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Chill or Be Chilled

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You stare the little monster down. He stares back, and for a second, you can swear his eyes flash dangerously at you. There is a moment where the two of you are frozen, time seemingly suspended as you each get the measure of the other. You have to move with absolute precision, you know, you can’t let him land a single attack, or-

His eyes widen at the first hint of motion, and he takes off, whipping around the corner into the kitchen. You grimace. “Oh, you giant butthole,” you sigh, and resignedly pull down the sleeves of your flannel, preparing for war. After all, your pal has no compunctions about drawing blood, not if it means he doesn’t need to get into the cat carrier.

It takes a good ten minutes to fish Ghost out from under the kitchen table, and in that time, the normally sweet (if stupid) gray cat has transformed into a hissing, clawing, panicked little mess.

“I know, bud, I know.” You sigh, trying to navigate him into his carrier. He’s got all four paws latched to the door, and you’re trying your best not to hurt him. Oh, god, you’re going to be late, you never plan enough time for this, and the vet is so stern about punctuality. “Ghost, oh my god, please.” You beg. “Just. Get. In.” He yowls, but at last a foot slips and he’s halfway through the door.

With one last shove, he’s inside his plastic prison, and you quickly swing the door shut before he can turn around and get out. The serenade begins. His pitiful meows fill your ears as you ease him into the passenger seat of your little blue convertible. You tug the canvas roof up quickly, knowing that the elderly cat is already panicked enough without the feeling of the wind in his fur or the noise of rushing air. Then you’re off, one slightly bleeding human, one miserable cat, the prospect of an unhappy series of vaccinations and lectures about tartar in your future.

As Ghost gets older, it seems like you’ve been doing this more and more often; aside from the yearly checkups, there was the bee sting on the nose incident, the time he walked on freshly poured asphalt, the time he’d just stopped eating for three days (well, that time it had turned out he’d figured out how to open the bin you kept his kibble in and had just been gorging himself while you slept). As a result, you knew the routine pretty well. Check in with the friendly receptionist, go to the left - into the waiting room that was reserved for cats - and then wait to be scolded by the vet. Ghost was poking his paw out of one of the breathing holes, trying to claw at your leg, so it was probably unsurprising that you didn’t notice that anything was amiss right away.

“Hey, Cadence, just bringing the little savage in for his shots.” You say, finally looking up at her with an apologetic grin. Does she look a little pale? She doesn’t say anything, just nods. Odd. You smile at her again, and haul your cargo over to the cats’ side of the waiting room, again, focused on avoiding Ghost’s claws. You don’t notice what had the receptionist so out of sorts until you plop down next to it. Well, him.

What makes you look up is actually the panting. Loud, interspersed with sniffing and a soft whine. Oh, god, if there’s anything bound to make Ghost panic more, it’s a poorly trained dog getting in his space. Looking up from the carrier, you start to say, “Hey, sorry, this side is supposed to be for cats only, I think. I hate to make you move but dogs make my little monster here freak… out...” You begin to trail off as you make eye contact (skull contact?!) with the skeleton sitting next to you. He winks.

“oh, am i your little monster? don’t worry, babe, i’ll do my best to keep calm.” How the fuck does a skeleton smirk?!

“Oh. Oh, fuck.” You stammer. “Was that like… really bad?” Your face is turning beet red. You want to tunnel five million miles underground where nobody will ever see you ever again. “I didn’t mean ‘monster’ like… ‘monster monster!’ It’s just a nickname from before we knew that you guys were even real… ugh. Oh god.” You bury your face in your hands, then peek between your fingers. The skeleton is enjoying himself immensely, you can tell. He’s grinning so big that his eye sockets are squeezed half shut - okay, now that doesn’t make much sense, but that’s what's happening. Sitting politely on a chair next to him, a large white dog is also regarding you with interest. There's a remarkable amount of intelligence in his eyes, enough that it soon registers with you that the dog has to also be a monster. Oh, double fuck. “I really didn’t mean anything by it, guys.” You mumble into your hands.

“relax, kid.” The skeleton finally decides that he’s done holding you over the coals. His smile grows a little more friendly, and when you still fail to emerge from your thoroughly embarrassed position, he nudges your shoulder with his gently. “it’s no big, really. your little pal there looks about twice as smart as some monsters i know.” He nods at the carrier, and you quickly curse again, realizing that in his desperate effort to escape, Ghost has actually managed to unlatch the door halfway. As you fix it, he speaks up. “sorry about being in the temm- um, the... cat waiting room, too? i think that the receptionist was a little surprised to see two handsome guys like us walk through the door, so she didn’t tell us exactly where to go. you still need us to split?” He tilts his skull at you.

You clear your throat. “Oh, jeez. No, thanks so much for being so nice, though. I was only worried that there was a dog that might get up in Ghost’s face.” You admit with a laugh. The skeleton stares at the cat through the bars for a moment. He’s trying to figure out if the cat is just named Ghost, or really is a ghost, maybe? Finally, he clears his throat and grins at you again.

“well, you won’t do that, will you, l.d.?” The skeleton asks the dog, almost reproachfully. The dog lowers his eyes and whines slightly. “yeah, that’s what i thought.” His skull swivels back towards you. “see, my pal here still isn’t used to being out of the underground, and he’s kinda still figuring a few things out. like, you know, that on the surface you don’t eat random lizards that you find in your friend's backyard, right?” He says, the end of the sentence clearly directed at the sheepish dog. “we don’t know if it’ll hurt him or anything, so my friend alphys used the internet to see what you should do if a dog eats a weird lizard and it said to take him to a vet. so, uh, here we are.” The dog, L.D.(?) whines softly again. Talking clearly isn’t his forte. You’re distracted by something else, though.

“Did you just say Alphys? Yellow, glasses, about yay tall?” You gesture vaguely. The skeleton nods, looking surprised.

“uh, yeah. we’re pretty tight. you know her?”

“Well, kinda. Her girlfriend, Undyne, just started working at the aquarium downtown with me. Actually, I trained her. I mean, as much as it takes to train someone to give penguins fish.” You say with a wide smile. Well, it had taken a little training, actually, but you aren’t about to tell this skeleton that you’d lectured Undyne several times about eating the penguins’ food, especially since he seems so worried about the lizard incident. “Alphys came by on our lunch break yesterday to see how everything was going. Also, I guess Undyne had forgotten her pasta at home.” You chuckle, then something clicks. “Oh! Gosh, I think they actually told me about you? They kept talking about a really nice skeleton who they always hung out with. They went on and on about how awesome you are!” You exclaim, excited to be meeting this friend already. The short skeleton glances down at his lap, grinning and blushing bright blue - you notice it matches his parka. “Yeah, I’ve already heard tons about you. Sorry, god, where are my manners? I’m _____, and you’re Papyrus, right?”

You’ve never heard a dog crack up laughing before. 

Chapter Text

When it becomes clear that you’ve managed to name the wrong skeleton, you consider retreating back behind your hands, but in spite of the dog’s mirth, the short skeleton sitting next to you looks, if anything, pleased.

“nah. close though. papyrus is my brother. he really is awesome, though. he’ll be so happy to hear that he’s got a reputation for being cool even with strange humans. it’ll warm him to the bone.” He says with a grin. You narrow your eyes at the pun, thinking that surely a skeleton could do better than that. “anyway, i’m actually named sans. and this is lesser dog - l.d. is a little easier, though.”

“Oh!” You sit up. “Right, of course! I mean, obviously, they mentioned you too.” Alphys and Undyne had talked about another skeleton, a real joker who was very protective of Papyrus. Apparently, you gather, that protectiveness extends to other monsters - he’d braved a human establishment to make sure that his dog friend was okay. “Well, I’m really pleased to meet you both.” Ghost chose that moment to hiss angrily, causing you to say, “That’s not anti-monster sentiment from the kitty, promise, Ghosty just hates the vet.” Lesser Dog gives you an anxious look, causing you to quickly explain, “Oh, no, sweetie, don’t worry, the vet’s a really nice guy, you don’t need to be worried. Ghost just isn’t as smart as you, so he doesn’t understand that the vet isn’t trying to hurt him when he’s giving him medicine.” Lesser Dog seems reassured at this, but Sans nudges your shoulder again as soon as the dog is distracted by something out the window.

“the vet guy. he’s going to be cool?” He says, low and casual. You see what he’s getting at almost instantly. Monsters hadn’t necessarily gotten the warmest reception in this town, or, hey, in any other town. They were brand new, many of them seemed terribly different from the people who had always lived here, and they all seemed to have access to a suspicious amount of gold. Wars had been fought between different groups of humans for those very reasons for millennia. The behavior of many of your fellow humans towards the monsters had been as predictable as it was deplorable.

“I think so…” You start, then bite your lip. Sans is watching you closely. You don’t notice the pinpricks of light in his eyes dart to your mouth for a second before meeting your eyes again. You’re too busy thinking about how awful it would be if your hunch about the veterinarian was wrong. “But I could go in with you guys… if that’s okay.” You say, looking over Sans’ shoulder at the excited dog. “Ghost only needs a few shots anyway, and humans tend to … behave, better, if they know that they’re being watched?” You attempt.

Sans looks distant as he mutters, “not quite sure that’s true.” He scratches the dog’s back distractedly for a while, ignoring the rapturous expression on Lesser Dog’s face. “hey, thanks, pal, but i think we’ll be okay on our own.” He finally decides. “wouldn’t want to be a purrden on you and Ghost.” He gives you a wide, false smile. You groan.

“That was terrible. And you wouldn’t be a burden, really, I-”

“i think it was the cat’s pajamas.” Sans interrupts pointedly. You realize he’s trying not to let on that he’s worried, for the sake of the dog.

“You should have vetted that joke better.” You sigh, the corners of your mouth turning up. Sans beams at you.

“nice one! it’s better if you paws for effect, though.”

“That’s where I draw the feline.” You drawl.

Sans snickers, and then glances up quickly when the receptionist appears in the doorway to squeak out, “Sans and, er, Lesser Dog, room two?” Sans stretches, and then smiles encouragingly at Lesser Dog.

“c’mon, bud. kid, nice to have met you. maybe i’ll see you around sometime?” You look up at him, seeing the kind and reassuring way he’s looking at his enthusiastic canine companion, and for a second you don’t care that Ghost’s managed to claw your leg through one of the holes in the door of his cage. Seeing someone so dedicated to keeping his friend safe, in spite of the uncertainty of what kind of reception he might get… it fills you with determination.

“I’d love that, Sans.” You find yourself saying, your voice stronger and more sincere than you’d heard it in, well, a while. He pauses in mid-step, and glances back at you. The tiniest blue flush creeps across his cheeks.

“well… throw a guy a bone here, _______, gimme your number.” You feel your own cheeks begin to warm yet again - you aren’t even a blusher! - and you open your mouth to respond when the receptionist pipes up.

“Uh, sir? It’s just that the vet, he’s waiting for you, and he’s really tight on time, so..”

“Go in!” You urge. You don’t want to jeopardize Lesser Dog’s treatment if the vet is irrationally angry at the monsters for wasting his time. “I’ll get your number from Undyne and text you, promise.” Sans nods, nudging Lesser Dog in the right direction. When the door closes to the exam room, the receptionist clears her throat.

“I think that skeleton was… hitting on you, _______.” She says, with clear disgust in her voice. You feel a shock of anger travel through you, but then you smile at her, sickly sweet.

“I’m pretty sure I was the one thinking about jumping his bones, Cadence.” You purr, less concerned about the truth of that statement than making sure that she knows you and her are not on the same team. Then you notice that you’ve made a pun. Oh, great. It’s rubbing off. Still, it’s worth it to see the receptionist turn chalk white once more. She beats a hasty retreat, and you stare down at Ghost. “I hope they’re okay in there.” You tell the cat. Ghost meows mournfully back at you.

---------

You’re called into exam room four before Sans and Lesser Dog reappear. You try to take that as a good sign; surely, if things were going down badly, you’d have seen them burst out. Or at least heard some barking, you think anxiously, picking up Ghost’s carrier and hauling him onto the exam table. Now that you’re in the exam room, Ghost has no interest in leaving the carrier; he knows what’s coming next. He cowers in the back, eyes enormous. You jerk upright when the vet finally comes in. He’s a distinguished older man with dark skin and a meticulous gray mustache. “Dr. Stanley, hi.” You say, trying not to sound too strained. He smiles calmly at you.

“_________. Just the annual shots today, right? No more midnight feasts for Ghost?” You chuckle guiltily.

“Heh, right. I, um, I found a better place to keep his food so he can’t keep helping himself.” You say, then blurt out, “Hey, so you just saw my, uh, friends ... Sans and L.D., and I just wantedtomakesurethey’reokay-” You stop, seeing the stern expression on Dr. Stanley’s face.

“You’ve heard of doctor/patient confidentiality, surely.” He says, fishing your cat effortlessly out of the carrier. You’re too distracted by the conversation to be bitter that Ghost is so much more compliant for the veterinarian.

“Oh, uh, does that apply to vets?” You say, caught off guard. “I mean, I’ve told people if one of the penguins or puffins at work is sick before.”

“Are you implying that a monster is the same as a non-sentient bird?” The vet says pointedly. Ghost is limp in his hold, accepting his fate now. You gape at him for a second.

“God, no! Lesser Dog just ate that lizard and I don’t know if magic animals can even get poisoned or anything, and I don’t know how to help them if you weren’t able to…”

“Shh.” Dr. Stanley advises, smiling just a little again. “I assure you, those two weren’t the first monsters I’ve met. I’ve actually been in touch with a monster who specializes in biology, to make sure that I’m able to treat any new patients competently.” He administers the first shot. Ghost is out of complaints by this point, and is reduced to staring pathetically at you. You scratch the cat’s head, feeling relieved.

“Oh. Well. I’m very glad to hear that.” You say.

There’s a pause, and the vet adds, innocently, “You’ll probably be glad to hear that there’s no poisonous lizards within two hundred miles of Mt. Ebott. Any dog, magical or otherwise, that managed to eat one, would be fine. Maybe a little indigestion.” Well, that’s two for two as far as good news goes. You’re about to beam at the vet when he looks sternly up at you. “Now let’s talk about this tartar buildup. Have you been brushing Ghost’s teeth?” You’re about to protest how impossible that would be when you see your cat, mute, obedient and pliant in the vet’s hold. You mentally sigh, and submit yourself to the ensuing lecture on the importance of feline dental hygiene.

---------------

-so you wanna jump my bones, huh?-

The text is unexpected, lighting up your phone just as you’re about to fall asleep that night. Ghost peeks one yellow eye open from his spot on the pillow next to yours, and glares at you as if it’s your fault the phone’s just vibrated. You cuddle him for a second as punishment for his bad attitude, then scoop the phone up. You open the text from an unknown number, read it and feel your stomach plummet with embarrassment. Oh god. You could just ignore this, you suppose. Maybe you could play it off as if he had the wrong number? You consider it, then imagine Sans sitting there, deciding to text you. Well, god, you assumed it was Sans.

-You’ve got awfully good hearing for a guy with no ears.-

You type out the deflection, and hover over the send button for a long time before finally squeezing your eyes shut and pressing it. There. Great job, _______. Playing it real real cool. Minutes creep by. You consider trying to go to sleep again. When the phone buzzes, almost fifteen minutes later, you snatch it up anxiously.

-i don’t. the dog does-

Sans’ explanation is somehow even more embarrassing. You can just imagine the innocent dog passing that tidbit on to Sans, unaware of the implication. Sure, the dog couldn’t talk, but you didn’t think for a second that this was a barrier between monsters. Or worse, what if he’d said it to more people than Sans? God, what if he’d communicated it in front of Undyne! She’d torment you at work. You groan for a second, then think hard. If Undyne knew you’d said that, she wouldn’t torment you at work. She’d already be tormenting you. You’re probably safe. Feeling slightly relieved, you type quickly.

-Well, I had to say something to make it clear how ducking rude the receptionist was being.-

You notice the autocorrect error only after you press send and groan, knowing what’s coming.

-glad you did. me and the dog were quacking up.-

-GOODNIGHT, SANS-

You put your phone down after setting the alarm. You’re almost asleep again when you remember that you never had given Sans your number after all. He must have asked Alphys or Undyne for it. If you’d embarrassed yourself, the skeleton must have done the same just for the chance to text you. The thought makes you smile as you finally drift off.

Chapter Text

“SO.”

The word hangs in the air, loaded, the second you hang up your coat in the locker at work the next day. You take a deep breath and turn to face Undyne. The woman is still wearing her own leather jacket, leaning across the wall of lockers, giving you a huge, pointy smile.

“So?” You say innocently, grabbing your work boots from the bottom of your locker and tugging them on, trying not to fall over as you do so.

“So. You made a friend yesterday.” Undyne sings. If anything, her smile grows wider. You play it cool.

“I make lots of friends. You’ll have to be more specific.”

“ERGH. ________! You know who I’m talking about.” She stomps. The floor shakes slightly, and you glance down nervously.

“Er, Undyne, maybe less stomping? This room is right above the stingray tank, I think?” Undyne freezes, then very slowly, very calmly takes her jacket off, changing for work as well. She seems terminally unable to do so without flexing.

“So.” She tries again, after an agonizing thirty seconds. “Why did my friend Sans text me asking for your number?” She gives you another gleaming, fake-polite smile.

“About that,” You say. “Do you just give any guy my number, Undyne?”

“I know Sans. I figure he had a good reason. Stop changing the subject.” She grumbles, holding the locker room door open for you. You’re both wearing blue t-shirts with the aquarium’s logo on them, khaki pants, and the all too necessary boots - you’d slipped on penguin poop way too many times to try to get away with just wearing sneakers. You walk out with her, heading to the room where the penguins’ morning meal is stored.

“We met at the vet’s office yesterday.” You finally admit.

“Oh, man, what did your cat do?” Undyne says, looking apprehensive. You’re a little embarrassed that you’ve barely known this woman for two weeks, and you’ve already told her enough about Ghost to make her fear the worst.

“Nothing!” For once. “Just getting him his shots.”

“What are shots?!” She asks, sounding excited. “Oh, man, is that an upgrade like Alphys does to robots? Is ‘shots’ an attack he can do?” You’d been having this kind of exchange since you first met. It never fails to make you laugh.

“Oh man, no, thank god he can’t. No, shots are-”

She slaps a wet feeling, webbed hand against your mouth before you can go into detail. You do your best not to be insulted. “Wait. Explain later. You’re getting off track again.” Her yellow eyes glint, and she pulls her hand away and pushes the door to the refrigerated feed room open, casually picking up two heavy buckets of fish in each hand. She is ridiculously ripped, you think, a little jealous.

“Well, Sans was bringing Lesser Dog in. He ate a lizard.” Undyne begins to cackle at that, and helps you as you struggle to get your arms around the last bucket of fish.

“Oh my god. Lesser Dog is such a WEIRDO!” She crows.

“Hey! I liked him. He’s cute!” You argue back, unwilling to have the guilty looking creature maligned any further.

“Lesser Dog or Sans?” Undyne bats her eyelids innocently. You glare, and nod at the door to the penguin enclosure.

“Shh. You ready?”

“I’m always ready!” She boasts, and pushes the door open. Several seconds later, you’re both knee deep in squalling, squawking penguins, each acting like they’d been starving for days (when you knew for a fact they’d been fed at closing last night). Sitting on a fake rocky outcrop, you began tossing fish out to the penguins, trying to get a fair distribution to your charges. Undyne has a different method - she tosses the fish above the penguins’ heads, into the water, with an exceptional amount of gusto. The penguins love it, of course, since it’s almost like catching fish in the wild, but you worry about the little guys getting as much food as the bigger ones, so you stick to your method.

As always, you can feel the eyes of the aquarium visitors crawling on your back. That’s actually something you’re a little worried about. It feels like attendance has tripled since Undyne started working with you. You suppose every dollar goes to supporting the animals here, and their wild counterparts, but you can’t help but worry that some of the tourists here see Undyne as an exhibit rather than an employee. Ugh, you don’t know if you should mention that to her, or how to tactfully bring that up, but when you hear actually cheering and clapping coming from the other side of the glass, you glance up sharply, ready to curse out anyone who might be mocking your coworker.

“YES, UNDYNE! THROW THE FISH WITH ALL OF YOUR MIGHT!”

“Y-yeah, sweetie! Good job!”

Oh. Oh god almighty, are you blushing again? In the front of the crowd - and being given a wide berth by many of the other guests - are three monsters and a small human. You can make them out through the glass separating the exhibit from the public - it’s tinted for the penguins’ sake, but it can’t be mirrored or they’d forever be crashing into it. Alphys is beaming at Undyne, who stops what she’s doing to give a wave to her friends. After a second, you do the same.

Standing next to Alphys is a tall skeleton, already wearing an aquarium t-shirt and a souvenir baseball cap. He’s waving back at the two of you so enthusiastically you begin to worry he’ll hurt himself. You figure that this one simply has to be Papyrus. You can’t get that one wrong twice. Next to him, of course, is Sans. He’s looking down at a small human - a child - who’s clutching at his bony hand. That’s true affection on his face, you recognize. You’re trying to figure out how you know the kid, when Sans looks up at you. His grin grows cheekier, and he gives you a quick wink. Shit! Caught staring. Flustered, you begin redistributing fish at double speed, much to the penguins’ delight.

“Hey, they brought Frisk!” Undyne says, sounding delighted. “I can’t believe nobody told me Frisk didn’t have school today! I can’t believe FRISK didn’t text me, we’re besties! Oh my god, _______, how do you still have fish left!?” Her buckets are empty, so she digs into yours, but does take more care this time to make sure the chicks and the older penguins get their fair share.

“YES, MY FRIEND AND MENTOR UNDYNE IS CERTAINLY A WONDERFUL CARETAKER OF THESE SMALL AND DAPPER BIRDS!” You can hear the bellow of the tall skeleton clearly over the squawking of the penguins, and you look over at Undyne, chuckling.

“Sounds like you’ve got a big fan, Undyne.” Undyne grins, less wolfishly this time.

“That’s Pap. I’ve told you about him a thousand times already. Oh, but of course you know about him already. It’s your new boyfriend’s brother.” She says, the evil look returning to her face. You pray desperately that Sans wasn’t lying last night when he said he didn’t have super hearing.

“Undyne, please? I’m enough of a mess when I’m not getting made fun of.” You say in an undertone. You’re not lying. When you’re embarrassed, you get clumsy, and god, apparently you even blush now? Is it possible that this is some magic and Sans is messing with you, you wonder? You really haven’t blushed so much in your entire life as you have in the past two days. Undyne, naturally, notices.

She manages to drop her voice as she pointedly asks, “Why are you so embarrassed? Is there something wrong with dating my friend Sans? Is it, well… the skeleton thing? Do you think it’s wrong to date monsters?” She sounds like she’s teasing, still, but you can hear the sincerity of the question underneath her wicked tone. You groan again, and scoop the last few fish out of your bucket. You can practically feel the stares of your spectators on the other side of the glass.

“Of course not!” You hiss, head ducked a little, pretending to be focused on the birds. After a moment, you clear your throat and speak a little louder. “We haven’t known each other for that long, but you know I’m not like that, right? I mean, I hope I’ve made it clear. Monsters, humans, we’re all just… people. Souls, you know? You strip away the outsides, all the fur and blood and magic and whatever, and we’re the same. We all just want to be loved for who we are. I might be a mess who panics at the idea of being in a relationship, but it’s not because I think anything’s wrong about monsters and humans dating. God, the more love in this world, the better. This place could certainly use it.” Undyne’s expression goes awfully soft at the earnestness in your voice.

“Aw. Aw man. Okay, you big mushy weirdo. No more teasing about the bonehead.” She says, shoving your shoulder. You nearly topple off your rock, but you smile up at her all the same. “For at least… three hours.” She adds quickly, her grin growing. You roll your eyes and hop up, grabbing two empty buckets while she gets the rest, managing this whole time not to look back up at the gallery where the monsters and humans are watching you from. You’re relieved when you’re back in the tunnels that connect the different habitats, where no more interested eyes can follow you.

***********

Sans doesn’t have super hearing. Sans doesn’t need super hearing. He has something better. He has Frisk.

“hey kiddo.” he mutters, watching you and Undyne feed your small, hungry responsibilities. Papyrus is distracted by all the little birds, not to mention the sight of Undyne working so … energetically. Alphys is distracted by that too, though the childlike delight in Papyrus’ expression isn’t mirrored on the small dinosaur’s face - Sans can tell she’s having sinful thoughts. Good for her, he thinks, and looks back at Frisk.

“can you do me a little favor?” Frisk grins up at him, and holds both palms up, see sawing them. Sans chuckles. “maybe?” he drawls. “c’mon kid, throw me a bone. yeah, yeah, I know, that’s an old one.” He cuts off Frisk’s predictable complaint. Seeing the penguins splashing in their artificial antarctic sea, he tries again. “can you tell me… water they saying?” Frisk smiles. That was a new one.

Leaning so close to the glass that their forehead touches it, Frisk watches your lips move closely, signing along rapidly. Sans translates the signs in his head, lagging behind the conversation just enough that he can’t match up your expression with what you’re saying. By the time he’s pieced together your big defense of human monster relations, you’re already out of sight. Goddamn it, he thinks, leaning forwards so his skull also rests against the cool glass. You aren’t just funny, or cute, you're sweet too. People like you don’t last long in this world, he muses, feeling just a little bit of worry twisting below his ribs. But still. Underneath all the blood and fur and magic, he supposes you're right. You're more or less the same. Just two skeletons trying to make the new world a little better. He glances down when he feels a tug on the sleeve of his parka. Frisk is beaming up at him.

“hey, what’s so funny, kid?” Sans drawls. Frisk hops up and down twice, before calming down enough to sign

*icy you like her!*

Not even Frisk could dodge the ensuing noogie.

Chapter Text

After feeding time, you and Undyne are officially free agents until it’s dinner time for the penguins. When Undyne knows a little more about all the exhibits, you’ll start to split up and wander around in the public areas, answering questions, but for now, you’re still showing her how to take care of all the different animals, in case she’s needed in a pinch, and explaining things to her so that she actually can answer some visitors’ questions. There’s still a lot to catch up on. In the old days underground, Undyne has explained, unintelligent beasts were fairly rare - the monsters that looked like animals were, well, still monsters, like Lesser Dog. Even the spiders were intelligent entrepreneurs. The thought makes you shudder slightly. As much as you’ve kept an open mind to monsters since the day the barrier fell - god, it was just over a year ago now! - spiders unnerve you. Well, as long as they didn’t set up shop in your house, they were probably okay.

Was that a spider entrepreneur joke you’d just thought of? You’d have to tell Sans. Or, you quickly amend, any other lover of fantastic jokes.

Undyne’s not paying as much attention as usual as you go through the rounds, too excited about the prospect seeing everyone on your lunch break.That’s understandable though, she’s been so focused and enthusiastic these past two weeks that you can’t help but feel she deserves a little slack. You decide she should get a treat for learning so much already … and, yeah, for dropping the teasing for three hours. Over the last two weeks, you’ve already showed her the tropical tank, the tidal tank, the stingray exhibit, the local creatures section, and of course, all the big guys you might be responsible for feeding - the sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions and the belugas, who got fed by other employees in much the same way you cared for the penguins.

Undyne didn’t know much about marine biology, of course, but she could do something terribly useful. She could just intuit how the aquatic creatures were feeling, if they were sick or hungry or scared. Since the penguins weren’t the most emotionally available little guys - and the fish even less so - this had already turned out to be a lifesaver. Even if the aquarium had hired her just for people to gawk at (please, don’t make that be the case), they were going to make their money back on her, you just knew it.

“C’mon. Let’s go learn something new.” You urge. “You haven’t seen the Jungles of the Amazon room yet, right?” Undyne shakes her head quickly, her sudden eagerness reminding you of her friend Papyrus’ enthusiasm. You grin. She’s going to like this. Guiding her through the ‘disney tunnels’ (another reference you hadn’t managed to explain properly to her yet), you pushed a door open, very carefully, to the heat and humidity of an artificial jungle.

“Oh, gross, too hot!” She complained. You snickered.

“Come on, you big wimp. You can’t hide in a cold cave with the penguins forever. Come on, I want you to see these guys. Watch your head, though, there’s-”

“AH!” Undyne leaps backwards, startled by a scarlet macaw swooping overhead. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there’s a glowing spear clutched in her hand, and she’s crouched defensively. You freeze still, and then glance around quickly. Thank god, you’re out of eyesight of any visitors. You can just see the headline now: Fish Monster Threatens Innocent Children - Is Your Family Next?

“Hey. Hey.” You whisper. “You’re okay. Just a bird. Like our penguins, just… in the air, you know? And, uh, redder. They’re allowed to fly around free in here.” You say, soft and soothing. Undyne holds her defensive pose for another excruciatingly long second, then suddenly the spear vanishes.

“I know what birds are. Obviously, nerd. I was just startled.” She grumbles self consciously. You swallow roughly. You don’t want to know what’s happened to her to leave her so on edge. Well, you do want to know. It’s just upsetting to think about the fact that she’s been hurt before.

“Well, bud, I’m glad to see that you’ll be able to keep me safe if they ever go all Hitchcock on us.” Undyne snorts a laugh out at that, and relaxes. You rack your brains to try to figure out how she doesn’t know what shots are, but she does know about Alfred Hitchcock, then mentally shrug. You know that the monsters you’ve met so far all seem heavily invested in VHS tapes, so there’s really no making sense of how they consume media. “Hey. You good to keep going?” You check, after another long moment. Undyne nods.

“I’m ready. Just waiting for you, loser.” You’ve never heard as much affection in the words ‘nerd’ and ‘loser’ as when Undyne says them.

“Awesome. C’mon, I want to show you something really cool!” You drag her over to the source of the sound of trickling water that echoes through the jungle room. A deep pool has been installed under artificial tree roots, with a thick sheet of plate glass forming a retaining wall so guests can see the fish inside. Undyne walks over, her brow furrowing as she stares at the fish. For right now, you don’t tell her anything, just let her gather what she can about them using… whatever magic it is that she uses.

***********

“THEY’RE CALLED PIRANHAS!”

The hours until your lunch break had slid away. You’d texted your boss, asking if Undyne could take an hour instead of your normal half, since it was a relaxed day and she’d been doing awesome. Your boss had answered quickly - you both could have an hour long break, not to worry, and she’d just call if there were any fires that needed putting out. So now you were in the entrance hall, near the ticket takers and the giant jellyfish display, listening to Undyne gush about her discoveries. You’d only just gotten the chance to introduce yourself to Papyrus and Frisk when Undyne had launched into her tirade.

“Th-that’s neat, sweetheart.” Alphys says, with significantly less excitement. It’s not that she’s not excited, just that nobody could be as excited as Undyne right now. Frisk has to hop up to catch Undyne’s attention. They begin to sign quickly.

“frisk is saying that they think sharks are way cooler than piranhas.” You nearly jump out of your skin. Sans has managed to sidle up behind you without you noticing. He’s the perfect height to murmur into your ear. You’re about to scold him, but you’re also thankful that he seems willing to translate. God, you wish you remembered more signs than just the dirty ones! That had been hilarious to learn when you were younger, but now, well, you couldn’t tell a kid to go off and fuck a tree.

“Thanks.” You say, practically drowned out by Undyne’s dissent.

“NO, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! THEY’RE WAY SMALLER THAN SHARKS, BUT THEY’RE SO TOUGH!”

“super cool, pal.”

“NO SANS, YOU DON’T GET IT! ______ SAYS THEY CAN EAT A COW IN LIKE ONE SECOND!” You clear your throat.

“That’s not exactly what I said.” You point out.

“WELL I, FOR ONE, ALSO THINK THAT IT’S WONDERFUL, UNDYNE! I WOULD BE THANKFUL FOR THE CHANCE TO MEET YOUR FISH FRIENDS AFTER WE EAT! MAYBE YOU COULD GUIDE US AND TEACH US ABOUT THE WONDERS OF THESE CREATURES?” Well, Papyrus’ enthusiasm puts even Undyne’s delighted excitement to shame. Undyne looks at you with big, puppydog eyes. Papyrus, quickly figuring out that you’re the person who can make this happen, does the same. Those are actual stars dancing in his eye sockets. You consider it. You don’t need to feed the penguins again for another few hours, and your embarrassing walkie-talkie has been basically silent all day, so all you’re supposed to be doing is to continue training Undyne until you hear otherwise. She does need to learn about the subtleties of being a guide, you suppose.

“Sure, dude. It’s good practice, anyway, you’re gonna have to show guests around eventually. But come on, we’ve only got forty-five minutes already, we’d better eat. Did you guys bring food?” You look up at the small cluster of monsters - and Frisk - hanging out in the aquarium entrance. Since it’s break time, you and Undyne have pulled jackets over your blue shirts, and are no longer distinguishable as employees, just as people who have terrible taste in shoes and pants.

“nah. we’re taking you out.” Sans says. You glance over at him. “don’t worry, it’s like a block away. an old buddy owns it. grillby’s. great burgers. he does human food now too i guess. we all love it.” Suddenly, you feel awkward. Just because you usually had lunch with Undyne these days didn’t mean that you could just crash this group’s good time. After all, well, they clearly all went way back, and you were just… you’d just plopped in there.

“You know, there’s probably some paperwork I could catch up on.” You mumble. “Maybe you should go, Undyne, have a good time and I’ll make sure that both our care logs are in good shape?”

