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Monster Hunter

Chapter Text

The phone was ringing. 

Why in God's name was it ringing? 

Asra groped for the device blindly, opening one eye halfway to answer it, and putting it to her ear, "'Lo? Who izzit?"

"Please don't tell me you're still sleeping, Asrania," the voice was a reprimanding one that she knew well.

"Ughh, mum, it's like, four A.M. I don't see why I can't do this when the sun is up," in spite of her complaints, she sat up in the hotel bed, shoving the sheets aside and clicking on the television for light, muting the 24 hour news network she'd been watching before bed.

"And you think they're just gonna let you up that mountain, no fuss, when the rangers clock in for the day?"

She sighed, "A dangerous mountain doesn't have to have monsters, mum. Could just be closed because people aren't careful. Those trails aren't upkept, y'know?"

"Oh, yeah, and why d'you suppose that is smartarse? Because they're afraid of some loose rocks? They're hiding away somethin' up there, and I tell you, you'll find it. You've got the coordinates?"

"Yes, mum," she started up the hotel coffee maker.

"Good. You've got an hour to reach the mountain, and three to get to that exact spot."

"Why is there a time limit getting up the mountain again?"

"You'll bloody well know when ya get there. I expect you to call me with results when you arrive back at your room."

Before Asra could respond, the older woman hung up. She pulled her phone away from her ear and frowned at it, shaking her head and retrieving the styrofoam cup of coffee from the coffee maker, casually unmuting the news while she got ready.

"--chances of thunderstorms rolling into the area around mid to late morning. Back to you Tom."

The broadcast rattled on in the background as she got ready, getting together her monster hunting gear (it wasn't exactly quality stuff, but then she didn't expect that was really important), and a few emergency supplies, just in case she got stuck up on the mountain.

Her coffee was gulped down before it could reach room temperature, and before she had even had a chance to fully appreciate that she was awake, she was out the door, with the "already disturbed" sign firmly on the handle. 

An early morning mist sprinkled across the carpark, speckling her glasses in the flickering, old street lamp as she walked to her car. She watched the dense layer of clouds lighten at the horizon line as she drove, but otherwise, the sky remained dark.

The rain had picked up significantly by the time she had to drive around the barricade to the rest of the mountain. It came down still harder as she reached the end of the road, and had to pull the vehicle aside, to conceal it in the brush. Windshield wipers whined across the surface of the glass, and she took the time to wonder if she could get away with asking for a literal raincheck.

But she knew better than that, "Anything at all, to save the family name, or does the family not matter to you little Asrania? It has history you know, ungrateful child! You're lucky I don't throw ye to the monsters meself!" She mimicked her late father's voice as she spoke, hands animatedly gesturing, before she slumped back in her seat, "Yeah, yeah. I'll go old man, if only to be sure you stay buried for good." 

Asra couldn't hike the uneven trail while holding onto an umbrella, so with a breath, she steeled herself for the sheet of cold water as she stepped out of her car, pulling the backpack of supplies on, and yanking up a hood to deflect at least a reasonable amount of rain from her glasses.

It was easy to get turned around up here, as she darted from cover to cover, occasionally checking her coordinates on her phone. She found that she went in a big circle before sge finally found a trail that took her farther up the mountain.

Thunder was rolling when she reached her destination. Unease settled in the pit of her stomach. The path was clogged with stones and roots, and mud. Runoff flowed through narrow channels between gnarled roots, sending a strange echo up as It reached a nearby destination, just out of sight in the dense rain.

It didn't take much of a misstep to send her sliding down a slick embankment, her feet coming out from under her, as the earth shifted beneath her.

She groped wildly for something to hold onto, panic consuming her, until, suddenly, her entire world dropped away underneath her, and she found herself falling.

Chapter Text

In another part of the world, a couple of hours earlier.

The sprawling green and gold hills of farmland rolled away beneath an open sky outside the window. The chill of oncoming Autumn rode inside on a breeze, bringing the scent of nearly-ripe Fall crops, and fresh grass into the tiny abode. Equipment from her monster hunting days lined her walls. Most of the cabin existed in one room.

A chubby, ginger cat stood watch between Anita and her guest, not aggressive, but cautious. His tail twitched with the slightest hint of contained energy. His collar showed his name as Ladle. There was a little spoon charm dangling from it.

The silence, but for the wind, was tangible.

Anita sighed, tired and unable to contain a small hint of woe from tainting her otherwise steely tone, "Was that enough for you? Sending my only daughter into a den of monsters? Will you leave me be now?"

Free floating hands emerged from the void-tainted shape sitting across from her, unstable and just corporeal enough to effect their surroundings, if only for a short time. He began playing with the cat, his cracked and uneven smile spreading still wider.

The woman almost growled, "Don't ignore me Doctor. Are you done with me, or not?"

He looked up as if surprised. His voice was glitchy, and difficult to understand on a good day. The code of the universe simply did not lend itself to his existence, anymore. It took a few tries to speak clearly enough for the seasoned monster hunter to understand him. She did not have the knowledge, nor patience, for signing.

 A̷̧̒Á̴̢P̷̙̾Õ̴̘L̸̊ͅO̴͒͜G̵̜͗I̸͎͑E̵͔͂S̵͎͛ ̴̮̕A̸̬͘Ň̷̢I̷̘͝T̷̘͝A̷̱͝.̷͍̍ ̷̤̃Ḯ̶̞ ̶̟̈U̷͝ͅN̵̘̑ ̶͔̃Ȕ̸̫N̸̞̊D̶̆͜E̴͍̕R̸̠͑Ș̸͛T̸̝͝A̷͔͘Ṇ̶́D̴̼͊ ̶̻̂T̴͍̂H̸̹͊Ạ̷̔T̴̼̊ ̸͖̐Y̸̘̓Ơ̷͖Ȕ̵̜ ̵̻̓Ạ̶̀R̸͓͊E̵͚͝ ̸̢͒U̴̺̚P̶̳̓S̵͔Ẹ̵̾T̶͍̉ ̷̲͊T̷̮͝ ̵̡̑T̸̰̓ ̸͇͗T̶̼͑.̵̞ ̴̭̏I̶̥̊ ̸̠͋C̶͍̅A̴̟͌N̵͉̋ ̸͈̋O̷̙̒N̶̛͜L̷̺̈Y̸͖͂ ̶̜̚A̴͎̅S̸̘S̶̬̓Ȗ̴̲R̵̹̅E̴̩͂ ̵̺̐Y̸͇͋O̷̢͛U̶͔͐ ̷̪͘T̶͙̏Ḫ̵͝A̴̜̐T̴̞̽ ̵͎̈́Y̶̮̚O̷͈̽U̵̹̓R̵̞̄ ̴̢͝D̵̮̏A̶͎͌U̷̳͊G̶̻͛H̷̪͆T̷̳̉Ẹ̴͠R̷̰̿ ̴̙̃W̷̗͘Ḭ̴̈L̸̯̊L̶̙̒ ̷͈͝B̵͚̃E̴͕̎ ̶̞̈́P̶͈̓E̷͖̓Ŕ̸̥F̶̘̌É̵̯C̴̰ ̵̠̕C̷̟̆ ̴͎̂C̶͙̈Ț̵̓L̶͚͂Y̴̢̐ ̷̤̈́S̶̯̆Ä̶̞F̶̳̋Ę̵̆.̷̠̄

She flinched as the sound of his voice seemed to drill into her head, gritting her teeth, "Yeah, safe, sure. And what happens when they find out who she is? Who she's descended from?"

 A̵S̶R̴A̵ D̴E̵S̷E̷R̶V̵E̷S̵ ̶T̶O̴ ̶L̸E̶A̶R̸N̴ ̷O̶F̶ ̵T̴H̸E̸ ̶O̷T̶H̷E̵R̸ ̵H̷A̸L̸F̸ ̴O̸F̵ ̵H̶E̷R̷ ̶C̶U̴L̴T̸U̷R̸E̵.̷


The world was spinning too quickly.

It was dark, but for a blurry and depressingly grey light far above, a waterfall of muddied water splashing down, into the cavernous opening far below. Thunder rumbled above, muffled and distorted by the stone, as rain continued to pour into the opening.

Asra tried to think, sitting up from the soggy mud and surprisingly resilient flowers that had broken her fall. The water was puddling around her where she sat. She was soaked through, shivering, and alone.

Had she fallen into a...a sinkhole or something? How long had she been out?

She looked around, hoping her phone had survived the fall, and ensuing water damage, though the search was hindered by the water droplets and mud all over her glasses, which were miraculously still in one piece otherwise.

Her search was interrupted by footsteps. She froze where she crouched, looking around rapidly and backing away into the shadows, against a...a column?

Were these...some kind of ruins? Oh god, had she trespassed on some archaeology site? They could help her, sure, but the fine she'd have to pay would be so far beyond just going on a trail she wasn't supposed to. And when they learned who she was? Who her family was? It would be just one more story to add to their long history as laughingstocks among the historical community.

She tried to control her breathing, clenching her eyes shut behind her dirtied glasses and hoping that the cascading water would drown out her panicked hyperventilating. She sank down to a slumped sitting position, rocking where she sat in time with her breathing.

In, and out. Deep breath in...and...out...in....out. Once more, in...and....

"Oh my goodness! Are you injured?" The footsteps grew closer more quickly now, hard-soled boots echoing across the stone and packed dirt floor.

Asra's eyes snapped open, and she froze, sat straight up, her jaw dropped, "I...I-I...um...l-look, I can explain. I know I'm probably not supposed to...."

The figure shook their head, approaching a little closer with both hands raised, "Please calm down. I'm sure all of this is very confusing. It was confusing for me, as well."

"I...what?"

"You fell down, didn't you? Are you alright to walk? I'd like to take you somewhere safer, so that I can see if you're in need of healing. Oh! Your glasses are filthy. You probably can't see a thing. Here, let me--" they took the glasses, cleaning the lenses on their sleeve and handing them back.

She wasn't thinking clearly enough to refuse, though it seemed she could finally see clearly, bur for the poor lighting. She got carefully to her feet, with some help from the silhouetted figure, "I think so."

"You're ice cold! Come on, let's get you somewhere warm," they gently took her by the arm, leading her around the shaft of grey light, and toward a door at the opposite end of the cavern that she hadn't noticed before.

The other appeared to be in their late teens or early twenties, skin that odd colour it got when someone with a natural tan spent too long indoors. Their clothing was some manner of tunic, in a pleasant shade of purple, with an eerily familiar symbol on the front, though she couldn't place it in that moment, with a pair of fitted pants and boots in a material similar to leather.

"My name is Frisk, by the way," they spoke up as they walked, "May I ask yours?"

"Oh. Um. My name is Asra," she replied slowly, "How ah...how long have you been down here, Frisk?"

They smiled pleasantly, keeping a hand intertwined with hers as they walked, lending her some of their warmth, "Mm...nine years, I think? Before you start freaking out again, please don't worry about me. We're not alone down here."

"What are you talking about? Who else is down here? How did you survive for nine years? You're just a ki--"

"I officially traded in my kid stripes years ago. Don't worry about it right now, okay? I'll explain it all when we get you cleaned up."

She fell silent as they walked, eyes slowly adjusting to the dark, picking up a gentle glow that seemed to come from the ceiling, as the younger led her through passage after passage. Slowly she began to recognise more artificial construction. 

"Who built--"

"Not yet," they interrupted cheerfully, "We've got a bit of a walk, but we'll be there soon enough."

And so, they continued to walk....

 

Chapter Text

The walk took some time, and as they went, Frisk explained things in manageable amounts. They explained the puzzles, most of which were deactivated, though a few were permanent fixtures. Ancient combinations of diversion and defence, or something like that.

Asra hadn't been fully paying attention, overwhelmed with the strange architecture's historical implications, and distracted by the deep chill permeating her.

Frisk held up a hand to stop her as they came out of a corridor, "Miss Asra, may I ask why you were on the mountain in a thunderstorm?"

She stood a little straighter, "I ah. I'm supposed to leave town tomorrow. I wanted a chance to see the...y'know, supposedly cursed mountain before I left."

They almost smiled, but not quite, "Supposedly? You fell in a hole, and landed in mud. And you're not going to be getting out anytime soon, you know."

Asra flinched, "I suppose I can't climb back out the way I came?"

They shook their head, short, brown hair flairing out slightly, "The others have tried. Some of them can fly, but they never manage to get through. There's another door, but the barrier is even thicker there."

"Barrier? What do you mean some can fly?"

"Oh. Um. My mom could tell you more about it. She's a teacher. I'm not too good at explaining all that stuff," they shoved their hands into a set of pockets underneath their tunic, walking on ahead.

"Your mom is down here? Did she fall with you?" She continued on, shaking her head when a too-large frog seemed to hop across the edge of her peripheral vision, and into a pile of leaves. She was starting to see things.

"No. She rescued me when I first fell. She has been down here a lot longer than me," they kept their eyes on the floor, "It's really hard to explain anything unless I get some basics out of the way."

"I'm still not sure I follow but...go ahead, I guess."

"Do you believe in monsters?"

Asra stopped in her tracks, pushing her glasses up her nose and raising both brows in a slightly unflattering expression of surprise, "Aw hell nah. I must'a hit my head on the way down or something. You're not real. None of this is real. You're just some little freak hiding in my subconscious, and I'm about to drown in a sinkhole. Goodbye." She turned around to walk the way they'd come.

Frisk's eyes finally left the floor, opening a little wider to follow her movement. They closed the gap, placing a hand on her arm, "Wait, Asra, I don't get it. What's going on? What did I say?"

She sighed, standing still again, but not looking at the younger human, "Monsters aren't real, kid. I hate to burst your bubble. Even if you're real, you're probably just delusional, or maybe it's other normal ass human people, but all this monster talk? I've heard too much of it. I'm not in any mood to entertain it after falling like...ten stories to the bottom of some old ruin."

A stubborn expression crossed their features, "You don't have to believe me," they replied evenly, "But please come with me. I would still like to get you warmed up, and we're nearly there."

She shook her head, sending a few remaining droplets of water from her short hair, "I guess there's no point refusing, and I'm sorry if I seemed rude but--"

"It's fine," they replied stoically, moving on ahead now.

The rest of the walk happened in a disconcertingly uncomfortable silence, that, once it took hold, both seemed determined not to break.

The puzzles were strange, and they forced her to think, when all she wanted was to shut her mind off and tune out all of this ridiculousness. She had heard so many stories about monsters and mages and their responsibility to humankind to lock these things away for good, that she was ready to equate it all to some fantastical children's tale. After all, reality wasn't so black and white as all that, and if her family hadn't so staunchly defended such childish fantasy, maybe they would have been able to pass for normal.

The silence was becoming too much. Asra broke as they reached another narrow passage, shivering a little in the strangely stagnant breeze that came from an opening beyond, "Okay, say I decide to play along. So monsters are real. What does that have to do with all of this?"

Frisk paused, looking at their feet, "It's old history. They were locked away, a long time ago," they started.

She froze. This was all so damn familiar. Why the hell did this kid know that story?

"A group of powerful mages locked them away, because humans were afraid of the power they had, to take human souls."

It was surreal hearing someone she didn't know telling this story. She held up a hand to cut them off, speaking up herself, "They locked them away, at various places of power around the world, so that the monsters could never escape to massacre another human settlement. Each nexus required seven human souls to release them, ensuring that the humans were the ones with the power. But given the inherent danger, the mages thought it best to erase monsterkind from history, ensuring that they would never be free."

Frisk had turned to look at her as she spoke, expression entirely unreadable, lips pressed into a thin line, "The monsters, many of whom had not fought in the war, were forced underground. They pleaded to be allowed to keep their homes, but the only mercy they were granted was being allowed to keep their lives. The humans, and their baseless fear that--"

"And how did the humans know that the monsters would become something horrifying, if they took a human soul?" She didn't believe it. Any of it. She was just discussing old stories, in an old ruin, with a total stranger.

"Monsters are people too. They can do both good and bad. There are humans who kill other humans. Does that mean that we're all inherently evil?"

"That's different. Given a large enough population and....look I'm not discussing old faerietales with you. It's ridiculous. This is ridiculous. I don't know how you know that story, but obviously you took something a lot different from it than I did."

"I could say the same. May I ask where you heard that story?" Their tone was calm, and even, where Asra's was a little shaky.

"My parents. They...well I don't know if they believed it, but honestly...it doesn't matter. It's not real. None of it is real. It's--"

"My child? Frisk is that you?"

Chapter Text

The day was waning, as Anita set about making herself dinner, Ladle waddling over to wind between her ankles. She paused to lean on the counter a little, trimmed nails scratching against the wooden butcher's block countertop. Why had she let yet another monster sweet talk her into doing something unforgivable?

Her late husband would have been furious. Though she couldn't decide if he'd be more or less so if he found out the truth of Asra's parentage. She had just been so desperate to give him an heir, and that monster had been so desperate to escape...how could she have known that a pregnancy would actually take?

Her thoughts wandered to that affair. 

She'd been on a trip to the Maryland area, to followup on recent sightings of the "goatman." She hadn't expected to find him so easily.

Apparently he had been trying to gather supplies, so that he could go into hiding again. When she captured him, he claimed to have been nobility among monsterkind. So she let him continue breathing, thinking to gather information on the whereabouts of other monsters still hiding on the surface before she killed him.

But then the way he spoke to her, so much gentler than she expected. And how he never once tried to run away from her or harm her, even when she left herself vulnerable...eventually it was all too much to paint him to be this evil thing any longer. 

They began talking, having genuine conversations as she caught him up on human events, and he told her what he remembered of their history. He had been around since long before the human-monster war, and she found his historical insight fascinating.

She shared her insecurities. Her discovery that she had miscarried. Her fear of what might happen if she disappointed her husband. He came up with a deal. 

He would give her a child. The child would appear as human as she did, so long as they never spent time among monsters. In exchange, she would free him, and say that she had been unable to track him down. Baseless rumours, all of it. Who would really believe a member of the monster royal family still remained free, after all? She would be fine. They would both be fine.

Anita still remembered the sunny afternoon, slanting through the drawn blinds. She'd been younger and more unsure, and he'd been so sweet and gentle. A ploy to gain her trust, surely, but an effective one nonetheless. It had taken years to stop thinking of him instead, and now, with her husband dead and gone, he had come back to haunt her anytime she let herself think too long. 

Even if he truly cared for her then, she'd killed so many of his kind, from necessity if nothing else, that she was sure he'd destroy her on sight now.

Her lips moved without sound, "Adrial...I'm sorry...." as she went back to stiffly cutting vegetables.


A tall goat woman stood in the stone archway, one massive hand over her delicately fanged mouth, "Oh...my. I apologise, I was not expecting company. Greetings! My name is Toriel. Are you alright?"

"She's just shaken up, I think, mom," Frisk cut in, "She fell pretty hard. It's raining outside, I think."

Asra stared, fixing her glasses and standing speechless for several long moments. She opened her mouth to speak then shut it again to give herself time to think.

Toriel didn't miss a beat, "Oh, of course. Please don't think me rude. I was simply surprised. Let us get you into something warm and dry, and I will make you a nice warm meal! How does that sound?"

"I...um. Al...right. Yeah. Sure," she said haltingly, following after Toriel, Frisk close behind her. She felt a little as if she had no choice in the matter. Was this for real? 

Toriel was speaking as she led them to a cute, tidy house, just past a tall, ancient tree. She couldn't focus on anything the monster was saying. Her blood was rushing in her ears, and she found it hard to breathe. Each step was robotic and heavy.

She was going down. The floor was rushing up at her, and hands were struggling to hold her up without hurting her. Nausea churned through her, her limbs entirely disobeying, even as she tried desperately to get her feet underneath her. It was too much. Everything was too much. And she was so damn cold.

 

Chapter Text

When humans faint, assuming there aren't any extra complications, they rarely stay out for too long. Usually the oxygen reaches their brain, and after anywhere from a few seconds, to a few minutes, they wake up, disoriented, aware that not much time has passed, though paranoid that too much has.

Asra woke on the threshold into the cozy house, the base of the doorframe digging into her side, backpack weighing her down. Frisk was just rushing out of view, and Toriel was knelt down beside her, a greenish glow, almost impossible to see in the light spilling from inside, emanating from her.

It was difficult to read the strange expression on the goat woman's face, especially as it gave way to a relieved smile, "Oh thank goodness! I feared you might have hurt yourself. Please do not push yourself too much, my dear."

Asra fixed her glasses, which were beginning to fit more loosely, and needed to be tightened, attempting to brace herself on the door frame as she sat up. She was still freezing cold, skin pale and lips slightly tinged with a hint of blue. She tried to think clearly. To say anything. 

When she finally managed to speak, her voice was a forced and quiet calm, "You're a monster," she said slowly.

Toriel seemed slightly taken aback, "I am. I...suppose I assumed that Frisk had told you everything. I apologise if my presence is at all startling."

"Right. Sorry I uhh. I think...they? I think they tried. I just," she shivered slightly, "I couldn't believe it was real. I think...I think I need some time to adjust."

