Actions

Work Header

Contagious Hunger

Chapter Text

   Cold.

   A feeling of hopelessness.

   Despair.

   And just a tad hun-

   “y/n!”

   You blinked, torn from your spiral of thoughts to look to the person to your left. Brows drawn down over brown eyes and lips pulled down just a tad greeted you. Irene regarded you with concern.

   “What’s wrong, y/n? You look…” she searched for a word. “...lost?” She reached up to twirl a lock of highlighted hair, the blond curls twisting around a perfectly manicured finger.

   You gave her a smile. “Nothing, I guess I was just caught up in my thoughts.” And nothing was wrong. Like that, everything was okay. The business of the coffee shop returned to you, chatter filling in that space that was just there. Warmth blossomed under your fingers from the coffee you were clutching and a feeling of contentedness returned to you.

   Your blonde friend raised an eyebrow and gently nudged you with her elbow. “You always get so quiet and sad when no one is talking to you. We’re out and about, you really should try to engage.”

   With an easy smile, you waved her off. “I’m fine, I’m fine.” You looked across the table at Hunter, looking not as concerned as Irene, but still a little suspicious. “Now, you were telling us how much you hate your new job, right, Hunter?”

   He nodded. “Yeah, I start work on Wednesday. Working as a park ranger isn’t what I’m upset about. It’s the getting up early part of the job that I hate.” He ran a hand through brown hair, sighing as he did so. “I’ve never been a morning person and getting up early to drive two hours out is so not part of my ideal job.”

   Irene raised the coffee to her lips. “Then why take the job?”

   Hunter’s nose wrinkled. “I hate working indoors. It just feels too cramped.”

   “Knowing your luck,” the blonde smirked a bit behind her cup. “you’ll be stuck filing paperwork for some dumb family that got themselves eaten by bears.”

   You had to laugh at the man’s head hitting the table and the subsequent groan of pain. Hunter’s bad luck notoriously took a dream job and twisted it into a downward spiral of horrible bosses, accidents, and just enough health infractions to get his workplace shut down.

   For you, work was usually simple. Proofreading for several different newspapers and online authors didn’t make a lot of cash, but it was generally flexible thanks to the modern marvels of technology and fixing mistakes that fly under the radar that is spell-check. Unfortunately, it meant you were glued to your phone and laptop to check emails and articles.

   Speaking of, a buzz interrupted your thoughts and brought your attention to your phone. An email with an attachment for proofreading. Just with a cursory glance at the thirty-page document and grammatical errors in the first paragraph, you knew this would take most of the day.

   You felt gray eyes on you and looked up to meet Hunter’s accusing gaze.

   “Come on, y/n, this is an outing with friends. No phones.”

   You sheepishly shrugged and raised the offending device. He dropped his head to the table again and groaned, this time in annoyance.

   “We can try and hang out again tomorrow,” you gently said. “Besides, we’re roommates; we always hang out! We live together!”

   Irene scoffed, looking at your phone. “Nothing tears you from that laptop of yours. As soon as you get home, you’re glued to the screen.” She scrolled the screen a bit and grimaced. “But, that does look like a doozy. I guess you should get started on that once we get back home.”

   A few scraping chairs later and dragging Hunter from his spot, you all were heading back to your apartment on the outskirts of town. Rent was pretty high, but there were three of you, each with your own incomes so it was manageable. It was close enough to the college for Irene’s needs and had a stable enough internet connection for you to work with. Serendipitously enough, it worked out for Hunter, since it was closer to the mountain and forest park.

   Even though it was a long walk from your apartment, you couldn’t help but enjoy the distance. The day was nice, a cool current on the breeze and a slight warmth from the clear skies made the trek pleasant. The few restaurants along the way giving little smells that pulled at your just sated appetite. Yeah, Ebott sure was a nice place to live.

   The sound of Irene and Hunter’s bickering became background noise as you trailed a little behind them, just enjoying the moments in the daylight. Eyes closing just a bit, you let your legs do all the work following the familiar path.

   cold

   You cracked open your eyelids just a tad. The skies looked… grayer than they had been a moment ago.

   cold

   The warmth you had been basking in drained away, you fingertips feeling icy despite the sun so clearly still in the sky above you.

   despair

   Why does the day feel so much less pleasant? The blue sky looks slate gray and the enjoyable atmosphere shared with your friends and yourself snuffed out. There was a scratching, cold feeling in the pit of your stomach. A slight pain in your ribs.

   just so… just so…

   The smells you had just been passing weren’t there anymore. Intentionally sniffing, you just couldn’t find the scent of cooking pizza or bread being baked in the sandwich shop. That sated appetite dropped out from under you, leaving you floundering in confusion.

   hungry

   You had thought you had eaten your fill just ten minutes ago. The bagel you bought from the coffee shop had been just enough to satisfy, but now it felt as though you hadn’t eaten all week. Or in months.

   so hungry

   Your stomach felt as though it had been pulled up to your ribs. Your mouth slightly opened as the feeling intensified and from behind your teeth was a sensation of emptiness. Painful, painful dissatisfaction poured through you and your fingers clenched into fists, nails cutting into your palm.

   ravenous

   It felt absolutely vital that you bite something, anything. A scrap of leather, a piece of wood, a piece of food. Anything that would give under your teeth. Anything to satisfy the deep hunger and need to consume that had suddenly overtaken you.

   “y/n!”

   Warmth rushed back, colors flooded back into your vision, and your fingers unclenched at your name being called. Ahead of you, Irene had stopped and now was looking at you with something that was definitely concern.

   “Come on, you need to get home right?” she asked. You had stopped. Shaking off that confusion, you nodded and rushed to join them, trying to immerse yourself in conversation. Your roommates regarded you strangely but allowed the conversation to flow slowly back and forth, not bringing up the odd behavior.

   …

   …

   You were still so very hungry.

Chapter Text

   For a brief moment, Sans felt warm; as though his bones hadn’t been constantly surrounded by snow and freezing temperatures. His tracking of a small rabbit had been brought to a complete stop when the feeling of warmth washed over him. He stopped, frozen in his pursuit, caught up in the sensation of heat and not wanting to step out of the pleasant spot he found himself in and be doused in cold.

   It felt like he was on the cusp of Hotland, right at the end of Waterfall and just about to step into the uncomfortable heat that was home to the deranged scientist. It was the heat, but not blazing and burning and it lacked the humidity that bogged down the air in Waterfall.

   And just as quickly as the warmth had arrived, it left.

   Sans looked around, searching for any monster that might have caused this phenomenon, but he was alone. The skeleton contemplated waiting for the warmth to return, but the gnawing in his ribs, the driving hunger, pushed him forward to follow the rabbit’s tracks.

   He followed the trail of paw prints barely visible on the ground, letting the crunch of the snow under his slippers be his sole companion. Barren trees flanked his vision, each trunk exactly the same as the neighbor. Some bark had been stripped from a few trees, the residents of the Underground were hungry enough to attempt to eat the rock-like bark. Those few quickly learned the bark was poisonous, a slow-acting, stamina draining poison that left those monsters lethargic and slow. Even easier to catch.

   Sans came to a stop, now finally able to see his prey. The rabbit was almost impossible to distinguish from the white snow, its fur just as lacking in color. Even the coloration of the ears, a few spots in light gray would sell it as just being some dust on the snow.

   Fixing it in his blood-red gaze, Sans circled the clearing the rabbit was resting in, now completely silent and watching for any signs that the rabbit knew it had been caught. The skeleton couldn’t help the grin that hiked up his face, almost able to taste the creature and the satisfying crunch its bones would make when he’d inevitably bring down his cleav-

   Crack

   The rabbit shot off like a bullet once San’s slipper came down on a branch and snapped it. The skeleton stopped for a brief second, broken from his imagination and suddenness of his meal dashing off. He took a step and knew it wouldn’t be worth the effort to give chase.

   In frustration, Sans growled deeply and flung the cleaver in his left hand at a nearby tree. He was so close ! The return of chasing the creature would be much less than the actual meal he’d receive. Now it was more likely going to be caught by some other monster and the fight wouldn’t be worth it.

   He glared at the ground for a moment, trying to burn a hole through the snow with his blown-out eye.

   It just wasn’t worth it.

   He sighed and meandered over to the tree he’d thrown his cleaver out, wrenching it out of the bark and resting his skull on the tree. Nothing was worth it. Putting his back to the tree, Sans slid down to a sitting position, just so tired and hungry.

   He balled his phalanges in the snow beside him, trying to take some form of frustration out on something, even if it was as harmless as snow. He felt the warmth of anger burn over him.

   …

   Warm

   Actually, he wasn’t that angry to generate heat. Why did it feel as though he had been wrapped up in a blanket? But nothing as restrictive as a blanket, but the sensation of warmth still washed over him all the same.

   Warm

   He looked at his phalanges. They were still covered in snow, but the feeling persisted. It was a feeling similar to the old days at Grillby’s. The warmth of his friend and the light air of conversation and companionship.

   Happiness

   Hope

   Sans raised a hand to his hoodie, placing it directly over his sternum. There was a lightness in his chest, a genuine absence of fear and despair. His phalanges, feet, and ribs felt lighter, easier to move. The constant itch in his head receded, now gone to the warmth he felt caught in.

   Satisfied

   The skeleton almost choked as his ribs felt no pain. The constant aching and scratching from lack of food just wiped away. He felt more relaxed, the tension in his spine and ribs letting go, as he reveled in the moment.

   y/n!-

   The cold came rushing back like a battering ram, his SOUL shuddering at the weight of depression pulling it down and dousing his moment of peace. Sans was left staring at the treeline, dumbfounded by the sudden shift in feelings. He clutched his eye socket, tugging it to ensure he hadn’t just dreamt up this roller coaster of emotions. Pain rushed him and he grimaced, but he didn’t wake up in his room.

   Again, Sans looked for a monster that might be intruding or causing the moment of peace only to be so terrible as to tear it away, but he was alone. He groaned aloud, now even more aware of how his bones ached and his phalanges were weighed down by exhaustion. What was the point of feeling joyful if he was just going back to hell under the earth.

   He grit his teeth and stood, heading back home and hoping Papyrus would have caught something.

Chapter Text

   After eating all the crackers in the box hadn’t satisfied your phantom hunger, you concluded the problem had to be psychological. Being cooped up in your tidy room (you swore to yourself that you’d keep it clean until the end of time, but you secretly knew it would return to chaos in three to four business days), you had evaded looks from Hunter and Irene, but you knew they’d notice that you’d moved half the pantry into your room. Normally, this would be a non-issue because you bought groceries during college months due to greater availability than Irene and having the luxury of daytime free time, as opposed to Hunter’s all-day work. But you knew the trash would be noticed by your male roommate and questions would likely ensue.

   You leaned back and looked at the pile of trash that had surrounded your computer, crumbs scattered across the keys and cans stacked in columns of five. Seeing as you had just finished proofreading the latest desperate college student’s essay (seriously, what’s with everyone writing ‘breath’ as though it’s a verb. People breathe and you can take a breath of air. It’s not that hard!), you decided to keep with the productive streak and clean up.

   A few practiced keystrokes and clicks later, you put on your favorite music and stood, doing a small stretch and began picking up cans and cups. With your toe, you hiked up the volume so it could be heard throughout the empty apartment and danced your way over to the recycling bin.

   The comforting simplicity of just cleaning swept you up into autopilot, scooping up trash, rinsing dishes and loading the dishwasher, and eventually deciding to wipe down the counters in the bathroom.

   You hummed to the song playing in the adjacent room, losing yourself to the music and monotonous motions. Your thoughts strayed over to last week and the despair you’d be doused in. It hadn’t been the first time you’d been caught feeling something you were sure you weren’t supposed to feel.

   A few years ago when you were in middle school, you had been just conversing with friends when it felt like the world had dropped out from under you. The burn of betrayal scorched through you, an anger starting from your chest and blazing outward to flow through your fingers and feet. This anger locked your teeth together, jaw tightening in an effort to temper your own rage.

   The anger and sting ebbed away to a muted feeling of loss and fear until that faded away to your own emotions. The curtain of anger dropped away to reveal your friends, leaning as far away from you as possible. Your rainbow glass water bottle had shattered in your grip and left a few gashes in your hand. The administrators had immediately brought you to the nurse’s and called your parents. You told your parents, the nurse, and the counselor that you didn’t know why you were so angry at the time and you weren’t aware you had broken the bottle until after you felt like yourself again.

   Your eyes slid over to your right hand, turning it to look at the scar in the palm. It doesn’t hurt anymore, but it serves as a reminder as to why you don’t live with your parents. It’s clear that incident changed their perception of you. They were a lot more careful breaking news to you, even though you thought of yourself as very chill and you almost never blew up on anyone. Whenever you genuinely had a problem and had a reason to be angry, they chalked it up to being “hormones” or insinuated that you needed to see a psychiatrist.

   You grimaced as you continued cleaning, bringing the towel up to the mirror and spraying cleaning solution on it. You were in control of your emotions. You were living your life. You were you.

   The self pep talk brought a smile to your face and confidence swelled in your chest. You nodded to yourself and looked at the mirror to smile at your reflection.

   …

   The skeleton that stared back certainly wasn’t you.

Chapter Text

   Sans had thought the lack of hunger was his cracked skull finally granting him some reprieve from the constant suffering the Underground provided. The skeleton took his blessings when he could and thought the hunger would return at some point. The persistent feeling of satisfaction perplexed him and usually he’d go through the scientific method (if he could remember it) to determine the source.

   was it something i ate? He could answer that without any consideration. nope. Sans leaned back into the pea-green couch, the stiff fabric scratching his skull as he rested against the couch. am i finally going insane? He grinned a bit more but shook his head. No way his insanity would actually benefit his mental health. He was too self-destructive.

   am i getting used to hunger? Sans roughly tugged his useless eye socket in contemplation. Certainly, he’d heard that starvation is prefaced by a period of hunger, but it isn’t as intense as the hunger leading up to that point. He growled to himself as the thoughts just circled themselves, not leading to any real answers.

   The skeleton shoved himself off the couch, meandering to the kitchen, not in any real desire to eat at the moment, but just out of habit. Glancing around, his ever-present grin fell, thrown back into the blurry memories of times when this kitchen had food at the ready and spaghetti was packed into the refrigerator. Times when he actually thought to throw away food .

