Chapter 1: Pretending... or not?
The teacher checked the clock and then turned back to the classroom, “Alright, students, that will be all for today. Please be sure to read the next chapter, there will be a small quiz tomorrow and remember that essay is due at the end of the week. Have a good day!”
Red closed his textbook and stuffed it into his bag, throwing his pencil, eraser, and notebook into his bag haphazardly. He didn’t care that there might be a tear or two in his notes, he had to get out the door. The aisles of desks were auditorium styled which meant Red had to wait until the students next to him filed out first. And due to his larger size, he could not simply shimmy by without causing undue disruptions.
He’d gotten a detention once for trying and if he wanted to stay in this prestigious college, he had to avoid more marks on his record. He was already attending under the LV stipulations. He was on thin ice when it came to any sort of ‘aggressive behavior’.
Red’s feet tapped anxiously, wringing his sharp fingers as he inched closer and closer to freedom. If he could just slip out of the classroom-
A human slid in front of him just as the last student in his aisle walked off, blocking the way out with a blinding grin, “Hey Red!”
The breath that left Red was heavy with resignation. He stared dully down at the human who had since the day classes began a month ago done this every day, “… hey.”
Red knew better than to look for help. He wasn’t exactly the nicest looking monster, figuratively or physically. Red knew by appearance alone, he looked like he belonged on the street. Rough, worn clothing, wickedly sharp fangs, and the crack that ran straight through his socket was disconcerting to anyone who looked at him. Not to mention that he stood taller than most humans, at 6 feet he was an intimidating presence and his bulk didn’t help.
Worse, he couldn’t even force his way past. He was the last person in the aisle and the teacher didn’t mind any lingering students using her classroom as a study hall while she skipped off to lunch.
He’d made the mistake, tongue-tied and fumbling for a way to get away from his persistent admirer, and spat out that he had a free period after this class which had only invited the human to keep him further.
“Wow… so class was really something today, right?” A laugh, high and awkward, knocked him from his thoughts and Red shifted uneasily.
He’d been told to not encourage this behavior. To respond with curt answers to questions and noncommittal noises to statements but the way the human swayed forward into his personal space often knocked him off balance.
“not… not really.” He tried, looking away toward the door. It was open but no one was walking through. A bolt of anxiety hit him. Had they forgotten the plan?
Sweat beaded down his skull as the human continued talking as though he hadn’t even spoken, “So I know you don’t have another class for a couple hours. You can join me for lunch!”
Red shook his head immediately, “nah, uh, ‘m good. ’m meeting someone actually… so if you could, uh…”
Undeterred, the human pushed on, determination glimmering in their eyes, “I insist! I’ll buy even! Come on, it’ll be fun. We can hang out, just you and me. I could help you study!”
They chattered on but Red had tensed the moment the human offered to buy him food. The implications of that grated against Red’s nerves and his fingers tightened on his bag’s straps. He corralled his temper, furiously hissing in his skull about who the fuck this guy is? i could beat the ever-loving shit outta this punk even drunk off my ass!
The quiet, deep voice cut straight through Red’s anger and relief took its place. Red glanced down to see a small skeleton in the aisle just in front of Red’s, leaning on the desk surface with crossed arms and a lidded smile in the human’s direction.
“Sans.” Red murmured, mood lifting just at the sight of his best friend. He’d remembered after all.
Sans winked up at him before turning to the human who seemed startled to see someone there at all. Red grinned. Sans was good at using his natural smallness to get around.
“heya pal, mind getting out of the way?” Sans made a shoo-shoo motion, “he’s already got lunch plans.”
The human seemed startled and perhaps that was what gave Sans the chance to smoothly side-step into their personal space and blocking them from Red’s.
“Uh… s-sure. Yeah, sure, so maybe tomorrow then! You’re free tomorrow?”
Red stared in disbelief. What the hell was with this guy? “no.”
They opened their mouth and Sans interjected, “pal, buddy, we were trying to spare your feelings. he’s not gonna be free any day. he’s got a long-standing lunch date for the foreseeable future.” Red could almost see the smile on Sans’ face. “with me.”
The human paled slightly then looked up between them a few times. Red was flabbergasted as they glared at him. They stomped off, muttering something about ‘leading on’ and ‘waste of time’. Red scratched the back of his skull. If it was such a bother, what the fuck had they been bothering for in the first place?