The goat woman nodded understandingly, offering a large, fuzzy hand to help Asra to her feet, "Let's get you inside and cleaned up, dear. You'll feel much better when you're warm." She led her toward the bathroom, firm but gentle, where Frisk had already started running a bath, before retreating to give some privacy.

"Do you need help?" The larger woman offered as Asra set her bag down by the oversized tub.

"I...I can handle it. Thank you, ma'am," she wasn't sure what prompted the respectful tone, but she seemed to take it with practised grace, "I'll call if I need anything."

"Of course. I'll bring you a clean change of clothes. Take all the time you need."

Asra nodded. Her head was too fogged up to keep protesting all of this. It would be easier, and less damaging to go along with this.

She waited for Toriel to leave the room before stripping down, first glasses, her jacket, then her waterlogged hiking boots and socks. She took a moment to try and rub some feeling back into her feet before standing to wiggle out of her wet jeans, followed by her shirt. Her skin felt cold and clammy as she unhooked her bra, letting it drop to the floor, and finally removing her underwear. 

Asra took several moments to absorb the radiant warmth in the air, before finally walking over to the queen-sized tub and shutting off the water. She tested it with her hand, the temperature almost burning in an entirely pleasant way, before gingerly climbing in, and sinking gradually into the water.

The warmth rapidly penetrated her skin, and she took a slow, deep breath, before sinking completely under the water, and simply staying there a moment, pretending for all of a minute that the world as she knew it had not been turned on its ear. 

Monsters outnumbered her, here, in all likelihood. She couldn't remember her father's lessons for her right now, beyond the bare basics, but she had some monster hunting gear, and knew well enough how to defend herself with it. If this was one of the places that they'd been trapped, then there was a chance that her soul might be forfeit. She wouldn't let that happen without a fight.

She emerged from the water, skin tinged pink from the hot water, smoothing the damp out of her face and relaxing back with her chin just above the water. 

Her clothing had taken on most of the mud, but after rinsing her head, some had washed from her hair, colouring the water in light swirls. She grabbed, half blind, for some soap they might not mind her using, and began methodically scrubbing away at her skin.

At some point, the door opened on the other side of the curtain, but it shut as quickly, leaving her alone to scrub and think.

For now, Asra decided, she would play along. No one had tried to hurt her yet, and though her monster hunting upbringing demanded that her paranoia be through the roof, she simply couldn't really bring herself to care as much as either of her parents would have liked, even with the proof she'd demanded in so many arguments standing in just the other room making food for her.

 After all, Frisk was human, and they had been here for years. They even considered a monster to be their mother. That didn't happen on accident.

A pang of guilt hit her as she scrubbed. She'd promised to call her mother. To give her a status report. Not that she knew what she'd say if she still had her phone, and it somehow worked.

Oh, hey mum. So monsters are real, and I found one of the ancient nexuses they were locked away in. By the way, I'm trapped. You wouldn't happen to have seven human souls would you?

That would most certainly go well.

As it stood though...would her mum even look for her? Would she worry, or just assume she'd blown off her "responsibility to the family" like she always did? It wouldn't be the first time she'd ghosted her. What if she thought this was more of the same? 

The thought almost left her cold again. She scrubbed harder, though she was mostly clean by now. The bar soap did well enough, given how short her hair was. 

She drained the tub and ran the shower fit a more thorough rinse, before stepping out and taking up a towel that felt warm, as if it had just come from the dryer. 

The clothes that Toriel had provided were rather oversized for Asra, but appeared comfortable enough. A cotton shirt that fit more like a dress, and a loose skirt that she could hike up underneath her breasts to keep it from dragging on the floor. Not exactly her style, but clean and warm, after being incredibly cold for what had felt like hours.

She carefully organised her dirty clothes, hanging the towel on the shower rod to dry, before replacing her glasses and stepping out of the small tile room.

A delicious scent wafted from the kitchen. Asra followed it, finding a place already set out for her at the table.

"I'm sure you have many questions, dear," Toriel's voice was so damn gentle, it almost looped around and set her on edge again. Or maybe she was giving in to bias.

The human woman crossed her arms, "I guess...I can put most everything together. But uhh. If what the...if what Frisk said about not being able to leave is true then...what happens to me? Timeline tells me they were just a kid when they fell. Makes sense someone as uhh...maternal as you would take them in. But I'm not sure what the policy here is on grown ass human adults."

"Language," she said immediately, as if the response were automatic. She let that admonishment absorb before continuing, "While you are the first human to arrive here since Frisk, and the first adult that I can remember at all, we have been hard at work training up a new...committee of sorts, to welcome new arrivals from the surface. While you are adjusting to life in the Underground, you will be monitored and assisted by the...ahh...my child, what were you calling that group?"

"Hi-C."

Asra rose a brow as she settled into a seat at the table, "Like that calcium and sugar water they pack in kids lunches?"

"It stands for Human Integration Committee," they replied evenly, "I named it when I was 13."

"I see," she jumped slightly as Toriel placed a large slice of what looked to be home made pizza in front of her, with toppings she didn't quite recognise, along with a cup of honey-coloured tea. She offered a tight smile, "I ah...thanks. I...guess I haven't really eaten today."

"Of course dear. You eat as much a you'd like. It's a little small, but you can sleep in Frisk's room tonight. They had already planned to stay with their...father tonight," her overall pleasant tone nearly faltered, but was back to normal so quickly as to leave one questioning, "The head of ah...Hi-C shall be here to greet you personally come morning."

She nodded slowly, taking up the pizza and taking a large bite. She wasn't normally the picky type, so there was little hesitation, in spite of not recognising all of the ingredients.

It was an interesting combination of flavours and textures, though not immediately terrible. The sauce was almost buttery, and...was that some kind sausage made of shellfish? Where would they get shellfish down here?

Asra was a few bites in before she spoke up, "This pizza is delicious ma'am. May I ask what sort of meat this is?"

She chuckled, "Please, call me Toriel, dear."

"Alright...Toriel then."

She smiled, showing fangs delicately, "It is a special variety of snail, which is especially delicious when properly prepared. I am so glad you enjoy my cooking!"

The human hesitated, "Wait...snail? I know some humans eat snails, but I've never heard of them on pizza."

"It is a breed of snail only found in the Underground. Quite fascinating! It has evolved to live alongside monsterkind, and we have taken to raising it as livestock."

"I...well I mean, that actually is pretty interesting. And the pizza is pretty damn good."

"Language, dear."

"Oh uh. Sorry."

"Not at all. I'm going to do some cleaning. You feel free to eat up and get some rest whenever you feel the need."

"Okay. Goodnight. Um...thanks for being so...not what I expected."

She smiled gently, "Of course, dear."

Chapter Text

The night at Toriel's had been surprisingly calm. Asra had eaten a third of a pizza the size of her dining table back home, and drank a large mug of what she learned was called golden flower tea, before turning in...probably early, and going to bed.

It had taken some time to get fully settled, once she was lying down. Insomnia was an issue sometimes, even when she was at her most exhausted. It only left her vulnerable to still more thinking, of that lonesome late-night variety.

She couldn't let them find out who she was. She'd said a lot with Frisk, but all she had to do was figure out how to explain how she knew the story, and...well that was if the kid even remembered, right? They probably had a lot on their mind. Some weirdo remembering an old story different than them couldn't be all that noteworthy, even if her presence itself was.

Sleep came in a moment between thoughts, at some point in the early hours of the morning. It was a heavy, sluggish and dreamless thing, as thick as tar and not especially restful. Underneath it all she was still terrified of what could happen if she were found out.


"Tori? What are you doing calling so late?" The Monster King's voice was gentle on the other end of the line.

Toriel ached at the old nickname, wanting to reciprocate even as she wanted to tell him off. She took a deep breath, and replied in an even, slightly clipped tone, "Asgore, has Frisk made you aware of our new arrival?"

"New...oh! Another human fell? Are they alright? What is their name?"

She wanted to scream. He didn't care about any of that when they were innocent children. Why start now? But she kept it professional and calm, "Asra. She appears to be an adult. I thought you should know."

His voice somehow softened more, in that way that used to make her melt, "Thank you, Tori."

She closed her eyes, focusing on taking another slow and steady breath, "Is Frisk asleep?"

"Yes. They went to bed a couple of hours ago."

"Good. If you wish to meet the human, make your arrangements through the Human Integration Committee, won't you?"

"Yes, of course. I--"

"Goodnight, Asgore."

"...goodnight, Tori."


It was difficult to tell if it was morning. Asra automatically reached for her phone, but it was nowhere to be found. The previous days events came back, first in a trickle, then a flood.

The lighting outside was that same dim glow of star-like stones, shining from above.

She thought for a moment, perhaps, she hadn't actually slept at all. Maybe she just closed her eyes for a few minutes. It was plausible. How was a body naturally inclined to a diurnal schedule supposed to adjust to constant darkness? It was probably going haywire. Not that she was much for biology. History had always been her thing.

It would have been easy to fall back asleep if she hadn't heard talking from the other room.

The voice was loud, and boisterous, just loud enough to know she didn't recognise it, though just muffled enough to not quite know what he was saying through the door. The only word she caught was "human," and unless they were talking about Frisk out there, she had a feeling that might be her queue.

With a mighty effort, Asra pried herself out of bed, adjusting the skirt she hadn't bothered to remove so that she didn't trip on it, and retrieving her glasses.

She tip-toed to the door, opening it and poking her head out into the hall. Pleasant lighting that was nonetheless jarring after the darkness of the bedroom made her squint, as a whisper-yell came down from the living room.

"Of course! We will take very good care of the human, your majesty!"

"I have no doubts of that, Papyrus. You would have been an excellent royal guardsmen, and you are an excellent HI-C member."

"NYEHEHE! THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS--"

"Shhh, please be quiet for just a little longer. She will be up soon."

His voice quieted again, "Ahem. Of course. As I was saying, the GREAT Papyrus has never been beaten at hospitality!"

Asra took that moment to open the door a little more audibly, stetching and walking down the hall with shuffling footsteps.

She paused when she saw a skeleton, close in height to the goat monster, standing near the fireplace. The human couldn't help staring, trying to put together how the creature even moved.

His bones were thicker and sturdier than one would expect from a human skeleton, and perhaps not even quite the same configuration. He wore basketball shorts and a jersey, with an old, red scarf and an unzipped jacket. The jacket had large shoulderpads, looking like something that had been thrown out in the nineties, and providing the skeleton with a slightly bulkier frame.

"AHH! HUMAN, WE HAVE BEEN AWAITING YOU! IT IS A PLEASURE TO WELCOME YOU TO THE UNDERGROUND! MY NAME IS PAPYRUS," he rushed forward to take Asra's hand, leaning down to shake it rapidly, and a little too long in a gloved hand.

She nearly felt her shoulder pop at the sudden and intense handshake, and an uncertain smile crossed her face, "Oh uhh. Nice to meet you...Papyrus. I'm Asra," she shook as long as seemed polite before loosening her grip enough that her hand slipped from his, "So um. Are you the welcoming committee?"

"I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, AM THE HEAD OF THE HUMAN INTEGRATION COMMITTEE," he replied proudly, his eye sockets somehow clicking closed as he stood in a regal pose, "ENACTED BY OUR BELOVED PRINCEX FRISK SEVEN YEARS AGO!" 

She rose a brow, "Wow. Seven years experience you uh...you must be pretty good at this, huh?" How could she hunt someone like this? No one was this nice, were they?

"INDEED! THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS A MASTER OF THE HOSPITABLE ARTS! IN FACT, IT IS WITH PRIDE THAT I SAY I HAVE NEVER ONCE FAILED TO MAKE A HUMAN MOST COMFORTABLE!"

Wasn't Asra the first human to fall since Frisk? And hadn't they mentioned naming the group? She smiled, suppressing a chuckle. Alright, clearly this was some kind of something. She'd already decided to play along, "That's pretty damn impressive, there, dude."

"Language."

"Oh sh--uh. Sorry Toriel."

 "No trouble at all, dear."

She nodded once, tugging at the sleeves of the borrowed shirt, "So, does your unparalleled hospitality extend to a cup of coffee?"

Papyrus looked vaguely uncertain, the corners of what should have been a permanent grin tilting downward, "UNFORTUNATELY IT IS RATHER DIFFICULT TO OBTAIN COFFEE. BUT...I...I WILL MAKE THE EFFORT!" A renewed vigor sparkled in his eye sockets, and he stood with a hand to his chest.

Asra couldn't contain her chuckle this time, "I appreciate a man who promises the impossible. So what's next then? Is there like...some kind of evaluation or ID process or something?"

"NEXT, YOU WILL RETRIEVE YOUR THINGS, HUMAN ASRA, AND ACCOMPANY ME TO YOUR TEMPORARY LODGINGS! THAT IS TO SAY, YOU WILL BE SLEEPING ON MY COUCH, UNTIL WE CAN ARRANGE A PERMANENT PLACE FOR YOU TO STAY. ONCE YOU ARE ADJUSTED TO LIFE IN THE UNDERGROUND, WE WILL SEE THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO BECOME GAINFULLY EMPLOYED. IF YOU'RE VERY LUCKY, PERHAPS YOU MIGHT EVEN BECOME THE NEXT MEMBER OF HI-C!"

She was expected to get a job? Well...that made some sense. The place had to run somehow. Couldn't have some lazy human hogging up resources and not contributing. What caught her mind, though, was the mention of Frisk being royalty. So Toriel was...the queen? Of all the monsters, or only the ones locked here? There had been a mention of Frisk's father. If he was the king, why wasn't Toriel with him, instead of inside such a humble home?

As she thought, the conversation picked up between Papyrus and Toriel. She absently went to retrieve her bag and soiled clothing. She was surprised to find it had been washed and dried, and she quickly changed back into her own, leaving what had been lent to her on the counter where hers had been.

When she came out, Papyrus and Toriel were hugging and saying their goodbyes, and he had a bag of what appeared to be leftovers hanging from his arm.

Asra waited quietly, too tired to dive back into conversation without caffeine, her initial burst of morning energy already spent on greeting the energetic skeleton.

She was informed of their long walk, said her goodbyes to Toriel, with promises to visit again, and then they were on their way, down a set of chilly, dimly lit stairs, and a lonh corridor to the rest of the Underground.

Chapter Text

Asra was not prepared for the icy blast of cold, or the presence of snow crunching beneath her boots as she walked, though Papyrus had warned her to put her jacket on.

He talked for much of the walk. She almost felt bad that she found it so difficult to focus on anything he said. 

There were some more puzzles along the way, but seeing her exhaustion, the tall skeleton seemed happy to explain their workings, while solving them for them both. The only tricky part seemed to be an icy slick, with a trick bridge, where she fell on her ass more than once while attempting to get across.

On the way, there were a few monsters, of a variety of shapes and sizes. She was enthusiastically introduced, not entirely at her own will, and she began taking mental notes on each monster she met, hoping to get them properly written down later on.

By the time they arrived in Snowdin town, she was feeling overwhelmed, though her walking companion continued to chatter on obliviously.

Asra was all too aware of the eyes on her as she walked with him, hugging her jacket tighter and avoiding eye contact. Obviously they didn't exactly get too many newcomers here, though none seemed at all unfriendly. It was almost unnerving how willing they were to offer a total stranger, a human, such a nice smile and a wave when they noticed her looking. Sure, they talked among themselves when she passed, as anyone would, but she didn't hear a single disparaging word.

Her expression was screwed up with concentration as she listened, trying to pick up specific sentences past whatever Papyrus was saying.

"Oh, Bon, did you see? That goofy skeleton is finally settling a human here! You think they'll be local?"

"I'm not too sure. There just ain't much room. Probably gonna end up..."

Before Asra could get the rest of the sentence, she ran smack into six some odd feet of surprisingly heavy bone. A pair of gloved hands came down on her arms to steady her, just as a wave of dizziness passed through her at the sudden stop.

"Shit! Crap, I'm sorry Papyrus, I wasn't paying attention to where I was--"

"WORRY NOT, HUMAN! I SEE YOU WERE SO ENRAPTURED BY WALKING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF SUCH GREATNESS, THAT YOU FORGOT HOW TO STOP WALKING ALTOGETHER! YOU MUST, HOWEVER! THIS IS MY HOUSE, AND YOURS UNTIL YOU'RE ON YOUR CLEARLY CAPABLE FEET...oh, and I guess my brother's, as well."

Asra was slightly taken aback by the quieter tone in which he brought up his brother, wondering briefly if they didn't get along or something, before taking in the sight of the house they shared.

It was easily the most impressive house in the area, bigger, even, than Toriel's had been, and casting a comforting light onto the snow outside. Two mail boxes, one with several letters spilling out, the other empty, and apparently meticulously polished. A balcony off to the right, and an igloo shoved in between it and a shed.

Seeing where she was looking, Papyrus once again spoke up, "AH. YES, THE SHED WAS SUPPOSED TO BE CONVERTED TO TEMPORARY HUMAN LODGING, HOWEVER SOME UNFORSEEN UM. DOGS HAVE FORCED US TO USE THE COUCH INSTEAD."

The human shook her head as if to clear it, "Unforseen...dogs?"

He seemed to be...sweating?

"WELL...DOG, ACTUALLY. BUT A VERY STUBBORN ONE! I PROMISE YOU, THE COUCH WILL BE MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE, EVEN WITH MY LAZYBONES BROTHER SOMETIMES USING IT."

"I'm still not following this whole dog thing?"

"Errrr...hhhmmm. PLEASE DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT. THE LITTLE WHITE DOG IS JUST...HE IS VERY ANNOYING, AND HE BEGAN GETTING EVEN MORE ANNOYING SHORTLY BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL. THINK OF HIM AS A PLOT DEVICE!"

"I'm sorry, what?"

"YES! A PLOT DEVICE IN THE GRAND STORY OF YOUR LIFE! NOW, LET'S GET YOU INSIDE BEFORE YOU FREEZE. MY UNPARALLELED HOSPITALITY REMINDS ME THAT HUMANS GET COLD."

He began firmly guiding her to the door, opening it with a puff of warm air and the scent of old cooking.

Her head was still spinning. Too much information, not enough sleep, no coffee, monsters were real, and here and dog, and...it was all very overwhelming, and of she hadn't had her one fainting session of the week last night, she would be doing it now. If it even had been night. She didn't even know what time it was.

As if sensing her distress, Papyrus guided her to the couch, taking her backpack and having her sit down, "PLEASE MAKE YOURSELF COMFORTABLE! I WILL MAKE YOU SOME TEA."

She sank into the couch, closing her eyes a moment, "Oh. Um. Yeah, tea would be great. Thank you."

"OF COURSE!" He began to make his way to the kitchen, before pausing, "OH! I ALMOST FORGOT. PART OF THE HI-C PROTOCOLS ARE THAT I SHOULD PROVIDE YOU WITH A METHOD OF COMMUNICATION WITH THE REST OF THE UNDERGROUND! IT IS MY PROUD DUTY TO PRESENT YOU WITH THIS CELL PHONE, HUMAN ASRA!"

The device was held out to her, produced from somewhere that she couldn't see. It was surprisingly modern, maybe only a generation behind what was popular up top, and comparable to the phone she had lost when she fell. She took it, opening it up, and going through it. A few numbers were already programmed in. Papyrus, Toriel, Frisk. A few others she didn't recognise, but supposed she would meet eventually.

The skeleton watched her for a moment, before leaving her to it, heading to the kitchen to make the promised tea.

Chapter Text

It had been late evening when the kid had come by the house to inform the skeleton brothers of the new development. Another human. Of course, there had been no way of knowing it would happen. They'd never let the timeline go this far without the kid leaving, or bringing them all along before. Not that he directly remembered any of it anyway.

Most of what he knew was from his experiments on time travel. While travelling on his own wasn't possible yet, he could use the kid's ability to make things turn out...better than it might.

He had notebooks and notebooks of things that could happen if they changed even one tiny thing. So far, this was the most successful experiment. Something...something always seemed to go wrong when they got to the surface. And Frisk leaving monsterkind behind wasn't ideal, either.

It had taken some doing, but their solution had been to stop Flowey from taking the human souls. He hadn't expected it, and now the flower was...well, he wasn't a problem.

But this new human. In all the data, there was nothing that suggested another human might show up. And yet, here they were, Papyrus on his way to pick her up from Toriel's place.

The short monster sighed, leaning on the counter top in his tiny lab area. Maybe if he changed the F.U.N. value? Ugh, but changing the Fundamental Universe Number value just made the whole equation twice as complicated!

He stepped away, taking a slow breath that made the magic calm a little in his bones, and smoothing his phalanges over his skull to wipe away the thin droplets of sweat-like magic on his brow, though it was more of a soothing gesture than anything.

This was still the best version of events that they had been able to cultivate. He just had to keep an eyesocket on this newcomer and make sure she wouldn't cause any trouble for their plans.

He retrieved his hoodie from a hook by the door, shrugging it on and pulling his mittens on after, before taking a shortcut into the house.


Asra had her eyes closed, and was dozing where she sat on the couch, glasses slipping down her nose, slouched enough to lean her head against her own shoulder.