“What?!” Undyne looks at you, perplexed and a little hurt. “Don’t be such a dweeb!”

“PLEASE, DO COME, HUMAN. UNDYNE HAS TOLD ME ABOUT SO MANY OF YOUR GREAT FEATS WITH THE FANCY BIRDS! AND THEN MY BROTHER TOLD ME ALL ABOUT THE KIND HUMAN HE MET AT THE DOG REPAIR STORE! I’VE BEEN SO EXCITED TO MEET YOU!” Papyrus begs. Frisk nods quickly, clinging to Papyrus’ leg.

“I just don’t want to crash your party.” You say quietly, feeling guilty that you’d upset Undyne now.

“hey.” something cool and hard slides around your wrist. You look around to see white phalanges encircling your forearm, tugging your hand away from the keychain you’d been reaching for. “we all want you there. promise. this isn’t a monsters only reunion. look, the kiddo’s psyched to have another human around.” Sans says calmly. Frisk beams, clinging to Papyrus’ femur and nodding. “besides, i owe you a big one. you really tried to stick your neck out for me and the dog. least i could do is get you a burger.”

“You didn’t even let me do anything!” You argue, but you can’t keep the smile off your face.

“yeah, but you did something anyway.” Sans says quietly. You recall the texts from last night, that he knows you told the receptionist that you were considering jumping his bones, and you feel that dreaded, new sensation of burning cheeks.

“SANS, WHY IS THE HUMAN CHANGING COLORS? YOU AREN’T DOING MAGIC, ARE YOU BROTHER?” Papyrus is as innocent as a newborn kitten (not your kitten, maybe, but one that didn’t take offense at all your blood being inside your body). Undyne, who is cackling like a madwoman, is less so. Alphys has to save you in the end.

“L-let’s go, guys. Leave, uh, leave poor ________ alone, Papyrus.” She says, holding the door open.

“I AM NOT BOTHERING HER! I AM SIMPLY CONCERNED FOR HER HEALTH!” Papyrus insists, striding out the door and carrying the clinging Frisk with him. Undyne smirks at you for a long second, then follows them. It’s just you and Sans in the lobby now. He’s still holding onto your wrist.

“seriously, don’t make me grill you on this one anymore. come get a bite.” He says firmly. You finally smile and acquiesce.

“Fine. Let’s get going then, I still want to show, well, help Undyne show you guys around, so we gotta be on time!” You say brightly. Sans beams up at you, and finally lets your wrist go. It’s funny, you think. Sans was incredibly gentle with your arm, but you somehow got the sense that if he really wanted to hold on, nothing could have pried those bones off you.

You kind of like that.

Yikes.

Chapter Text

Grillby’s really wasn’t far away, thank god. You wondered how you’d never been there, since you figured you’d had takeout from just about every restaurant within walking radius of the small aquarium. When you got closer, though, you realized you recognized the place; you’d just never gone in, too intimidated by the giant bouncer who always seemed to be hanging outside the door. He was a human, but at first glance he could easily be mistaken for some sort of minotaur monster - the guy was, to put it lightly, swole.

He smiles like an angel when he sees your group approach.

“Sansy! Buddy! Where you been, man?” He asks. “Oh, man, Paps and Undy too!”

“I told you not to call me that.” Undyne says icily, then grins, shoving the guy’s shoulder. He stumbles two steps, then looks askew at Undyne.

“Girl, you gotta stop doing that, I’m gonna get fired if bossman sees that shit! Oh, uh, sorry kid.” He says, finally noticing Frisk, who’s hitched a ride on Papyrus’ leg the entire way like some sort of sloth. “Seriously, Sans, where’d you go, man? Not like you to disappear for a month.”

“been busy.” Sans says lightly. “don’t worry, i actually paid my tab this time.”

“Fat chance. Go on in.” The bouncer chuckles, holding the door open. You smile politely at him as you enter the pub, and feel him sizing you up. Ugh, you hate that. You also want to tell him that, no, these bird poop stained pants are not your normal going out clothes. You don’t say it, but you consider it pretty damn seriously.

Inside, it’s warm, and dim, and smells amazing, like a campfire and pine needles and good food all at once. It’s been decorated for christmas, with sprigs of holly hanging from the wooden sidings of the booths, and garlands of balsam decorated with ornaments and christmas lights lining the trim on the wall. It doesn’t look like a dive bar that requires a bouncer. It looks like a place that people would grab a drink or two after work. You don’t feel bad at all, bringing Frisk in here - outside, you’d been a little nervous. In fact, the whole thing seems oddly discordant.

“Does this place get enough trouble to need that guy?” You ask Sans. You keep noticing that you’ve fallen into step next to him. You’re not sure if it’s because he’s deliberately walking next to you, or if you’re just being awkward. Knowing you, probably the latter.

Sans’ answer is interrupted by a wild whoop. As you pick your way through the space between tables at the rear of the group, Undyne has spotted mistletoe hanging from the ceiling above her. She doesn’t hesitate to scoop up Alphys, lifting her by the elbows to plant an ostentatious kiss on the dinosaur’s mouth. Alphys is sweating slightly by the time that she’s put down, but she looks pleased. You eye the mistletoe suspiciously, and sidle carefully around it, unwilling to give Undyne the satisfaction of teasing you - you can tell she’s watching you from the corner of her eye now. Sans watches you with a wry expression, then does the same. Better safe than sorry, you tell yourself.

“the bouncer. he’s more of a… deterrent.” Sans explains after a moment. “a few months ago, before he started working here, things weren’t so great. some humans weren’t too cool with a monster owning property up topside. thought we should just stay underground where we were… comfortable.” He’s still smiling, but you can tell the difference already between a real smile, the look he gives Frisk and Papyrus (and at least once, you), and the one that seems like if he wasn’t smiling, he’d be snarling or sobbing or scowling or… something decidedly unhappy that started with an ‘s’.

“Oh, god. What happened?” You whisper.

“some… jokers came in one night. with fire extinguishers and buckets.” Sans whispers tightly. You look blankly at him, and he nods pointedly behind the bar. Grillby is standing there, crackling there, swaying slightly, lighting the place up. You’ve never seen a fire elemental before. For a split second, you’re entranced. How much beauty had been spilled onto the surface the day the barrier came down? He had a pair of glasses balanced on nothing, assisting the vision of eyes that weren’t there. God, how could you not love monsters? How could you possibly see something like this being of pure energy, radiating power, who was doing nothing more menacing than wiping the bottom of a pint glass with a rag, and not be filled with wonder?

Then Sans’ words register.

“Oh no.” You breathe. “Oh god. Sans, they didn’t…”

“they tried.” Sans says shortly. “grillbz is a lot faster than you’d think. he only got hit on the hand, and then he took the fire escape. pretty literal, huh?” He gives you a wry look. Your mouth is hanging open. “… at least he wasn’t facing them alone. i made sure the assholes cleared out of there. made sure they wouldn’t try again. no police records, no problems.”

“How many of them were there?” You’ve fallen behind the group a few steps, as they bicker about if they want a big table or to squish into a booth.

“ten or so. maybe twelve.” Sans says, watching your face. You bite your lip.

“And how many monsters were there to help you guys out?” You say. Sans hesitates.

“... just me.” He mutters.

********************************

He’s ready for you to jerk back, to instinctively pull away. He’s already braced for that fear to cross your face. Apart from the kid, his interactions with humans have mostly been disappointing. Oh, sure, they act cool. If you’re young and open minded, there’s nothing cooler than supporting monsters. It’s kind of a trend, he figures.

But then something happens to remind them that you can’t just scrape all that skin and fur and blood and magic away and be left with two identical skeletons. That speech you’d given Undyne was sweet, but you had to be awfully naive to even say it. You scrape that shit away, and you die. Even him, he’s just bones and magic and god does he feel it some days, does he ever fucking wish that there was something more substantial to hold him together, to keep him in one place. He feels like Gaster sometimes, like he’s falling apart, drifting into these clouds that nobody can see, nobody wants to see.

He wonders if that makes his old man proud.

No human wants to think about the fact that they’re always at a disadvantage when they’re dealing with a monster. They don’t want to think that a pile of bones like Sans could render fifteen (yes, he knows the number, it was fifteen!) murderous humans so thoroughly broken down that they couldn’t even try to make up a story and call the cops on him; who would believe that one short monster in a parka and pink slippers could just dunk the shit out of fifteen grown men?

When he first got to the surface, he’d taken Papyrus to the boardwalk. Those were the early days, when people were still too mystified by the monsters to be really ready to hate them. Nobody had bothered them, more than pestering them for pictures and autographs. He’d taken his little brother on all the rides there just hadn’t been room for underground. They’d gone to the top of the ferris wheel and been so high up that he’d been able to see the horizon stretch, uninterrupted ocean, in his entire field of view. The world had seemed so big! Papyrus hadn’t looked at the horizon. His eyes were full of light as he admired the roller coaster. Of course they had to ride it. Papyrus had been thrilled, his grin nearly manic, as they inched up the hill, the anticipation whirring under Sans’ ribs. And then the freefall, the turns, the speed, the wind, the rush! Papyrus had been laughing like Sans had never heard him laugh. Then - bam. They’d reached the end, hit the brakes, lurched forward hard enough that they both banged their sternums on the restraints. Papyrus wasn’t laughing anymore. He looked near tears. The recoil had been too much, too sudden. “i guess you gotta know that’s coming, bud.” Sans had told him quickly. “next time we’ll be ready, huh?”

That was the thing about anticipation. That was the thing about letting yourself feel that rush of giddy joy. It ended, and it sucked. Sans has been on this ride one too many times in the past year. He watches your face. You’re going to jerk away, say something sharp and cold, intangible but real as a knife. Monsters were in horror films up here. You’re going to be horrified.

He braces himself for the recoil.

**********************************

“Oh man, Sans, I’m so glad you were there!” You exclaim. “God, they didn’t hurt you, did they? Or the bar? If they hurt you, I swear to god, I’ll… I mean, I don’t know, but I’ll do something bad! I’ll put penguin poop on their doorsteps or something!” You say vehemently, then shake your head. “I’m so sorry. I mean it. God, what you must think of us. You finally get out of the underground and this is how we greet you?!” You feel such guilt and shame on behalf of your species that you don’t even notice the look of disbelief on his face.

Then, suddenly, bony arms wrap tight around you, hugging you hard. You gaze down on the white skull, your breath catching. Your arms are pinned to your sides, you can’t even hug him back or find the words to apologize again or…

“Called it. Totally called it.” Undyne’s deadpan seems to bring him back to his senses, and he quickly detaches. “You lovenerds gonna join us, or should we just go ahead without you?” She asks sweetly, showing every pointy tooth in her smile.

“Undyneee,” you begin to whine, since you’re sure your three hours are not quite up, but Sans cuts you off.

“lovenerds?” He repeats. Undyne nods eagerly, still smiling hugely. “that’s… damn, that's hilarious.” He says, sounding resigned. “c’mon. let’s sit down before they all join in.” He narrows his eyesockets at Undyne (yes, it looks weird). “i’m the only one who’s supposed to be punishing you guys.” Undyne groans. Papyrus, who has begun to listen in, lets out a shriek of despair. Frisk giggles. Alphys ducks her head. You divert every molecule of determination in your body towards not blushing, and smile at Sans. As you brush by him, the two of you taking the remaining free seats at the end of the table, you have to strain to hear a single whispered word.

“thanks.”

Chapter Text

Snuggled into bed that night, you can’t believe that you’re still smiling. God, you are such a dork, but you just can not get that smile off your face. The afternoon had just been… amazing. Unreal. You couldn’t remember the last time you’d laughed that hard, or felt so entirely welcomed. It was like you had spoken some secret codeword or something that everyone had been waiting to hear. It was like they’d all been waiting for you. Scratching under Ghost’s chin, you allow yourself to play a short highlight reel in your head, still smiling.

Lunch had been just… oh, god, your ribs ached from laughing. The food had been wonderful. When you got stuck, trying to decide if you wanted a burger, hot dog, a salad or a big order of fries, Sans had leaned in. “get the burger special, frisk style.” He’d suggested. “it’s, uh, fusion cuisine.”

“Fusion cuisine?” You’d repeated, trying to figure out what he meant. “I don’t get it.”

“mostly human food, but there’s a little bit of magic in there too. kiddo loves it.” Frisk, who had been listening, nodded happily. Wait a second, listening? You’d gathered that Frisk signed because they were born without hearing, but Sans’ mouth just didn’t move the same way as yours did, and he didn’t sign, so how was Frisk responding? You resolved to ask someone later, then looked back at Sans. “sorry, guess my joke wasn’t that clear.” He said with a chuckle.

“Well, a good burger joke is a rare medium well done.” You said innocently. The table exploded with laughter, well, except for Papyrus, who was yelling that it wasn’t fair for both of you to make bad puns. And, yeah, except for Sans too. He stared at you like he’d never seen anything quite like you. Very slowly, an incredulous, delighted look crossed his face. Oh, you had certainly earned a real smile this time. Everyone noticed in stages, though all of Grillby’s had to notice when Papyrus yelled,

“DEAR HUMAN, I APOLOGIZE! YOU HAVE MANAGED TO SILENCE MY BROTHER. PLEASE DO COME OUT WITH US MORE OFTEN, I WOULD ENJOY MORE PEACE AND QUIET!”

“R-really, Papyrus?” Alphys had to laugh, since Papyrus only had two volume options (loud and off), but when Papyrus’ skull swiveled to glare at her, she shrank down into her lab coat. “Uh…. I mean-”

“Hey! Nobody bullies my baby!” Undyne declared, hugging Alphys to her side and flexing menacingly with her free arm. Papyrus gulped and began to apologize profusely as Frisk sat back and enjoyed the chaos, a mischievous smile on their face.

“you should, though.” The voice was quiet enough to just reach your ears. “come out with uh… us, more often.” Sans had a blue tint across both cheeks. Good! At least someone else seemed to be suffering the same blushing fiasco you were. And it was… okay, yeah, you could admit it to yourself, it was cute as all hell. You’d smiled brightly at the short skeleton.

“Honestly? I’d love that, if you really don’t mind me hanging around.” You’d admitted. “You guys are all just… awesome.”

“well, right back atcha - oh, hey grillbz!” Sans’ volume had increased several degrees in magnitude as the proprietor came over to grab your orders.

All too soon, you were slumped back in your seat, stuffed and feeling wonderful. Sans hadn’t been lying. It had been the best burger you’d ever, ever eaten. “How did it taste so good?” You’d began, grinning at Frisk and gesturing to the empty plate in front of you. Frisk clapped, and nodded at their own empty plate, then gave you a quick sign.
“magic.” Sans supplied with a smirk.

------------------------

The rest of the afternoon had been a blur of laughing and half-hearted attempts to show Undyne the ropes. Your new friends had been only too willing to look at the animals they’d already looked at again, this time peppering you with all the questions they’d been wondering about the first time. Frisk had known a little more than the monsters, of course, but the kid also liked to make up facts and see if they could get the monsters to believe them, so you’d had to correct a few misapprehensions. No, the sharks could not shoot lasers (Papyrus had a tantrum at this). Yes, the cuttlefish could change colors. No, that wasn’t because of magic, Frisk.

If it had been anyone else, you would have said that Sans was showing off. He was all smiles - he had been since the restaurant, where he’d put away a whole bottle of ketchup, making eye contact with you frequently as if he was hoping you’d make a comment. You’d decided not to play into his hand that easily, and had simply given him a lazy smile in return, as if you saw skeletons drinking bottles of ketchup every day. But that had only spurred him on. For every animal you’d showed them, he’d had a flurry of puns to unleash - though you’d had twice as many ready to retort with. Hey, you’d worked at the aquarium for a while, and until Undyne had showed up, the animals had (sadly) been your closest companions at work. You’d had plenty of time to think up every possible joke. As usual, though, Sans seemed less put out than absolutely thrilled that you were sometimes able to beat him at his own game. In fact, you were sure he was setting you up for your jokes a few times, since he laughed harder than usual when you completed the obvious pun.

You’d never been so reluctant to leave a tour group before. But suddenly, it was already practically closing time, and you and Undyne had real work to do. Those fish wouldn't throw themselves. You bid a reluctant farewell to Alphys, Papyrus, Frisk and Sans - though not before Papyrus had urgently typed your phone number into his and Frisk’s phone (“trust me, it’s better this way, he’ll figure it out anyway,” Sans had advised).

Before you two had to peel off, plans to meet up again were brewing already; Alphys wanted to watch anime but they’d already gone through the library’s supply of VHS tapes, so she’d shyly asked you if you could explain how all the people on the computer were watching these shows. After several confusing minutes, you’d figured out that the monster internet and the human internet were two very different things; the monster one could store actual physical objects! No wonder they’d never weaned themselves off VHS tapes.

Eventually, after a good deal of silent thought on the pros and cons, you’d just told her that she and anyone else was welcome to come over and watch whatever on Netflix. It wasn’t like you didn’t have the space, right? Or the giant TV?

They’d all been staggeringly enthusiastic about it, enough that you felt pretty damn certain that they weren’t just being nice to you because you were Undyne’s weird coworker who had once pestered Sans in a waiting room. Papyrus had promised to bring food, which prompted a pleased look from Undyne, and a mildly panicked look from Alphys. Sans had merely grinned at you, his hands in his pockets. “i’ll bring some snacks too, pal, no worries.” He’d insisted, giving Papyrus a fond look when Papyrus began to argue that that wouldn’t be necessary because he’d make enough pasta for everybody. “just in case anyone wants something that’s not spaghetti, bro.”

“HOW COULD THAT BE POSSIBLE!” Papyrus’ horror was genuine, and you had just barely managed not to laugh.

“So, awesome, we’ll all crash _________’s house tomorrow.” Undyne said, looking remarkably pleased. After some quick signs from Frisk, she sighed and added, “Except for the squirt who’s going to stay home and eat pie with their mommy like a baby!” Her attempt to rile Frisk up failed entirely. Frisk simply nodded contentedly, looking so sweetly at her that she eventually had to sigh and ruffle Frisk’s hair. “You’re too cute, kid.” She’d muttered. You agreed.

--------------------

Lying in bed, the highlights reel begins to flicker and warp as you think about this part. This had definitely not been your favorite part. They were actually coming here. You hadn’t had anyone here in… not since the monsters left the underground, at the very least.

Maybe this was all a bad idea, maybe you shouldn’t have stuck your neck out like this, you don’t want this to happen all over again. It’s been such a short amount of time but you can’t stand the thought of losing them, him, like that. Oh, god, they would just form assumptions, they’d think you had so much, that you were just coasting by, being selfish, they’d think so little of you and then they’d leave and they’d leave another damn hole in your heart. That was the thing. You’d done this before. You’d told this story a few times, how you ended up on your own in a place that was too big, with a cat that was too old and rooms that were too empty and had too many memories. Nobody wanted to be around after that. They either wanted money you didn’t have and they left when they saw you weren’t lying about that, or they just faded away, not liking to think about what you’d been through.

You scraped away all the fur and skin and blood and magic, and people and monsters, you figured, they were the same. They didn’t feel comfortable when they had to acknowledge loss or sadness or pain, and so they avoided it. They came by less, until they never came by at all. You had to brace yourself, get ready for that, because you knew it was coming. You’d let yourself get attached already, you’d spent a golden afternoon feeling like you were fine and had friends, the sincerest people you’d ever met. Now, it was time to get ready for them to slip away.

After all, monster history said humans were horrible. He was going to be horrified.

-----------------------------

-hey pal. just wanted to thank you for showing us all around today-

You gathered your optimism back up into a little ball and smiled at the text. He was awfully sweet.

-I had so much fun! I should be thanking you for getting my lunch, too!-

-told ya, least i could do. think i owe you again, anyway. paps and the kiddo couldn’t shut up about having the best day ever the whole way home-

Aw, that’s awesome. And, well, cute. Sans considered it a personal favor that you'd showed Papyrus and Frisk a good time. You found it pretty damn endearing, the way he seemed to watch out for the people he loved.

-It’s a great place, isn’t it?-

-it’s got great people working there-

Oh man, you are smiling like a lovesick schoolgirl. C’mon, dial it back some, _______. You work with penguins, for fuck’s sake, you should understand how to play it cool! Cool was your whole deal!

You were making penguin jokes in your head now. This is how it all ends. You grit your teeth and pick up your phone again.

-Especially now that Undyne’s started!-

There. Totally chill.

-hard to tell where the greatness is coming from. tell ya what, how about sometime soon i take you out somewhere and we can see if you’re great solo?-

EEEEE. Okay. Got that out of your system, right? Maybe just a little more. EEEEEEEEEE.
Ghost is staring at you like you have three heads. You try to wait a few minutes before you respond, but barely make it to two before you send a response.

-Sounds great!-

-great-

-Great.-

-great-

-Goodnight, Sans.-

-great.-

Chapter Text

You love your days off so much. It isn’t that you hate work; you're totally aware that you have one of the best jobs of all time. Penguins just get hungry so early in the morning! It just isn’t fair that their internal clocks have them up with the sunrise, while you regularly stay up past midnight, messing around on your computer or watching endless episodes of cooking competitions and serialized programs where hot young people fought demons (or vampires or whatever). Hey, you can watch garbage if you want! Who's going to call you out on it, Ghost?

(Actually, Ghost seems pretty partial to Masterchef Junior).

Anyways, days off mean that instead of getting out of bed at the asscrack of dawn, you could snuggle into your down comforter, mashing the snooze button for the alarm you’d helpfully set for yourself last night every ten minutes. When you finally open your eyes, it's because Ghost absolutely refuses to wait to get fed a second longer. He expresses that by lovingly pressing a paw on your mouth.

“Pluh! GHOST!” You sit straight up. “You butt, you dig in the litterbox with that paw!” Ghost hops off the bed and twines around your ankles energetically as you make your way to the kitchen. Looking around on your way, you grimace. You're going to have guests tonight. You’ve gotten a little too comfortable, just being on your own, clearly. There's clutter everywhere. Every single one of Ghost’s toys is out again - he keeps getting in the basket you store them in. Ugh, and every possible surface has your books on them, mugs with dried teabags clinging pathetically to the side, piles of laundry you’d halfheartedly started to fold and then promised yourself you’d finish tomorrow…

Maybe it would just be easier to move the TV to one of the rooms you never used.

Rubbing the sleepy feeling out of your eyes, you open a can of food for Ghost and carefully spoon half out into his bowl, then look longingly at the coffee maker. Yes. Lots of that. You need fuel for your cleaning marathon. You start scooping twice as much as usual into a filter, when you hear it.

“__________!”

For a second, your heart migrates into your esophagus. Nobody’s supposed to be in here! Is that a burglar? Or a murderer? Or those two guys from Home Alone, who might be both?

“__________!?” Oh. You know that voice. Your panic slowly fades. Not the Home Alone guys, then.

“Undyne, what the hell?!” You call out. Ghost stops eating and blinks at you, bewildered. He’s not used to hearing other voices.

“_________, where the heck are you? Jeez, you didn’t tell me that you lived in a freaking mansion!” Undyne yells. You cast one last longing look at the coffee grounds sitting in the filter, then set off to find her. She’s standing in the entry hall, looking awestruck.

“Uh, hey. I didn’t… expect you until tonight?” You say, realizing that you’re still in your pajamas. Undyne looks around with wide eyes.

“This place is like, bigger and fancier than the old royal palace.” She says, sounding a little confused. “I know what you get paid. Explain?” You scuff your foot awkwardly on the hardwood.

“Uh, yeah. My mom and dad left it to me when they died.” You say quietly. “It’s not a big deal, honestly. I keep thinking I should just sell it.” Undyne stares at you, at a total loss.

“Are you a princess or something?” She asks, her brow furrowed. You have to laugh at that.

“No, c’mon, we don’t really have those anymore. I mean, we do, but they’re mostly for show… you know what, I’ll explain that later. Nah, my parents were scientists.” Undyne lets out a low whistle.

“They must have been pretty good scientists.” She murmurs.

“Uh… ha, yeah, I guess they were. So, um, what’s up?” Undyne’s eyes light up suddenly.

“Right, you jerk, I texted you like a hundred thousand times and you didn’t even answer! You scared me!”

“Oh, ha, I think I left my phone under my pillow. Sorry, I sleep through like everything!” You apologize quickly. “You didn’t need to be scared though!” She glares bloody murder at you.

“Do you always keep your front door to this giant place unlocked? Do you even have a security system? Do you need a guard dog? I know a bunch, they’ll work for dog food, I bet they could move in today?’ Undyne says accusingly, the topic shifting so fast you can barely keep track.

“Woah, woah. Relax, I’ve never had any trouble. What’s up, Undyne?” You urge. She glances away from you for a long moment, then sighs and looks back.

“One of us should have made sure you got home safe last night.” She says softly. “The news this morning…”

“Bad?” You mutter, feeling small in your pajamas in this giant stupid hall.

“They beat up a kid!” She spits suddenly. “A human kid this time, just because she was playing with some monsters her own age! That little girl’s in the hospital, and we left you all alone after everyone saw us hanging out yesterday!” Oh. Oh no.

“Is she okay?!” You ask, horrified. Undyne glares. It’s just like you to be worrying about that.

“She’ll live.” She whispers. “So, like, will you lock your doors, please?” You nod briskly, take a deep breath, then jerk your head at the hallway you’d entered from.

“Want some coffee?”

-----------------------------

You show Undyne to the kitchen. She marvels the whole way, slowly calming down as she follows you through the house.

“So, what, are you like, super rich?” You have to scoff at that.

“I wish. Nah. My parents’ will set up a trust that would pay for the maintenance on this place, and the rest was supposed to go to my legal guardian to take care of me.”

Undyne squints at you. “So, what happened?” You stare at the hardwood again.

“She, uh, was not a great guardian.” You mutter. “Some people don’t know what to do when they’re given that much responsibility, I guess.” Ugh, that look in her eyes. It’s pity. You slap on a smile. “Anyway, now it’s just me and Ghosty in the party mansion!” You say with false enthusiasm. She rolls her eyes at that, and is about to say something kind, you’re sure, which you’re totally not ready for this early in the morning. Nodding at the coffee maker, you say, “Hey, do you know how to make coffee? I’d better grab my phone and make sure that nobody else starts panicking.” Undyne looks at the complicated device dubiously - your parents had always needed the latest gadgets, but all that technology was more than a decade old now - and nods. You scamper off through the halls to your bedroom, and grab your phone from under the covers.

Seeing all the missed messages and calls, you groan. You quickly sort through Undyne’s, then open Sans’ with trepidation. They start very early this morning.

-hey pal, just a warning, undyne’s on the warpath right now, maybe give her a call-

-bud? you up yet?-

-heh, hate to be a pain, we’re all just getting a little worried-

*missed call*

-okay. you’re probably asleep still. i’m really sorry. i know we just talked last night, i’m sure you’re fine-

*missed call*

-i know. overkill. the news this morning just has me freaked out-

-is she there yet?-

-c’mon, bud, throw me a bone here-

-it’s been a half hour, she has to be there by now-

-fuck it. i’m coming over.-

That last one arrived while you were still sorting through the rest. You nearly throw the phone across the bed in surprise, then look around in panic at your messy house, your pajamas, your mad scientist hair, your total lack of a bra. Quickly, you snatch it back up.

-HEY! HEY NO I’M FINE! JUST SLEPT IN! NOT GREAT AT CHECKING MY PHONE!-

-SO SO SO SORRY, SANS! UNDYNE’S HERE NOW!-

There’s a long moment where you stare at the phone, then it lights up again.

-thank god-

-i’m so sorry. didn’t mean to lose my chill. guess i’m pretty nosy for a dude without a nose, too- Oh, no, he thinks you’re mad at him.

-No! No, it was sweet of you guys to think of me. Especially with such awful news. Undyne’s reading me the riot act for not living in, like, a panic room.- You send quickly.

-well, we all kinda like you, you know?- You can practically hear the relieved laugh in the text.

-sorry again for being such a pest.-

-i’ll bug you later tonight-

You grin at the phone, then glance up as Undyne walks in your room, balancing two coffees and some cookies she must have found in a cabinet. You can’t imagine being mad that she’s rifled through your stuff when she brings coffee as a peace offering.
“Here, I figured you really needed this. God, this place is huge!” She plops down cross legged at the foot of the bed and waits patiently as you take a big, appreciative gulp of coffee.

“MPH! Hot!” You sputter, but it doesn’t stop you from taking another. Undyne tilts her head back and cackles, then innocently asks,

“Who were you texting?”

“Oh, Sans was worried when he didn’t hear from either of us.” You’ve got enough composure to sound casual about this, but not enough to not smile just a little. Undyne’s eyes light up as she grins.

“Seems like that bonehead really likes you.” She says, then takes a sip of coffee. “BLAUGH! Why do humans drink this stuff!”

*************************************

Sans slumps against a tree in your yard, looking up through your window and feeling extremely tired and… creepy. It had only taken you twenty seconds or so for you to tell him not to come over.

Of course, he’d been over in ten. He had a very good sense of your soul by now, so it was easy to find a shortcut through space and time between his apartment, and that bright shining point on his radar that represented you. He just had to open his eyes to pinpoint where you should be, and sure enough, there you were, on the other side of the bay window.

And you really were there. You really were fine. You were laughing uproariously with Undyne and sitting on your bed and drinking something out of a mug and probably getting cookie crumbs in your sheets.

Apart from his first steps out of the underground, it was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.

But then, he wasn’t a part of this happy scene. Undyne hadn’t dithered or put things off, she was never the procrastinator, and she’d gotten there first, and it was stupid! STUPID! that he was feeling at all jealous right now. Time to go home, Sans, before you get even creepier and try to read lips like Frisk.

His eye flashes, and he steps through a doorway into nothing.

*****************************************

Undyne figures out why humans drink coffee later, when the caffeine kicks in.

“Oh man! Oh, wow, human coffee is really really really great!”

“Really?” You grin.

“REALLY! Okay, so I think we need a gameplan, right?” You’d mentioned that you really needed to shower and clean and run some errands, and Undyne had enlisted herself immediately into these goals. “Okay, go, go, do that shower thing, I’ll pick out cute clothes for you so you look cute for your cute boyfriend so you can be cute together for the rest of your cute lives-”

“Sans isn’t my-”

“-and then I’ll get started on cleaning, and then we can go to the store together and pick out some food and drinks or whatever, and we’ll be all set up by the time Alphys and Paps and Bonehead get here!” You stare at her, agog.

“Jeez, Undyne, it’s your day off too. You don’t need to do all that stuff for me? Like, seriously, we’re not at work, you don’t have to do anything for me.” The look she gives you rivals Ghost’s most weirded out stare.

“Don’t be such a dweeb, _______! It’s what friends do! And you and me are totally gonna be besties too!” She claps her hands and dives for your closet. You watch her, raising a half hearted hand to stop her, then shrug mentally and head for the bathroom.

You’ve never had a best friend before.

Chapter Text

Undyne’s chosen outfit is, uh…

“Come on. I’m not wearing short shorts. It’s the middle of December.” You call from the other side of the bathroom door.

“Yeah, but it’s pretty warm!”

“Not shorts warm!” You say. “C’mon, find me some long pants, please.” Undyne grumbles, and the sound of her footsteps fades slightly as she heads back to the closet.

Hey, at least she let you pick out your underwear on your own.

Finally, you have something more or less wearable. You should have realized that Undyne’s idea of “cute” is a little edgier than yours… and features muscle tanks heavily. Well, once you throw your favorite loose sweater on over that, the boots and tight jeans do look pretty cute.

“Awesome. It looks like you didn’t try too hard.” Undyne says approvingly.

“Gee, thanks.” You grumble. “Okay, let’s get cracking on…” Pushing your bedroom door open, you trail off. The piles of clutter in the hallway are gone. Feeling slightly giddy, you walk down to the TV room. It’s similarly immaculate. Barely daring to believe it, you peek your head in the kitchen.
The counters gleam like you haven’t seen them gleam in years.

Undyne’s following you closely, watching you anxiously. You catch her by surprise when you grab her around the waist and squeeze her tight. “You really cleaned it all AND picked out my clothes in… twenty minutes?” You say, unable to contain your huge smile. Undyne looks down with a small smile, blushing.

“‘Course I did, punk. You know me. I get the job done!” After a second, she hugs you back, muttering, “Human coffee helps a lot too…” She hops from one foot to the other when you straighten back up, and says, “Anyway I wanted to get the lame part out of the way so we could do cooking!”

“You like to cook?” You ask, thinking of all the packages of protein bars and microwave dinners she must have seen. Hey, cooking for one was pretty annoying. Everything went bad before you got a chance to use it! And, well, yeah, maybe it was another symptom of living like a hermit.

Don’t get your hopes up, don’t assume it’s gonna change, they’re gonna leave, people always leave, this isn’t different, why would this be different, you know how to get by on your own, you’ve always gotten by on your own-

UGH. You cut off that annoying voice in the back of your head, trying to remember that optimism you’d conjured texting with Sans. They all liked you a lot, he’d said. And he’d asked you out! … He hadn’t said the word date, though. Maybe it was a friends hanging out type of event. You wished you had another person to ask about that. In movies, girls called up their moms or their best friends for insight, right? Well, your mom wouldn’t be able to help, and your best friend… you glanced out of the corner of your eyes at Undyne… yeah, you didn’t know if you could handle that much caffeinated smugness just now.