   Now, the countertops were gray and stained a rust color. The lights in the kitchen no longer worked, bulbs broken from the times when the prey hadn’t been dead and tried to escape. The sink held more than bone attacks now. Happy memories here had been replaced with blood and dust that never should have been shed.

   Sans briefly wondered if it was a blessing to actually not remember everything from before so he wouldn’t be able to compare what was currently happening to how things once were and mourn that loss. Huh, maybe his insanity did do something nice for him. His grin turned sharp and curved just a little too high to be considered at all joyous. Maybe he should thank Queen Undyne for that sometime.

   Out of habit, Sans strolled over to the refrigerator, bony fingers wrapping around the handle and tugging it open to peek into the interior. The bulb in here had long gone out, just like the ones in the ceiling. Sans lazily regarded the barren fridge, eyelight roaming across the empty shelves like a spotlight.

   how much longer? Phalanges found their way to his eye socket, tugging at the chipping hole as he tried to pull himself from that spiral again. With a deep sigh, the skeleton let the door close and he considered what to do now.

   Hunting sounded appealing, if not habitual. Actually doing his job as a sentry? In the unlikely event a human did fall, they’d run into traps, Papyrus, or other monsters. The monster’s eye rolled to stare at the couch. Nap? Interestingly enough he hadn’t felt tired. Or hungry. Not that he was complaining.

   Sans really couldn’t figure how long he hadn’t been hungry -- the days here just blend together into months or years of pain. It wasn’t worth it to count days or years. They’d just be stuck until monsters could restrain their appetites enough to start building back up to seven souls. how many are we at now? Frustratingly enough, Sans found himself unable to remember how many souls Undyne had. He’d have to ask Papyrus.

   As though his thoughts had called his brother from across the Underground, the tell-tale sound of crunching snow approaching the house grew. With a clatter of keys and a hearty shove, the door swung open, cold air racing through the open doorway and past the tall skeleton in the doorway. Sans couldn’t help the little grin that pulled at his teeth every time he saw his brother. And even higher when he saw the sack slung over his shoulder.

   Papyrus shook off the snow and quickly stepped in, a spindly, long arm reaching for the door and closing it behind him. He let out a great sigh and straightened up, beady eyes searching the dark house and landing on Sans.

   “OH, SANS! YOU’RE UP!” Papyrus cocked his head a tad and took long steps toward the kitchen. “AND IN THE KITCHEN! ARE YOU ACTUALLY FEELING PRODUCTIVE?”

   The shorter skeleton winced at the volume, but stepped aside with a smile, sitting at the table to watch his brother flit to and fro to gather kitchen utensils. Despite vertically filling the space and being just a bit too tall and needing to bend his neck just the slightest, Papyrus moved around with practiced ease. His stretched frame certainly could take advantage of high cabinets and digging around in drawers in search of knives. Papyrus ducked under the broken light out of muscle memory and he squinted at Sans.

   “SANS, ARE YOU NOT GOING TO HELP?” Sans shook his head and gave a deep chuckle and lazily waving his hand.

   “c’mon paps, i can’t possibly cook up something as well as you could.” Papyrus huffed and reached a long arm into the brown, beaten sack he brought in. From the sack, he produced two rabbits, both marred by some form of trap, and laid them on the countertop, immediately beginning to skin them.

   Sans knew he should be salivating, but the feeling of contentedness persisted. It felt as though he hadn’t been without food for two weeks. His joints didn’t feel slow and his feet felt less like lead.

   Logically, it wouldn’t do to leave a meal behind, no matter how full he felt. Not to mention just how abhorrent and insulting to these last few years it would be to turn up his skull at any meal. Sans lazily drew circles on the worn wood of the table, sharp phalanges etching little symbols he could never remember the meaning of into the chipping table.

   Propping up his skull with an elbow to the table, Sans watched his brother skillfully cut into the rabbits, white fur staining an even deeper crimson and falling out due to the treatment. Perhaps it was better he couldn’t quite remember a time when Papyrus wasn’t excitedly opening up the carcass of an animal on the countertops. At least this way he wouldn’t need to mourn the loss of his brother’s innocence.

   too bad i can’t forget what led us here . He gritted his teeth, hand falling again to pull at his eye socket.

Tug...

A human with a mop of brown hair running and playing in the snow

Tug...

A conversation in a restaurant

Tug...

A threat

Tug...

The leaving

Tug...

The phone call

Tug...

The waiting

Tug...

The hunger

Tug...

A scaled hand balled into a fist and coming straight for hi-

   “SANS!”

   A reedy voice broke through the spiral, but made the skeleton jump and tug just a little too hard, pulling a piece from the empty socket.

   “fuck,” Sans cursed, throbbing pain from where the chip came out forcing his had to come up and cradle the affected area. He covered his useless eye and winced. On the table sat a few specks of dust and a small chip of his own bone.

   “SEE?” Papyrus gestured toward the piece on the table. “THIS IS WHY I ALWAYS TELL YOU TO NOT TUG AT IT! NOW YOU’VE HURT YOURSELF!” He leaned back and put a hand on his pelvis, shaking his head at his brother.

   Sans glared down at the offending bone. He mumbled an apology he was certain his brother couldn’t hear, and stuffed his hands into his jacket, slouching down into the hard chair further.

   The tall monster scoffed and pointed toward the stairs. “I WILL NOT HAVE YOU EATING WITH YOUR OWN DUST-DIRTIED HANDS IN THIS HOUSE. GO AND CLEAN UP, I’M SURE BY THE TIME YOU COME BACK DOWN, THE STEW WILL BE COLD!”

   Sans’ face scrunched in confusion and he looked up. He had sworn Papyrus had just started on the meal. But right on the stove behind him was the stew pot, steam rising gently from the black pot. Guess he was dead to the world.

   He’d have to remember that, Sans thought as he pushed himself off from the chair and walked over to the stairs. They were creaky, peeling, and he was certain that one of them had a nail poking out of it. Not that the brothers would find anything amiss with that one, both knowing the pattern to walk up to make the least amount of noise.

   Sans held his bony hands to his face as he pushed open the door to the bathroom, hit with the wave of tiredness he had been lacking all day. Not bothering to spare the mirror a glance, Sans turned the faucet on and shoved his phalanges under the icy water. Not even the cold could chase away the tiredness now weighing on his collarbone.

   He briefly wondered how his Dust would taste as he watched the silvery particles slip away to the drain. Not that he’d ever be stupid enough to engage in auto-cannibalism; he’d seen too many monsters attempt to keep off the hunger in that manner and it never ended well. He shuddered, trying to lose that thought and dove down to splash his face with water.

   might as well inspect the damage he thought, grimacing at the thought and let his eyelight roll up to stare at his reflection.

   The terrified human face staring back at him was definitely not what he was expecting.

Chapter Text

   The figure in the mirror was something impossible. How a skeleton appeared in your mirror was an impossible scenario. The monster seemed to be much bigger than you, your neck craning back to see the figure that filled up space in the mirror.

   A pale blue hoodie adorned it, tears and open wounds bleeding white stuffing littered the fabric. At the ends of the sleeves were white clouds of soft-looking cotton. Under the hoodie that looked to be large enough to swallow you whole, was what you could presume to be a shirt originally white. The shirt also sported its own assortment of wear and tear, splashes of gray and rust dotted the shirt. Honestly, the creature could be wearing a pink bodysuit and still terrify you; the clothes did nothing to enhance or detract from the skull staring at you.

   The skull in the mirror was too round to be human, not to mention too large. The jawbone seemed to be fused to the rest of the skull, no obvious gaps or joints to be seen on the pale expanse. On the face of the skeleton sat a wide smile, teeth bared in a grin that ended too sharply. You couldn’t tell when the upper teeth ended and the lower teeth began, just that the teeth were present and the gaps between each far too few.

   Your stomach dropped as your gaze rose to see a crack sported on the top of the skeleton’s skull. Looking far too similar to a cracked egg, the hole was jagged, uneven shards of bone-like teeth surrounding an impossibly dark hole. But perhaps the most terrifying part was the eye in the socket of the monster.

  Red stared back at you from inside the mirror. A blown-out light taking up almost the entirety of the left eye socket. In the crimson sea of light sat a single black dot. The small pinprick was focused entirely on you, staring at you through the mirror as though it were a cat watching a fish inside an aquarium.

   Thump

   You took a step back, hands pressed to your chest as you could feel the blood rush through your neck, frantically being pumped by your heart. The eye shifted to stare at your neck. You felt a pang of hunger that you promptly decided came at the exact wrong time.

   The skeleton’s head tilted and you watched as the red spotlight was covered briefly by… eyelids? Bone slid down over the socket only to come back up as the light came back up to stare at you in the face.

   “What… the hell are you?” you felt your lips move before you could even contemplate the words that spilled out.

   A deep timbre rolled into the bathroom, the pitch vibrating small items on the counter and deep within your chest. “a skeleton. what do i look like, a puppy?” Its eye sockets narrowed. “what the hell is a human doing in my mirror?”

   Your fear certainly didn’t lessen, but it didn’t get worse. You gave the skeleton a side-eye of your own. “What’s a skeleton doing in my mirror?”

   The figure seemed to get closer to the mirror, red light boring down at you as you felt agitation rise. “i asked first.”

   “I asked second,” you retorted, feeling much too much like a petulant child.

   The skeleton stayed silent for a moment before you felt a spark of bemusement light up from the center of your chest, feeling a smile cross your face at the same time as the grin on the skeleton’s face hike up a bit.

  “cute,” the deep voice permeated the room again. “let’s try this again. i’m sans, sans the skeleton.”

   Slowly lowering your arms, you stepped a bit closer to the mirror as you tried your best to crack a joke over the tension in the room. “Really? You don’t seem to be sans one though.”

   The monster’s shoulders bounced briefly as your chest beat again in time with the sound of the monster’s voice, this time its laughter. The pressure that had been on your chest throughout the day, tiring you and bringing less than pleasant thoughts lifted.

   “nice one, treat,” the gaze Sans had fixed you seemed to soften, the red eye becoming less sharp on you. “but what’s such an amusing scrap doing in my mirror.”

   You gave it a shrug, feeling less afraid of this strange creature that replaced your reflection. “I just came here to clean. I look up, and there’s a skeleton in my mirror.” Your face twisted a little as a thought wormed its way into your head. “Strange place for a skeleton.”

   “why’s that, human?”

   You gave a wide grin. “I thought skeletons were supposed to be in closets.” Sans’ eye sockets crinkled up, the grin pasted on its face becoming less sharp, yet rising up to become a more steep crescent moon. Some small part of you asked why you weren’t afraid of this thing, why you remained calm in the face of literal death and decay.

   A bony hand came up to hide the grin, phalanges tapering into claws at the end, giving the small voice a reason to rise even further. You had no way to explain the existence of this ‘Sans’ in the mirror, but it clearly couldn’t be real. Some part of you was upset that you had clearly lost it -- talking to yourself in the mirror and imagining eight-foot tall skeletons and all the hallucinations that came with it -- but at least you hadn’t snapped in a destructive manner.

   Sans’ laughter soon died down as it lowered its hand back to its counter. You realized that the mirror’s reflection was more skewed than you first thought. Behind the imposing figure was a decrepit wall. The paint on the walls were stripping off and bits and pieces were missing from the wall. The counter the skeleton was resting its phalanges on was clear of any litter. Only two toothbrushes sat on the counter, one frayed and chewed like a bone and the other with its bristles straight and resting in a cup. No hair care products like the ones that were strewn across your own counter.

   “well, you definitely know how to joke,” Sans finally spoke. “such an interesting human i’ve found in the mirror. maybe we should take some time to reflect on how we ended up here?” You gave an unflattering snort and that small voice that had been begging for a modicum of sense was quashed.

   “It’s clear to me that neither of us knows what’s going on,” you grinned expectantly at the skeleton, waiting for the laugh. And you weren’t disappointed, feeling the laugh resonate in your torso as the skeleton’s chest seemed to bounce with its chuckle. A bubbling amusement filled your chest, the smile on your face rising all the higher with each successive laugh.

   “heh, heh, you’re quite a funny human,” the skeleton leaned in, skull now resting on the surface of the mirror. “it’s quite a mirror-acle that we’re talking to each other right now.”

   You stifled your own giggle at the pun. “Yeah, why do you suppose we can?”

   Sans’ shoulders rose and dropped. “magic?”

   You stepped back and regarded the huge skeleton with a raised brow and folded arms. “Really?” You felt a little offended at your subconscious. Surely your subconscious didn’t think you were dumb enough to pass off a hallucination as magic.

   The skeleton raised his own bone brow, before its eye snapped over to the left, seeming to stop and listen to something. It paused for a few seconds and then looked back to you. It’s voice raised and called out, “nothing, paps. be there in a few.”

   Sans stepped away from the mirror and shoved its hands in the pockets of its hoodie. You felt the rising amusement slowly drop to a feeling of disappointment.

   “What’s a ‘paps’?” you asked, watching Sans seem to mull something over. The monster’s eye gave small twitches back and forth, looking over you. Your stomach growled.

   for papyrus

   What was that? A feeling of regret passed through you.

   he’s gotta eat

   Your hunger pangs began running through you, seemingly spurred on by these intrusive thoughts.

   A few seconds passed as cold feeling crawled down your spine, similar to how water might flow down your back in the shower. Finally, Sans’s eye focused on you.

   “stay still, human.”

   “Wha-”

   The question caught in your throat as something in your chest clenched. A twisting feeling collected in your stomach as a douse of cold fear ran through you. Something is amiss.

   Cold tingles, similar to pins and needles collected right where the center of your chest was, dread dropping through you. Why did you hurt? In the mirror, you could see a bony hand raised toward you, slate gray coating it. Following the arm to a pained looking skeleton, you almost choked out a cry. The eye was the size of a nickel, focused on you. Some part of you wondered how a skeleton was that expressive, its face able to contort into an expression of confused pain. Sans’ other arm flung up to hold its own chest, the phalanges digging into the white shirt to grasp what you assumed to be its sternum.