The voice that jerked her from her near-sleep was not the loud announcement of arriving tea that she had expected, but a deep chuckle, from the other side of the couch, followed by a casual voice that she didn't recognise.

"heya. you must be that new human that showed up. couldn't'a picked a better time of year to fall though."

She opened her eyes, jerking slightly and looking over at him, "Holy crap, how hard did I snooze? I didn't hear you come in at all."

He shrugged, offering a wink, "oh yeah. i'm autumnatically pretty quiet."

"I...did you...oh my god," she giggled a little, slightly taken off guard, "You ah...you must be Papyrus' brother. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't...whatever that was."

His grin seemed wider, all with only the slightest movement from his eye sockets, "what weren't you expecting? my punishing wit? or my humerus nature?"

"SANS! STOP CORRUPTING OUR HUMAN GUEST WITH YOUR TERRIBLE PUNS!" Papyrus shouted from the kitchen.

"Holy shit," she was laughing fully now, a little more awake, if surprised to be so. She took a sec to catch her breath, before calling back, "It's alright Papyrus. I uhh. I was just about to tell him off."

He poked his head out of the kitchen, "HMM. GOOD. FINALLY SOMEONE IN THIS HOUSE HAS THE SPINE TO STAND UP TO HIM. NYEH HEH!" He retreated back to the kitchen with a triumphant expression.

The shorter skeleton watched his brother with clear admiration, before turning his attention back to Asra, "now that i tickled your funny bone, i guess i should introduce myself. name's sans. sans the skeleton," he offered a gloved hand across the couch.

She couldn't help grinning back at him as she leaned over to shake his hand, "Nice to meet you, Sans. My name is Asra. Thanks uhh. Thanks for giving me my first real chuckle down here."

He winked again, the bone clicking together almost but not quite inaudibly, "No skin off my back, pal."

She grinned, not quite chuckling this time, now that she was prepared for his particular sense of humour.

They both seemed content to lapse into silence, until Papyrus came back into the room with a tray of hot tea, and some sort of edible substance in hand, too difficult to see from her relatively low perspective on the couch.

"I HOPE YOU'RE HUNGRY HUMAN ASRA! THE QUEEN SENT US HOME WITH SOME OF HER PIE FOR BREAKFAST!"

"Oh my gosh, she didn't have to do that!" Why were these monsters being so nice to her? She didn't understand it.

"OF COURSE SHE DIDN'T HAVE TO! IF SHE DID, IT WOULD BE LESS SPECIAL," he set the food and tea on an out-of-place looking coffee table, before taking a cup to hand directly to Asra.

She took it in both hands, offering a small smile, and taking a deep breath in of the tea scent. She didn't recognise the variety, but she recognised that slightly bitter scent of caffeine. It almost made her melt where she sat, holding the mug to her lips and taking a long, deep sip.

"not to be a tease, but if people looked at my mug the way she looked at that one, i'd be one happy bag of bones."

Asra choked on her sip, coughing and pounding her chest out of habit, even as the liquid seemed to dissapear the moment she tried to take another breath.

"NOBODY LOOKS AT YOU THAT WAY BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO STANDARDS, SANS! LOOK AT YOU! WHO WOULD WANT A FAT SKELETON WHO TELLS TERRIBLE PUNS?!" He settled down on the couch between them and reached for his own cup, "AND NOW LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE! YOU'VE BROKEN THE HUMAN!"

Sans' expression didn't change. It hadn't since he'd arrived. Just that same grin, as he kicked off his slippers and shifted to lean back on the arm of the couch, his feet propped up in Papyrus' lap, "lighten up pap. she's just havin' a caffeine fit."

The taller skeleton's expression was one of shock and disbelief, "SANS, THAT WAS TERRIBLE EVEN FOR YOU."

"aww, so you're saying i do have standards?"

Papyrus' eyes somehow bugged out of their sockets, "NYEEHHHHH!!!"

Asra was just trying not to spill her tea at this point, as the brothers continued to go back and forth. She'd never had siblings, or cousins, or anyone close to her age to hang around, so seeing their dynamic was...really refreshing, honestly.

Their exchange calmed down after she had already begun to feel the effects of caffeine in her system. She remembered her new phone, sending a text over to Toriel to think her for the pie, and taking a moment to wonder how they had managed to fully develop comparable cell phone technology while isolated underground. 

There was a custom app store, and quite a few games, books and a social network. The developer of a strange majority of the games seemed to be someone called "Annoying Dog."

She wondered if they were tracing what she downloaded on this phone, but shrugged that idea off. Papyrus wasn't that kind of suspicious.

A few history books were loaded onto the reading application as she absently ate, along with some basic information pamphlets she might need to learn more about the areas down here.

The TV had been turned on at some point, and some manner of gameshow was playing on the screen, hosted by a robot with legs that made her look twice. Papyrus seemed to be enraptured, and Sans seemed to be asleep.

She wasn't entirely certain what she was meant to do, now, or what to think. Was this...really supposed to be her new normal? She supposed so, at least until she got used to things, and they sent to live somewhere else. This entire business was so...confusing. 

How many monsters were stuck down here? Was her mom worried about her yet? Was she ever going to get out of here, or was she going to die in this hole, with no one but a bunch of monsters and a single human to know she was gone?

She carefully stood, collecting the cups and plates and excusing herself to clean them off in the kitchen. The sink was nearly impossible to reach, however. A peak in the cabinet underneath also made her suspicious that it probably had no plumbing. Great. This was great. Fun times all around. Were all monster houses like this? She hadn't gone into Toriel's kitchen, after all.

After a few minutes of confusion, she gave up, setting the dishes on the counter and heading back into the living room. She needed to start making a plan to get out of here. There had to be a way. She just had to play along a little longer.

Chapter Text

Asra sat down at the table, poking at a rock covered in sprinkles and glitter, while Papyrus continued to watch his television programme. She mused to herself over how normal all of this was. How even these strange creatures, locked under a mountain for long enough that time forgot their existence, were coming together in communities. They gossiped and watched TV and had smart phones and families.

Did her own family ever know any of this? Did they care? Was this all some elabourate ruse to gain her trust? Why would they ever bother? What would be the point? Did her mother know what she had sent her into?

Her heart ached as she thought of her mother, and the fat cat she'd left her babysitting on the surface, when her apartment had come down on pet owners with extra fees. She thought of the fear in her gut as her feet came out from underneath her. Her heart pounding in her throat, her nails breaking on mud, stone and roots as she reached for something to hold onto. There was still a line of dirt that she'd been unable to clean from under her nails.

She wanted to get out of here. But what if she never found a way? As far as she knew, she and Frisk were the only humans down here, and humans couldn't take another human's soul anyway. Maybe that thing about a human and a monster soul, but that seemed somehow more in the monsters' favour than the humans'. 

Her eyes burned. Her vision went blurry, even with her glasses on, and she rapidly blinked to clear them. Now wasn't the time. She could break down later, when and if she was given time alone.

The end credits played on the show, and Papyrus sprang up from his seat, waking Sans from what had turned into a genuine nap, "THAT WAS A WONDERFUL EPISODE! THE BEST RERUN YET!" He announced to no one in particular, before clearing his nonexistent throat, "HUMAN, I MUST RUN TO TOWN FOR SOME SUPPLIES. WILL YOU BE ALRIGHT KEEPING AN EYE ON MY LAZYBONES BROTHER WHILE I AM GONE?"

Asra startled slightly, rubbing her eye under her glasses and looking up, "Oh. Um. Sure I guess. I just gotta feed and water him, and make sure he takes a walk, right?"

His eye sockets lit up, "IF YOU GET HIM TO WALK ANYWHERE, I WILL BE IN YOUR DEBT!"

"Don't worry, I'll start him easy."

"EXCELLENT! PLEASE DO NOT WAIT UP FOR ME TONIGHT. I WILL BE OUT VERY LATE."

"you still want your bedtime story tonight, pap?"

"I...HHMM. I WILL BE FINE. FLUFFY BUNNY CAN WAIT ONE NIGHT."

Sans chuckled, "alright bro. be safe in new home."

His sockets softened, "I WILL, BROTHER. DO NOT GIVE OUR HUMAN GUEST TOO MUCH TROUBLE." He turned to leave, shutting the door behind him almost as loudly as he spoke while somehow giving the feeling of shutting it gently.

The TV began playing an afternoon news programme.

Asra hummed to herself, slouching and resting her chin on the table, "It's okay, Sans. You don't actually have to walk."

He gave a chuckle, not quite as genuine as what he had for his brother, slumping more to lie down on the couch, folding his arms behind his head as his hood scrunched up behind his cervical vertabrae, "so, why don't'cha tell me about yourself, pal? what brought you to the underground?"

She took off her glasses, allowing him to go out of focus as she set them on the table by the rock. The lie she'd told Frisk came to mind. Had to stay consistent, "I slipped and fell while I was exploring," she replied, "I was visiting town and..."

His position adjusted. She couldn't see his expression, "and what about you?"

That was probably just as difficult a subject, but the short skeleton had no way of knowing it, "I study history. I uhh. I planned for awhile on becoming a teacher, but that didn't really pan out. My family doesn't really have the best reputation. It made it hard to find a job where they took my credentials seriously. Any who were willing to hire me had me teaching really niche subjects. Mythology and folklore and the like. But most of them had 'filled the position last week' or some such nonesense whenever I called back after my interview."

He listened silently. She wondered if he'd fallen asleep again.

She kept speaking anyway, "So my mum offered to pay to send me on a trip to Ebott, to see the mountain where some claimed a war that no one remembers once happened. I mean, it's all kind of a painful reminder of that reputation I'm trying to outrun, but...it was such a sweet gesture for her, I couldn't really say no, you know?"

It had been a sweet gesture. The whole story was full up of half truths and careful wording, but in spite of the mild guilt tripping to check out the place, a part of her was excited to dive into the historical significance of it all. Even if the monsters hadn't been real after all, she would have been fascinated to learn the truth of why there was so much superstition around this old mountain.

She quieted, lips pressed together slightly as a chilling thought suddenly came to mind. Where had her mother gotten those coordinates?

Sans shifted again. Before Asra could process it, he was next to her, hands in his pockets, leaning against the side of the table perpendicular to her own, "s'a'matter buddy? ya look tense."

"It...I just...thought of something I forgot to do. I uh. Heh. I guess I'll never get the chance, huh?" Tears were welling up again, and she couldn't hide them quickly enough this time, her vision dulling and blurring even more, "Shit...I'm sorry, this is so stupid. I...I don't have any reason to cry. I'm just....I'm fine. I know my mum is fine. My cat is fine. I'm..." She sniffled, wiping her eyes on her sleeve. It smelled like fresh flowers.

The skeleton sighed, the sound so quiet that she almost thought she'd imagined it, "don't worry about it, pal. you uhh. you don't gotta talk about it if it's too much trouble."

"I hate crying," she stated firmly, sniffling again. Light brown eyes were red and puffy, and hard to keep open already, "It's just this stupid chemical cocktail of brain stuff, leaking out of your eyes and making them hurt, because emotions are an uncontrollable bunch of bullshit."

He hummed a response, not entirely sure what to say to comfort a crying human that he didn't really know.

Talking seemed to be calming her down, anyhow, "You know, different kinds of tears hace different structures? I dunno how it works for monsters, but in humans, it like," sniffle, "It sorta helps balance the brain chemicals? So if you have too much of the chemical that makes you happy, you cry tears of joy. Too much of the chemical that makes you angry, that makes you cry too. Overwhelmed? Urge to cry. Too much onion? Tear city."

The last one got a laugh out of the skeleton, which in turn brought a small smile to Asra's face.

"hey, you know why the psychic couldn't stop crying?"

"Heh. What? Why?"

"he just wasn't a happy medium."

She snorted, wiping her eyes clear and looking up at him, his featured clearer this close.

"you should feel lucky y'know?"

"Really."

"yeah. i mean, here you are cryin', and you're not even a magazine. you have any idea how many issues they got?"

That one got a slightly more surprised laugh out of her. She was actually smiling now, "Okay, you got me. That was pretty good, you goof. So I told you some about me. Why don't you tell me about you?"

He shrugged, shifting to sit in on of the other dining chairs, "i love sleeping, i collect socks and my ideal day involves hanging around grillbz, and slinging bad jokes for good food then heading home to hang with my cool brother."

"Psh. That's not anything you dork," she teased, rubbing her nose a little, "It's...nice seeing how you get along with him. Papyrus seems like a nice guy. Maybe a little overwhelming at first flush, but I think he means well. It's really easy to forget that y'all are monsters apart from the whole...looking like a halloween decoration that someone dressed in their clothes thing."

"it'll get even easier the longer you're here," he assured her quietly, "paps is real excited to meet another human. honestly...he could use a lot more friends. try to be nice to him, okay?"

"I think I can manage that pretty easy," she replied, aware of her slowing breathing, "Are you his older brother then?"

His smile softened, "yeah. been watching over him since he was just a baby bones. but he was cooler than me even back then."

"Oh I doubt that. You're pretty chill," Asra replied, smiling lightly.

"maybe more than you, but he's the coolest."

"Pff, you saying that I'm hot, bonesy?"

"maybe," his wink sent a tiny shiver through her.

She knew it was just playful banter, but she couldn't help the colour that rushed to the surface of her skin. How long since she had been able to chill with someone and joke around? Freshman year? Sophomore?

"you're looking a little hot under the collar, there, buddy. maybe you need to cool it."

"Yeah, cool it yourself, unless you're looking to get boned." She stuck her tongue out at him, the colour spreading over her skin a little more.

Innocent flirting with a guy who had no skin. That was fine, right? It wasn't like it could go anywhere. Even if he somehow had the parts to do the deed, she was human, and he was a monster. Sure, humans had weird fetishes for the unobtainable, but there was no way a monster would be legitimately interested. It made flirting safe. She didn't get to doing it much with human guys, because there was always an expectation of follow through. But it...it was fun. That was all.

He shrugged it off with the same unchanging grin, eyesockets slightly squinted with mirth, eye lights blown a little wider, "how about we pick up some drinks at grillbz, and i'll show you the hottest monster in the underground?"

Asra rose a brow, sitting up and putting on her glasses again, after cleaning them on her shirt out of habit, "Oh? Do I get to meet your partner?"

"pfff. nah, nothing like that. just an old pal of mine. c'mon, it's my treat."

She sighed contentedly, getting up from her chair, "Y'know what? After the last 24 hours I've had, a drink or six sounds phenomenal. Lead the way."

He grinned slightly wider, "cool. i know a shortcut."

He stood and began walking toward the kitchen, opening up the door under the ridiculously tall sink and walking inside, leaving Asra to follow close behind with a bewildered expression as they emerged in the bar down the road.

Chapter Text

Something about monster consumables was that they hit almost immediately. There was no messy digestion, or twenty minute waits for caffeine, or medications, or alcohol to be absorbed. It hit the moment it reached the stomach, or sooner, depending on the concentration of magic in whoever was eating it.

Asra did not know this.

She had been drunk her fair share of times. Generally, she thought she had a pretty healthy relationship with alcohol. Stay hydrated, never drink alone, try not to drink when depressed. That sort of thing. She didn't always follow her own rules, but she always had a better time when she did.

Sans had led her up to the bar when they had arrived, greeting the gathered dogs, and other patrons, leaving her to awkwardly wave or introduce herself as she saw fit. No one forced conversation on her, though most everyone seemed open to it.

He'd ordered a large plate of fries for them to split, and told her to get anything she wanted.

And that was how she'd ended up with three empty glasses in front of her, halfway through another, absolutely rambling on into the ether about whatever nonesense came to mind, "S-so I said to him, right? You were...you were just. Just great in the uh...ahh god what's that movie called? I don't remember right now. But this big celeb speaker just thanked me and nodded from up on stage, right? And it wasn't until like...two, three days later I realised he wasn't even in that film."

The skeleton leaned on the bar with his chin in one hand, working through his own drink, "that's tough, pal. guess you had to stage a hasty retreat? i mean, guy prob'ly just wanted to movie on, instead'a filming you in on your mistake."

His grin was infectious, and his puns drew over-the-top giggles out of her in her altered state. It was good being around someone who could treat her to some good drinks and bad laughs, even when she was in as sorry a state as she seemed to be.

...that part did make her grin fade a little. She hid the change in expression in her drink, slamming back the rest of it, and setting the glass hard on the bar in front of her, "Oi, hot stuff, 'nother. Please." She covered her mouth with a hand, convinced, for all of three seconds that she was being slick in hiding her sudden change in mood.

"talk to me."

She looked up, humming her inquiry.

"you got real quiet all of a sudden, pal. you don't have to tell me what's up, but if you don't, i'm cuttin' you off."

Asra went through a quick range of emotions. Confusion, embarrassment, annoyance, then resignation. She sighed heavily, "I don't wanna start crying again, man. Especially not in public. It's just. I mean, you're being so nice to me, and here I am, thinking monshters are all...I dunno, bad, and I just don't know how to..." She shook her head, "Lemme reset here."

He flinched, his expression going still, but stayed silent.

"I was raised in...in a real fucked sorta environment, and...I'm gonna haveta relearn a lotta basic shit down here, so. Uhh. I jus' wanted to thank you man. For being patient wi'me."

He still seemed cautious, but he reached over, giving her shoulder a light squeeze, "don't worry about it, bud."

"No, no. You don't get it. I do worry though," she pouted a little, leaning toward him slightly, "I'm...I left everything. I don't have a thing anymore. I didn't...I didn't learn any m-ma-marm-marketable...like...skills up there. No one wanted me. I don't have anything to bring to the table here, and I came down here assuming that if you were real, you're all awful and--"

"seriously. don't worry about it."

She stopped, staring a moment, before facepalming, "Shit...I'm makin' you...I'm making you un...uncomf'torble. Goddamnit. What the hell is wrong with me? I'm sorry. I'll...lemme jus' finish this drink and...and I'll get outta your...uhh." She waved a hand around the top of her head, "Nnnot hair."

He almost chuckled, though it was difficult to tell if he meant it in her inebriated state, "you're kind of a lightweight ain't'cha?"

She pouted, "Wassat s'posed to mean?"

"you get drunk like a monster on this stuff," he shrugged.

"How...huh?"

"i'll explain later. finish up, and i'll take ya home." He finished off his own drink, his eyelights blown wide as he wiped his teeth on the back of his sleeve. He swayed slightly in his seat, but not as badly as Asra was.

She didn't try to make this drink last. She chugged it down, the glass hitting the countertop with a startling smack as she mirrored his action, wiping her mouth on her arm, before lifting the other into the air, "Onward! Huzzah!" She began to slide off of the barstool, toward the space between them, forcing the slightly shorter skeleton to catch her.

He held her arm, holding her steady, "whoa. easy there, pal. c'mon, let's get you home," he slid off his own stool, pulling her arm over his shoulders, and throwing his goodnights at the monsters still left in the bar. Before the universe folded in on itself, and they stepped from wooden floorboard to chevron carpet.

Her whole world spun on its head, and she stumbled badly enough that he lost his hold on her. She fell to her knees, clenching her eyes against the loud flooring and waiting for gravity to pick a direction, "Kkkfffuck man. Monster booze is the shit."

She dropped onto the floor, rolling onto her back. It was then that she realised she wasn't in the living room, "Wait wuh--?"

Sans leaned against the wall, "didn't uhh. didn't seem too fair to ask you to sleep on the couch after i went and got you drunk. besides, i can sleep anywhere."

"Nnh? Wh--? No, that..." Asra sat up, bracing on the treadmill she'd almost rolled into, "I'm not...not gonna kick you outta your room man. I mean. Like...f-fuck it, y'know? We're both...we're both grown ass adults. We can share a bed without being like...all immature about it."

He rose a brow bone, before shrugging, "eh. i don't got the energy to argue," he moved across the room in a flash, flopping back onto the bed, scooted near the wall and balcony doors to leave room for her.

With his arm out, in her booze-addled state, it was all too easy to crawl across the floor, fling her jacket off toward one of the clothing piles, and snuggle right up to him on the mattress. At this point, she'd take any physical comfort she could get, even if he was still more or less a stranger.

His arm pulled her up against him, the tips of his fingers playing lazily at the ends of her hair, right at the nape of her neck. Her glasses sat crooked as she nestled into his shoulder, wrapping her own arm across his ribs. The world tilted almost pleasantly. She played along the dips and ridges of his bones through his clothing, making him shiver a little beside her. She wondered if he was ticklish.

They lay in relative quiet for a bit, before the silence began to bother her, "Sans," she tried to make her voice soft, but it didn't quite come out that way, "How...you..uh. Mm. Tell me what you're thinkin' about?" She was clearly proud of herself for managing to actually say the sentence.

He didn't answer for a moment. She almost thought he'd fallen asleep, then, "y'ever notice that 'X88B88' is just the word 'voodoo' with a reflection?"

Chapter Text

Sans rattled off a lot of jokes through the night, and by the time Papyrus had made it home, Asra had laughed herself to sleep at his side.