“HECK YES I LIKE TO COOK! Who do you think taught Papyrus?!” She’s saying indignantly. You consider tactfully reminding her that you haven’t seen Papyrus cook yet. Then you consider the look Sans had given you when Papyrus volunteered to cook in the first place. You decide to stay tactful.

“Well, in that case, let’s get going!” You say, nodding at the correct doorway towards the garage. “Ghosty, be good!” An angry yowl sounds from somewhere in the house; you’re going to be punished for having strangers over later. Undyne stifles a laugh, then follows you.

-------------------------------------

She has a blast, of course. She insists on having the roof to your little blue convertible down (“Paps’ gonna flip when he sees this!”) all the way to the grocery store. It’s… cold, but bracing, you have to admit, and she’s having so much fun with the dials on the radio that you don’t even mind. Shopping is a blur - Undyne tackles a trip to the grocery store the same way that she does, well, everything else. Before you know it, your cart is overflowing with snacks, fruit, fish (“for sushi!”), soda and beer.

“Does Sans really like ketchup?” You ask, raising an eyebrow in the condiment aisle. Undyne nods, smiling slyly at you.

“Ketchup, hot sauce, barbeque sauce, tartar sauce…” She says.

“Soy sauce?” You ask, thinking of the sushi.

“Most sauces.” She agrees.

“Spaghetti sauce?” You try again.

“OBVIOUSLY.” She looks a little affronted. You look down the aisle, shrug, and grab an industrial sized bottle of ketchup, and after a second’s thought, one of Tabasco as well. Undyne’s smiling annoyingly at you, so you give her your best innocent-as-Papyrus look.

“Just want to be a good host!” You chirp. She groans.

“You’re gonna have to tell me what’s up with you guys soon, you know.” She threatens. You glance away.

Don’t let her in, don’t spill, she’ll use this to hurt you when she goes, she’s going to leave, she’s going to go shesgoingtogothey’reallgonnaleave-

“He asked me out!” You blurt. Take that, stupid voice. Undyne’s exposed eye goes wide and round and delighted.

“AND?”

“... I said ‘yes?’”

-------------------------------

You have to read aloud every single text message you've exchanged on the way back; there’s no avoiding it. Undyne insists on driving so you can do it safely. She even puts the convertible top up. This is serious business. She threatens to call Alphys to celebrate how right she was three times in the span of fifteen minutes, and keeps interrupting you to screech at all the good parts. It takes you forever to get through all the ‘greats.’

It’s honestly kind of fun?

When you’re back at your house, she tears around with astonishing enthusiasm, prepping food one minute, arranging the lamps in the television room to look more inviting the next. She makes two more pots of coffee, and you do your charitable duty to drink at least half of a pot - you don’t want her to explode with energy, after all. By the time that everything looks pretty perfect, you still have about two hours or so before everyone else is set to come over. Undyne looks wildly at you.

“Where are your Christmas decorations?” She asks urgently.

“Uh, in a box in the garage?” Where they’d sat since your parents had passed, to be truthful.

“Go get ‘em! I’ll be right back!” She’s off and through the back door before you manage to ask where she’s going. You chuckle, and head to the garage, pulling down a large, dusty box from a high shelf. Eeek, it’s awkward. At least there’s light - you’d forgotten to close the garage door when Undyne pulled back in. You juggle the box on your leg for a second, trying to get your grip-

“need a hand?” You gasp, then begin to sneeze as you inhale 12 years of concentrated dust.

“BROTHER! YOU HAVE BROKEN HER! SHOULD WE TAKE HER TO THE HUMAN VET?” Papyrus appears, deftly picking up the box from your grasp, and revealing Sans. Aw, he was short enough that the box had totally obscured him. You consider teasing him about this, but you’re still a little startled and sneezy.

“No, Paps, I’m - choo! - fine!” You insist. “Could you help me get that ins-achoo! Inside, though?” Papyrus strikes a heroic pose, then dashes indoors. He’s wearing an enormous backpack, you notice, filled with god knows what. Sans stands patiently next to you waiting for your sneezes to stop. When they do, you glare at him. “You scared me, you sneaky jerk! Honestly, after all that stuff this morning about how I might get attacked in my own house, Sans.” You say reproachfully. His smile fades.

“uh, sorry. guess i didn’t think that one through.” He sounds truly apologetic, so you relent.

“Well, no big. I’m glad you guys were there, I guess. I don’t know how anyone ever moved that box up there in the first place.” You say. “You guys know you’re like two hours early though, right?” Sans gives you a puzzled look.

“undyne said you needed a few extra hands putting up christmas stuff so we should hurry over?” He says, reading your face. “guessin’ that was a surprise to you, huh?” You exhale slowly. That sneak.

“She’s had like two pots of coffee.” You explain sheepishly. Oh, and she’s determined to set you two up. “She’s on a total decorating bender. But hey, the more the merrier!” Sans’ smile grows relieved.

“you’d tell us if you wanted us to split, right?”

“I promised you that once already.” You point out. “Back at the vet. If I don’t want someone around, I let them know. Besides, I’m glad you’re here! If you don’t mind pitching in, this is gonna be fun!”

Sans smiles up at you.

“cool.” He holds the garage door open for you, then glances around. “hey, nice digs!” You brace yourself for the barrage of questions, but they don’t come. “where should we start?”

“WOWIE! SANS! HAVE YOU SEEN THIS KITCHEN?!” Papyrus comes tearing down the hall. “OH HELLO HUMAN, HAVE YOU FIXED YOUR NOSE? SANS! THE STOVE HAS EIGHT BURNERS! DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH MORE EFFICIENT MY COOKING WOULD BE? WHY DO WE NOT HAVE ONE OF THESE?!”

“heh, doubt the landlord would be open to big renovations, bud.” Sans’ face has that same closed off quality it had back at the vet's, when he was hiding his concern that the vet would turn Lesser Dog away or worse. Before you can say anything, he smiles hugely at his brother. “you wanna help decorate, or get started cooking?”

“NYEH HEH HEH! GOOD JOKE, BROTHER!” Papyrus shrieks, and charges back down the hall, his backpack clinking with the sound of glass jars hitting one another. You give Sans a quick look.

“don’t worry. he hasn’t burned anything in like two months.” Sans says casually, leading the way through your house like he’s done so a thousand times. You have to grin, nodding to take a left when he finally gets stuck. Papyrus has left the big box of decorations in the TV room (which he seems to have also found remarkably fast). “where’s undyne?” Sans asks, glancing around.

“Beats me. She just hightailed it out of here and didn’t say where she was going.” You say, opening the box. Man, this is dusty! At least it was stored somewhere cool and dry, and apparently no mice had gotten in there. Sans kneels next to you, and you begin taking things out; stockings, lights (there’s no way those still work), bows, your old Christmas books, your big box of ornaments. To your horror, you feel a lump growing in your throat as you look at it all. Just breathe. It’s been so long, now. It would be so silly to break down. Just breathe...

“hey. pal. you okay?” Oh, no, he’s noticed. You duck your head.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” You mutter. “It’s just been… a long time since I looked at all this stuff.” You keep staring at the four stockings on the ground, labeled “Mom,” “Dad,” ”________” and “Ghost.” What are you going to do with the other two? Sans follows your gaze, and falls still for a long moment. You close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. After a few moments, you feel something cool brush against your neck. You don’t flinch, and you feel Sans begin to rub your back slowly.

“it sucks. i know how much it sucks.” He mutters. You don’t need to tell the story, apparently, it’s just written on your face, in your posture. “they say it gets better with time, but it just gets… it hurts less frequently.” He sighs. “do you want to pack this stuff back up?” You take a breath.

“No.” You finally look up. “No, I mean, it’s… nice. I guess I didn’t realize how much I missed all this stuff. I shouldn’t have just left it in the garage to rot… the first year after they were gone, it was just impossible to do this, you know. Literally. I don’t think I could have even reached the box. I mean, I was just a kid, I didn’t know where to get started. And then, I guess we just got in the habit of not doing anything, me and Ghost. I got him some catnip toys and we watched a few movies, but…” You look around at the room, back down at the stuff, then manage a smile. “It’ll be nice to do something new.” Sans keeps his hand on your back, and is just taking the last few decorations out of the box with his free arm when you both hear a soft sound from the doorway and whip your heads around.

Undyne is standing there, scuffing her shoe against the ground, a huge pine tree slung effortlessly over her shoulder. “I, uh, got you a Christmas tree.” She says quietly, clearly feeling guilty for eavesdropping. You burst out laughing.

“Oh no, Undyne, where on earth… you know what? Don’t tell me. I think it’s probably better if I don’t know.” You giggle. The sight is just too ridiculous, she’s half buried in the branches and you’re pretty sure that it’s one of the lovingly manicured trees from the backyard by the pond. The gardener would probably be heartbroken the next time he came around. You, you thought it looked pretty good in here to be honest. “C’mon, bring it in, we just found the tree stand!” You urge. Undyne beams (you think, there are a lot of branches in the way), and hauls it in, busily setting it up near the crackling fireplace. Sans smiles at you and finally takes his hand away, though not before he manages to squeeze your own hand reassuringly on the way.

(Mhm, confirmed, you definitely like that).

Decorating, after that, is actually really fun. You think to turn on the TV, searching for a good movie while you work and landing on Elf. Your friends have never seen it before, and they both have to take breaks from decorating to wheeze with laughter and ask you questions about Manhattan. Sans dubiously plugs in the Christmas lights, and, proof of miracles existing, they actually work. Miracle number two, your mom or dad must have saved all of the ornament hooks, because you find a tangled ball of them in a ziplock baggie in the ornament box. You and Sans set to hanging them up (on the low branches) while Undyne winds the top of the tree with lights. After a while, Papyrus comes tearing in with steaming mugs of… phew, not pasta, it’s hot cocoa with whipped cream and star shaped sprinkles.

“Paps! You’re just in time!” You accept your mug. “We need your help getting the star up on the top.”

“NATURALLY YOU NEED ME FOR THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. FEAR NOT, HUMAN, THE GREAT PAPYRUS HAS DECORATED MANY TREES WITH HIS MANY MANY FRIENDS!” Papyrus crows, then looks uncertainly at Sans.

“just right up on the top, bro.” Sans reassures him. Papyrus very gingerly balances the tree topper on the highest branch. “there you go. nailed it, paps.”

“I SUPPOSE YOU COULD SAY THAT I AM THE STAR! NYEH!” Papyrus says smugly. Sans just chuckles at him.

“you sure are, bud. you got anything still going in the kitchen?” Papyrus squeaks, and dashes back where he came from. By the time Alphys arrives - the only person to actually ring the doorbell, which Papyrus sprints from the other side of the house to answer - the room looks just like you remembered when you were a kid, and you’re sat down between Sans and Undyne on one of the couches, watching the end of Elf and feeling pretty damn content. Undyne bounces up to tackle Alphys when she sees her, then grins hugely at the rest of you.

“Now the party can really begin!”

Chapter Text

You’re pretty sure this isn’t what most parties are like. Well, then again, you were never really a party person. Sure, you went to your share, but you mostly stuck to the sidelines, because, well, you got invites but it wasn’t really like you were tight with those people. And, yeah... especially in high school, you’d just always felt so much older than your classmates. You didn’t have time to waste on figuring out who was going to kiss whom when you were busy making sure you and Ghost had enough to eat.

That was not an issue at this gathering. On top of all of the snacks you and Undyne had bought, Alphys had brought over a pizza and a big box of Pocky, Papyrus kept running to the kitchen to pull pasta dishes from the oven (some of them actually looked quite good), and Sans had disappeared somewhere only to return with a tray of mini quiches. You spent a few minutes trying to figure out where he possibly could have put them, then popped the top off a beer and decided not to worry too much.

All the food and drink was laid out on your mother’s pride and joy, an antique clawfoot banquet table you’d dragged in with Papyrus’ help. Finally, everything in the kitchen was done cooking, and you tossed the Roku remote to Alphys so she could pull up whatever anime she wanted, settling back on the couch and balancing your plate on your knee. This time, you were on the right, Sans was in the middle, and Papyrus was on the left, while Undyne and Alphys shared the loveseat.

“so we’re doin’ this, huh?” Sans sounded a little skeptical. You shared a commiserating glance with him as Alphys defended herself.

“Ummm… I mean, I d-don’t know which one everyone would like best… but anime is really great so I think you’ll like it, Sans!”

“He’s never bothered to hang out with us when we watch it before.” Undyne’s innocent tone was beginning to terrify you. Everytime she used it, it was a harbinger of baaaaad news. Sure enough, she added, “Guess there must have been something special about this time to make him come.” She raised an eyebrow, and took a sip of her beer.

“guess the stars aligned.” Sans said with a shrug, glancing over his shoulder through the picture window, where the first stars really were just starting to come out. Undyne scowled at him, and Sans gave her a placid smile. Sans’ parka had come off once you got settled in and the fire in the hearth began to really heat the room up - did he get hot? - and he looked at home on your couch, in his black t-shirt and basketball shorts, sipping from a glass of tabasco and pushing a few pretzels around on his plate.

“Oh! Oh, I’ve a-always wanted to see this one! If… um, if that’s okay!” Alphys spoke up, her eyes wide as she took in the screen. You glanced back at the TV.

“Of course! Whatever you want, Alphys.” You assured her. “What’s a host club?”

-------------------------------------------

You found out what a host club was.

You weren’t sure who loved the show most. Alphys was blushing and giggling basically the entire time. Undyne loved the protagonist so much that she was brought to squeals several times. Papyrus was absolutely enchanted with the idea of a group of chivalrous young men who were so good at first dates they got paid for it. Sans kept snickering and glancing up to check your reaction.

Even if you hadn’t enjoyed the show, you would have been smiling this wide. God, it felt so good to have people around for once! There hadn’t been this much brightness (metaphorically; you were watching TV, after all) and joy and cheer for so, so long. Not in this house. The only interruption had been the dramatic arrival of Ghost, who finally came out from hiding to storm in, looking imperiously at all of you, trying to figure out how on earth you could think it was acceptable to be in his house.

“Ghosty, c’mere bud.” You whispered, bending down at the waist wiggling your fingers invitingly. Ghost deigned to come over, the entire time doing his best to appear that he just happened to be heading towards you, and he was planning on going over there anyway, thank you very much. You grinned, and when he got close enough, scooped him up, plopping him on your lap and leaning back against the couch.

Oh.

Sans’ arm was there now.

You narrow your eyes at the skeleton’s cheesy move, and he grins a positively evil grin at you, knowing you well enough by now, surely, to know you’re not going to draw attention to the situation by saying anything. Fine. Fine, Sans. You’re sure you’re as red as a firetruck (or a scarlet macaw), but you decide two can play at that game, snuggle a little closer, and then, feeling his eyes on you, ignore him, instead lavishing attention on the kitty. Ghost begins to rumble with purrs, barely audible over Papyrus’ excited gasps. You smile slowly and scratch under his chin, earning a slightly louder purr. Sans’ skull is still tilted at you, but when you dart a glance at him, he’s no longer smirking, and is instead studying the cat.

“it looks different out of the cage.” he murmurs.

“Well, yeah, he would.” You laugh, but quietly. “Come on, I thought you knew all about cats, you made all those jokes at the vet!”

“heh. i guess i see a lot of them on the internet.” Sans whispers. “they’re funny up close, though.”

“Oh yeah?” You laugh. The import of what he’d just said then dawns on you. You’d thought that all the monsters were totally naive to the human internet; that’s why everyone had come here in the first place. Apparently, that wasn’t actually the case for every monster. He gives you another totally guilt-free smile, and you roll your eyes. It was kind of cute that he’d chosen not to speak up just so he’d have an excuse to come over. And, well, you were beginning to get the sense that wherever he and Paps were living wasn’t exactly suited for entertaining. The thought worried you.

For once, Sans didn’t notice when your expression clouded over. He was still studying the cat. Very tentatively, he stretched out his free hand so Ghost could examine his fingers. Ghost pushed up a little, craning his neck so he could sniff at the strange new objects. Sans held very still. After almost a minute of examination, Ghost yawned, and butted his head against Sans’ hand, clearly irritated that he wasn’t being pet. Sans jumped slightly, then looked up at you cautiously.

“Just scratch under his chin, he loves that.” You whisper. Sans looks dubious, but does as advised, running white bones through the soft gray fur. Ghost resumes purring like a motor, and after a minute, shocks you by climbing off your lap and onto Sans’. “Hey, he really likes you!” You whisper. Undyne squeals from the loveseat, and you pray it’s because of something in the show; you don’t dare to look over to see if she notices his bony arm around your shoulders. Sans is frozen still, eying the cat nervously. You reach over and stroke Ghost’s back reassuringly. After a minute, Sans resumes scratching under his chin. You’re not quite sure how it happens, when his hand moves to cover yours, but you rest it there, feeling the smooth bones on your skin and his arm around you. For just now, you’re allowed to enjoy this.

For just now, everybody’s staying exactly where they are.

Chapter Text

It turns out that “everybody’s staying exactly where they are” is literal. Episode after episode slides by, and you start to be thankful that you have the weekend off, because it’s getting pretty damn late. Papyrus nods off first, slumping onto the arm of the sofa. Alphys is next, slowly migrating her head to Undyne’s lap and then beginning to snore quietly. You turn to grin and point this out to Sans, but to your surprise, he’s passed out too, his head tilted back and a relaxed expression on his face. You look at Undyne, and receive several very broad winks and arm gestures from her for your trouble. She’s noticed Sans’ arm. You stick your tongue out from across the room at her, and let your eyes close halfway as the next episode begins to autoplay. Soon, Undyne is asleep too. Hm, maybe you should do the same.

It’s probably the jillion cups of coffee that won’t let you drift off. It’s certainly not that you’ve forgotten how to relax around people. Right.

Forty minutes later, you’ve run out of patience, and you can’t just hold still while everybody sleeps any longer. You painstakingly extricate your hand from under Sans’, and slide out of his hold. You brace yourself, but he doesn’t stir. Good. You don’t want to wake any of them.

On nights like this, you just need to get outside. You don’t feel so trapped when you can see the sky, so panicked when you look over the grounds of this stupid huge house, to the ocean, then the horizon, and remember that the entire world doesn’t rest under the shadow of Mt. Ebott, that you could always just grab Ghost and see what’s out there, that you don’t need to wait to be disappointed, that it’s better to be the one doing the disappointing.

You grab your coat off the back of a kitchen chair - you’d kind of given up on closets before Undyne cleaned everything up, and old habits die hard - and step outside. The night air is bracing, but unseasonably warm. Probably no white Christmas this year. Oh well. You glance up at the crescent moon, which lights the grounds well enough, and decide to pick your way through the painstakingly manicured back yard and find where Undyne had gotten the tree from.

Fifteen minutes later, and you’re almost at the rock wall separating the lawn from the beach. You’re also at a loss. Nothing seems to be out of place, but maybe it’s just the dark. Undyne couldn’t just materialize a tree out of nowhere, after all. Deftly hopping the small retaining wall, your feet land on sand with a satisfying thud. You glance around quickly - there’s nothing stopping anyone from wandering down the coastline until they reach your little beach, and you’ve had problems with groups of teenagers or drifters before, but luckily, everything seems deserted. Good. There’s space to think out here. You search for a second, then find a good spot on the sloping, sandy beach, and plop your butt down, leaning back and looking at the sky.

Your mom knew all the constellations, every single one. You remember how she used to take you out here and tell you their stories, trying to explain how each cluster of stars resembled the thing they’d been named after. It’s calming. Orion, there, Aquarius, there, Canis Major, Canis Minor-

“jeez, can you tell a guy before you just up and split?!” You sit upright quickly, sending sand scattering. Sans is looming over you, looking extremely displeased with you.

“Excuse me?” You say, bristling. “This is my house, Sans. I don’t have to check in with anyone. I don’t need anyone following me around, okay?” You’re not as mad as you sound, just startled and out of sorts. You’ve never taken anyone out here before. This has always just been for you, and you’re feeling alarmed that he’s able to just change the rules. “Where the hell did you come from, anyway!” He glares at you, his eye flashing.

“i woke up and you had just left us all!” He snaps. “anyone could have seen a whole bunch of monsters show up at your house, and we all let our guard down and you disappeared! god, what was i supposed to think!?”

“I don’t know, that I’m a grown adult that doesn’t need to be watched?! Nothing’s going to happen to me, Sans. I do this all the time. I’ve been getting by just fine on my own for a long, long time. And you can’t keep acting like you guys are a liability to me, okay, plenty of humans are friends with monsters now, it’s not that big of a deal!” You say irritably.

“i bet that’s exactly what that little girl in the hospital’s parents said.” Sans says blackly. “i bet they wished they’d watched her closer now.”

“Yeah, well, you know what?!” You’re getting worked up now, but you can’t help it. “You’re not my parent, okay!?” You take a deep breath, then look down at your knees. “That’s not what I want.” You mutter. Sans watches you for a second, and you can hear the sound of breath being drawn in between clenched teeth. Suddenly, he sits down next to you, his head hanging.

“sorry.” He mutters in return. You let the silence hang for a long, long time.

“‘s okay.” You finally whisper, not looking at him, looking out at the horizon. He hesitates, then groans and flops onto his back, looking up at the sky. So he’s not going anywhere, then. You consider storming off, but even when you’re caught off kilter, you realize how childish that would be. So, after a while longer, you fall on your back by his side, looking up at the stars.

“...can you tell me what happened?” He finally asks, sounding like he’s regretting it even as he’s saying it. You know what he’s asking.

“The roads can get pretty icy up on those cliffs.” You nod across the bay, where the lights at the foot of Mt. Ebott shine all night. “I guess Dad took a turn too fast. I waited up all night for them. The police didn’t even know where to start looking.” You bite your lip.

“how old were you?” His voice is so much gentler now, it’s almost impossible to believe that it could have held so much anger before.

“Ten.” You whisper. You can feel his gaze probing you. “How about you?” You can tell, the same way he can tell. You can just recognize from the way he treats you that he’s been down that same road. He scratches his skull.

“it’s a weird story. magic… complicates things.” He whispers. “i’ll tell you sometime, promise, it’s just… it’s hard to wrap my skull around sometimes.”

You don’t press it. You know the feeling.

“is it… normal, for humans to leave kids on their own like that?” He asks quietly after another long pause, still looking up at the sky. You let out a low chuckle, and shake your head, getting sand in your hair.

“No. The will - humans fill out like, a letter thing to say what to do with their stuff when they die - anyway, it said that my aunt should watch me. And, you know, she did for a few months, but she was just twenty-five, she was too young, she didn’t know what she was doing-”

“you were ten, _________.” Sans says darkly. “barely older than frisk.” You sigh, and nod.

“I’m not saying it was right. It was awful. She’d leave me a stack of my parents’ money, when she remembered it, but that wasn’t always. Less and less often, as the years went on. I guess she got pregnant a while back, and then she stopped leaving money all together. At least by then people would throw me a few bucks for odd jobs. I learned how to make a lot of rice and beans. Macaroni. Learned to fake a lot of signatures. I was hungry too often, and I was always, always lying. I couldn’t invite anyone over, or they’d find out how bad things were. I didn’t have…any friends. ‘cept for Ghosty, anyway. I always thought I’d sell the place as soon as I turned eighteen, move somewhere smaller. I keep telling myself I will.” You mutter. “Then I go into their room, I think I’ll get started boxing things up, and I… don’t.”

Sans lets out that strange, hissing sigh again, air forced between teeth grit so tightly they almost refuse to let anything past.

“what did your parents do?” He asks, after the silence grows companionable.

“Scientists.” You say, trying to make out the individual stars in Orion’s dagger.

“no kidding.” He laughs quietly at some sort of private joke. “what kind?” You bite your lip.

“They, uh, worked on the barrier. At Mt. Ebott.” You explain. “Back before we knew exactly what it was. I mean, that’s why we live… lived, so close. They built a device, a… turbine, I guess, that they designed, to draw power from it.”

“you’re kidding me.” His voice is flat with astonishment. You roll on your side to look at him.

“Hand to god, I swear. Why, is that funny or something?”

“it’s… hilarious.” He doesn’t look like it is. “what was the machine supposed to do?”

“It powered the whole county.” You say with a laugh. “Mom and Dad made a killing. Hence… you know, the mansion. But I guess that wasn’t the end goal.”

“hm?” He’s giving you that look again, like you’re the most astonishing thing on the entire planet.

“They were… adventurers, I guess. In like, the old fashioned, Indiana Jones type way. Larger than life. They always needed the next big thing. They thought they were going to be able to draw enough energy from the barrier to knock the damn thing down, eventually.” You say with a laugh. “They wanted to be the first ones through.” He stares at you for a long time, then shakes his head. “What is it?”

“we’ve just got a lot in common.” He mutters, and settles back. “man.” He shakes his head again. The two of you stare up at the sky in silence once more. After a while, when you’re just thinking that he might have fallen asleep again, he speaks up. “you wouldn’t believe what it was like, seeing the stars, after the underground.”

“I can’t imagine.” You mutter. “What did you think, when you saw them at last?”

“it was like… being born. that first week or so… everything was so much better than what i’d imagined. i can’t remember ever seeing the sky meet water like that. or all the stars. underground, we just had these rocks. they glowed. we thought it was close to the same, but it wasn’t. not at all.” Sans whispered. “and you named them all. sometimes humans can be so damn wonderful. you look at the sky and you find shapes and you name the shapes, and you make up stories about them, until they’re not just stars, they’re part of you.” He turns his skull, and looks hopefully at you. “do you know the names?” You give him a small, sleepy smile.

“Some.” You whisper. “Look, that one’s the easiest. It’s called Orion. See the three stars in a row? That’s his belt. And his shoulders are there and there, and his dagger is hanging from his belt…” You list constellations for some time, pointing them out in the sky, your gestures growing less and less energetic. Sans watches you when you stop naming them, and sees the steady rhythm of your chest rising and falling. Fast asleep.

You don’t stir the whole way back into the house, curled into his arms.

Chapter Text

You’d told everyone before that you sleep like the dead, but you hadn’t realized how true that was, yourself, until the next morning. For once there were no alarms, no caterwauling cat, no guilty realization that there were penguins that needed feeding. You just… slept. It was amazing. Unfortunately, waking up was less so.

When you peeled your eyes open, you were met with an unsettling sight… a single, yellow eye, inches from your face, staring back at you. You’re about to yelp when the owner of that eye slaps a wet, webbed palm to your mouth.

Undyne really has to stop doing that.

After a moment, you nod quickly to show that you won’t talk, and she pulls her hand - and face - away. Only then do you realize your position. You’re snuggled up under a blanket, as usual, but you’re certainly not in bed. Nope, this is the TV room again. And this isn’t your bed underneath you. Nope. That’s a skeleton sitting on a couch still holding you, now balanced on his lap. His snoring is so loud that you’re surprised you didn’t wake up sooner. Seeing how smug Undyne looks, you kind of wish you were still asleep.

You shoot her a helpless look, and she relents. Way, way too easily, she scoops you out of Sans’ hold. Sans grumbles in his sleep, and tightens his grip on the throw blanket she’s slipped you out of, hugging it tight to his ribs. She smirks even wider at you. You roll your eyes and point at the floor. She pretends not to notice this, and carries you all the way to the kitchen. It’s significantly more embarrassing when Undyne carries you around awake than when Sans apparently does when you’re asleep. You’ve lost your fear of waking Sans and are kicking and complaining about halfway to the kitchen, which only eggs her on.

“Oh, but Sans was holding you like this!” She teases, grinning now, and, to your fury, rocking you like a baby. “And Sans is just your friend, right?! So this must be what friends do! And since I’m your best friend, I should really make sure that your legs don’t get tired-”

“Paps, save me!” You bellow as she hauls you into the kitchen, seeing the tall skeleton behind the stove, wearing your only apron. Papyrus takes one look and jumps into action, abandoning the bacon and pancakes on the stove to somersault over the kitchen island (you grimace, but he sticks the landing) and pluck you from Undyne’s grasp, holding you in her place. She doesn’t even try to hang onto you, too busy laughing at the look on your face as you realize that three of your four houseguests have now held you like a small child. You immediately look for Alphys, dreading the possibility that this nightmare would continue, but she’s merely snickering in the corner, opening a can of cat food for a very friendly Ghost.

“Papyrus?” You say, trying to shift onto your back to see his face better. “You can put me down, bud.” He gawps at you.

“BUT ARE YOU SAFE FROM THE DANGER?” He asks urgently.

“As safe as I’m gonna be.” You laugh. “Unless you let Undyne pick me up again.” Undyne jeers at you as Papyrus sets you down.

“HUMAN, YOU SHOULD BE MUCH MORE CAREFUL!” He urges. “MY BROTHER WAS IN QUITE A PANIC WHEN HE SAW THAT YOU HAD GONE MISSING LAST NIGHT!” Undyne has just crossed over to help Alphys with Ghost, you assume, but her whole body whips around when Papyrus says that.

“Where did you go?” She asks, not a little threateningly.

“Jeez, would you guys freak out if I just used the bathroom or something?” You say, suddenly very interested in making sure that Papyrus’ pancakes and bacon don’t burn. “Papyrus, is the leftover pasta in some of these pan-”

“But you didn’t go to the bathroom. So where did you-”

“Oh, Sans! Look, everyone, Sans is up!” Your voice is at least two octaves too high. The sleepy looking skeleton yawns in the doorway, and smiles at everyone.

“don’t worry, bud.” He addresses Undyne. “i wasn’t gonna let anyone mess with her.”

“I just went outside.” You say petulantly, flipping a pancake. There is definitely leftover pasta in at least half of these.

Undyne studies Sans seriously for a long moment, then nods. You’re not quite sure what they’ve just communicated with that glance, which ... yep, terrifies you. Papyrus is unsubtly sidling to resume his position in front of the stove until you’re forced to step out of his way. Physically. He just nudges you with his shoulder until your socks slide along the hardwood and you’re suddenly over by the coffee maker.

(Sans must have taken off your shoes after you fell asleep, you realize).

You admit when you’re beaten, and you’re worried what Sans and Undyne are hatching, so, after quickly getting a large pot brewing, you wander over to Alphys. She’s stroking Ghost’s back as he eats. The cat needs to take pauses between gulps to purr. “Hey, thanks so much for feeding him. He normally wakes me up as soon as he gets too hungry. And he never lets me touch him while he’s eating!” Alphys smiles widely, then flushes.

“You j-just looked so happy while you were sleeping.” She stammers, her cheeks bright pink. “I-I didn’t want to… umm… you know, wake you. And Ghost led me right to his food cabinet, so I just…”

You fight not to blush too when she mentions how happy you looked. This, honestly, has to be the worst development of the past four days, your sudden susceptibility to blushing. Maybe, you think unwillingly, you just didn’t have a reason to blush before. “Well you did great! Ghost clearly loves you for it.” You tell her with a grin. Aw, you can see what Undyne sees in Alphys. Sure, she’s a little awkward and nervous, but… well, you’re in the same boat there! And, more importantly, she is kind to her bones. You can see that now, that deep down all she wants to do is good. Then again, the same could be said for all your new friends.

Friends. For once, that little voice in your head doesn’t say a goddamn thing.

“PAPYRUS’ GREAT PANCAKES ARE NOW READY FOR HIS GREAT FRIENDS AND BROTHER!” Papyrus bellows. Undyne jumps up to grab a stack of plates. You notice that last night’s dishes are absent, presumably cleaned and put away, and smile to yourself. It’s funny. If someone told you a week ago that you’d be okay with a bunch of monsters rummaging through all your stuff, you’d probably have scoffed. Now, it just seemed like the most natural thing in the world.

You grab a plate, thanking Papyrus profusely, and, remembering Sans, run to the fridge to make sure that there’s extra extra maple syrup, honey and whipped cream. You’re not sure he’ll be interested in the latter two, but it’s worth giving a shot, you figure. He gives you a wide, appreciative smile when you sit back down, and pours himself a big glass of maple syrup, then spears a single strip of bacon on his knife, looking at it half heartedly.

You manage to snag one of the non-pasta pancakes. Undyne grabs four of the pasta ones, looking at you like you’re crazy.

“S-so, thanks for… um… letting us all stay here last night.” Alphys stammers, pulling up a chair. “I know it w-wasn’t exactly the plan…” You have to smile at her.

“Hey, I’ve never had a sleepover party before, I guess.” You say. “It was awesome, really guys.”

“You’re… sure we didn’t, um, overstay our…” Alphys trails off. Sans sighs, and says,

“don’t you know _________ at all, alph? if she wanted us to go, she’d say so.” Oh, as if you hadn’t had to hammer that through his thick skull last night. The light in his eye sockets is a little too mischievous for your tastes.

“Hey now, don’t tease Alphys.” You say, giving him your best ‘responsible adult’ look. He grins at you and shrugs. He can’t help it. “He’s right, though.” You add with a guilty laugh. Of course, you just don’t want them to leave, so you’re not quite sure how you’re going to prove it.

Eventually the time comes. You’ve all eaten too much (again), and everyone seems to be lingering at the table, unwilling to leave, occasionally passing little pieces of bacon down to the begging cat.

“Well, I guess we’d better get out of your hair.” Undyne finally says, frowning a little and straightening up. “But… we could do the dishes first!” She spies the dishwasher. “Oh.” Loading it takes no time at all with five sets of hands to help. You almost have to chuckle, Undyne looks so bummed to leave.