   Sans’ eye looked over your face, confusion so evident on its face. It seemed to search for something, but stopped as the skeleton’s face hardened into a determined look.

   for paps

   With a beckoning twitch of its hand, you felt the floor leave you as a rush of air whipped passed you. Your legs knocked against the counter as gravity seemed to switch and you felt yourself falling onto the mirror. Slamming chest first into the glass, you heard a choked gasp. You couldn’t tell whose it was, but it didn’t matter once you registered the flash of pain of shards of the mirror cutting into your chest first and then the blackness that met you when your face met with the mirror. A face of regret on the skull of a scared looking skeleton was the last thing you saw before darkness took over your vision.

Chapter Text

   So

   Damn

   Hungry

   A gnawing pain in your stomach woke you before the pain. The first thing that registered in your brain as you tried your best to rise from the fog keeping you unconscious was the sensation of some beast trying to claw its way desperately from your stomach, through your chest, and at your molars to reach food. The second thing was a grogginess that made it difficult to sit up.

   Your eyes refused to open as actual thoughts with beginnings and conclusions wormed their way across your mind. Your fingers twitched, taking in the silky smoothness of fabric under you. Your chest and shoulders felt held up by cool plush, the hairs on your arms rising in response to the cold air.

   Inhaling, you caught the scent of artificially clean air, cold air stinging your nose upon taking a breath. You heard a faint beeping noise. It was consistent.

   Where are you?

   You finally opened your eyes to see a ceiling, white and tiled. Not your apartment. You looked around you, deciding to sit up to glance around.

   You were in a hospital. There were two chairs on the left side of the room, one of them occupied with Irene who was slumped over in sleep, her blond hair askew and covering her face. The curtains on the window swayed slightly in response to the air conditioning, capturing your attention for a few moments. Orange light glowed from behind the white fabric, indicating either sunset or sunrise. Finally, you moved on to regarding yourself.

  Your arms were bandaged as was your chest, which is what you suppose you could attribute the tight, constricting sensation on your chest to. One of your fingers was clamped down with a small device, a long wire leading to the mess of wires behind the bed you were laying in. You could feel the throbbing pain from what you presumed to be cuts from the mirror.

   At the thought of the mirror, your eyes widened, fear settling in. The skeleton in the mirror. The feeling of wrongness. That yank from your chest to meet the mirror before everything went dark. The pit in your stomach grew, as the realization that the conversation and the monster were real.

   A polite knock at the door, made you jump, pulling you from your thoughts. A woman dressed in blue scrubs entered the room and walked up to your bed and gave you a reassuring smile.

   “Ms. y/n,” she said in a calm tone, as one might address an animal as they approached. Your eyes flicked to her hand as she rested it on your leg in a reassuring pat. “How are you feeling?”

   “Hungry,” a loud growl accompanied your response, the burning feeling in your stomach howling for you sink your teeth into something. Usually, you’d be embarrassed of the visceral response of your stomach, but you needed to eat. Now.

   The nurse gave a polite giggle and swept out of the room. Your eyes ate in her form as she left, something dark rising in your thoughts.

   “y/n?”

   You snapped your head over to look at Irene, who was blearily blinking at you. She seemed to realize you were awake and she quickly shot up, face morphing from tiredness to surprise and then to relief. She stood up and came over to your side, hands finding a place on your arms that weren’t bandaged.

   “Are you okay? I mean, clearly not, but I mean, how are you, all things considering? We - I - found you in the bathroom! The mirror was broken and you were just laying there! What happened? There was blood all over the counter and I was so scared and I --” Irene’s words seemed to blend together into an unbroken stream of worry and questions. You began to tune her out, cold creeping up your fingertips as you felt hunger grow. Your eyes dropped, slowly following her concerned face down to her neck.

   so hungry

   Irene straightened up, holding a hand to her chest as she took controlled breaths. You tried to break your gaze at her neck to look her in the face. Your friend took a few moments, lips mouthing out numbers as she counted down. Brown eyes finally stared back at you, now some measure of calm over Irene’s features.

   “y/n, what happened?” she finally decided to ask.

   You opened your mouth to respond, words caught in your throat as you prepared to answer, but found no voice at your throat. What would you say? I saw a skeleton in the mirror and then fell against it. At best, she’d think you were delirious. At worst, she’d admit you to a mental hospital.

   “I don’t know,” you offered. Irene’s brown eyes narrowed in disbelief. You felt a pang in your head and decided to take that and run with it. “I don’t remember what happened in the bathroom.”

   The blonde pursed her full lips, clearly not satisfied, but seeming to believe you in regards to amnesia. After a moment, she carefully placed a hand on your bandaged hand and rubbed up and down in an attempt to soothe you. Or soothe herself. She certainly seemed upset.

   You heard footsteps approach, and you turned to see the nurse with a tray of food, pushing a little table into your room. You didn’t even know what the food on the tray was, but your mouth was watering at the knowledge that there was food in your proximity.

   Before the nurse even had a chance to step away from the tray, you leaned forward and grabbed a spork, scooping up the potatoes and bringing the food to you. Your tongue sang praises at the mediocre potato, food never tasted so good. The gravy was cold on the food, but that didn’t even stall your assault on the food, shoveling as much as you could possibly shove into your mouth.

   You could feel the shocked and mildly disgusted looks the nurse and your friend gave you as you ravenously ate down the food. You ignored the nurse’s words to slow down as you tore open the pudding, tossing it back into your mouth. You lapped at the slow-moving food, unable to restrain yourself even for the brief moments the pudding had been sliding down the container.

   Despite clearing the tray, the void in your stomach raged for more food, albeit a bit quieter. You sat in silence, the sudden energy that possessed you to nearly leap for the food now gone and leaving you with your arms useless in bed.

   You felt gentle, warm hands touch your head. You opened the eyes you hadn’t even realized were closed to look at the concerned look the nurse gave you.

   “Honey, we know you hit your head, but,” she retreated to pull away the tray. “You’re acting awfully strange.”

   “Yeah, y/n,” Irene looked so very confused, stepping back and pulling the chair by the darkening window to sit next to you. “I have never seen you act so…” she seemed to think about a word. “...strange.”

   You couldn’t respond. Something like resentment began to billow up from your stomach. Heavy on your lips, tongue, and jowls was the disgust in someone else. It was a sour taste that made you regard Irene with a deadpan expression.

   “I’m hungry,” you reiterate. You try your best to sound as if you expected better, allowing an iota of malice to slip into the intonations of your two words. Irene didn’t seem to catch it, shrugging and pulling out her phone.

   The nurse backed out of the room, telling you to wait for the doctor. You leaned back in the bed, trying to ignore the clawing hunger, but ultimately failing.

   Why the heck were you so hungry? Logically -- and it was difficult to think logically in your current state -- you knew there was no way you should be hungry still. You shouldn’t have been hungry all week before you were in the hospital. How long has it been?

   You rolled your head over to look to Irene for answers. She seemed totally absorbed in her phone, all concern seemingly quelled at your awakening. Long nails tapped and clicked away at the touch screen and she had a focused expression regarding her message she seemed to be sending.

   Finally, the blond looked up to meet your eyes. You asked her how long you’d been in the hospital.

   She looked back down on her phone. “I found you yesterday in the bathroom when I got back from campus. When you wouldn’t wake up, I called 911 and it’s been about a day.” Your eyes widened and Irene gave a short laugh in response. “Yeah, I know. Hospital bill is going to be great.”

   You rolled your eyes. “Admittedly, the bill is up there in concerns, but I’m a bit concerned about the ‘being out for a day’,” you said. “I didn’t lose too much blood did I?”

   Irene’s face screwed up in thought. “I’d hope not, but I don’t know how long you were in the bathroom like that for. Not to mention the bruises on your chest and the mirror they had to remove.” She gestured toward your head. “I’d be out for a while if I had the goose egg you’ve got.” Irene’s blond hair shook as she turned her head side-to-side. “The doctor did say you should have woken up sooner, but - hey, speak of the devil!”

   You looked toward the door of the room, the doctor striding in with a smile on his bearded face. He sat on the very end of the bed with a friendly demeanor about him.

   “Miss y/n, how are you today?” he said, a white smile flashing as he grabbed the clipboard on the end of the bed to look over it. “I’m Doctor Eliot. Do you know why you’re here?”

   You couldn’t meet his grin, something in your chest clenching the slightest bit. Raising your bandaged arms in suggestion, he gave you a nod.

   “Well, you’re here due to multiple contusions on your front. As we understand you broke a mirror?”

   You couldn’t help the lip curl you gave in conjunction with your response. “I don’t think I broke the mirror.”

   Doctor Eliot raised the papers on the clipboard, seeming to check some more notes. “Well, it's obvious you couldn’t muster up enough force to hurt yourself in this manner. However you got the injuries, you likely have a concussion and you most certainly have some rest you need to get done,” he gestured with his prickly chin toward your arms. “You have lots of cuts and scrapes that need time to heal, so if you need to go to work, I’ll write up a note explaining how you need rest and time to recover.”

   Irene raised her hand, clearly in a college mode. “What about her chest?”

   “What about my chest?” You asked, putting a hand to said area.

   “You do have a hairline fracture on your ribs, but we can’t really put a cast on that,” the doctor sighed. “There’s also large shards we had to remove from there that’ll need bandages to be changed every day. We can’t really do much more for you here, aside from providing painkillers, which we’ll send you home with anyway.” The doctor stood up and looked at Irene. “I’ll be sending instructions on the bandaging, painkillers, and how to best help with recovery with you all on your way home.”

   Doctor Eliot gave you a big smile and rested a hand on your leg. “We certainly hope to not see you here again.” He shook Irene’s hand and left quickly.

   Your blond friend gave you a sheepish grin. “Is it bad that I think he’s hot?” You gave her a blank look in return. Irene giggled and returned to her phone, texting someone.

   You looked at the ceiling, thinking over this new information. Hairline fracture? From a monster in the mirror? What did you even do to warrant that behavior? You replayed the conversation in your mind, but couldn’t figure if you said anything to set him off aside from asking what a “paps” was.

   If this was something that could happen from being around a mirror, maybe you need to stay away from all mirrors. The logical part of your brain insisted that it was an isolated incident. Clearly there was some weird stuff going on, but who’s to say that would happen again.

   You sighed and let your head fall to your right, resting on the pillow as you waited to be discharged. On your right you could look directly into the bathroom connected to the room. You thought over how convenient that would be for long time stays. Easy for nurses, easy for patients, easy for --

   You blinked. Bathroom. Mirror. With trepidation you let your eyes rise to look at the mirror above the sink to see…

   Nothing…

   You gave a silent thanks to whatever omnipotent being that controlled your life that you wouldn’t be subjected to the same incident that left you here. You focused on the sound of the wheelchair the nurse was bringing. You mentally began to prepare yourself for the boring weeks of recovery ahead. No work, no outings, and lots of YouTube videos to eat up that time.

   The nurse had an easy time bringing you into the chair, apologizing for hitting your chest in the middle of the transition. You brushed it off easily, not even registering the pain and instead asking for more food. Irene silenced your request by telling you she’d stop by fast food on the way home.

   Passing by other patient’s rooms in the hospital, you rubbed your chest a bit. Something was still off. You felt… incomplete. A longing for some physical contact radiated across your chest as fatigue set in, dragging your eyes shut on the way to the exit of the hospital.

   The last thing you saw before you fell asleep again was a flash of blue against the glass windows.

Chapter Text

   As Sans let out a hiss from between his grimace, he began to wonder what actions led to these consequences. Not only was he suffering from a dull pain… well, everywhere, but his soul was definitely giving him shit for something.

   The skeleton was curled up on his bed, holding the ball of sheets to his chest that continually throbbed in pain he was certain he didn’t inflict. He gave his rib cage a rub to try and relieve pain, but the hot pain persisted. If he wasn’t hissing over the pain in his chest, Sans was inspecting his ulna and radius for any signs of scrapes or cuts. Like the chest pain, the phantom pain shot up and down his arms and occasionally his head.

   Sans tugged the sheets closer as he went over his week for what must have been the sixth time. He caught a deer, skipped out on a meal from lack of hunger, and slept despite his lack of tiredness. Usually, he’d attribute pain to a recent hunt, but this buck had been the easiest kill he’d gotten. The beast had gotten one of its delicate legs caught in a bear trap and managed to pull the useless limb free. Sans had just come on the scene to follow the blood trail all the way to one of his brother’s traps where the injured buck had been strung up by a high-tension rope trap.

   Sans grinned, remembering Papyrus congratulating the deer for “RUNNING THE GAUNTLET” before giving it the reward of snapping its neck. The poor animal didn’t even fight Sans on the way back to his house, exhausted from the whole ordeal. The deer’s pelt had been put aside for one of Papyrus’ projects and its meat was going to provide for the brothers for quite a while.

   Returning to his mental review of the week, Sans mulled over any kind of activity that could have hurt his ribs.

   Nope. Sleeping definitely didn’t count. With a groan, the skeleton rolled onto his back, eye staring up at the popcorn ceiling. He’d had Papyrus check for injuries, but his brother couldn’t find anything. Not even the meager healing magic Papyrus tried to do without Sans noticing did anything. The weak green glow didn’t find any cracks to heal that hadn’t already scarred. Aside from the mirror human, nothing else of note had happened.

   Sans closed his eye sockets as he gave a low hum to think about the human. He didn’t get its name, but if he had to pick it out of a crowd of humans, he’d say he’d have a good shot. Something about that human had piqued his interest. Whether or not that was due to the fact that it briefly took up residence in his mirror, Sans didn’t know.

   He was certain it was female. Soft features, longer hair, and general shape gave that away. She didn’t look like she hadn’t been eating --something that bothered him in a manner he didn’t understand -- with a gaunt face and a look in the eye that was too familiar in the Underground. A hungering gaze that looked desperate but intelligent. As the conversation had progressed, the human looked less and less starved. It hadn’t been until Papyrus called, that the cold gaze of want returned to the human’s eyes.

   Sans shoved a bony hand to grasp his nasal ridge, frustrated in two parts. Clearly the human warranted investigation, but at the time he remembered the duty he had to his brother. Sans might not have been hungry in the least, but his brother and the underground was starving. A human, no matter how gaunt-looking or entertaining, would fix their problems for a while. The skeleton kept trying to absolve himself of the guilt twisting in his non-existent stomach at the memory of the human, squirming in the cold grasp of his magic.