Unless they just wanted a quick fuck or something… but why hadn’t they just asked if that was all they wanted? Red would have said no, of course, but it would be done and over with. Confused but eager to forget about it, Red grinned down at Sans who was watching the human leave intently.
Sans glanced up at him, “you alright?”
Red waved off the concern, “yeah.”
A sigh left the small skeleton, “sorry. i got held up by the professor.”
“seriously, it’s not a problem. yer came.” That was enough for Red. Even late, they’d accomplished their goal. Finally, that douchebag would leave him alone.
Sans made a humming noise, “of course.” A beat of silence and then Sans sighed again, this time deeper as he looked away as he mumbled something.
Red tilted his head but didn’t get the chance as Sans turned a smile to him, “come on, then. i promised a lunch date, didn’t i?”
He took the hand extended to him and let Sans lead the way out of the classroom, “heh, got my paycheck yesterday. i can pay, to thank you.” It was only right. Sans had gone out of his way to help him. To pretend to be his. He could feed Sans this time as thanks.
Red was already digging for his wallet when Sans spoke, “i’ll pay.” Red paused his searching but Sans was still moving, pulling him along. There was a faint blue glow coming off his cheeks, “it’s a date remember…?”
Oh. Red’s sockets widened. Oh! To his mortification, he could feel his face warm. “Oh… kay.”
Sans glanced back at him and whatever he saw caused him to grin, “heh. okay then.”
Sans listened absently as the doctors continued to relay information about his current condition. As though he weren’t painfully aware of it. Confined to a stark white bed in a stark white room, an IV invasively plugged into his soul like it was an electrical socket, and the constant smell of antiseptic. Sans was very aware of just what was going on.
His hands fisted into the sheets and Sans turned his head toward the window, focusing on the light filtering through the blinds. Pretending that there wasn’t tears pooling in his sockets.
The doctor paused and a hand gently laid over one of his, “I know this is hard on you. But you aren’t the first person to go through this. In my experience, the sooner you forget about ‘Red’, the faster you’ll recover.”
Sans’ soul clenched, sending the machine plugged into it into a series of beeps. The doctor’s hand squeezed, probably aiming for comfort and missing by a mile, before letting go. The doctor said something about coming back later, they had to prepare his new room that he would share with another coma patient now that he’d woken up.
Sans closed his eyes. Part of him wished he’d never woken up from his coma.
Apparently on his way home from work at his hotdog stand, he’d been caught up in a traffic collision while crossing the street.
He was lucky on account that he’d suffered no major injuries; although the knock to his head and proceeded to make him comatose for the next month. He still had bandages covering the micro fractures. His nurses had assured him they would eventually heal completely and other than that, he was just fine. Others had died, a few lost limbs or needed extensive surgeries and physical therapy.
The other part of him, was glad that he could finally dry the tears from his brother’s face. Papyrus should never cry over him. Sans had spent nearly an hour happily comforting his little brother the day after he’d woken.
As glad as he’d been to wake up, the shock of what came of his first question had been nearly too much to bear.
“where’s Red?” He’d asked. Sans had been sure Red would be hovering somewhere nearby.
Confusion had been the only response from everyone he’d asked.
“WHO IS… RED, BROTHER?”
“my boyfriend? come on, Pap. he’s probably worried sick, heh, not that he’d admit it.”
“… BROTHER… YOU DO NOT HAVE… A BOYFRIEND?”
Sans for the first time wanted Papyrus to be a liar, to be playing a very unfunny jap. But the way Papyrus wringed his hands, looked to the doctors with wide sockets, and genuinely seemed to have no idea who he was talking about… Sans knew that Papyrus was telling the truth.
Which was impossible. Because Sans had introduced Red to Papyrus. Red had come over numerous times, indulging his brother’s experimental kitchen attempts by being his guinea pig like the garbage disposal he was.
A smile crossed Sans’ teeth. Red could eat anything. The smile fell a second later and a tear slipped down his face. His hands came up to press against his sockets as his chest contracted with a noiseless sob.
He could remember meeting Red. Stars, he’d been such an insufferable asshole. All he’d wanted was his damn latte and to have this behemoth of a skeleton holding it above his head and citing that he really shouldn’t give coffee to children had been infuriating. He wasn’t that damn small!