He kept his arm around her, pulling the blankets up over them both with some careful manoeuvring, as he listened to the soft sound of her breathing, and Paps putting away groceries beyond it. 

When it had become clear that the human actually wasn't going to make him leave, or leave herself, he'd texted his brother, telling him that she'd had a bad night, and didn't want to be alone. As far as he could tell, it was more or less true, anyway, and it would keep his well-meaning but loud brother from bursting into the room to inform him that their human guest was missing.

His distal phalanges continued to play soothingly over her hair, eyelights directed at the ceiling, tracing patterns in the popcorn ceiling.

He had hoped to get more information out of her by getting her a little tipsy. He figured that if she had nothing to hide, it would be no harm done. She'd relax, they'd have some fun, and he could try getting his information in another way. But what he had learned only seemed more confusing. 

What he knew so far was that she was into history, she didn't have much luck getting jobs on the surface because of her family? She had somehow known about monsters, but she thought that they would hurt her, and was surprised, and maybe a little paranoid about it. 

Of course he had to calm her down. It wasn't his responsibility, but Papyrus would be devastated if his human charge had a full blown breakdown, even if it was nobody's fault but her own. So yeah, he threw her some of his best, and worst material. He let her use his bed, and agreed to watch over her, even if the agreement was only with himself. If nothing else, he would be the one in the way if something went horribly wrong.


When Asra woke up, she felt warm, and secure. It was a strange feeling, waking up beside someone, and having to remember how that happened, and being perfectly and totally comfortable with not moving a muscle. Monster alcohol was something else.

Under normal circumstances, she'd have stumbled downstairs to the couch, but in that moment last night, the idea of not having to be alone was more attractive than any of the men (or women) she'd considered sleeping with in the past.

She lay, snuggled against Sans, listening to the gentle thrum of his magic in his bones as she tried to get a handle on whether or not she was even ready to be awake. It was an awfully big commitment, and once she started, she had to see it through. This gentle period between getting up and being asleep was the only chance she got to change her mind.

A mild headache thrummed in her head, and dizziness made it tempting to stay still, though she knew she probably needed water. It occurred to her that she hadn't had to use the bathroom since she'd arrived, and while she found it odd, she managed to put together that it had something to do with how the skeletons, and certain other monsters, were able to eat without making a total mess. It wasn't as if she wanted to have to do that anyway, but she did wonder if it would create some temporary problems with her digestive system.

On that note, she didn't feel the normal nausea she would from a hangover, so the fact that the skeleton brothers didn't have a toilet wasn't as much a concern as she'd initially had.

Even still...she had to face the light, loud and damage of the day if she was going to start it at all.

Asra lay there for a bit longer, waiting for her body to obey her, before finally attempting to get up. The skeletal arms around her tightened a little, pulling her against him even as she twisted around. She went limp, lips pressed together a moment.

"Sans, lemme go. I gotta get up," she said in a hushed voice.

Why was she whispering when her goal was to get him to wake up enough to let her go? Who knew? Either way, it didn't seem to be effective.

She sighed heavily, "Sans, c'mon. My head is killing me."

This time, he nuzzled into her back, mumbling a low, "nope," into her t-shirt.

 Asra groaned, lying there a moment, wiggling, going limp, then glancing over her shoulder, "Hey, Sans."

"nope."

"Knock knock."

He opened a single eyesocket, his eyelight dim, "who's'ere?"

"Closure."

"mmm. closure who?"

"Closure damn mouth. You snored all over me last night."

He chuckled deeply, his voice a little lower with sleep, as he reached up and ruffled her hair before letting her go, "okay, ya got me, buddy. do your thing." He made as if to face the wall.

Asra sat up, stretching and popping in a few spots, before reaching over to nudge him, "You getting up?"

"nnnope."

She almost laughed, but not quite, yanking his hood over his skull similarly to how he'd mussed her hair, and grabbing glasses from where she'd left them next to the bed in the middle of the night, before getting up, shuffling out of the room, and to the neighbouring bathroom to clean up for the morning.

Asra stopped short when she saw her reflection above the sink, leaning in a little and staring closely as she straightened her bedhead slightly. Scattered through her hair were silvery strands of white.

When she traced her fingertips along her hairline, she felt tiny bumps that reminded her of buttons. She could even push on them slightly. She must have hit her head? And the weird white hair could be a result of stress. Did the hair just...go white, or was it supposed to start at the root? 

Either way, she hoped it wasn't permanent. The distinguished grey look might be great in ten years or so, but right now it made her look like she'd had an accident with the hair bleach.

She shook her head, turning on the tap and washing her face, before heading back out to the main house, and down the stairs.

Halfway down the stairs, the scent hit her. He didn't...did he?

"GOOD MORNING, HUMAN. I HOPE YOU SLEPT WELL! I WAS ABLE TO RETRIEVE SOME--"

"Coffee! Papyrus, I think I might love you platonically."

She got the rest of the way down the stairs, rushing past the tall skeleton, and into the kitchen to where instant coffee was sitting, hot and fresh, in a large mug, with "HOT DRINK, COOL GUY" painted on the side.

The first sip was a little startling, but each one after settled into the familiar bitterness she knew from experience, as she leaned against the counter to enjoy the drink, "Where the hell did you get coffee, man? I thought you said you couldn't get it."

"MY GOOD FRIEND, ALPHYS, IS QUITE THE COLLECTOR OF HUMAN ITEMS! SHE WAS ALL TOO HAPPY TO GIVE ME A CONTAINER SHE HAD ON EXCHANGE FOR THE CHANCE TO MEET YOU!"

"Wait, what? Who am I meeting? Paps, I appreciate you trying to get me friends, but I had kind of a hard night last night. I'm not sure I'm up for meeting anyone new just yet..."

"OH...ERR. WELL, SHE WAS PLANNING ON COMING OVER LATER TODAY?" A few droplets of sweat appeared on his skull.

She groaned, "Okay. Okay, fine. Thank you for the coffee. I'll...I'll get myself ready for company."

"OH! THAT REMINDS, HUMAN! I PICKED UP SOME CLOTHING AND NECESSITIES FOR YOU, WITH HUMAN FRISK'S ASSISTANCE! I HOPE IT IS ALL TO YOUR LIKING!"

She gave him a tired smile, "Thank you, Papyrus. I could use a change of clothes, and something made local might help me blend in more," she finished her coffee, setting the mug down. She was quickly feeling more awake already, half her headache gone, "I'm gonna go get ready then."

He watched her go through the living room, and to the bag he'd left for her on the table, before heading back upstairs. She could feel his gaze on her back, until she was back in the bathroom, and set to get cleaned up, and ready.

Chapter Text

By the time Asra was out of the shower and dressed for the day, two new voices were audible from downstairs. She ran a brush through her hair, and cleaned her glasses under the running water, shaking them dry, before putting them on and taking a slow breath. 

Her clothing was a little more casual, and comfortable, with an oversized hood, and long, comfy, robe-like coat. Papyrus and Frisk had done surprisingly well in picking it out. It fit nicely, and she felt like it would do a good job of hiding her should she want to blend in a little better without people muttering about her being human.

She kept the hood down for now, though, heading out of the room, and down the stairs, looking at the two newcomers. 

The louder voice belonged to a blue fish woman, who currently had Papyrus in a headlock. A small yellow lizard-like monster was sitting on the couch, trying not to laugh at whatever the other two were apparently reenacting.

Asra cleared her throat, offering a little wave, "Uhhh. Hi. Hope I'm not interrupting anything."

"Hey! You must be the new human," the blue woman released the skeleton, giving her a toothy grin, "I dunno what Papyrus was talking about. You look like a total NERD. Not anywhere near as cool as me."

She quirked a brow, "No, see, I'm cool and I'm a nerd. The two aren't mutually exclusive," she replied, hesitating a moment, just a little intimidated, before offering a hand, "My name is Asra. It's nice to meet you...?"

"Name's Undyne," she closed the distance, giving the human a firm, almost-too-tight handshake.

She almost felt her bones grind together in her hand, her shoulder threatening to pop out of place. She disguised her grimace of pain as a grin, assuming for now, at least, that the monster didn't know her own strength, "Nnice to meet'cha, Undyne. That's...that's quite the grip you got there."

"Hell yeah!" She drew her hand back, flexing for a moment, scales catching in the light, "I haven't lost a handshake fight yet!"

She opened her mouth to speak, buy closed it again when the words didn't come to her. That...that explained something, probably.

"U-Undyne, handsh-shakes aren't um...they aren't c-competitions..."

"Eh? Why the hell not?"

"It's j-just a greeting gesture," the yellow monster shot Asra an apologetic grin as she massaged feeling back into her fingers.

"Well that's boring. Hey Papyrus, did you wanna leave these two nerds alone for awhile? I think Alphys had some stuff she had to ask from the king."

"OH! YES, CERTAINLY! WHY DON'T WE TAKE A RUN TO THE TRAINING GROUNDS?"

"YOU'RE ON!" Her enthusiasm matched his as she gave Asra a friendly punch in the arm, before racing toward the door against the skeleton.

Not even a minute later, the door had shut behind them, and Alphys was tapping her claws together nervously, a small, but fond smile across her face as she looked at where Undyne had been standing.

Asra took in the silence, before joining the monster on the couch, closing her eyes and just focusing on her breathing for a minute or two, before she spoke up, "Okay. Hi. I'm Asra, but you know that. You're Alphys, I presume?"

"O-oh! Yes, i-it's a pleasure to um. To meet you. I'm th-the royal scientist. I was wondering if you c-could answer a few questions?"

She shrugged, "Sure. Why not? By the way, Thank you for the coffee."

The monster blushed a little waving a clawed hand, "Oh n-not at all! I j-just had it lying around and I-I'm not really a fan of c-coffee, so it only made sense t-to give it to a human and when I heard you were here I j-just had to you know? So I--"

"Whoa, lets step back a sec. It's still too early for rambling. What do you need from me?"

"S-sorry I...i-it's a really bad habit of mine. I'll t-try to be more uhh. More mindful. I..." She cleared her throat, going through her inventory in the small bag beside her, "I w-was asked to get some i-information on your medical history, t-to pass on t-to a physician, and um...to ext-tend an official invi-vitation for you to meet with K-king Asgore. He umm. I also w-wanted to get your permission to extract a s-small amount of uhh," she paused as if she'd forgotten the word, before finally continuing, "Sorry, your d-D.N.A., a-and to look over your s-soul for some research I'm doing into comparing human and monster souls?"

Asra had some trouble taking that all in. She ran a hand through her hair in a nervous gesture, before crossing her arms under her breasts. Her permission to look at her soul? But she wanted to get her a doctor? This didn't make sense if they were planning on killing her to get through the barrier.

"A-Asra?"

She shook her head, "Sorry, zoned out a little there. I uhh. Is it dangerous? The whole soul thing?"

"Oh! N-no, not at all! Frisk says it can b-be a little uncomfortable at first, b-but as long as you aren't attacked, i-it's perfectly safe," she finally seemed to find the papers she wanted, holding them out in shaking claws across the couch.

"What do you mean?" She asked slowly, taking the papers to peruse them.

"Well...think of your b-body like armour. It p-protects your soul, and is m-more invulnerable t-to magic than your soul is. So like...f-fire magic takes more effort to b-burn you, and ice magic isn't as c-cold, healing m-magic is less effective. If the s-same things hit your soul, you feel it ph-physically. Since m-monsters are made of magic, we f-feel magic w-without our souls needing to be summoned. I wanted to s-study if there were m-more differences, as well. I kn-know Frisk is human, b-but they are a unique case, and I need a wider pool, s-so...."

The stammering made the scientist more endearing, and she found herself softening slightly, "I supposed I could be bribed into an examination of my soul. But only if you can get me more coffee."

She actually smiled, "D-deal. Now i-if you could fill out that p-paperwork, we can get you set for a physical e-examination as well."

Asra nodded, taking the glittery pen being held out to her, and going through the questionnaire.

Most of the questions seemed pretty standard. Asking if she had any unusual pain, where, for how long, how intense it was. Asking after her medical conditions--it did provide quite a bit of room for her to explain what the symptoms of those conditions were, and what parts of the body they affected. It asked if she was pregnant--that was a BIG no. If she had any allergies, if she had any intolerances, what her general weight and height were, to the best of her knowledge, though that would be updated in a future physical exam. There was even a whole section on her dental and vision history, since the industries weren't split from the main medical industry down here.

Another paper asked after her medications, how they worked, what their ingredients and side effects were, and how much she had left, if any. 

Still another paper asked her about her mental health. This one went more in depth, suggesting that the monsters had a better understanding of this subject than of human medicine. It took her the longest to fill out.

The whole time, Alphys sat, quietly tapping away on her phone with her claws, squinting behind her glasses as game-over music filled the room and she restarted again.

When the paperwork was finished, and reality began to coagulate around Asra again over how permanent this was, she held out the stack with the pen. A slight tremble went through her hand, but if the monster noticed it, she didn't say anything.

"Th-thank you! I really appreciate this. Is there a t-time you'd like to c-come by the lab f-for your observation? Oh! A-and is there anything you want t-to know about the Underground? I can tell you j-just about an-anything, or a-at least where to f-find the inform-mation."

She shrugged, "Nothing coming to mind right now, but I appreciate it. I'm...kinda out of it. I'm sorry."

"N-no! Don't ap-ap-apologise! It's my j-job to make you more c-comfortable while Papyrus is gone and--"

"No, no, Alphys, it's not you. I'm just thinking about the surface. I...I just got down here, and I feel like I left a lot behind."

"Oh. I-is there um. Anything in particular that you m-miss?"

"My mum. My cat. There was this podcast I was listening to that was like, two episodes from the finale or something like that, and I'm disappointed that I won't get to hear how it ends. I had a D&D group I was going to join in an effort to maybe, finally make some friends. I hadn't really gotten started on life, but I was starting to find things I could enjoy."

Alphys clicked her claws together nervously, "I d-don't know what a podcast is, b-but I think have a D&D b-book in my l-library at the lab? If you w-wanted to um..."

"To hang out, outside of your job?"

"Y-yes? Oh! Do you like anime?"

"It's okay. Some is better than others," she replied, surprised that weeb culture had reached this far. Japan would be proud.

"W-we could um. We could watch some sometime, maybe? And you c-can t-tell me about D&D and your p-podcast stuff, and m-maybe we can get a g-group together and--"

Asra cut her off with a chuckle, smiling and a little more relaxed, "That sounds like fun. I'd love to get together sometime."

Chapter Text

Asra and Alphys had a pretty good conversation, though it didn't last long before the royal scientist had to go and check on some other test subjects. 

She walked her out, and to the exit to town, much warmer in clothing apparently made to adapt to the climate in the Underground.

The edge of town was also where the sparring grounds were. Undyne and Papyrus were in the middle of a match, the field littered with spears and bones.

The rules seemed relatively turn based, one attacking while the other defended, then the other going for the opening. Papyrus was planted in place, unable to move his feet for the tinge of green that seemed to encase them. He blocked the spears with walls of bone, both magical constructs dissipating when they clashed, leaving him with only a moment to block where the next spear would be summoned.

Undyne was dodging and jumping over bone attacks, occasionally swiping at one with a spear. She seemed to have some difficulty manoeuvring, her feet heavy and slow. It was hard to see, but the bluish glow around her was there from the right angles. 

The fish monster sent a fierce attack at the skeleton, spears coming at him from all sides, as she dodged around a massive bone still in the middle of the field. However Papyrus seemed more than prepared. Several circles of bone walls surrounded him, obliterating the spears on contact, as the green magic lost its grip on him, and he jumped into the air, using the bones as a launching-off point to land directly in front of Undyne and conjuring a small bone about the size of a sword.

Closing the distance didn't seem to work as well for him, as she easily deflected his strike with her spear, both weapons seemingly more permanent while they were holding them. Her movements were still hindered by the blue light, while the skeleton was moving freely now. Even still, she managed to get a hit on him, a 1 flashing near his chest as he pulled back to escape the full brunt of the blow.

The hit, however, seemed to indicate the end of the sparring session. The two panted for breath, both grinning from...one side of their face to the other.

When Papyrus noticed their audience, he waved after her with a bright expression, closing the distance, bones and spears dissolving into glittering, pure magic in his wake, "GREETINGS, HUMAN! I SEE YOU ARE VERY IMPRESSED! AND WHY SHOULDN'T YOU BE? I, THE GREAT PAPYRUS, AM UNPARALLELED IN MY MERCY AND BENEVOLENCE," he leaned in as he closed the distance, whispering loudly, "DON'T TELL UNDYNE I LET HER WIN."

"WHAT DID YOU SAY PUNK?!" She sprinted the distance toward Papyrus, no longer hindered by blue light, and tackled him into the packed snow and ice.

Asra stepped rapidly back, covering her mouth and cackling as the fish monster and skeleton rolled around, wrestling in the snow.

The whole thing was surprisingly endearing, and she found herself enjoying the spectacle.


Back in the ruins, Frisk walked the familiar old paths, looking at the occasional view of Old Home, where reconstruction projects were underway, to house more monsters.

They followed the old route, back to where they had found Asra a few days before, craning their neck to look up at the hole in the cave ceiling above. Sunlight streamed in in great, diagonal beams, highlighting the goldenflower pollen, and dust dancing in otherwise imperceptable eddies in the air.

The water had stopped dripping into the cave, dried up in the days since the storm. Mud and heavy, flowing puddles had turned to damp dirt at the edges of the chamber. The sunlight caught something glinting in the dirt, catching the young royal's eye with a small sound of curiosity.

They made their way over to the object, digging it out of the dirt carefully, and holding it up to the light to see it better. It was a cell phone.

An attempt was made to turn it on, with no luck. They popped off the back and looked over the battery, frowning at the clear signs of water damage. Maybe Alphys could recover something from the device? And if it was Asra's, they could see about transferring it to her new phone. The idea caused a small, understated smile to spread across their face. That might make the newcomer more comfortable. That was the hope, anyway.

They got out their own cell phone, dialling Alphys' number.

"H-hello? Frisk? I-is there something y-you need?"

"Hey Alphys. I found an old cell phone in the ruins. I was wondering if you could help me recover any data on it?"

"O-of course! When c-can you come by?"

"I can catch River's boat and be there before dinner time."

"Okay! I-I'll get my w-workspace cleared up."

"Thanks. See you soon."

 

Chapter Text

Why had she been so afraid? So far, everyone here was nicer and more accepting than any of the humans in her life. She didn't understand it. She had been told by her father, and her mother, and her entire extended family, that monsters were dangerous. That they could rip out human souls without limit, leaving them to die while the monster twisted into the picture of horror, and grew more powerful than even the gods.

The legends had to come from somewhere. What monster had done such a thing, that had caused humans to fear them so badly? Or was this just another case of attempted genocide in the long history of mankind? It wasn't as if they hadn't wiped out other humans just for being a little different.

She looked at the small wooden case she'd pulled from her bag, sitting on her lap as she sat on the couch. It was carved with various symbols, that she had spent her childhood being forced to memorise. Pictures that told stories, so long as one knew the meaning.

She'd tried so hard to forget it all that she almost couldn't read the inscription on the box. Her father had left it to her when he passed, inside a larger case of more practical weapons. This was the first chance she'd really had to look at it.

Stooping over the box and tracing the symbols with her fingers, she tried to recall what each meant. Some of them were rubbed away with time, scratched up abd hard to read.

The gist of it was that if ever the monsters roamed free, they will have proved their evil in the eyes of humanity, and the gutters charged with protecting it. Should this come to pass, they and their progeny to the fifth generation would be eliminated, to protect the humans, and make right the wrongs left stagnant by the mages, who were executed for their protection of the monsters in locking them Underground.

The tools inside the box were meant to aid in such a battle, allowing the relatively few hunters predicted to remain to bring down an entire population with ease. Inside was contained a magical plague, created using the dust of the very mages who locked the monsters Underground all those centuries before.

She felt ill as she went over the inscription a few more times to be sure she was reading them correctly. She couldn't let the others find this. She had brought death among them....

With a shiver, she stood, taking up one of the plastic bags from Papyrus' shopping trip, and thoroughly wrapping the small case, before shoving it back into her bag.

Had her father known that she would be sent down here? He couldn't have. Had her mother known what he had left her? Maybe. Maybe that had been her plan.

Prove monsters were real, wipe the lot of them out with a horrifying disease, and collect the soul of a boss monster to get out. The it would only leave those hiding on the surface.

Not that genocide had ever seemed her mother's style, self righteous as the man she had married had been.

She collapsed back onto thr couch, unsure what to do with herself now. She felt somehow unclean having just held the box in her hands. She somehow doubted that she could bring herself to meet with the king after discovering such a thing was in hey possession. Hell, she didn't even know how to reach the king.


Sans watched Asra, leaning on the railing in front of his bedroom door. He was silent, simply observing, though he couldn't see what she was looking at, or figure out why it had seemed to scare her so badly.

He finally moved, after she wrapped whatever it was in plastic, making a point of making sure she heard him coming.