   At the time, his soul seemed to resonate fear, but also desire. Not the same hungering, greedy feeling consuming him if he hadn’t eaten, but a loneliness and cry for this human. Sans didn’t go with his gut feeling to drop the human, but still attempted to pull her to him. The shattering of glass and the burst of pain from his rib cage and cold cuts slicing up his arm made him immediately let go as the human crumpled in the reflection.

   The skeleton raised his hand over his head to regard the worn bone, littered with a myriad of its own scrapes and scars over the years. His soul had sunk at the fragmented image of the unconscious human, her hair askew and blood disappearing down the drain. And then, the image was gone, his own concerned and pained face staring back at him.

   Sans let out another pained breath, concluding this is where his troubles began. The human meant more that he initially thought. Perhaps she was a mage? That would provide the best explanation, but she didn’t seem to believe in magic, so that’s unlikely.

   The skeleton sat up, putting his slippers to the carpet with a heavy thump . Maybe he could make a trip to the librarby. Even though the librarian had perished due to the famine, a Loox still guarded the building and its books. That Loox wasn’t too interested in lending out books without some form of payment.

   Sans shoved himself off his bed, wincing at a sudden throb in his chest and made his way to his door, deciding to catch some small prey as an offering. Reaching out for his doorknob, he opened his left hand to grasp the familiar handle of his cleaver, metal embedded in the wood of the doorframe and yanked the weapon free from its usual rest. His trademark grin found its way back on his face as the familiar anticipation of the hunt rose up.

   This was a feeling he was certain was his own.



   Sans intentionally avoided Papyrus’ traps. It wasn’t that his brother’s traps were dangerous to him, but he just didn’t want to take from whatever his brother had caught to give to some other monster. It had taken longer than usual to track down the scent of prey, but Sans wasn’t too bothered. The hunger didn’t fuel his steps and neither did any small desire to escape the biting cold, so he took his time. The only annoying thing was his ribs and he had lived through worse. It was an inconvenience at best, but some of his footfalls made his body’s displeasure known.

   As the scent of the rabbit grew stronger, Sans subconsciously adjusted his steps to sink into the snow with little noise. The crunch of his slippers became as silent as a cat’s padded steps and his left hand tightened around the cleaver. His stance lowered just a tad and he began to look through the gray trunks to see his quarry.

   A plump brown rabbit sat out in the open, picking at the snow to uncover some grass hidden just under the white covering. How such a creature was able to attain any weight pleasantly surprised Sans. Perhaps he could borrow two books from the librarby.

   No sticks sat in his path, so the rabbit didn’t notice the huge skeleton until he was two feet from the quiet animal. It froze in its fear moments before Sans bore down on it, hand flashing out to grab at its back. The rabbit screamed as claws tore into its back, desperation leading it to try to jump away, only dragging its body a few inches, but not able to escape the monster’s grasp. Wild eyes looked at Sans, locked in the sight of the blown-out eye before a flash of metal came down and quickly ended the rabbit.



   Sans trudged his way back to Snowdin, his small catch leaving a trail of blood behind the skeleton. His eye roamed the streets. Very few monsters even left their homes anymore and even fewer visited their neighbors. That day didn’t see much traffic from any monster, but Sans would be a fool to think he wasn’t being watched. If he were to look at any house, the curtains would fall back to cover the windows, hiding from the Butcher’s gaze.

   The residents of Snowdin weren’t always cowering behind their barred doors. When Sans would come knock and there was word of a fallen human, the doors would swing open and arms would be outstretched, welcoming the huge skeleton and whatever rations he was sent to distribute into their homes.

   If the Underground was barren, however, and a human hadn’t fallen in months, the scenario changed drastically. If the Butcher came knocking and there hadn’t been any meat, you’d either have been caught preying on other monsters or simply crossed off the ration list.

   Sans’ slippers stopped outside the decrepit librarby, the sign’s letters beginning to fall due to lack of maintenance. The windows were boarded up and the lights inside were off, but the subtle scrape of feet clued Sans in that there was an occupant. He raised his bony hand to give three, heavy knocks.

   The scraping of feet stopped abruptly and a scurry could be heard from inside. Sans waited through the sound of many locks disengaging, all the clicks accompanied by heavy breathing on the other side of the door.

   The door swung open to reveal a short, spherical monster. Spindly legs propped the creature’s body up and even thinner arms clutched the door. Gray horns, chipped and covered in silver-white dust sat atop what was a huge eye. Red rings surrounded a milky-white pupil that was fixed right underneath Sans’ chin.

   “O-oh, Sans,” the monster’s sharp teeth turned up in a facsimile of a smile. “I’d recognize your sli-slip-slipper steps anywhere. What brings you to my librarby?”

   Sans stepped into the dark building, giving the place a once-over. Shelves were toppled over and nearly devoid of books. Thick, brown spines faced the door, labels covered by tape and cloth covers fraying at the edges due to over use. The table that once held host to the Junior Jumble and Crossword committees was broken in half, papers strewn about in a messy fashion. Sans could see the cot set up behind the librarian’s desk, small knives gleaming right next to the raggedy fabric.

   “i’m looking for a book,” Sans said to the blind monster as it shut the door behind him. The small monster bounced a little with its laughter.

   “I ga-gath-gather… I figured-ed from the fact that you ca-came her-re,” Loox trotted behind the librarian’s desk. “But yo-you know there’s a pri-pri… cost.” Sans placed the rabbit on the desk and immediately the spindly arms reached the rabbit, fingers tracing the form of the still animal. The Loox’s grin grew and it pulled the bunny to the edge of the table and stuffed it under the counter. “Wha-wha-whatcha lookin-in for?”

   “i’m loox -ing for a book on mages,” Sans gruffly said, hunching into a slump. Loox smiled and nodded, arm reaching further down under the counter. It pulled out a large binder, leatherbound and thick with pages and pages of… nothing. Sans stared down at the binder, feeling a spark of indignant anger.

   Loox deftly opened the binder and ran its fingers across small bumps in the paper, almost impossible to see in the dim light. It flipped through the pages and stopped, grinning wider and raising a thin finger to point toward the back corner of the librarby.

   “You’ll find it on the shelf closest to the wall. It’ll be the fi-fi-fifth book from the r-righ-right-t-t,” Loox, lowered the binder back under the counter and brought the rabbit up to its mouth.

   Sans trudged over to the far back, looking at the seemingly identical books in the room. Each book’s title was covered in tape since the bookkeeper didn’t need to read them. He had to commend the little guy, if someone wanted to find a specific book, they’d have to deal with Loox first.

   Reaching the final bookcase, Sans counted and grabbed the fifth book, cracking it open to read the title inside the book. Monsters in Magic, Humans in Soul: Mages and their History . The skeleton flipped to the table of contents, looking down the list of chapter names. Upon not finding a single one on magic, he gave a sigh and closed the book, placing it back on the shelf and knocking a different book onto the ground.

   Sans grimaced from a flash of rib pain and leaned over to pick up the book, briefly skimming over the open page.

   … Souls have a strange way of finding their mates. Some soulmates feel a tug, an inexplicable pull in a direction until they collide with their mates. Some souls will share visions of its soulmate. Even stranger are the souls that share feelings with their mate. Why these souls do this is unknown, but it is theorized that it is meant to give the soulmates a better understanding of one another…

   Sans raised a brow, interest piqued as he picked up the book to flip to the front. Souls and Soulmates: The Study of Rare Soul-based Phenomenon, 4th ed. The book certainly didn’t look to be a research journal nor did it stand out as a scholarly source, but something about the passage stuck out to him.

   The skeleton stood there, contemplating his decision, bouncing the book idly in his hand. A flash of pain ran through his ribs again and he hissed, deciding he would prefer to think in the comforts of his own, messy room.

   With quick steps, Sans gave a quick goodbye to Loox, leaving the librarby with the strange book in tow. Halfway to his house, the skeleton realized that he hadn’t actually checked out the book or gotten a date to return it. Not that he expected Loox to leave its safe librarby to go searching for Sans to return. He eventually decided that he didn’t care and he crossed the threshold to the skeleton brothers’ house.

   Sans shuffled in and plopped down on the sofa, pausing to listen for any signs of Papyrus being home. A few creaks from upstairs soothed Sans. His brother was probably planning out new traps. A fond smile graced Sans’ face as he cracked open the book to begin on chapter one.

   Souls are the very culmination of our beings, a reflection of our physical and mental health as well as an indicator of our main traits...

Chapter Text

   Surprisingly enough, the day hadn’t become as bad as you knew it could be. At the very least it was warm. You let your head fall back, lounging in the sun like a cat and letting a grin curl up on your face.

   Hunter had taken you to Ebott Mountain Park, claiming you’d been “acting lethargic” and had driven you to his worksite and set up a foldable chair near the lake in the park. It might be more correct to refer to it as a pond, but it had a depth that gave it the title of “lake”. The waters were dark enough, so dark and deep that no one living in Ebott had seen the bottom. The town wasn’t big enough to encourage any members of the scientific community and, since the park was protected, no aspiring companies would sink money into searching the lake or funding any searching of the lake.

   You sat back in the foldable chair, now looking at the blue expanse and watching the ducks on the surface of the water circle each other. Hunter probably wanted to set you up as a partial sentry to look out for any kids taking a dive. Due to the mystery of what lay in the lake, many young boys made dares to others to go diving. A few boys had gone missing that way and presumed dead, but bodies were never recovered. So far, Hunter hadn’t needed to file any paperwork about disappearing boys, but he certainly had received workout from chasing away preteens from hypothermia or worse.

   You sighed and looked down at the brown paper bag. Your park ranger friend supplied you with bread to toss at the ducks. Said ducks were instead treated to the sight of you eating crumbs out of the bag while staring at them. If you were to hazard a guess at duck expressions, you’d bet they’d be giving you an expression of jealousy and disgust. Out of twisted amusement, you tossed one piece, aiming to hit one particularly ugly mallard and watch chaos descend. Unfortunately, the mallard just caught it and ate it down while you watched on, disappointment flooding your face.

   You looked down into the paper bag and saw it was empty. Your stomach growled, demanding more, but you just crumpled up the bag in frustration. You’d already eaten the sandwich Hunter packed for you as well as the granola bar you snagged before being almost dragged out the door. Irene and Hunter had been getting increasingly worried about your hermit behavior. So what if you didn’t want to go outside or attend any outings? You had a valid excuse in the form of fractured ribs. Not that they hurt, but you were able to hide behind that for a long enough time that your roommates hadn’t dragged you out until the end of the week.

   A sigh left you as you regarded the lake with a tired expression. It was understandable that your friends would be worried. You’d be worried if one of them just slept and ate all day without gaining any significant weight. Stomach grumbling, you stood up in frustration, feeling a twinge of pain race up your chest and let out a soft hiss as bandages scraped against the cuts in your arms. You strode up to the lake, kicking at a rock and sending it flying into the water. Although, your heart dropped to your stomach when you saw the reflections of the ducks in the water.

   Ah, the other reason you refused to leave your room or even look at any reflective surface. Fear of seeing Sans. That monster had to be causing all the weirdness in your life. If it could appear in a mirror, who’s to say it isn’t stalking you in your shadows or making you feel tired all the time.

   You tried to bring your shoes to move out of the thick mud near the lake, the suction on your foot only part of the problem. Logically, you shouldn’t be afraid to look in the mirror; if that skeleton was there, you could walk away and know that no mirrors were safe anymore. If it wasn’t there, you’d have nothing to fear as the bathroom incident would be an isolated, weird incident.

   Steeling yourself, you trudged up to the lakeside and peered over the water. The only thing staring back at you was, well, you, looking much more disheveled than you’d ever been before. Hair hung in a loose ponytail, strands sticking up and fleeing the band. You wouldn’t even call the bags under your eyes bags -- at this point they were storage units. And you’ve never seen yourself look so hungry. No middle school fast you’ve ever seen (in yourself or in other people) resulted in that look in your eyes.

   Your reflection grimaced back at you. This was certainly better than what you’d thought would be staring back at you. A red eye, caved skull, and a grin that stretched too far would be unwelcome. Something in your chest twinged at that thought and you guiltily looked away from your reflection. That wasn’t entirely true.

   If it wasn’t for how that last conversation ended, you’d probably be wanting to meet this skeleton again. You were curious about it and its situation. Why did it have a caved in head? Why did it have one eye? What was it? Were there more of its kind? Where did it live? Who’s “Paps”? And the most pressing question, why did it try to pull you into the mirror?

   You looked up at the sky, watching the clouds leisurely float across the sky, some making their way to cover the sun. You could smell the rain in the forecast and caught sight of the darker, larger clouds on the horizon. The clouds were ominous, thick and heavy with water. Briefly wondering how long it would take for the rain to come, you let a hand come up to hold your chin.

   Something in your chest pulled you toward the water, breaking you from your reverie and sending you stumbling to the lakeside. Your knees hitting the mud, you winced at your arms now taking on your weight, pain shooting through you as though a bamboo stick had shunted through your hands and into your arms.

   You put a hand to your chest, feeling a throbbing pain that was noticeably different from the slight pain you’d felt to your ribs. This was a pull rather than a shooting pain, the tug overcoming your common sense and rather than pulling you off your own feet, felt to be the cause of your feet moving and getting tangled up, resulting in the fall.

   Wanting to get out of the mud, you tried rocking back onto your feet, but your body wouldn’t listen. Some subconscious desire to get as close to the lake as possible manifested and you just sat, stock-still, hands covered in mud and knees firmly stuck to the ground. Frustration came over you, giving you a mild headache as you demanded your muscles push you away from the ground, but a heart-wrenchingly lonely sensation overtook you, cold coalescing in your chest as a deep pain. Tears came unbidden to your eyes and blurred your vision as the sensation grew, the feeling akin to a constrictor snake squeezing your ribs, collarbone, and neck in.

   And just as suddenly as control was stolen from you, it was granted back. Your arms flung to hug yourself as you just sunk into the mud further, desperate to be near someone . Someone to warm you, someone to hug you, someone to cuddle and just be with.

