuck in any mud, you park it in front of a small supermarket at the edge of the city, several feet from the city gate and walls. (You really need to take those down some day. It makes Ebott look like a prison.) From there, the camp was not far, only being about a hundred or so yards away. You’ve overseen it from your office before, but... It’s still certainly a sight to see.

There are dozens of cots and a few tents thrown about the small area, looking almost strung together at last minute and somewhat cramped. There hardly appears to be walking room among them, but that doesn’t seem to stop anyone, as said monsters are strolling about the small campsite as though it has been their home their entire life, having not noticed you yet.

Those that have noticed you, only a select few, either give you a little wave or a smile. Or both. You can’t help but smile and wave back, and step closer, your boots making soft thumps on the early morning grass. Less than thirty yards from the camp, a shout rings out.

“The human Lara’s here!”

And now, everyone’s looking at you.

You approach further, bracing yourself for whatever greeting they might bring, when a familiar face steps out from the crowd now gathered in front of the camp. She manages to keep them back, as some of them seem intent on running to meet you themselves, then makes her way over to you once they’ve settled.

Despite her calm expression and motherly air, you can’t help but feel intimidated by her presence even now, and you hardly refrain from bowing respectively on instinct. You meet her gaze nervously and utter a meek, “H-hello, Your M—I mean, Toriel.” Ugh, you feel like an imbecile.

Thankfully, she doesn’t seem offended by your foolishness, only smiling gently in response. “Greetings, Miss Lara,” she says. “It is good to see you again.”

Of course she’d say that. Even still, your voice comes out like a squeak. “Same to you. Um...” Clearing your throat, you try again, and to your relief you don’t sound quite as pathetic. “I’d love to stay and talk, but as you probably know, I have a job to get to later, so...”

You bite your lip. I hope that didn’t sound too rude. But thankfully, Toriel nods in understanding.

“Of course. Follow me.”

With that, she leads the way into the camp, a few monsters still staring after you curiously. You make sure to greet them and anyone that greets you as you walk through their temporary home, and ultimately end up waving to nearly every monster that you pass. Of course, some of them ignore you entirely, but you don’t really blame them for it; seeing a strange human in their camp—not to mention, the same human that is the reason they aren’t fully living the life they want—must not have been a very welcoming surprise. And like Toriel has mentioned before, this just a fraction of the Underground, as the space here is so limited already. Not everyone has the luxury of moving to the surface just yet.

Somehow, that makes you feel worse. There is nothing stopping them from leaving the Underground at least for a few minutes, just to see the sun and stars; but you’re keeping them from being able to do that all the time, or live under it, like they desperately wished to.

As though reading your thoughts (or just reading your expression), Toriel shoots you a glance. “It is not your fault,” she assures. “We know you are just doing what’s best for your own people. Your heart is in the right place.”

Is it?  you ponder, guiltily.

Almost as soon as you’ve seen these creatures again, you’re starting to wonder if your judgement is wrong. You must be kidding yourself, right? Thinking that these people could ever even think to hurt you?

But, you thought, that was disregarding what their king had done. For all you know, any one of them could have helped him. It was likely at least some had; after all, they did have a Royal Guard, didn’t they? In one way or another, they had to have killed humans themselves, or at least aided in their slaughter.

They had done it out of survival, but at what cost?

Well, that’s why you’re going to talk to Frisk. Although only a child, they seem to have a good head on their shoulders. Surely they’ll make things clear to you.

Speaking of which, Toriel finally comes to a stop in front of a rather small tent, compared to the rest and not-so-common ones. However, it also seems to be the most decorated, covered in stickers and memorabilia of sorts. A medium-sized flowerpot is set beside it as well, full of nothing but dirt. (You recall the child asking one of the volunteers for it, and you have yet to figure out what it’s for, apparently.)

Most peculiar, though, are two bones located to the left of the flowerpot. One is adorned with a red ribbon while the other has a small note taped on in placement of a ribbon, attached almost lazily. You try to step closer to read what it says—because you’re curious and maybe kind of a creep—but Toriel is talking again, so you straighten up and try to look dignified again.

“Frisk, Lara is here,” she’s saying, her words turning out to not be directed towards you at all. Not even ten seconds later, the tent flaps flutter open and out steps the human ambassador themselves, dressed in the same purple-and-blue striped shirt you’d seen them wearing before.

Did this kid have any other clothes, or...?

You force that random thought out of your mind and smile politely. “Hello, Frisk. It’s alright if I talk with you for a few minutes, isn’t it?”

They nod, expression blank. You stand there for a moment awkwardly, trying to think of what to say, but Toriel does it for you.

“Well, if there is anything either of you need, do let me know. I will be right over here if you need me.” She points to a large cot nearby, and you give her a somewhat-shaky thumbs-up in response. (Stars, you’re so embarrassing.)

Frisk beckons for you to come inside the tent as the large monster takes her leave, and you oblige, trying to seem more official that you probably look right now. The inside of the tent is unsurprisingly tiny, but the younger doesn’t seem to mind and sits themselves down on the floor next to a sleeping bag. You follow suit and sit across from them.

To your own shock, you don’t hesitate and get straight to the point almost instantly. “So... Do you know why I’m here? What I want to talk about?”

Frisk nods, their expression softening a bit. It’s a shock when they open their mouth, and you almost have to lean in to hear them, their words being so quietly-spoken. “Yes,” they murmur. “Mom didn’t say anything specific, but I think I figured it out.”

Aww, they called her mom... Ugh, no, not the time. Brushing some of your brown hair out of your face, you continue, “And I’m sure you know I haven’t made a decision yet. I... Want to be able to, but I need your help with that. Okay?”

They nod again. You press on.

“I know by now, you know them much better than I do. And I know you consider them friends; but my question is, should I do the same?”

At that, they look somewhat confused, so you clarify, “I want to know if I can trust them, Frisk. Really trust them, because I’m about to make a choice that could either make or break my city. What...”

You take a deep breath, and exhale slowly. “What was it like for you down there?” you ask. “King Asgore said they needed you killed—rather, your soul in order to break the barrier. That’s true, right?”

This time, they nod more solemnly; and, as if it didn’t get the point across enough, they mumble a confirmation.

“So what happened?” you inquire.

Ever so slightly, you lean forward.

“Why didn’t they kill you? Why do you consider them your friends?”

They meet your gaze, anxious and a bit sad. You consider that you’ve been too harsh—this was a child, after all—but then they speak again.

“They did kill me,” they say. “But I forgave them.”

...

...Well, okay then.

This is certainly new.

Chapter Text

You stay silent when you hear them say it, mostly because you don’t know what to say. What could you say to that? No sane person would just respond casually to their words, even if they’re pretending themselves that it’s no big deal.

“That’s not possible,” you finally utter, dumbly. “Are you... Mistaken or something? How could you—”

“Determination allows me to come back.” Their tone is abrupt, almost flat-sounding. “When my soul is destroyed, my determination brings me back to life.”

Determination...? What the hell is this kid talking about? Are they out of their mind?! “I—Frisk, I don’t—”

They interrupt again, though a bit more kindly as they tell you, “I’m sorry. I know I’m not making sense, but... Can you just... Let me explain?” They add a small please upon seeing your hardened gaze, and you let out a brief sigh.

“Go on, then,” you mutter.

So, they do.

It’s a long process, and they hesitate a lot to get everything out, but they tell you the story to its full extent: falling into the hole in the mountain; monsters jumping to fight them around every corner; and meeting their friends along the way, through... Interesting circumstances. Most of their close friends had tried to capture them or hurt them in some way, the only exception being Toriel, and some skeleton monster named Sans. But, they add, he was still meant to capture them, only ending up not doing so because of the former queen.

And even she was forced to fight them at some point, regardless of the reason.

That, in itself, is a lot to take in. And when they start explaining the concept of “determination” to you, it only gets more complicated, of course.

Simply put, they could come back. Even if they died fifty times over, they’d still “continue,” returning to potentially get killed all over again.

It is... Hard to think about. And even harder to believe.

Still, confusingly, they don’t take their words back. They seem like they are being genuine here, and you’re left with three options to consider: simply call them crazy, chalk it up to them having an overactive imagination, or, most worryingly of all...

It’s neither of those things. They really are telling you the truth.

And, eventually, to your own bewilderment, you believe it.

Obviously, it’s crazy. Heck, it’s more than crazy, it’s... Impossible.

But, you suppose, nothing’s impossible at this point.

A little while ago, you’d believed something similar about monsters existing themselves; and yet, here all of them are, in this tiny little camp that they temporarily call home. That you let them call home.

Truly, everything about this is crazy. But you listen to Frisk anyway. Everything they’re saying is something out of a fairy-tale itself, yet... You listen.

After a while, it starts to make sense. You don’t know why; you can’t begin to imagine why, but it just does. Maybe it’s because they’re so young, and being in that many battles would surely have killed them by now. It would be scary if they survived that all in one go.

Not to mention, they eventually claim they can “prove it to you,” and you fervently refuse, insisting that no, you believe them. (Gods, what are they implying here? That’s sort of terrifying.)

