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How to Bloom

Chapter Text

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.




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...” 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.”




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




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






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


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




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




Wait wait wait.



    “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.

Chapter Text

The next day you were once again greeted by Sans at the door. He was wearing the same slippers and basketball shorts, and his sweatshirt was opened to reveal a black shirt that read, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate”. You chuckled a little at that, having had a passion for chemistry back when you were in school. 


“papyrus is in the back, just down the hall.” San’s said, recognizing you from yesterday. You studied his face, noticing more details this time. He looked tired - his eye sockets were hollow, like the skeleton equivalent of having lines under your eyes. His sharp teeth had no smile, just a neutral look, and his one glowing eye socket had a duller light than yesterday. You decided to humor him a little.


“Hey Sans, knock knock,” You smiled at him as he moved to let you in. He jumped in his path, as if he wasn’t expecting you to talk to him. He looked at you nervously, his hands back in his pockets and his head tilted slightly down. Despite being at least two feet taller than you, his eyelight peeked at you from the top of his socket.  Maybe this guy was shyer than you thought.


“who’s there?”


“Beryl.” You were facing him now. His face switched from being nervous to curious, his head no longer tilted.


“Beryl who?”


“Beryl and lium.” It wasn’t your best knock knock joke, but he seemed like the kind of guy who would enjoy a bad joke.


“Hehehe...” he straightened out more, the confidence you had started to see yesterday showing a little more. It was progress. “what do you do to dead elements?” he began walking behind you as you moved towards the back of the house.




“you barium .” He was smiling now, a little more light in his socket.


“I’d give you another chemistry pun, but all the good ones argon .” that one got a good laugh from him, after he paused a moment to process it. You walked down the hall with him, trading chemistry puns back and forth. He looked more relaxed, laughing at your jokes and trading them with ones equally good (though slightly more morbid). Your heart warmed at seeing him happy. He’d been pretty scary when you first met him, but now he seemed more like a big goofball. You found yourself relaxing around him.


“Hey, do you have 11 protons?” you loved this joke.


“no, why?”


“Cause you’re sodium fine.” You laughed, but Sans stopped dead in his tracks. It took you a moment to realize he wasn’t following you, and you turned back to him to find his eyelight frozen forward and his cheekbones... blushing?


    “hehehe, good one, kid.” Sans voice sounded hurried, surprisingly fast for how slowly he usually talked. Did you say something wrong? Maybe the joke was worse than you thought. “well, here’s the door to the back, papyrus is waiting for you.”


    “Uh, thanks Sans!” you look forward towards the door as you open it, than back to say goodbye, “Maybe we can trade puns again before I leave-” but he was gone. How did he walk away so fast? And so quietly?


You shrug and turned back and heading through the door.


    “HELLO HUMAN! I HOPE YOU’RE READY FOR YOUR FIRST DAY OF WORK!” Papyrus was standing near the back of the garden, surrounded by tools and bags of soil. You took a look around the garden. It was fenced in with what must’ve been built as a white picket fence but now could only be described as... well it was a fence. Most of the other details were either chipped away or faded.


    Oak trees stood on either far corner, the only things still alive in the garden, unless you counted the overgrown ivy that grew up both of them and along the fence in the back. Dried up bushes and plants lined the entirety of the garden, their roots sticking out in places, making it a maze of thorns and dead branches. There was no grass, just dried, unhealthy dirt.


    This job might take longer than you thought. 


Was he going to pay you before it was done?


You walk towards Papyrus, being careful not to trip on any of the overgrown plants. It was a good thing you wore your thick work overalls today, as the denim was sturdy enough not to tear on the various thorns and branches.


Papyrus smiled at you, and you took a moment to look over his face like you did with Sans. His face was longer, more like a human skull, but with larger eye sockets. He had both eyelights, which shone a hopeful white. His sockets were strained, but not as badly as Sans’. He also had teeth less sharp than Sans’, but with bigger canines. They were in great shape (other than the braces) but you had to wonder what they used to look like. 


Many of the monsters had come up disfigured and sickly, teeth crooked and eyes missing. Human society had been good for once and jumped to help cure and take care of all the sick monsters. You wondered why they hadn’t taken care of San’s skull. The monsters didn’t talk much about what happened down underground, but it couldn’t have been good.


You looked down and realized he was also dressed for the job- he wore a flannel over a t-shirt, and dark denim pants. He’d left the glasses inside today.


“Wait, are you working with me Papyrus?” you’d assumed this would be something you’d have to tackle on your own - wasn’t that how jobs like this worked?




Huh. This was new.


Well, you weren’t gonna say no to extra help, as long as you were still getting paid the same amount.


“You’re right, that wouldn’t be fun. Should we get started?” He nodded, but doesn’t move. He looked as you bashfully.




Oh, this guy was too much. For such a large monster, he was literally the definition of a cinnamon roll. You couldn’t help smiling at him, eager to help him learn to care for his garden.