   The call for companionship and someone to relate to scratched at the back of your throat, tears digging hot tracks into your cheeks. The world was blurry through your tears, the sky’s white clouds and blue background combined into an ocean of light blue and gray splotches. If you weren’t so desperate to feel someone, you might not have noticed the movement in the water. You might have dismissed it as a ripple or a tear that caught some light. But you swiftly looked into the water.

   And saw the skeleton.

   You knew you should run away. You knew your body would listen to you and adrenaline would fuel your escape. You were fully aware that Sans’ arrival would likely bring pain.

   But the skeleton was there. And they were someone.

   “Sans?” you whimpered out, voice hoarse from the wave of loneliness. The cold pain reduced in your chest as you saw the skeleton’s grin hike up.

   “hey, treat,” Sans replied. Its eye sockets were lowered and the space between was crinkled into some expression you couldn’t recognize.

   He’s guilty. For some reason, your mind helpfully supplied what you guessed to be the correct expression and gave Sans a gender. You didn’t want to argue with yourself.

   “how ya been?” he asked, deep voice rippling the medium of his reflection. You sniffed and pushed your tears away with your mud-caked hand. Against whatever poor survival instincts you still had, you decided to shuffle closer to the edge of the water.

   “Terrible,” you replied and you saw his face drop. Sans looked down and then back up at you. Warm anger pulsed in your throat as you narrowed your teary eyes at him. “You’d know about that wouldn’t you?”

   The skeleton sighed and nodded, eye fixed firmly on the ground, like a child knowing they’re in the wrong and are embarrassed about it. “yeah, i know i’ve fucked up.”

   His eye flicked up to meet yours. “i wasn’t thinking when i tried to drag you to me,” he said, hand coming up to rub at his own chest. “i have a brother to feed, and… i didn’t know who you were at the time.”

   “What would I have anything to do with feeding your brother?” you asked, crossing your arms. Sans looked a tad worried, a… was that a sweat droplet? appearing on his skull.

   “i, uh,” the eye had shrunk to a measurable degree, now half the size of the socket it occupied. “i thought you might have some… uh, food on you?” He seemed to be asking you, unsure in his response. While it didn’t sound like a good excuse, not even passing as a truthful response, you couldn’t come up with a better reason.

   You leaned back, fixing Sans with a strong glare. “So you broke my ribs for food?”

   “yes- no! i mean-” Sans raised a hand to grasp between his sockets and closed his eyes. “this isn’t how i wanted this conversation to go, treat.” You raised your eyebrows and gestured toward your bandaged hands and ribs. “yeah, i got that. listen,” he sighed, looking so very tired that you almost dropped your anger for concern. Almost.

   “i’m sorry,” he started. “i didn’t mean to break your ribs. stars, i didn’t mean to hurt you. paps means the world to me and he’s starving just like the rest of us an-”

   You held up your hand to stop him. “Hold on,” Sans stopped rumbling in favor of listening. “Who’s ‘us’? Why are you all starving? Who’s ‘Paps’? And why do I mean so much to you?”

   Sans gave another sigh and you felt the long, drawn-out breath reverberate through you, water rippling as he let out the air. You watched his reflection raise up his right hand, phalanges splayed out. He pointed at his pointer finger with his left hand.

   “us monsters,” his deep timbre answered. He pointed to his middle finger. “us monsters are trapped down in the underground where there’s almost no food, treat.” He tapped his ring finger with his left hand’s pointer. “paps, is my brother, papyrus. he’s all i’ve got and i’d do anything for him.” Finally, he tapped his pinky finger. “for this question, i need something from you.”

   “From me?” you asked, hand on your chest and eyebrow raised. What on earth were his demands? Suspicion rose through you, cold climbing your back as your mind raced to provide answers. “What do you need from me?” Sans smiled and you saw a muted blue glow on his zygomatic arches.

   “yeah,” he said. “‘m kinda embarrassed for not asking you the first time i saw you.” You watched as his hand reached back and scratched the back of his skull. “what’s your name?”

   Tension dropped from your shoulders. Your name? How did you mean so much to him without him having a name to put your face to? “It’s y/n.” You supplied, watching the skeleton with interest.

   Sans’ grin stretched further and the blue on his arches became more prominent. The red in his eye grew, taking up most of his eye socket and fuzzing out at the edges.

   “heh,” he gave a quiet chuckle.

y/n.

   Sans spoke your name with reverence, his face softening around the edges and his image seeming to drop a little in what you realized was a slouch. The skeleton looked completely at bliss.

   “Um, hey,” you waved a little to get Sans’ attention. “You there, buddy?”

   Sans jumped a little, eye refocusing on you. You couldn’t help but straighten up under his gaze, the spotlight on you and so focused.

   “Were you going to answer my question?” you prompted.

   “uh, yeah,” he said, hand going back to scratch at his skull again. “you’re important because, well, uh…

   “you’re kinda my soulmate.”

Chapter Text

You were certain you had been exposed to the concept of the five stages of grief. While you couldn’t remember all of it, you were certain being told that you were the soulmate of a skeleton that lived under the earth in some undisclosed location lined up pretty well.

Denial . “You’ve got to be joking,” you said, voice deadpan and face in what you were sure was a confusing twist.

Sans looked even more nervous -- jury was still out on how he managed that with a skull for a face -- and you could see sweat beading on his face.

“look, buddy,” he held up his hands in a placating gesture. “i know it’s hard to believe. monsters under the mountain, magic, and soulmate stuff, but i can explain it to you.”

You leaned back on your heels, hands now resting on your thighs as you struggled for any understanding. “I’m not even sure if I’m still hallucinating your existence.” You shook your head. “How can you even prove that I’m not making this wacky scenario in my head?”

Sans gave you a concerned look that had traces of trepidation in his bone brows, leaning back a bit. “i’d be a bit more worried that you’d have that kinda fucked-up imagination. who dreams about people starving?”

You gave a slight chuckle as your own stomach rumbled. “I guess I’m fucked up, huh?”

The skeleton narrowed his eye sockets at you. “you’re not fucked up, you’re not hallucinating. i’m real.”

Of course, he’d try to convince you he was real. Real cute of your imagination to come up with this elaborate world. You laughed at your mental state and saw in your peripheral vision that the skeleton was getting more and more annoyed.

“y/n,” he called. You were sure you’d heard somewhere that ignoring your imagination was imperative to get better. “y/n.” Stubborn imagination. “ y/n .” Your stomach rumbled and with it you felt frustration rise up in your chest. Electing to ignore the frustration and the hallucination, you began to think of what you wanted to eat next.

Anger . Just as you were mentally cataloging the contents of the pantry at your apartment, a sharp, piercing pain clamped down on your arm. You yelped and pulled your arm to you, the pain worsening as though something was biting down and trying to break something.

Your gaze whipped around to see your invisible assailant. Ducks swam in circles on the lake. Grass whipped in the wind. The pain persisted to the point of tears and you finally looked into the water.

Sans was still there, his own arm in his mouth. His sleeve had been rolled up to reveal scratched and worn, white bone. Bone he was crushing with his own bite. You hadn’t seen the sharp fangs before when his mouth wasn’t open, the teeth hiding their ends, but now, his canines were on full display, embedding themselves in his radius and ulna. His eye was fixed on you, the red light shrinking in focus as you whimpered in pain.

The pressure increased and you felt as though something were on the verge of breaking, the piercing pain almost a flutter of a butterfly’s wings in comparison to the pressure on your arm. You felt the rumbling growl before you heard it, the deep bass shuddering through you and your chest, water rippling in response.

“Stop, stop, stop, stop,” you pleaded, unsure if you were praying to whoever would listen or pleading with Sans. His eye shrunk a little more, now barely the size of a dime and you felt the pressure increase. Tears came to your eyes and you could only assume this was the sensation those poor items on a hydraulic press felt. An entirely wrong feeling of tension and the sensation of bated breath before a storm broke or a string snapped rolled through you.

Bargaining . “ Sans, stop it! ” you cried out and the skeleton’s eye dilated for a moment. And then he let go of his arm. And just like that, the pressure released like a thousand rubber bands all snapping off and leaving your arm raw. You quickly inspected your arm, bewildered to find absolutely nothing.

Your incredulous gaze snapped to Sans, watching him inspect his own arm. The bone looked cracked, points driven into it by canines and marks left behind by his molars and incisors. Silver-white powder fell from it, but there were no fractures through the bone, so you assumed he’d be fine.

But stars did your arm not feel okay. It felt as though there was an imprint left, as though a dog had just finished tearing into you, but not before having a bookshelf topple onto your arm. There was no evidence of any kind of damage, but you couldn’t let go of your arm, the pain radiating in hot waves.

Sans’ eye rolled to look at you. He didn’t look smug, but he wore that expression of pity. One that you were certain good mothers would give their children when they’d been warned away from an activity only to get hurt doing said activity. A sad ‘i told you so’ that absolutely did not help you figure out what just happened. Thankfully, your mouth did work.

“What just happened?” you croaked at Sans, tears still coming down.

He was quiet for a bit, eye looking over your face before seeming to settle on a decision. He gave a quiet sigh and shoved his hands in the pockets of his hoodie, any motion in his right arm making you whimper with a corresponding pain in your own right arm.

“well,” he said, drawling a little. “you’re my soulmate.” You nodded along, desperate for any explanation. “which means your soul and my soul are made for each other.”

“What even is a soul?” you decided to ask, a pain in your chest growing from the ride of emotion today.

Sans put a bony hand to his forehead. “i keep forgetting humans don’t know anything about souls.” He gave a deep sigh of annoyance before you heard a sound very similar to a tongue click before he continued. “everyone has a soul. bad people, good people, everyone. a soul is the culmination of your very being. anything that makes you who you are is represented by your soul and its traits.”

Depression. You sniffled. “So what does that mean for me? My soul likes your soul?”

Sans chuckled, somehow lessening the pain in your chest as you watched his shoulders bounce. “sorta. really, our souls just… know? they know there’s no other soul in the world that could complete them.” Sans’ face twists as he thinks. “like... like…” his eye dilates to fill his socket. “like your soul is french fries and the whole world is honey, but my soul is ketchup!” He looked so proud of his analogy and you couldn’t help the amusement growing, bringing a slight smile to your face.

“But I like ranch on my fries,” you gave him a weak smile.

You’ve never seen anyone look so distraught. Sans looked as though life had fallen from him, starting from the top of his skull with his brows dropping and smile falling just a little to his shoulders slumping and the rest of his body following in his disappointment.

“the universe is cruel,” he moaned, and you laughed openly, feeling amusement bubble over the pain in your arm. “what dastardly deeds did i do in my past life to deserve a soulmate who likes ranch ?” he spat the word out as though it were a rotting carcass. You were beginning to feel a bit better about the whole situation, despite the throbbing pain in your arm.

“But, seriously,” you giggled a little, drawing the skeleton’s attention again. “How am I your soulmate? I don’t even fully believe you exist as anything but a figment of my imagination.” You needed to be truthful with yourself and blunt with the hallucination.

He fixed you with a patient look, but you could feel the annoyance hiding behind the expression. “y/n, i am real. i know you’re my soulmate because we’re sharing feelings.”

You rolled your eyes at him. “Really? A soulmate is that easy to determine?” You gave Sans a playful grin. “If it’s about being able to tell emotions, I’d be soulmates with half the nation.” The skeleton’s face turned dark at that last phrase, but he seemed to move past it after giving you a scrutinizing look.

“y/n, it’s not just emotions,” he pressed. “how would you explain why your arm hurts? i didn’t touch that. no one did.” The skeleton raised his own arm and held a finger over it. “i bit my own arm, but it hurt you because you were feeling my pain.”

You opened your mouth for a quick retort, but nothing came to mind. No, there wasn’t any kind of damage done to your arm, but the pain was persistent. Sans could see you begin to fall back on your hallucination excuse, but he tapped his finger against his right arm, sending a shooting pain up your own arm.

“What the hell, Sans?” you almost screeched at him, cradling your arm closer. “If you know it hurts, then why are you hurting me?” The skeleton looked almost guilty before hardening his gaze.

“because i don’t think an illusion, a figment of your imagination, or whatever you keep dismissing me as causes actual pain,” he explained. “i’m real,” the skeleton looked down, mumbling, “so is the damage i did to your ribs.”

Acceptance . He… actually had a point. The broken glass in your bathroom certainly wasn’t your imagination, neither was the actual fractures. This monster was actually real. He somehow could contact you and he somehow could share feelings.

Wait .

You jumped to your feet as realization sparked through your brain and you looked down at Sans, who stared at you in confusion about your flurry of motion. Starving. No food. Sharing feelings. Your stomach growled with you as anger shot up you.

“ARE YOU THE REASON I’VE BEEN SO GODDAMN HUNGRY?!” you yelled, absolutely famished.

Sans’ head tilted, looking confused. You saw him think over something, his concentration completely on something he was contemplating. You waited with rising anger as you watched him connect the dots and then look horrified. That was all the confirmation you needed.

“oh my stars, y/n,” he put his hands to his chest and then mouth. “ you’ve been starving for me?” Your stomach gave a loud complaint as you couldn’t contain all the emotions that flooded back to you.

“Is all this your fault?!” you hugged yourself around the middle, tears coming back full-force and hiccups coming up, agitating you further. “I’ve been so, so goddamn hungry for these past weeks.” You fell to the muck again, saltwater obscuring your vision again. “Nothing has helped. I ate and ate and ate,” you whimpered, feeling sadness descend on you and pull you closer to the ground, digging its own hole in your stomach.

Stress held you down, sadness almost quenching the beast in your stomach in a trade to pull at your throat and dig cold icicles into the soles of your feet and palm of your hands. Part of you was happy for that explanation, a method to the madness, but it was eaten up by the frustration that had been building for weeks, now free to gnash its teeth at the injustice of it all. Why you? Why this pain ascribed to you?

In your entire tearful fit, you missed Sans disappearing, but you certainly heard him call you from your sobbing mess a moment later.

“y/n, y/n,” he urgently called, worry in his tone. You looked at him. He seemed to be holding… a bowl of spaghetti. Was he taunting you now? The beast in your stomach seemed to think so, but kept your eyes trained on the food in the image.

Once Sans saw you stare at the spaghetti, he grabbed it -- no utensil, like a barbarian -- and shoved it in his mouth, barely chewing before swallowing. He didn’t even try to grab another handful on his second go at the food, opting instead to throw the entire bowl back into his gaping maw.