It’s also a little easier to understand when they mention the nature of souls; how they’re easily affected by emotions alone. That concept too is a bit odd, but it’s at least somewhat plausible. They include the nature of a monster’s soul in that topic as well, and at this point your brain is almost hurting with all this new information.

...Eh, it is somewhat clearer to you now. That’s... Something.

But you still need to make something clear yourself.

“Can I ask you one last thing?” you say, after what seems like a lifetime of silence between the two of you. “I... If I were to let them stay, for good, and live in Ebott, do you think that would fix everything? As in... They’d be perfectly fine living in peace with us? No more fighting or anything?”

You hope your question makes sense. Thankfully, they don’t seem too confused by your words this time around, and respond softly, “Well, that depends on what your own people do.”

You straighten up, as though it’s an accusation. “I’m sorry, but—”

They hold up a hand, waiting patiently for you to back down. You do, reluctantly, and with a rather immature huff.

“I don’t blame you for anything, Miss Lara,” they say. “None of us do. You have every right to turn us way; shun us, even. I’m not advocating that you forgive anybody just yet. But,” they go on, seeming sad, and pleading, “I do want you to give them a chance. Nothing more than that.”

“But Frisk, don’t you understand what they’ve done?”

“Yes, and humans aren’t any different.”

At that, you pause. You try opening your mouth in some attempt at an argument, but they hold up their hand again, in more of a warning this time.

“Humans aren’t any different,” they repeat, gently but firmly. “We aren’t. We’re the ones that put them down there, and forced them to do that. We created the barrier, remember?”

Well, yes, but... “But that wasn’t us in particular,” you protest. “I... Never even knew they were there, and if I had known them back then, I’d...”

“You didn’t know them, though.” They look up at you with an almost pitiful gaze. “Nothing can be changed now,” they remind you. “That was just how it happened. But everything from now can be changed.”

Your own expression softens, eyebrows furrowing. You’d be lying if you said they don’t have a point.

Still...

“I need to protect Ebott City,” you state bluntly. “If... If something goes wrong, I...” I will never forgive myself.

To your surprise, they nod in understanding. “I know. ...And if I suspected anything like that of them,” they add softly, “I wouldn’t support them like I do.”

Ugh. This kid is too persuasive for their own good.

You let out a deep sigh, releasing only a fraction of the sudden weight that wore heavy on your heart. “That’s it, then?” you ask.

“...Hmm?”

Their eyes meet yours questioningly, trying to figure you out. So you clarify, “It’s up to me now.” And suddenly, with that phrase, you realize what you say next could make or break everything they’ve worked so hard for.

Everything you’ve worked so hard for.

Stars, if you had known you’d be faced with a decision like this in your future... No, you think, shoving that thought away. It’s okay. I can do this.

You can do this.

“King Asgore will stay in custody,” is all you say as you get to your feet. Frisk stares up at you, curious and more than a little confused. Instead of explaining directly, you add: “I’ll ask him what he advises for everyone else.”

Slowly, as they process what you said, their expression morphs from puzzlement to understanding, then quickly to delight.

And they all but squeal.

“Oh, thank you, Miss Lara!” Before you can react, they assault your torso with a grateful hug, squeezing you as though their little life depended on it. It’s not as breathtaking as you would imagine, and you hug them back easily, unable to keep a smile from escaping your own lips.

“You’re welcome,” you say. “But you do have to make a promise to me.”

They pull away while nodding again, though with more vigor.

“What you can do isn’t, uh... How to put it? Y’know, normal.” Upon hearing this, their grin disappears, but you make yourself continue. “So if you haven’t already,” you put your hands on their shoulders gently, “I want you tell everyone about what your determination allows you do to.”

Their face pales at your words, way more than you thought possible. They blurt, “Well, Sans knows!”

Uh... Okay? “I don’t care what he knows,” you respond, voice pretty much a retort. “That’s just one person. If you really care about these guys, you shouldn’t keep anything from them, right?”

And, bizarre as it is, what’s so bad about being able to cheat death? Honestly, you think that’d be a pretty useful power to have.

Why does Frisk look so... Haunted?

As though they haven’t noticed their own odd demeanor, they give you a small, watery smile. “I’ll, u-um... I’ll think about it.” It falters, just a bit. “...Promise.”

You don’t understand where this sudden apprehensiveness from them is coming from, but you don’t let it worry you too much. It probably is just because they’re scared to talk about something like that; you don’t blame them, but you also know it could be pretty traumatic for a child to go through. Surely, it’s got to be awful keeping all that in?

Still, you don’t press it as you watch them leave the tent (likely to tell Toriel about the news), wondering or not they’re really going to listen to your wishes. And, feeling just a bit fulfilled after your conversation—even if there’s a completely different and new imaginary burden on your shoulders—you take the time to look over their tent outside once more.

Indeed, half of the stuff cluttered around it are random objects of various kinds, including a couple you hadn’t noticed before on a small tray: a heart-shaped locket, a rather large book (that has a snail on the cover, seemingly), and a... DVD? With sparkly-eyed cartoonish women on the front? Wearing cat ears?

...Okay. Not your place to judge, you suppose.

But then, you notice the pair of bones from earlier, the one with the ribbon and the one with just the note taped on. They are on a tray of their own, as Frisk had apparently run out of room for their stuff.

You step towards them, fully intent on finally reading what on earth could be on that note, and...

It’s a pun.

It says “you’re a boneafide friend.

And, for some inexplicable reason, despite your better judgement, you snort. It’s terrible, and you’re not sure why, but it just catches you so off guard that it’s almost funny.

Geez, Lara, what did you get yourself into?

Ah, oh well. All of this is for another time.

Right now, you have to return to the city; you have an announcement to make.

Chapter Text

It turns out, monsters are pretty welcome to the idea of living with humans now; your citizens less so, but open-minded all the same, volunteers and policemen alike. It’s... Slow progress, but it’s progress.

As you had promised Frisk, you did talk to King Asgore later that afternoon. And when his ultimate request was to not have you punish anybody else, you were both flabbergasted at the same time as you were understanding. It makes sense with his seemingly kind nature for him to wish this, but it’s also quite unfair, you think. He shouldn’t have to take all the blame for everything that had happened, but it’s clear to you you won’t be able to change his mind anytime soon.

In a way, it makes you sad that he himself chooses to live in captivity, while his loyal subjects are able to live in happiness and freedom now. But you know that’s just how it has to be. Maybe some day, he might join them.

Until then, you took to visiting him every once in a while, just to tell him what’s new. He seems appreciative of your company, at least. He’s so kind and gentle that, for a moment, you wonder why you were keeping him locked up in the first place. But, what he’s done just isn’t something you can ignore, even if it pains you to see him behind bars.

It’s ridiculous, being this hung up over imprisoning a stranger you hardly know. But, silly as it is, you suppose you’re just too nice for anything other than this. Especially considering Frisk is right about them.

Recently, you find yourself trying to imagine what it would be like to be solely made up of compassion; to have others ridicule you—harm you, even—but still forgive them all the same, despite that. It’s clear he’s forgiven you, for something you had nothing to do with but still feel responsible for, in some way. Part of you thinks you don’t deserve that; that any of your kind deserves it, after you’ve entrapped them for so long.

...Gods. What could that have been like? Living in a cavern for most of your life, only surpassing as a fraction of the real world you wanted to see. No guarantee of survival. No guarantee of being set free. No...

How did they do it, all those years? How did they hold onto their hope, fragile as it was? Who could stand that?

Who could live with that?

Finally, a few weeks since monsters have come into the city and a few days since you’ve last seen King Asgore, you decide to ask him what it was like. It’ll be hard for him to talk about, there’s no arguing there, but you just have to know. It’s killing you, not understanding anything. (Besides, it’s not just for you. You owe something to your people here.)

You don’t want to seem like a jerk, but you probably will anyway.

Hopefully, he’ll forgive you for this too.

---

You ignore the odd (and now routinely) looks the guards give you as you pour the tea into two separate coffee mugs, and reassure them for what seems like the hundredth time that you’ll be able to handle yourself. Then, clutching both mugs in hand after you’re done, you give them one of your cheery early-morning-riser smiles in return and push backwards into the opposite door of the entrance to the police office, all the while knowing you probably look like nothing more than an insane woman willingly about to risk her life for an idle chat.

...Well, neither of those things are entirely true; it’s definitely not going to be an idle chat, most likely. And, while this is a prison, you doubt you’ll be in any mortal danger here. You learned a while ago that most of the thugs you happen to lock up are usually all bark and no bite, so you’re probably good.

Honestly, your men are probably more worried about who it is you’re actually seeing. You feel some ounce of gratitude, as they’re simply just trying to look out for their leader above all else, but it’s also really suffocating for them to be trying to keep you from what you need to do as the Leader of Ebott. It’s simply your duty to them.

And if that means talking to a weird kingly goat monster in order to do that duty, then so be it.

