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How to Bloom

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You didn’t know what you expected when you knocked on the door of the small white cottage in the woods, but it for sure wasn’t a skeleton.

 

I mean sure, it had been two years since the barrier was broken and monsters streamed out of Mt. Ebbot, hungry and depraved, but they tended to stay in the city of Ebbot, preferring to keep in the company of other monsters in the strange new world on the surface.

 

So you hardly ever saw monsters, living several states over from Mt. Ebbot, and this cottage was also a fairly far ways from the city. You wouldn’t even have taken the journey here from your small apartment, but the newspaper ad had promised good pay and you were getting desperate.

 

So you had put on your coat and working pants and had walked the two minutes to the subway station, hopped over the turnstile when no one was watching, took the 20  minute train to the edge of the city, walked ten minutes into the woods, wondered why you ever thought this was a good idea, remembered your empty wallet, and knocked on the cottage door.

 

It was a good minute before the door slowly creaked open to reveal a very tall skeleton. You gulped, your eyes traveling from the pink fluffy slippers hiding skeleton toes to the baggy blue sweatshirt with... was that a ketchup stain? Hopefully it was a ketchup stain. 

 

Finally, your gaze ended on his skull, where you noticed the slightly aged bone, the pointed teeth, and the one red eyelight. Oh, and the giant gaping hole on the side of his skull. The very jagged, very scary looking hole. That looked very scary. And very painful.

 

You realized you were staring and quickly moved your gaze back to his face. His one red eyelight was pointed at you, slowly getting smaller as he focused.

 

You realized the extent of your situation, being in the middle of nowhere in the woods, with a very scary, very large skeleton.

 

But mother told you not to judge people by appearances, and you were desperate, so you ignored your adrenaline rush and smiled up at his skull.

 

“i already told the last guy i don’t want to buy any vacuums,” he said, his hand already moving to close the door. His voice had been deep and quiet, almost emotionless.

   

“No wait!” You took a step forward and pulled the crumpled newspaper ad out of your jacket pocket. “I’m here for the gardening job?”

 

    He stared at you, unmoving. It was almost unnerving, how little he moved. His chest didn’t even rise (did he need to breath?), his legs solid on the ground, and his broad shoulders unwavering. He didn’t respond, just stared at you with a blank face, as if he was still processing your words.

 

    You cleared your throat, desperate to clear the tenseness in the air. “Yeah, if I was just here for vacuums, that would really suck , right?” You gave him your best smile.

 

    “heh.” The skeleton seemed to finally process your words, a smile just hinting from his jagged teeth. A little emotion showed on his face, and you relaxed your shoulders. He turned his head behind him and called into the house. “paps, there’s a human here for your gardening thing.”

 

    “EXCELLENT! JUST A SECOND WHILE I GET READY!” A response echoed from somewhere in the small cottage. 

 

The skeleton looked back to you, nodding to the inside of the house, and walked out of your view.

 

“Err...” You weren’t sure if this was an invitation for you to come in or not. This skeleton seemed very nonvocal. Maybe the injury in his head made it harder for him to talk?

 

You decided to take the initiative and walked inside, turning to close the door behind you. You turn back to find the skeleton inches away from you, your face to his chest. You looked up at him, and found his eyelight pointed right at you. You jumped, immediately stepping back and bringing your arms over your head.

 

A second passed without event. Then another. You let your arms go. He was still staring, and hadn’t moved an inch from his spot, his hand still left casually in his pockets. His one red eyelight was fuzzy and large, unfocused even.

 

“paps is really excited about this project.” He stated it plainly, but there was a lot hidden behind the sentence. It was almost like a threat, if that made any sense. You nodded. “really wants to meet a human, get himself out there.” he said, staring at you for another moment. Finally, his eyes seemed to refocus, and his gaze left your face, looking down. He almost looked surprised to find himself standing there.

 

He made a sound that sounded like coughing, but skeletons don’t even have throats, right? Maybe it was a magic thing. You searched his face, which looked embarrassed, a slight blue blush forming on his cheekbones. Maybe he didn’t mean to be so threatening?

 

You suddenly felt a strong urge to clear the tension.

 

“Your house seems pretty far out there, huh? Do you every get bonely ?” You said, trying to put a joking tone into your words.

 

He starts, looking back at you with a funny expression. Then he smiles, the first one you’ve seen since he opened the door. He visibly relaxes, his shoulders moving down and his eyes becoming larger. 

 

“it’s not that bad, the nature is very beautiful, tibia honest.” he said. You giggle, enjoying the simple bone pun. The tension in the air gets a little softer, and you let yourself look around.

 

The room is split into two sections, a kitchen to your left, and a living room to your right. The kitchen is small, a stove, a fridge, and an island in the center. A couple pots sit on the counter, a box of spaghetti set aside. The living room has an intense orange and blue rug set in front of a comfortable looking couch. An old TV sits in front of the couch, with a sturdy looking coffee table between them. A couple rocks are on the table, one tinted a slight green color, the other grey and flecked with bits of silver. Interesting, maybe a rock collector?

 

    The sound of footsteps coming down the hallway in front of you shakes you out of your exploring. You look up to find another skeleton bounding his way towards you. A very large skeleton. Jeez, you thought the first one was tall, this guy looked like he could play basketball and win every time, he could probably reach up and touch the net without even having to stand on his toes. 