“You know we’ll hang out again at work tomorrow, right?” You ask with a grin and a raised eyebrow. She rolls her eyes.

“That’s not the point. Okay, let’s get going, sweetie.” She smiles at Alphys, getting her labcoat from the closet and helping her slip it on. “Bye, loser!” She says, running back to give you a hug. You laugh, and hug Alphys goodbye too, bending down to do so. You watch them walk down the hall, feeling a little sad.

“probably time for us to go too.” Sans says, suddenly at your elbow. Gah, that’s always unnerving. Papyrus looks at him unhappily.

“SANS, I AM ENJOYING BEING HERE. IT IS MUCH NICER THAN-”

“bro.” Sans interrupts, cheeks turning a brilliant shade of blue. “we talked about this.” Oh, no. You stare at Sans, internally imploring him to tell you what’s up. He won’t meet your eyes. “besides, you and frisk have a playdate at tori’s tonight.

“MAYBE THEY COULD COME HERE INSTEAD?”

“papyrus.” Sans says sharply. You clear your throat, but you’re not sure it’s your place to intercede. Sans jerks his head towards the hallway leading to the garage. Sulking, Papyrus nods.

“FAREWELL, HUMAN. I HAD A VERY WONDERFUL TIME!” You smile at him.

“Me too, Paps. You’re welcome here whenever!” Papyrus’ skull swivels so fast you can barely track it, an enormously enthusiastic look on his face as he makes sure Sans has heard this. Sans sighs, and gives his brother a small smile.

“we’ll come back, bud, promise.” He says, shrugging his parka back on and digging his hands in his pockets. “later, _______.” He pulls a hand back out, waves quickly, and tugs Papyrus down the hall.

“Oh, uh, later…” Awfully cold shoulder from a guy who had apparently held you on his lap all night, you think, then sigh as you hear the door to the close in the distance. Man. You hadn’t noticed how quiet this place was until everyone left. Ghost meows mournfully at you. “Hey, I thought you didn’t like other people?” You ask the cat. “You miss ‘em already?” Ghost stares up at you. “… Yeah, me too, kitty.” You mutter.

CLANG. That’s the sound of the metal door to the garage being pushed open so fast that the opener didn’t bother to make sure it didn’t hit the wall. You jump up, eyes wide, as Sans comes tearing back in, so fast that it seems like somehow he’s down the hall one second, and by your side the next.

“stay put.” He pants, looking frantic.

“Hey, what?” You stammer. He says nothing, glancing around. “Hey, what the hell is wrong, Sans?!” Sans is barely paying attention to you, his eyes searching the room, out the windows, desperate. “SANS!”

Undyne peeks her head around the corner, and looks at you.

“Hey. You’d better come see this.”

-------------------------------------------

You’d loved that car, you think mournfully. It was the first real thing you’d bought with your own hard earned, legally earned money after you turned sixteen. It had been used even then, of course, and the thing was practically an antique now, but it had been yours.

The vandals had been meticulous and thorough. The soft roof had been slashed to tatters. Something awful and red (you reach to touch it; “Don’t,” Undyne whispers, pulling your hand back) had been poured inside, soaking into the cheap polyester seats. It reeks to high heaven. Your mirrors are all missing. The steering wheel is just, ridiculously, gone. There’s deep gouges all down the body, the work of multiple keys or knives. Each tire is slashed, each headlight ripped out so there’s just wires hanging. The windshield wipers are twisted at crazy angles from the window, which has a spiderweb of cracks running through it. There’s brown shit - and you suspect that’s literal - smeared all over the door handles, and piles of it on the floor of the car. On the hood, two words are painted.

“Monster Lover.”

You have a flash of brief memory, of being relieved that you accidentally left the garage open yesterday because it gave you light to get the decorations. Now you’re calling yourself twenty different kinds of stupid, feeling the weight of four gazes on you. Your stomach lurches, realizing that if your car got wrecked-

“Are your guys’ cars okay?” You ask quickly. Sans groans softly.

“how is that where your mind goes?” He mutters.

“They’re fine.” Undyne says sharply. “Not a single little scratch. I guess this is how things go now, huh? They found out what happens when they pick on us, so they’re going for someone their own size.”

“dirty cowards.” Sans growls. He’s furious, more so than you are. You’re still more or less in shock that someone, or someones, could have crept inside your garage, just a few hundred feet away the room where you were all sleeping peacefully, and done this. That they must have watched you, seen where you were vulnerable, and acted so deliberately…

It chills you to the bone.

Papyrus is crouched in the corner, looking very very nervous. He keeps darting glances between you and Sans. Sans is holding stock still, his one eye flashing an unnerving blue. The air is practically crackling around him. You understand now, how he could have cleared out a bar full of human attackers. God, even his teeth look sharper, the black of his eye sockets blacker. “stay here, undyne. keep an eye on her. i’m gonna find them.” He says, way too calmly.

“Sans, no!” You say quickly.

“they deserve anything that’s coming to them. they think it’s so easy to mess with a person that lives all alone, they think they can gang up and mess with you. they deserve it.” He says lightly, so perfectly casual that goosebumps rise on your skin.

“You can’t. That’s what they want.” You say quickly. “Don’t you see this is a set up?”

“S-she’s right, Sans!” Alphys speaks up suddenly. She’s been silent until now, carefully examining the hood of the car, and then all the wheel wells. You wonder what she’s looking for, then shudder to think of what else the vandals might have planted on the car. “They’re trying to make us act. If you find them -”

“i will.”

“-t-they’ll be in public, where e-e-everyone can see a monster attacking them. They want you to do it. Th-they want humans to be afraid of us, so they can m-make us go back under!” Alphys is in high dudgeon, her face flushed, quivering with purpose.

“i. don’t. care.” Sans spits, the calm facade cracking. “i’ve done it before. doing it again. undyne, will you keep an eye on her or not?” Undyne looks uncertainly between Sans and Alphys. Papyrus takes a small, panicked sounding breath.

“Sans, no.” You say firmly. “I don’t care about this, I don’t care about my car, I’ll put in an insurance claim, call the cops, it’ll be fine. But you can’t do this to Papyrus.” Papyrus lets out a soft whine, horrified to be even mentioned right now. His knees are shaking. ”If they catch you… I don’t know what they’d do to a monster, but I’m betting it’s worse than just sitting in county jail for a while. You can’t leave your brother on his own.” You say, clenching your fists behind your back, ashamed that your voice has begun to shake. Sans stares at you, and you count your heartbeats, waiting and hoping against hope that this will work. Finally, he slumps slightly, the light in his eye fading, and he’s the same guy you met at the vet again, the one who thinks humans are beautiful for finding shapes in the stars.

“fine. then i’m staying.” There is no room for argument in that tone. Papyrus lets out another soft whine, burying his skull in his hands.

“If you’re staying, so is Paps.” You say measuredly. You can just tell that if you say no, he’ll set up camp somewhere nearby, and you’d prefer him near you, where you can make sure he doesn’t snap and take down all the redneck assholes within a hundred miles of Mt. Ebott. “We should go to your apartment and pick up whatever you need.” Sans looks reluctantly at you. “Sans, I know you’re worried, but I’m gonna have to be able to leave this place every once in a while. I’ve got work tomorrow. Besides, it’s not like this is safer than anywhere else, clearly.” He shakes his skull slowly, running his fingers over the smooth dome. That probably wasn’t the smartest thing to say. “Okay? Then we can call the cops and the insurance people and whatever.”

Sans takes a long time to think about this, looking around the trashed garage from Alphys to Papyrus to Undyne. They share another long moment of silent communication, and he finally turns to you.

“ok.”

You feel like you’ve just prevented World War Three.

Chapter Text

Once it’s agreed that you’re going to go pick up the boys’ stuff, the tension drains slightly. Papyrus unballs from his panicked crouch, and looks guiltily down at you.

“Human. You don’t need to let me stay.” You’re astonished for a moment. You didn’t have the faintest idea that Papyrus could speak at a normal volume. Undyne seems similarly shocked, though Alphys looks unsurprised. Sans is staring at his brother, a true look of concern on his face. “Sans is usually wrong about things, nyeh,” he gives a tiny, watery laugh, “but I think he’s right that I should not impose on you, friend.” You shake your head quickly.

“Papyrus. You’re… so nice to worry about that.” You say. “But I promise, you’re welcome to stay. If Sans thinks that you guys should be here…” You falter and look at Sans, trying to say this right. God, it’s hard.

You’re feeling like two people in one body; one, the bitter rationalist, is saying you barely know these people, that it’s beyond insane to just let them move in and start dictating what you should or shouldn’t do. There’s a freedom to being on your own, and you’ve always been reluctant to let that go, especially for romantic partners. You can be honest with yourself, you know Sans is interested, when he’s not being angry or looking so worried at least. Your (very) abbreviated history with dating humans has left you anxious, however. Humans always want something from you, and you’re used to having almost nothing to give them. Why should monsters be any different? And, well, it’s always just been you and Ghost. You could, you think, squirming just for thinking it, cut your losses. Get out of here, find a place where your friends don’t attract so many enemies who are willing to use you as a message, all by the simple method of not having friends again.

But then there’s that other part of you, the one that sounds nothing like that little voice in your head. All this one is saying is that you’re honestly terrified. They were in your house, they’d wrecked something that meant a lot to you, and they were doing it to try and force you into losing your new friends. That wakes up the old defiant drive inside you, the same one that made a ten year old kid figure out how to survive on her own. You’re scared, and you don’t want to be, and you’re furious (though doing a better job of hiding it than Sans). How fucking dare they tell you what your life is supposed to be, who you’re allowed to care for!? Are you really going to let them ruin what feels like the best thing that’s happened in the past twelve years?

You can practically see two timelines spreading out in front of you, based on what you say right now. Either (a): these new friends are always going to be around because they think it’ll protect you, or (b): they’ll leave, because if they can’t protect you, they sure as hell aren’t going to endanger you by drawing attention to you.

You’re selfish, that tiny, angry voice screams, you’re so, so selfish…

But he makes you feel safe. Protected. Cared for. Wanted, not for your stuff or your money (or lack thereof) or even your body, anything like that, wanted just because you’re you. Actually, they all do. It’s been such a short time, already, but you have totally failed your usual method of coping when it came to friendly strangers. You forgot to brace yourself for losing them. In the end, the choice seems obvious.

“If Sans thinks you guys should be here, I think you should be here. We can all watch out for each other. You can use the whole house, you can have as many rooms as you want, spend as much time in the kitchen, I promise.” Papyrus gives Sans another guilty look.

“paps, bud. i’m not gonna leave you.” Sans says quietly. “never ever. i wasn’t gonna, i promise. we stick together, right? and ___________ says she wants you here.”

“I do.” You agree quickly.

“so we’ll stay here for a while. it’ll be fun. you were just saying how much you like it here, and now your big bro isn’t being a downer anymore, right?” He says, pulling a face. Papyrus straightens and looks down at Sans.

“I… do not like it when you get like that, Sans.” He says, still very quietly. “It isn’t good. You could hurt someone.” Sans lets out a tired, half crazed laugh.

“s’okay, paps. me and you are gonna be around and make sure that nobody needs to get hurt. i need you, pal. you’re the expert guard, you gotta show me the ropes.”

“IF YOU ARE CERTAIN THAT’S THE CASE.” Papyrus seems buoyed. “WELL, THEN WE SHOULD HURRY TO GET ALL MY BATTLE FIGURINES AND MY BOOKS AND MY COMPUTER. AND MY COOLEST SHIRTS.”

------------------

Undyne and Alphys leave, albeit reluctantly. Alphys says they’re coming back, she just needs to hit the university lab to get some stuff she’s been working on. Undyne grins tightly, almost threateningly, at Sans before she gets in her car. “You’d better keep her in one piece, bonehead.” She says. “This is our fault.”

“Undyne, don’t you dare.” You start, glaring at her. “Did you trash my car? No? Then it’s not. Your. Fault.” You say, a little of your impotent rage at the situation lending gravity to these words. Sans moves over to place a restraining hand on your back, the little shit, like he hadn’t been about to commit bigot genocide ten minutes ago. You glance down at his arm, and he quickly removes it. Oh, that hadn’t been exactly the desired result, but… Undyne was looking guiltily at you, and you decide to focus on that.

“I just wish it hadn’t happened.” She mutters. You nod. You’re pretty sure that’s universal. “You’ll keep your phone on, and with you?”

“Promise.” You sigh. “Guess I’m hitching a ride with you boys, huh?” You manage a smile, and nod at the shiny red convertible, feeling a pang of loss as you look at it. Papyrus nods quickly.

“YES! SOON YOU WILL SEE HOW WELL THE GREAT PAPYRUS DRIVES!” Gulp. That sounds ominous. All the same, you slide into the back seat, and take a deep breath, waving at Undyne through the window. Papyrus hops in the driver’s seat and Sans hesitates at the side of the car before opening the rear door and sitting next to you.

“Sans. They’re not gonna be able to hurt me in the back of Papyrus’ car.” You say reasonably. “You can sit shotgun with your brother if you want.”

“shotgun?” The ridges on his skull furrow.

“Oh, um, up front. I guess it’s like a getaway car thing, you know, like the driver drives and the passenger… uses… the shotgun…” You trail off and groan, slumping and resting your head against the window. It was probably indelicate to remind Sans that humans made such a habit of hurting each other that even the front seat of a car was given a violent nickname. “You can’t be thinking too highly of us humans right now, huh?” You mutter. Sans looks at you in surprise.

“not half as badly as you must be thinking of us.” He says, “well… of me. bro, you know the way to get home?” Papyrus nods eagerly and turns the engine over, driving down your long driveway, through the gate you never, ever bothered to close, and out onto the winding road towards downtown. You barely notice, busy thinking about what Sans had just said.

“I’m not thinking badly of you. I mean, you scared me a little, but…” A shadow falls over Sans’ face.

“i know. i try not to use it in front of humans anymore, i just-”

“Not because of the magic! God, nothing like that!” You assure him quickly. “Magic doesn’t freak me out. I mean, I grew up around the stuff. Like, it’s the only reason I have a home. The number of dinner conversations I had to listen to about the barrier as a kid, not to mention the trips out into the field they’d drag me on. And that was the barrier. You just had to get like, twenty feet away from it to feel how strong it was. I mean, that was pure, solid magic. I’m sure you’re strong as hell, Sans, but even you weren’t strong enough to take it down on your own.” Sans has to smile at that.

“yeah, i had to enlist a seven year old to help.” He drawls, but he looks considerably cheered. “so then, what?” He looks over at you, and you groan and flick his shoulder.

“That you’d get, I don’t know, locked up or something. Or get hurt. Or do something you’d regret later.” You mutter.

“babe, locking me up isn’t exactly a concern.” Sans drawls confidently. You arch an eyebrow.

“Well, babe, you still can’t go around mauling every jerk in town, even if they did mess with my car.” You say, trying to impart the seriousness of this. Sans hangs his head, but before he does so, you can swear you see a delighted twinkle in his eye.

Chapter Text

Papyrus is driving you through a part of town you’ve never seen before, and the town is just not that big. It reminds you almost of those fake towns in amusement parks, the gaudy gleaming false walls hiding crappy toys and fried food. You don’t know why you keep thinking of that, the neighborhood is a little shoddy looking, maybe, like a lot of these apartment buildings were put up in a rush, but something sets your teeth on edge. It takes you a while to realize what it is: all the windows have sliding metal shutters, and most of the paint looks fresh. Some of it is practically still dripping, gleaming a pristine and insincere white. Nobody paints houses in a coastal town in the middle of December for fun, warm weather or not. Not unless they’re painting over something.

“I’m not the only one to be hit by those guys, am I?” You mutter. Sans sighs and shakes his head.

“it’s calmed down some.” He says. “i think maybe a few too many of them found trouble. but we can’t stay awake always, and since this is the only developer that’ll rent to us-”

“What?” You say sharply. Sans squints at you.

“uh, yeah. because they still haven’t decided if housing laws apply to us? asgore’s been in talks for the entire year.” He sighs. “at first it seemed like they were really excited to have us up here. our gold, anyway. paps got his car, right bro?”

“IT WAS THE FIRST THING I BOUGHT HERE!” Papyrus says happily. “I WAS ALLOWED TO TRY OUT ALL OF THEM AT THE CAR STORE, BUT THIS ONE WAS THE MOST LIKE MY BED!” You raise an eyebrow, but can’t help but smile at his enthusiasm, even if this car seems nothing like a bed. Sans grins at his brother, then sighs.

“but then the banks said that they wouldn’t take our gold. it’s nuts. i worked like, twenty jobs underground-”

“YOU MEAN YOU SLEPT AT TWENTY JOBS, LAZYBONES!” Papyrus cackles. Sans shrugs.

“anyway. had a pretty good nest egg for us. still do. can’t spend it though. i even tried to sell it at one of those jewlery places. guy spat at me. so we had to move out of the house we were renting, and since we didn’t have much human money, we had to find a place that would take our gold. so this… developer guy bought a field and slapped up a thousand apartments practically overnight, just for us monsters, and promised he’d take our cash. think he got a payday from the city, too, since people didn’t like having monster neighbors.” Papyrus stops at one of the indistinguishable white buildings, pulling a neat parallel park off with skill that you certainly lack. It doesn’t look… terrible, you suppose.

The paint on this one is as dry as a bone, you notice, unbuckling and hopping out onto the street.

“So, it all worked out?” You ask hopefully, as if asking this will make it true. Sans shakes his head slowly.

“well. turns out that you can’t build a thousand apartments overnight and do a good job.” He sighs, leading the way up and jiggling the doorknob of the first floor apartment. It opens easily - you figure the lock’s busted.

Actually, everything’s busted. The first thing you notice when you step inside is the odor of mold. You can see it, creeping along the ceiling, ominous and black. Sans looks guiltily at Papyrus. “we tried to get someone in to look at it. the landlord said that we had to have invited a moldsmal over and charged us an extra five hundred that month. asshole. moldsmals don’t even… yeah.” He digs his hands in his pockets.

“YOUR HOME SMELLS MUCH NICER!” Papyrus says. He’s already scooping handfuls of brightly colored action figures from a shoddy table into a plastic bag. You move over to assist him. Ugh, there’s a pool of standing water on the painted concrete floor. It soaks right through your shoe.

“sorry! sorry.” Sans says quickly. “forgot to mention that one. it, um, it keeps coming up through the cracks.” You stand there next to the puddle, your eyes sweeping the place. There’s a roach crawling along the wall. You don’t think this is a spider entrepreneur situation. That looks like a good old fashioned surface roach. The door to the single bedroom is open wide enough that you can see there’s just two mattresses on the floor in there, and a pile of books stacked neatly on the ground. In fact, every object in the house is immaculate. They just happen to be located in a slum.

“Are Alphys and Undyne staying in one of these places too?” You ask. Sans shakes his head.

“no, alph really lucked out. the university wanted her working there the second she showed up to look at campus. and they have faculty housing. it’s pretty nice.” He assures you. “and the kid lives with tori, you know, the queen, so they have some diplomatic housing deal. still wish i’d made good like grillbz and bought a place while i could have, though.” He sighs. You hesitate, your heart in your throat, then call,

“Hey, Paps, can you pack everything you want up? I just want to speak to Sans outside for a second.” Papyrus nods, humming contentedly. Sans looks at you, askew, but allows himself to be marched out of the front door. “Hey. Stay with me.” You say, the second you’re outside. He looks confused.

“uh yeah. that’s the plan.” He says, beginning to smile, but you shake your head.

“No. I mean, tear up the lease, get out of here. You and Papyrus can stay as long as you want. No matter what. You guys can have an entire wing of the house to yourselves. Or the poolhouse, even.”

“… poolhouse?”

“Forget it, I’ll show you later. But pack all your stuff out and stay with me. No more mold, no more broken stuff, no more rent. I know how weird it is, we’ve just met, but this isn’t right. I don’t want you guys to have to live in a place like this. I don’t have much to offer, all things considered, but I’ve got this stupid big house, and it is empty except for me and Ghost and a lot of bad memories. So stay. I mean, leave. Here. And stay with me.” Sans looks pained as you continue, but you have to get it out.

“how did you survive, out here? how did this place not swallow you whole?” He finally whispers. “you can’t just give strangers permission to stay with you, __________. people aren’t all nice. people hurt people like you.”

“I can do whatever the hell I want, Sans.” You say, locking gazes with him and feeling a little like a teenager. “And you’re not going to hurt me. And neither is Papyrus.”

“i’ve hurt humans before.” Sans says flatly.

“I know.”

“badly.”

“I got that sense. Stop trying to scare me off.” You say, determined to get this, too, through his head. “I haven’t known you long, but I know you better than that already. You might have done some bad stuff. So have I. But you’re not going to hurt me.” He shuffles his slipper against the cracked concrete stoop, his gaze downcast.

When he looks back up at you, his eye is glowing blue, and once again, the air around him is crackling. Very slowly, like Ghost stalking a mouse, he steps closer to you. So this is the game then. He’s waiting for you to recoil. You glare at him, frustrated that he’s testing you like this. “I said I wasn’t afraid of magic.” You say, refusing to break eye contact. Ugh, it is doing that thing again, though. Being this close to him, all the fine hairs on your arms are standing up straight, and there’s a twisting (not entirely unpleasant) feeling somewhere in your abdomen. Like being on a rollercoaster, that first drop. He reaches out, and takes both your shoulders in his hands, holding them tightly, and suddenly that giddy feeling is through your entire body. You almost smile, almost begin to laugh, when he leans forward, eliminating the rest of the distance between you, and you feel lips against yours.

Lips? He’s a skeleton. How…

Add that to the list of things you’ll worry about later.

When he pulls away, you feel like a furnace, and your resolve to stop blushing has been thoroughly wiped from your mind. Luckily, you’re not alone. Even though he’s still just radiating magic, there’s those familiar spots of color on his cheekbones.

He has great cheekbones, you think distractedly, then try not to start laughing, because you’re not sure you’ll be able to stop.

“you still want us to stay? no matter what?” He echoes your earlier promise. Oh, god, you need to try very hard not to giggle right now, this is so embarrassing, why can’t you react to things like this like a normal person-

“Uh. Duh.”

NOT A NORMAL ANSWER, ________. NOT ONE FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS.

But it clearly pleases Sans, because his smile finally reaches his eyes again, and he begins to snicker. You can’t hold it in any longer, and you let out a peal of slightly hysterical giggles. Finally, he lets you go.

“can you hang outside here for a few minutes?” He asks you. “i just gotta run this all by paps.”

Don’t say duh again. Please.

“Duh-n’t worry about it!” You recover before he can note the slip. “He’s got to be cool with it too, of course. I’ll be right here.” He smiles at you, a big, beaming smile, then slips inside. You slump against the wall, breathing hard. Okay. This was happening. Okay.

“OF COURSE, YOU MAY ASK ME ANYTHING, BROTHER!” Papyrus’ voice sounds like it’s practically next to you. Well, yeah, the developer wasn’t going to splurge on soundproofing, clearly.

“LIKE HER? SHE IS VERY GREAT!” You are eavesdropping, you tell yourself firmly, and you need to stop it right now. You will just have to pay attention to that… there’s a weird lizard on the brown patch of grass between the sidewalk and the door.

You just do not understand the appeal for Lesser Dog.

“I AM NOT JUST SAYING THAT TO MAKE YOU HAPPY, SANS!” Papyrus is practically bellowing. “I LIKE A GREAT MANY THINGS ABOUT HER. SHE IS SO KIND TO ALL OF HER BIRD AND FISH FRIENDS. SHE SHOWED US ALL AROUND HER WORK, AND SHE KNOWS SO MANY THINGS! SHE MAKES VERY BAD JOKES, BUT THEY MAKE YOU LAUGH, SO I LIKE THEM TOO. SHE LIKES MONSTER FOOD. SHE MAKES FRISK HAPPY! SHE HAS A SMALL GRAY CAT I DEARLY WISH TO BE FRIENDS WITH. SHE LET ME USE THE MOST WONDERFUL KITCHEN IN THE WHOLE WORLD! SHE IS BEST FRIENDS WITH UNDYNE, WHO I TRUST VERY MUCH. SHE IS BRAVE, AND GENEROUS, AND SHE THINKS OF OTHERS FIRST. AND, YES, SHE MAKES YOU HAPPY. SO I LIKE HER VERY VERY MUCH.”

So much for getting that blush off your face.

“YOU MEAN IT?”

“SHE REALLY SAID THAT?”

“WOWIE!” A second later, the door bursts open, even as Papyrus is still yelling “YES I WOULD LIKE TO STAY THERE AND IT WILL BE MY HOME! THANK YOU HUMAN! THANK YOU SANS!” The weird lizard takes off, but you can’t pretend you’re paying attention to it anymore, because Papyrus has tackled you into an absolutely enormous hug, lifting you off your feet. You laugh and finally wiggle until he puts you down.

“Glad you’re excited, Paps. C’mon, boys, let’s pack the rest of this stuff up. Think we can fit it all in the car?”

Sans leans back in, looking at the few possessions left in the apartment after Papyrus had gathered up his many action figures.

“uh, i think we’ll make it fit, somehow.”

-----------------------------------------

When you get back to your house, you reiterate that the brothers can set up anywhere in the house that they want. Papyrus runs wildly from room to room, swinging doors open, coughing on dust and exploring. Sans just shrugs.

He picks the room right next to yours.

Chapter Text

“AND WE HAVE SO MUCH ROOM HERE!” You can hear Papyrus talk, you discover, from about five rooms away. After calling the cops and the insurance people, then getting your new housemates’ limited possessions put away (Sans unpacks in a matter of minutes, Papyrus takes his time claiming a suite of rooms, one for his action figures, another for his rock collection, and the old musty library as his puzzle room), you feel like you need to take a few minutes to just sit down and adjust. So, there’s two guys living with you now. Well, two skeletons. And one of them had kissed you a few hours ago.

Oh god, had you moved in with your boyfriend of one day?!

… Had you just thought of him as your boyfriend?

That is furiously embarrassing. And hugely unlike you, you think, flopping down on the couch and whistling for Ghost. And yet… the corners of your mouth turn up when Sans wanders in, an electrical engineering textbook that must have belonged to one of your parents in his hand. He plops down next to you, sitting crosslegged, and opens the book on his lap, looking intrigued. He seems to know that you just need a few quiet moments right now. Well, as quiet as possible, given Papyrus’s excited phone conversation from one of his rooms.

“OH, I AM SURE YOU’LL LOVE IT!” Papyrus is saying. There’s a pause, then he cackles. “OF COURSE SANTA WILL BE ABLE TO FIND ME HERE, HUMAN! HONESTLY, WHAT A QUESTION… NYEH HEH HEH…”

Oh, dear. You’ll need to get the boys Christmas presents, you realize. Well, you have a little extra in your budget… though that should probably go towards a new car fund, you think reluctantly. Sans is smiling faintly as he reads, hearing Papyrus’ excitement.

You decide it’s not weird, living with him, as long as you don’t think of him as your boyfriend. Just a pal that you kissed, who helped free all the monsters from the underground.

A thought occurs to you.

“Hey… Sans?” Sans glances up, still smiling. “Is Papyrus talking to Frisk?” Sans snickers.

“if he’s not, he’s made another human friend i don’t know about.”

“But… Frisk doesn’t speak, right?” A look of realization crosses Sans’ face.

“oh. heh. yeah. frisk still has a monster phone.”

“With like a video screen?” You ask, folding your own feet up under you. Sans shakes his head.

“no, no.” He closes the book on his lap, and shifts a little to face you. “i mean, think about it. humans and monsters were separated for hundreds of years. it would be amazing if we were speaking the exact same language after all that time.” You nod cautiously. After all, you have to look up some phrases in Shakespeare’s plays, and that hadn’t been that long ago, all things considered. “monsters can… this is hard to explain. we just get what you’re saying, you know?” You have to laugh at that.

“Sans, that is just a terrible explanation.” Sans chuckles after a moment, scratching his skull.

“okay. let me try again.” He thinks for a while. “so, you have a soul.”

“Isn’t that a philosophical-”

“no.” Sans says. You can swear that he’s rolling his eyes, but it doesn’t exactly work the same with those bright lights in his sockets. “you have a soul. period. immutable fact. okay?”

“… Okay.” You grin.

“and i can see it. and hear it. and i know it. and if i wanted, i could even touch it.” Your brow furrows, trying to wrap your mind around that.

“Really? Um… what does it look like? My soul?” You’re not one hundred percent certain he’s not just messing with you. Sans’ face grows slightly reverent, as he stares… somehow, through you.

“bright. stubborn. shifting, like a candle flame. not fire colors, though. like the light just above the candle. but saturated with color, really rich? don’t know if there’s a word for that color. don’t know if humans can see it. hm… determined.” He says, then meets your eyes again. “and funny.” He says with a small smile. Oh. You shift slightly, feeling, well, flattered. ‘it’s a very good soul.” He assures you, then shakes his head, remembering what he’d been explaining. “anyway, we can see them, and we can hear them. and we can talk… through them?” He shrugs helplessly. “i didn’t know how to sign when i met the kiddo. i know what a lot of signs mean now, but i don’t really need them. as long as i concentrate, i can hear frisk. and…” He smiles very wide, thinking about something that genuinely makes him happy. “the kiddo can hear us. not with ears, but…” He looks immensely satisfied at that.

You struggle to imagine what that must have been like. You knew Frisk’s story from the news, of course, you’d placed them almost immediately once you heard their name. Frisk, all alone, bruised from the fall down, hearing a voice for the very first time. You hope it was a nice voice. “That must have been…” You say, trailing off. Sans follows your train of thought, and nods, his smile slipping slightly.

“hard.” He agreed. “but wonderful too, sometimes, frisk says. poor kid. when most of us met them for the first time, it took us a little while to understand them. we were rusty.” He said. “some of us… weren’t great. some of us decided to take the first swing.” He shifts guiltily. “a little kid, on their own, it must have felt like the whole underground was just trying to kill ‘em. i wouldn’t have blamed the kid, if they decided to swing back.” He says, but he can’t meet your eyes when he says that. Sans is an exceptionally bad liar, sometimes.

“but frisk is special. very special. frisk never… quits. they would just talk and talk and play and listen with the monsters they met, even when they got hurt for their troubles, until it clicked, and they left as friends.” He continues, a little proudly. “i mean, i tried to keep an eye on ‘em, but that kid is everywhere at once, sometimes.” Again, there’s that strange undercurrent to his voice you can’t just figure out. “i’m glad they’re up here, with tori. kid seemed way too old, down below. frisk is a lot more like a kid up here.” He says, unfolding his legs to be able to lean down and scratch Ghost’s back, now that the cat has finally joined you. “cops say anything about when they’re getting here?” You grimace.

“They said they’ll send some officers over sometime this week.” You say reluctantly. “I guess a trashed car isn’t exactly on the top of their priority list.” Sans looks unsurprised.

“yeah, figured.” He says, scooping Ghost tentatively up and leaning against the armrest, swinging his legs up onto your lap. You raise an eyebrow.

“Comfy?” You drawl. He gives you a wicked smile.

“very.” He picks his book back up, trying to figure out how to juggle both Ghost and the textbook. Ahaha, he definitely has a few things to learn about cats. Just then, Papyrus comes tearing in, his phone clapped to the side of his face.

“_________, THERE YOU ARE! I HAVE A QUESTION!”

“Go for it, Paps.” You say with a laugh.

“MAY, MAYBE, FRISK AND TORIEL COME OVER HERE FOR OUR BATTLE PLANS TONIGHT?” He asks, his free hand making a nervous fist. “FRISK WOULD LIKE TO SEE THIS HOUSE, AND I THINK YOU WOULD LIKE TORIEL…” You smile at him.

“Papyrus, this is your home now, remember? You can invite your friends over whenever you want.” You assure him. “Besides, I want to meet Frisk’s mom too.” The Queen of Monsters. That’s a hell of a title, you think.

“OH! GOODIE!” Papyrus exclaims, then, wandering into the kitchen, begins to repeat the conversation verbatim for Frisk. Sans smiles up at you.

“thanks for being so nice to my brother.” He says quietly. You drum your fingers absently on his tibia, smirking back at him when Ghost succeeds at getting between him and the textbook. Good, at least he wasn’t just a little butt to you and polite to all your friends.

“Your brother is awesome.” You assure him. “I really like him. He cracks me up, but he’s such a nice guy.” Sans nods slowly.

“he’s too nice for his own good.” He confides. “but that’s okay. i’ll be an asshole for both of us, if it means that he gets to stay so nice.” He settles back down, having managed to inch the cat out of the way of his book, and turns the page, falling silent except to make a small, displeased noise when your hand falls still. You chuckle and resume, eventually just running your fingers over the smooth bone, indulging your curiosity a little. It’s warm, and hard as steel. How could you have felt so comfortable in this bony lap last night?

After a while, the doorbell rings, and Papyrus dashes past you with puppyish excitement to get the door. Sans peeks over the top of the book at you. “that was really fast.”

“Mhm.” You agree. You should really stand up, you’re expecting… god, royalty, but you feel half melded to the couch. Even with heavy, bony legs on your lap, you can’t remember the last time you’ve felt this comfortable. Well, surely Paps will want to take them on a tour before he brings Frisk and Queen Toriel to see you, right? Sans watches you, and when he sees you’re not in a rush, he hums quietly and resumes reading. You shrug mentally, and pick up your phone, checking for any new messages. You look only away when you just feel a stare boring into you. You glance around, and then grimace when you spot the source of the sensation.