You arrive at the cell before the mugs of tea have much of a chance to cool off, setting them on a chair you’d long since removed from the actual office. It was a last-minute decision at the time, as during these conversations with the king, you preferred to be sitting on something other than the cold metal floor of the prison; and, as much as you didn’t think he’d hurt you, you refused to sit on King Asgore’s cot. That’d be multiple levels of weird, even if he did offer to let you have it as he sat on the floor himself.

Upon hearing your footsteps, the former king of monsterkind glances up, his surprised frown morphing into a smile almost automatically. “Hello, Miss Lara,” he greets you politely.

“Hey,” you respond back. Before you can ponder if it’s too casual or not, you pick up one of the mugs and carefully maneuver it through the bars of his cell. He takes it from you with a murmur of thanks, his warm gaze somehow softening further, which you didn’t think possible.

You pick up your own mug from the chair and sit down on its flat surface, taking a small sip of tea then recoiling as it burns your tongue. You scowl slightly, but it quickly disperses as you watch the massive goat monster already drinking from his own beverage calmly, seemingly unaffected by its scathing temperature. You merely give a small shake of your head.

“So,” you begin, cautiously setting the tea in question on the floor beside you. “I... Wanted to ask you a few questions, if it’s alright with you.”

“Of course.” He’s familiar with this routine of yours. He knows what you want from him. It almost makes you feel guilty, given the topic you want to discuss with him.

You breath out through your nose, contemplating. “I’ve only asked you about the barrier thus far,” you go on slowly, “and about the War. But I want to clarify something else today.” Geez, how cryptic can you get?

The king just nods in acknowledgement, awaiting your next words.

“What was it like?” Great, now you are not being subtle enough. You nearly roll your eyes at yourself and your inability to keep up a stable conversation. “Underground, I mean. You wanted to the break the barrier so you didn’t have to live down there, right?” You cross your legs absentmindedly. “Did you... Hate it?”

Asgore’s grip on his mug tightens ever so slightly, and he looks somewhat uncertain, but his stance is still rather collected. After a moment, a half-hearted smile spreads across his bearded muzzle, looking at you with something you can’t quite describe. “That is an interesting question to ask,” he says quietly. “If I may, what brings you to consider it?”

Apparently, you haven’t really thought this through all that much, as you merely stare back at him blankly, trying to gather some form of reply on your tongue. “I’m really just wondering, I suppose,” you finally manage, albeit awkwardly. “Your... Everyone always acts so happy to be here now.” You leave out the part about them thanking you every chance they get. It’s... Embarrassing, honestly.

“I see.” He studies you a moment more, then pauses to take another sip of tea. You wait patiently. “In any case,” he finally utters, “being underground was claustrophobic, at times.”

“Oh.” Is that all...?

“Most, however, hated being down there because of the betrayal.” Ah. “We learned to live with it, of course,” he adds, his tone taking on a softer edge, his eyes glossing over somewhat as he appeared to recall the memories. “It was... Difficult. But we managed.”

He glances down at his mug again, as though processing whether he should take another gulp of it or not; instead, to your faint surprise, he sets it on the floor, mirroring yours.

“Many of my subjects lost hope after a while.” The sadness returns to his eyes, stronger than previously, and he folds his hands tensely. “Many believed they would never see the surface again. For some time, I agreed. If you ask me,” he adds, smiling ruefully, “I think the majority of us just missed humans in general. But you would never hear anyone admit that.”

You watch silently as he settles himself on his makeshift bed, hands moving to rest in his lap. Suddenly, his regal demeanor seems to vanish entirely as his tall, large form hunches in on itself. To you, he looks more like an exhausted, broken-down old man than a former king. It only makes you sympathize with him even more, regardless of your previous judgement.

“That is why all of this happened,” Asgore continues, voice barely above a whisper. “I declared war on the humans once more, to... Prove a point, of sorts. My kingdom was pleased with the decision, and their hopes returned. I did not stop it. I wanted to preserve their hopes. ...And, in return, I lost everything. A punishment fit for someone like me.”

Suddenly, his gaze is on you again. In barely disguised alarm, you notice there are tears glistening in his eyes, a bright, odd shade of yellow. Maybe the first time since you arrested him, you see his furry paws are shaking, as is the rest of him.

Even still, he’s smiling: at you, of all people. The one who locked him up here, the one who prevented him from seeing his subjects and prevented him from living in peace with them. The one who brought this conversation up, and forced him to talk about something that still pains him, even now.

You, part of a species that had hurt them so many times before, and have yet to make up for it.

How can you possibly respond to this?

“I’m sorry.”

His smile falters, likely because you sound upset. “For what?” he inquired, a touch of concern etched in his features and voice.

“I’m sorry that happened to you. None of you deserved that.” Gods, you wish you could say more than that, but you really can’t. It’s not enough, but it’s all you can think of uttering.

“There is nothing to be sorry for,” is, obviously, what comes out of the former king’s mouth. It only makes you feel more guilty, and doesn’t soothe you. “Have you not been kind to us?”

You want to say no, simply because you feel so terrible for letting this happen. But you know you’re being ridiculous, so instead you say, “I guess, but I’m... Not really doing anything. For you, I mean.”

He gives you an almost incredulous look. “But you are,” he states, as though it’s clear as day. “You are giving me a chance to explain myself; not many would do that. Even I do not completely believe I deserve it.”

“But—”

“And you are helping my people. I cannot ask for more than that.”

You clutch your mug from off the floor, knowing it’s long-since cooled but simply needing something to hold on to. “But it’s a slow process,” you argue, disregarding your previous positive thoughts. “I’m—I don’t know if it’s enough, and...”

You trail off, then let out a sigh, trying to get your act together for once. Never mind that. There’s no time to feel guilty right now, you decide. “No,” you say, after hesitating. “You’re right.”

You rise to your feet quite abruptly, chilled tea still in hand. “Thank you for answering my questions. I know humans can be... Demanding.”

He dismisses it with a small shake of his large head. “Not at all. I am glad to have seen you again.”

You return his smile, though it’s just a little forced.

Afterwards, there isn’t much else to talk about (other than giving him updates, of course), so you say your goodbye, then promptly head out of the jailhouse while giving your guards scattered nods of farewell. You wonder briefly if they can tell your mood is a bit less cheery than before; if so, they make no comment about it, to your relief. You kind of wish you could thank them for it later, but, obviously, that’d be a little stupid.

Instead, you keep walking.

 

As you head down the sidewalk to your neighborhood, you find that, after the first conversation you’d had with him a few weeks ago, your opinion of the former king hasn’t changed much. You aren’t quite sure why you might’ve been expecting it to change, but it somewhat surprises you anyway. It’s weird to think you’re getting used to this; not exactly unpleasant, just... Weird. In fact, it almost seems as things are starting to go back to normal, if slightly different in nature this time.

It’s... It’s nice.

Maybe somewhere down the line, you can even take another break, and—

In the middle of that thought, you make a last-second swerve around some kid walking along the sidewalk near you, stumbling to a halt just in front of them as they stare at you with wide eyes. You stammer out an apology before recognizing them, your expression sheepish.

“Oh. Hi, Frisk. Sorry I...” What? Almost ran into them? Looked like an idiot?

After a few seconds, they just grin broadly at you, as though you’re one of their friends or something. “It’s okay, Miss Lara! We’re not really in a hurry anyway.”

We...?

You practically leap backwards as someone appears out of thin air beside the child, hand lifted casually in some form of a greeting. “hey.”

Uh...

“name’s sans. you’re the human everyone’s talkin’ about, right?”

Uhhh...

His pupils—lights? Eye-lights?—look over you curiously, as though contemplating whether you had noticed him or not. He decides you must have as he continues, “anyhow, sorry if i scared ya. have you never seen a skeleton monster, or...?”

Well, you had. But that day had been a blur; you might’ve recalled seeing a skeleton in a blue hoodie, but it’s not like you’d know that, right? Even if he had been there, you still hadn’t been meeting him face to face, like you are now.

Oh. And there’s the fact that he showed up out of literally nothing.

Why wouldn’t you be a little scared?

“I have,” you finally say, mildly annoyed. “Just not up close.”

Sans, so he calls himself, meets your exasperated gaze with something like amusement. Then, abruptly, he turns on his heel and half-heartedly waves Frisk over. They shoot him a glare, chastising him for being so rude, but take his hand begrudgingly in theirs.

“Wait ‘til Mom hears how you treated the Leader of Ebott,” they taunt. You hear Sans chuckle before he suddenly sends a glance back your way, taking you off guard.

“see ya ‘round, buddy,” he tells you in an oddly friendly fashion, before turning back to Frisk.

You simply stare after the duo in silence, trying to process what just happened; ultimately, you give up trying to understand and resort to shaking your head.

Truly, what a weird bunch these guys are.

Chapter Text

Your day had started off pretty calmly in the beginning; you took your shower, got dressed, ate some toast, and started up some coffee (your new addiction, apparently). It was a rare, cloud-free autumn day, and you decided to spend your time on the porch outside while you sit and drink aforementioned coffee.

Upon opening the door, however, you notice something peculiar.