“We should start by pulling up all the dead plants. This’ll probably take a while, are you sure you want to help?”




The two of you got to work, pulling out dead bushes and roots and putting them into the large trash bags Papyrus had provided (thank god he didn’t ask you to bring your own tools). Papyrus entertained the two of you by asking questions. You told him you were 24, learned he was 25, and Sans was 27. You learned his favorite tv show involved a robot named Mettaton, and was asked what yours was. It had been a fair amount of time since you’d watched tv, so you told him you preferred books. That set him off on a long tyrant about his favorite series, which detailed dragons and magic. He waved his hands in excitement as he described the story, his mouth moving a mile a minute.


“I COULD LEND IT TO YOU, IF YOU WANT?” His eyes were shining with excitement as he pulled up another root.


Did he really trust you that much? After you’d only just met? This skeleton was so kind.


You didn’t deserve it.


“HUMAN!” you jumped at his voice, which was somehow even louder than usual. “YOUR HANDS!”


You look down at your hands, which were scratched up from pulling at the thorny bushes. You hadn’t thought much of it, having often gotten a little beaten up from the jobs you did.


Papyrus walked over to you with a purpose, stooping over you to gently pick up your hands in his, turning them over, and examining each scratch and cut individually. His bones felt cold from working in the fall air, but still soft. You marveled at his long fingers, at how big his hands looked in yours.




You jumped at him addressing you by your actual name, instead of just referring to you by “Human.” You looked up at him, and were surprised to find his face way closer to yours than it usually was, given his height. His eyes were concerned, making complete contact with yours.


    You flushed, unused to being this close with someone. Papyrus tsked, flushing a bit himself. He broke eye contact.




    “hey, paps, i made sandwiches,” Sans called from the backdoor. You and Papyrus both jumped at Sans’ quiet voice, not expecting it. You looked up at both of them. 


Your stomach growled. Loudly. You hadn’t eaten after getting home last night, and you didn’t have time to cook ramine this morning. Papyrus looked down at your stomach, concerned. Than he walked to the house purposefully, his hand still in yours, so you were forced to walk behind him.


    “Papyrus!” You struggled to keep up with his marching.




    Papyrus took you inside the house, stuffed you with a sandwich, and patched up your hands with what was, in your opinion, an excessive amount of bandaids. But hey, it was a free sandwich, and you weren’t complaining.


    “I DON’T THINK YOU SHOULD DO ANY MORE WORK UNTIL YOU CAN GO HOME AND GET YOUR GARDENING GLOVES.” Papyrus was sitting at the kitchen counter with you, Sans next to him.


    “But there’s still so much to do-” Papyrus brought up his hand, stopping your further complaints.




You deflated slightly. An afternoon of not working meant more time without getting paid. Papyrus looked at you with a smile, misreading your reason for disappointment.




Wait, friendship? Already? You felt yourself blush. People aren’t supposed to be this nice. That wasn’t how the world worked. Trading puns, working together, lending books, sharing lunch, Papyrus and Sans were living in a different world. I don’t want to be there when they learn how the real world works, you thought.


You thanked him for the sandwiches, left Sans with another pun (“Thank you for the sans which, sans” He’d chuckled, a small blush on his face), and walked to the train, taking your usual moment to hop the turnstile. You were exhausted, despite only working half the day. Maybe it was the stress.


    Some time later, you were walking up the rickety stairs to your one room apartment. Your head was in the clouds, thinking of books and skeletons, and you almost didn’t notice the note taped to the outside of your door.


    You groaned inwardly, a flash of anxiety striking through your heart. It didn’t matter that this happened every month, it still made your nervousness skyrocket to the stars. You reached up and untaped the note from the door, unfolding it as you walked into your tiny living space. You dropped your coat on the table and read from the paper.


    Protection payment is due at the end of the month. Don’t be late.

Chapter Text

The next of the week passed by fairly quickly, despite your nervousness from the threatening note. 


On Wednesday, you continued clearing out the dead plants with Papyrus, sharing yet another lunch break with him and Sans, where you traded food puns and giggled at Papyrus’s reactions. It seemed he had a bit of an annoyance with puns.


“Hey Sans, olive this sandwich, I’m so egg cited that you made it for me.” you held up your food, enjoying Papyrus’s groan as he took off his glasses and rubbed his nose ridge.


“you don’t need to butter me up, i know my cooking is breader than most.” San’s voice was still gravelly and low, and he still took a fair amount of time to process your words and respond in turn, but it seemed like he was warming up to your pun battles, letting himself smile when you really got into it.




    “sorry paps, I’m sure we’ll take a break with it on fry day.” Sans stood up, picking up his empty plate along with yours. You shifted in your chair a little, surprised by his small act of kindness.