Undyne is standing in the threshold to the TV room. Her exposed eye is almost perfectly round, and her mouth is hanging open in undisguised delight. Sans notices that something has your attention and glances at your face, then follows your gaze to the doorway.

“oh, hey undyne. we figured you were tori and frisk. alphys’ already done?” He says, perfectly casual. Undyne’s eye grows improbably wider, and with an incredible amount of effort, she finally manages to close her mouth. She clears her throat, and says, in a very strained voice,

“Oh, hey. _______. Sans. _______ and Sans. I’ll… be right back.” She clears her throat, then backs up slowly. She doesn’t make it out of hearing range before she lets out a loud, victorious whoop, followed by wild laughter. Sans is looking at you. He looks awfully pleased with himself, you note, trying not to smile. You do your best attempt at a stern look, and wriggle out from under his legs, going to find Undyne. If she gets much more excited, she might break something, you rationalize. And, well, you still have to explain the whole roommates thing.

She might not break something at that news. She might just… break.

Chapter Text

“What are you doing in here, you idiot! This isn’t halftime! You get back in there and snuggle!” Undyne says the second she sees your face. You glower at her, knowing that Sans can still hear you, lock arms with her, and escort her pointedly down several halls until you’re definitely out of earshot. She whines the entire way, but when you finally stop (in a very formal sitting room you can’t recall seeing anyone use ever, even when your parents were alive - hey, maybe you can sell some of this furniture to raise car and present funds!) she quickly squeals and tugs you down to sit next to her on a very tasteful floral loveseat.

“Okay.” She finally breathes. “Okay, I missed a lot. Tell me everything, punk.” She looks so happy right now that you realize you actually are going to tell her, just because it’s nice to make someone’s day, and Undyne has been so good to you.

“Okay.” You say, sounding a little excited. You’ve seen people do this in movies, of course, but now you’re doing it. You’re giving a play-by-play of what the hot, protective bad boy (What? You did not just have that thought) had done to try to win you over, to your best friend, and you’re both grinning like idiots.

Of course, in the movies, the best friend had not been played by a totally ripped blue fish woman with an eyepatch, and the love interest had definitely never been a literal magical skeleton. You were entering uncharted waters. “So we got in the car and he called me ‘babe?’” You charge ahead.

“WHAT?”

“Wait, no. We were talking and I said I didn’t want him to get locked up, and he was like,” you drop your voice in a frankly terrible Sans imitation “‘oh, ain’t no walls that can lock this badass up, babe.’”

“WHAT.” Undyne says, not really a question, and begins laughing again.

“Well, no, not that but something like that.” You correct with a fit of guilty giggles. “Anyway, then we got to their place…” The mood sobers palpably.

“Yeah. Not… great.” Undyne sighs.

“Undyne, you’re somewhere safe, right? You and Alphys?” Undyne nods quickly.

“Yeah, the faculty housing is really great, promise. We’re near the beach, and it’s just a townhouse, but it has a big yard. I mean, not like this place does, but pretty big.” She assures you. “No mold or leaks or rats-”

“They had rats?!” You exclaim. Undyne shudders, nodding.

“I like rats. I like all animals, you know? But these things… they chewed through everything. Sans saved up to get Paps a TV, so he could watch Mettaton - who is outside your house right now, by the way-”

It’s your turn. “WHAT?” If there’s one monster success story, it’s Mettaton. It seems like he’s been on every channel this past year, first as the perfect guest, now as a host, actor, singer, chef… there seems to be no end to the robot’s skills.

“He’s helping Alphys put in a security system for you. You know, she made him, so they stay in touch. Shut up, shut up, that’s not important, I was just saying that the rats chewed through all the wires and wrecked the TV so bad even Sans couldn’t fix it. Go back to the story!” She urges.

“Okay. Okay. Well, I saw what it was like, and how excited Papyrus was to be able to live somewhere else for a while, and I could tell Sans was actually excited for Paps too, so… I um, took Sans outside and asked if he and Paps wanted to live with me? For as long as they wanted?” You say tentatively. She sighs, giving you a knowing look.

“Aw, I’m sorry, dude. I know, I’ve asked a thousand times, and he just digs his heels in and says that they’ll be fine. I just want them out of there, you know? Maybe if we both ask, next time…”

“Welllllll…” You hang on the word for a second. “So, he, um, he said I was being too nice-”

“Right.”

“And that the world was gonna eat me whole I think?”

“… Okay, new one, but okay.”

“And I said I didn’t care, and I wanted him here.” You flush slightly. “And he just kept saying, you know, ‘blah blah blah i can dunk any human blah i’m a bad guy,’”

“That is really just… an awful Sans voice, ________.”

“And I was just like, stop it, I’m not scared of you? And then his eye went all blue and,” (hot) “kinda smoky and… like he was in the garage earlier. Voice all” (hot) “deep, teeth all” (oh god) “… sharp?” Your face is already heating up, thinking about it. Undyne eyes you, her eyebrow slowly raising.

“Wow. Wow. You are really not scared by that, are you?” She says devilishly. “Oh, man, this changes so many things. I’ll have to redraw at least three-” She suddenly stops talking. You blink at her. She looks at you, owlish. A long second passes.

“Undyne…” You begin, then stop and shake your head. If she’s drawing a comic, or, knowing her and Alphys, a manga series about your life… you just don’t want to know about it. “You know what, forget it. Just never mention any drawings ever again. Anyway…” You’ve lost your momentum, and this was going to be your big line. Damn it, you were looking forward to this part!

“________, what’s the matter?” Undyne suddenly scowls. “He didn’t actually… hurt you, did he? I mean -”

“Oh, god, no!” You say quickly. “He kissed me, dude!” There is another palpable pause.

“WHAAAAAAAAATTTT?!” Undyne yells, jumping to her feet. “YES! YES! HECK YES! YOU AND SANS KISSED. YOU DID IT, BUDDY! YOU KISSED A SKELETON! OR, I GUESS, A SKELETON KISSED YOU!” She does a victory dance, as proud as a parent at a college graduation. Then, suddenly, she sits back down, looking politely at you. “So, uh, what was it like?” She asks, as if it’s not that big a deal. You roll your eyes, then grin.

“It was… really good. He is a very good kisser. Undyne, he doesn’t have lips though?! How was he, you know -”

“No, I don’t know, please tell me. In detail.” Undyne says sweetly. You groan, waiting for her to relent, and she sighs. “Sans is better at using magic than anyone I’ve ever met. If he needed lips, I’m sure he just made some. Like, what was his tongue like?” She asks, her eyes lit up, as if asking it casually like that will mean that you don’t notice how nosy she’s being.

“Okay, (A), rude. We weren’t making out on his front step, you perv.” You laugh. “He just kissed me. It was… sweet. It was honestly the best kiss I’ve ever had. “ Undyne sighs happily, grinning from ear to ear. “And, uh… (B). Just out of curiosity. You think he could make a tongue?” You blurt out. After the delighted shrieks die out once more, Undyne nods quickly and smirks.

“Don’t worry, sweetie, I’m sure he’ll be able to make whatever body part you might need,” She purrs. Oh god. You bury your face in your hands and began to giggle, then finally look up again, bright red.

“ANYWAY.” You say pointedly, “I guess that was just him making his intentions clear-”

“Ahahaha, no shit!”

“- because he and Paps moved in. For good. He paid the landlord for the last month, put the keys in the mailbox, tore up the lease and, uh, moved into one of the bedrooms.” Undyne’s jaw drops once more.

“You really got them out?” She whispers. “For good?”

“Um, yup. The owner of the bedroom next to mine is now officially a skeleton with magic powers that, you know, kissed me today.” You say with a slightly proud, slightly embarrassed, altogether… overwhelmed grin. “And I think Paps has moved into… oh, literally every other bedroom by now. He’s having the time of his life. Poor guy, he was so tall and stuck in that little place…”

Whumph. The air practically is pushed out of your lungs when Undyne, once again, hugs you tight. You’ve been hugged more times in the last few days than you had been in the last twelve years, you think. Undyne doesn’t crackle with energy the same way Sans does, when you’re this close, but when she hugs you, you feel it in your chest all the same, a lovely warm feeling, like caramel, like Ghost sprawled out in a sunbeam, like the smell of something rich and slightly spicy. You don’t think that’s magic, or at least, it’s not the type of magic that the barrier was made of. You think it’s, well, love. When Undyne pulls away, she has an uncharacteristically serious look on her face.

“If you hadn’t been working at the admissions desk the day I walked into the aquarium… if you hadn’t insisted that I put an application in for something more than being a night guard… god, did we ever luck out, me and my friends, that you happened to be there.” She murmurs. “If I hadn’t had the guts to walk in…” You have to laugh at that.

“Undyne, if there’s one thing you’re not lacking in, it’s guts.” You point out. “But even if we’d missed each other, I would have still run into Sans in the vet’s office. He would have still asked me for my number. Even if we were on some totally different timeline, I think we still would have ended up friends.”

“Destiny?” She says, grinning again.

“Sure, if you want.” You say with a shrug. “Okay, you happy? I want to go see what your girlfriend and Mettaton are doing! Oh man, does he really look like he does on TV?”

----------------------

He really does. He and Alphys are standing by the open front door, installing something complicated into the door handle, it looks like. Papyrus is busily drilling a camera into the top of the doorframe, using his height to eliminate the need for a stepladder. It’s small enough to not be easily noticeable. Sans is hanging around, his hands in his pockets, watching the procedure closely. He looks up at the two of you and gives you a slow, lazy smile. Mettaton, on the other hand, bounds forward as soon as he sees you.

“Undyne! You’ve returned. Oh, and could this be the lovely ________ I’ve heard so much about?” His eyes move slowly over you, his smile growing ever wider as you give a quiet laugh and wave.

“Uh, hi! Wow, thank you so much for coming out to help! Gosh, I didn’t ever dream that I’d be meeting you today.” You say, feeling a little starstruck. Mettaton’s eyes light up.

“Oh… my!’ He breathes, abandoning Alphys entirely for the time being. “Alphys didn’t mention that you were a fan!”

“Oh, I really, really am. Since day one!” You enthuse, beaming at the familiar face. You had no idea that your friends were this close with the famous robot. “When you went on that dancing show and did that tango, and the whole internet absolutely lost it over your shoes?”

“Armani, darling, I had them custom fit. Alphys designed brand new feet that night specifically for those shoes!” He says, brushing his hand through his gleaming, inky hair.

“Alphys, that’s incredible!” You call.

“Uh, o-oh, it was uh… Sans, c-can you hold this wire please?” She asks, nodding at the piece Mettaton had been working on. She’s sweating slightly, lost in concentration, too focused to be distracted by talk of dancing. Undyne’s watching her, seemingly also lost in concentration. Her sharp teeth are tugging slightly at her bottom lip.

You don’t notice how Sans’ smile is beginning to slip as he peels himself off the wall to sub in for the robot. You’re too busy having fun.

“Oh, but then! You and Napstablook, right? That’s their name? That set on SNL is already legend. You’re both so great!” You say. “I listened to your live album like, a billion times, look.” You begin to fish out your phone to show him the play count on the album, then groan. “Oh, I’m being such a suck up, aren’t I? I’m sure you just wanted to have a normal day -”

“Oh, NO, DARLING!” Mettaton purrs, the bass in his projected voice rumbling through you. “They all said you were wonderful, but I simply didn’t know such an absolutely gorgeous creature could have so many different interests!” Ahhahaha, oh, oh, wow. Mettaton, from TV, had just called you absolutely gorgeous. Mark that one away in the memory book!

“Are you kidding?” You say excitedly. “Look who’s talking! You can sing, you can dance, and you cook, too?”

“You enjoy my cooking program?” Mettaton says, sounding absolutely delighted.

“Of course I do! God, when you went toe to toe with Gordon Ramsay, and you pulled off that salmon en croute with the fresh herb sauce you cooked inside the whole lemon, and you cut open the lemon tableside and nobody could figure out how you did it? Oh, oh, and don’t tell me, I can remember, the truffle studded terrine… and that flower that melted and then formed itself into a chocolate mousse in the shape of a different flower. I always wanted to make something that looked as beautiful as that.” You sigh wistfully. Mettaton sighs too, in absolute bliss.

“Step into the light, darling, let me take a closer look at you.” He says quietly. You blink, but oblige, stepping into a sunny patch of the front yard - it’s still positively balmy for December.

“Is this good?” You ask dubiously.

“Delightful.” Mettaton murmurs. You have to grin at him. He always talks to the camera as if he’s trying to seduce it. Apparently, this is not an affectation for the screen. He walks a broad circle around you, making soft, appreciative noises. “Charming figure. Entirely charming.” He pronounces, and ‘tsk’s at you when you begin to demur. “Gorgeoussss hair.” He continues. “Goodness, you just want to bury your face in it, don’t you boys!” He calls to Papyrus and Sans.

“NO!” Papyrus calls back cheerfully. Sans makes an awfully strained noise that isn’t an answer. You glance over at him, but Mettaton demands your attention back at once.

“Such big, bright eyes. Adorable nose.” He leans forward and boops it with the tip of his finger, and you struggle not to giggle. “Such an expressive mouth, too. Do you ever wear lipstick, darling, I can recommend several brands that would just make those luscious lips *pop!*” He says, letting out a rich, fluid chuckle, his finger now tracing your cheekbone. “What do you say, sweet, would you like to go to L.A., maybe Tokyo, say a few weeks from now when this all blows over? I’ll help you get your big start!” You blink at him, then begin to laugh.

“Oh, wow, Mettaton, that’s an… amazing offer. Thank you so much, but I think I’ll have to pass. I’m really, really happy here.” You say, and with a pang, realize that it’s true. “I’ve got an amazing job here, and I don’t think I can jeopardize my plans to be the head honcho at the aquarium in fifteen years if I run off and chase the spotlight.” You say with a grin. Mettaton pouts.

“You’re certain?” He says, removing his hand from your face. “You’ve got something there, I know it. I can just see it in some people.”

“she sounds pretty certain, bud.” Sans has wandered over, looking a strange mixture of agitated and relieved. “________ knows what she wants.” Standing next to you, he unsubtly threads the cool bones of his fingers through your own, squeezing your hand. You glance over at him, and then understand. Oh lord. Your sweet, stupid bonehead here was practically dripping jealousy.

Well, quickly replaying the last few minutes in your head, you realize that he’s at least a little justified. Mettaton is looking at your linked hands with undisguised interest. “Oh… goodness.” He purrs. “I didn’t know the two of you were such good friends already!” Sans glares up at him, but well, what’s he going to say? You’re not officially dating. You haven’t even been on the date he’d asked you on in the first place. You’ve basically just moved in together and kissed on a stoop. Looking at your numbskull again - yes, YOUR numbskull, your heart says firmly - you decide to be as clear as possible.

“Well, we are going out on that date tomorrow night after work, right, Sans?” Sans looks back at you, suddenly wearing a smug grin.

“that’s right.” He confirms. Mettaton pouts once more, as if you’d just delivered absolutely terrible news. The hammy acting makes you want to giggle again, but you manage to restrain it. “speaking of which,” Sans continues, “can I speak to you privately for a second, babe? maybe over there?” He nods at a honestly kind of tacky topiary arrangement in the front yard, easily out of earshot from the others. Huh.

“Uh… sure, Sans.” You say. Mettaton locks eyes with Sans, a tiny smile back on his face now. “She didn’t call you ‘babe’” is what that expression is silently saying, and you feel a little annoyed that Mettaton seems to be teasing your… well, your Sans. So you release his hand to wind your arm around his back as you walk over to the designated spot, then tilt your head, looking at him. “So did you just want to look at these bushes shaped like… two swans and a velociraptor?” You say, managing to distracted by the topiary animals now that you’re closer. “Wow, if that’s supposed to be a swan, it’s really bad-”

“hey.” He cuts you off. “i just wanted to say, you know, i don’t want you to feel like you’re stuck with me, this thing, whatever’s happening with us right now. i, uh, i kissed you back there because i needed you to know how i felt about you… before you were sure about taking us in.” He sighed. “but i don’t want you to feel like we have to be more than friends just because me and my bro are staying with you. not if you don’t want to. i mean, look, i know we’re a bad match.” Oh, wow, that kind of stung.

“How are we-” You start, but Sans shakes his head.

“i mean, not that you’re a human and i’m a monster.” He says. “but we both know that you could have any human or monster you want, no problem.” You snort.

“Oh, sure, we both know that.” You drawl sarcastically. He forges on ahead, ignoring you.

“i’m nothing like mettaton. i can’t take you the same places or show you the same things. even humans love a guy like him, but i’m not him. i’m not always easy or fun, i come with so much baggage, and you, you’re just… gorgeous and smart and you’ve got this beautiful soul and I’m just dust in compar-”

You can’t stand to hear him talk about himself that way. Sure, he has flaws, but so do you. He just can’t understand the admiration, and affection you have for him already. Not to mention the worry, and the fear for him, and, well, a gut attraction. It’s the latter that you act on, leaning forward and kissing him again, very softly. Your lips hit bone and teeth, not soft, clever lips, but you don’t let that distract you.

(“GET SOME!” Undyne’s voice carries over to you without the slightest difficulty.)

You part about an inch from him, studying the light in his eyes. He makes a very quiet, very low noise, and brightens from the inside, that eye snapping blue again. You shiver pleasantly as he closes the distance between you two once more, kissing you a bit more hungrily than he had earlier in the day.

(“SANS, PLEASE STOP, YOU'RE EMBARRASSING ME!” Papyrus cackles. “OWIE! UNDYNE, NO HITTING!”) You have to pull away first, the enormity of all the changes of the day coupled with Papyrus’ antics making you realize that you’re in your front yard, kissing a skeleton in front of all of your new friends, your new roommate, and a TV star. Oh, and the Queen of Monsters will be arriving any minute. You clear your throat, and manage to speak up this time.

“I like watching Mettaton on TV, you dork! That’s all! He’d drive me nuts in about an hour if I had to go anywhere with him.” You smile at him slowly. “Look, my dating history is basically a series of me messing stuff up or giving up after a few dates. I’m really bad at, you know, relationships. As in… I’ve never really had a real one.” You frown slightly. “I know this, though. I’ve never felt it before, the way I feel when I’m with you.” You admit. “This is new for me, the feeling of… actually wanting to be with someone, I guess?” You say, feeling the back of your neck burning.

“mmm, so you do want me?” He repeats, suddenly giving you a very toothy grin, all smugness and satisfaction. You wonder how much of that is an act, how much of it is done to make you smile or roll your eyes or laugh. Naturally, it works

“Ha, nice try, you jerk.” You laugh, still flushing. “I’m just saying. You’ll take me out tomorrow night, and we’ll… start from there, I guess?”

“uh, babe, I think we already started.” He points out.

Well, you can’t exactly argue with that.

Chapter Text

Once the security system was installed in the doors, the cameras (both hidden and obvious) were the next step. Alphys had you guide the small group from room to room inside, planting the motion detecting cameras where they’d be able to pick up the most activity from the windows. Honestly, Alphys was doing the lion’s share of the work. Undyne was busy gloating over you and Sans still, Mettaton was still flirting heavily, and Papyrus had given up entirely, waiting at the front door for Frisk and Toriel like a puppy. You nod at the cameras. “So, what happens when they see someone who’s not supposed to be there?” You ask. Alphys grins proudly.

“Th-they give the trespassers ten seconds to clear out.” Alphys says. “It plays a recording, um... telling them to get out o-or the defenses engage.”

“Defenses?” You ask. Mettaton smiles widely.

“Lasers, darling.” He coos. “They work very nicely. They’re set to stun any enemies. And if they don’t work, well, you can always call your dear friend Mettaton, and he’ll be there in a flash to rescue you!” He gives you a broad wink. Oh, you know what he’s doing - his eyes move almost imperceptibly to Sans.

“won’t be necessary.” Sans can’t help but take the bait. “i’ll be here.” He locks eyes with the robot, and pronounces, very clearly, “every. single. night.” Then he glances at you, with almost infuriating confidence.

“Guys.” You sigh. “Mettaton, I know you live for this stuff, but there’s no need for drama right now, okay? I’ve had a pretty tough day. And Sans…” You trail off and sigh. What, like you’re going to lecture him for saying he’ll be there for you in case of danger? Still, you’re pretty sure that Sans had been hammering across a little more than that, the way he had been looking at Mettaton. You’re not a fan of being talked about like you’re some valuable commodity. “You guys just be nice.” You finally sigh.

“Oh, darling, I am so so so sorry!” Mettaton cries. “I never meant to distress you, and with the just awful day you’ve had, oh I just feel terrible! Come here, precious!” He wraps his cold metal arms around you, pressing your face against the smooth chassis of his chest. “What kind of star of screen (and stage) would I be if I failed to comfort my number one fan properly!?” You have to laugh, thinking of the utter ridiculousness of the situation. He begins to stroke your hair comfortingly. “There there, pet. It will all be fine.”

In this position, Mettaton knows that you can’t see anything more than the polished curve of his chestplate, so he has absolutely no problem in giving Sans a wide, predatory smile. Sans glares absolute black fury at the robot, but by the time you manage to get away from the hug, he’s got a placid smile on his face.

Undyne, on the other hand, is barely paying attention to the installation, watching this all with delight.

“Hey, ___________, do you have any bags of popcorn downstairs?” She asks in a high pitched voice. You look at her, mystified.

“Uh, I don’t think so, dude. Why?” When Undyne only gives you an innocent smile, you think you’ve figured it out. “Oh, god, we totally missed lunch, and it’s practically dinner time already. I’m so sorry. You’ve gotta be starving.” You sigh, then blink. “Oh no. Oh, god, the queen is coming here and it’s dinner time.” You take a deep breath, trying to figure out what you need to do. “Does she eat pizza? We’ve got leftovers… oh, god, I’d better get more.” Undyne sighs, and straightens up from her crouch next to a handful of wires.

“Sweetie, I’m going to help __________ with dinner.” She tells Alphys, who has practically retreated into the conversation, too fixated on, well, whatever it is she’s doing with those wires.

“Mhm, fine, okay.” She says distractedly, sparing a glance over and only looking at Undyne when she swoops to kiss the dinosaur’s cheek. “Sans, can you get me the, you know… the round thing? Mettaton, I need those lenses. No, the big one first.” It’s funny. In this context, she doesn’t stammer at all. She’s in perfect control of the tiny system she’s creating. It’s lovely to see. You grin at Undyne, then look at both Mettaton and Sans.

“Play. Nice.” You instruct firmly, and they both look at you like schoolboys who’ve been caught fighting.

They do have the good sense to stop arguing until you’re out of earshot.

---------------------

You nearly walk past Papyrus, who is pacing anxiously at the door in the front hall. “Hey, Paps, that’s not going to make them come any faster.” You tease him.

“I KNOW. I AM JUST IMPATIENT.” He says, awfully reasonably. “FRISK IS SO EXCITED TO SEE YOUR HOME!”

“Our home.” You remind him. “C’mon, bud, you moved in all your stuff. Alphys gave you that brand new key to the fancy new locks and everything too! It’s official!” You can’t have him thinking that he ever needs to go back to that awful slum.

“MY HOME.” Papyrus corrects himself, and smiles at you. “OH, HUMAN. I’M VERY LUCKY TO HAVE IMPRESSED YOU SO MUCH THAT YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO HAVE ME AROUND.” He says happily, then leans in close, as if he’s going to whisper to you. “HOWEVER, YOU DON’T NEED TO KISS SANS TO KEEP ME HERE, I’M HAPPY TO STAY. I KNOW IT MUST BE AWFUL FOR YOU.”

Dear god, that was in no way a whisper. “Paps, my ears!” You whimper, trying to ignore Undyne’s raucous laughter. You feel like you do need to address this. You’ve suddenly inserted yourself into this family, and in spite of his huge size, you know that in many ways, Papyrus is quite young. You want to make sure that he’s okay with all the changes. “Don’t worry, Papyrus.” You say, when the ringing in your ear stops (and the distressed skeleton stops trying to pet your ear to make it feel better.) “Your brother and I, um…”

“ARE YOU DATING?” Papyrus asks excitedly. “I KNOW ALL ABOUT DATING, I CAN GIVE YOU TIPS. HAVE YOU MADE THE SPAGHETTI YET?”

“Uh…” You look to Undyne for help, and are unsurprised by the obnoxious grin she gives you. Okay, no help from that valuable resource. “Not just yet, Paps. Your brother’s gonna take me out tomorrow night, though, if that’s okay.” Well, you’d just sort of pulled “tomorrow” out of thin air when you were talking with Mettaton outside, but it had seemed that Sans was happy about it.

“OH, GOOD! I DO NEED SOME TIME TO WORK ON MY TRAINING, AND UNDYNE CAN COME OVER HERE THEN, ESPECIALLY SINCE SANS WILL BE OUT FROM UNDER OUR NOSES!” You squint at Undyne, and mouth the word ‘training?’ She gives you a helpless shrug.

“Sounds like a plan, Paps.” She says, grinning up at the skeleton. You clear your throat.

“But, uh, you’re okay with all that?” Papyrus does his best evil smile.

“NYEH HEH HEH HEH. IF SANS HAS TO GO ON A DATE WITH ANYONE, I AM GLAD IT IS YOU, HUMAN. WHEN HE IS HAPPY, HIS JOKES IMPROVE SLIGHTLY.” Well, that’s probably as good as you’re going to get from Papyrus.

Just then, the front doorbell finally rings, and Papyrus (who has been waiting for this moment) flings the door open. There, in the doorway is Frisk, who immediately runs headlong to tackle Papyrus in a hug.

There is also an eight foot tall white goat...woman, her arms full with bags and boxes that are letting out a wonderful smell. She’s got a big smudge of flour on the front of her purple sweater, and she is looking on the ground in confusion. You realize that an apple has fallen from one of the bags and, not really thinking about it, dart down to grab it for her. She gives you a relieved look when she sees you pop up with it.

“Oh, thank you! I do hope you haven’t all eaten yet!” She says. Oh, her voice is just beautiful. Undyne bounces over to grab the supply of food out of Toriel’s arms.

“No way, majesty, this is awesome!” She says excitedly. “Oh, man, is that snail pie!? _______, I’m gonna bring this into that room with the big table!” She tears off, leaving you in the foyer with the queen while Papyrus and Frisk chatter.

“Just a tiny one.” The queen says, almost guiltily, then looks back at you. “Oh, goodness, we haven’t even actually met yet, have we?” She reaches out and takes your hand, clasping it between her own. You feel tiny, suddenly. “I am Toriel. I’ve heard so much about you from Frisk in the last few days that I feel like we’re already close friends!” She says, giving you a lovely, shy smile.

“Oh! HI!” You stammer, then take a deep breath. “I’m so sorry, I’ve just never met royalty before.” And you’re still trying to come to terms with everything else, like the fact that your favorite actor is upstairs, probably arguing with your boyfriend (oof, there that title was again), or that your best friend was comfortable enough with your house to know that the dining room could fit all of you without even asking. Toriel shakes her head.

“Please, don’t worry! Pretend you’ve never heard about that foolish title!” She begs. “Please just think of me as Frisk’s mom.” You hesitate, then nod quickly. You can do that.

“Well, I’m so happy you’re both here! Ah!” Frisk has finally separated enough from Papyrus to tackle you in a hug too. “Hey squirt!” You laugh, making sure their face is turned up so they can see you.

“Frisk! Manners! We don’t just jump on our new friends, do we?” Toriel says, flushing. Frisk hesitates, then smiles obnoxiously wide and nods that yes, we do just jump on our new friends. Toriel looks sternly at her child. Frisk sighs, and runs their closed fist in a circle in front of their chest, mouthing ‘sorry.’ You have to laugh. Oh, you wish you knew more signs! You’d have to sign up for an online class tonight. The kid hops back and begins signing quickly. Toriel smiles.

“Much better.” She tells Frisk. “Frisk would like to thank you for inviting us into your house, and to say how grateful they are that you’ve invited Uncle Papyrus and Uncle Sans to live with you here as well. They say that your house is beautiful and that… they’re sorry that you’ve had trouble with mean humans too.” Frisk continues to sign, and Toriel looks shocked. “Frisk! You will most certainly not beat anyone up!” She admonishes. You giggle, and ruffle Frisk’s hair.

“Thanks for the thought, little dude.” You say, then smile back at Toriel, who is shifting slightly.

“I, too, have to say how grateful I am.” She begins. “Sans would always make sure that we met up at my new home, and I know what the monster residences are like, around here.” You shake your head.

“Well, Sans wanted to stay and make sure that those vandals didn’t come back anyway. I just gave them the extra kick out the door.” You say. “Hey, Paps, why don’t you show Frisk all your new rooms!” Papyrus practically glows at the suggestion, and he grabs Frisk’s hand, calling out,

“WHAT A WONDERFUL IDEA!” as he tugs Frisk deeper into the house. Frisk lets out a wild burst of laughter as they’re pulled along. Toriel smiles fondly behind them, then looks back at you.

“Oh, gosh, where are my manners. Can I get you something to drink? Oh, and you brought all that food for dinner, too!” You say, suddenly feeling quite rude. Toriel seems to care a little more than you do about propriety.

“Oh, some of it needs to warm in the oven if you don’t mind. I would love a cup of tea while everything heats up, though…” She says shyly.

“A-all finished!” Alphys calls from the top of the stairs, and proceeds down them, looking tired.

“Your first line of defense is firmly in place, darling.” Mettaton and Sans appear around the corner after her. “Oh, hello, your majesty!”

“hey tori.” Sans says tightly, and seems to have to work very hard not to jostle Mettaton all the way down the stairs. When he reaches the bottom where you’re standing, he immediately wraps his arm around your waist, leaning slightly against you. Toriel takes this all in, her smile growing warmer.

Good. So is your face.

“C’mon, guys, I was just going to make Toriel some tea. She was kind enough to bring dinner for us all!” You say, smiling at your friends. “Why don’t we all go in the kitchen and get drinks while I warm the food up. Thanks so much for all your hard work, by the way. It just means… so, like, crazy much to me.”

“I-it was fun!” Alphys says immediately.

“Anything for you, beautiful.” Mettaton sighs happily. Sans’ hold on you grows a tiny bit tighter, but he smiles at you all the same.

“anything i can do for you, i’ll do.” He says seriously, and you can tell he means it. Oh.

“Thanks.” You murmur, and then laugh. “Come on, guys, let’s go to the kitchen. I never even use this hall. Papyrus! Frisk!” You call.

“IN A MINUTE, HUMAN, FRISK HASN’T SEEN MY PUZZLETORIUM YET!” Papyrus calls back impatiently. You roll your eyes, wondering how this suddenly became normal, and led the way. Sans releases your waist, but only to twist his fingers back through yours.

“You weren’t too mean to Mettaton, were you?” You whisper under your breath. “I like him!”

“i know you do. that’s why he’s not a scrap pile right now.” Sans grumbles. You try not to find this at all funny, and fail.

“Well, I’m sure he had a good time torturing you.” You sigh, still laughing. “But you really need to relax. There’s only one monster out there for me right now.”

“yeah?” You turn to give him a stern look - you were admiring the one Toriel had used on Frisk so much that you wanted to perfect your own - but he’s looking so happily at you that you forget to narrow your eyes.

“Uh, yeah, bonehead.” You say, grinning at him. He stays silent for a moment, walking by your side (and listening to the running narration of Mettaton, fifteen feet behind you, who was explaining the artistic merit of the architecture, paintings, and furniture as he passed them to anyone who would listen.)

“great.” He finally says, looking over at you again.

Great.

Chapter Text

Dinner was wonderful. Well, nearly. Mettaton was still needling Sans whenever he got half a chance, which was beginning to get a little draining. Slowly, though, perhaps realizing that you weren’t laughing so much (or maybe that Sans just wasn’t rising to the bait so often when he was seated next to you at the table, his knee pressed against yours), the robot gave up, reluctantly, and instead began grilling you on all the antiques in the house.

“But surely, darling, you must know the provenance of this beautiful étagère.” He insisted. You blinked at him.

“Uh. The bookcase? It’s old.” You supplied. The conversation repeated with various objects all throughout dinner. Maybe Sans was laughing a little hard at the way you just clearly weren’t interested in all the fascinating pieces of furniture. You considered admonishing him, but, well, he just gave you that genuine smile every time he’d pushed you too far.

You were starting to consider that perhaps the smile was not, in fact, genuine. It might have been simply calculated to make you melt. Damn him for making it work. And, well, Mettaton had been rough on him, so you supposed if he felt a little better that it turned out you didn’t have much in common with the gleaming robot, that was fine.

The only other thing that made you feel a little uncomfortable (other than Undyne waving a slice of snail pie obnoxiously under your nose) was, surprisingly, Toriel. Or more specifically, Toriel and Sans. They were clearly much closer friends than you’d been told, and they had no problem rattling off inside jokes, or puns, or worst, inside puns, at each other. It wasn’t that you were at all jealous; you’d told yourself that several times, so obviously, obviously you weren’t. Right. It was just that he looked so easy and at home with her. And she was, well, not you. She was elegant, refined, motherly, beautiful, talented at cooking and baking. She had a family in Frisk, and a job that involved taking care of monsters and humans, not, uh, penguins. And she was gracious! She thanked you for everything so many times, left cookies for you and the boys to eat after she’d gone home, and promised she’d bring Frisk over as often as Papyrus wanted. It was just…

Overwhelming.