 

He stopped in front of you, taking a moment to stand straight and pat down his clothes, which seemed unnecessary given he hadn’t wrinkled them, and that they weren’t really the wrinkling kind of material. He wore a faded green sweater and black jeans, a hole in one of the knees.

 

    He stood straight, and tried to make a professional looking face that was slightly off due to the braces on his teeth. The glasses helped though, a nice brown tortoiseshell that were taped? To the side of his head? You guessed that was a clever solution to not having ears. His bones had the same faded yellowed quality as the other skeleton, but he had a much longer face and his build was thinner, his limbs longer and his shoulders not quite as broad.

 

“HUMAN!” he looked down at you, a small smile on his face. You started at how loud his voice was. “YOU ARE HERE TO INTERVIEW FOR THE GARDENING JOB?” he asked. You nodded in response. “I HOPE MY BROTHER SANS TREATED YOU WELL, YES? NO THREATENING THIS TIME?” he glanced over at his brother nervously, who was standing sheepishly, his hands out of his pockets and waving back at him.

 

“She’s still here, isn’t she?” he grinned up at his brother, who looked at him unimpressed.

 

“YES, SHE ARE. I SUPPOSE YOU MIGHT’VE TONED IT DOWN THIS TIME. I’M SORRY IF HE WAS RUDE TO YOU, HUMAN.”

 

Wait, this time? Had he scared off people before?

 

You realized the skeleton was waiting for your response.


    “Oh, no, it was fine?”

 

“yeah paps, you know i don’t have the stomach for violence,” said Sans. He smiled and pointed towards where his stomach would have been. The other skeleton groaned.


    “I WOULD NORMALLY GIVE YOU THE USUAL COMPLAINTS FOR THAT HORRIBLE PUN, BUT WE HAVE A GUEST, SO YOU WILL HAVE TO IMAGINE THEM YOURSELF.” The skeleton turned back towards you. “MY NAME IS PAPYRUS, I PUT UP THE AD FOR THE GARDENING JOB.” He offered his hand to you. You took it, realizing as you shook it that it completely engulfed your hand. You were so entertained by that you almost didn’t take the time to notice how the bone felt against your skin. But it was hard not to notice how surprisingly soft and sturdy the bone was.

 

“My name is y/n, I didn’t realize there would be an interview?” you said as he released your hand.

 

“WHY, OF COURSE ANY JOB NEEDS AN INTERVIEW!” Papyrus smiled at you, more genuine this time, winking at you in a way that was pretty cute . “BUT DON’T WORRY, I’M SURE YOU’ll DO GREAT.”

 

Papyrus led you to the kitchen island, where you sat on stools facing each other. He rested his arm on the counter, a notebook suddenly appearing in his other hand.

“SO.”

 

    “So...” you shifted uncomfortably. 

 

You’d never been in an interview before. Usually they’d just give you a job to do (“Clean out the gutters and than you’ll get paid.”), or shoved a list of tasks in your hand and waited for you to come ask for the money(“You’re finally done? You’re lucky I’m paying you, bitch”).

 

“WHY DO YOU WANT THIS JOB?” Papyrus interrupted your strain of thoughts.

 

Money. You’re brain strained to think of an answer.

 

“Uhh, I like working with plants.”

 

“DO YOU HAVE ANY EXPERIENCE?”

 

“I grew up gardening with my mother.” If you count ages 1 - 7 as growing up.

 

“HOW LONG ARE YOU WILLING TO WORK ON THIS PROJECT?”

 

For as long as I can be paid for . “I am determined to work on it until you’ve decided it’s perfect.”

 

“WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE COLOR?”

 

....What?

 

“Um, I guess I’d say it’s pink, like a pastel pink?”

 

Papyrus nodded seriously, considering your answer. Than he smiled.

 

“YOU’RE HIRED!”

 

Oh thank god . You smiled brightly, his happiness becoming contagious. Now I can finally pay-

 

“YOU’LL START TOMORROW!”

 

Wait wait wait.



    “Tomorrow?”

 

    “WHY OF COURSE, HUMAN. ALL JOBS HAVE THE INTERVIEW, AND THAN THEY SAY ‘YOU’LL START TOMORROW!’” Papyrus coughed nervouslly, fiddling with his glasses, “I MEAN, THAT’S HOW IT WORKS, ISN’T IT?” He looked at you hopefully.

 

    You needed the money as soon as possible, but his face was so innocent, and you knew correcting him would embarrass him, and maybe make him feel like you weren’t taking the job seriously. You sighed inwardly - you can't bring yourself to disappoint him.

 

    “Yes, you’re right. I’ll see you tomorrow!” You smiled at him.

 

    He stuck his hand out for you to shake again, smiling broadly. He was such a sweetheart, you found yourself looking forward to seeing him tomorrow. You shook his hand and turned to leave, calling out to the living room.

 

    “Bye Sans!”

 

    Sans jumped, his large form turning to see you from the spot on his couch. He stared at you without saying anything, his eyelights completely black. You jumped a little yourself, taking a step back. But than his eyelights returned, and his shoulders slumped back.

 

“sorry kiddo, forgot you were here.” He looked genuinely sorry, frowning in frustration. Your heart ached, realizing the head injury he had might be affecting his memory. You decided to make him smile again.

 

“Don’t worry, you’re probably just bone tired .” You smile nervously, which he mirrors back.

 

You leave the cottage and head back for your long journey back home.