    “I SURE HOPE YOU DO, YOU’RE PUNS ARE AWFUL.” Papyrus stood up as well, a small smile forming. “BESIDES, WE ALL KNOW THE BEST PUNS ARE MADE BY PAPYRUS THE GRATE .” He emphasized the final word so you’d know he was making a pun.


    You and Sans looked at each other for a brief moment, surprised, before you both brokedown into laughter, yours seeming like a much higher pitch compared to San’s low pitched chuckling.


    You spent the afternoon clearing what you’d pulled in the morning. Papyrus humming a song to himself as the two of you stuffed branches into a trash bag.


    These skeletons are too nice , you found yourself thinking. Why were they treating you like a friend when you were just a gardener? You’d never had a job like this before, but you were finding yourself enjoying the time you were spending with the both of them. Maybe you had been more lonely than you thought.


    You hadn’t had friends for a long time, not since you had to spend all your days desperately trying to get work without an education past highschool, and without experience other than your odd jobs. You’d been stuck going from temp job to temp job, cleaning out people’s garages, dog walking dogs you’d never be able to afford, acting as a busser for restaurants when their normal guys called in sick. You were constantly trying to pay for rent, food, clothes... and protection.


    It never occured to you that you could have friends without having money. The world had always been such an unfriendly place, from the foster homes you grew up in to the shady and corrupt city you called home now. No one was nice without a reason, without something to gain.


    You thought back to the ad in the paper that had started this job. “ Companion needed for garden renovation. Good pay, experience needed. Than it had listed the address. You knew a bit of gardening from before you’d lost your mom, and newspaper ads like this didn’t tend to do background checks. But that word. “Companion”. You’d disregarded it as another buzzword used in job listings, something to catch the eye. But maybe Papyrus had done it on purpose? Maybe, he was actually looking for a friend?


    But that didn’t make sense. Why would someone like him want a friend like you?


    You finished the day with almost all the dead plants cleared away, Papyrus excited by the progress you’d made.


    There was no note on the door this time, and you collapsed into bed, too tired to make dinner.


    On Thursday, you finished clearing away all the dead brush. Papyrus laughed excitedly (“NYEHEHEHEH”), and picked you up in a tight hug, twirling you around. You let yourself laugh a little too, unused to the contact from another person and enjoying the feeling of his strong arms holding you up.


    The garden looked better now, but there was still a lot of work to do. You needed to cut away the ivy, make the soil healthy again, fix the fence, trim the trees, and put in new plants. You weren’t sure where the new plants were supposed to come from, but you hoped you weren’t supposed to supply them.


    At lunch that day you wondered aloud if the dead brush would make good compost, which led into a discussion of what compost was (“wow, i really dig that” “YOU ALREADY USED THAT ONE SANS.”). Both of them seemed excited about the prospect of saving food that had gone bad, and they agreed to add it to the garden project.


    You realized belatedly on your way home that you’d inadvertently extended the day you’d be paid. But the end of the month wasn’t for a couple weeks, at the rate you two were going, you were slightly confident you’d still finish on time.


    On Friday, Sans joined you in the garden, reading a book from a deck chair by the house. As you and Papyrus pulled ivy away from the fence, he called out puns as encouragement.


    “make sure to get all the plants, you know if you give a weed an inch it’ll take a yard .” he took out a pen to slowly write a note in his book. From the cover, it looked like something sciency.


    “You’re really taking the time to weed out the worst puns aren’t you!” you called, looking up from the large clippers. You noticed Papyrus struggling and walked over to show him a better method. “If you use the part of the blade closer to the handle, you’ll get a little more torque. Here-” Your put your hands over Papyrus’s and guided him through the motions of cutting the thicker branches of ivy. His eye sockets widened when you touched his hands, and he watched seriously, moving closer to you.


    You looked over at his face and noticed a small blush on his cheekbones. Of course, that was probably from all the work he’d been doing.


    “Have you gotten enough water today, Papyrus?” You took your hands off of his, giving him a concerned look.


    “I CAN ASSURE YOU I AM TAKING CARE OF MYSELF, BUT I’VE NOTICED YOU HAVEN’T HAD A DROP. IT’S PROBABLY A GOOD TIME TO BREAK FOR LUNCH ANYWAY.” Papyrus nodded towards the house, and the two of you set your tools aside, beginning your walk to the door.




    San’s watched the two of you walk towards the house, his small adrenaline rush he’d gotten when he saw you move towards Papyrus slowly ebbing away. It was the same when he saw anyone move towards Papyrus - his instincts kicked in, and he immediately wanted to move to protect him, to keep him safe.


    But... it was different with you. Sure, he still got a bit of an adrenaline rush, but it was minimal compared to the rest of the world. With every day you spent with them, he grew more used to your endless puns, your endless smiles, your hard work, and the happiness you gave Papyrus.


    And the happiness you gave him as well.