A couple houses down, a U-HAUL truck is parked in a rather small driveway, the home it belongs to almost just as tiny. At first, there’s no sign of anybody until the door of the vehicle is pushed open, and at the same time, another vehicle pulls into the driveway: a van kind of like yours.

Almost immediately after arriving, someone, a monster, launches themselves out of the front-passenger's side of the van, planting their blue hands on their hips and shouting something you can’t quite pick up at the man who had been driving the U-HAUL. It only seems to annoy him as he heads around the back of his truck and shoves open the door, giving the other person a look that could have only been a glare.

As this is happening, a few other individuals hop out of the van, and to your surprise, you see that one of them is the Ambassador of Monsters themselves, clutching a box that is almost two-thirds their size. Weirdly enough, Toriel isn’t with them; instead, in her place is someone you know less, but recognize anyway. Seeming to chide them, he takes the box in his own hands, and in response, the child folds their arms crossly. He merely shrugs and starts walking away, leaving them to follow reluctantly, only to come to yet another stop as a fifth person marches up to them and shouts something in a volume similar to that of the blue-skinned monster.

He’s carrying what looks to be something akin to a small television (with no difficulty whatsoever, you notice), then suddenly glances in your direction, and you quickly avert your gaze elsewhere so as not to appear a creep. When you look back at the figures in the driveway, the guy carrying the T.V. is saying something to the pair in front of him, in an almost secretive way. He points in your direction, and they follow his gaze.

Before you can duck away out of sight—which you really, really want to now—they see you almost instantly. Frisk gives a small little wave, grinning brightly, so you tentatively wave back, and pretend you don’t notice the short skeleton at their side, staring at you like you’ve grown a second head. After a pause his lax expression returns, but it does little to help your situation, and you try to advert your gaze entirely to your coffee now. For a moment, nothing happens. Then...

“MISS HUMAN LARA!” someone literally shrieks, forcing you to redirect your attention yet again. Then you scramble backwards as your eyes meet somebody else’s, nearly spilling your coffee all over yourself.

In front of you is a very tall, very lanky skeleton monster, wearing what appears to be fake armor and a bright red-orange scarf. (Or is it a cape? You honestly don’t know.) You realize he was the one holding the T.V. just a moment ago, but now it’s vanished from his grasp.

Wait, wasn’t this guy all the way over there a few seconds ago? How’d he get here so fast?!

“Who are you people?!” you blurt out before you can stop yourself, much to your chagrin a mere millisecond later. The skeleton’s eyes widen as he lets out a gasp.

“YOU DON’T KNOW WHO I AM??! OH MY GODS, SANS, DID YOU HEAR THAT?!!”

“sure did, bro.”

You jump again at the sudden appearance of Sans beside the other, then immediately fix him with a glare. “Quit doing that!” you demand, only making him chuckle.

You bite back a groan, and reluctantly meet the gaze of the tall skeleton in question, still looking quite offended (and even hurt?) at the implication that you have no idea who he is. “I’M ONLY THE GREATEST AND MOST PRESTIGIOUS MONSTER TO EVER LIVE!” He puts a gloved hand over his chest and poses dramatically, reminding you of something like a superhero in the nature of his stance. He turns back to you, frowning. “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DON’T EVEN RECOGNIZE ME! I THOUGHT FOR SURE I MADE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION...”

He mumbles something about this being the worst day of his life, and Sans shoots you a very specific look; not threatening, exactly, but... Intense. So you cautiously say, “Were you by chance with King Asgore and Miss Toriel when they first came here?”

He quickly brightens up at that, shoulders no longer slouching. “YES!! OOH, I KNEW YOU MUST HAVE REMEMBERED ME! NEVER MIND, THIS IS THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!”

Without warning he picks you up by your arms and swings you around, knocking the breath out of you. It is then that you drop your mug of coffee, barely having time to worry about it spilling and/or potentially shattering on the wood below.

“Papyrus, please put Miss Lara down!”

His gaze snaps to behind him, and you both meet the stern face of Frisk standing beside the blue monster on the steps of your porch. “OH. OF COURSE.” He sets you back on the ground—surprisingly gently—and you dust yourself off, trying to ignore the slight trembling of your legs. “I APOLOGIZE, MISS HUMAN LARA.”

“It’s alright,” you manage, once you can speak again. “No harm d—”

You’re pulled into the air again before you can finish your sentence, this time by a stronger, rougher set of arms. Whomever they belong to proceeds to noogie you, hard. 

“Nice to see you again, punk!! It’s been a while!” You struggle to lift your head and glance up into a glowing yellow eye filled with a ferocious fondness of some kind, and a wide, yellow toothy grin to match. Your heart jumps to your throat and, once more, you can barely breathe; this time out of being crushed than anything else.

“Undyne, what did I just say?” The human child’s voice rings through the air again, nearly sounding angry now. A similar scene happens where the monster meets her friend’s gaze and begrudgingly lets you down, looking sheepish and annoyed at the same time.

Now, it’s harder to recover from the friendly assault, and you almost have to support your weight on the wall of your house, gulping air in and out in shock. A hand tugs at your shirt a moment later, getting your attention.

“I’m really sorry, Miss Lara,” says Frisk, looking up at you with apologetic eyes. “My friends are... Excitable.” As though to further their point, they give the three monsters a hardened stare before returning to you.

You shake your head wordlessly, swallow, and try to talk again (while vaguely fearing another attack might come before you can). “No, it’s... It’s fine. Just not... Used to the attention.” Well, part of that is true, at least.

“hey, think ya dropped something.”

You look up in surprise to see the shorter skeleton holding out a mug to you: your mug, the one you’d let go of, and thought for certain you’d lost. It was still relatively full with coffee, and seemed unharmed. (How had he...?)

Slightly stunned, you take it from him. “Um, thank you.” Sighing, you stand up straighter, giving everyone a once over and quirking an eyebrow. “Might I ask what everyone is doing here?”

Frisk smiles, happy to change the subject. “Oh, I was just helping Papyrus and Sans move! Undyne too, but she’s in the next street over.” They point to the distance past the house they and their monster friends were just at.

“And where’s Toriel? Shouldn’t she be watching you?”

They fiddle with their hands absentmindedly. “She couldn’t come. She had to go to some meetings for her teacher job.”

...Huh. Didn’t know she wanted to be a teacher. You nod in acknowledgement, taking a small, thoughtful sip of your coffee. It’s colder than you would have liked, but what can you do? “Oh. Well,” you continue, “I would invite you all inside, but I have to leave for work soon, sorry.”

Everyone looks collectively disappointed by this (sans Sans), but Frisk nods in understanding, smiling. “Oh, it’s fine. It was nice to see you again anyway, Miss Lara! Bye!”

With that they hop down the porch steps, beckoning their friends to join them. Undyne flashes you one last grin, shouting a gruff “See ya, punk!” in your direction before launching herself off the porch. Papyrus looks more reluctant to go, fixing you with an almost sad gaze.

“BUT WE HAVEN’T EXCHANGED PHONE NUMBERS YET!”

What?

Before you can protest he fetches a piece of paper from behind him (what the heck?) and writes something on it hastily before shoving it towards you, urging you to grab it. You oblige and stare at it inquisitively, reading the scribbled text. It’s a phone number, but all the numbers are the same size, shape and style, like he’d written it in some sort of a font. Weird.

“NOW YOU CAN CALL ME ANY TIME YOU WANT!” He beams at you, then turns on his heels. “FAREWELL, MISS HUMAN LARA!”

“W-wait, I don’t—”

Aaand he’s gone.

You let out a small huff, turning back and almost jumping a third time upon realizing Sans is still standing there in front of you, his grin thoughtful and somewhat probing.

“SANS, DON’T JUST STAND THERE ALL DAY! GET OVER HERE!!”

The sound of Papyrus’s irritated voice seems to get his attention, as he turns and calls to him with a simple, “sure thing, pap.” His grin goes back to normal as he gives you a small wave and starts to trail slowly after the other skeleton, who had stopped mid-step to glare at him.

As Papyrus starts moving again, you watch the group approach the van and U-HAUL truck once more, the driver of said truck looking quite peeved at their sudden disappearance. Undyne claps him on the back, letting out a good-natured laugh as he pulls himself away quickly, scowling.

You shake your head and head back inside, only to pause in the doorway as you realize you hadn't given Papyrus your own phone number.

---

Later that afternoon, sitting in your office, you nearly fall out of your chair as you receive a new text message.

Unknown: HELLO MISS HUMAN LARA! IT IS I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS!!

What the heck?! How did he get your number?!

You: How did you get my number??

Unknown: IT WAS EASY!! I JUST DIALED EVERY NUMBER ON THIS STREET SEQUENTIALLY UNTIL I GOT YOURS!

...Of course.

Chapter Text

Your new neighbors are... Interesting people.

Ever since he’s gotten your number, Papyrus has been texting you on and off, and one day, shortly after he and his brother Sans moved onto your street, he shows up at your door with a cheery grin and a present for you. (It’s spaghetti.) He claims that Sans was supposed to come with him but had decided to, as he put it, “SIT AROUND AND BOONDOGGLE ALL DAY INSTEAD, THAT LAZYBONES!”