She glanced up, fixing her glasses and giving a weak smile, "Oh. Good morn...uh. Afternoon, Sans."

"mornin'," he greeted, "you alright buddy? y'look paler than me."

Not only was the young woman more pale, but much of her dark hair seemed to be streaked with silvery white. She forced her smile wider with obvious effort, shaking her head, "Don't worry about it. Just still feeling a little off after drinking so much yesterday."

He rose a brow bone, shrugging, "i mean, you were pretty sheet-faced last night, so i can't blame ya for making like a ghost today."

She gave a huff of a laugh, falling quiet for a minute or two, before responding, "Hey, uh. Apparently the king wants to meet with me? I was wondering if you would be able to take me to go see him? I have absolutely no idea how to get there and uhh. I thought you might know a shortcut."

"hmm...yeah, sure, why not? did'ja wanna go now?"

She stood, nodding, "I don't see any reason to put it off. Not a good one, anyway."

"aww, ya nervous?"

She squinted, "Don't aww me, bonsey."

He shrugged again, "suit yourself," he started walking towards the front door, sparing a gesture for her to follow.


Frisk arrived at the lab in the late afternoon. They had the phone in hand, having chipped away bits of dried mud as they traveled, so that it was mostly clean.

When they arrived and sat down with Alphys, their conversation went as it usually did. Largely one sided, with occasional input from Frisk. Even as they listened to Alphys going on and on about anime and how excited she was to get to know the new human, and her date with Undyne a couple nights ago, they watched her work to retrieve and sort through the data on the phone.

The conversation was as cheerful as could be, until the reptile monster froze in place, eyes wide behind her glasses.

"Alphys? Are you okay?"

The scientist scrolled on her screen a little, "I-I...I didn't mean t-to read this but..."

"What is it?" They stood from where they were relaxing, to read over her shoulder. It was a text conversation.


When Asra arrived at the palace, she was duly impressed, looking around in awe at the flowers carpeting the cracked floor of the throne room.

Asgore was tending the flowers when they arrived, glancing up and giving them both a bright smile. Sunshine, filtered through the barrier, poured into the room, and across hus gold and white fur, "Howdy! Thank you for coming to visit on such short notice." He offered a massive, furry hand, "My name is Asgore Dreemurr. It's a pleasure to meet you.'

"Oh. Um..." She wiped her hand on her coat, as if that would clean away the knowledge of what she had held not long before, "Nice to meet you, king Asgore. My name is Asra Katz."

"Katz? Hmm...from a line of priests, isn't that right?"

"Ah...oh. I suppose my family are priests of a sort."

"I'd be curious to know what order they served. I knew a few Katzes before the great war," he paused, "Oh, excuse me! How rude of me. Would you like some tea?"

She smiled, "Sure. Tea sounds great." 

"Excellent. Please follow me to the sitting room, and we can have a nice chat."

And so, she followed.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Asra held the tea in both hands, warming them and giving a pleasant hum, though it was much warmer here at the capitol than back in Snowdin. She had more than one moment of silent wonder at the different climates all packed into one underground cavern.

"Okay, so," she paused, sipping the golden flower tea, and taking another deep breath to try and relax herself, "My whole family thing is...complicated? We're...historians. We tried to keep the knowledge about monsters alive that...many others kind of...forgot. And because they forgot, we were all regarded as sort of...laughingstocks, in historical and archeological circles. We occasionally get a believer or two asking for our expertise, but for the most part, we get locked out of a lot of important information."

The goat monster gave her a sympathetic look, smiling gently, "I see. That must have been very difficult for your family. Is that what brought you to the Underground, then?"

"I suppose it is. I'm the last of the Katzes from this line. My father passed some time ago and...I suppose it was mine and my mother's responsibility to see that we finally proved him, and his family before him right."

He inclined his head, closing his eyes a moment, "I see. I am very sorry to hear of your loss. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that we haven't been entirely forgotton." His expression was one of deep contemplation. A comfortable silence went on for several minutes as they drank their tea.

Asra took in the flowers decorating the room, barrier filtered sunlight streaming inside. She could only imagine how much it must have crushed the monsters to tunnel through layers and layers of stone, and dirt, and darkness, only to come to this. A way out that they could never use.

She could feel her heart breaking at the prospect, even as old, ingrained thoughts intruded into her quiet contemplation. They had lost the war. They had been meant to die. The mages should never have turned on their human allies to put the monsters here, and protect then from their destiny. If the monsters were all dead then she would never have had to deal with being muttered about and laughed out of her college courses, and being turned down for scholarships and grants that were rightfully hers. She would never have been the freak with the weird family of monster hunters. She would have had friends.

Her grip tightened on the tea mug, fingers going white with the pressure. The monsters were good people. She shouldn't want to see them hurt.

She tried to calm, her voice wavering as she spoke, but only slightly, "Your majesty, were you um. Were you in the war? My family tried to tell me about boss monsters, but they didn't know too much except that they lived a long time. I read some of the books down here, but I thought it might be better to ask directly."

His expression went neutral, "Yes, I was. There are several monsters still alive from that time. While boss monsters live the longest, it's not the only determining factor in our lifespan. If anything, those of us who have seen the surface live longer than those who have not. But may I ask why you would like to ask me about the war?"

"J-just the historical significance of it all, you know?" She replied quickly, "Like I said. I'm a historian. I'm fascinated to learn another perspective on things. I mean...you know. I had some education on it, but none fron anyone who was there, and...."

"And none without human prejudice," he finished quietly, "Of course. Without monsters, mages will have been bred out of the population, leaving no neutral party to write the history. I, of course, cannot promise neutrality here, but I commend you on seeking out another point of view. I believe you would benefit from studying under our royal historian, if you would be inclined to do so."

"Royal historian? Wh--? Wait, really?"

"Yes. He is..." He chuckled, "Eccentric. But he was also present during the great war, and tends to be very good about passing on information to those with a curious spirit. His name is Gerson. You can find him in Waterfall, if you are interested. You will have to convince him directly to give you an apprenticeship, however."

She pushed her glasses up her nose, "Oh. Well crap, sure. Yeah, I'll uhh. I'll definitely look him up. Thank you, your majesty. I really appreciate the information."


Frisk stared seriously at the words on the screen, Alphys watching the intensity of their expression with a nervous click of her claws.

She really hadn't meant to read it. She just meant to save the file, just in case there was some sentimental value, then, one little misclick and...

The messages between Asra and her father weren't exactly affectionate. It was more like an exchange between a boss and their subordinate than a father and child.

 

 

Message Transcript:

Dad

What the hell were you thinking Asrania?

Do you have any idea what could have happened if you'd let those stupid friends of yours into the house?

Nothing dad.

I said Id do that hunting shit of u could prove monsters were real. U expect me to do it alone?

So i figured u could prove it to my friends too. Not a big deal

Do you really think that they would see things the same as our family?

Don't answer then. I expect to see you at the house, alone, tonight. Clearly you're in need of more education on this matter.

 

There were no more messages from her father after that, the communication rapidly cut off, either through deletion or silence.

"S-so what do we d-do?"

Frisk sat back down, shaking their head, "I don't know. She doesn't seem to be aggressive enough to lash out yet. But..."

"W-we wouldn't want a-anyone to get hurt if we...if we let our guard d-down."

They nodded, nervously toying with the stitching of the delta rune on their tunic. After some time, they sighed, "We should place her under observation until we can be sure of her motives. At the first sign of violence, she'll be placed under arrest. Let Undyne know. I'll inform my parents and the HI-C. We won't inform her that we have this information yet."

Alphys flinched slightly. She hated lying. It made reminded her of her past transgressions, but...she also knew it was necessary, here. She nodded, adjusting her glasses, "O-okay. I'll um...w-when she has her e-exam done I'll h-have her LV and EXP checked...j-just in case."

They chewed their lip, "Yeah. Good idea." They needed to talk to Sans.

Chapter Text

Sans' habit of showing up wherever Frisk would go had faded with their years in the Underground. He still seemed to be all over the place, but he wasn't always so consistently on their path. They'd learned, as time went on, that this was because he'd finally stopped watching them so closely.

They had, through determination, cooperation, and stubbornly peaceful disposition, proven themselves to be trustworthy.

So when Papyrus had insisted that any humans who fell stayed with them...well, Frisk had obviously had some worry for the shorter of the two. That sort of paranoia wasn't good for anyone, and due to some limitations put in place by the queen at the implementation of HI-C, checking souls was a good bit more difficult to do legally. None of them could be certain that the new human wasn't stronger, and more determined even than them. She could be resetting things every time things went awry for her, and none of them would know...well except for....

But they weren't talking to him. They were talking to Sans, so long as he was in a mood to talk.

It took some time, but eventually they found the skeleton on a bench in Waterfall. An echo flower stood in the corner, a constant trickle of water, and the distant melody of a music box playing in the background.

Tiny aquatic lifeforms let off a pale blue bioluminescence, as star-like-stones shone down from above. The entire area was humid, the freshwater scent permeating every inch of air, mingling with the soft, jasmine like scent of the echo-flowers.

Sans' eyesockets were closed, but he knew their footsteps well, "hey'a kid."

They settled heavily onto the bench next to him, watching the water lap against the stony sides of this artificial extension of the stream, "Hey," they tucked their hands into pockets hidden under their tunic, eyes focused away from the skeleton, "Sans, what do you think of Asra?"

He opened a lazy eyesocket, his eyelight wide and blown out in the soft and hazy lighting, "t'be honest, kid, i'm not sure yet. she's...well she's interesting, if you catch my drift."

"Have you been able to work out any of those odd readings around her?"

"nope. none of the math lines up, and the projections're all inconclusive. i haven't got a single clue what we're missing here," he finally looked at them properly, eyelights focusing, "why? something up?"

They fidgeted in their hidden pocket, thinking about how best to word what they'd found. When they spoke, their voice was quiet and a little flat, "I found her old phone in the ruins, and took it to Alphys to retrieve the data off of. While we were at it, we accidentally read through an old text conversation with her dad, and..." They shook their head, "Have you noticed anything strange, directly?"

He considered, "i mean, she seems like she's going through a lot. she's just getting to the underground, just learning about monsters properly. but uhh. y'can't just start off all serious like that, then leave me hanging, kid. i don't wanna butt into anyone's business--i run enough of them on my own--but if this wasn't serious you wouldn't be bringing it up."

"I...I don't think she knows as little as she pretends. I know she said that her family knows all about this stuff, and tried to teach her or whatever but...there's more to it." They took out a cheap, backup phone that they had uploaded the pictures and messages onto, pulling up the conversation and handing it to Sans.

He skimmed over a couple times, his unchanging grin seeming to tighten all the same, "i'll keep an eyesocket on her. she's off visiting your old man right now. king can handle himself, but..."

"Please...I don't think she's necessarily violent, but please don't let her out of your sight, Sans. I don't...I don't want to have to reset everything again. I've been...I haven't saved since our agreement. I promise, I haven't used that power, and I don't want to, but I'm terrified I might have lost it. What if I can't help fix anything?"

"kid, i trust ya. if something happens that we absolutely gotta undo...you're a strong kid. you'll get up the determination to do whatever you set your mind to. you always do."

They sighed heavily, nodding and curling in on themselves, "Still...I'd feel a lot better if you don't let her fall into that temptation. We don't know what kind of awful things she's had her head filled with. I don't blame her for it but...y'know."

He nodded, standing up, "mind if i keep this?" He held up the phone with Asra's data on it.

"Oh um...yeah, go for it. We have the original, and a backup on Alphys' computer."

"cool. see ya around, kid." He turned to leave, reality folding on itself as he took a shortcut elsewhere, leaving them to figure out how to tell any of the others.


As Asra left the palace, the heat of the outside closed in on her, and she pulled her hood up to hide her human features, as she walked out, carefully following the directions the king had given her to reach the rest of the Underground.

 When she stepped through the doors into Hotland, she nearly ran directly into the blue-hoodied skeleton.

"Shit! Crap I'm sorry I...Sans, what the hell man? I didn't even see you."

"aww y'think just 'cause i'm a skeleton, it gives you a right to look right through me? i'm hurt."

She rolled her eyes so hard they almost came out of her head, "Hard miss on that one, bonesy."

"i dunno, seems like you hit to me," he replied, grinning just a little wider.

"Keep it up, you'll find your whole sock collection missing," she warned teasingly, tucking her hands into her pockets and moving on to start walking.

"how'll i find it, if it's missing?" He teased back, walking alongside her.

"You know what I meant, numbskull. Anyway, what brings you back? I thought you had something to do, the way you rushed off after dropping me with the King."

"well i couldn't make you head back alone."

She made a sound like breathing heavier through her nose, two steps short of being any form of laughter, "Well you're a real sweetheart, aren't you? Paid for me to get drunk, didn't take advantage of me while I was, and now you're playing personal tourguide to me. I'm just tickled that you care so much."

 His generally smooth response time faltered. He covered quickly with a chuckle, but it didn't go unnoticed.

"Hey, do you mind if we walk for a bit? I don't wanna jump from hot to cold so quickly, and...I'm a little antsy if I'm being honest."

"sure thing, pal."

"Thanks again."

Chapter Text

The trip back to Snowdin was calm enough. They exchanged jokes and banter, as Sans took only occasional shortcuts to surprise Asra, or get her turned around. 

She hated how much she liked this damn skeleton. He made it easy to forget that she was trapped here, because they were all in the same boat, and he made the best of it.

At one point, as they navigated through the darkness, she had, without thinking, taken his hand. She wasn't afraid. Not really. But the uncertain, claustrophobic and narrow footing over jagged crystals had made her heart skip a beat, and caused her to cling to the monster who was more familiar and willing to guide her.

His hand, all larger-than-human bone, had been surprisingly smooth and warm. The magic had left a soothing tingle across her skin, and his eyelights, illuminating the darkness, had turned toward her with surprise.

It had been hard not to think about it when they'd gotten back, and eventually she had knocked on his door to ask if they could share his bed again, since she hadn't been able to get comfortable on the couch.

Bed sharing became a nightly thing after that, and eventually he just gave her the key to his room, and she moved her backpack and clothing bags inside out of convenience, with the caveat that this was totally normal adult sleepover crap, and meant absolutely nothing beyond not wanting to be uncomfortable.

It was a nice lie, and nicer that he seemed to buy it. After all, she'd never live it down that she actually liked the grubby monster.

She had been making a habit of covering her head more. Wearing a hat, or her hood, and rarely changing out of her street clothes, mostly because PJs were just too much effort. The buttons on her hairline had become an inflamed and angry red, and it was difficult to resist the urge to pick at them if they were uncovered. Things got more irritating before they got better though, right?

That was what she told herself.


The days passed quickly as their guest settled into a routine. On the nights she tried to sleep in the living room, she stayed up late, and eventually knocked on Sans' door. On the nights he invited her to sleep in his room, she passed right out. So it only seemed logical to give her the key. After all, couldn't be good for the human to miss out on much needed sleep.

It also gave him a chance to watch her more closely. The less time she spent unsupervised, the less he had to be suspicious of her motives. Being suspicious was exhausting.

And it wasn't as if she was bad company. In fact, the way she giggled at his puns in such a genuine way, even if she was terrible at reciprocating them...well, it was sweet, and he just couldn't bring himself to dislike anyone who legitimately liked bad jokes.

The morning rolled around, and she rolled out of bed, after their usual cuddle war, which she always won, making her way out to cook breakfast for everyone before Papyrus could get up and do it himself.

Sans lay in bed, the door cracked to let in the scent of cooking food, his eyelights soft as they skimmed over Asra's things scattered by the bedside. He could hear dishes clanging together, and music echoing from downstairs as the human sang along to any song that she found even slightly familiar.

He had a gentle chuckle to himself at the singing, propping himself up on an elbow and glancing slyly at the door, before leaning over and lifting the back of the bag slightly so that it opened.

His mirth turned to a light frown, more pronounced than it would have been in front of anyone else. A dull, magical glow came from a plastic wrapped box inside. He hesitated, before dropping it closed again. 

Maybe this was something he should bring up to the HI-C.... After everything with those text messages...he couldn't be sure this wasn't some sort of weapon, right? And if it wasn't, then no harm done. They could pass it off as...a customs thing or something.


Frisk had not been expecting a call from Sans. While they hadn't seen much to be suspicious of in Asra's behaviour, they hadn't given up watching the young woman. 

There was something uncomfortable about the way she hid her face, and acted...well, like she was acting. As if she had to think through everything before she did anything.

The skeleton cleared his nonexistent throat on the other end of the line to get their attention.

"Crap. Sorry Sans. I'm just waking up," they excused, blankets shuffling as they got up from the bed and went over to the desk in their room.

"no problem kid," he replied, his normally calm tone holding just the tiniest edge to it.

"So can you describe exactly what it is you found?"

"it's uhh. a box. covered in a bunch'a carvings that look real out of date. i recognize a few, but most of 'em haven't been in use since before the war. and there's some kinda magic in it, but i can't tell you what. it's not letting me get a read on it."

They frowned, "That's...we can't say for sure that that's dangerous, but...it is suspicious. Even if she knew about monsters, the only reason she'd have something of magical origin with her...I don't like it."

"yeah, me neither kid. so what's your uhh. royal decree?" His tone was as unreadable as usual.

They looked over some notes they'd been making, "I...I don't want to embarrass her in front of the whole town if this ends up being nothing. It would ruin any chance she has at integration. Could you...I hate to ask this, but she seems to spend a lot of time with you. Would you be willing to get her to the castle or the lab, so she can be placed under lockdown discreetly?"

The sound he made was one of discomfort and something they couldn't read, "yeah. no problem. i'll uh. i'll be there later today."

 

 

Chapter Text

Asra danced about the kitchen, using the egg-coated spatula as a microphone and singing at the top of her lungs, as a particularly massive, and only just passably cooked panfull of scrambled eggs sizzled away on the stove.

"I want your lovin', I want your revenge, you and me could start a bad romance!~" Just as she was going into the "Oooh" bit, she turned around, jumping when she saw Sans there and nearly chucking the spatula at him, while Gaga continued the song echoing from her phone inside a clean bowl.

"Son of bitch, Sans, you scared the crap out of me!" She laughed breathlessly, "Was my siren song too much to resist?"

His grin was the same as ever, "maybe. i mean, you sure sounded like a siren. i was just wondering if the fallout could get through the mountain."

She did throw the spatula now, somehow managing to miss as his image flickered, and the wooden utensil went skidding across the floor, "God, you're such a dick," her tone made it clear she wasn't serious.

"aww, what happened to you and me starting a bad romance?" He winked, his grin somehow wider without actually moving.

"Your jokes are the bad part," she teased, clicking off the stove and popping some bread into a toaster, "Now if you want food, you can wash the spatula."

He glanced over his shoulder at it and shrugged, "nah," before making his way over to the stove and picking bits of egg out with his bony fingertips.

"Gross! At least wash your hands!"

"nope."

"Ugh. Okay. Now you owe me lunch."

He seemed to think about it as he picked at the eggs and placed them between his teeth, a flash of glowing blue showing when he parted them, "okay. s'a date."

"Fine, date it is," she stuck her tongue out, prompting him to return the gesture between his teeth.

How the heck he'd managed to conjure up a tongue was a bit of a mystery to her, but it sure made her thoughts head in an interesting direction. What else could he conjure up?


They sat down and had breakfast, Papyrus taking his to go. He'd been spending less time around the house the last few days, and Sans was certain he knew why.

Where he himself was comfortable with lying, and the general act he put on everyday, Papyrus tended to have some trouble with it. He didn't like it being necessary to betray someone's trust, even in matters of security. So it was easier to disengage until he was certain he had a direction he could take things.

Stars, he hoped he was wrong about her. She was obviously hiding something, but...so was he. It didn't mean she was a bad person. And so long as she didn't hurt Papyrus, he couldn't truly bring himself to care. 

Hell...maybe he was the bad person here. It wasn't the first time the thought had occurred to him. But he wasn't quite ready to believe that yet, even as he texted saying they'd be at the lab by late lunch time.

They ate their breakfast, and hung around for awhile, and at some point after she got changed into fresh clothing, he moved in behind her and stashed the box in his inventory.

Their lunch date was a good opportunity to get her to the lab. He figured it was the better option, since Alphys could take a look at her and the box in close proximity. If anything went wrong, they'd have her on hand to fix it or...who knew? Either way, things were going to happen soon, and he wasn't sure if he liked that he was a part of it. It was threatening the precarious balance they had here. But going back now was pointless.


Asra's mind was suddenly racing as a strange, and very specific thought came to mind. She didn't know monster culture all that well. She'd been holding all of them to human standards, right down to playful flirting and sometimes intense snuggling.

Had he asked her out on a date? Like a date date? Not just a "oh lol, it's a date!" Sort of date? But a "will you go out with me?" Sort?

Her thoughts layered over one another in a rapid cascade as she got herself ready. How did dating work for monsters? Did they have anything against humans in that regard? Was she just playing up the same sort of harmless flirting she'd been engaging in? If it was a date, did she really mind all that much? At all? Was it a pity date, or a legitimate one? Would it be inappropriate to ask?