    Your soul exuded kindness like a spring. You’d spit pun after pun to make him smile and you’d check in with Papyrus to make sure he was taking care of himself. You were getting paid for the whole project, not for the amount of time spent, but still you brought up the idea of the compost bin to make the garden even better. You cared, and it showed.


But you seemed so unaware of it. For every act of kindness you did, every act that was done to you was met with confusion in your eyes. Every time he handed you food you took it like it would be snatched away in an instance. With every hug Papyrus gave you, you flinched, expecting violence, and when you realized it wasn’t, you’d smile with this... this wonder in your eyes like you couldn’t believe someone would want to hug you .


You were a conundrum. And a mystery. One Sans wasn’t against trying to solve. After all, you made Papyrus happy, and that’s what mattered.






You looked up from the final pile of ivy you were carrying to the side of the yard, where the designated area for the compost bin was. “Yeah?”


Papyrus looked down, his face still blushing from the hard work he’d done that day.



Chapter Text

TRIGGER WARNING: there is some violence and scare tactics used in this chapter, as well as some poor mental health stuff asterisks will be used to warn for it. You can go to the bottom notes once you reach that point if you want to read quickly what happens.




           You blinked. That wasn’t what you were expecting. How long had it been since you’d been invited to dinner by someone? Had it ever happened, or was it only something you’d read about in the orphanage storybooks?




           “Papyrus! It’s ok!” You put your hands up, smiling at Papyrus’s nervousness. Having dinner together, that was what friends did. That was what you did with people you wanted to spend more time with. Did he really want to spend more time with you?




           “Nonono, I’d love to have dinner with you. I was just surprised you wanted to, is all.” You rubbed the back of your head with your hand, suddenly feeling a little shy. Papyrus looked at you seriously and walked towards you. You flinched, not expecting movement as he reached over and took your hands in his.


           “WHY WOULDN’T I WANT TO SPEND TIME WITH MY NEW FRIEND?” Papyrus looked at you seriously, his eyes searching yours. You blushed furiously, unused to the contact between you. It felt… nice. No one had held you like this tenderly in a long time, other than when you scratched your hands. But that had been purely professional… right? You thought about the times Papyrus had hugged you. You’d brushed his hugs off as his excitement, assumed that his friendliness was just that he treated everyone as nicely as he treated you. but maybe… he actually did want to be your friend?


           “y/n, come dine with us. we won’t bite.” Sans’ voice distracted you from your thoughts. You looked up to see him standing next to Papyrus, his usual relaxed smile on his face. But did it seem… strained?


           You looked back to Papyrus’s hopeful face. You smiled.


           “I’d love to eat with you guys.”


           “WOWIE! I’M SO EXCITED!” Papyrus let go of your hands, instead picking you up in a giant hug and twirling you around. This time, you paid attention to how he held you, to how careful he was not to hurt you, to how much energy he was holding in his shoulders. You allowed yourself to hug himself back. It would be nice to have a friend.


           Papyrus let you down, taking your hand and dragging you (gently) into the kitchen. You laughed, your soft giggles matching nicely with Papyrus’s “NYEHEHEHE”.


           Sans watched the two of you move through the kitchen, Papyrus pointing out various tools and ingredients he wanted to use. He’d been scared for a moment you’d say no to Papyrus’s offer. He didn’t want anyone to hurt Papyrus like that. His brother had gotten really invested in you and had brought up the dinner idea after you left last night. Immediately, Sans become nervous, worried you’d say no and leave Papyrus devastated. When you hesitated, his fears almost became a reality.


           But you didn’t hesitate the way he thought you would. Of course, he should have realized you’d never do anything to hurt Papyrus. He’d been battling with himself over your nature, unwilling to believe anyone would be this kind to the two of them, the hulking skeleton with braces and the walking nightmare with a hole in his head. Your smiles went past the general politeness of a work colleague, you were actually excited to see the two of them. Of course you would want to come to dinner.


           No, your hesitation was from something else. Sans was good at reading people, especially when he could recognize the same patterns he saw in himself. You didn’t think you were worth befriending. You couldn’t understand why Papyrus would ask you to dinner. You didn’t think you were worth it.


           Sans hadn’t cared about anyone but Papyrus for a long time, not since… they had left. But seeing you deny your worth like that, something - a small something - began to drift through his soul. It confused him, but he brushed it off. He could deal with these feelings later. For now, he could just watch Papyrus be happy.




           You never knew cooking could be so much fun. The most you’d done in your lifetime was boil some water for ramen, but making spaghetti with Papyrus was nice. You established a pattern, bantering with each other as he showed you how to cut each type of vegetable.




           “Oh, thank you,” you readjusted your grip and mimicked the motions after Papyrus let go. The slices became a lot neater. “What were your favorite kind of puzzles?”