You’re beyond overwhelmed by Papyrus’s demeanor at this point that you’re never the one calling or contacting him; it’s always the other way around. And it’s usually when you are working—you don’t fault him for it, but even so...

Everything is moving so fast right now. You see your eccentric skeleton neighbor almost every day (since he’s literally in the house a few houses down from your own) and on top of that, he always seems to get visitors: Frisk, Undyne, some yellow monster you don’t know the name of, and even Toriel occasionally. They don’t really bother you personally, thankfully, but it is distracting. You’d never say that to their face, but it just is.

They’re... More draining than you would like to admit. You were always so used to Ebott being rather calm these days, despite it being a city. Back when your father was still in charge, he’d taken care of most things beforehand, leaving you with hardly anything to worry about. Nothing ever groundbreaking happened, and that’s how you liked it. You knew most of your citizens, and they knew you; it was almost like a small community, smaller than it had any right to be. In fact, to anyone outside of the city it was odd how little activity you’d get.

You suppose you should have seen something like this coming, but you didn’t, obviously. You talk to Asgore about it once then immediately apologize, feeling guilty for insulting his subjects in some way. He doesn’t take it to heart but you decide you won’t bring it up again, for fear of upsetting him and looking like you have no idea what you’re doing. (You really don’t, but that’s besides the point.) You have no right to complain, you think. Monsters have been nice to you the moment they arrived, you’re just apparently not as experienced as you thought.

Thus, when an all-too-familiar skeleton monster shows up again, this time while you’re at your office, it’s not a very welcoming surprise.

Upon first hearing the door open, you don’t think much of it; but when you look up, Papyrus is standing there, glancing around the room with bright eye-sockets.

“Uh...” you begin.

“WOWIE! IS THIS WHERE YOU WORK??”

You set your stacks of paper down on your desk, silently wondering who in the gods’ names let him up into your own personal office. “Yes,” you say patiently. “But I’m really busy right now, Papyrus. It would be best if you—”

“OOH, WHAT’S THIS?”

He lifts a vase off a table, holding some flowers someone—you have absolutely no idea who and when—gave you some time ago that have long since wilted. (You think they were orchids...? Once?)

You rub your temple slowly, trying not to sigh. “Papyrus, please put that down. It’s very fragile.”

He seems to note the exasperation in your tone and returns the vase to its former place. “THESE FLOWERS DON’T COMPLIMENT THIS ROOM AT ALL,” he states. “YOU SHOULD PROBABLY THROW THEM AWAY.”

“I know, and I will, but...”

“WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING THE LEADER OF EBOTT?”

Oh. Um. “It’s good, I guess?” you respond.

Despite the grin on his skull, his expression seems to read yours carefully, and you try not to be too uncomfortable when he inquires, “DO YOU LIKE IT HERE?”

Okay, now this is just weird. Where is this coming from? Why is he here in the first place? “Of course I do,” you tell him, now thoroughly confused. “Did I say I didn’t, or...?”

“OH, NO, NOT AT ALL MISS HUMAN LARA!!” Just like that, he seems to be smiling genuinely again, as if it never happened. “I WAS SIMPLY WONDERING!”

...Alright?

You can’t help the look of utter befuddlement in your expression as you stare back at him, blinking. “Do you need something, Papyrus?”

“HUH?” His eyes go back to you. “WHY WOULD I NEED A REASON TO VISIT MY FRIEND?”

“Because I’m in the middle of work, and...” Wait. “...Friend?”

“OF COURSE!” His smile wavers, just a bit, and a hint of doubt enters his gaze. “WE ARE FRIENDS NOW, AREN’T WE?”

You resist the urge to bury your face in the palms of your hands, feeling more than a little overwhelmed at this point. It isn’t that you don’t like the guy, or anything of that sort, really; this is all just... Very strange to you. Would you really consider someone like this your friend? Even if he is your neighbor now, you’ve only known him for what, a week? You barely know his brother, either!

But... Does it really matter? What exactly is your perception of a friend, anyway?

When you redirect your attention, he’s still looking at you, awaiting a response. You sigh, beginning to twirl your hair in your finger absentmindedly. “...Later,” you finally settle on, quietly. “We’ll talk about this later. Okay?”

His smile disappears, but he doesn’t look too upset, at least. “OKAY.” You think you can see hope in his eye-sockets for a moment, even, but it’s gone in the next instant, and he’s grinning at you again. “WELL, I SHALL SEE YOU LATER THEN!! HAVE A GOOD REST OF YOUR MORNING, MISS HUMAN LARA!”

You let out a breath of relief as he parades away, giving you a cheery, “GOODBYE!” before opening the door and vanishing behind it.

Shoulders slouching ever so slightly, you pick up your pen again and get back to work.

Chapter Text

You glance at the clock for what seems like the hundredth time this evening, counting down each second until it burns out your brain and you have to go back to doodling on some extra notebook paper. Why are you doing this? Well, some idiot (you) had made it technical that you weren’t allowed to leave your office until nine o’clock P.M., the standard time for when everybody else went home; that is, those who hadn’t already left for the day. And Heaven forbid you break your own rules by cheating and leaving early. It’s ridiculous, you know, but what if something changes during that time? What if, for some inexplicable reason, they need you here and you’re just chilling out at home watching a horror movie or something and eating popcorn? After all, the last time you’d done something similar led to one of the predicaments you currently are in.

...Not that it will happen again, really, but you can never be too sure. Therefore, you’re more strict with your own rules now, regardless of your feelings; and right now you’re feeling very, very tired.

Naturally, in this state of mind you pretty much forget everything that happened prior to this. And when your phone makes a resounding “ping!” through the deafening quiet, it takes you nearly a minute to get your act together and look at the message you’ve received.

Papyrus: HELLO? MISS HUMAN LARA ARE YOU THERE??

Papyrus: I DON’T MEAN TO BOTHER YOU BUT I WAS GOING TO PAY YOU A VISIT AT YOUR HOUSE BECAUSE YOU SAID YOU WOULD TALK TO ME LATER BUT YOU DON’T APPEAR TO BE HOME AT THE MOMENT!

You blink at the phone’s screen wearily, then slowly type out a response:

You: Sorry, I get off at nine. Forgot to tell you.

You: Is it alright if you come over early tomorrow instead?

He answers not even ten seconds later, somehow fogging up your brain even more.

Papyrus: WILL DO!

Exhaling softly, you put your phone in your bag and look at the clock again. It’s only eight-thirty. A half an hour left. What can you possibly do in that time? Your fingers are too cramped to continue doodling, and exhausted as you are, you refuse to fall asleep. What would be the use in that?

As sort of a last-minute decision, you take to watching the cars move outside your window instead, the city lights glaring below you like they belong to a world of their own. You let out a little hum, resting your head on your knuckle, then sit up when you suddenly spot someone walking down the sidewalk; someone familiar. What...?

What is Frisk doing out there in the dark by themselves?

Before you can do much more, a quiet knock raps against your door. You spin back around in your chair, assuming the visitor to be a co-worker of yours, or even William, and call, “Come in.”

There’s a pause. Then...

“uh... you’re supposed to say ‘who’s there.’”

...Huh? That’s not anyone close to who you normally see. What...?

Before you can question it further, the door opens, and in shuffles the short skeleton. His grin is oddly visible through the darkness as he looks a mixture of casual and sheepish, and he raises a hand in greeting, similar to when you first met him.

“hey,” is the first thing that comes out of his mouth. You merely stare back at him, unable to fully understand this situation.

“Can I help you?” is all you can think of saying.

His response, of all things, is to chuckle. “heh. you’re not very good at being professional, are you?”

Wonderful, it hasn’t even been a minute and this is guy is making you look like an idiot. 

“Maybe I would be if you didn’t catch me off guard all the time,” you retort, like the child you are. Of course, he laughs again.

“sorry bud. for what it’s worth, it wasn’t my intention. ...entirely,” he adds.

You sigh, trying really hard not to cover your face with your hands. “Please tell me there’s a good reason you came here,” you grumble, too late to collect your rudeness as he answers.

“yeah, guess you could say that. so, do you have a few?”

“...Sure. Go ahead.”

“cool.” Sans heads to the right and grabs a chair you’d forgotten you had, then places it in front of your desk before setting himself down. He sits a moment in silence, looking almost... Anxious. It’s as though he wants to say something, but can’t really figure out the way to do it.

“Err.” You decide to begin, because clearly he won’t. “So how’s Papyrus?” Ugh. You’re just great at conversations, aren’t you?

To your surprise, however, he seems perfectly fine with the question, his glowing eye-lights somehow growing ever so slightly. “he’s doin’ good,” he responds, then tilts his head slightly. “but didn’t you see him earlier yourself?”

“Uh... Yes.”

“...alright then.” His gaze is questioning when you don’t elaborate, but he seems to shrug it off in the next instant. “anyway, he told me you’d talk to him later.”

“I did,” you say slowly. He raises a brow at you, so you continue, “Don’t get me wrong, your brother’s really nice but he called me his friend, and I’m not really sure I want to be friends with someone like that so soon, you know?”