And like that, feeling returned to your arms, the release of tension so prominent that you gasped at the feeling of the receding hunger pangs. Colors brightened and you felt unfocused briefly, now all motion commanding your attention instead of little spaces in your vision. Like a pitcher of water poured over a fire, you felt put out, but in a satisfying manner.

You just let yourself collapse into the mud fully, tired, but void of stress. It felt good to have your chest closer to the ground. Like a child tuckered out after a long day of play or a salaryman finished with his work and settling down for the holidays after a nice bonus and fat paycheck, you felt satisfied and well-worn out.

You didn’t listen to Sans asking for you to get up, nor did you see the little smile he gave you when he saw you weren’t getting up, but you did feel a wave wash over you of reassurance, making you sigh in delight as you fell asleep, face half in the mud.



Sans was certain Papyrus was expecting him back at home, but he couldn’t stop staring in the river that ran behind Snowdin. He felt guilt, frustration, and just the slightest bit of contentment as he watched his soulmate sleep just in the reflection.

Guilt tugged at him for not realizing he’d been unintentionally starving his soulmate. Just because she was putting food in, didn’t mean she was using all of it. He knew his magic had to have been fed through their connection, but she received none of the satisfaction of food. Sans conceded to himself that at least she knew what it was like to be him, starving and confused as to where all this went wrong.

Although, he did berate himself for finding solace in her pain or even being grateful she had felt even a sliver of his pain.

Frustration build because she was right there . Eyes shut in peaceful rest, the background of the image lighted by the breaking dusk. He wished he could put his hand through the water to just caress even one lock of her hair. When Sans dipped his bony hand into the river, all he got was icy cold water. His guilt tugged at him again for even thinking of bringing his soulmate away from the safety of the surface to the hell that was his everyday life.

All his conflicting feelings had trouble pushing through the blanket of contentedness wrapped around his bones. His soulmate knew she was his soulmate. She didn’t hate him! At least, he hoped. She was sleeping so close to him.

Her image just kept getting warped by ripples, although he wasn’t entirely sure what it was until the underside of a… duck? The animal resembled that one duck in Waterfall so he assumed it was the same kind of creature. The duck paddled across his vision a few time and Sans growled, the image becoming more and more disturbed.

Sans growled and reached into the pond, mouth-watering and feeling a rising rage as the duck stepped onto your unconscious body. Alas, he just kept flailing in the water.

Duck: 1; Sans: 0

Chapter Text

Everything was cold.

Not the cold that you felt when you were alone, but a wet cold. A cold that sunk into your skin like the talons of a raptor, promising a worse consequence than just the temporary biting of the humid chill.

Strangely enough, you felt a concentrated warmth on two parts of your body as you slowly came back from sleep. One was a comforting warmth in your chest, something feeling akin to a kitten sleeping on your chest, little purrs vibrating and reminding you that you were safe. The other was a slightly heavier warmth that sat on your neck. You gave a little twitch and reached your arm up to your neck.

“QUACK!”

Your eyes shot open as the warmth flung itself off, a mallard taking flight from your neck in a flurry of motion. It shot over to the center of the lake, quacking angrily at you. Other motion caught your bleary attention as other ducks decided to race away from you, each one as loud as the mallard and most certainly gossiping about you.

“Wha-” you looked around in confusion. You were still at the lake, cold mud on your face, arms, legs, chest - basically everywhere except your back. In the moonlit night, the mud looked gray, almost pitch black. Not able to repress the disgust, you curled your lip at your own hands and heard a growing chuckle under you.

You looked down and met Sans gaze, the massive skeleton holding a hand over his grin as his eye sockets crinkled in mirth. Your confusion grew alongside Sans’ growing laughter, the volume now echoing in the night. You could see actual tears form under his eye sockets, slate blue in color and being hastily wiped away. A smile spread across your face as amusement washed over you, a bubbling, light sensation filling your chest as you giggled for no real reason.

“What’s so funny?” you asked, trying to suppress your own laughter as Sans seemed to get a hold of his own.

“di-did you see those ducks run?” he asked, smile still wrinkling his eye sockets. “you, heh heh, you got ‘em real good.” He seemed to take way too much joy from watching the ducks disperse. You weren’t as enthused about putting the fear of god in the ducks, but you were happy to see that he was enjoying himself.

You looked around the lake, night had fallen and the moon’s reflection was swimming in the lake. You honestly hadn’t expected to fall asleep and the most surprising was that you were still here. Standing up to stretch, you looked around the park you could see from the lakebed. There was a parked park ranger vehicle a ways away, but no sign of activity near it. And, as the park closed at sunset, you were fairly surprised Hunter hadn’t shown up to take you home. Casting a glance down at Sans, who seemed to have entirely recovered from his laughter, and decided to ask him.

“Hey, Sans,” a little trill ran through your chest when you addressed him. “How long have I been asleep?”

The skeleton cocked his head as he was thinking. “i guess long enough for me to go home and talk to paps.” In his background, you saw the decrepit bathroom that faded at the edges to the natural dark-blue of the lake. “if you’re wondering, no one came to wake you up.”

You screwed up your face in confusion. That was beyond odd. You began to make your way over to the truck. To your surprise, Sans’ reflection followed you. You didn’t see the bounce of his shoulders, so you decided to go with the safe bet of “soulmate shit”.

“Hey, so,” you decided to ask him some questions as you meandered your way over to the park ranger truck. “What are monsters? Why are you all starving?”

You heard a sigh. “i’ve never been the best at explaining things, so bear with me. monsters are creatures made of magic and dust.”

You raised your eyebrows, surprise pitching your voice a tad. “So magic exists? What can you do with magic? Is that why I can see you in my reflection? Can all monsters do that?”

Sans responded with a low chuckle, “ok, ok, you’re gonna need ta slow down on your questions.” You turned your head just enough to see him hold up a hand to count down on the questions. “yes, magic exists. magic is different for every monster that uses it. paps and i can summon bones and we can make ya heavier, lighter, toss ya around a bit with gravity magic. not all monsters can do what i do and i can’t always do what they can.”

You had to break away from the lakebed to trudge over to the truck. The lights were off and the door was slightly cracked open. You couldn’t smell any gasoline in the air, so it was safe to assume the truck hadn’t been running recently. Next to the truck on the driver’s side was a little box. It was one of those mini coolers, complete with a handle. You recognized the red, scuffed exterior as one you had seen at your apartment.

You approached and leant over to pick up the cooler, looking for and finding Hunter’s name messily scrawled in Sharpie on the side. You stood up and looked into the vehicle, only to jump back when you saw Sans’ face in the reflective window instead.

“God, you scared me,” you gasped, holding a hand to your heart as you came up to the car again. You put your hand on the handle of the truck, swinging it open to inspect the inside.

“i don’t understand people who stumble into mirrors,” he suddenly said. You stopped with your hand on the headrest on the seat, to listen. “they need to watch themselves.” Confusion and then bemused realization. You tried to hide your giggle, but you knew he heard you.

“That’s an ad- mirror -able pun,” you continued your searching. No one was in the car and the seat was as cool as the outdoor air. Pushing yourself out of the vehicle, you closed the door and headed back to the lake.

As you approached the lake you heard Sans’ baritone shooting you another one-liner. “the other day, i held my clock up to the mirror.” you sat down on the mud to comfortably look through the little cooler. “it was time for reflection.”

Snorting, you brought out your phone, shooting a text off to Hunter in hopes that he’d track you down. “If we’re going to reflect, then would you mind telling me how we’re even talking right now?”

Sans gave a chuckle and then coughed into his own hand, refocusing on less punny matters. “yeah, i guess we should.” You waited. “i think it’s because we’re soulmates. i’ve never done this magic before and i read that souls kinda do their own thing. like, the whole pain/feeling-sharing thing?”

You nodded, cracking open Hunter’s cooler to find three sandwiches. Pulling out one and taking a bite, you listened to Sans continue his explanation. “well, it’s supposed to, i think, bring us closer by just knowing the best way to comfort the other. so, my working theory is that our souls are trying to keep us as close as they can, all things considering.”

You bit into the turkey sandwich again, trying to digest the information. So, your soul was trying to bring you two closer? By setting up a pseudo video chat?

“If I met you, like face-to-face,” you spoke with your mouth full, wanting to understand this soulmate concept a bit better since you were saddled with it. “Then would the mirror conversations stop?”

Sans seemed to glower, the red light dimming slightly as he replied. “i really hope we don’t meet face-to-face.”

Feeling a tad hurt, you leaned back. “What’s wrong with meeting face-to-face? Do you not like me or something?” you asked defensively.

The massive skeleton groaned and put his skull in his hands, groaning a bit. “it’s... complicated.”

“I don’t see how.”

Sans raised three fingers as his eye rolled up to meet yours, sour expression on his face and grin transformed into a grimace. “one, i’m underground and monsters can’t get to the surface.”

You leaned forward, interrupting. “Why not?” Sans continued to stare at you, silent before realization hit you and you apologized for interrupting.

“nah, it’s okay,” he waved it off, seeming more comfortable with this topic. “hundreds of years ago, humans and monsters lived in harmony. then bad stuff happened and mages locked us away under Mt. Ebott, made a barrier that prevented us from leaving, and made the barrier so that you needed seven human souls to break it.” he grinned at you. “if you’re particularly observant you’ll notice that monsters were sealed underground, no humans.”

Hearing this tale, you felt your heart break in sympathy. Who would lock away an entire sentient species under a mounta-

“WAIT!” You held up your hands, flailing forward. “Did you say Mt. Ebott?” Sans nodded, trepidation raising one of his brows. A smile lit up your face as you stood, pointing toward the mountain you were just at the foot of. “It’s right here, like, I’m at the actual Ebott Mountain and Forest Park!” Sans’ sockets widened. “You said y’all were starving, right?” You held up the cooler with a wide grin on your face. You could help them, you could help Sans. “It’s not much, but I’m sure if I find the entrance I could bring food an-”

no!

The reverberating growl mixed into a stern yell made you drop the cooler in surprise. Sans looked so scared and angry, arm reaching toward you as though he was trying to grab you through the water. You felt your heart sinking, warm excitement falling into a cold sadness and pool of hurt.

“Why not?” you asked in a small voice, wringing your hands sadly.

Sans winced at the tone of your voice, but his face quickly hardened. He brought his arms back and put up two phalanges, pointing at the middle finger. “the second reason i don’t want us to meet face-to-face is because the monsters, the underground, everything around me, is dangerous. you shouldn’t come.”

Holding up the food, you can’t help but feel rejected, hot shame rushing to your cheeks. “But you all are starving…”

Sans shook his head. “i guarantee, that’s not enough to fix the underground. plus, if you fall down here, the barrier won’t let you leave either.” You dropped to you knees, all the wind taken from your sails. You felt your fingers mindlessly play with the sandwich. Truely, you felt useless.

Feeling the sigh before you heard it, you looked up a little to stare at Sans in the lake. He gave you a smile as best he could. “hey, water you doing lookin so sad.”

He would not get a smile from you.

“you look like you’re pond ering something, mind letting me know wet you’re up to?”

You would not smile.

He chuckled slightly, continuing undeterred by your lack of laughter. “ sea ms to me you’re deep in thought.” You met him with silence, trying to keep the grin off your face. “i just can’t keep up with current events, i’m left floundering .”

No.

“baby, are you the ocean? because i’m drowning in those eyes.”

Now you had to fight the blush and laugh. This was a losing battle.

“i heard humans had bodies that are 75% water,” you watched with a rising blush as Sans’ mouth slowly opened, the transition from open to close much jerkier than you expected. It stuck in some spots, small clicks sounding from him as it finally opened to reveal a slate blue tongue dropping out of it. “‘cause i’m thirsty .”

Hands slapped over your eyes and cheeks as you tried to hide yourself from Sans’ look. Making a sound very similar to a kettle, you pulled your knees up to further hide from the booming laughter in the lake.

He’s a skeleton what the hell is he doing with a tongue. You peaked past your fingers and you saw Sans, mouth closed, but skull thrown back in laughter. He was shaking and bouncing in amusement, each laugh rolling through him and raising his shoulders.

The skeleton looked back at you, wiping his tears away. Your ears burned slightly at the attention, picking at the sandwich. Finally, you managed to get a piece free and hold it out to him.

His grin fell a little. “y/n, i can’t bring that food to me.”

“Have you tried?” you asked, shifting a bit and balancing yourself on the balls of your feet, other hand on the cooler. You held the piece of food right above the water’s surface. Sans gave you a look of mild frustration.

“yes, i have tried,” he grumbled, eye fixed on the piece of sandwich. You shrugged and shoved your hand into the water right where his head was.

He snickered at you. His reflection was broken up by the ripples, but you could still see his mocking face. You frowned at him.

“I was just trying to see if I could do it,” you defended.

“sure, treat,” he said. “but that’s a waste of bread, might want to take it out.”

You nodded and pulled back, only to find resistance. Your brows furrowed before it clicked. “Oh, it must be working. You’re really pulling my leg here, or actually, pulling my arm.”

Sans’ head tilted. “what do ya mean?”

You laughed, “C’mon Sans, don’t play dumb.” You gave another tug, something had wrapped itself around your wrist. “Let go of my hand now.”

The skeleton stared at you in confusion. And then his eye shrunk to a pinprick. “ get your hand outta the water, y/n .”

Your heart rate picked up in fear, but he must’ve been pranking you. “It’s not funny now, Sans.”

“that’s not me.”

“...What?”

“that’s not me, y/n.”

Dread washed over you and you gave the hardest tug you could to free yourself from whatever had wrapped itself around your arm,but whatever it was held tight and seemed to hold tighter.. Surely there wasn’t seaweed in this lake.

“Sans, I can’t get free,” you whispered, voice too scared to raise. Sweat began to bead on Sans’ reflection and he raised his arm and you felt a push.

The push started from your chest as nothing more than a gentle nudge, but you saw the muted blue magic surrounding Sans’ hand and felt the push increase in pressure. Even with that push, your arm wouldn’t free itself, the thing wrapping around your arm tightening like a boa, but also climbing up your arm.