           “Oh, I love crosswords! I always like to do the ones in the newspaper, when I have the time to. Er, how do I cut up this onion?” You picked up the onion from the counter. Some of the papery thin layers slipped off in your grip, and you watched them fall onto the counter. “Oh! Sorry!”


           “WORRY NOT HUMAN! LET ME SHOW YOU!” Papyrus reached over and began mincing the onion carefully, his giant hands dwarfing it and making it look like an apple. “IF YOU LIKE CROSSWORDS, I HAVE A FEW THAT WE COULD WORK ON LATER, IF YOU’D LIKE.”


           “Oh, I’d love to do that.” You smiled up at Papyrus as he glanced up at you, not noticing the burning in your eyes from the onion. Papyrus dropped the knife on the counter and turned to you.


            “HUMAN! DID I SAY SOMETHING WRONG? WHY ARE YOU CRYING?” Papyrus frowned, wiping his hands on his apron (which, you’d noticed earlier, read “kiss the Papyrus”).


            “No, Papyrus, don’t worry. It’s a human thing! The onion vapors make us cry.” You smiled at him to show you were all right. Papyrus smiled back, his browbones returning to their normal, not worried position.


            “OH, HOW STRANGE! AND HERE I WAS WORRIED THAT TALKING ABOUT PUZZLES HAD MADE YOU… CROSS!” Papyrus smiled proudly, and you realized he’d made a pun.


            You giggled happily. “I thought you hated puns!”




            “what can i say, you can’t expect me to mince my words.” Sans’ voice came from right behind you. You jumped, turning around to face him.


            “How did you sneak up on me like that!” You scolded him, but you’re face betrayed you – you’re still smiling at his pun. “You’re really cooking up some trouble when you do that.”


            Sans smiled back at you; his eyes were softer than you’d seen them before. He slowly moved to sit down on the stool next to the counter, speaking as he did so. Your eyes followed him, going briefly up to the hole in his head before finding his eyes again. He glanced back at you.


            “so the vapors in the onions make you cry? humans are weird.”


            “Yeah, it’s the acidity in the vapors, our eyes react badly to it and produce saltwater from our tear ducts to clean it out.”


            Sans browbones raised, intrigued. He processed your words for a minute, his slower than usual processing speed not hindering his curiosity. “so if your tears can be for cleaning. does that mean your eyelashes also have a purpose?”


            You nod, “yeah, they’re there to keep dust and stuff out of them.” You finished mincing the garlic Papyrus had handed you. Meanwhile, Papyrus had moved the vegetables to the pot, and was stirring vigorously, his back to you. If you had been able to see his face, you would’ve asked him about the small smile he was wearing. He was enjoying hearing Sans so interested in talking to you.


            “I didn’t know you were so interested in biology, Sans,” you said.


            Sans looks down, blushing a little. “I…like all science.”


            “So do I, and I’m happy to explain things to a fellow science enthusiast. Ask away”


            “really? you don’t mind?” Sans stared at you suspiciously, his one red eye light searching your face. You shake your head, smiling at him. “ok then. why do humans hiccup?”




            You spend the rest of the time preparing dinner satiating San’s curiosity about human biology. While the three of you eat, you ask him questions about chemistry. His explanations were surprisingly well formulated for how quiet he usually was, though of course he slipped a few puns in there, much to Papyrus’s dismay.


            Papyrus listened to the two of you, happily eating his spaghetti and commenting on Sans’ puns when necessary. After dinner was done, the three of you cleaned up and went into the living room. You curled up on the couch, with Papyrus sitting a respectful distance away from you, and Sans sitting in his usual armchair.


            You watched Mettaton episodes for an hour, listening to Papyrus’s excited comments while Mettaton did acrobatic stunts. You gasped excitedly when Mettaton juggled a chainsaw, and jumped in fear when he almost dropped one. At some point, Papyrus draped a blanket over the two of you, and you absent mindedly moved a little closer to him. Papyrus blushed, enjoying the warmth of your body (though he’d never admit to something so… inappropriate).


            The last episode ended, and you stretched in your seat.


            “That was wonderful, but I should probably get going before the last train leaves.”


            “don’t worry, i can take you home tonight.” Sans’ piped up from his armchair where he’d been sleeping up until the episode ended. You looked up at Papyrus, who nodded encouragingly. You frowned, considering.


            “I don’t know, the neighborhood where I live can be dangerous sometimes, and you might not know how to get back, and it’s pretty far anyway, and-”


            “seriously y/n, don’t worry about it. we’ll be there in a flash. just tell me where it is and I can get us pretty close.”




            You shrug, defeated. The truth was you were less worried about it being dangerous, and more worried about what the skeletons would say if they saw your dingy one room apartment. But maybe he didn’t have to walk you into the building.


            “Ok, you got me there. I live on the corner of 5th and Western ave.”


            “near the donut shop?”


            “Yeah, exactly.”


            “alrighty, say bye, papyrus.”