After everyone had left (with another series of hugs, which you were finally starting to get used to), it was just you, Papyrus and Sans left. Papyrus was yawning, more ostentatiously than sincerely, and Sans chuckled.

“okay, bud. show me where you want to sleep, huh? d’you remember where you left your books?”

“UH… IN THE LIBRARY?!?!” Papyrus acted like it was obvious, then did a big, loud yawn directly at you. “SANS IS GOING TO READ A STORY FOR ME NOW.” He announced.

“Oh! Cool, Paps!” You said, only a little surprised. Papyrus did have all those monster books he’d brought with him, after all. Papyrus waited for a moment, then tried again.

“IF YOU WOULD LIKE, YOU COULD LISTEN TO THE STORY TOO. OR EVEN DO THE LADY VOICES, SANS IS TERRIBLE AT THOSE-”

“heh, pal, ______ has had a long day. let’s not pressure her into storytime, k?” Sans said quickly. You shook your head. Yeah, you had a long day, but it could be a little longer. And, fine, you were no Toriel, but reading books, at least, you had covered.

-----------------------

Papyrus ended up not wanting any of his own books when he saw the cache of your books from when you were a kid in the library. He began sorting madly through them with delight, as you chuckled. Man, it had been a long time. Well, you’d been a little old for storytime by the time you’d lost your parents, but it had just never occurred to you to look at these again. For Papyrus, though, they were all new treasures. Shyly, he brought one over to you and Sans.

“Oh, hey! Swimmy! That’s one of my favorites!” You laughed, looking at the book about the small black fish who just wanted to fit in with his friends.

“IT IS WHY YOU DECIDED TO WORK AT THE AQUARIUM.” Papyrus said knowledgably. You tilted your head at him.

“Uh, something like that.” You said, not wanting to explain that your boss had found you, hungry and dirty, loitering around the corner of the aquarium a few years ago and waiting for someone to drop a ticket stub so you could claim it go in. It had been your peaceful place, back then. Everything shifting with artificial tides and simple, predictable thought processes, everything calm and beautiful and magical all the same. Changing but… safe. She’d offered you a job taking tickets that day, and you’d quit your dishwashing job that night. And here you were, eight years later, already an expert in so many things…

You were getting off track. “C’mon, dude, let’s go read it.” You encouraged. Papyrus hesitated for a while, trying to choose his room, but one of them had all of his favorite shirts in it, so he ended up wandering in there. You and Sans followed, sitting on the edge of Papyrus’ new bed.

Sans was the narrator. You, after Papyrus’ prompting, were Swimmy. Papyrus was fast asleep before you were halfway through. Sans closed the book very carefully, and left it on the dresser, then crept out of the room. You followed him, smiling when he shut the light off and closed the door. He walked down the hall, then turned and looked awkwardly up at you.

“heh. uh, thanks. some people don’t really get paps. i mean, he’s not exactly…”

“He’s awesome.” You supplied with a shrug.

“he’s a cinnamon bunny.” Sans sighed. “he’s gonna get hurt someday if i don’t watch out. but…” He rubbed the back of his skull again. “it’s better this way.”

“What do you mean?” You ask, nudging him slightly, since he’s fallen still in the hall. He doesn’t move, but looks seriously at you.

“you think i’m strong?” He says softly. “take a look at me, than at him. notice any difference?” The words are soft and sarcastic. Okay, yeah, you couldn’t help but notice that Papyrus was towering and athletic, and Sans was, well, a little shorter than you and more inclined to sitting and reading something. “papyrus was basically built to… do bad stuff. to humans.” He says with a grimace. “the guy still gets stuck on the junior jumble, but he can build a trap to mess you up in ten seconds. and that’s just when he’s planning, not when he’s fighting. if he ever gave it his all in a fight?” He gives another tired chuckle. “you’d have a really. really. bad. time.” He mutters, gazing behind you at Papyrus’ door. You feel off kilter.

“But… he’s a sweetheart. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. Well, maybe on accident, but…” Sans snorts, looking back at you.

“yeah. well, our old man basically gave him to me to raise when paps was just a babybones. he told me what paps was gonna be good at, and that since i was no good in the lab, i should try to raise my bro right to help us monsters, since dad was busy and all.” He gives you a tired, proud smile. “so i did. dad was really disappointed in both of us. pretty good hint i was on the right track.”

“Oh, jeez. Sans…” You mutter, wishing suddenly that you’d tried harder to ask about what had happened to him back on the beach. “Your dad, he’s…”

“gone. for a long time.” Sans says quietly.

“And your mom?” You hate to ask, but he doesn’t seem to mind.

“didn’t have one.” Sans says flatly. You’re trying to figure out how that works, but, well, monsters have to be different, right. “it’s always been just us.” Sans says with a shrug. “c’mon.” He says, after a moment. “didn’t mean to bring the mood down so much. just figured, you know, you told me, i should return the favor.” Seeing your confused expression, he sighs. “i know there’s more. it’s just… it’s tough explaining even to monsters. not that i’ve tried, but…” He shrugs. You wonder, for a second, if he’s managed to tell Toriel, then firmly dislike yourself for thinking it. “when i say it’s hard to think about, that’s not me trying to get you to drop it.”

You nod. You get it. Talking about this stuff is never as easy as you think it’s gonna be.

“C’mon. Want to watch an episode of dumb TV before bed?” You offer. Sans nods too easily, then squints up at you.

“just not mettaton, okay?” He says slowly. You clap your hand to your mouth to avoid laughing loud enough to wake up Papyrus.

“Deal.” You finally gasp.

-----------------------------

You settle on some dumb cartoons, and settle into the couch - you’d had to take a detour for tea, which Sans had no interest in. Sans plops down next to you, his eyes half closed already. Well, eyesockets. How did they do that? You really wanted to know, but you figured you’d pried more than enough today. Besides. He was sticking around, he said, so you’d have time to ask. He might even be telling the truth about that, you mused, taking a sip of tea.

“Hey.” You mutter after a moment, seeing his head keep nodding forward. “I’m gonna have to get up pretty early to take the bus tomorrow, so I probably won’t see you. You boys gonna be okay while I’m at work?” Sans looks up sharply at that.

“you don’t need to take the bus. i’ll take you to work.” He says quickly. You shake your head.

“Sans, please be cool? Please? I’ve taken the bus since I was a little girl. It’s kind of a pain in the ass, but it’s safe.” You mutter. “The drivers know me, it’ll be fine.” Sans grumbles quietly.

“yeah, but i can get you there faster.” He finally says.

“Yeah, basically anything can.” You laugh. “But it’s okay. You can’t take me everywhere forever.”

“not if you don’t even let me start.” He says. You sigh, and rub your forehead.

“You let a kid wander through the Underground on their own.” You point out. “I’m an adult, and I think it’s probably safer for me as a human up here as it was for Frisk down there. I’m taking the bus, you can just decide whether or not you want to be a butt about it.” He’s about to speak again, but you cut him off. “Look, if we’re going on that date tomorrow? I just don’t do the controlling boyfriend thing, okay?” He looks up at you, suddenly hurt. “I’m not saying that’s what you are.” You supply quickly. “Just… some guys have been interested in me before because they think I’m a project. I’m not. I don’t need fixing, okay?”

“never said you did!” Sans says, sounding hurt still. You sigh and reach over, taking his hand.

“You can’t fight the entire world, bonehead.” You murmur. “Please don’t fight me, either.”

“i just want you to feel safe.” He says quietly.

“And with you guys here, I do. But you know what’s going to make me freak out? If I feel like I can’t step outside without security.” You say. “I’ve got your number, I promise I’ll call if I run into trouble. And, you know, I’ve been living on my own for a while, I know the tricks. No dark alleys, no following strangers, no getting into unmarked vans…”

“or marked vans.” Sans says quickly.

“Vans in general.” You agree.

“unless you know the van owner.”

“Right, well, let’s not be ridiculous.”

“what if you knew the person driving the van but it wasn’t their van?” He’s smiling a little again.

“This is a weird hypothetical.”

“answer please.”

“I would exercise my discretion.” You say smugly. Sans sighs.

“guess i can’t ask for much more than that.”

“You can ask for the world, pal, doesn’t mean you’re gonna get it, though.” You laugh, leaning back into the cushions and feeling like you’d just won a major victory.

“then i won’t bother asking.” He says, and you barely have time to register that giddy, charged feeling of magic at your side before his lips are on yours once more - wow, three kisses in one day, he must actually really like you! - part of your brain chirps, before the rest of it screams that it should shut up and enjoy the moment.

OH. He does have a tongue. A… very talented tongue. You’d need to tell Undyne. Eventually, you have to pull away, because the thought of her reaction to that news is threatening to make you laugh, and you can’t stand to hurt his feelings again. Unfortunately, when you do so, you have nothing to say to explain yourself. He looks up at you, that blue light still sparking in his eye. He looks… nervous? The credits to the TV show are rolling in the background, you notice. Well, you’d said an episode of TV...

“Goodnight, Sans.” You murmur, and stand up. After a second of thought, you bend, and kiss the smooth dome of his skull. “Get some sleep, okay?”

“night, _________.” He says, sounding a little unsure.

You still wait up, in the dark, until you hear the click of the bedroom door next to yours swinging shut.

Chapter Text

“YOU JUST LEFT?”

“Okay, ow-”

“YOU DON’T JUST LEAVE. HE SPILLED HIS HEART TO YOU!”

“Yeah, and then he went full Twilight on me, so…” You grimace at Undyne.

“AND THEN HE KISSED YOU. WITH TONGUE.” Your eyes go wide as a few other female employees in the locker room whip their heads around to look at Undyne.

“Hey, shh!” You hiss. The older woman in charge of the harbor seals clicks her tongue at you. You squirm slightly. Oh, you can’t deal with maternal disapproval. Undyne rolls her eye at the woman.

“And then he kissed you. With his t-”

“Why do I tell you things?” You whine. “Anyway, what was I going to do? Stay?”

“Uh, yes?” Undyne cackles.

“Dude. We’re not dating. We’re not anything. He’s a guy that’s lived in my house for one day.” You hiss. “I can’t just, you know, see where things go…”

“Well, why aren’t you dating?” Undyne gripes. “Look, I waited years for Alphys. We could have just been happy so much earlier if we’d been honest with ourselves.” You narrow your eyes at her.

“I haven’t known him a week yet.”

“Didn’t stop you from moving in together.” Undyne points out. You open your mouth to make a comeback, then scowl childishly at her. Oh, you hate it when she’s right.

“Still. It’s all moving a little fast, you know?” You plead, still feeling the eyes of the old woman on you. She’s clearly unhappy with what she’s been hearing. Best not to pay attention, you tell yourself.

She grumbles something under her breath as you walk past. You can’t quite make it out, but you can tell from the look on her face that whatever she just said was absolutely vile. Ugh, you can’t make a scene, you decide. Besides, people have been saying horrible things about you long before you shacked up with some monsters. You decide to take the higher road and ignore her. Unfortunately, Undyne isn’t on the same page.

“What did you just say?” She growls, taking a step closer to the woman, who cowers.

“Nothing!” She insists. “I just think…”

“You. You don’t say anything about my friends. Not ever again.” Undyne snarls, taking another step forward. You grab her arm, as if you could possibly hold her back.

“Undyne, please. Please. Stop.” You beg.

“She said-”

“I don’t care.” You whisper. “You need this job. Please.” The woman looks a little smug when Undyne grunts and steps back. You glare at her. “Hey. I wasn’t done.” You say clearly. “You have a problem with me or my friends? You say it right to my face.” You don’t care if it’s about you, honestly, but if it had been bad enough to upset Undyne, you wanted to be able to stick up for her. She stares at you.

“It’s filthy and immoral, dating one of those abominations.” She finally snaps. “Enjoy the penguins while you can, sweetie, you’ll be missing that A/C when you’re burning-”

“Abominations?” Suddenly, Undyne is the one holding you back, as you feel your hand form a fist of it’s own volition. “You closed minded little… bitch, you see something new for once in your withered little excuse for a life and you can’t fucking wait to act like you’re better than it, well-” You cut yourself off as Undyne tugs you sharply backwards.

“Stop it, stop it, stop it.” She chants almost silently. “Come on, let’s go feed the penguins.”

“That piece of shit-”

“Hey. She can be wrong. Her loss. Come on.” Undyne hisses, and bodily drags you out of the locker room, though not before turning around and dragging her finger across her throat, then pointing at the woman. You can hear the locker room erupt in conversation just before the door closes, and you curse quietly. “Hey.” Undyne says. “C’mon, please stop. It’ll be okay.”

“She called you a... an abomination!” You hiss. “Like there’s something wrong with you!”

“I’ve heard worse.” Undyne says. “But you’re going to lose your job if you don’t play this right. Let’s go, we need to get started.” You grit your teeth, but eventually nod and allow yourself to be led, firmly, to the feed room.

“I’m not letting that slide.” You sigh.

“So how did you manage to convince Sans you needed to take the bus?” Undyne changes the subject pointedly. She is suddenly all self control when she’s the one being insulted, not you. She’s also, annoyingly, right. You make a face, picking up a bucket of fish. It takes you a while before you’ve stopped steaming enough to answer the question.

“I, uh, left two hours early.” You admit. “I left a note.” Undyne looks sideways at you.

“I’m sure that went over well.” She mutters. You shrug.

“Well, he didn’t text or anything.” You say, feeling a little guilty.

“What did the note say?” Undyne asks. You grimace.

“Boys - decided to go in early and get a start on penguins. See you at home!” You recite. You’d spent a while trying to phrase that note, after all. Undyne stares at you.

“‘Get a start on penguins?!?’” She repeats. You wince. “What could that possibly mean!?”

“They might not know that’s not a thing?” You say hopefully. She groans, pushing the door to the penguins open. You glance up to the gallery instinctively, and relax slightly when he isn’t there. Well, of course he wouldn’t be. He was listening to you, right? He was being good and not crowding you, and you definitely weren’t avoiding him because you felt a little uncertain. You let out a nervous laugh, and then turn to Undyne. “Hey, um, can I ask you an embarrassing question?”

“Always.” Undyne turns her sharp smile at you, simultaneously tossing a handful of fish out to the birds.

“Okay. Um, Sans and Toriel?” You say quietly, crouching down to hand-feed a chick.

“I’m going to need a little more.” Undyne laughs.

“Is there like… a history there or something?” You ask sheepishly. Undyne bursts out laughing.

“HA!” She finally laughs. “God, Toriel is like a billion years old! I can’t even imagine… I mean, ew!” You squint at her.

“Undyne, how old is Sans?” You point out. She begins to answer, then shrugs.

“Eh, time isn’t such a big thing underground.” She says. “But, you know, he only showed up a few years before we got out. Maybe… ten, fifteen?”

“Jeez, how old are you!?” You sputter, laughing. Her answer, in the form of a shrug, sets you off more, until you’re just giggling into the bucket of fish. “Okay. Okay. I guess I’m just being-”

“Jealous?” Undyne supplies.

“Awkward.” You conclude. She winks at you, throwing out another handful of fish. You’re embarrassed at how relieved you feel. Okay, so maybe you were a little possessive of your bonehead too. It was scary, how fast that had happened. But… well, you liked him an awful lot. And you couldn’t just try to measure up to everyone. You’d make time to hang out with Toriel one on one, you resolved. Getting to see the little cutie would just be a bonus.

“Okay, my turn to ask a question.” Undyne speaks up.

“Go for it.” You shrug, holding a fish up in the air, since the chick you’re feeding seems likely to choke on the one already in its’ mouth

“What are you wearing for your date tonight?” She asks. You slowly feel your thoughts crawl to a halt. This is your brain hitting a blue screen of death.

“UM. GREAT THINGS?” You suggest, too loudly. Undyne cackles.

“Need help?”

“I don’t even know where we’re supposed to be going!” You say helplessly.

“Well, I know someone who can pick out a look that’ll be great for every possibility.” She says mysteriously. You stop feeding the penguins to glance at her.

“Is it Mettaton?” You ask, arching an eyebrow. Undyne flushes bright red.

“I know like, seven people!” She bellows. “Do you want his help or not!”

--------------------------------

When you get home after work, Mettaton is waiting for you at the door. Undyne had driven you home, thank goodness, since Papyrus was already expecting her company tonight, so you had a little time. Which, judging by the tsking sounds Mettaton was making, was surely necessary.

“Darling, you need a shower yesterday. You reek of anchovy.” He sighs dramatically.

“Is smelling like fish a bad thing?” Undyne asks poisonously. A lesser robot would have backed down. Mettaton just arches an immaculate metal eyebrow.

“For a human, it is a very bad thing.” He says succinctly. “Now go on, hurry, shower, I’ll get set up!” That sounds frightening. But, well, you prefer this Mettaton, who is clearly not flirting with you, much more than the act he’d put on to needle Sans. You decide to give him the benefit of the doubt. You hurry upstairs, grabbing a towel out of one of the cupboards, and scrub under the steaming hot water until there can’t even be the slightest lingering odor. You yelp when you hear the door open, but Undyne’s voice calls out,

“Just me, loser. Mettaton told me to leave your outfit on the hook. So. Outfit is on the hook.” She sounds disgruntled by his choice, which makes your stomach twist. When you get out, however, you’re pleasantly surprised. He’s dug up a classic cobalt blue dress you’d forgotten you owned, with a much-loved leather jacket to go over it and ankle boots that definitely don’t belong to you, but fit anyway. You’re still a little dubious about the outfit, but after you’ve dried your hair and slipped it on, a few seconds in the mirror shows that Mettaton certainly knows what he’s doing. It’s casual without seeming lazy, cute without seeming like you’ve put a lot of effort in. You step outside the bathroom and back downstairs shyly.

Undyne wolfwhistles. Mettaton clicks his tongue approvingly.

“Makeup time!” He calls.

“Oh, uh, my stuff is all in the drawer upstairs.” You say. Mettaton smirks.

“No need, darling, I brought my own.” The next twenty minutes are an ordeal of being told to look this way, that way, don’t blink, definitely, definitely don’t blink, don’t lick your lips, don’t you dare touch your face, no seriously, don’t touch, undyne, hold her arms so she doesn’t touch her face…. and so on. You’re just getting frustrated to make a break for it when Mettaton sighs, “Finished!” and holds a mirror in front of you.

You look… just like you. But you on a really, really, really good day.

“Mettaton, it’s perfect!” You say, jumping up (and startling Ghost, who had been sniffing around your feet).

“You’re perfect, darling. I had a wonderful canvas.” He says, and seems totally unsurprised when your enthusiasm got the better of you and you wrap him in a hug. Well, everyone else seemed to hug all the time. You’re just getting in the spirit.

“er…” You leap back at the voice in the hallway. Sans and Papyrus are standing there in the threshold, both looking a little confused.

“He did my makeup!” You blurt.

“you look great!” Sans says at the same time. The two of you stare at each other, and you contemplate the physics of just melting into an awkward puddle on the floor. He’s neatened up a little, you notice; he’s traded the slippers and basketball shorts in for sharp black shoes and a pair of dark jeans. He’s still wearing that parka, but underneath is definitely a brand new blue shirt - it matches his eye, you think, and then try hard not to smile. Oh, man, everyone is just looking at the two of you. Is the puddle thing really not an option?

“WILL YOU DO MY MAKEUP NEXT?” Papyrus saves the moment by asking. Mettaton looks delighted by the prospect.

“Certainly, dear one. Sit right down and let me have a look!”

“Oh, this is going to rule.” Undyne laughs, flopping back down on the couch. There. The sudden pressure has lifted.

“Should we, um, go?” You stammer.

“please.” Sans says appreciatively. When you walk over to him, he takes your hand and your nerves fade to background noise. Why does that just feel right? “cool if we take paps’ car?” You nod. Of course, there’s no other car to take, unless he’s got one hidden away, but he seems to be careful about asking after your conversation last night.

“Bye guys!” You call over your shoulder. “See you later tonight!”

“Stay out late, make bad decisions!” Undyne calls back gleefully. You can hear her as the front door closes, “Mettaton, no, that foundation doesn’t match at all, he’ll look ridiculous.”

Outside, Sans smiles at you. “good day at work?” You think back to that awful woman and seesaw your hand in the air. “sorry.” He says, sounding like he truly means it, and holds the door to Papyrus’ convertible open for you.

“How about you, what did you get up to today?” You ask, sliding into the passenger’s seat. He gives you a crooked smile.

“same thing i do almost every day. sat at asgore’s, read through proposals, gave my advice, kept an eye on my bro.” You blink at him, feeling ridiculous that you hadn’t asked about what he did before.

“How’s it going?” You ask. Sans breathes out through clenched teeth.

“slow.” He admits. “everytime i think we’re getting somewhere, some new branch of human government has a problem. it’s tough. paps has a good time, though, he mostly plays with the dogs and waters the plants. oh.” This reminds him of something. “i, uh, got you some flowers. in the backseat.” He says, grimacing. “i didn’t think until later how dumb that was, you know, bringing flowers back to my own house, so uh, you can just leave them there…” You’re already twisting around to find them.

“Aw, Sans…” They’re beautiful. You don’t know much about flowers (that was the gardener’s job; he’d tried to teach you how to care for them a few times but it had mostly been futile) but you knew that these were gorgeous. “Nobody’s... ever gotten me flowers before.” You say softly, still admiring them. They’re red, violet, white, blue; every color but yellow.

“heh. it’s not much.” You can hear the smile in his voice.

“It is to me.” You insist, gently laying them across your lap. You smile the whole way to the restaurant.

--------------------------

The restaurant, unsurprisingly, is Grillby’s. Sans looks hugely apologetic as he parks. “sorry. know we’ve already done this one.” He mutters. “not too many places around that i can make sure you won’t get bothered at, though.”

“Hey, Grillby’s is awesome.” You assure him quickly. You’d been worried about that too. “Besides, I’m glad we came back. I forgot something here last time.”

“oh, okay.” Sans sounds relieved. “good. glad.” You slip your hand in his after you get out of the car, realizing too late that he’d been hustling over to open your door - you’d need to tell him that wasn’t necessary - and walk up to the entrance. The bouncer is waiting.

“Hey!” He cracks an enormous grin. “Hot date, Sansy!” You expect Sans to glare, but he merely smirks at the bouncer.

“yup.” He’s even got a little extra bounce in his step as he opens the door for you, which makes you grin. You wonder if the bouncer recognizes you as the same disaster caked in bird poop from a few days ago, and decide it doesn’t matter. “so what did you forget?” Sans is asking. “grillbz probably has it in the lost and found.”

“Doubt it.” You mutter under your breath, and practically tug him through the center aisle before you lose your nerve. When you halt, he glances around, confused. The place is crowded with monsters (and the few odd humans) tonight, and there aren’t any free tables near you. You glance upwards pointedly, and he looks around for a second before spotting the mistletoe. You let this register for a second before leaning in to kiss him.

Phew, it’s different, making out on a couch (or kissing by a weird topiary) than doing this in public, in front of strangers. Especially, you realize, when the cheer goes up a second later, strangers who all know Sans.

Dear god, it’s a restaurant full of Undynes. Right now, you’re too caught up in the moment to even care. And you don’t care, you decide. This just feels right, being with him, caring for him, having a good time together. You’re going to let all those worries about propriety go, and not weigh the risks and rewards so carefully this time. You’ve got something you want, and he’s here, holding onto you, and if he’s not going to run, neither are you. You’re going to go for it.

You let the kiss go on for a few seconds longer than is probably prudent, and are met with another embarrassing round of applause when you finally part. Sans is grinning at you, astonished and pleased, but if anything the rest of the patrons are even more enthusiastic than him.

“cool.” He finally announces, over a chorus of “yeah Sansy”s and more wolfwhistles. Some of those seem to be coming from actual wolves, you note, and spot Lesser Dog with a pack of other dogs, wagging his tail into a blur and waving energetically. You grin and wave back, then chuckle as it’s Sans’ turn to tug you forward into a corner booth with a “reserved” sign. You’re feeling anything but reserved right now.

The first of many rounds of free drinks arrives only a few seconds later. Accepting the Spider Cider with a laugh, you meet his gaze.

“so, we’re on a date.” He says.

“Agreed.” You say, tilting your head at him and smiling. He reaches for the other cider, and drains half of it in one gulp.

“so.” He tries again. “we’re dating now.” He looks at you, like he thinks he’s getting away with something. You want to roll your eyes, but you can’t stop smiling.

“We’re dating now.” You agree again.

“did i already say ‘cool?’” He asks, sounding casual, but his cheeks are bright blue.

“Mhm.”

“‘great?’”

“Totally overused by this point, babe.” You laugh, the endearment slipping out before you can stop it. Then again, you don’t want to stop it.

“‘neat-o?’” He attempts, his grin growing even wider at the affectionate term.

“Is neat-o really what you want to go with?” He contemplates this for a moment, then shakes his head.

“i’ll think of something. how long i got?” He asks, taking a much more reasonable sip of the cider now.

“However long you want.” You assure him. You can tell from the look on his face that he has every intention of taking his time.

Chapter Text

You can’t remember the last time you had this much fun. Definitely not on any of the dates you’d been on before, which were usually nervous, uncomfortable affairs where you danced around questions about your family and finances. But, well, all that was out in the air with Sans, and he was still sticking around, it seemed. More than that, he was smiling like you’d never seen him, and he was even eating, not just sipping condiments. Well, he was doing that too, but you were sure that he’d actually consumed a few fries this time. And, wow, was he laughing. You were telling him about some of your funnier moments at work, like the time you’d managed to fall backwards into the touch tank you were supposed to be manning, and how you’d had to be helped out, dripping, with a crab attached to your, well, butt by its pincers while a group of first graders looked on in delight. He loved that, maybe too much, and had then started reminiscing about all the ridiculous jobs that he’d taken on in the underground.

“...so, the kiddo comes up to me, just hauling all this gear, right?” He laughs. “just tons and tons, a dirty bandaid, biscicles, this weird bandana, just can’t hold a single thing… and they ask me for a hot dog.” He shrugs. “so i balance it on their head. and they just love it. they ask me for another one, so i figure, let’s see how far we can take this… and it was about thirty before the kid lost their balance. i had to pay for ‘em all, but it was so worth it.” He wipes a tear of mirth from the corner of his eyesocket.

“D’you ever miss it, down there?” You ask after a moment. He stops laughing to think about this.

“some things.” He finally decides. “i mean, it wasn’t home, but it had a lot going for it. snowdin town especially. me and paps had this big house. obviously, not like where we’re living now,” He says with a snort. “but it was pretty nice. lots of room, smelled like cedar when it snowed, which was almost always. people were friendly. pretty safe, unless you were a human.” He says, his face clouding over slightly.

“Do you ever want to go back?” You ask. Sans shakes his head quickly.

“nah. i’ve had enough years of not seeing the sky.” He says softly. “out here, everything’s so much more…” He pauses, then takes a sip of his third or fourth cider. “real.” He finally decides. “you know that what you’re looking at is the real thing, not just an imitation made by someone who doesn’t even remember what the thing was like in the first place. i mean, the king did his best. we had daytime and nighttime, and plants and trees, but…”

As he speaks, he sketches out the simpler words in the air with his hands for you; you’d mentioned you wanted to learn how to sign better, and once he’d pried all the dirty ones you knew out of you (and he’d just been delighted by those), he’d decided that you should begin learning at once.

“You said it wasn’t home, though.” You say softly, feeling your brow furrow. “So… where did you boys come from?” Sans blinks at you, then makes the sign for “complicated.”

“it’s really hard to get into.” He says, then seems to rethink this, looking you over. “you know what? maybe i can kinda show you. uh, not where i came from. can’t get back there. but, y’know, the basics. you done eating?”

“Oh!” You’re more than a little surprised; you’ve been getting used to the “it’s complicated,” answer without any followup. “Sure, I’ve just been drinking for a while. Let’s go.” Probably, you’d been drinking a little too much; when you stood up, you felt a little tipsy, but nothing that Sans’ hand in yours couldn’t alleviate.

“kay.” He smiles at you, a little nervously, as you shrug your coat back on. “grillbz, can you - yup, thanks.” He says, grinning at the bartender when you walk past. Grillby had let out a series of crackling, popping noises that Sans seemed to understand easily. He holds the door for you, and you step outside. Oh, finally, the temperature has plummeted, and a few flakes of snow are lazily curling down from the sky. It’s wonderful. You take a second to look up at the sky, and feel his arm twist around your waist.

“you wanna go home?” Sans asks. Home. He says it like he really does feel like he belongs there. You smile to yourself and nod, then blink.

“Hey, hang on, we’d better call a cab, unless drinking is different with monsters.” Thinking of the passed out mouse you’d seen on the bar, you doubted this was the case. Sans chuckles.

“i’ll pick the car up in the morning. look, so this is what i was trying to explain.” The air suddenly seems to snap with magic. You feel your knees threaten to buckle almost instantly in response, a warm heat crossing your face as you let out a slight giggle. Sans smirks at you. “you really are a crazy human, huh.” He says fondly. “everyone else wants to run at the first sign of magic, but if i didn’t know any better i’d say it turns you-”

“SANS!” You begin to protest, but he’s already cut himself off deliberately, a very evil smile on his face.

“-into one of the happiest people I’ve ever seen.” He purrs pointedly. You scowl at him, which only seems to make him more smug. Stupid observant Sans. “anyway, look. in front of us. What do you see?” You squint.

“Um. Nighttime.” You mutter, then suddenly gasp. When you move to the right angle, you can see the hint of something else, something familiar… it’s one of the paving stones by the front door to your house. But it’s here, in the downtown street next to Grillby’s. You walk a step to the side, and the image vanishes. “Hang on. Where did it…” You mutter to yourself, and try stepping back to your original position. This time you see it. It’s so hard, since there aren’t any clear concrete edges to look at, but you can finally make out what’s going on. It’s like… “It’s a doorway. You made a doorway to my house in the middle of the air.” You say, astonished. “How…”

“magic?” Sans offers. You glare at him, and he gives you a broad grin. “look.” He removes his hand from your back, and holds it up, the bones shining yellow under the streetlight as he stretches out his fingers each as far as they’ll go, like those hand turkeys you used to draw in kindergarten. “okay. tip of my first finger, tip of my thumb. how far apart would you say they are?”

“Uh…” You manage to pry your eyes from the door again, and look at his hand. “I don’t know. Say… like ten… centimeters?” You guess. Sans nods.

“sure. that works. how about now?” He makes an “O” shape with the two fingers, so that the tip of his fingerbone and his thumb bone are just barely connecting.

“No distance.” You supply.

“okay. so the house is normally about fifteen minutes away from grillby’s, driving, right.” You nod. “and we treat that like it’s a constant, because most people need to take the slow path…” He spreads his fingers again, and moves a finger from his other hand to illustrate the painstaking progress down each joint of his first finger, to the crook between finger and thumb, then all the way to the tip of his thumb where it finally halts. “but me… i can just do this.” He brings his finger and thumb together again, then nods at the door.

“So you moved our house?” You say, confused. He shakes his head.

“nah. house is where it is supposed to be, promise. i just found the fastest way between those points. i poked a hole in the space between them.”

“You made a shortcut.” You say, beginning to grasp this, and Sans nods, delighted.

“exactly. you ready?” He nods at the nearly invisible doorway. “it’s easy, promise. the kiddo almost never even noticed when i took ‘em through. just don’t touch the edges, it feels really weird.” You swallow, then tentatively stretch your arm out through the hole. It’s maybe a tiny bit colder on the other side. A snowflake lands on your hand, and you wonder, if anyone was outside looking at this, if they’d see you, or just a hand reaching out from nowhere. “you’re good.” Sans urges. You grit your teeth, then step through,

“SANS!” You bellow, almost immediately, a note of panic in your voice. Sans steps through a second later.

“hey, woah, it wasn’t that bad.” He’s saying, but he spots the source of your distress a second later. “shit.” Half the trees in the front yard are burning.

-------------------------------------------

“We didn’t even notice.” Undyne says, shaken, standing outside and looking at the crisped remains of the bushes. “We were just watching TV. The windows in that room face the wrong way. We had a fire going too. Didn’t smell the smoke.” You’d had to call the fire department, of course, and they’d shown up quickly, to their credit. They hadn’t reacted to the four monsters either, just had set about doing their job putting it out.

One had come over to your small group, huddled outside, to show you the makeshift incendiary device that they’d found in the ashes of that topiary you’d kissed Sans at just the other day. Mettaton is furious.

“They didn’t even come close enough to the windows or doors for the alarms to do a damn thing.” He hisses, all the playful affectation out of his voice. Sans isn’t even saying anything at all. He’d just shrugged off his parka and passed it to you to keep warm as the firefighters worked. Papyrus kept looking at him nervously.

“At least it didn’t reach the house.” You sigh. “The gardener’s going to be furious.”

“they’re watching you.” Sans hisses. “us. you think that it’s a coincidence where the fire started?” You feel your face burning, your heart plummeting. If you hadn’t been so ostentatious, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.

“How could they be watching? We didn’t see anyone all yesterday, and I know we were looking out.” Undyne mutters.

“Cameras.” Mettaton suggests, his eyes distant. “Hidden somewhere. That’s exactly what we did. Keep an eye on the enemy, right?”

“I’ll call Alphys.” Undyne says. Sans shakes his head.

“it’s too late. ‘sides, the firefighters were all over the yard.” He mutters. “paps, you see any traps?”