She got slightly more dressed up than she might otherwise, but was careful not to go too overboard, just in case she was fooling herself. She was...preparing was all. She had no idea what sort of place this restaurant was, so there was nothing wrong with looking nice, even if she was planning on keeping her hood up the whole time.

She caught Sans's eyesocket when she came down the stairs, offering a smile, and adjusting the clasp of her cloak, still not entirely used to this style of clothing, but getting there. Her clothing underneath was lighter, and more suited to Hotland. She figured it would keep out as much heat as it held in, either way.

"y'ready?" His tone seemed flatter than usual, but that might have been her imagination, "oh, i hope you don't mind. i gotta stop by and drop off something with alphys on the way."

"Oh um. Yeah, that's fine. No problem," she fiddled with the hem of the cloak.

He nodded, offering an unnecessary arm to her as he conjured up his shortcut, space folding itself to his will. She took it, knowing how disorienting it could be.

Things were tense as they stepped through, the door, into a random area in Hotland, probably nearby the lab.

Asra shifted a little as they walked.

Sans paused midstep, looking at her with just a slight glint of faintly glowing sweat on his brow, "hey, uh...listen, i just wanted to make sure i'm not uhh. misinterpreting the data here. i just wanted to ask if you...if this," he made a gesture with one hand, almost as if reaching for something, but was cut off before he could continue his question.

Asra suddenly relaxed, giving a nervous laugh, "Okay, holy shit. I was just thinking the same thing. Damn," she leaned her head on his shoulder for just a moment.

His eyelights disappeared for a split second, but were back before she could blink, a look of genuine and pronounced confusion crossing his usually unchanging features, "uhh. s'cuse me?"

She felt mildly self conscious, pulling her hood forward a little, "Oh well um...it's uh...I just mean, I wanted to make sure we're...y'know, on the same page. I..." A slow breath, "This...whole thing is..." She waved a hand, "Is this a date? Or just friends going out for food? I know that sounds like such an awkward question and all, but..."

A blue tint spread over his cheekbones, and his eyelights contracted, then expanded slightly, "oh uhh. i mean. that..." 

Her own blush darkened, "Oh. Crap, I'm sorry. Here I am making assumptions, and you know, when you assume, Ume gets mad. I...don't worry about answering. I...goddamnit." She let go of his arm, moving to walk away and put some distance between them.

"wait. it's," his voice was careful, only just audible over the roaring flames flaring up as a chunk of some manner of plantlife fell from the cave ceiling far above, and down into the molten rock, "i uh. i don't...i hadn't actually considered it but uhh...did you want it to be?"

"I genuinely have no clue," she replied after a few seconds, clearing her throat in the wafting smoke and heat, "I...look why don't we just...discuss this where we're going?"

He sighed, closing his eyesockets, "fair 'nuff," he replied, finally moving to keep walking toward the lab.

When they reached it, Sans paused briefly, "you should prob'ly come inside. this might be a minute."

She nodded, following him in, only briefly distracted by the strange sound of the door shutting behind her, before she turned back around to face the rest of the lab.

Gathered inside were Alphys, Undyne, and Papyrus. Further into the room was Frisk, Sans sidestepping through reality to stand nearby them rather than her, both looking somehow apologetic.

"Um...sorry, what's going on? If this is an intervention or something, I'm weening myself off of caffeine."

Undyne, currently in full armour, a spear in one hand, looked like she wanted to speak, but instead she looked to Alphys, gritting her teeth to hold back whatever it was she wanted to say.

"U-um...well...we've been uh...keeping an eye on you, and...d-due to some uh...s-suspicious b-be-behaviour, we um..."

"You're under arrest, punk," Undyne finally cut in.

And then she felt a dizzying tugging at the centre of her chest, her vision suddenly tinted a dark turquoise, and her feet growing too heavy to lift. An upside-down heart flashed before her, brightly coloured in a swirling mix of magical green, blue, and bright, glowing yellow.

The reactions around her were loud, but hard to focus on, as if being filtered through a layer of gelatin, after being slowed down by a magnitude of five. She could hardly discern their shock before the magic seemed to overtake her entirely, and she collapsed to the floor with a heavy thud, her vision going a wild mix of green and blue, then fading, far too quickly, to black.

 

Chapter Text

When Asra came to, she was alone. She could hear muffled voices from another room. Someone saying it had been an accident. Someone else saying something about...souls?

The room was dim, with a hospital cot, cold tile, and a counterspace with a single yellow-gold flower in a glass case on the surface, slightly stooped, and cast into frankly creepy shadow by the odd lighting.

She sat up, her head pounding, shaking all over, feeling sick, but having nothing in her stomach. Her cloak, and boots had been removed, as well as anything she could possibly have used as a weapon, should she have a mind to.

The voices through the walls were nearly impossible to make out entirely. 

"is...safe to.......that thing?"

"....be fine...."

"....of that.......to examine....."

Before she could pick up anything else, an air vent, recessed deep into a ceiling too high for her to reach, kicked on, further drowning them out. She sighed, trying to think what might have happened. It wasn't as if there was anyone for her to ask.

A distorted laugh echoed through the tiny room.

She nearly jumped out of her skin at the sudden sound, her head whipping around, glasses almost falling off as she turned toward the high-pitched noise, "Shit! What? Hello?"

"Haha! Yeah, this isn't a 'family' game anymore is it? Or a game at all. But that's not important right now. What IS important is that they were actually STUPID enough to lock you in here with me!"

"What the hell are you even going on about? Where are you? Who are you?"

The laughter was distorted. The...the flower moved?

"Geeze. You need a new prescription, there, Asra. I'm right here."

"No way..."

"Aww, you can accept goats raising a human, and a giant cave full of monsters, but you can't accept a talking flower? Maybe you're more narrow minded than I thought."

"Don't be an ass. How do you know my name?" She stood, stalking across the small room to the glass enclosure.

"Your soul was out when you got here," a couple of leaves shifted in a shrug, "So I read your stats. Don't tell me nobody has told you how this works?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

He lifted his face to look at her, finally, a huge, uncomfortable grin spread from petal to petal, "Tell you what, Mage, you let me out of here, and I'll teach you E V E R Y T H I N G you could possibly need to know about your powers, and how things REALLY work around here."

Asra furrowed her brow, "I...what did you call me?"

"Wow, they really didn't tell you anything."

"I haven't exactly been down here all that long. Like...a week, max? I'm not even sure why I'm here..."

"Let's...start over," his face went suddenly less creepy, his smile less exaggerated, "Howdy! My name is Flowey. Flowey the Flower."

Her eyebrows knit together, "A flower with a generic name. Cool. Am I high?"

"If you're smoking any plants, I'd warn you to keep it away from me, smartass," he paused, briefly surprised, before giving an almost genuine laugh, "Anyway! You are something called a mage. Following me so far?"

She immediately shook her head, turning to walk back to the bed, "Nope. You're wrong. I'm human. For me to be a mage, one of my parents would have to be a monster, and if you knew my family, you'd know that's not possible."

"Oh, so you're not a complete idiot," he replied, "Good. That makes this MUCH easier."

"Except that you're wrong."

"I've heard Dr. Alphys talking about you, you know. About how you're a monster hunter. I have to say, I'm kind of disappointed you didn't ruin their stupid 'happy ending' they got themselves. But now that I know what you are, it just makes so much more sense."

"Wh--? How did she know about that?"

"Hell if I know! But it sure is easy to get her talking with the right motivation!"

Asra was quiet for a moment, considering, "What makes you think I'm a mage?"

"Remove the seal on this container, and I'll SHOW you."


"i don't think we should open the box. whatever it was in there, she was scared of it too."

"Why didn't you bring this up sooner, Sans?" Undyne demanded, "What if someone had gotten hurt, because we didn't know about this...weapon or whatever?"

"she could'a saw a bug for all i know. or maybe an embarrassing picture of her mom's socks. i was on the other side of the room. i'm not even sure this was what she was looking at."

"IN MY BROTHER'S DEFENCE, I DID NOT NOTICE ANYTHING SUSPICIOUS IN MY TIME HOME, OTHER THAN THE TWO OF THEM SHARING A BED EVERY NIGHT."

Undyne's serious expression went blank, her good eye wide as she stared at the shorter skeleton, "You two..."

"Th-that's ad-dorable!" Alphys was doing her best to hold in a giggle behind a clawed hand.

"PFFFHAHAHA! DAMN, Sans, I didn't think you were into THAT sort of thing!"

"i...hey, it's not like that," a bead of sweat dripped down the side of his skull.

Undyne continued to snicker for a moment, before finally managing to catch her breath, grinning now, but her eye going serious again, "Look, what you do in your room is none of my business, but you really oughta be more careful. Paps cares about you a whole lot, and so do we, and with your HP..."

His eyelights flicked away, and he covered with his usual grin, shrugging, "eh, i'm fine. don't worry about it."

"We DO worry, whether you like it or not. If you go and get yourself dusted, I'm gonna KICK YOUR ASS."

He chuckled, "fair 'nuff. now uhh. shouldn't someone check in on asra?"

"INDEED, BROTHER! IN FACT, YOU SHOULD DO IT, SINCE HUMA...ERM...SINCE MAGE ASRA IS YOUR GIRLFRIEND!"

He choked a little, on nothing in particular, his eyelights flickering, "bro. bro, i  n e v e r  said that."

"OH? BUT I THOUGHT I HEARD YOU ASKING HER ON A DATE THIS MORNING?" Papyrus grinned slyly.

"i...that was...we haven't um..."

"O-okay, go! You ch-check on her, a-and i'll set up the c-conference call with the k-k-king." The lizard monster began pushing Sans toward the door to the makeshift cell.

"okay, okay! i'm going," he replied as his slippers slid across the tile, almost chuckling, but not quite feeling up to it given the circumstances. He had to explain to Asra why he'd been dishonest. And honestly, if there was a hard part of lying, the truth telling part was it.

He opened the door, glancing inside and freezing mid-movement, his sockets going dark, "Guys, get over here. Now."

The serious, properly capitalised tone of his voice caught their attention, and the rest of them closed the distance to the door, as Alphys peered over his shoulder on tip-toes, gasping quietly.

Chapter Text

Asra's whole world was engulfed in flames.

She could no longer hear the sound of the flower talking, as the fire spread from her hands and up her arms, rapidly overtaking her entire body. It sapped away the air around her, making her breath leave her, as heat, surprisingly not as molten as she expected, filled her lungs. 

Panic tinged her vision as much as the fire did, her glasses cracking. She dropped to her knees, gasping for air between tongues of flame.

As he mind raced out of control, so too did the fire.

"ASRA! YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN!" There was only one voice in the Underground consistently loud enough to drown out the roaring heat pounding her eardrums.

She tried to look up, toward the voice. 

"CLEAR YOUR MIND, AND TRY TO FOCUS THE WARMTH TO THE CENTER OF YOUR RIBCAGE," Papyrus instructed calmly.

She could hear the skeleton step forward, attempting to follow his instructions, even though following instructions had gotten her in this mess to begin with. 

The flames, which had begun pouring off of her like a liquid, slowly and gradually began to recede. She was shaking, forcing all her concentration into not panicking.

"TRY TO BREATHE NORMALLY. YOU ARE GOING TO BE OKAY, ASRA," he moved closer, getting down on one knee beside her, and placing a gloved hand on her still flaming back, "SEE? YOU DO NOT WANT TO HURT ME, SO I AM NOT HURT."

The air finally seemed to reach her lungs. She coughed with her first breath, doing her best to keep it normal, otherwise, "I-I'm s-sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean...h-he tricked me," she panted, the fire further retracting into a single point, absorbing back into her soul and leaving her shivering and cold. 

Her eyes flicked up to the glass case. It was open, and empty, the flower nowhere to be seen.

"Shit," Undyne swore, gritting her teeth, "I'll get a guard on the human souls. Frisk, you should call the King."

"On it," they said quickly, pausing to exchange a glance with Sans.

They seemed to reach some understanding, as the human moved to another room in search of something as they took out their phone.

"G-gosh...um...A-asra, are you o-okay? Can you t-tell us what exactly happened?"

She took off her glasses, frowning at them and setting them aside to get the broken glass away from her eyes, "He said he could prove I was a mage if I let him out. He walked me through what it felt like, and then as I lost control, he left. He...also said you knew about my family being monster hunters." She refused to make eye contact, even with her vision impaired as it was.

"O-oh." Alphys clicked her claws together nervously, shifting from foot to foot.

Sans stayed silent, moving to lean against a wall.

Papyrus sighed heavily.

She had a feeling they all knew.

The taller skeleton was the first to actually speak up, "BASED ON THE INFORMATION WE HAD...WE COULD NOT BE CERTAIN THAT YOU WERE ACTUALLY A THREAT. SO WE WATCHED YOU TO MAKE SURE YOU WEREN'T GOING TO ERM..."

"To make sure I didn't kill anyone," she replied a little bitterly, shifting away from him and getting unsteadily to her feet, "If you trusted me not to kill you now, then why exactly was I arrested?"

"it was that magic box of yours."

She paled noticeably, suddenly surging toward the shorter skeleton and grabbing him by the sweater before anyone could stop her, taking them all by surprise, "Tell me you didn't open it."

Sweat dripped down his brow, his eyelights disappearing just a moment before his usual, neutral smile took hold, "hey, calm down. i always think outside the box," he replied.

"This isn't the time for jokes, Sans. What's in there is really dangerous."

He held up both hands, "okay, okay. i didn't open it. if i didn't know any better, i'd say you were worried about me."

"None of you opened it?" She demanded, still tense.

"N-nobody did," Alphys quickly assured.

She relaxed, letting go of Sans' sweater and leaning into him, so that her head rested on his shoulder in the dip between his clavicle, sternoclavicular joint, and scapula, a cushion provided by the thick material of his hoodie, draped over slightly thicker than normal bones. She was shaking, and still seemed to have adrenaline coursing through her, "I'm sorry...god I'm so sorry...."

He placed a hesitant hand on her back, rubbing up and down lightly, "don't worry. it's okay. we're all okay."

Undyne stepped into the doorway, turning the phone screen off and handing it to Alphys, "So, punk. If this box is so dangerous, why did you have it in the first place?"

"I..." She didn't move away from Sans, "It was a gift from my dad. I...or...I don't even know if he is my dad, anymore, but.... I didn't even think monsters were actually real before I fell down here, and once I realised that you are, and that magic is real too and all that, I took another look at the box and I read the inscription and...I didn't know what it was until I read it."

"C-could you tran-translate the box f-for us?"

She sniffed slightly, nodding quickly, "Yes, of course. I'll do anything to help," she pulled back finally, meeting Sans's eyelight, "By the way. Worst date ever."

He blinked, his eyesockets making that light click she'd come to associate with the oddly flexible, magic bone, before chuckling, "i'll make it up to ya." He replied as the others moved on to the next room.

Before she could reply, a potent swear echoed from the main room. Her head snapped up, "What's going on?" Asra called, rushing toward the other room.

"U-um...well...th-th-the box is...sort of...gone...."

Chapter Text

The weather was changing, on the surface, as Fall took hold. The leaves were changing, an icy breeze swooping in from the North to grip the country in pre-winter cold.

Adrial looked upon the secret monster village he had formed over the last few centuries.

There were several types of monsters, a few families. Occasionally a new member would find their community. Some monsters were more human-like in appearance, some more like mundane animals, or a few could shift appearance temporarily, allowing them to retrieve supplies. But even still, circumstance required the leader to leave every so often.The community also had a few humans, rare though they were, and even a mage or two. 

They lived off the grid, in the wilderness, magic making up for much of their lack of resources. Their village was protected as it grew, leaving outsiders unconsciously going around it.

Adrial had been the younger Dreemur prince in the time of the last king, but with his elder brother locked Underground, and their father killed in the war with humans, he was the defacto ruler of all monsters still hiding on the surface.

Through dedication, and compromise, he had reconnected the nation of monsters across the continent, though their numbers were only in the thousands, now.

So why did he feel as if he had done nothing?

"Your majesty," an insectoid monster cleared their throat, "There's a message for you from the monsters watching over the Barrier." They handed over a sealed envelope, two pairs of hands grasping in front of them.

"Oh. Thank you, Ander. I appreciate it," he gave them a smile he didn't truly feel, "Please take some time to rest before sending out your swarm again."

"Of course. Thank you, sir." They gave something between a curtsy and a bow, before turning to leave.

He sighed, opening the seal with a claw and unfolding the paper to read in the cloud filtered sunlight. His hand shook at the familiar handwriting.

Adrial

I hope this letter reaches you. I'm not certain that it will, but I felt I had to try. If it doesn't, then to whoever does read this, please disregard all that I'm about to say.

I have wronged you, and expect no forgiveness. I killed your people, participated in attempted genocide, all to save a marriage with a man I only grew to love out of desperation. That man is dead, and the weight of my LOVE remains.

I do not plan to kill more of your people. I hope that their safety, even upon me finding one of their settlements in order to send this message, will be proof enough of this, but if it is not, I understand.

But this is not why I am writing to you. I am writing because I am afraid that I have done something terrible to our child. I sent her to Ebott, and through the barrier. I have trapped her at the direction of a being I don't know or understand, and I think I might have doomed her.

She doesn't know that her father isn't the murderer I married. I fear what she will do when she learns the truth, after all he programmed into her, thinking she was his only progeny.

I was wrong to go back to him. I wish I could take it all back, and run away with you to raise our child together. But it is too late now. There isn't enough determination in the world to turn back the clock over twenty years.

I have no right to ask, but if you are able, please save our daughter.

Forever yours, Anita

P.S. If you wish to see me...or to enact the justice I deserve, I am at our cabin.


Asra had just finished explaining the plague contained in the box, though she was unsure of the symptoms. At some point, Frisk had rejoined them, and they were due to go to the palace and meet with the king and queen to discuss what would happen next.

It seemed unspoken that her arrest was off for the moment, after the positive proof that she had no intent to cause any harm. Papyrus hadn't lost even a single point of HP, something that apparently required a level of control most magic users, mage and monster alike, did not possess without extensive practice.

She was tired after the whole ordeal, but she kept a strong exterior, attracting a worried glance or two.

"B-before you um...head b-back, I need to um...I'm g-gonna need a m-magic sample. We have t-to determine for sure what type of m-monster you're descended from."

She felt a wave of uncertainty, "What does it have to do with anything?"

"It'll t-tell us what sort of magic y-you might have an affinity f-for. D-depending on your a-ab-abilities you might give us s-some advantage over um...over Flowey, or even h-help us get out of the Underground."

Asra tensed, years of programmed prejudice warring, once again, with the reality of her situation, and now her identity itself, "Help you...go free?"

"I-I-I mean, n-not necessarily, b-b-but there's a chance," she said quickly, "No p-pressure, really. I-it's mostly to s-see if you have a-any family in the Underground. You um...y-you have s-surprisingly high stats for such low LOVE, and ah...well...I j-just have s-some suspicions is all..." She fiddled with her claws in front of her.

The mage sighed, and nodded, "Do whatever you need to do, Doctor Alphys. I'm willing to cooperate, I just...don't want that curse or plague or whatever it is to get out. If I could go back and leave that box behind, I would."

"No use complaining about it now, punk. I've got the royal guard handling this. You just help out here, and get back to Snowdin when you're all done." Undyne threw a hard punch to Asra's arm, making her flinch and grip it, heat just short of flame radiating from her skin for a split second.

"I'll do whatever I have to. This is my mistake to clean up, I--"

"If you don't learn to rely on others, you'll fall down, and no one will be able to catch you," Frisk spoke up, "You, and Sans should help the Dog Squad keep an eye on Snowdin and the Ruins. Papyrus, keep to your usual patrol. Don't change your routines for this. I don't think he's going to use the box."


Frisk was actually rather certain that he wouldn't use the box. For one thing, he couldn't reset anymore. He had determination, but nowhere near as much as they did. If he couldn't save and reset, he wouldn't kill everyone. Not until he was certain they even had a save file anymore.

They refused to let him go through with this without him feeling the full impact of his consequences.


Anita sat on the porch, as the sun began to set, a cup of hot cider in her hands.

"Doctor, I'm not in any mood to be haunted."

Y̶͍̊Ơ̷͕Ú̵̙ ̵͖̉Ș̷͒Å̶̙Y̵̡̒ ̵͈T̵̙̄H̴̪͑A̵̗͑T̶͖̊ ̶̗̕Ḁ̸̈́Ḁ̴̊S̵̪͠ ̷̢̃I̷͖̓F̵̗̍ ̷̺̃I̵̛̘ ̷̚͜A̸̱M̸͕͒ ̵̩̈́N̷̟͂ ̷̭̃N̶̻̉Ȏ̷̪T̶̢͛H̷̘̿I̶͚͒Ṉ̸͆G̸̺͛ ̸̗͝M̷͔͐O̵̥͛R̶̜̈́Ẽ̵͍ ̴͙̿T̶͙̈́H̷̳̃A̶͇N̴̰̅ ̶̥̒A̶̹͝ ̴̛̱S̸ͅP̶̐͜E̶͍C̵̭̅T̴̞̊R̷̺̔E̵͓̚.̷̘̈́

"I thought you had ceased to exist. Isn't that the same thing?"