            The three of you stand up, and Papyrus reaches over to give you another hug, this time leaving you on the ground.




            “I’d really like that.” He releases you from the hug, and you smile at him.


            “alrighty, hold onto your stomach.” Sans reaches over and puts his hand on your shoulder.


            Suddenly, the world turns to darkness, and you gasp as you feel yourself falling through nothing. A wind whirls around your face, and you cry out as you wave your arms, looking for something to grab onto.


            And just as quickly as the darkness came, it disappeared. You blinked and realized you were standing in front of your apartment building. It was dark out, but the streetlights were bright above you.


            “sorry about that, the first time is always a little rough.” Sans smiled apologetically at you.


            “What was that!?”


            “just a shortcut.” Sans winks at you. You shake your head, deciding that pushing this probably wouldn’t go anywhere. You turn to walk through your door, determined not to let Sans see inside.


            “wait a second, y/n”


            Your heart jumped as you turned around, your hand on the doorknob. Sans is still standing under the light.




            “I just wanted to… apologize.” Sans breaks his gaze, looking down at the ground instead.


            “For what?”


            “I wasn’t exactly the nicest when you first came to work with us. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have been so threatening. I just want to make sure nobody hurts Papyrus.”


            You nod, understanding. “Don’t worry sans, I’d already forgotten about it. It’s normal to be that way towards strangers. You never know who could be out to hurt you.”


            Sans looks up at you, concerned. “it’s not normal. it’s not right to threaten people like that, you know that, right? you deserve better - you wouldn’t act that way towards me.”


            You frown, looking away. Now you’re embarrassed. You’d never been able to match the anger of those around you, to protect yourself with threats the same way. It was embarrassing, not being able to stand up for yourself.


            What Sans was saying didn’t make sense. He and Papyrus were the only people you knew who actually seemed to care about you, other than your mom of course. But that had been a long time ago.


            “Yeah, well, maybe I’m just weak. Besides, you and Papyrus are to kind for anyone to treat you badly.” You smile at Sans, ignoring his concerned look. “Goodnight, Sans, thank you for taking me home.” You turn and walk through the door, closing it behind you.


            Sans watched you leave, concern still etched into his browbones. He knew how you were feeling. Back underground, no one was nice. Everyone had to look out for themselves, and you couldn’t trust anybody. You would have been torn apart. But things were different on the surface, weren’t they? Kindness wasn’t something to be hoarded, or to be ashamed of. Didn’t you realize that you deserved kindness too?


            The same feeling drifted through his soul again, slightly stronger. He closed his eyes, and let himself analyze it.


            It was a want. He wanted to make you realize that you were worth something too. You deserved to be happy, just like Papyrus. And maybe he could help you realize that.


            Sans opened his eyes, shocked at how the feeling grew as he realized what it was. That was eager thinking. He barely knew you, right? He shouldn’t be getting so attached. But his soul told him something different. He shook his head, chuckling in confusion.


            Sans turned and teleported away.



            You walked up the wooden staircase towards your apartment, tired from the long day. You walked down the hall, not bothering to keep your eyes forward in your sleepy haze.

           And not noticing the large man standing in the hallway outside your door. You did notice him, however, when he put his hand out to stop you in your tracks.


           “Hey, y/n, how you doing?”  Frank stood casually, leaning against your door so you couldn't get past him. “I hope you’re coming from work, and I’m sure you do too, right?”


             You stared up at him, your adrenaline rushing through you. You swallowed and pushed the thumping of your heart back down your throat, hoping Frank couldn’t hear how scared you were. You cleared your throat and tried to put on an equally casual tone.


           “Yes I am, for a matter of fact. What are you doing here?” You stood straight, trying not to succumb to Frank’s menacing air. How he managed to look so casual but still terrify you so much was a mystery. Probably because you’ve seen what he can do.


           “Marcus wants to make sure you’ll make your payment this month. You know, given your lateness in the past.” Frank took out an apple from somewhere, and a knife out from somewhere else. He began cutting a slice out of the apple, slowly gliding the knife through it.


           “I have a job I’m working on, I’ll have the money on time.” You clenched your hand into a fist. Sans’ words echoed through your mind, “it’s not right to threaten people like that, you know that, right? you deserve better.”


           Frank bit into the apple, talking while he chewed. “Sure, just like last month, and the month before that.” Frank swallowed, “You know, we’re starting to think you need a reminder of what can happen if you don’t have our protection. People can slip up, accidentally hurt you, you know?”


           “I –“, you didn’t have a chance to finish your sentence. Frank’s arm shot out of nowhere, dropping the apple on the floor. He grabbed your chin and pulled you close to him. You shrieked, but quickly stopped when you realized his other hand was moving towards you. The one holding the knife. You froze.


           Frank pressed the point of the knife against your cheek. You whimpered, too scared to fight back. You deserved this, you were weak, this was your fault.