“N-NO, BROTHER.” Papyrus’ teeth are chattering. “I THINK I WOULD BE ABLE TO SEE THEM, TOO. WHOEVER DID THIS TOOK THEIR TOOLS WITH THEM.” You remember what Sans had said the other night, about how Papyrus could construct a trap in ten seconds, and believe the taller skeleton. The snow is falling harder now, and everyone but Sans and Mettaton seems to be feeling the cold.

“Guys.” You finally sigh. “It’ll be alright. Let’s get back inside.” Sans gives you a wide eyed look, his iris glinting blue.

“go in.” He agrees. “i’m gonna wait.” You don’t like that tone.

“No, you’re not, bonehead.” You say, wrapping your hand around his wrist. So many little bones, you think, held together by what? He looks back out at the yard, stubborn, angry at the idea that you might want him to see reason. “They said that we’re gonna have a police patrol here tonight.” You whisper. “I think they take arson a little more seriously than vandalism. Besides. It’s snowing.”

“so?”

“So if anyone tries to creep around tonight, they’ll leave tracks.” You mutter. The ridges on his skull that approximate eyebrows raise at that.

“smart.” He whispers.

“And we’re safe in the house. They can’t get close without the defenses going off, and they know it. And they’ve done the damage that they can do.” You sigh. He looks up at you, still so sharp and charged. At least for the moment, you’re done with swooning over Sans when he uses magic. You understand what Papyrus said earlier. It’s scary. “C’mon, Sans.” You urge. “You can’t leave me on my own tonight.” That, at last, gets him to nod slowly.

“i’ll take you to work tomorrow?” He says, not really making it a question. You understand, though, and simply nod.

“Okay.” You look up at Undyne and Mettaton. “Guys, thanks so much.”

“For what?! Letting your yard almost burn down?” Undyne scoffs. You shake your head.

“For being here.” You whisper, thinking about what would have happened if it had been Papyrus, all alone inside the big house, who had spotted it. Would he have cowered, or called Sans? Or would he have done what Sans said he was designed for?

Mettaton and Undyne share a look. Mettaton leans over, and kisses Undyne’s cheek, then Papyrus’, before turning to you.

“I’m going to Alphys’.” He says. “We’ll have something for the perimeter ready by tomorrow morning, love.”

“Mettaton, you don’t -” He lets out a tinkling, sardonic, utterly metallic laugh.

“I don’t sleep, pet. I’ll have plenty of time to get this right.” He says. “Undyne’s going to stay with you tonight too.” You glance at Undyne, still holding Sans’ wrist. She nods quickly. Sans shifts slightly, and you don’t need to look to feel the power that was crackling around his body waning. He’s, once again, letting cooler heads prevail.

“we’re getting you a guard dog.” He finally sighs, looking up at you. “i’ll borrow one from asgore tomorrow while you’re working.”

“Okay.” You don’t even fight that either. Looking out across the yard, you can just see the first police patrol drive past on the public road. “Come on, guys. Let’s get inside before Papyrus freezes.” Undyne smiles sadly and holds the door. Papyrus, after making certain that Sans is going to come too, bolts inside. Undyne follows him.

“heh. papsicle.” Sans mutters. You feel your shoulders slump.

“There you are, bonehead. I was starting to worry.” You whisper, brushing your lips across the top of his skull. “Come on, baby. Let’s cuddle up in front of the TV, just try not to think so much about it.” You urge, and he finally moves, walking with you through the door. You shiver slightly as you lock the door behind you, and not from the cold, either. Papyrus is waiting for you there.

You can’t help but notice in the light that he has, frankly, spectacular winged eyeliner on. You can’t help it. The whole night has been way, way too much. You begin to giggle, then chuckle, then heave with laughter. Papyrus says,

“WHAT IS THE MATTER, HUMAN? IS THIS A NORMAL THING TO DO AT FIRES?” He begins to laugh too, which just sets you off more. Finally, even Sans joins in.

“you just look great, bro. we didn’t expect it.” You nod in total agreement, finally reining in your chuckles. Papyrus just shrugs.

“I ALWAYS LOOK GREAT, BUT METTATON DOES HAVE WONDERFUL COSMETICS. I HAVE THIS BISHIE CREAM…” He begins to list all the different products Mettaton’s produced over the years as he wanders through the house to the TV room. With another tired laugh, you slip your hand down to twine fingers with your boyfriend’s, thinking about the distance between points, and shortcuts, and magic. And fear. And hope.

And how much Ghost is going to hate any guard dog.

Chapter Text

Things feel a little better when the four of you are in the TV room, something mindless on the screen nobody’s really paying attention to. The lights from the Christmas tree make everything seem safer, though you all let the fire in the fireplace burn down to ashes without comment, other than a few anxious glances. “I need a shower.” You finally mutter to nobody in particular. “I smell like a… a campfire.”

“optimist.” Sans says disparagingly, kicking his feet up on the coffee table in front of you. He’s barefoot, and the bones clatter against the polished hardwood.

“Fine.” You roll your eyes. “I smell like an arson. Better?” Undyne throws a pillow from the sofa she’s sharing with Papyrus at Sans.

“Don’t be a jerk, Sans.” She demands. “________, go shower. We could probably all use one.”

“Well, there’s more showers in this house than there are people here right now. Let’s make that happen.” You say. “Undyne, let me lend you some clothes, okay?” You knew the boys were already set with that. However, neither of them move when you and Undyne do. You give Sans a look, wondering if he’s thinking about giving you the slip, but Papyrus speaks up.

“GUARDS GO IN SHIFTS.” He says, looking at Undyne like he can’t believe that she hasn’t already explained that.

“Papyrus, we aren’t really…. yeah. Okay. Fine.” She says. You grimace slightly. You want to tell him that he doesn’t need to act like you’re under siege, but you’re not entirely sure that’s true anymore.

“Paps, I’m sorry.” You say. “I didn’t do you any favors, asking you to move here, huh?” He blinks at you, bewildered.

“I AM HAPPY TO BE HERE FOR YOU, HUMAN. I WOULD HATE IT IF WE STILL LIVED IN THAT APARTMENT AND WE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT WAS HAPPENING.” He says earnestly. Sans nods quickly.

“not like we didn’t see the same stuff back there, anyway.” He shakes his head. “uh. not exactly the same. we didn’t have much to burn in the first place.” He says dryly. “go on, we’ll hold down the fort.”

“I hate that you sound like ‘holding down the fort’ isn’t a metaphor.” You sigh. “C’mon, Undyne.”

------------

The shower is necessary. One thousand percent necessary. You regret, for a few minutes, scrubbing Mettaton’s handiwork off your face, but it’s worth it to stop reeking of smoke and to get the circulation going in your toes again. Besides, now you can change into your sweatpants and fluffy socks, which shouldn’t feel like an upgrade from the carefully chosen outfit from earlier, but, sadly, does. You comb out your hair, rub your eyes, and look tiredly at the mirror. God, you need to be at work in five hours, but you can’t even think about sleeping right now. It’ll be fine. You’ve gotten by on worse. And you’re really not in danger, you know that, it’s just… tough. Losing things you didn’t realize you’d care about losing. Well, your car, sure. You cared about that a whole lot. But your trees, your front yard, your confidence that nobody would bother trying to hurt you if you just stayed under the radar… You sigh, and trudge downstairs and through the halls to, you suppose, let someone else take the next shower shift. You took way too long in there, you’re surprised nobody went up to check on you.

Undyne is already totally settled in downstairs, a towel wrapped around her head in a practiced twist. One of her… gills? ears? fins? Anyway, it’s trapped under the towel and you itch to free it, but simply sit down next to her since you’re not sure if that’s rude. “Hey.” You sigh.

“Hey, feel better?”

“Tons.” You admit, and nod to the spots Sans and Papyrus had been occupying. “You actually talked them into washing up?” Undyne chuckles.

“It was not easy. Papyrus didn’t want to wash his face and ruin his makeup, and Sans said he didn’t see why, being a skeleton et cetera.” You roll your eyes. Sans could definitely be lazy when he wanted to be, particularly when he was in a sour mood.

“How’d you do it?” You ask, tucking your feet under you.

“I said that if you didn’t want to smell smoke anymore, he probably wouldn’t get far smelling like smoke himself.” Undyne says, arching an eyebrow. “Then Paps called him a babybones afraid of the water and he couldn’t let that happen.” You begin to chuckle, and move a throw blanket over your waist, getting comfortable. “Hey.” She says after a moment. “Don’t be mad, okay?”

“Uh oh.” You mutter.

“I, um, called Barb and told her what’s been happening?” She says softly. Your eyes go wide.

“Undyne! You can’t just call our boss about stuff like this! Oh, god, she’ll think I’m such a crybaby-”

“No.” Undyne says sharply. “You… ugh, _________! This is exactly what you call a boss for! She’s furious at you-”

“I knew it.” You groan.

“-for not telling her first that you were having all this trouble!” She hisses, marching onwards as if you hadn’t spoken. “God, she says you’ve never taken a vacation day or a sick day or a personal day, not once!”

“Because I don’t want to get fired! I need to be perfect! That job is all I’ve got!” You cry, the words practiced from years of repetition in your head.

“You know that’s not true.” Undyne says, narrowing her eye at you. “You know it isn’t.” You take a deep, panicked breath. Barb didn’t know anything about your personal life. You’d kept it that way on purpose. If she’d known for sure that she was hiring a hungry kid who was just desperate for something, anything, she’d have cut you off for sure. Nobody wanted someone like you working for them, they could steal or make dumb decisions, they were bad employees. And you’d yelled so much at that stupid old lady today, someone must have told Barb. Oh god, then Undyne calling on your behalf, she’d know you were a trouble maker, a piece of trash nobody wanted to bother with (god, that voice in your head sounded like your aunt sometimes)...

“I’m fired, right? I’m fired. Okay. Okay. It’s okay. I know it wasn’t on purpose, Undyne, I can find something-”

“Stop!” Undyne begs. “You’re not fired, you…” She clearly keeps wanting to call you a name like nerd or loser, but she can’t bring herself to when you look this upset. “Please, calm down.” She begs. “She’s giving you until New Year’s off. Demanding it, actually. With pay.” She adds quickly. “And… a bonus.”

You stare at her, your stomach slowly untwisting.

“What?”

“Uh, yeah. She pulled up payroll to get that set up, and she was going through your employee file, and she noticed you hadn’t taken off for the holidays ever. Ever.” She sighed. “And that you hadn’t put in for overtime either.”

“Well, my hours weren’t any longer, and it wasn’t like I had anyone at home-” Undyne scowls at you.

“Anyway. She added that up. Plus all the vacation and personal time you never used. Plus interest.” She says pointedly.

“...How much?” You barely dare to ask, feeling unsteady by this sudden chain of news.

“Enough for a new car.” Undyne says with a smirk. “Or a used car and a few extra things for yourself.

You grip the armrest hard. Suddenly, all sorts of different worries in your head have been set at ease.

“On one condition.” Undyne adds quickly. “You have to take the time off, _______. She’s totally serious. She has no idea how you got away with it for so long, but she’s not going to let you keep going.”

You nod mutely. An actual break. And you couldn’t turn it down, couldn’t feel guilty about it, couldn’t think it would reflect badly on you…

“I wish you’d told me.” Undyne’s sighing. “I was only going to go in tomorrow and the day after, then I had until after New Years off myself. At least now we can hang out. God, you’re such a nerd!” She laughs, seeing the relief on your face. “You’re lucky you’ve got someone like me around to look out for you!”

“I don’t know how I ever deserved it.” You murmur, thinking about a new car, and enough money for presents for your friends, and a cat castle for Ghost, and maybe a real feast for Christmas dinner, with a turkey and all your friends… “Undyne, I can’t even begin. My life has changed so much this past month.” You whisper.

“Not all bad, right?” Undyne says, elbowing your ribs. You squeak.

“Even with the bad stuff, I can’t remember being this happy.” You tell her softly.

“neat-o.” You glance up quickly to see Sans walking over, smiling to himself and wearing a pretty similar sweatpants and t-shirt outfit to you and Undyne.

“Were you eavesdropping?” You laugh, smiling as he plops down right next to you.

“me? nah. just heard the end bit.” Sans says with a lazy shrug, wrapping his arm around your shoulders and playing with your damp hair almost immediately. That feels so nice that you almost don’t care if he’s telling the truth. “good call on showers, by the way. i feel better. why are you so happy though?”
---------------------------------------
You tell him, then you tell Papyrus all over again when the taller brother comes to join you. After another round of scolding for never taking a break, both Papyrus and Sans look excited.

“you know, we could take some time too. not like we’re getting anything done at assh-” He glances up quickly to catch Undyne’s eye, a smirk on his face. “uh, i mean, asgore’s.” Undyne snorts, but doesn’t argue. Huh. So maybe Sans wasn’t that fond of his employer, after all?

Then again, the way you’d heard it, Asgore had killed six kids. So, righteous cause or not, maybe you didn’t blame Sans.

“WE COULD MAKE SNOWSKELETONS AND SNOW FORTS AND DO ALL THE THINGS FROM SNOWDIN!”

“get a few igloos made for l.d. and g.d.”

“What?” You interrupt. “Sans, if you’re serious about asking Lesser Dog and… G-greater Dog?” You guess. Sans nods proudly. “If they’re staying, not in igloos, jeez! Where do they live now?”

“DOG HOUSES. BUT THEY LIKE IGLOOS TOO.” Papyrus chimes in.

“How about the pool house?” You offer. “You know, that little guest house in the back?”

“huh. was wondering about that. that works.” Sans says with a laugh. “hm, what else?”

“COOKING CONTEST!”

“Christmas cookies?” You offer shyly. Papyrus nods eagerly.

“FRISK CAN COME PLAY!”

“Definitely.” You agree.

“More anime?” Undyne offers.

“Why not?”

“getting a crack at your parents’ library?” Sans asks. “well. that one’s mostly for me. you guys don’t have to do that.” He adds, his bones scratching your scalp idly as he continues to toy with your hair. You have to keep telling yourself not to make embarrassing noises.

“Of course.” You manage. It all sounds so relaxing. “Mmm, and a new car. And I can buy presents. Can we all have Christmas here?” You ask, barely restraining a yawn. A few days ago, you never would have suggested it. Now, it seems like you’re stating the obvious.

“Duh.” Undyne chortles, watching you slump slightly, letting your head loll onto Sans’ shoulder. Why was it soft, like flesh was there when you knew it wasn’t? Then again, why didn’t his shirt cling to his bones and hang off him? You didn’t bother to ask. Magic. It’s complicated. But Papyrus wasn’t like this. He didn’t ever show signs of using his magic to form a body that wasn’t there. He just was the way he was, in his hilarious shirts and his scarf, and his tiny… pants? Like there couldn’t be another way to be. But Sans…

You think about what you’d been talking about earlier that night, what had prompted you going through that door through nothing into the chaos of your yard burning. You’d been asking where he and Papyrus had come from, and he’d taken you outside and poked a hole in reality.

For the first time, you think of what really should have been an obvious question from the beginning. After all, there were no other monsters like them, as far as you knew. And Sans said the Underground hadn’t been home. So...

Had Sans and Papyrus always been skeletons?

The thought begins to wake you up, but when you glance up at Sans, he looks so content, almost proud that he’s lulling you to sleep, that you decide that you can ask it later. You should really go to bed, you know it, but right here and now you feel so safe and peaceful. “I think I’m gonna…” You mumble into Sans shirt. “So ‘leepy all of a sudden…”

“the adrenaline’s probably worn off.” You can sense, rather than see, Undyne’s perplexed stare at Sans when he explains, “humans make this thing that gets them all wound up when there’s danger. read it in a book.”

“What, like coffee?” Undyne says quietly, standing up. Sans shakes his head.

“nah. they make it inside, like magic. human bodies are so cool. they just heal themselves, you know.”

“Yeah, I know. After Frisk…” She trails off, shaking her head. “Hey, Paps, show me a bed I can sleep in.”

“OH YES, YOU MAY HAVE ONE OF MINE.” Papyrus can even, somehow, yell a whisper. You stir slightly, thinking about standing up and following them upstairs, but Sans shakes his head, and you catch the motion out of the corner of your eye.

“stay?” He asks quietly. “this night… it scared the hell out of me, babe. i don’t think i can… i won’t be okay if i don’t know you’re okay.”

“I’m okay.” You whisper, half asleep, then understand. He doesn’t want you out of his sight, but he can’t very well invite himself into your room to keep watch. The sofa, however, has become a safe space for the two of you. Which is all well and fine for his bony butt, but you’re thinking of your down comforter and the memory foam topper you’d sprung for on your mattress last year. Ugh. You peel your eyes open, and with great effort, stand up. He looks up at you, big fake smile and eyes like you’d just kicked a puppy. You can’t stand it.

“C’mon.” You yawn, holding a hand down for him. “Upstairs. You can know I’m okay, I get to be in a bed. Win/win.” He blinks at you, then takes your hand, accepting the help up and chuckling when you sway slightly from the sudden effort. Once you’re upstairs, he speaks again.

“you know, i’m not trying to-”

“I know.” You assure him, seeing the color on his face when you reach your room. He must think you’re ascribing all sorts of motives to this plan, but you know him better than that. “Hey, Ghosty.” You murmur, slipping inside your room and hearing a familiar purr. Leaving the door a tiny crack open for him, you slide into bed almost immediately, navigating the room by the sliver of moonlight that’s lit it up. After a moment, when Sans still hasn’t joined you, you look up. He’s waiting uncertainly by the door.

“C’mere.” You yawn, pressing your face back into your pillow. “You gotta sleep too.” You assume. You feel the familiar weight of Ghost settling by your feet, and a few moments later, the unfamiliar weight of a heavy skeleton makes the other side of the mattress droop. That’s better. You’re too tired to feel awkward as you curl up next to him, tucking your head under his jawbone and brushing your lips against his sternum. “Everything’s okay. Sleep.” You whisper, and just barely recognize a heavy arm moving across you, fingers once again returning to your hair, before you pass out entirely.

Chapter Text

“BROTHER?” The agitated cry wakes you up with a start.

“Sans?” Undyne’s voice follows, sounding a little panicked. “Shit. Shit. Shit. Okay.” She chants quietly, sounding much closer than Papyrus. Ugh, it’s early. It has to be, if Undyne isn’t at work yet. You peek your eye open. Yup. Sun isn’t up. You groan quietly, your face pressed against something hard. You were hoping to sleep in, but-

Your bedroom door slowly creaks open, and Undyne’s voice, already apologetic, announces;

“Hey _______, I don’t want to barge in. Sorry to wake you. But... Sans’ room is empty and Papyrus is… oh.” She suddenly stops talking, as her eyes adjust, and you shudder slightly to hear her thrilled intake of breath.

“tell ‘im i’m fine.” The voice by your ear rumbles. “‘ve fun at work. say hi to penguins.” Sans sounds even more exhausted than you, which is saying something. God, why was he so comfortable? You feel like you should be embarrassed, but you’re so happy here that you can’t manage feeling awkward…

“Right! Okay! Penguins!” Undyne says, so enthusiastically that it physically hurts. “Closing the door now!”

“No… can’t close it.” You moan. “Ghost needs to get out.”

“He’s out! Fed him! Salmon and liver flavor! I have some questions about what liver is, but - later! Have fun! LOTS. Bye!” Undyne practically yells. The door swings shut, which makes the noise in the hall just a little quieter.

“UNDYNE, DID YOU FIND HIM?”

“Shhh! Yes! He’s asleep!” Undyne hisses.

“BUT THAT’S WHERE ________ SLEEPS?” Papyrus sounds confused.

“Uh.” You wince slightly, hearing the hesitation in Undyne’s voice. Sans’ arm tightens stubbornly around your waist, and suddenly you care less. “I guess they’re sharing a room.” Undyne explains, sounding sheepish.

“WELL, THAT’S SILLY. THERE’S SO MANY ROOMS! HE DOESN’T HAVE TO BOTHER ________. HE CAN HAVE ONE OF MINE!” Papyrus insists. Undyne chuckles, and says,

“C’mon, bud, you can tell him that later. Want eggs?”

“NO! ...MAYBE! … YES!” Their voices fade as they walk away from the door. You sigh softly, then peek your eyes open.

“We should probably get up.” You whisper. Sans shakes his head.

“nnn. first good sleep in years. ‘cept for when you were on my lap the other day. that was good …” He yawns, his breath ruffling your hair, and makes a soft, pleased noise when you twine your arm around his ribcage and begin absently stroking his spine. Right now, the softness you often feel around him is gone; his guard is down, and he’s reduced to just bones, which you find terribly sweet without exactly understanding why.

“Okay. Don’t have to tell me twice.” You whisper, and, taking the better of your curiosity and position, lean in to kiss one of the bright, polished vertebrae of his neck.

“hng.”

Well, that sound is new. You’re tempted to look up and see the look on his face, but… well, you’re not going to, because you’re caught somewhere between sleepy and wondering if you can make that happen again. Delicately, curiously, you kiss his neck once more.

“nnn. not fair.” He whispers tightly. You scooch your head up so it’s resting on the pillow opposite him, studying his face through the cracks in your eyelids and the faint blue light of the sun threatening to rise.

“Why not?” You say, sleepily and way too innocently. You know what you’re doing, after all, you’re just too tired and comfortable to care that you’re being bolder today than you have been, god, years.

He doesn’t have an answer for you, just looks at you with those deep, inscrutable eyes, the white lights tiny, distant.

“you’re making it very hard to be a good guy. don’t want to take advantage.” He grumbles, and catches the smirk on your face even in the dim light. “hey. hey, you should not look that pleased with yourself.”

Drat. He’s noticed you’re having fun. “Not taking advantage.” You yawn, snuggling up against his ribcage and tucking your head back under his jaw. God, you’re even talking like him now. Just to thoroughly prove your point, you kiss his vertebrae once more, slowly, and are thoroughly rewarded by a soft groan and the feeling of his fingers sliding through your hair.

“what’s gotten into you?” He finally whispers, inching away again. You’re not exactly sure, to be honest, other than the fact that you’ve woken up to find him still holding you and you like it, and you’re too tired to pay any attention to the little voice that tells you to stop doing things because they’re stupid and wrong.

“I’m allowed to kiss my boyfriend.” You say petulantly, looking back up at him. Stupid skeleton, moving away on you.

“okay, yes, but i’ve been making the first - wait. boyfriend?”

He sounds so surprised that you have to rub the sleep from your eyes and look at him properly.

“Uh, yeah. Right? I mean, I thought that after last night...” Suddenly you feel unsure. Maybe you’d misinterpreted everything. You did that sometimes, you messed it all up -

“hell yes.” Sans says, his eyes snapping with light for a second, before one bright point fades and the other quickly turns blue. You let out a soft, slightly wild giggle, feeling like you’d won something. “i’m your boyfriend. you’re my girlfriend.” He tries out, grinning hugely. He sounds ecstatic, and you’re not at all surprised this time when pulls you closer to kiss you soundly. Ah, that’s much better. This time, when his tongue finds yours, you can’t help but make a soft, satisfied noise and inch back closer to his ribcage. He has to be the one who pulls away first this time, and when he does, you’re embarrassingly out of breath and practically clinging to him.

“i… uh, i don’t really know what i’m doing with humans…” He breathes. Hmm, so he knows what he’s doing with monsters? You have a sudden image of him in this position with Toriel and have to try hard not to make a face.

“You’re doing great so far. And I don’t really know… anything about how skeletons, um…” You blink, feeling your confidence waning, then gasp suddenly as he moves, feeling his teeth and tongue on your neck.

Hng.

Well, if anyone knows how to shut up that little doubting voice, it’s Sans.

“_________, BROTHER, THE EGGS ARE FINISHED AND THE SUN IS UP. NO MORE BEING LAZYBONES!” Oh god. You jerk about a foot backwards, convinced for a second that Papyrus is in the room with you. Sweeping the room with a quick glance, you determine (thankfully) that he must be just on the other side of the door. Sans looks questioningly at you, then the door. You nod quickly.

“k, bro. we’re coming.” Sans sighs.

“GOODIE!” You hear the clattering of bones slapping the floor as Papyrus tears off. Sans stares at the door, and shakes his head disbelievingly.

“for such a cool guy, he can be a real, uh… barrier?” He mutters, flushing a brilliant shade of blue that’s just barely illuminated with the watery light from the rising sun. You snort indelicately at his choice of words, and try not to fall into another laughing fit. In that brief pause before ‘barrier,’ you could just sense him trying to come up with a euphemism for ‘cockblocker.’

“Awfully cocky, aren’t you?” You drawl with an evil grin, knowing you’re being a little unkind. You brace yourself for the chill outside the bed - Sans is almost like a furnace - and finally resign yourself to pushing the covers back and standing up slowly. Sans shrugs, unapologetic, then nods, standing up himself. You yawn, thinking that you probably look a fright, but you don’t want Papyrus to come charging back and asking questions. Sans smiles at you then nods at the door.

“let’s go. we can nap on the couch after paps makes us eat.” Oh, thank god you’ve found someone who likes naps as much as you do.

-----------------------------

“YOU TWO CAN’T SLEEP THE ENTIRE DAY! WE HAVE TRAPS TO BUILD!”

“no traps, bud. not in snowdin anymore, remember?” Sans is drooping slightly into the plate of scrambled eggs in front of him on the counter.

“BUT I COULD BUILD A FEW! METTATON AND ALPHYS ARE INVENTING TRAPS, AND I’M DEFINITELY THE BEST ONE AT IT, SO -”

“no traps.” Sans yawns. “humans. friends. remember?” Papyrus gives you a guilty look, then looks back at Sans.

“BROTHER, THEY ARE NOT ALL OUR FRIENDS…” He says, sounding a little agitated. “THEY ARE TRYING TO HURT OUR _______.” Sans pauses his reach for the ketchup bottle for a slow second, maybe considering this, then grits his teeth.

“no traps.” He repeats. “thought you wanted to build snow skels, anyway.” Papyrus flushes, like he’d been caught at something.

“R-RIGHT. OF COURSE.” He says, and then looks at you. “HUMAN, YOU ARE NOT DRINKING YOUR COFFEE. YOU TOLD ME YOU NEEDED IT TO FUNCTION. PLEASE DO NOT BREAK!” He sounds so upset that you have to grin and take a giant sip.

“Great coffee, Paps. Good eggs and sausage too. No spaghetti?” Papyrus rolls his eyes at you.

“I HAVE ALREADY SPOILED YOU WITH MY FINEST DISH, HUMAN.” He says. “YOU WILL SIMPLY HAVE TO GROW ACCUSTOMED TO OTHER THINGS.” Sans snickers before taking a gulp of ketchup from the bottle.

“wonder how she’ll survive.” He mutters. You give him a look, then tell Papyrus, genuinely,

“All your food is awesome, Papyrus. Seriously. You’re a great cook!” Papyrus practically glows with pride, then, seeing your plate is empty, hops up from his seat, towering over you.

“NOW IS IT TIME FOR SNOW SKELETONS?” He says eagerly. Sans shakes his head.

“the two of us need a nap, bro. let me pop out, grab the car from downtown for ya, and you can go see if l.d. and g.d. want a new gig?”

“LAZYBONES! HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY NEED A NAP!?” Papyrus screeches. You chuckle.

“Guess humans aren’t as tough as monsters, Paps.” You yawn, and seeing he’s about to light into Sans, add, “and it would be good if Sans could hang out with me, in case those jerks come back.”

“OH, OF COURSE, HUMAN. FORGIVE ME.” Papyrus says contritely. “GO GET MY CAR, SANS.”

“kay.” Sans stands up, and stretches his arms. There’s barely a blip, and he’s gone. You look up at Papyrus.

“Can you do that?” You wonder out loud. Papyrus shakes his head mournfully.

“I WOULD BE SO MUCH GREATER IF I COULD. SANS CAN’T EVEN EXPLAIN HOW TO DO IT!” He whines. You wonder if Sans can’t explain, or if he won’t, then jump as you hear the sound of the door to the garage opening.

‘’s in the garage for you, bro.” Sans calls from down the hall. God, that couldn’t have been thirty seconds. Papyrus strides towards the source of his brother’s voice.

“FEAR NOT, HUMAN, I WILL RETURN FROM ASGORE’S WITH DOGS.” He announces. You wave at him, then grin at Sans as he walks back through the threshold.

“sofa?”

“Sofa.” You confirm.

----------------------------------------------

When you’re sprawled back out on your side, your head on a cushion balanced on Sans’ lap, covered with several throw blankets, all you want to do is sleep, but you’re feeling keyed up from the coffee and guilty that you’re not at work. You keep shifting around, keeping Sans awake when he surely needed the sleep worse than you.

“you’re not comfortable.” Sans sighs.

“No, no, this is perfect.” You whisper, and you mean it. “I just need some background noise or something. Sans shrugs, and switches on the TV, grimacing when Mettaton’s face fills the screen. You, on the other hand, grin. This was the first time you’d seen him on TV since you’d met him.

He’s on some talk show; you can see people lined up in the window behind him and the two attractive human anchors. The woman is talking.

“-is here to discuss a disturbing trend facing the monster community; and their friends and families.”

“Is this live?” You murmur, looking up at Sans. He’s fixated on the TV now, but he nods mutely.

“Yes, darling, thank you.” Mettaton’s sigh echoes through the speakers as he nods at the anchor. “I’m here to talk about a dear human who’s been put through an absolute *nightmare* of a time by unknown assailants. I’ve only known _________ for a short time, but I can assure you, darlings, she is the kindest, friendliest sort of human I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. I’m just horrified to tell you what she’s been through, since she befriended some monsters famous for helping bring down the barrier…” He continues, but you’re too busy gaping to pay proper attention. You roll on your back to look up at Sans. He’s grinning widely at the TV, but he instantly looks back down at you.

“My favorite actor’s talking about me on national TV.” You mutter. Sans smiles.

“he’s smart. hate to say it, but he’s so smart. nobody’s gonna touch you now. cops will have to help. nobody can ignore it.” He says hopefully. You look back at the TV, where a very flattering picture of you from just yesterday is displayed. Mettaton had never taken a picture, not that you were aware of… oh god, his eyes must be cameras. You shiver slightly.

“My life has suddenly gotten really weird.” You mutter.

“good or bad?” Sans asks, looking down at you. You think about this for a second.

“Perfect.” You decide.

Chapter Text

Well, calling your life “perfect” might be a little premature. This one sliver of life, however, was pretty great. You felt so relieved to see the anchors react with horror as Mettaton described what you’d been facing. It was honestly a little shocking. You’d been imagining yourself as alone in all of this, and all of a sudden, it was dawning on you that this simply wasn’t true. If Barb had your back, and even people on the news you’d never met were showing support, then there had to be other people out there who wouldn’t try to hurt you or your friends. “I guess… I didn’t really think that anyone would care.” You mumble into the pillow on Sans’ lap. “I thought… I don’t know. I mean, there’s not a lot of people out there going out of their way to support monsters in the first place, and it seems like I meet a new human who has a problem with you guys every day…”

Sans thinks about this for a while. “the people who feel the strongest emotions tend to be the loudest about them.” He finally mutters. “it’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just … a thing. but it means that you tend to hear their opinions over the crowd. and it’s easy, sometimes, to think that just because the most of the loudest voices you hear are saying one thing, that everybody in the world thinks that same thing.” You have to think about that too.

“So… you think that there’s lots of people out there who would feel comfortable acting the same way I do, but they just don’t speak up?” You ask dubiously. Sans shakes his head quickly.

“no. i don’t know. maybe. there’s a spectrum.” He says. “people aren’t just good or bad, you know? they’re just… the sum total of their decisions.” His brow furrows. “every choice you make shapes you into the person you are. you, uh, can’t go back and change them, so each time you make a decision, it helps define what kind of being you’re deciding to be.” He says. Why does he have that funny tone in his voice though, the one he sometimes uses when he’s lying? He clears his throat.

“not everyone would make the same choices as you.” He continues. “doesn’t mean they’re terrible. doesn’t mean i’d like them very much, mostly. but they’re not the same guys who would wreck your car or burn your yard.” You feel your brow furrow. You have the sense he’s talking about more than just why it seems like you only heard awful things about monsters from humans, but you’re just not getting it.

“But me and the other quiet people don’t get noticed over the loud assholes who wrecked my stuff.” You say through a yawn. Sans groans.

“this is a bad metaphor.” He admits. “but you’re thinking about it wrong. if the assholes are loud, then you’re loud too. i’m talking actions, not words.” He mutters. You blink. You’ve always faded into the background before. It’s weird to be thought of as loud. But, well, yeah, you could maybe see it now. Maybe the average person wouldn’t invite monsters into their home. Not after knowing them for a few days, at least. Maybe you’d made choices that a lot of people would like to think they’d make, but would be too scared or shy or self serving to do. You shrug self consciously, trying to shake the thought off almost immediately. You’re not that used to compliments, though you’d gotten more in the past week or so than you had for years. Sans notices, of course, and refuses to let it slide.

“i’m… a pretty good judge of character.” He says thoughtfully. “i liked you the second i saw you. couldn’t have imagined that someone like you would exist up here, though. you don’t think about things the same way a lot of people do. when you get put in a place where you can either react with fear or kindness, you always react with kindness. not that you’re naive. i really don’t think you are. you’re just, uh, it just takes guts to be like you.” He says, a little shyly. You squirm slightly and he laughs. “gonna have to get used to compliments, babe. i think after word gets out, you’ll be hearing a lot more of ‘em.”