What peaked out of the water could easily be confused for a snake, but it had no eyes and was most similar to a tentacle. The yellow tentacle climbed up your arm all the way to the elbow and wrapped itself firmly there, now pulling with much greater strength. Cold, cold fear ran up your back, like millions of spiders each with their own ice cube.

Your feet were beginning to enter the water with the force of the pull. You desperately began tugging harder and called Sans. You felt Sans’ pushing magic shove you away from the water, and then gravity seemed to increase on you tenfold. Every part of you was pressed to the ground, nothing able to separate you from the mud, not even your own muscles. The tentacle kept tugging and tugging and you felt a pulling sensation in your left arm, but you weren’t moving.

Relief hit you for a brief moment and then, a rubbery rope made its way up your ankle, another cold, wet tentacle wrapping around your leg, loosely waiting and then.

A tug that was followed by a loud, sickening pop. The rational part of you mind gave you a status update: your shoulder and leg were dislocated.You heard yourself scream in pain and a low yell of your name. You weren’t moving, but your leg and arm certainly were, the tentacles trying to drag you further into the lake by your damaged limbs.

You couldn’t see Sans from where you were pressed against the ground, your belly toward the uncaring stars and moon, but you felt fear, anger, and helplessness. A low voice slipped through your mind.

sorry, y/n .

With that defeated voice, you felt the pressure keeping your limbs stapled to the ground disappear. You had one second to gasp as it became easier to breathe. And then your neck snapped to the side from the whiplash of being yanked into the lake. You didn’t even realize you’d grabbed the cooler in your desperation to hold onto something before you had been dragged down into the water. Behind you dragged your clothes, your right arm and leg, and the cooler, bobbing a little by the pressure.

Dark, darker, darkest. You now understood how those kids wouldn’t stand a chance in the lake. How deep did this lake go? Water pulled around you as you descend and your ears popped at the pressure. You held your breath desperately, pressure on your chest increasing the darker the water got.

Fear pounded through you, almost as cold at the water you were dragged through. Your leg swept past something hard in the lake and you watched as an actual human skeleton bobbed in the water in response. Your terrified scream came out as bubbles that rushed to the surface.

The two tentacles were joined by two more tentacles, these now wrapping around your midsection and controlling your movement and pulling you side to side to dodge jagged rocks and then something flowed passed you. The feeling was similar to being dragged through a cavern of scratchy material, roughly running against you, but lacking the roughness to rub you raw.

Right as your vision darkened at the edges, you were pulled to the side sharply and yanked out of the water and into the air. You sputtered and gasped, trying to pull in as much air as you could. Your chest burned, but you couldn’t help but cry in relief to be able to breathe.

Gulping down air, your vision brightened just enough to look up and see stalactites reaching toward you like teeth. On the walls of the cave you were pulled into was a mosaic of light reflected from the water onto the stone. From a quick look around, you could tell you were in a long chamber, the walls coming together in an unnatural corner.

You came to the realization you were being held high above the water and the wooden dock under you, suspended by the very tendrils that dragged you here. Following the yellow tentacles down to the water, you watched a dark form rise out of the water.

If you weren’t so scared, you might have laughed at the sight of such a silly looking creature. It had a bulbous head coming to a point. Two tendrils framed a smile that looked entirely too cutesy on such a huge creature. Its eyes were too large, too tall, and had a strange glint in its black eyes. Right beneath its eyes were a few hash marks in a facsimile of a blush.

“I’m Onionsan!” Its voice was higher pitched than you were used to, reminiscent of metal screeching against itself. “Onionsan, y’hear?”

It pulled you down to eye level and your water-clogged nostrils were immediately cleared by the rotting scent rising from the creature. Iron and decay made you recoil. Onionsan’s smile grew as it held you right in front of its misshapen eyes.

“Y’know, human is my Big Favorite,” teeth came into view, sharp and tinged red at the points. They interlocked into bared teeth. “But eating two humans in one day is just wasteful.”

Chapter Text

The tentacles holding you up seemed unbothered by your frantic wiggling, as did their wielder. Onionsan either was amused by your pulling or was unphased as their facial expression refused to change.

“Y’know,” your upper body was released to swing low as the squid-like monster held you by your leg to examine you. Yelping, you were reminded of your dislocated arm and leg as pain shot up each limb like fire “I’d have thought you’d be beefier, what with the fight you put up.” You unwillingly rotated in the air as blood rushed to your head. “Why couldn’t you have, y’know, muscles or loads of fat, huh?”

“Let me go!” you yelled at the huge creature, as you spun back to face their appraising eyes. “Where the hell am I?” Onionsan’s face shifted to give you a disappointed look, complete with a quirked mouth.

“Y’know, most humans ask what I am, so you’re a bit strange, huh?” It swung you and you felt a tentacle climb up your right arm. “What’cha got there, huh?” Your gaze shifted up to see Hunter’s cooler, rough surface being trailed over by a curious tendril. How you managed to keep a hold of it still escaped you, but the cooler looked a bit roughed up. Plastic was shredded in places and you could see a rock still embedded in it from the dive.

Realization that you hadn’t responded rushed through you as the bone yellow tentacle squeezed. “I know humans are my Big Favorite, but y’know, you should really talk to me, yeah?”

“It’s a cooler, it’s a cooler!” you rushed out, wrist screaming in pain. Immediately, the tentacle loosened, but still held you up as your right leg and arm hung uselessly, but painfully, to your side.

“And what does a ‘cooler’ do, huh?” Onionsan asked, gaze locked on the box.

You licked your lips shakily. “If you could put me down, maybe I can explain?” The black, large eyes drifted to regard you. You didn’t know how much intelligence was held behind those misshapen eyes, but you prayed it was lacking enough to put you down.

“Yeah, human,” you felt yourself lower. “But if you run, I just can’t letcha get away scott-free.”

Your legs brushed across splintered wood, dark enough that you couldn’t distinguish cracks, but damaged enough that you could feel the warped wood once you were set down. You could hear the lapping of water at the supports and walls of the cave. What little light illuminated the dark came from moss, glowing and dimming at some unknown pace.

Setting the cooler down, you flexed your wrist. Somehow, it didn’t break in that crushing grip, but it did feel a bit strained. You gave a little glance at the dark water Onionsan was bobbing in, a spark of hope rising and then being squashed as the water didn’t offer a reflection.

“You going to answer my question, huh?”

Nodding, you placed your left hand on the box, looking up at the curious monster. “Well, a cooler keeps food fresh and cold.” Onionsans eyes leapt back to the box and you could feel a light shake from under you.

“So, you’re keeping food in there, huh?” You saw Onionsan draw closer, the squid’s eyes kept on the cooler. “Aren’t you a helpful human?” Pushing yourself back a little with your left leg, you felt cold water drip down your back, accentuating the dread rising up your spine. “Y’know, human, you’re a bit like me.”

You tried to give the looming creature a grin. “Really? How?”

Another shake from under the dock came up as Onionsans eyes stayed glued to the cooler, followed by a creak of wood. “Y’know, bringing food to people.” Their eyes travelled to stare at you. It’s mouth quirked up in a smile. “You brought food to the Underground, human.”

You blinked. “This is the Underground?” Onionsan nodded with vigor, seeming very pleased.

“Yeah, this is Waterfall,” They tilted their massive head, regarding you curiously. “Y’know, you’re the first human I’ve brought here to know what the Underground is.” Onionsan shook their head. “Well, whatever you know, you’re like me, bringing food to those in need, y’know?” They raised a tendril and curled it in the air. “Y’know, Undyne’s gonna fix everything and she’s depending on me, y’hear?”

You scooted back a bit further. “Who’s Undyne?”

The monster’s tendrils slapped to its face and make an ‘o’ with its mouth. It gave a gasp that sounded fake, but the jury was out on whether or not it was a real gasp of surprise and adoration. Another creak from the wood, drew your eyes to look at the dock and between the slits in the wood. Tentacles grasped the supports of the dock, wrapped around the inches thick wood and splitting it in its grasp.

“Undyne is Queen of the Underground, y’hear!” Onionsan excitedly explained. “She’s gonna break the barrier and we’re going to be free! She’s counting on me to keep everyone in Waterfall fed!”

“Fed?” you asked, forcing your eyes to look away from the breaking wood and focus on the monster. “Do you have a farm or something?”

You’d mistake the smile the monster gave you for being a gentle grin, but something was nagging at your head to not trust it. Maybe it wasn’t just intuition, you thought as the pain persisted in your dislocated limbs.

“Well…” the monster dragged on. “I’m not exactly a farmer. But I do fish.” A tentacle dropped under the water. You heard the scrape of wood behind you. A glance behind you revealed creeping yellow tentacles climbing up the dock behind you.

There was a meaty thump on the deck in front of you and you whipped your head around to look at what Onionsan dropped for you. Bile rose in your throat and you paled at the sight.

Resting on the splitting wood was a hand. It was wet and pale. The hand came up to a wrist and a third of an arm, the bone jutting out of the meat like spikes. On the wrist was a watch, broken and cracked, but looking so similar to…

Hunter’s wristband.

Even if you hadn’t known the tentacles were coming behind you, you still would have attempted to put as much distance between yourself and the dismembered hand. Had you not been familiar with the kind of warmth shared by the hand, you still would have fled with the implications and connecting the dots of the whole situation flooding into you.

Starving monsters. A human hand. The fishing . Onionsan’s red teeth.

You couldn’t help the scream tearing through you or the immediate response to flee. You jerked down the dock, raising to your feet, but immediately dropping after your right leg gave out. Dragging yourself away from the approaching tentacles, you slowly made your way further down the chamber.

The giant monster, now wearing a vicious grin, slowly bobbed its way to you.

“Y’know you’re a considerate human,” Onionsan’s voice had a lilt to it, now almost sing-songy in nature. “You’ve brought some happiness to the monsters of Waterfall, y’hear?” A tentacle jumped toward you and wrapped around your right leg, tugging you back into the air and pulling a scream of pain and fear from you. The monster narrowed their black eyes at you, staring at your chest. “Maybe your soul is strong enough for Undyne to use. The last human’s soul just shattered when he stopped struggling.” Onionsan sighed in disappointment. “Well, at least his body will be rich with magic. We gotta look on the bright side, y’know?”

You vision was clouded with scared tears, blood rushing to your head and running through you as your heart pounded in your ears. You couldn’t help but struggle which seemed to mildly annoy Onionsan. They threw you at the far side of the chamber. You sailed through the air, wind rushing past your ears, almost drowning out the sound of your heartbeat.

Pain in your ribs blossomed again as you hit the dark rock wall , wind knocked out of you from the impact. You crumpled to the floor and you tried your best to stay still as red-hot pain ran through you. Blinking away the stars, you could see the blurry figure approach and a rush of adrenaline shoved you toward a glowing doorway at the end of the chamber.

Your movement must have surprised Onionsan since you heard the splashing of water behind you and the lapping of waves onto the dock gave you an extra burst of speed, dodging a tentacle and sending you sprawling onto dark blue grass. Your cooler (why the hell were you still holding onto that?) clunked against the ground noisily and your functioning leg kicked you further and further from Onionsan’s tentacles. You were tempted to toss the box right back at the monster, but you couldn’t seem to uncurl your fingers from the handle of the box.

“Come back, y’hear!” Onionsan’s voice was choked with anger. “I wasn’t going to eat you for a good while!” You looked behind you to see a yellow, twisting swarm of tentacles, each curling over others in their desire to grab and catch. Without a second thought, you wheezed out pained breaths and stood, lopping like an injured doe away from the monster’s tentacles. Your mind raced as you held out hope that the monster’s tentacles weren’t long enough to reach you, but the logical part of your brain helpfully supplied that you were dragged much further than the distance you currently had between you and Onionsan.

Trying to stifle any whimpers, you limped toward the light. It wasn’t a glow from the ceiling, but instead came from the water in this chamber. Electric blue light lit this room, coming from a gently flowing stream cutting the chamber into segments. You crossed the dock from the grass, unable to keep your mouth from dropping at the sight. Flowers of the same color as the water dotted the room, standing from the ground at a height comparable to a child’s. The grass was dark blue in color, only visible on the dark ground due to the illumination from the water.

Your eyes flicked around the room, seeing an opening to your right, but the docks and patches of land serving as a path veered off course to make the journey longer. Without stopping your limping on the path, you eyed the gap between the paths. If your leg could have handled it, you were certain that you’d attempt to jump the gap, but it was all you had to persist on, dragging your right leg beside you. You felt a tentacle touch your right wrist, but on instinct, you whirled around, bringing down the cooler on the tentacle. Your momentum took you to the ground, but the tentacle withdrew at the blow. Crawling backward, you kept your eyes on the tentacles reaching for you.

One tendril raised like a snake, preparing to strike where Onionsan clearly thought you’d be, but you rolled over your shoulder, sending another bolt of pain through you, but you bit your tongue to hold back the yelp attempting to screech out. The tendril buried itself in the dirt as other yellow masses descended to investigate the area. One brushed over your shoe and you fearfully maintained statue-like stillness. One second. Two seconds.

The tentacle withdrew and you let out a breath. Now the many tentacles - there were way more than ten, so you supposed Onionsan wasn’t a squid - searched the ground, some dipping into the water and others crawling along the walls. As silently as you could, you crawled backward, kicking yourself with your left leg further from Onionsan’s tentacles. You froze as you bumped into something malleable and thin.

Everyone is just so hungry, ” whispered a shrill voice behind you. You looked up to see one of those flowers. It bent toward you, petals splaying open wider while you stared. “ It’s just so hard to believe things will get better .”

The tentacles froze and flew toward the flower. You shuffled behind it as you saw the rubbery, blunt tendrils surround the flower and give a mighty pull. Each tendril pulled in a different direction and blue flora was ripped from the ground.

Everyone-get-bet- ” it whimpered out before tearing into little scraps that were dragged back to Onionsan’s dark chamber.

Was that flower a monster, you wondered and worried, almost stopping to think it over. You shook your head and shoved yourself off the ground, back to limping away with a few more seconds bought with the whispering flower. You heard Onionsan give a shout of frustration, but you didn’t see the tendrils return from the dark. Nonetheless, you kept pushing on, stumbling along the docks and grass to find yourself near the exit of this chamber.