           Frank slid the knife down your cheek.


           It was a light stroke, just enough to sting and draw blood. Just enough to make you squeak in fear.


           Frank dropped your chin. You collapsed to the floor, shivering.


           “Whoops.” he said. He turned away from you. “Guess I slipped up. Got to be careful with knives, huh?”


           Frank walked away, leaving you sitting on the floor, the apple next to you. Once he disappeared down the stairs, you stood up and walked into your room, bolting the door behind you. You quickly cleaned up the cut, taking deep breaths until you stopped shaking.


           Finally, you collapsed into bed, exhausted.


           Sans was wrong.

Chapter Text

    You spent the weekend holed up in your apartment. You sit, watching the cut on your cheek scab over and leave a bright red line across your face as the hours go by. Thankfully, you had the book Papyrus lent you to keep you company, which you found yourself getting sucked into. It definitely felt emotionally stimulating enough with the way you kept checking over your shoulder for Frank.


    On Monday morning you stood in front of the mirror, dressed for work. You frowned at your reflection, running a finger along the cut. It was ugly.


    You were worn out. Spending time with the skeletons had been a nice distraction, but you had to get back to the real world. You needed to finish the job so you could get paid and keep Marcus’s gang off your back for another month.


    It had been like this ever since you’d been kicked out the orphanage and you found yourself lost in the city with no place to call home. After a scary week of living in a dingy motel, you’d found your landlord’s listing in a disregarded newspaper and rented the apartment out with the measly funds you had saved up. You moved in immediately.


    The next morning, Frank had been at your door, a summons in one hand and his pocket knife casually swinging in his other. You’d froze, just like you always did, and he’d guided you down the stairs and a few blocks to Marcus’s apartment: a giant penthouse suite. You’d never seen anything so shiny or fancy, and your eyes had wandered around from the crystal chandelier to the red velvet furnishing.


    Marcus had been sitting on the end of a desk, and he casually explained the situation . Just like any other neighborhood, it was important to be protected, and his gang provided the protection - for a monthly price. With a smile and a wink, he told you if you didn’t pay, it was only a matter of time before some violence accidentally befalls you. If his gang didn’t have the funds, they couldn’t spend the time making sure you were safe. Frank had put a hand on your shoulder and squeezed hard and you’d nodded, understanding.


    Then Frank had led you out the door and left you standing outside the building. You’d walked back to your apartment and panicked. You’d thought about leaving, but you had nowhere to go, no other apartment you could afford, and you couldn’t even imagine going to another city. You doubted it would be better, and you couldn’t even afford a train ticket. There would always be people threatening you, trying to hurt you, and you’d always be the same weak person that couldn’t help not fighting back. You’d frozen, and you saw no way out.


    So you’d started working odd jobs, paying each month and keeping off the threats. It had worked until now, but it seemed Marcus had been getting impatient with how long it took you to get the money in.


    You had to stay focused. You needed to get that money and get him paid, just like you did every month. No more time for fun.



    You’d seen a lot of expressions on Sans’ face when he’d opened the door each day last week. Some confusion at the start, a little worry, a lot of slow smiles while he prepped a joke or a pun for you.


    You’d never seen a look like this before. His eyes weren’t black, but the eyelights were the smallest you’d seen them, defined and shaking, just slightly. His mouth was slightly opened in a frown, his sockets wide and crinkled at the ends, his brow bones close together. He moved more quickly than you’d seen him move before, moving seamlessly over to you and placing his hand against your cut. You flinched and took a step back, and he reacted quickly, moving his hand back, his concerned face turning into one of anger.


    “who did this to you?” Sans spoke quietly, watching you as you recovered from the flinch. You straightened up quickly, brushing your hair back and shrugging. You walked passed him, making sure not to make eye contact.


    “Oh, I just fell over when I was cleaning my house. Don’t worry, it’ll heal soon.” You keep your face pointed down the hall. He didn’t respond, but you felt him walking slowly behind you, following you out the back door. You ignored him. The last thing you needed was the two of them thinking you were involved in gang violence and firing you.


    “HUMAN! IT’S SO NICE TO SEE Y-” Papyrus stopped waving from where he was in the back of the garden, his eyes locked behind you. You glanced back and realized he’d locked eyes with Sans, who was still standing behind you. You looked back and saw Papyrus walking towards you with the same determined and seamless walk, concern etched all over his face. He stopped in front of you, his eyes wide with concern as his gaze tracked the mark. He looked back at Sans, and read something in his face that could only be understood by a brother. And than he looked back to you with a small smile that didn’t quite go up to his eyes. “IT’S NICE TO SEE YOU. WHAT ARE WE DOING TODAY?”


    “It’s time to refresh the soil so it’ll actually grow things. Did you get the soil and fertilizer I mentioned last week?” You picked up another shovel and walked passed him.