“ok.”

 You’re unable to stop yourself and you go on even more incoherently, “I-I mean, that isn’t to say I can never be friends with him but all of this will take a lot of getting used to, and I have so much on my plate already.”

“ok.”

“Really, I don’t—I don’t mean to offend anybody here,” you try to amend, thinking he’s going to yell at you or something.

“i know.”

Oh, now you’re in trouble. “I did tell him he could come over tomorrow, if he really wants to!”

“ok.”

You run your fingers through your hair in frustration. “Would you just say something else already?! I know you’re mad at me and all but—”

“woah, woah, hey! relax, bud, i’m not mad at you.”

At last you stop yourself, clenching your fists and resting them in your lap. “Y-you’re not?”

“you kiddin’?” Sans says, blinking (which shouldn’t have been possible but you’re beyond wondering about that). “i know what you’re saying, and i do know my bro can take some getting used to. i love him and all, but he comes on a little... strong. just ask any of the humans he’s met; heck, i bet some monsters could tell you the same thing.”

You fold your hands tightly. “It’s not just that, I...” I don’t know if I can handle any of this.

There’s a bit of a pause. Then, he declares, “you’re stressed.”

Your head shoots up. “How—”

“trust me, i’m more observant than i look.” He gives you a short wink before continuing. “seriously, though, don’t worry about it, alright? i know you don’t mean anything by it; pretty sure pap knows that too.”

Drawing in a breath, you let your shoulders relax. “Right. I... I’m sorry. I don’t know what I’m thinking.”

Sans shrugs. “can’t really blame you. you’ve gotten us this far.”

What’s that supposed to...?

“anyway,” he says, pushing himself to his feet, “i should be going. see ya.”

You watch as he puts the chair back where it was before heading towards the door, then hesitates with his hand on the knob. He turns to give you one last look.

“you should really get some more lights in here,” he tells you.

Then he steps out.

Chapter Text

You forget to set an alarm.

Well, the second time around, anyway. You had set one when you got home but your dumb and tired brain had thought it best to turn said alarm completely off when it woke you up the next morning, not even bothering to change it to “snooze.” Now it’s seven-thirty, a whole hour and a half since then and you’re barely functional enough to stand on your own two feet.

Tugging on a pair of bunny slippers, you absently grab a robe from your closet and drape it over yourself like a blanket before hobbling downstairs. Almost immediately you get the coffee pot going and flop down onto your living room couch, definitely not in the mood yet for any sort of conversing with others.

Turns out, you don’t have a say in it. Not a minute later your cellphone starts ringing from upstairs, and you let out a prolonged groan before heaving yourself upwards again, shuffling tiredly away to the staircase again.

Naturally, it’s a wrong number, from someone who doesn’t even say anything when you answer; you think maybe you hear someone mutter an apology, but it’s muffled so you don’t count on it. You shove your phone in your pocket and head downstairs once more, only for it start to ringing a second time on the way there. You almost ignore it but pull it out again anyway, quite literally about to tear your hair out of your scalp if it’s another freaking wrong number.

It’s not. It’s William. Sighing, you pick it up. “Hello?” you say into the receiver wearily.

“Hey, so I was—”

There’s a knock at your door. You don’t move.

“...You gonna get that?” How the heck does he know?

“I guess,” you grumble; if you weren’t on the verge of pulling out your hair already, you definitely are now. “Call you back later, yeah?”

“Eh, don’t worry about it.”

And... That’s it. He just hangs up, before you can even utter out a meager “bye.” Okay, what in the actual living—

There’s the knock again, a bit louder and more fervently this time. You decide Will can wait later and lumber over to your front door, trying to twist the knob only to realize your dumb mistake of doing so while having left it locked. You roll your eyes, flip the lock to the side, and pull the door open.

“Hello—” you begin, and any attempt at idle chat dies in your throat the moment you see who it is.

The skeleton in front of you doesn’t seem to notice the shift in your attitude, already holding out a gloved palm to you. “HELLO MISS HUMAN LARA! I AM HERE FOR OUR SCHEDULED CONVERSATION!”

Oh. Um. “Right,” you say, pausing to shake his hand. Pulling back almost awkwardly, you add, “Come in, then.”

You more or less lead him inside yourself, only to realize with a jolt you’re still in your PJs, causing him to almost bump into you as you skid to a halt in your living room. You bark out a quick, “Be right back!” and dart up the stairs, faintly hearing him call after you in confused concern.

Once in your room you discard your robe and tug on what you need before slipping into a new shirt and some jeans, then storm downstairs again quickly, finally pausing in front of the couch as you take in a breath.

“Sorry,” you say, once you’re ready to speak again. “I... Wasn’t really expecting you.” Stars, you probably look like a mess right now. So much for ever being friends with this monster. 

To your surprise, however, after giving you a once-over—seemingly trying to decide whether or not something was actually wrong with you—he grins broadly. “NOT TO WORRY, MISS HUMAN LARA! I TEND TO HAVE THAT EFFECT ON OTHERS!”

“Because you show up without warning?” you ask, just a smidge of sarcasm in your tone.

“CORRECT! NYEH HEH HEH!!”

Sighing, you run a hand through your messy hair (which you also realize you haven’t brushed yet either, crap). “Well, uh... I’m making coffee. You want some?”

He shakes his head. “I APPRECIATE YOUR HOSPITALITY BUT NO THANK YOU! I WILL REFRAIN FROM DISRUPTING YOUR ABODE AND TAKING YOUR STUFF AS MY OWN!”

“Oh, you’re not taking anything from me. It’s really no big deal.”

“STILL! I AM HERE FOR IMPORTANT PURPOSES ONLY! BESIDES,” he adds brightly, “UNDYNE INTRODUCED IT TO ME THE OTHER DAY AND I DO NOT THINK I WILL LIKE IT EVEN IF IT’S NOT SPLASHED IN MY FACE THIS TIME.”

...Well. Okay, then. You walk towards the kitchen, pretending you didn’t just hear that, and pull down a mug from one the cupboards. “I’ll just be a second,” you call.

“ALRIGHT!”

You glance back to find him still standing the middle of the room, not moving an inch. You blink. “You know you can sit down if you want, right?” you tell him.

“OH, OKAY!” He sits down on your couch, folding his hands in his lap as though awaiting more instructions of some sort from you. Quirking an eyebrow slightly, you return to pouring the black liquid from the pot into the mug, like all of this is entirely normal.

After you’ve made your coffee the way you want it, you walk back into the living room to see Papyrus still sitting there, seeming to not have moved a muscle. (Figuratively, of course; unless he did have muscles? Somehow??) Slowly—probably a little too slowly—you settle yourself in the rocking chair across from him, a weird feeling of déjà vu sweeping over you as you sit your cooling mug on the table next to you.

“Um,” you begin, like the expert you are. “I’m sorry about... Yesterday.”

He meets your gaze without problem, looking curious. “FOR WHAT?”

“Y’know, being kind of... Rude.”

“WHAT? YOU WEREN’T RUDE TO ME AT ALL!” A confused frown spreads across his skull, but it quickly changes to a look of realization. “OH! IS THIS ABOUT ME SHOWING UP AT YOUR OFFICE?”

“Uh, ye—”

“WELL, I DO APOLOGIZE FOR THAT, MISS HUMAN LARA! I DIDN’T MEAN TO DISTRESS YOU IN ANY WAY.” He pauses, then goes on, “I PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE TOLD YOU EARLIER I WAS COMING, IN HINDSIGHT. PERHAPS THAT’S WHY WE’RE NOT FRIENDS.”

You almost choke, even having not taken a sip of your coffee yet. “I... I-I mean, I didn’t mean we weren’t friends exactly, I...”

“NO, I GET IT! YOU MUST ASK TO BE MY FRIEND FIRST, RIGHT?” He stands up.

Now hold on! “Papyrus—” you attempt, jumping to your feet.

“NOW THAT THIS IS CLEARED UP I WILL LEAVE AND LET YOU DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT.”

“Papyrus!”

You surprise yourself with the firmness of your voice, but manage to not shrink away when he looks back at you questioningly.

“I was just going to tell you to tone it down a little,” you say slowly. “You can’t be showing up at my office like you did.”

He blinks at you, so you continue.

“I will admit I was... Unsure about this, at first. But I’m not unopposed to anything, I just needed some time to think over it, so... So if you really want to—”

“OH, REALLY?!?” Before you can react he lifts you in the air and squeezes you affectionately against him like he’s known you his whole life. Just a bit breathless, you loop an arm around him briefly before reminding him to let you go. As soon as you touch the floor again he bolts to the front door.

“I CAN’T WAIT TO TELL SANS!! HE’LL BE SO HAPPY!!!”

Huh?

“THANK YOU SO MUCH, MISS HUMAN LARA!!”

You can’t help but smile at him. “Please, just Lara is fine.”