Ơ̸̯͒N̷̜̆L̸̢̊͝Y̷̦̝̅͂ ̵̣̍̚Ĭ̴̬Ḟ̴͚ ̸͍̚Ÿ̸̭̞́O̵̞̎͘Ŭ̸̮̓ ̵̱̄͠L̸̩̈́̏A̶̼͘͜C̷͇̅K̶̠͔̉ ̷̥͝T̴̠͈̋͠Ḫ̷̅Ĕ̵̻͗ ̴̧͉̈́I̴̠͇̒M̷͉̜̕Ã̵̗G̶̡̘̽İ̷̢̭Ñ̴̯̖̚Ä̸̮́̎T̷̠̠̿Í̶̢O̶̢̲͑͑Ṋ̵̹̈́̀ ̷̤͐͋T̴̢̏͠O̷̗̜̚ ̸̿̔ͅC̸̹̎͐O̷̗͗͠N̷͈̣̈̏S̵͈͕̚I̷̩͐̈ͅD̷̩̿̐E̴͍̊R̵͎̹̉̂ ̷̼͂W̵̪̜͆H̸̯̲̿̽Ȁ̵̘T̷͂͜͠ ̷̩̩̇L̷̼̏I̸̘̰͗̕Ȩ̸͇S̷̗̐͊ ̷̤̽B̴̼͝E̶̟͊Y̶͍̼͌O̸͎̯͂N̶̞̘̂Ḑ̶̀ ̵̹͑̈́E̶͖̓X̷̣͕͛͐I̸͍͒̐Š̸̢͎T̵͖̗̀̋E̷̖͍̽̌Ņ̵̽C̴̮͉̎Ȩ̵̊.̵͉̚͜

"There was a time I had plenty of imagination. That time has passed. What do you want now?"

The stooped and melting figure, flickering at the edges, considered, before simply sitting down on the porch beside her. Void-black ooze formed into the grooves in the wooden steps.

"Company then? I suppose that will be fine."

Chapter Text

Asra was home alone for the first time since she'd arrived in Snowdin, after having a sample of magic taken, and being dropped off at the house. It was strange to think that she considered this her home. She knew logically it was only temporary. But it was easy to feel a part of things, and apparently they hadn't really even been trying.

Moving forward, things promised to be even more welcoming.

Somehow she felt a weight had been lifted from her shoulders without the box in her possession. Even knowing that all magical life here, including, apparently, her own, could be wiped out, it was a relief to know that devastation wouldn't entirely be on her hands should it happen.

 She sat, curled up, on the couch, a rerun of a Mettaton-hosted gameshow playing on mute, as she sat quietly with her thoughts.

It was almost odd. She couldn't find it I herself to be angry at Sans or the HI-C. They had been afraid of her, and getting mad would only justify that.

Besides...the way Sans held her when they slept, how easily he made her laugh, and the casual way he seemed to pick up on her moods....that all meant something, right?

She had grown...used to him. Very quickly, in fact. It was hard to think of a life she could make Underground that wouldn't include him in it. But...she knew next to nothing about him.

It wasn't as if it had stopped her before, of course. She'd had her share of drunken one-night-stands, and people she called her partner after only a couple hours knowing them. But this was a monster. She wasn't sure if anything other than her own programmed-in bigotry made it different, but....

Thenagain, her mother had gone the same way, hadn't she? How else could Asra be a mage, and the man she called father have no clue? 

Gods, was she really even thinking about all this? Even pushing aside the fact that he was a monster, he was a skeleton. That wouldn't work the way she expected, even if she tried to keep an open mind.

And besides, there was no way he felt the same way, when only the day before, he'd been struggling to tell her the truth, and had hesitated to even call it a date when directly asked.

Admittedly, it hadn't been, and he'd said he'd make it up to her, but that phrasing was vague. What if he was just being nice? Or didn't mean it that way, again?

She shook her head, getting up and using a recently purchased step ladder to place her dinnerplate in the sink, before heading upstairs and lying down to make some attempt at sleep.


A few hours passed when Asra felt a weight on the bed next to her, and a light touch brushing her hair out of her face.

"as," Sans's voice was a little deeper and rougher than usually, "asra...as, wake up," he seemed to be slurring just slightly.

She groaned a response, opening her eyes to meet his eyelights in the darkness, "Mmn? Sans, wussup?"

He seemed a little out of it a moment, his eyelights unfocused, and the scent of something both sweet, and alcoholic on his breath. His face, usually frozen in the same expression with little variation, was far more flexible than she realised prior. He leaned over her a little, running a skeletal hand down her cheek, "i'm s-sorry, as. i really am. i fuck...i fucked up today," he half collapsed, burying his face in her chest and shoulder.

"Huh? Look, bonesy, don't worry about it. Are you drunk, man? Why don't you get some sleep?" She smoothed a hand over the back of his skull, attempting to shift him into a more comfortable position.

He shook his head, "no, y'don't get it, i...i mean i am drunk, but tha's not what this's about. i should'a just...just asked, y'know? instead we went through all this, and you almost got hurt by yer own magic, and it's my fault, as..."

She held onto him a little tighter, hesitating before kissing the top of his skull, "It's okay. I'm not mad, Sans. If anything, I'm relieved. And if I'd known you were gonna beat yourself up like this, I'd have come with you. You know drinking alone is never the answer, and drinking while upset is even worse."

He lifted his head, and she let him, meeting her eyes as best he could in the darkness, before impulsively moving forward to press his teeth against her lips.

Asra made a sound out surprise, her eyes fluttering a moment, before she let them close, slowly bringing herself to lean into the sudden kiss. She wouldn't...she wouldn't take advantage of him being drunk, but...one kiss couldn't hurt, given that he'd initiated.

His magic buzzed through her, pulling a gentle response from her own. She felt his teeth part against her lips, a glowing, blue tongue prying her mouth gently to play along her teeth, and massage against her own tongue. 

Honestly, the magic coming off of him was almost intoxicating in and of itself. Her head spun, and her thoughts grew foggy, whether through tiredness, or some manner of magic transfer. 

He shifted so that he was on top of her, breaking the kiss to nibble down the side of her neck, drawing a soft gasp from the mage. She struggled to think clearly, as he alternated biting and licking her neck, pulling the blanket off of her.

"Mmmn...Sans, w-wait, wait," she managed after a half a minute, where he'd managed to push her t-shirt halfway up her stomach.

"mmm?" He hummed, tracing his distal phalanges lightly over her skin, eliciting a shiver.

"You...you're drunk. I don't think we..." She gasped as he kneaded her breast lightly through her t-shirt, "Ffuck...no, Sans," she took his wrist in her hand, guiding his hand away, and making him pull back to look at her with confusion, "We should wait 'til you're sober." She kept her voice as firm as possible in her groggy, and admittedly slightly turned on state.

He blushed a glowing blue, sitting up and covering his face with a hand, "shit...sorry, you're right. i'm...i'm not really thinkin' right. damn i..." He looked slightly uncomfortable.

She sat up as well, blushing, though hers was hidden by the darkness, "I'll um...tell you what, I'll go sleep on the couch, and you can take care of," she gestured vaguely.

"don't go," he said quickly, "i can wait. jus' don't go."

Asra opened her mouth, closed it again, then sighed, shifting to lie back down, "Okay. C'mon, let's get some sleep."

He calmed noticeably, nodding and lying down to pull her against him, pulling the blanket up over the both of them, falling asleep quickly with his face buried against her.

 

Chapter Text

Sans woke sometime in the early morning, his arms still wrapped tight around Asra. She was snuggled tighter against him than usual, her hands tangled under his shirt, gently gripping at his ribs and spine.

A light flush of glowing blue spread across his cheekbones, as he ran his fingers through her hair to examine the nibs at her hairline. It was almost entirely white now, with a few darker brown streaks peppered in. He traced over the buttons, feeling the hard and sharp interior. Probably horns. Could be antennae. They would find out what type of monster She was most closely related to soon enough. Alphys was due to give them results later that day.

Her brow scrunched up in a sign of distress, fingers closing on his bones a little more, as she buried her face into his chest.

The skeleton held her close, continually brushing her hair back to soothe her.

He felt terrible for not being there for her. Obviously she had some fear when it came to monsters, but she trusted him enough to be vulnerable like this. He could pull out her soul and shatter it into a thousand pieces as she slept, and she would never have a chance to fight back. Yet here she was, clinging to him all the same.

His mind wandered quietly to the prior night. 

He'd kissed her. He remembered that much. He'd wanted to do more than just that, guard down from the mind-altering magic buzzing through his system. She'd stopped him. Why? Did she not want him? Was she angry over what he'd done? He tried to remember exactly what she had said.

It probably didn't matter.


Alphys went over the results of the magic test she had performed once more. This couldn't be right, could it? Asra couldn't be related to the king himself, could she? There would have to be some record of a left-behind Dreemur on the surface, or some greater sign. And even then, why would a boss monster soul-bond to a human who had taken up monster hunting?

It all seemed so counter-intuitive! 

But if all of this was true, that would make Asra monster royalty, and there was no telling how far her power could go.

It was honestly nerve wracking to consider. What if she broke? What if she couldn't stop herself doing what she had been raised to do? What if this made her a danger to herself? To everyone? Human raised individuals could be unpredictable in normal instances. This was a case that bared being cautious about.


Asra couldn't feel anything but the swirling heat that lived in the centre of her SOUL. The warmth of brilliant, yellow fire, tongues of flame licking from within to radiate out in waves. 

She was her soul, her form made of water, dust and magic, forming everything that made her body. 

A tiny, bubbling layer of red clung to the edges of her consciousness, tendrils of white piercing through as pure, undirected magic.

Beyond the pale light, yellow fire, and red shell, was darkness.

It expanded, out, and out, and out, until she thought her mind might shatter from the pure vastness of it.

Skeletal hands came from the darkness to hold her SOUL. The inverted heart that was her floated between them, an invisible barrier preventing direct contact. The magic, pale and dilute, filtered around the phalanges, and through the strange holes in her bony cage, as still more hands cradled around her, almost protectively.

The face in the darkness was unsettling and filled with a delight she strained to see anything beyond the darkness of nothing.

I HAVE A GIFT FOR YOU, ASRANIA.

She startled, her flames growing brighter on the impossible dark, still lighting nothing but her cage of bones.

DO NOT BE ALARMED. THIS WILL ONLY HURT IF YOU STRUGGLE.

The non-voice seemed sincere, but she couldn't help the panic that shot through her. The magic that seemed to flow from the vast beyond sped up, funnelling through the bones that held her fast, filling her with a deep, buzzing energy. She wanted to scream, but had no voice with which to do so. She struggled to feel anything, but the struggle welcomed only the promised pain.

QUIET, YOUR HIGHNESS. THERE ARE THINGS IN THE VOID YOU SHOULD NOT AWAKEN. THIS WILL SOON BE OVER.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Asra woke with a gasp, clutching her chest, and jerking out of Sans' arms, leaving the skeleton startled on the bed beside her.

She was trembling, eyes searching in the comparatively bright dimness of the room, after the impossible darkness of the place she had been in her dream. 

Images flashed across her mind, but disappeared like water through a sieve, only the slightest residue of the dream left behind to dry the moment she jostled it too rapidly.

Sans sat up on an elbow, reaching up to run a hand over her arm, "you okay, sugar?" His voice was tired but concerned.

The mage rapidly shook her head, "I...I don't know. I...in my dream, it was so, so dark...I couldn't see anything, and I was on fire, except I was only a soul, and there was magic flooding into me, and I was trapped, and I was so afraid I'd lose control of it..."

He sat up, wrapping his arms around her, almost from behind, and resting his chin on her shoulder, "hey, calm down. it's alright, as. i'm here for ya," he assured, pulling her back, against him.

The skeletal arms around her made flashes of her cage come to mind, and she fought against herself, not wanting to act on the impulse to pull away again, "There was...a voice, I think. I don't know. It's hard to remember..."

"s'prob'ly better not to think too hard about it," Sans said after a moment, "think too long about a nightmare, and it never lets go. so it's better just to drop it before it can dig its claws in. take it from me."

Asra closed her eyes, trying to catch her breath as she finally realised she was hyperventilating, "You uh...you have a lot of experience with nightmares?"

He was quiet for a long moment, before she felt him shrug behind her, "mmm. maybe a little."

"Heh...well. It's good advice, anyway. How're you feeling?"

 "i'll be honest, i've got a little trouble telling emotions from eachother," he was grinning audibly.

She turned her head to nuzzle against him, "Oh? Well that's a shame."

He shrugged again, "not really. i mean, i don't even know how i feel about it." The familiar, gentle click of his wink happened next to her ear.

She snorted, giggling and relaxing against him, "You're a dork," she teased gently.

 "well who doesn't enjoy a bit of dork humour?"

Asra snickered, twisting in his arms to face him, draping her arms over his shoulders, resting against his chest. She was quiet for a few minutes before she finally spoke, "Thank you. For uh. For calming me down."

He brushed his fingers through her hair, resting his teeth against her forehead, "it's not a problem. i know how it is."

It was strange feeling the vibration of his voice as his mouth stayed still. She sighed heavily, pulling back, and looking at him properly, "Hey um...I wanted to ask you something."

"huh? sure. go ahead."

"Did you actually um...mean to kiss me last night, or was that just...drunk impulse? Like when you flirt with some rando because they're right there, or something?" Her eyes flicked away, though she couldn't see him properly without her glasses on, anyway.

His eyelights flickered, and a bluish glow lit the dark between them, "oh. uhh. guess i actually did that, huh? is random kissing something that humans uhhh. usually do?"

"Well, some? But not really most, I doubt think," she said carefully.

"and...what about you?"

 She was too tired to be self conscious, "I...I dunno, really. I mean, I guess a lot of people do when they're younger, if they do at all, but...I never really saw the appeal. I mean...I...I liked it last night, y'know?"

He seemed to relax, "heh. guess you are half monster after all," he said quietly.

"What's that have to do with anything?"

"kinda hard to explain. why don't we get some breakfast, and i'll talk it over with you while we're waitin' for alph to call?"

She nodded slowly, "Fair enough."


Papyrus was decidedly uncomfortable. He hated this creepy room as much as he could hate anything. The echo flowers that whispered messages back and forth, until they became so distorted that the words lost all meaning. They made promises of a past that hadn't happened, and of a future that he hoped wouldn't. Wishes from monsters long since dusted, mingling with the whimpers of fear from more recent passerby.

A quiet cacophony of ancient screams, underscored with the sound of water falling in the distance.

The skeleton steepled his fingers slightly, "F-FLOWEY? I AM HERE. PLEASE COME OUT. I DO NOT ENJOY WAITING IN THIS ROOM."

A flash of yellow from among the glowing blue caught his attention, as distortons of his words echoed back at him.

"Oh don't look so spooked," the flower admonished, "This is the only place we could meet where your trashbag brother, or the fishstick wouldn't interrupt."

"I SUPPOSE YOU HAVE A POINT, BUT," he looked around, a bead of sweat on the side of his skull.

"It's fine, Papyrus. I know I messed up, but you can trust me. I'm still your best friend," Flowey reminded him.

"HHHMMM. YOU ARE MY VERY FIRST FRIEND," he mused quietly, "I CANNOT GUARANTEE THAT I CAN COOPERATE WITH YOUR PLAN. I...I DON'T WANT ANYONE TO GET HURT."

"And I hear you, Papyrus. Just go along with this, and I promise you'll get the happy ending that was taken away from you, abd everyone else. If things had gone the way they were SUPPOSED to, you'd have been on the surface, with everyone you loved, a LONG time ago."

Papyrus tapped his fingers together "nyeh"ing quietly to himself, "FLOWEY..." 

The flowers echoed back at him disorientingly.

He tried again, but quieter, "Flowey...what do you plan to do with the box?"

"Don't worry about it. I'll only use it if I have to. Now I've gotta go. I bet the kid'll be through here soon."

With that, he retreated with a distorted laugh, leaving the flowers to echo it back from all sides. 

 

 

Chapter Text

Asra stared down at her instant coffee, watching swirls of steam come off of it as she thought on what Sans had just said.

A couple of greasy bags of Grillby's food sat between them, on either side of Sans' pet rock, filling the room with good smells in the absence of conversation.

The skeleton cleared his nonexistent throat a little nervously, "hey uhh...not to dip into gallows humour, but...you're kinda leavin' me hanging here..."

She shook her head, absently touching the nub at her hairline, "I mean. I dunno. I'm still not sure how this whole soulmate thing could work. I just..." She shook her head, dropping her hand back to the table, "I like you, but I dunno how I feel about the whole...predetermined destiny, fated deal. Monsters being real, being half monster somehow, coming to the underground.... It's all just...chance. A couple coinflips, and it all could've been different."

Sans hummed, resting his chin in the palm of his hand, "okay. i think i see where the misunderstanding is."

Her brows rose slightly, and she sipped her coffee.

"so, you got a soul, right? no arguing that, you've seen it. and it has a set of qualities that make it unique. there are hundreds of thousands of other souls out there whose qualities can complement yours. thousands whose souls can complement, and be complemented by yours. hundreds who you have a snowball's chance in hell to meet. these are soulmates. y'don't have just one. it's not about predestiny or whatever. it's just about people. not everyone gets to meet someone whose perfect for'em. sometimes you end up with second best. sometimes y'get lucky, and meet nothing but soulmates. monsters and humans got different ways of telling, but..." He shrugged, opening one of the paper bags and retrieving a still hot burger.

Asra picked out her own burger, piling fries on it, under the top bun, "I dunno. A lot of humans try to use the soulmate line as an excuse to stay in toxic relationships and bad dynamics all around, and I just don't know how I feel about the word."

He considered, "much as i'd love to say that we should give it a new meaning, i know it's not that easy for ya."

She sipped her coffee, before squishing her bun down and taking a large bite of her food. She was quiet for nearly a minute, as she chewed, before finally speaking up, "All this monster shit is still...really new to me? So...I guess I'll step out of my comfort zone a little, for the sake of whatever this is. But if it ends up not being a soulmate thing, or at least not a perfect match...just...don't hate me I guess?"

His eyelights softened, and without thinking, he reached a hand out to rest over top of her free one. The smooth bones were warm, and tingled with magic across her skin. She turned her hand on the table to hold his, running her thumb over his carpals and phalanges, tracing the grooves between them, softened with a bluish glow if she looked closely.

"i doubt i could hate you if i tried," he seemed to hesitate, before giving her hand a squeeze, "i uhh. i'm not too good at promises, but...for you i'll make an exception."

Why did that feel significant?

"So does that make us...something?"

"if you want it to." He shrugged.

She nodded, but stayed quiet, releasing his hand regretfully, and going back to her food. 

After they finished eating, they moved over to the couch to watch TV, while Asra made some arrangements for getting a meeting with Gerson set up, so she might manage a job sometime soon.


Alphys paced back and forth, clearly distracted as she checked over Mettaton's finer parts, occasionally dropping her tools, or pausing and simply staring into space.

The robotic ghost winced, "Careful, doctor! You almost scratched my clearcoat," he was largely immobilized for the procedure, though he could reactivate the limbs if he wished. It was mostly to keep him from squirming around and interfering.

"Oh! S-sorry Mettaton. I-I...um..." She adjusted her glasses, "I w-was thinking ab-bout another uhh...p-p-project."

He arched a brow as she went back to work, "Oh, come now, darling, what could you possibly be working on that's more important than me?"

"W-w-well...I wouldn't say she's...more i-important, j-just...um...." She slid a panel back into place, "I...you h-have to promise not to tell the k-king and queen until I'm s-sure."

"Oooh? Gossip you're not even willing to tell your royal crushes? Now that is surprising. Spill."

"Mettaton! This is s-serious!"

"And so am I, darling. Tell me, what's on your brilliant mind?" He regained movement in his limbs as she secured the final panel, sitting up, and stretching despite not necessarily needing to. He leaned back, crossing one long leg over the other.

The gentle stroke to her ego was what did it. She sighed, sitting back in her chair and clicking her claws together nervously, "W-well...you know how the n-new human is actually a mage, right?"

"Yes, that's old news. Continue."

She shot him a glare, "W-we just found that out yesterday!"

"Darling, don't question how quickly word gets around."

"W-whatever," she shook her head, "So she's a m-mage, right? So I t-took a sample of her m-magic and um..." She hesitated, "I-I might be wrong!"

"Nonsense."

She hummed a low grumble at him before continuing, "If m-my results are accurate then um...then A-Asra is r-related to th-the royal family."

His eyes lit up, and he was on his feet in a moment, "Darling, you do know I love you, don't you?"

She held up her hands, "W-wait wait wait wait! Mettaton, no!"

"METTATON, YES!"  His volume picked up, and he strutted toward the exit, "I'll see you later, Alphys. I have a news segment to run. Ta-ta!"