    “ACTUALLY... WE WERE THINKING YOU COULD COME WITH US TO THE GARDEN STORE, AND MAYBE WE COULD PICK OUT SOME OF THE PLANTS WE MAY WANT TO USE...?” Papyrus spoke with hesitancy, perhaps misreading your stiffening as anger at him rather than the worry that struck you. Another day added to the schedule. You were going to be cutting it close.




    A few minutes later, you and Papyrus are walking into his garage.


    You can't say you were an expert on cars, no. You’d been in a small number of them since your mom died, mostly on small orphanage outings. But you thought you were right when you thought Papyrus’s sky blue punch buggy was the perfect car for him. The minute you walked into the garage with him, all your troubles fly out of your mind as you gasp in surprise and begin giggling.


    The car was small but adorable, and Papyrus watched your excitement with a grin, walking past you to present the car in a dramatic fashion, turning to the side and opening his arms wide.


    “DO YOU LIKE IT?” He asked, even though your answer was obvious.


    “I love it! It’s adorable, just like you!” You missed Papyrus’s blush as you approached the car to look at the light colored interior. You can’t wait to get inside.




    “And such a gentleman driving it,” you said to him with a smile.


    “BUT OF COURSE! ALL SKELETONS SHOULD STRIVE TO BE THE PERFECT GENTLEMAN TO ALL HUMANS!” Papyrus said as he walked to the other side of the car and got into the drivers seat.


    “shouldn’t that be gentleskeleton?” Sans asked from the back seat. You and Papyrus jump in your seats.


    “SANS! WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU ABOUT SNEAKING UP ON ME WITH YOUR TELEPORTING! YOU DIDN’T EVEN SEEM INTERESTED IN COMING WITH US BEFORE!” Papyrus scolded Sans as you brushed your hair back, trying desperately to calm your heart rate back to normal. You were more jumpy than usual, which, considering the circumstances, was probably normal.


    “yeah well, i guess i just decided i wanted to spend more time with you guys, maybe chat a little. after all, what’s a gardening store without your best buds .” Sans is smiling, but he looks at you with serious eyes as he said this, and you gulp, turning back forward and resisting the urge to rub the cut on your cheek.




    “hey, i gotta try them out so i can weed out the bad ones.”






    It took 20 minutes for you to drive to the gardening store, with Sans making puns all the way. The car was filled with your giggles and Papyrus’s groans. When you pulled into the parking lot, your mood has completely lifted, and your resolve to focus on work has all but dissolved.


    You helped Papyrus pick out the right soils and fertilizers (you were really pulling memories out of the depths of your brain now, along with the info you’d researched on your phone over the weekend), and then it was time to pick the plants. You walked around the store pointing out various bushes and tree saplings, which are added to the order. Then the three of you dispersed to look at the flowers.


    You walked past daisies, tulips (your mind flashes back to a joke about kissing), carnations, your mind lost in memories.


    “Mom, why are we putting this stuff in the dirt?”


    “The roses are really sensitive to pH, so we put in special fertilizer to make sure they’re comfortable.” Your mom takes the bottle from you and ruffles your hair. You stare up at her in wonder.


    “Roses are sensitive? They’re so pretty though, shouldn’t they be tough?” You look down and rub your arm where’d you’d fallen running from bullies the other day.


    “Being sensitive doesn’t mean you’re weak, Y/N, it just means you see the world differently than other people,” she reaches over and picks you up in a hug.


    “But if you’re sensitive, people can hurt you more easily.”


    “Sometimes you can be hurt more easily, just like the roses. But you can help people more easily too, you can see where they’re hurting and make them feel better. And when you figure out how to deal with the things that hurt, you’ll bloom more beautifully than anyone else, just like the roses.”


    You blinked as you find yourself amongst bushes of roses in the garden store, and for a minute you’re caught in a confusing mess between memories and real life, almost like you’re still sitting in the same garden with your mom like you were years again. Than something caught your eye.


    You walked up to the rose bush sporting a breed you’d never seen before. They’re white flowers with specks of pink and red. You stare at them admirably.


    “you seem to really like those, huh?” Sans appeared behind you, making you jump once again. You nod, and give him a small smile.


    “It’s like someone flicked a paintbrush full of pink paint at them.”


    “They’re beautiful,” You missed that Sans was looking at you when he spoke. “But can’t they be hard to take care of?”


    You rub one of the petals carefully between your fingers. “I think we’re up to the challenge, if Papyrus wants to.”


    “i don’t see why he wouldn’t want them, he’d be happy with any flowers if you chose them,” Sans said. You shrugged, blushing at the idea that Papyrus cared that much so much about your opinion.


    “Do you know what these ones are called?” You asked.


    Sans bends over slowly, squinting his one red eyelight to read the tag in the dirt. Than he breaks into a giant toothy smile, looking up at you.


    “they’re scentimentals.”