“SURE THING! SEE YOU LATER!!” Eye-sockets quite literally sparkling, and beaming for all he’s worth, he gives you a giddy wave before “NYEH HEH HEH”ing out the door. Shaking your head in amusement, you chuckle a bit to yourself before picking up your mug of coffee and finally taking a swig, content to find that it’s still warm.

Chapter Text

You’re, quite honestly, peeved right now. (Maybe another p word if you weren’t such a goody-two-shoes with a mouth as clean as soap.) And of course, the reason for it is none other than William himself.

Well, technically not all of it is his fault, but the fact that he failed to bring this up until now gives you a good reason to be mad.

“Just so you know,” he’d told you when he first showed up at your office, a few hours after you started work, “some guy came to me a while back and said he wanted to speak with you.”

“When?” you had asked, already a little bothered.

“A week ago. About the... Thing.”

Ah yes, “the thing.” Would it have hurt him to just say The announcement and official signing-of-documents that declared monsters official citizens of Ebott? “Let me guess,” you said. “This guy isn’t happy with how I’m running things.”

“Uh, something of that sort.” Great. Some jerk dislikes the fact you’d let monsters into the city; who knows how many people think similarly?

And this has been a thing for a whole week? And Will is only now telling you this?

Yep. You’re most definitely peeved.

You glare up at him for a moment before turning back to the untouched paperwork in front of you. Dragging a hand across your face, you let out a sigh. “Stars, I can’t wait for this day to be over.”

Will shrugs, his dirty blonde hair looking just a bit messier than usual. “Well, saying that isn’t going to make it go any faster, y’know.”

“Shut up.”

The two of you sit in silence for a minute or two, trying to plan out what to do next. Eventually, he speaks up again, sounding a bit tired himself.

“Tell you what,” he says. “Why don’t you just go home early?”

Oh, as if that will solve anything! You open your mouth, ready to retort, but he fixes you with a hardened gaze.

“Seriously, Lar, I can tell you’re exhausted. Just take a break for once, okay?”

“But I can’t just...” You gesture forward helplessly with your hands, almost at a loss for words. “This is my city, my job! I can’t—”

“Don’t give me that crap,” he snorts. “Remember last month, Miss ‘I Can’t Take A Break’?”

“But that’s my point! If I take a day off now, something could go wrong!”

He folds his arms, eyes piercing into yours. “I’m more competent than I seem,” says William flatly. “And if anything does go wrong, I happen to know how to contact you. Not to mention,” he adds, “you’re the one who said you were sure nothing of that sort could happen again anyway.”

You deflate. You had said that, hadn’t you?

“The way I see it,” Will continues, “is that either way, you’re going to burn yourself out eventually. So might as well prevent a portion of it now.”

“And the way I see it is that there’s no point if I’m just going to burn myself out later down the line,” you argue. He scowls at you.

“Come on, the least you can do is humor me.” Suddenly, his face lights up. “If you don’t go home right now, I’ll make you.”

...Wow. “Is that seriously all you’ve got?”

“Lara, I mean it.”

Oh stars, this man is serious. You laugh. “What, you’re resorting to children’s taunts now?!”

“Don’t tempt me,” he warns, leaning forward and swiping your phone from the desk in one swift movement. “Watch.”

“Wh-what are you—”

He scrolls through your contacts, stopping at one in particular, sending a snide smirk your way. Before you can react, he hits dial.

“Will!” you hiss. You spring up from your chair, your fingers grabbing at the air when he merely sidesteps to dodge your attack. “I am going to kill—”

“HELLO?? MISS LARA, IS THAT YOU?”

Crap. Finally, he lets you tug the phone back and you put it to your ear. “U-um, hey, Papyrus. Sorry, I wasn’t meaning to c—”

William shoves you hard enough that you lose your balance and almost fall backwards into your swivel chair, and you let out a yelp. You already hear the monster’s panicky voice through the phone before you steady yourself on your desk. “OH MY GODS, WHAT HAPPENED?! ARE YOU ALRIGHT?!!”

You glare at your “friend” fiercely. “I’m fine. I just—someone—”

There’s a gasp. “DID SOMEONE PUSH YOU?!? DON’T WORRY, I SHALL MAKE SURE THEY WON’T DO IT AGAIN!! JUST TELL ME WHERE THEY ARE AND I WILL FIGHT THEM FOR YOU!!”

Woah, woah. That’s a little extreme. “No, no,” you say quickly, “he’s a friend.”

GASP!!!”  He says the word “gasp” out loud. “OH NO, THAT’S EVEN WORSE!! HOW COULD YOUR OWN FRIEND BETRAY YOU IN SUCH A WAY?!”

William starts snickering in front of you, and you shoot him another glare. “He didn’t, it’s fine. He was just... Messing around.”

“BY PUSHING YOU?”

“Yeah.”

There’s a break in the conversation. Then, Papyrus states, “SO HE IS PUSHING YOU FOR THE FUN OF IT? BECAUSE HE IS YOUR FRIEND?”

“Uh, sure?”

Pause. “...DOES THAT MEAN I SHOULD START PUSHING YOU, THEN?”

Oh my stars.

Will, who has been trying to keep his laughter to a minimum this entire time, finally explodes, his bouts of giggling borderline hysterical. On the verge of growling yourself, you take a deep breath. “Never mind that. I...”

“OH, RIGHT!! YOU WANT TO TALK TO ME ABOUT SOMETHING, PRESUMABLY BECAUSE I AM YOUR FRIEND! THAT IS INDEED WHY YOU CALLED ME, YES?”

“Err...”

“NO NEED TO CONFIRM IT! I AM THE GREATEST OF FRIENDS, AFTER 

ALL! OF COURSE YOU WOULD WILLINGLY CALL ME! ON YOUR OWN!!”

“Um—”

“YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?! THIS MEANS YOU SHOULD COME OVER!”

You sputter out, “W-what?”

“OBVIOUSLY IF YOU CALLED ME, THAT CAN ONLY MEAN YOU WANT TO SPEND TIME WITH ME (WHICH I AM NOT SURPRISED ABOUT WHATSOEVER)! SO I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, GRANT YOU PERMISSION TO COME OVER TO MY HOUSE AND ‘HANG OUT!’”

“Uh,” you squeak into the receiver, unable to say no. Nice, there’s officially no backing out. Thanks, William.

Speaking of the traitor, you shoot him one last glare before Papyrus continues.

“NO NEED FOR WORDS! YOUR SILENCE IS ENOUGH TO TELL ME YOU ARE JUST AS EXCITED AS I AM! I WILL SEE YOU LATER, MI—I MEAN!! SEE YOU THEN LARA!”

He hangs up as you try to think of a last-second excuse to avoid this. William begins laughing again, seeing your shocked expression completely frozen on your face. “Wow,” he utters, covering his mouth with a hand, as though that somehow hides his cheeky grin. “That was easier than I thought. Heh, remind me to use him whenever I need you to do something.”

You flop down into your chair and let your head hit the desk with a small thump.


You try not to let yourself be nervous as you step up to your neighbors’ door, but it just kind of... Happens. Mainly because you’re afraid you’ll screw something up if you make it clear to them you don’t really want to be here.

...Not that you hate doing this, but... You were kind of forced into this. But, oh no, that makes it sound like you do hate this. And you really, really don’t want to make it seem like that. Papyrus is super sweet and a good friend—Sans you’re less sure about, but he seems to tolerate you, at least. If you do anything to make them upset with you...

Maybe you’re overthinking this. You just need to suck it up and let whatever happens happen; maybe Will is right, and you just need a break from everything. It... Can't hurt to try, right?

You inhale and exhale carefully, then knock. Less than ten seconds later the door swings open. "AH, THERE YOU ARE LARA!! I WAS WAITING A FULL FIVE MINUTES FOR YOU TO ARRIVE SINCE YOUR LAST MESSAGE!”

You blink. “I,” you begin, but he pulls you inside by your hand without warning.

Their house is... Interesting.

The first thing you notice is the carpet. It's this piercing indigo blue, and to match it, the walls are a weird muffled shade of red, almost looking like it was painted. There's a small green couch in front of an even smaller T.V. in the middle of the room, and a gaping hole cut into the right of that, likely the entrance to the kitchen. Near the kitchen, a small coffee table resides, holding a... Rock?

Oh, and, in the corner of the room is a recliner with none other than Sans himself inside, apparently just having woken up at the front door opening. When he sees you he gives you a lazy wave, then immediately goes back to resting. Beside you, Papyrus huffs.

"HONESTLY, SANS, THE LEAST YOU COULD DO IS SAY SOMETHING TO OUR GUEST!!“

“oh. right." He cracks open an eye-socket. "hey.“

“Hey,” is all you can think of saying in response.

“OH NO, I ALMOST FORGOT!” Papyrus suddenly shouts, making you jump. “I WAS SO BUSY LAYOUTING THE HANG OUT THAT I FAILED TO REMEMBER THE MOST IMPORTANT PART!!”

He quickly pulls you over to the couch and nudges you down to sit. “I WILL BE RIGHT BACK! SANS!!” He shoots a warning glare over at said other monster. “YOU BETTER NOT DO ANYTHING WHILE I’M ABSENT!”

