Sans wrapped his knuckles on the door, rocking on his heels as a bleat of 'I am coming, just one moment!' sounded from one of the upstairs windows. It had been a long time since the barrier was destroyed. Frisk was all grown up now, headed off to live in the big city as a proper ambassador. That meant when Toriel wasn't teaching, she was all alone in that big house of hers. Asgore had offered to move in to keep her company but uh... that had gone down about as well as you could expect. So, Sans had made a habit of paying her frequent visits in-between his jobs, she really seemed to appreciate it as far as he could tell. His train of thought was interrupted when the door creaked open. He looked up at the tall goat woman, giving her one of his usual grins.
“Hello, Sans! Please come inside, I have just baked a pie!”
The tell tale smell of butterscotch drifted through the hallway as Sans shuffled in behind Toriel. Her home was always so inviting, it was an old house that had been built by humans a long time ago. Dark wood panels lining the walls made her home feel cosy and the floor boards had a very satisfying squeaky quality to them. Immaculately dusted photo frames were littered all over every surface, containing precious memories of her friends, or sometimes just a picture Toriel printed off the internet because she thought it was funny. Sans noted a new one, a kitten hanging off a branch with 'hang in there!' written underneath in a goofy font.
“...Is something burning? Oh dear... Please make yourself at home!” Toriel suddenly yelped, before rushing off into the kitchen.
He meandered into the lounge. As usual there was a single golden flower in a plant pot on a table in a corner of the room, turned around to face the wall. Sans sighed inwardly. Frisk insisted on keeping that thing around for reasons not even he could understand, and when Frisk left home the flower was left behind; the foul-mouthed little thing had no place in a monster embassy.
“what's up, little guy? plotting for our destruction, huh?” Sans asked, casually sauntering over to the coffee table with his hands shoved in his pockets. The flower's head swivelled on its stem, fixing Sans with a glare of hatred.
“Get outta here, smiley trashbag!” the flower shrieked, its face contorting into a visage Sans supposed was meant to be frightening. Instead he sat down heavily on the couch next to the plant, which just seemed to anger it further. “You're just here to see me SUFFER!”
“well i'm actually here to see toriel, but that sounds like fun, too.” Sans said with a wink. Flowey started almost vibrating with rage. “hey c'mon, lighten up, little pal.”
“This is Hell. I'm in Hell.” The flower spat, turning around to face the wall again.
“yeah yeah, okay, i'm leaving,” Sans sighed, reluctantly hefting himself out of the comfortable chair. Maybe he'd see how Tori's pie was doing instead.
He wandered into the kitchen. Like the rest of her home it was cheerful and cosy, tiled with yellow and white checker. In the middle there was a large wooden dining table with many mismatched seats, there'd been many a messy family get together in this kitchen.
“I have rescued the pie!” Toriel stated triumphantly, cutting very generous slices for herself and Sans. “Please, have a seat. Would you like some tea? I already made some.”
“sure, thanks, tori.” Sans replied, pulling up a chair at the table and plunking himself in it.
“How is your brother?” she asked, pouring a second cup of tea.
“oh, the usual. he started swimming lessons the other day.”
“Oh really? How did he do?”
“i guess i could say it was... worth the wade.”
It was an atrocious pun, but right on queue Toriel howled with laugher as if it was the best joke she'd ever heard, she laughed so hard that tears streamed down her face. Sans chuckled, relaxing back into the chair and letting her giggling snorts wash over him.
“Oh, I am glad you came over today. I needed that.” Toriel said, producing a floral hanky and dabbing at her eyes.
“is everything ok?” Sans asked, genuine concern colouring his usually casual voice.
“...I am sorry. I do not want to burden you. You know I am a silly little lady who worries too much.”
“tori, you can talk to me, it's alright.”
She looked distant for a moment, staring into her tea. Suddenly her face fell and her shoulders slumped, her happy facade dropping in an instant.
“It is so lonely here since Frisk left home. It is just me and my thoughts, and they are not good thoughts.” Her usual upbeat tone was gone. She sounded... tired. “I am a Boss Monster, Sans. I do not age, I will outlive all of my friends and one day I will be all alone.”
Sans' usual grin was gone as he listened to her. He'd had very similar thoughts, that one day he would wake up and this happy ending they'd achieved would be gone, that they'd be ripped out of this timeline and they'd have to start all over again. And maybe next time they wouldn't be so lucky. He placed a skeletal hand over much larger, fuzzier one, giving a reassuring squeeze.
“it's funny, tori. i know how you feel.” She raised her eyes to look at him with a surprised expression, and he quickly scrambled to elaborate, “y'know uh, being a skeleton i'm pretty sure i can't die either. got no organs.”
They sat quietly together for a while, but it was a comfortable silence. The kind where words felt kinda unnecessary and they were happy to just enjoy each other's company. That was, until Toriel spoke up.
“Sans? Can I ask you something?”
“sure, hit me with it.” Sans replied, taking a sip out of his cup.
“Ah, I hope this is not too forwards... You are my friend and your friendship is very important to me. But... do you think we could be more?” Toriel asked gently. Sans almost spat out his tea.
“w-what, like best friends?”
“No, I mean more than that.”
“super best friends?” Sans croaked, feeling incredibly flustered. She fixed him with a peeved look.
“You know what I mean to say.”
“i... i uh...” he stared at her for a moment, before scrambling out of his chair. “i gotta go to the bathroom.”
A brief sprint up the stairs later and Sans locked the bathroom door behind him. Oh God, oh no, Toriel had feelings for him! What was he supposed to do? He paced around the small room and its lavender-tinted appliances. It wasn't that Sans didn't like Toriel, quite the opposite, but he had a policy of not getting too close to people. It had happened over and over, he'd find somebody, he'd be happy and then it would all be snatched away from him, again and again and again until he didn't care any more. He leant over the sink, looking at his reflection in the mirror. He looked tired.
“how long are you gonna keep this up, sans?” he asked himself, “this timeline is stable, you've been livin' in it for fifteen years. y' can't keep pushing everybody away.” He curled his fingers around the edge of the sink, squeezing so tightly that he hands started to shake. “no, we're not gonna do this again. everyone else is happy, you deserve some happiness, too.”
Toriel sighed, cleaning up the dishes and cups. What a silly lady she'd been, she hadn't thought about Sans' feelings at all and now she'd frightened him away. Maybe he didn't even want to be her friend any more and he'd climbed out the bathroom window to get away from her. She cleaned the dishes aggressively. Silly. So very silly.
“hey.” said a sudden voice. She bleated in surprise and whipped around, only to relax when she saw it was Sans standing in the doorway.
“Oh! I do wish you would not sneak up on me like that!” she chided. He grinned, but his expression quickly changed to one of embarrassment.
“look uh... i've been thinking about what you said.”
“No, I understand. I know it was very sudden and I am probably too old for you, we can still be friends.”
“what? no, that's not- look, tori,” he walked over to her, taking her big fluffy hand into his much smaller bony one. “i'm willing to give it a shot, and if it doesn't work we'll just laugh it off. like that one time we tried skateboarding.”
“Oh that is wonderful, you are very wonderful!” To his surprise, she swept him off his feet into a massive bear-hug. He thought he felt his ribs creaking. But she sounded so happy, he couldn't help but smile.
There was no reason for either of them to be lonely any more.