He could remember agreeing to go out when Red asked. Because despite the love affair Red had with Hot Topic apparel or the way his temper spiked, he knew that underneath all of that gruff and tough exterior was a soul that was as golden as Red’s incisor.
He remembered an impromptu first kiss leading to a heavy make-out session on the couch. Red hadn’t pushed when Sans declined moving further and he’d been held close as they turned on National Geographic. Cause Red was also a teddy bear in the privacy of home.
He remembered pulling out a telescope and stargazing on the roof, going out on dates, and grossing out their brothers by smothering food in their chosen condiments.
Remembered being called sweetheart with such a fond smile in their private moments together.
Sans could remember saying I love you and hearing it back.
… But that didn’t mean it was real.
A coma dream, they all said. Red was a figment of his imagination that he’d created to keep him company.
Red wasn’t real and Sans had to accept that the monster he’d fallen in love with was nothing more than a dream. How could he make himself forget Red? They were the happiest memories he had and even tainted by the reality of his situation, he refused to let them go.
Not for the first time, Sans cried himself to sleep.
Sans had perfected a placid mask and he wore it now as he was wheeled to his new room. It was bigger to accommodate two patients at a time. He’d be sharing it for the foreseeable future which meant Sans would need to take measures that his nightly ritual of crying himself to sleep went unnoticed.
“Here we are, dear.” The nurse chirped cheerfully and rolled him into the space between the curtain ring. They were partially drawn, hiding his new neighbor from view. “Now you get settled in and I’ll be back with your lunch.”
She glanced at her clipboard and her eyes widened, glancing between him and the other bed. A giggle escaped her and she left the room with a suspiciously cheerful, “I’ll be back in a few minutes, Sans!”
Sans’ mouth closed with a click. He hadn’t answered, his neighbor had. Something about that low mutter resonated in his skull. Because it sounded… no. Sans shook his head. No, he couldn’t keep doing this. It dawned him just why the doctors and Papyrus urged him to let his coma dream go. He couldn’t superimpose Red onto people.
It would just lead to heartbreak.
Sans took a deep breath, took a fuzzy moment to wonder if his neighbor really had the same name as him, before grabbing the curtain and pulling it back.
The hello he’d planned to say died in his throat. Instead a strangled noise escaped him and Sans wondered if he was perhaps going insane. Because in the bed next to him was Red.
He was wearing hospital apparel and it was strange to see the edgy black and red clothes missing. Yet the golden incisor and that disgruntled scowl was painfully familiar.
It took a long time to find his voice and, in that time, he noted that Red was stubbornly glowering out the window. The scores of red under his sockets were darker than in Sans’ memory and there was an unhealthy pallor to his bones. Not unlike his, which made sense. Hadn’t he overheard that his new neighbor was also a recovering coma patient?
Finally, he managed to whisper, “Red?”
The glower abruptly disappeared, in fact the other skeleton shut their eyes and started to mutter something under his breath.
Something like panic began to alit in his Soul and he gripped the metal side bar of his hospital bed, “Red.” This was mistake, he thought, he was seeing what he wanted to see. But… “is that you?”
Red, or not Red, but they looked so much like him, fell silent.
Then, “fuck, can’ do this.” A brilliant ruby eyelight opened, the other wrapped securely with bandages, and turned on him with all the determined intent of someone who would not take no for an answer. But it contracted into a pinpoint the moment it fell on him. Sans waited anxiously, knowing that whatever this monster said next would break him. For good or for bad, he didn’t know yet.
The skeleton sat up slowly. Clenched his socket closed and opened it again. The pinpoint swelled back to normal size and something like agonized hope crossed their face.
Sans breath left him with a single whisper, “you’re real.” He could feel tears slipping from his sockets and the jerk reaction of Red trying to reach over was so Red that he laughed, “you’re real!”
“fuckin’ knew it. knew ya were.” Red was whispering, still reaching out and Sans reached out as well. They’re hands connected and held on tight. “fuck, sweetheart, i love yer so damn much. thank fuckin’ stars. what... how...”
Sans didn’t know how this was possible. How they could have met and fallen in love in a coma dream… it didn’t matter either way because Red was real and Sans…
“i love you, too.”
for clarifications sake, Sans and Red were both in comas and in their coma dreams, they fell in love when somehow their dreams merged. maybe it was soul resonance, maybe magic, maybe the power of love~. you decide. lol :3