“whoa, i’m shocked,” the shorter skeleton says, putting a hand to his chest to emphasize his hurt. “you think i’d do anything? wow. my own bro doesn’t even know me.”

“UGH!! YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN! BE A GOOD HOST!”

Without another word he stomps his way into the kitchen, and before you can wonder more about what’s going on, Sans appears at the edge of your peripheral vision. You turn your head and jump back a good foot onto the other side of the couch. “What the—”

“well, i can’t be a good host if i’m sitting over there,” he tells you, as though that excuses it. Once you’ve calmed yourself down again, you try not to glare too hard at him.

“I swear, if you do that stunt one more freaking—”

“okay, okay. last time.”

“Are you sure?”

He gives you a weird look. “yeah, i guess. if it’s bothering you that badly.”

“It’s... It’s not. I’m sorry.” You let out a breath and glance away, trying to force the unwelcome tension out of you. You try to regather yourself, knowing you seem ridiculous right now. “I guess I never really introduced myself properly, did I?” you add awkwardly, because you need something else to talk about.

You turn back to him and stick out your palm, trying not to be too stiff. “My name is Lara.” Wait. Does he already know your name? He does, doesn’t he?

Sans eyes you inquisitively, and there’s something odd in his expression, almost making his grin seem fake; but, just like that, it’s replaced by amusement. “so you like introducing yourself the fourth time you see someone, eh?”

Your hand falters, and you feel your face glow hot in shame. “T-that’s not... I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was being so—”

“hey, don’t sweat it,” he assures, “you’re fine.”

His voice is strangely... Kind. Surprising you even further, he takes your still-outstretched hand (crap, you still have it out?) in his own.

And, too little too late you realize the issue with this action, as an abrupt farting noise splits the quiet.

You pull your hand back, startled, staring at his own palm that you now see possesses a small whoopee cushion. He dissolves into a fit of good-natured chuckles, leaving you to again question what has just happened.

Eventually, he collects himself enough to form some words on his nonexistent tongue, though a few more snickers slip past his teeth. “heheheh, you should really see the look on your face right now. it’s priceless.”

You try to say something, but nothing comes out. You feel the corners of your mouth twitch.

“i almost did that to ya the first time but figured that might be coming on a little strong, y’know? you seemed to me like the calm, serious type. didn’t want to rattle you.”

Was... Was that a pun?

“turns out i didn’t have to worry ‘bout that anyway,” he adds, shooting you a wink. “but hey, gave me an excuse to talk to ya more.”

Blinking, you find yourself merely giving him a blank stare in response; maybe for a bit too long, as his permanent smile appears to falter somehow. His eye-lights have shrunk slightly, apprehension clear as day on his face.

“shoot, i... i didn’t upset you again, did i?”

“No.” You smile, a little less hesitant than you were imagining. “That was, um...” Stars forgive you. “...Pretty humerus, actually.”

You and your bad attempt at humor...

But he doesn’t seem to mind. Even as you grimace at yourself, he laughs. “heh, that wasn’t too bad. you need to work on the delivery though. how about i teach you?”

Okay, what? “Hold on,” you say, incredulous. “You want to teach me how to pun?” Can you even call it that? What the heck is going on?!

“yeah, sure. used to be a certified jokester back in the day.”

You can’t believe this. You can’t believe this is happening.

“so? whaddya say?”

You’re pretty sure you’re imagining it, but he sounds almost hopeful. Before you can stop it, a disbelieving chuckle of your own escapes you. “Trust me, I would love to, but comedy isn’t exactly a career I’m pursuing right now.”

“hey, no one ever said world leaders couldn’t be comedians as a side job. there’s loads of pastabilities out there.”

“Excuse me? That doesn’t even fit—”

“THE SPAGHETTI’S READY! YOU CAN COME HERE NOW!”

You shoot Sans a look, and he shrugs. “i don’t make the rules here.” He stands up, then holds out a skeletal hand to you. You hesitate, studying him carefully. He meets your gaze and grins cheekily. “c’mon now, i wouldn’t hit you with it twice in a row. what am i, a scoundrel?”

Upon deciding you trust him enough that there isn’t a second and invisible whoopee cushion somewhere there, you let him help you to your feet. “Can’t be too sure,” you retort back. “You’re the one insistent on holding my hand, aren’t you?”

You smirk as he blinks at you. For a moment you’re almost certain there’s a weird cyan glow that faintly colors his cheekbones, but Papyrus’s impatient voice cuts in again from the kitchen: “THIS IS PERFECTLY DELECTABLE SPAGHETTI AND YOU TWO ARE STANDING AROUND DOING NOTHING!! COME EAT IT BEFORE IT GETS COLD!!!”

“Sure thing, Papyrus!” you manage to say, feeling somewhat satisfied about your petty act of vengeance. You still have some dignity left, after all.

 

The dinner goes more smoothly than you thought it would; granted, that’s disregarding the meal itself.

You quickly realize Papyrus... Isn’t the best cook.

You don’t pin it against him specifically, mind you. And from what Sans tells you, it’s a lot better than when they first showed up on the surface. But the sauce is way too sweet for your liking, and the noodles are overcooked to the point where they seem burnt. (You won’t be surprised if that is the case.) It is edible, however, so you’re grateful for that.

Papyrus seems to be awaiting your praise after your bite, and the last thing you want to do is ruin a perfectly good evening (so far anyway), so you smile and assure him you like it. You might as well have told him it was the best meal you ever had, because his expression is almost identical to when you’d told him you agreed to be his friend. You’re surprised he doesn’t hug you as he did then too.

Meanwhile, Sans seems intent on asking you questions. The first one being, “so, is your title official?”

It takes you a few seconds to realize what he’s talking about. “I mean, technically speaking, yes,” you answer, sheepishly. “My father wanted anything but ‘president,’ really.”

You decide to leave out the part that being called “Leader of Ebott” was essentially your doing. (As in, you, kid you, specifically proclaimed that’s what your father was, plain and simple. He just took it in stride.) The less they know about your weird childhood, the better.

“How’s Frisk?” you eventually find yourself asking, long since done with your food. “It’s been a while since I last saw them.”

Papyrus is eager to respond. “THEY ARE DOING QUITE WELL! THEY AREN’T NEEDED AS THE AMBASSADOR AS MUCH—THANKS TO YOUR VERY KIND GENEROSITY OF COURSE!” you blush slightly, “—SO MISS TORIEL WANTS WANTS TO ENROLL THEM IN THE LOCAL SCHOOL.”

“Oh!” You perk up. “I could help with that. They’d have to start in the spring though,” you add, a bit apologetic. “Halloween’s coming up pretty soon, and it’s in the middle of the semester for everyone.”

“RIGHT!” He nods in acknowledgement, but you get the feeling he has no idea what you’re talking about. “SHE ALSO WANTS TO BE A TEACHER AT THE SCHOOL, I THINK.”

“She told me about that,” you say with a smile matching his. “I hope they’ll be able to make that sort of progress. I imagine I’d only be able to help so much.”

“DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT, M—ERR, LARA. YOU REALLY HAVE DONE SO MUCH FOR US ALREADY!”

“Yeah, you keep saying that,” you laugh. “But Frisk is the one who convinced me. That friend of yours is something special.”

Papyrus beams. “INDEED!!”

It is then you notice that Sans is pointedly looking at the table, his eye-lights looking a bit dimmer than usual. He seems to feel your gaze on him and looks up, expression lax once more. “sorry, was zoning out there.” He winks at you again. “guess you could say i’m empty-headed.”

The other skeleton groans, and once again you find yourself snickering.


“ARE YOU SURE YOU HAVE TO LEAVE SO SOON? YOU CAN STAY A LITTLE LONGER, IF YOU WANT.”

You pat Papyrus’s hand comfortingly, trying to assuage his sudden despair at your “early” departure. “It’s almost ten o’clock, Papyrus. I’ve got work tomorrow.”

He sighs dejectedly; you feel a slight pang at seeing him sad. “BUT I HAD SO MANY THINGS PLANNED OUT FOR OUR HANG OUT! SURELY CONVERSING OVER DINNER ISN’T ENOUGH TO SUFFICE?”

“No, seriously, it’s fine. I had a lot of fun.” You smile up at him reassuringly. “You have my number too, don’t you? You can just text me if you’re feeling lonely.”

“YOU... WANT ME TO TEXT YOU?”

“Of course. We’re friends, aren’t we?”

Slowly, the light returns to his eye-sockets again, and you feel better. “R-RIGHT! I’LL TEXT YOU, THEN!!”

“Great!” you say, genuinely.

The two of you hug briefly—him squeezing you somewhat tighter, obviously—and you wave goodbye to Sans, who stands in the doorway. Feeling just a bit playful, you shoot at him, “Maybe the fifth time I see you, I'll finally decide that we become friends. Sound good?”

He chuckles, then gives you a fake salute. “sure thing, president lara.”

You scrunch up your nose and turn away, huffing. “See if I invite you to the inauguration.” You hear him snort behind you.

As you step off their porch, you find yourself looking forward to hanging out with your new neighbors again.