Dark blue stone signaled a T-junction. To your right, more glowing water and a… duck? across the gap. It looked like a completely normal duck, save for a bill that looked almost rusty. Red and brown splotches decorated the end and it regarded you with red beady eyes. You gave a shiver at its cold look and turned to stare down to the left. A small crevice on the wall signaled a separate route, but you didn’t want to get caught in a dead end with Onionsan’s long-reaching tentacles. Past that crevice was a long passageway you couldn’t see the end of, but it meant more distance between you and the terrifying monster that dragged you down there.

Curiously enough, there was a telescope. The existence of such a thing Underground brought a small laugh from you, but you winced at the pain. You stumbled up to the telescope, putting a hand on it and leaning over to peer through it. All you saw was red. You pulled away, looking at the telescope and checking the end of it to see if there was a cover. Nope.

You guessed it must have been broken, limping away in disappointment. As you continued, you spotted another one of those whispering flowers in an alcove. Also in the alcove, sat a table with something encased in a pink slime. Closer inspection revealed the slime was holding cheese within it. You raised an eyebrow, and made to reach for it, but the divots and indentations of scratches on the table made you pause. The pink slime sat inert on the table, looking innocent, yet the presence of an untouched block of cheese brought you to a halt.

A starving population would most certainly taken the cheese if it were an option. You gave the table a wide berth, keeping an eye to the obvious trap while skirting passed the pink slime. The blue flower whispered as you passed “ It’s taunting us… dancing cheese in front of our eyes. Who would do this?

You shuffled on, crystals in the wall glittering like eyes watching you from within the dark walls. The rock beneath you dipped down a dark water, the same color of the water that lapped at the walls of Onionsan’s chamber. Your feet planted in the ground, heart skipping a beat as you watched something wave from the water. The brief second of panic rose in urgency as you saw many things waving about, rising from the water. Fear turned to confusion as you registered the color to be green and not the sickly yellow of the gargantuan creature. You almost laughed in relief as you realized the waving tentacles were actually green blades of grass similar in color to seaweed and just as animated.

The grass rose from the water and reached for the ceiling, standing at a height around a foot above your own height. The blades danced to an invisible breeze and occasionally halted, rustling as though something was moving within the wall of vegetation. Beyond the grass was a wide dock, the wooden planks broken and sunk into the dark lake. The moss that illuminated the rest of the caves was absent over the water. You could only see the dock and the bulrushes that sat stagnant in the water.

To your left was a dinky little dock, pathetically sitting over the water with supports that were eroded and splintered to near-twigs. In the water sat… a purple pebble. You moved to inspect the floating object, and almost jumped back when it rotated to reveal a face that rose from the water. It seemed to have its eyes shut and wore a smile that told of mischief and amusement.

“3 G for ferry,” the purple creature purred.

“What?” you asked, putting the cooler in the crook of your arm and leaning closer to the creature.

“3 G for ferry,” it repeated, drifting closer to you.

You cocked your head slightly, wincing as pain raced up your spine. “What’s a ‘g’?” What was this creature talking about? Was there a ferry? You supposed there had to be a better way to put distance between you and Onionsan, but what was this monster asking you for.

Its smile looked a tad strained as it gave an annoyed sound, similar to the buzzing of a bee. “3 G. For the ferry.”

Your annoyance was quickly growing and you were about to back up and leave this creature alone, only to pause at the sound of wet thumps came from down the path. A quick glance back had you grip at your heart as a cold sensation gripped your stomach.

Bone yellow tentacles were searching along the ground, tapping every rock and tugging at the small blades of grass. Like feelers from an alien being, the tendrils searched the ground, any rocks that were shifted from the tentacles’ movements were snatched away past the corners you had rounded.

You hurried closer to the purple being. “Okay, okay, where’s the ferry?” The purple monster drifted closer and waited. You hopped on one foot, looking down the dark lake for any sign of a boat. You’d take a pallet as long as you got away from the squid-like monster. The purple monster made an annoyed sound and your eyes flicked down to it again.

“Step on my face.”

“Step on you- what the hell?” The pitch of your voice rose in exasperation and confusion. “Why?”

“3 G for the ferry,” it explained as though you were a child being told an obvious answer.

Tossing your head over your shoulder, you saw the tentacles getting closer and closer, one grabbing onto the pink slime. The touch was followed by a foul stench polluting the air as a HISSS rose from the table. The tentacle immediately recoiled, revealing a gray burn that spread across the rest of the tentacle. The other tendrils withdrew and the damaged yellow limb fell to the ground, flaking off into gray dust.

While you were relieved that the tendrils were not advancing, you were certain you wouldn’t be safe until you were completely out of reach for the monster. You turned and hopped onto the purple monster’s face, wobbling a bit for balance and hitting your dislocated leg against the wood, prompting a pained hiss from yourself.

As soon as you had balanced yourself, the purple monster took off, smoothly gliding across the water. The dark water wasn’t even disturbed by the odd monster’s movement, a miniscule trail of water being the only trace left. You watched the dock carefully, but no tentacle appeared.

Letting your shoulders drop with relief, you gave a quiet sigh. Your mind was buzzing with concerns, questions, and most importantly, a question. How the hell do you get out of this mess? The logical part of your brain, that had been largely ignored in favor of making split-second decisions demanded you take stock of yourself.

Left leg: status normal and functioning. Right leg: dislocated and dragging slightly in the water. It hurts from the water drag. Right arm: dislocated. Left arm: functioning and holding a cooler. Hunter’s cooler. Grief washed over you as the visual of his disembodied hand flashed passed your face. You let your vision cloud with water, the sting of salt burned at the corner of your eyes and down your cheeks. How could things change so suddenly? You’ve been dropped from a calm space to the hell that is the Underground. One of your best friends died while you likely slept a few feet away. A life snuffed out so suddenly, and you weren’t even there to prevent it while you were so close. If only you weren’t there and talking to Sans-

Your mind came to a complete halt. Sans. The skeleton was in the Underground. The same Underground you were currently in. With desperation, you looked into the dark water, searching for your… friend? Soulmate? But the darkness of the water proved to harbor no reflection. Disappointment flooded you as hope dwindled slightly.

Your support gone, or missing at best, you decided to refocus on yourself and your supplies. Your phone, soaking wet and doesn’t turn on when prompted by buttons. It was likely bust and, if you were honest with yourself, you’d doubt its ability to have reception down in this apparently magic-sealed cave. Keys? Useless here. Emergency granola bar? Surprisingly useful, but at the moment, you weren’t hungry. The cooler.

Peering inside, you gave a sigh of relief. By some miracle, the cooler didn’t open up during the drag down into the Underground and it still contained all the food. Two sandwiches remained as did three granola bars. Based on the chaos of the interior of the cooler, you’d hazard a guess that the bars were previously hiding under the sandwiches.

Your attention turned back to the purple monster under your feet. Strange monster, but you’d have to give it something for the ferry ride away for Onionsan. Maybe three ‘g’s could mean granola bars? You gave a snort. There’s no way that could be true and you’d never be lucky enough for that to work.

Dread clenched at your stomach as you neared the other side of the dark lake. You might be able to make a break for it. From what you’ve seen of this monster, which is admittedly not that much, you could surmise that it lacks legs or feet, so you could potentially hobble away.

The dock now within jumping distance, the monster slowed and waited for you to get off. As you turned to thank it, three gold coins were spat at your feet.

“Thanks for stepping on my face,” it whispered and then sunk into the water, presence gone like a mote of dust in the wind. You stood rooted to your spot with a bewildered expression. Did… did you get paid… for stepping on someone’s face?

After recovering from the encounter, however brief, you scooped up the coins it left. Engraved in the gold was a large ‘G’ that glittered when any light hit it. You idly wondered if it was real gold before deciding that the thought wasn’t worth it at this time and pocketed the 3 G.

Turning a corner you saw the continuation of the cave in the form of a divot in the wall. The odd thing about said divot was the white sheet covering the hole. As you moved closer and pushed through, you entered a room that was well-lit. From the ceiling of the cave, next to the stalactites littering the stone sparkled little stars. Well, a good facsimile of stars. If you were to squint, you’d recognize the lights as being little crystals, jutting out of the oddly-colored stone like blades of grass through concrete. Against the dark ceiling, one could almost mistake the room for a slice of the sky cut by a large knife and tucked away into this cave.

With a glance, you identified more of those whispering flowers and another telescope. You approached, curious, letting the false cloth wall fall back over the divot. This telescope was rusted in its legs, eyepiece suspiciously large. Underneath the telescope was a rusty colored puddle that aroused some suspicion. With a closer look, you could see a ring of spikes surrounding the eyepiece. Deciding that you did not want anything to do with anything in this room, you tiredly pressed on, foot dragging ever so slowly behind you and arm hanging low.

The cave narrowed into an entrance, or exit, and then widened again to a room divided by a waterfall and stream. Dainty sitting atop the water, was a series of flowers, petals as long as your legs. On the other side of the river was a bell and a few ankle-height mushrooms, glowing a bright blue, similar in color to the large flowers that decorated the region.

Approaching the water, you measured the distance with your eyes, looking over briefly at the flowers. You disregarded the flowers as anything but foliage, focusing on mustering up enough strength to hop across the water. You swung your arm to gain momentum and deepened the bend of your left leg to give one great hop.

Of course you crashed to the ground (on the other side, thank the stars), and landed wrong enough to scratch up your face and chin. You gave a groan from on the ground, lamenting the predicament of getting up and actually continuing forward. Actually, the ground was alright here. Cold enough that it gave a blissful relief to your aching limbs and not exacerbating the issue with your scratched up face.

You might be able to sleep here. Granted, what you knew made the decision an absolute terrible one, but the ground was like a balm to your pain, pacifying any attempts to push up and persist. It just welcomed you like a cozy bed.

But the cold ground did eventually begin to feel too cold. Your wet clothes quickly soaked up the cold and held it to you, making you shiver and eventually bother you enough to make the effort to rise up and continue.

You pushed yourself to the wall to get some support. With a grasping hand and a distracted mind, you grabbed a rope and pulled yourself up, actually startling yourself out of your thoughts with a loud DONG from next to your head. You whipped around to see your hand on the rope of the bell and the flowers in the water shudder and then still.

You waited, watching the flowers until they began to gently float their petals on the water invitingly. Narrowing your eyes, you saw a sign to the left of the bell. The scratchy text described these flowers as Bridge Flowers. Under the excerpt detailing their ability to allow heavy loads to cross water was a section describing the flowers being “pacified by the bell”.

You quickly decided that passive flowers would likely be your preferred flower, tugging the bell and hobbling across the room to pass over the white petals. As your foot dragged across the petals, you saw them curl up, slow as molasses, to a ball. Once closed, the bulb pulsed and from the sides, oozed an ugly black, tar-like liquid, sizzling quietly on contact with the water. You hopped your last step off the Bridge Flower, too nervous to spend one more second on that flower.

Ahead, more ghostly white petals were bared open, splaying a “safe” path out of the chamber. You sped up your limping, not spotting another bell to pacify these flowers. Giving a hop, you landed in the center of the bridge, almost losing your balance. Correcting yourself with a wave of your left arm, you prepared to jump, only to have your foot swallowed up by the flower.

Before you could even begin to struggle, your foot began to burn, hot liquid closing around it and eating through your shoe and sock as though they were a crepe. You bent and kicked, but the flower dipped with you, sending you off balance and careening toward the other Bridge Flowers. You braced for landing with your good arm, cooler in the crook of your elbow knocking painfully against your ribs and hand catching on the stone on the other side of this stream.

The adrenaline pushed you to give sharp, sudden kicks and transfer your weight up and over your head. The world turned upside down and back around as your foot freed itself from the ghostly petals and found itself on solid ground. Your breaths came sharp and quick as you pulled yourself further away from the flowers. Tears now coming down in fear and pain, you pulled yourself to an alcove on the side, gasping for breath in this surreal nightmare.

A plant tried to kill you! A plant! What next? A wall? Giving even the wall a wide berth, you tried to calm yourself down, hugging your left leg to your chest and holding the cooler like a lifeline. It was a miracle you hadn’t passed out yet from the stress and injuries and you were so high off adrenaline, you were sure you’d begin to run on your dislocated leg if something else came by and spooked you.

Giving yourself a few moments to collect yourself, your eyes flickered around the cave, spotting more grass. This grass sat completely still and you could hear the sound of rushing water and the sploosh of heavy objects beyond the tall grass. You resolved yourself to continue moving, quelling an ache in your chest you hadn’t realized was there if you weren’t moving.

Sincerely hoping the ache wasn’t broken ribs, you got up again to stumble through the Underground. You idly wondered where all the monsters were as you pushed through the grass, blades of green tickling your wrist, but you decided you were content with not seeing another monster. With the exception of Sans, perhaps. He’d surely be able to protect you.

You were beginning to wonder why exactly the skeleton was on your mind when you emerged from the grass. There was a room with a wooden shack or some form of kiosk with snow on top across yet another stream of water fed by a waterfall. Every few seconds a rock would drop down and be carried down to the edge of another waterfall.

You nudged a pebble into the water to observe any changes, like wildlife, but let bliss wash over you when no such odd reaction occurred. The water acted as water does, and the rock acted as a rock does.

With renewed vigor, you made your way across the stream, ducking for only one rock and not slipping on the smooth rock underneath your bare foot. The room you crossed into had crystals shining in the wall like the rest of the walls in this area as well as one of those whispering flowers.

Ahead, you could see the stalactites transition into icicles and felt a cold breeze rush up your front. Your chest pulled you in that direction, but you shook your head. Rest was necessary and the wooden kiosk offered that. The roof of the kiosk reached high for the ceiling of the cave and the surface was raised to eye-level with you. The front was vandalized, red paint smeared over the wood to write out “traitor” and “beware the butcher”, making you pause as you approached.

Deliberating with yourself for a moment, you decided it while it might be unsafe to willingly walk toward something that offers warning signs, the cobwebs and a thick layer of dust informed you that there likely wasn’t a person who came by this station in a long time. You limped over to the kiosk, ducking down behind it to curl up in the space underneath the counter. You had to shift aside empty bottle of ketchup, but you made the space work. It helped immensely that the space was quite large in comparison to you.

With shelter from most of the elements, you weren’t even given a lull between your eyes open and your eyes shut. The moment you laid down your head, you tumbled into unconsciousness.