Chapter Text

"WE NOW BRING YOU AN MTT NEWS EXCLUSIVE! MANY OF YOU DEAR VIEWERS MAY REMEMBER OUR SPOT ON THE NEW MAGE, ASRA KATZ. WELL--AND COVER THE EARS OF OUR YOUNGER AUDIENCE FOR THIS--HOLD ON TO YOUR SOCKS! OUR SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR IN THE FIELD HAS UNCOVERED INFORMATION THAT POINTS TO MS. KATZ ACTUALLY BEING A LOST MEMBER OF THE ROYAL FAMILY! PERHAPS WE SHOULD BE CALLING HER MS. DREEMUR?"


After some time cuddling on the couch, Asra forced herself to get up and get changed. Just because an apparently homicidal flower had a biomagic-weapon, didn't mean she *had* to sit around without learning to be self sufficient down here.

She double checked where to find Gerson, carefully put on her now cracked glasses, and headed out the door while Sans slept on the couch.

A vague sense of unease settled over her as she headed through town to the river. Whispers followed her, and everyone seemed to be staring, or avoiding staring with the sort of obviousness that only made things more awkward.

She pulled her hood up, a little self conscious as she waited for the Riverperson to loop around to pick her up.

"But daddy, I wanna talk to the princess!" 

"Now, now. We don't know she's a princess."

The slime child gurgled, "But the news robot said!"

Asra shifted, trying to focus on the snow under her boots. The way it creaked and crunched when compressed.

The boat was coming into view, in no real hurry, up the river. It somehow seemed to be floating along at a slower rate than the current itself. She moved impatiently from foot to foot, looking around anxiously, sparing a small smile for the slime child currently bouncing behind her.

The grey-green slime brightened to a brilliant chartreuse for just a moment, "Daddy, daddy, the princess smiled at me!!"

"Yes yes, of course she did."

The boat pulled to a stop at the small dock.

Asra had already begun to step onto it, before she processed what the child had said. What princess?

"Where to?" The Riverperson, if they had heard anything, seemed unphased as usual.

"Waterfall," she said uncertainly, adjusting her clothing as she sat.

The boat began to move, Riv humming to themself as they merged onto the main stream, moving alongside a row of massive ice blocks floating toward Hotland.

Some time passed, before the paused their song, turning their head just enough to be heard, "Be wary of gifts from strangers. They might mean more than you think."

She frowned, "I...what? What are you talking about?"

They hummed for a little longer, then replied, "Sometimes dreams aren't dreams." They finally said, in a tone that suggested this explained it all.

"I...don't understand what you mean?"

They didn't answer as the boat sped along, onto a back channel, returning to their quiet song.

When the boat stopped at the Waterfall dock, she stepped off, sparing one more glance at River.

They held up a hand as if to ask her to hold on a moment. They finished their song, then spoke one more time, "The prince will make you responsible for the decision. For better or worse, you are the arbiter of justice."

"What the hell are you--?"

The boat began to move away, "Goodbye, your highness."

"What?"


When Undyne saw the news, she nearly broke her television, though that was an initial reaction, fuelled mostly by shock. Her second reaction was more thought through. Sort of. She checked the Undernet for posts about the most recent news.

There were loads of posts. A few conspiracy theories, and people saying that "the evidence was there all along."

She quickly called Alphys. One ring. Two. Thr--she answered.

"U-Undyne! I-I-I'm so glad you called!"

"Hey, hey calm down uh...Alphys..."

"Y-you're calling about the n-news right? I told Mettaton not to b-br-broadcast, but he just didn't listen to me--"

"Wait, so all this royal family shit is real?"

"Y-yes? I mean, s-sort of? Th-the data points to it, but I wanted to run s-some more tests to be sure."

"Does she know?"

"I...I don't think so? She just left the house a little while ago, and...um. Sh-she's over in Waterfall n-now."

"I'm on my way."

"W-wait, we can just call her, or--"

"Too slow, I'll be there in a minute."

Chapter Text

When Undyne came zooming down the path, vaulting over a glowing creek, which cast her in dramatic light, Asra had just one moment of extreme fear for her life. In the next moment, she'd been swept from her feet, and slung over the tall fish-woman's shoulder without so much as a pause.

"You're comin' with me."

"Hhh--w-wait, Undyne what are doiii--!!" Her voice was cut short as the monster lept onto a steep cliff nearby, bolting across a path she would never have reached on her own.

She didn't answer, seeming content to run across more hidden shortcuts toward the castle, while the mage held on for dear life.

When they arrived at the palace, she was finally dropped to get feet, the one-eyed fish-monster staring her down with an intensity that made her freeze in fear.

"You're staying here until all of this blows over," she finally said, gesturing for Asra to walk ahead of her.

"Until...sorry, until what blows over? I was just...I..." She shook her head, brushing a strand of hair from her eyes, "Why is everyone acting so weird? Did news about the magi-bio-weapon thing get out or...?"

Undyne's upper lip twitched, showing more of her teeth, "You SERIOUSLY don't know?"

She sighed, taking off her glasses to clean them, "All I know is that everyone is acting strangely, and I'm still trying to figure out what Riv meant, calling me 'your highness' or whatever? And like. I'm not that stuck up, am I?"

"You may not be stuck up, but you sure are an idiot," the voice came from far too close for comfort.

Asra spun to face the smiling flower behind her, baring her teeth without meaning to, "You! You fucking tricked me before!"

"Of  c o u r s e  I tricked you! How stupid do you have to be to fall for that?"

"Where's the box?"

"Asra get away from him!" Undyne commanded, a spear materialising in her hand.

"I don't have it," his stem curved so that he was looking at her with a tilted expression, "I mean, why would I kill myself trying to play my game? No. It was more interesting to give it away!" He cackled, the sound distorted, "It's only a matter of time..."

"A matter of time until what?" She asked, replacing her glasses and stepping closer.

"Az..."

"You'll just have to find out with everyone else, won't you?" With that...he left, petals folding in, as he bloomed in reverse, before popping through a crack in the stone.

Undyne snarled, throwing her spear where he disappeared, missing Asra by mere inches.

The mage jumped, stumbling out of the way, and staring at the royal guard, as the glow of the magic spear faded, "Someone has the box. Undyne, we have to find--"

"SHUT. UP." She snapped, "You're not going anywhere, princess, until we figure out what the HELL is going on with you. I've got the entire royal guard on the lookout. You don't need to go putting yourself in danger, when it's my job to make sure that doesn't happen."

"I...what are you--?"

Before another word could be spoken, a pair of large, fuzzy arms, draped in royal robes, wrapped around her, pulling her into a comforting, warm hug, "Welcome to the family, Asra. I will make certain that you are made to feel at home."

"The...family?" Her voice was slightly muffled against the fluff.

"You don't know? Oh! My, how presumptuous of me," the king stepped back, giving Undyne a nod, "Thank you for accompanying her here. Please see that Tori and Frisk are arriving safely as well."

"Yes, your majesty."

"You are dismissed," his tone was friendly, but oddly professional, as he placed a huge hand against Asra's back to gently guide her down the hall, "Please come this way. I will explain what I can, once you are settled."

The mage fiddled idly with claw-like nails that had begun to grow, "An explanation would be nice, because I'm just about as confused as I was when I got here."

"Of course you are. I can't imagine that vI wouldn't be if I were in the same situation. Would you like a cup of tea while we wait for Toriel and Frisk to join us?"

"Er...shouldn't the...y'know, the others be here too?"

He hesitated, "This....is royal business."

The explanation was right there, and painfully obvious, but her brain refused to grab it, "I...I'm sorry, I don't understand. Am I in trouble?"

"Oh! Not at all. I...when I say this it's royal business...well, you see, I mean..." He gestured for her to sit, as he poured tea which had already been made, and still cast steam into the air, "It is your business as well. I was not exaggerating when I welcomed you to the family."

She took her cup without even thinking about it, warming pale hands as she took a seat, "I'm sorry I still..."

"You are my niece," he finally said, sipping his tea almost nervously.

"I'm your...wait but...I thought...."

"When the great war happened...I thought my brother had died. He was too young to fight, back then. Only just an adult, and too soft to do what was necessary, but headstrong nonetheless. He was taken from our home in the night. We thought he might turn back up, but when we were locked underground, and he wasn't among our numbers, we feared the worst." He closed his eyes as he recounted the tale, "We waited months. Occasionally a scared and alone monster would come stumbling through the barrier, driven to hide by the armies of man. None had seen my brother, so we presumed him dead."

"So..." Her voice was quiet, as if being too loud might shatter the great king, "You're saying I'm...I'm really a..."

"A princess. A member of the Dreemur family, and an heir to the throne of monsters."

She tried to swallow past the lump rapidly forming in her throat, "I'm not...my father isn't...I.... Your majesty, I'm flattered but," she gestured helplessly with her hands, "I'm no royalty. There must be some mistake. I mean...even if what you're saying is true, my mother is still human, and...and...."

"And? Please calm down, Asra. If you wish, I can prove it to you."

"Prove it? How could you prove something like this? It's crazy enough to think my mom cheated, but to think it was with a monster royal...that's absurd! This is impossible! I...I don't know how to get across to you just how unlikely all of this is. And there are other things we should be focusing on anyway. What if people start dying while I'm up here playing princess, and I could have saved even one of them?"

"Use your flames on me."

"I...what? Your majesty, no offense, but this isn't the time."

"On the contrary, I believe this is the perfect time."

She felt a tug at her soul, sending her head spinning for just a moment, "Wwait, what're you--?"

"If you will not use your magic on me, I will use mine on you," he replied calmly.

Asra shook her head, "I don't understand what this is meant to accomplish."

He didn't speak again as he stood, moving to the middle of the room, tugging her soul along behind him, leaving her to stumble along, or risk becoming still more disoriented. He waited, watching her with a calm, unreadable expression as she tried to make up her mind what to do.

Before she had the chance to think, however, her soul was bathed in flames. She flinched, expecting pain, but realising after too long that all she felt was a gentle warmth.

"If you were not a Dreemur, my magic would cause you harm, even if I had no intent to hurt you, because you are half human."

"This is crazy..."

"Perhaps. However, I am certain you can see how you might be more valuable to our people alive." 

Her soul sank back into her chest. She felt weak from the rush of adrenaline.

"You will be safer in the castle. Until this weapon is recovered, you will not leave without accompanyment."

"Wait, but I was--"

"Please do not argue, child." His tone was tired, and made Asra stop short.

She slowly nodded.

He sighed, smiled, and inclined his head, "Thank you. I will inform HI-C of your new circumstances. Please make yourself at home here. There is nowhere safer in all the Underground."

Chapter Text

Time didn't feel real.

The conversation with the rest of the Dreemurs, when they arrived, seemed to go by in a flash. She was informed of what this meant for her. Told she would need to be educated on monster culture and history even more so than before. Toriel would take care of that, along with Gerson, who would either visit the castle, or host, with the supervision of a trusted royal guard, or perhaps Frisk.

She didn't understand why Frisk was trusted to go out alone, when things were apparently so dangerous, but before she could voice a complaint, the day seemed to have ended. 

Asra sat now in a large room, with a huge bed in a usually unused portion of the castle. The room was decorated with flowers of varying colours, a stunning view of New Home visible through her windows. An ensuite provided a private bath and shower. There had been some promise of a fitting for royal robes or something of the sort in the coming days. 

The room was well lit, by the star-like stones in the distant cave ceiling, the city below, and a soft light inset into the ceiling of the room, hooked up to a dimmer switch, and turned low to combat the sense of overstimulation buzzing through her head.

She felt oddly ill at ease. All of this seemed too easy. Too set-up. Too much like a faerietale. She couldn't possibly just slip into a role of royalty for a people she'd been raised to believe were a completely different kind of monster, not hours after finding out She might have a....

Then all at once, her guilt spiked. 

Did Sans know? Was he still sleeping, expecting her to be there when he woke? The day seemed so long already, she couldn't remember if she had told him where she was going, or left a note, but even if she had, how could she have known she would end up stuck in the castle? Even just a moment thinking of him left her with a deep, almost needful ache.

With a sigh and a moment to steel herself, she took her phone out, preparing to text her soulma--her boyfri--her...whatever he was to her.

She swiped away a notification of more friend requests and messages than she cared to count, pulling up the texts. There were a few from varying people, but only one from Sans.

u ok?

Asra smiled just reading it, swyping a quick reply and hesitating only a second before hitting send, relieved to feel so at ease just knowing he wasn't panicking. Not that he seemed the type.

Yea. Guess I'm stuck at palace? Not sure what you've heard. Can you bring my stuff and we'll talk in person?

There was a flare of magic out in the hall, followed by another text.

wut room?

She stifled a laugh behind her hand, scrambling off the bed, and across the room to open the door.

Sans was facing away, looking down at his phone, her backpack slung lazily over one shoulder.

"Over here bonehead!" She called, hanging from the edge of the doorframe by both arms, shooting him a wink before turning to go back into the room. 

As she turned, she saw him appear, directly in front of her, the air empty in one breath, and full in the next. He dropped her backpack, pulling her against him and pressing his teeth to her lips.

Her gasp was muffled by the sudden kiss, leaving her to forget everything she ever knew for an entire minute while she floated away on the heat of his magic. His glowing tongue played across her lips, and she parted them, allowing entrance, and tasting his magic more directly, as she finally brought a hand up to balance against him.

Her head was still spinning when he finally pulled away, teeth still parted, an intriguing flash of blue still visible between them, his ever-present smile somehow more real than usual. His phalanges tangled in her hair, the tip of his thumb brushing over one of the nubs of her budding horns.

She was still smiling. She felt like an idiot, and that was just fine, so long as her reason to smile stayed where she could see him.

The door had closed behind her under its own weight at some point. She was pushed back against it. Her soul was pulsing, reaching out to him.

The skeleton rested his forehead against hers, "hey'a."

She chuckled breathily, "Hi."

"so we should prob'ly talk huh?"

"P-prob'ly," Asra breathed a little heavily.

"s'talkin' what you actually wanna be doin' right now?"

"Not really, no."

"heh. me neither."

"Sans?"

"hm?"

"Will you stay with me?'

He hesitated.

"I'm sure the king won't mind if you and Papyrus stay here for awhile. I mean, he's basically a royal guard, right?"

"i...i mean if it's alright with fuzzy-buns, i guess it would be fine."

She sighed, giving him another brief kiss, "Thank God. I don't think I could stand to be awa--I mean, to deal with all this...royal shit on my own."

He grinned a bit wider.

"Hey, Sans?"

"mm?"

"I'm...we're sober, y'know."

He blinked with an audible click of bone on bone, "sugar..."

"It's fine if you don't...want to. I just..."

He stroked her cheek, shaking his head, "you've had a long day."

"Then make it up to me.'

He hesitated, "you sure?"

"Please? I've had so much trouble thinking already, I...I don't want to have to think anymore."

"i don't wanna rush you into anything," he stepped back, taking one of her hands in his own to lead her toward the bed.

"I...I mean, I appreciate that. I do," she allowed herself to be led somewhat numbly, "But if anything I'm...god, I'm sorry, am I rushing you?"

He pulled back the blankets, "nah. i uh...i just don't wanna take things too far. you were raised human. i'd hate to be the kinda monster you were afraid of meeting all those years. soulmates or not, i..."

She flinched, letting go of his hand, "What do you mean?"

"i don't mean like that, sugar, i mean...i know you don't like the word. i don't wanna rush ya with all the stuff that comes with it."

She climbed into the bed, scooting as far as the middle before rolling to look at the skeleton properly, "I've found out I'm a lot of things I'm not ready to hear the words for, today. Out of all of them, the one I'm most sure about is...is the one you used for us. Even if I don't get it yet I...Sans, I want you to make me understand what it means to you. I can't go into all this royal shit with this question on my mind too. We can worry about what we are to eachother later. But just for now, I want you to show me what I'm missing."

A blue blush dusted his cheekbones, all the way across his nasal bridge. He rubbed the back of his head, looked away, idly pushed his slipper off with a nervous flexing of his toes, "tell ya what. why don't we just see what happens, huh?"

The mage watched him, eyes half lidded, tired and partially obscured by the reflection of the light on her glasses. Slowly, she nodded, holding out a hand for him to join her in the too-large bed.

He took it, chuckling as he was pulled down and rolled onto his back next to her. She leaned over him, whitening hair tickling along the side of his skull as she planted a tender and gentle kiss against his teeth.

As closely as they were pressed, she could feel his magic as it coursed through his bones. She ran her fingers lightly over his collarbone, pushing his hoodie down his arms, her lips trailing down to nibble with slowly sharpening teeth along his cervical vertebrae, drawing a soft groan from him.

His fingers tangled in her hair again. His eye lit a vibrant cyan, tinged with a swirl of yellow. Her soul seemed to lighten, as gravity became confused, and all at once, he was the one pinning her. She couldn't move. He tossed aside his hoodie entirely, his grin almost sharp, as he nibbled and licked along her neck and collarbone, tracing a fingertip around the hardened peak of her nipple through her borrowed nightshirt.

Asra'a breath hitched slightly, the softness of the bed underneath her discouraging movement as much as the nearly crushing gravity holding her down, leaving her entirely at Sans' mercy.

He pinched lightly, tugging her nipple out from her breast for a moment, before releasing it, and running the hand not propping himself up down her stomach, and hip. He pushed her shirt up, pulling back to look down at her.

She met his eyelight, studying the strange, cool colour, "You okay?" It was hard to focus, but his comfort was far more important to her than anything else right now.

He almost chuckled, "i think that's my line, sugar," his distal phalanges played gently over her now exposed skin.

"Mmnn...that feels nice," Asra said softly, straining to press into his gentle touch, "Don't stop...please..."

"not sure you're getting the gravity of the situation here," he pushed her legs gently apart.

She rolled her eyes, but couldn't help the dopey grin that came across her lips, "You're a fuckin' dork."

He stuck his tongue between his teeth, winking with a half shrug, as he leaned down to push her shirt above her breasts, capturing her nipple in a gentle bite, his tongue swirling over the tip.

Bony fingertips traced over old, faded stretchmarks, tracing the paths in her skin, down to the waistband of her panties. He seemed to be straddling the line between knowing what he was doing, and discovering something entirely new. He slowly slid down her stomach, nipping and licking until he was kneeling between her legs.

His magic holding her down, and her owb exhaustion after the long day she'd had combined to leave her entirely helpless to his exploratory touch. Wetness gathered between her legs, and a needy groan signalled him to stop teasing already.

Sans glanced up, expression calm, apart from the very obvious bluish blush across his face. He pulled aside the crotch of her panties, parting her labia with a gentle, probing touch.

Her breath was heavy with anticipation. Her skin flushed, and clear self consciousness at being so intimately inspected. Even previous boyfriends hadn't examined her with such sweet curiosity. It felt like forever, and no time at all, when the tingling spark of his magic ran from her slit to her clit, lingering on the tip of the sensitive bud of nerves.

Asra moaned, the gravity holding her down easing enough to allow motion, as she pulled Sans' discarded hoodie against her face to muffle herself, her other hand resting on the back of his skull.

His scent filled her head, along with the sensation of stimulation and heated magic jolting through her, making her soul pulse inside of her.


Sans was entranced by her taste, by her every detail, by her existence itself. He had done so much to hold back, that now she was offering, it was all he could do not to strip her down and explore every part of her that he could.

He had a basic understanding of human anatomy, of course. Books washed down, knowledge was available. But that was obly half the story, and the reality of it was a different thing anyway. The little imperfections and scars added a whole new layer of beauty to his soulmate, and the slow and gradual changes to her body, as she became more monster delighted him.

His tongue ran over her clit in long, lazy licks, as he took his time to enjoy the unique mixed taste of her magic and sweat and arousal. 

His own magic pooled at his pelvis, a hard cock forming against the soft mattress as he desperately tried to bring the mage to climax before he made another move.

Asra's claws scraped gently against his skull, making him groan against her, pulling her hardened clit between his teeth, and flicking his tongue over it.

She buried her face into his hoodie, biting onto the fabric, her breaths coming in fast and shallow moans muffled by the fabric.

He didn't relent, desperately grinding against the bed, his lazy licks becoming hard and fast in an attempt to drive her over the edge before he weakened. He brought his hand up, moistening two thick-boned fingers in her folds before pressing them into her, curling them to press into her g-spot, sending a jolt of pure magic through her.


The combination of internal, and external stimulation made her hips buck involuntarily, her moans audible through the hoodie, drenched with his scent, her pussy tightening and clenching around his fingers in a wild rhythm, as waves of pleasure rippled throughout her body.

He continued fucking her with his fingers until she was a writhing and twitching mess, unable to do much more than pant for breath.

When he finally pulled away, she pulled his hoodie from her face, looking at him with dizzy eyes, and parted lips. Her eyes traced down to the obvious bulge straining at his shorts. She began to sit up, eagre to return the favour, and to taste his magic for herself.

Neither had a chance to speak before there was a knock at the door, causing her to jolt upright, and his eyelights to go dark.