“Eep.” You breathe, thinking suddenly of all the additional attention being on national news is going to bring. You must be looking a little wild-eyed, because Sans shakes his head and gently pulls the covers back up around you.

“it’ll be fine. you’ll have your friends with you.” He promises. “get a little more sleep, ok?” More sleep would be good. Your head is beginning to pound a little, and your stomach is twisty with too much coffee on a mostly empty stomach. Still, you don’t want to leave him feeling like he needs to guard you. He’d surely slept less than you last night.

“You too?” You whisper.

“me too.” He confirms. It still takes a while, but eventually, the sound of his heavy, regular breathing (filling lungs that, naturally, aren’t there) lulls you to sleep.

-----------------------------

You’re awoken by something wet sliding across your face. Your eyes fly open, and you jerk up before recognizing the source. Lesser Dog sits on the ground in front of you, beaming.

“Oh! Hey bud!” You say, surprised to see the dog six inches from your face. Sans is awake too, and his eyes are narrowed at the dog.

“less of the face licking, pal.” He drawls. You arch an eyebrow at him; surely it’s silly to be jealous of a dog for doing dog stuff, right?

“PROBABLY SANS IS JUST TOUCHY BECAUSE HE WANTS TO GIVE YOU KISSES INSTEAD.” Papyrus says from the doorway with a cackle.

“yup.” Sans tells Papyrus matter-of-factly. “where’s g.d.?”

“HE DIDN’T WANT TO LEAVE KING ASGORE.” Papyrus sighs mournfully, flopping down on the cushion next to your feet - well, actually, kind of on your feet. You snicker and tug your feet out from under him, sitting up. “BUT LESSER DOG SAYS THAT YOU ARE HIS BEST FRIEND SO HE WANTS TO COME STAY WITH YOU FOREVER.” Lesser Dog whines happily, his tail a blur of motion.

“he’s a dog. everyone’s his best friend.” Sans snorts. “thanks for comin’ though, pal.” He adds after a second, reaching out to scratch Lesser Dog behind the ears. Lesser Dog whines again, until, with a sigh, Sans slides over so he can hop up on the sofa between the two of you. Did the dog have opposable thumbs? You had a lot to learn about monsters still. “so, bud, you really want to stay and uh, sniff around for trouble?” Sans checks. Lesser Dog nods quickly, his tail thwapping you on the back as he tries to wag it again.

“Do you want to stay in here, or do you want your own house?” You check with the dog, whose eyes practically bulge at the idea of his own house. “Ahaha, okay. Let me get some warmer clothes on and I’ll show you, L.D. But you’re welcome in here whenever, okay? Just, uh, don’t chase the cat.” Lesser Dog yips, and bounces up to his hind legs - he seems to switch between standing like a human and walking like a dog whenever the mood strikes him. The more you watch him, the more you realize that he’s remarkably… malleable? Elastic? Well, bendy, for a dog. Sans and Papyrus stand up too.

“I’D LIKE TO SEE THIS TINY HOUSE FOR DOGS, HUMAN.”

“Oh, sure, c’mon guys.” You say, forcing yourself out of your comfortable nest of blankets and to your feet. “Why don’t you get dressed for the weather? You wanted to make some snow skeletons, right, Papyrus?” You check, then, hearing a soft whine, grin at the dog. “You too, L.D.?”

You’ve never seen a happier looking dog. Even Sans looks a little impressed.

-----------------------------

Lesser Dog loves the poolhouse. It really isn’t big; it’s got a bed, a kitchenette, a bathroom and a sofa and TV. It’s toasty, though. Thank god your parents set aside money in a trust for heating and maintaining the mansion in their will, or you have no idea how you would have kept the place running. Lesser Dog sniffs every inch of it, sometimes on two feet, some on four, then runs outside, returning with a suit of… armor, you guess? Well, he hangs it in the closet with a clang, and then sits right by the door, waiting for you to open it, even though he’d done so himself just a second ago.

The rest of the day passes in a blur of snowy activity. Papyrus and Lesser Dog begin sculpting their snow masterpieces almost immediately, while Sans takes your hand and asks you to show him the entire grounds.

“Sure.” You say. “Let’s start out back.”

He hates the private beach in the daylight, or at least, hates the fact that there’s no fences or anything blocking people from wandering onto it. “Look, even if we did have fences going that way, they wouldn’t keep anyone out. If someone really wanted to, they could just swim in.” You point out. Sans groans.

“i keep forgetting you guys can do that.” He mutters. “the kid couldn’t. oh, is that what the pool thing is for?”

“Um, yes?” You laugh, then blink. “You can’t swim?”

“i can sink.” Sans says with a shrug and a grin. “gonna be a problem? not too late to turn me in for someone more buoyant.”

“But you’re my buoyfriend.” You laugh, raising an eyebrow. Sans has to do a doubletake at that, and is soon shaking with laughter.

“you must think i’m shallow to worry about it.”

“This is an awfully deep conversation to be joking about.” You reply with a smirk. He applauds; one point to you. “Anyway. We can’t fence off the sea. Well, like, we could but I think that’s called a net, for one, and it’s impractical. Also, uh, I’ve got no intention of trading you in. Turns out I like my guys bony.”

“why, though?” He asks, surprising you a little with the seriousness of the question.

“I don’t know?” You laugh, feeling a little awkward. “You’re cute, and funny, and nice, and smart as hell, and caring, and you … make me feel safe. And wanted. And protected.” He ducks his head to hide a huge smile, cheeks stained blue.

“cute?” He repeats. You grin.

“Yes, bonehead. Cute. I’m not the first human out there to have a thing for a monster, you know.” You laugh. This seems to be the right answer, even though, well, there weren’t all that many humans dating monsters (though Mettaton had enough fans of every possible variety of human that it seemed likely that this might start to change). Sans kicks bashfully at a snow poff, then leans up to kiss you softly.

“thanks.” He says quietly, then grins, looking around. “okay. sorry. got distracted. we’ll just see what mettaton and alphys came up with for defense, and work with that. ugh, i feel like that guy is everywhere right now. i hate how grateful i am. i know.” He holds you off. “being an ungrateful jerk. but that guy… i swear, he’ll hit on anything that moves. or doesn’t move. i saw him try to seduce a vending machine once.” He grumbles. You try not to laugh at the mental image. “anyway, can’t do much now. let’s see what paps and l.d. are up to.” And with that, he starts up the hill back up to the house, heading around to the front yard where Papyrus and Lesser Dog are playing. You grin, shrug, and trudge after him, leaving fresh footprints in the soft, still falling snow.

---------------------------------------

“papyrus. what. is. that.” He demands when he turns the corner to see the snow sculptures that the skeleton and dog have been working on. Papyrus blushes.

“IT’S MY FRIEND METTATON!” He says quickly, stepping aside from the piece he’d been working on; an exact, lifesized Mettaton sitting on the couch from that morning’s talk show. He’d even made the couch perfectly. He must have been watching TV over at Asgore’s.

“why are you making a snow mettaton.” Sans demands flatly.

“HE IS MY FAVORITE SEXY ROBOT!”

“no. no no no.” Sans shudders, and glares at you when you dissolve into a helpless giggling fit and sit down on the snowy cushion next to the snow robot. “can’t you be like l.d.? look what he made?!” He tries, gesturing at the swooping, artistic snowdogs that Lesser Dog had been creating. Papyrus shakes his head.

“IT’S A TRIBUTE.” He insists. “IF YOU WERE ON TV, PEOPLE WOULD DO IT FOR YOU TOO.” Sans groans, then glances up quickly at the sound of tires tearing down the long driveway. He steps in front of you quickly, then sighs and relaxes as the car comes into view.

“just undyne.” He sighs, but keeps an eye on her, watching as she hops out of the car and sprints over to you.

“__________! Go inside!” She yelps.

“what is it?” Sans says urgently.

“ARE THEY COMING BACK TO TRY TO HURT __________?” Papyrus cries.

“I don’t know!” Undyne says, stopping in front of you, out of breath. “I went in the locker room after lunch and... I heard that old bat calling anyone who would listen and reading your address off some mail she found in your locker. I told Barb; she fired her, but it’s too late!” Hearing the distress in her voice, L.D. begins to whine.

Sans is already guiding you to the front door, his hand on your back.

“let’s just lay low, keep an eye open, see what’s coming.” Sans says. “it’s probably nothing. just some protestors or something.” Your stomach twists slightly, and you hurry inside, holding the door open for Papyrus and Undyne - Lesser Dog stays outside, and you can hear a soft growl rumbling from his throat as he drops to all fours and walks all the way to the front fence, waiting for any threats to arrive.

The wait for whatever happens next is tense and excruciating, but in the end, it only takes a minute or two before the first van pulls up, then the second, then the third, fourth and fifth.

“well, it’s not vandals.” Sans sighs, standing next to you and staring out the window.

It’s almost worse.

It’s paparazzi.

Chapter Text

“PUPPER-AZI? ARE THEY HERE FOR LESSER DOG?” Papyrus says nervously. You shake your head, and smile a little as Undyne brushes a few half-melted flakes of snow off your shoulder, looking concerned.

“Nah, Paps. They, um, they sell like, pictures or interviews to different newspapers or blogs or whatever?” You attempt.

“Ugh. That’s… creepy.” Undyne shudders, staring out the window. Sans is glowering next to you, his eye sockets almost entirely black as he focuses on the cars just outside the fence. You groan, rubbing your forehead.

“They wouldn’t have a clean shot of the front of the house if those assholes hadn’t burned my trees!” You grumble. “Ugh, just… go home! Go to your homes, you weirdoes, have dinner with your families and leave mine alone!” You snap, then, realizing that you’d said that entire thought out loud, duck your head. Calling them your family was awfully presumptuous, after all. “Uh, I mean…”

Undyne grins at you. “You’re such a dork!” She snickers. “What, you think we’re all gonna go ‘ew, no?’” She bumps your shoulder with hers. “You go to bat for us, you get me hired, you basically start a home for wayward skeletons -”

“-hey.”

“-AND DOGS!”

“-and dogs, your door has always been open for us, and oh yeah, you’re awfully cuddly with one of us (and it’s basically the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen except for Alphys.)” Undyne still sounds gleeful about this last fact. “I’d say that you’re part of our family, huh?”

“DEFINITELY! WE ALL LOVE _________, RIGHT?” Papyrus says brightly.

“duh.” Sans says, tearing his eyes from the window to give you a quick smile, his cheeks a little blue. You get the sense that he’s teasing you a little - that had been your line after he’d kissed you the first time, after all. You want to punch his shoulder, but you also want to hug him tightly, and you decide on the latter after a second, winding your arms around the skeleton’s waist as he stands, his back to you, staring out the window. He sighs softly, and turns to face you, squeezing you in return and resting his chin on your shoulder for a second before you let him go.

Undyne lets out a soft “awww” which Papyrus begins to cackle at, but you’re not done. Without any further ado, you hug Papyrus (who dances around with embarassed delight), then Undyne (who hugs you back tightly enough to make your back crack). God, you cared for these people.

“You guys…” You’re embarrassed to feel your voice shake a little. Oh, you hadn’t cried since… not since you were a little girl. No, no, not now. “I still don’t know how I deserve all of you.” You say, blinking quickly. “Jeez. If these stupid jerks would just realize I’m boring and move, then things really would be perfect.”

“i’ll move ‘em.” Sans says softly, looking back at you with such liking and fierce determination on his face that your knees suddenly threaten to wobble along with your voice. Stupid sexy skeleton…

“Nope. Nice try. You’re still not getting in any fights with any humans.” You’re surprised at how comfortable you feel telling him that. The fierceness remains on his face as he looks up at you, but you shrug.

“Look. I have no problem with you acting in self-defense, but you can’t just attack people. Right?” You say. He looks like he’s about to protest. “You told me how much you admired how Frisk wouldn’t hurt anyone, all the way through the underground, right? Don’t be a hypocrite. No hurting ... unless you absolutely have to.” You sound calmer than you feel. It was one thing to have the nation made aware that you were having these problems, but another issue entirely to have the media camped outside your front yard. At least the yard was big! But, well, they probably had cameras that could pick out every tiny detail even from this distance. You groan and slump slightly, leaning against the window in the entrance hall that you, Sans, and Undyne are all sharing and watching Lesser Dog run along the perimeter, barking angrily.

“We should call him in.” Undyne mutters.

“let him get his energy out. you know how he gets. he’ll chew up the whole house.” Sans says, leaning slightly against you in that way that you know means he feels sorry for once again proposing he take matters into his own hands. Or maybe not. Sometimes Sans could be an awful liar, but you were beginning to notice that sometimes, he was better at lying than anyone you’d ever met before.

And, getting the sense that Sans was just about done with letting people mess with you, you were beginning to worry quite a bit about that.

“Alphys and Mettaton are coming over.” Undyne is messing with her phone, looking at the texts. “Mettaton’s going to blow a circuit. He’s so upset that this is happening.”

“must be really rough on him.” Sans drawls sarcastically, then exhales. “still...” You know what he’s thinking.

“We need him.” You mutter. “He knows how to deal with these people, we don’t. I just want to do whatever means they go away.”

----------------------------

Mettaton and Alphys arrive maybe two hours later. In that span of time, Papyrus has coaxed you all to sit down somewhere where you couldn’t hover over the photographers, so, once again, you all trudge over to the TV room and fall into seats that are beginning to feel familiar. Ghost is even waiting for you there, and doesn’t even hesitate - as soon as Sans sits down (as usual, at your side), Ghost hops into his lap. Aw, gosh, you’re going to melt. Sans glances at you to make sure he’s doing the right thing still, then very slowly, very carefully begins to pet the old kitty. Papyrus watches this with fascination.

“MAYBE GHOST WOULD LIKE TO SIT ON ME TOO?” He says casually. Sans grins, and very gingerly picks the cat up. Ghost begins to rumble with purrs (for some reason, he loves being carried by Sans!) but stops, confused, when Sans gently lowers him onto his brother’s lap. Papyrus hesitates, and you watch, a goofy smile crossing your face, as Sans demonstrates how to hold Ghost, and where he prefers to be pet. You’re awfully fond of your boys, you think, and jump half out of your skin when Undyne nudges your side with an elbow, then winks at you when you whip your head around.

‘Caught staring,’ that wink says. You give her a mock scowl, then smile once more when Sans crosses back over to sit next to you, leaving Ghost purring on Papyrus’ lap.

“Good job.” You murmur to Sans.

“well, he told me when i asked him if he wanted to move that he really wanted to make friends with ghost.” Sans snickers. You nod, as if you hadn’t totally overheard this conversation that was supposed to be private between the brothers, and kiss his cheekbone quickly. He grins at you, looking much more relaxed with the paparazzi out of sight, and you feel the tightness in your chest and jaw finally beginning to relent as well.

“CAN WE WATCH ANOTHER CHRISTMAS MOVIE?” Papyrus asks shyly. “WE DIDN’T HAVE MORE THAN A FEW OF THOSE UNDERGROUND!”

“Ha, sure, Paps. You ever see Home Alone?” All three monsters look at you, confused. You grin, pulling your feet up under you and picking up the remote. “Oh, man, I’m so excited! Lucky you, getting to see this for the first time! It’s about this little kid that gets left alone in this giant house by accident at Christmas and these mean burglars keep trying to break in, but the kid’s way too smart so he sets all these traps...”

“Sounds… a little familiar.” Undyne drawls, gesturing at you. You burst out laughing.

“Well, I don’t think we’ve got burglars to cope with. But maybe we can get some ideas from Kevin.”

“heh. you watch this when you were a kid?” Sans asks. You laugh excitedly.

“Like, every week. There’s a sequel too, it’s great, Kevin has to go to New York and… you know what, no spoilers, let’s just watch them!” You say, and select the first movie from a streaming service, grinning when it starts up. It’s just so nice to do these old, familiar things, with these new people that you cared so deeply about, and to feel that something new is starting, something real and concrete and a little scary but wonderful. They’d all agreed that they were your family. You hadn’t known them long enough, it was crazy, you kept telling yourself, but…

This was real. Nobody was leaving. It was happening.

**************************************

Your soul isn’t a candle, he thinks, watching you. Candles are easy to extinguish. Yours is a bonfire. It was hard to tell that at first, because souls were all, more or less, the same size, same shape, but he kept sneaking glances, kept seeing how much deeper that light went into you. The longer he got to know you, the brighter it seemed that it burned. His fingers itched to touch it, to stroke it, to cradle and adore it the way that you held Ghost - but no. Too much, too soon. He was already pushing his luck something fierce. He’d slept in your bed last night, for fuck’s sake! And, wow, god knew that he hadn’t been thinking about anything other than seeing how far he could keep pushing his luck, when you’d been kissing his throat this morning.

You just weren’t like anyone else. Oh, he knew, he knew, everyone was different, everyone was a unique miracle, blah blah blah. But you - oh, you were just kind. In spite of everything that had happened to you, your first instinct was kindness. And you were unstoppable. He knew you were worried about the new threat of the media, the old threat of the anti-monster assholes, worried that everything would fall apart, that you’d lose your job, lose your money, lose your new friends, even lose him.

But you weren’t going to lose him, he thought, wrapping his arm around your shoulders and grinning to himself when you immediately dropped your head to rest on his shoulder, like it was the most natural thing in the world. He was going to stick around, as long as you’d have him (and, well, Papyrus). And as for the rest, all those other worries you were carrying around, well, anyone else, they might weigh down. But you? You just took a breath, bit your lip (god, did you have any idea what that did to him?), and then you just… refused to be overwhelmed.

You didn’t do what he would do in your shoes, didn’t go and panic or sleep for days, you just kept going. More than that, you stubbornly, determinedly, found joy. And in turn, you made him feel joy, the type he’d thought he’d only get once, seeing the sun for the first time he could remember, feeling its heat on his face that first day through the barrier, knowing that he and Papyrus were free, that he’d never watch his brother die again, never watch Frisk flail and panic and hurt others out of fear or frustration or pain ever again, that he’d never have to worry about his father (or was it his creator, Gaster had never been too clear on that) lurking behind doors that shouldn’t be there, sliding through the underground like a computer virus, like malware running in the background.

He looks at you, and he feels, deep under his ribs, that same sense of wonder and relief. After a year of being disappointed by so many things on the surface, you refuse to disappoint. You were a bonfire. You were that first ray of the sun on his face. You were warmth and light and heat. He stares at you from the corner of his eye, watching you biting your lip again as you try to hide a grin at the antics on the TV. There was only one difference between that feeling he got with you, and the feeling he’d had, with that first glimpse of the sun.

He hadn’t wanted to bone the everloving hell out of the sun.

*****************************************

You’re giggling wildly when Kevin finds the picture of his older brother’s… girlfriend. “‘Buzz’s girlfriend! WOOF!’” You quote happily, then snicker when L.D. props himself up from his position on the floor to look at you. He’d finally come back inside after the sun had gone down and he hadn’t been able to see the waiting reporters as well. “Not ‘woof’ like a dog, sweetie.” You say, giggling again when his tongue lolls out of his mouth. “It means Kevin doesn’t think that she’s very pretty.” Lesser Dog seems satisfied by this, and settles back down, resting his chin on his paws and occasionally letting out a canine chuckle at the TV. Ghost, perched on Papyrus’ lap and eying L.D. warily, finally, very cautiously, resumes purring. You’re simply enjoying the scene (and feeling personally vindicated by the fact that Undyne is in total tears of laughter by the time Kevin’s setting up traps.)

You’re just glancing over to enjoy Papyrus’ rapturous expression as the traps start to get deployed - oh, Sans was going to be angry with you, he didn’t like Papyrus thinking about traps - when you feel Sans’ arm slide down around your waist, and the sensation of lips, with the faintest hint of teeth, sliding against your jaw. You turn to face him, and see the spark of …something in his eye, making whatever comment you’d been trying to come up with die, unsaid on your lips. It’s probably for the best. Sans suddenly seems to have plans for those. Your face starts burning almost instantly as he leans up to kiss you in a way that is, quite frankly not exactly polite to do in front of company. God, you wish you could care that it’s not polite, but you just… don’t. You find your hand spreading out over his sternum, then grabbing a fistful of his shirt, and god, you’re grateful that it’s dark, and that Undyne and Papyrus are fixed on the movie. When you pull away, your breath is awfully ragged and your heart is hammering, and you’re feeling the quizzical eyes of Lesser Dog on you.

Sans looks like he’s in a similar state, at least, but he’s still glowing slightly with magic, and you just can’t trust yourself. “I-I’m going to get a drink!” You stammer loudly, drawing everyone’s attention. “Anyone else want one?”

“Beer!” Undyne bellows.

“HOT COCOA! AND WE SHOULD MAKE DINNER SOON!” Papyrus yells.

“and, uh, water for l.d.” Sans supplies, sounding a little out of sorts. “i’ll give you a hand, babe.”

“Oh!” A very guilty grin is threatening to spread across your face, so you fake a yawn to hide it. “Thanks, Sans!” You both hop off the couch awfully eagerly, and cross the room towards the hallway leading to the kitchen. You’re barely out of the room and in obscured in the shadows when Sans kisses you again, which means, unfortunately, that you are perfectly able to hear the three monsters left in the TV room begin to laugh wildly.

“DID THEY THINK WE COULDN’T SEE THEM?! THEN THEY TRY ‘We need drinks?!’” Papyrus practically screams. It’s infuriating, how much better his impression of you is than your impression of Sans. “NYEH HEH! HEH!”

“Oh my god, don’t, Paps, I’ll die!” Undyne protests, laughing like you’ve never heard her before. Worse still, Lesser Dog is joining in with huge, howling laughs.

“so, uh, do you want to hide from them for the rest of your life, or is that just me?” Sans mutters.

“Oh, no, it’s not just you.” You reassure him. You didn’t know it was even possible to be this embarassed. Still, after a second, you nod pointedly down the hall. Sans lets out a very guilty chuckle, and walks by your side to the kitchen.

“What was that for, anyway?”

“hm?” He looks innocently up at you, and you’re sure you would have been embarrassed, if you had the capacity to feel any more humiliated.

“The kiss?” You prompt, switching on the kitchen light.

“oh. heh.” He rubs the back of his neck. “sorry. you were being too hot. i had to.”

“Had to.” You repeat incredulously. He nods, still flickering with magic.

“mhm.” He says seriously, and you find yourself taking a step towards him. He grins, such a cocky, pleased with himself grin, that you can’t decide if you want to walk away to make a point or push him back on the counter. Oh, why even offer yourself these choices? You’re going with the option that lets you feel more of that sensation; of magic, of his mouth pointedly exploring yours, of the knowledge that for once, you want the guy you’re with just as much as he wants you. He makes the move first, though, backing you against the kitchen counter and picking back up where he’d left off. You try to stay aware, alert to the fact that your friends will be wondering where you are (or worse, knowing where you are), but by the time his bony fingers tentatively, nervously, brush against your breast, you’ve forgotten the world outside of this room exists.

You’re certainly too caught up to notice the distant flashes of cameras in the backyard.

-------------------------------------

“Darling! Where have you hidden yourself!?” The sound of that familiar voice makes you quickly nudge Sans away. God, if Sans had looked grumpy at the prospect of dealing with Mettaton before, it was nothing compared to now.

“Sorry!” You whisper, trying to comb your hair back into some order with your fingers

“shh.” He gives you a crooked smile, and glances at your neck, looking awfully pleased with himself. You narrow your eyes at him, suddenly suspicious-

“There you are, darling, you -” Mettaton stops in the doorway, his eyes darting between you and Sans, then groans very theatrically. “Sans. Must you?” He groans, staring at your neck as well. “Now I’ll need to touch up her neck every morning for the next week.”

You don’t like the sound of that. Taking out your phone, you quickly turned on the front facing camera, and spotted, almost instantly, the light bruise already forming from a particularly enthusiastic lovebite. “Sansssss.” You groan, burying your head in your hands.

“whoops.” He sounds so smug. Oh, god, surely it wasn’t that bad if you kicked your boyfriend, right? Mettaton gives you a conspiratorial look.

“Poor thing. See, this is what comes of being made out of meat.” He sighs dramatically, then perks up. “Anyway, come along, dear. Alphys and I have brought Thai takeout-” Your stomach growls practically the second he says that, “-and we’re going to talk battle plans!”

“you’ve figured out how to get rid of them?” Sans says, pushing himself off the counter and finally beginning to get the drinks out of the fridge you’d theoretically come in here to get.

“What? Oh, goodness, no.” Mettaton says, leaning over Sans (much to his annoyance) to grab a bottle of chardonnay from the fridge.

“Then what?” You ask, suddenly feeling that you could use a glass of that wine. Or eight. Mettaton locks eyes with you.

“We’re going to practice. Because you, darling, are going to give them what they want. You’re going to talk to them tomorrow.”

Chapter Text

“‘m jusht a normarl girrr-”

“Please. For my sanity. Swallow first.” Mettaton says disapprovingly. You roll your eyes, and take another bite of drunken noodles before gulping theatrically, just to make a point, and trying again.

“I’m just a normal girl.” You repeat. “The only reason people are paying attention to me is because of my friends. They want to hurt my friends, but they’re afraid of monsters, so they’ve resorted to hurting me.”

“Good.” Mettaton says, leaning forward and putting his metal elbows on the eighteenth century antique whatever table (he’d told you, you just couldn’t remember) with a clank. He’d tried to make the dining room into a war room, but everyone else had been hungry, so it was currently a war/dinner room, which lacked the same effect. “And what if they ask you a question you don’t know how to answer?” You make a face, your stomach growling. You’re so hungry, but Mettaton’s decided to go full on Grandma-from-the-Princess-Diaries on you, and you’ve barely had time to get in a bite.

“I’ll tell them that I’ll get back to them. Or tell them to ask you, you’re way better at all this than me.” You say, grabbing another forkful of noodles before Mettaton can ask you another question.

“she’s good, bud.” Sans insists when Mettaton opens his mouth again. “you said she’s only gonna talk to the nice ones, anyway. let her eat.” You make an appreciative noise, and swallow, then grin over at Papyrus, who hasn’t said a word this whole time, his mind just absolutely blown by all the different types of noodles. He was poking at a piece of fried tofu in his pad thai with a chopstick, clearly trying to work up the nerve.

“Give it a shot, Paps. You’ll like it.” You urge, once you finally take a break from stuffing your face. Papyrus does so - he’s quite good with chopsticks actually - and then beams at the table as he chews. You wonder where the food actually goes, since it doesn’t drop out of his skull, but only briefly. Magic, blah blah blah. “Good?”

“IT’S LIKE A MEATBALL! BUT MADE OF BEANS AND FRIED AND SWEET AND NOTHING LIKE A MEATBALL!” Papyrus exclaims. You grin, and watch Undyne meticulously removing every single scrap of fish from the bones of her whole red snapper, a slightly feral look on her face. If you didn’t know Undyne so well, you’d say it was a little scary, but the truth was that Undyne simply brought to meals the same enthusiasm she brought to everything else. And, well, Alphys clearly thought it was attractive. You’d noticed that the dinosaur had missed her own mouth and spilled pineapple fried rice on herself a few times, too busy watching Undyne eat.

Sans and Mettaton were merely watching. Mettaton, being a robot, had plugged himself into the wall, though, so that meant that there was only one person to worry about. “Have some food. Or a drink, or something.” You tell Sans. He grimaces.

“already had something today.” He mutters. Oh, that makes you anxious.

“Please?” You murmur. “You’re gonna wear yourself-”

“to the bone, yeah, yeah.” Sans laughs tiredly. “fine, want to pass me that chili sauce?” You do so, biting your lip and watching him. God, you just want him to be okay, but he barely consumes anything as it is. You know monsters are different, but Papyrus is a skeleton too, and he loves eating. Sans seems to like the cooking part of it fine, but… He notices you watching, and takes a big, pointed gulp of the sweet chili sauce. You relent, and turn back to your noodles.

“So, you’re gonna talk to some people tomorrow morning?” Undyne says, picking her teeth with a stray fishbone and reaching for her beer. You nod, glancing at Mettaton.

“That’s what Mettaton thinks.”

“We get in front of the story.” Mettaton says knowledgably. “Let them all fall in love with ________ before anyone can come up with anything bad to say against her.”

“what bad things could there even be?” Sans snorts. “got any skeletons in your closet, babe?” You and Papyrus both give him a long look, as Sans glances expectantly around, waiting for anyone to make the obvious joke. The silence draws on. “okay, okay, striking out today.” Sans snickers, taking another sip. You run your hand through your hair, shaking your head.

“Not that I can think of. I really am this boring.” You admit. “Um, I suppose they could point out that I don’t have any friends - any real human friends.” You correct quickly, when Undyne narrows her eyes at you. You’re not ready for another pep talk. “Or… god, I really don’t know.” You steal a sip of wine from Mettaton’s glass absently - he hasn’t been drinking it, just using it as a very dramatic prop - then glance at Alphys, who’s been squirming slightly.

“I-I um, I’m j-j-just sorry, I’ve b-been beating myself up all d-day.” She stammers, rubbing the back of her neck. “I, um, I d-didn’t even think about f-f-fires, I didn’t th-think anyone would ever…” She trails off and stares down at her plate.

“Hey. Alphys, you did great.” You say quickly. “Seriously. I know I wouldn’t feel safe sleeping in this house at all if it weren’t for you. Why would we ever think that someone would firebomb the damn topiaries-” You can hear Sans make a soft sound, like he’s holding in a laugh, and you glare at him before continuing. “I mean, it’s ridiculous, you know?” She takes a deep breath and nods.

“W-well I built these t-turrets, um, but I don’t think… um, with all the r-reporters out there, we s-shouldn’t…” She says reluctantly.

“YES. IF HUMANS SEE A TRAP IN ADVANCE, THEY ARE MUCH MORE LIKELY TO AVOID IT.” Papyrus says. “WHEN HARRY AND MARV ATTACKED THE HUMAN KEVIN, HE WON BECAUSE HE MAINTAINED THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE!” His eyes narrow. “WE SHOULD SMASH UP ORNAMENTS FOR THEM TO STEP ON.” He offers. “AND HEAT UP THE DOOR HANDLE!” He looks elated, the lights in his eyes bright enough that for a second you think he’s going to snap and access some hidden font of magic, the same way Sans does. In the end, all Papyrus ends up doing is descending into a fit of “NYEH HEH HEH”s that practically shake the dining table.

“you’re a really bad influence on him.” Sans says wryly, nudging you with his shoulder. You roll your eyes at him.

“Well, you’re a really bad influence on me.” Sans shrugs, but doesn’t deny it. He still has that smug look in his eyes that you’re one thousand percent sure is hickey related. “And, uh, I don’t think those traps work as well in real life, Paps. You know, in general, we humans don’t set too many traps. I think it’s actually illegal.” You say with a guilty grin.

“WHY?!” Papyrus says, astonished. You shrug.

“Well, what if the wrong person set them off? I’d feel awful if some kid decided to walk on the property and got hurt.” You say. “I was only cool with the window, uh, lasers?” You glance at Alphys, wondering if there’s a technical term, but she merely shrugs. “Anyway, those were only fine because they just stun. Even so, I’m a little worried about some kid getting hurt.”

“So tender-hearted, darling, the audience is going to eat you up tomorrow!” Mettaton sighs, snatching his glass of wine back and making a broad gesture of approval with it. You groan softly, and set yourself back on the course of finishing your noodles as Sans looks seriously at Mettaton.

“and this, uh, plan. this is definitely going to take the heat off ________, right? this isn’t your way of launching her entertainment career?” He says pointedly. Mettaton looks so insulted that you wonder if Sans might be right to ask that.

“Of course not!” He says. “Oh, you think so little of me, and I’ve done absolutely nothing to prompt it!” He turns to the rest of the table to try to garner their support. Undyne raises an eyebrow. Alphys ducks her head. Papyrus anxiously glances away. And Lesser Dog (under the table, chewing on a rawhide) makes a sound that sounds an awful lot like a laugh. “Heartless, all of you.” Mettaton sighs, holding the wine up to his lips like he’s taking a big sip. “Rest assured, I want nothing more than to see __________ achieve all her dreams, and if she wants to be in charge of a small regional aquarium in her hometown and never know the rush and excitement of fame or the glamour of Manhattan or the dazzling experience of walking a catwalk in Paris, then that dream is… worth… pursuing.” It sounds almost painful for him to say this, and you’re trying very hard not to laugh before he’s halfway through.

“Thanks, Mettaton. You make my career sound so exciting.” You say, grinning.

“Oh, think nothing of it darling.” He says, taking the comment genuinely. “Yes, Papyrus?” Papyrus is waving his hand in the air like a schoolboy.

“IT WOULD PROBABLY BE A GOOD IDEA IF WE WATCHED THE NEXT HOME ALONE NOW. FOR … UH, NOT FOR TRAP IDEAS!” He says innocently. You glance at Sans, who looks up at the sky for guidance before nodding.

“sure, bud. let’s get this stuff cleaned up first though, huh?” He grabs an armful of aluminum takeout containers, almost all empty, and totes them into the kitchen. Papyrus, who has much bigger arms, scoops literally everything else up and follows his brother. The second they’re out of sight, Undyne gives you an enormous, very pointy grin, and points at your neck. Alphys lets out a quiet little giggle, then ducks her head.

“You should tell us all about it.” Undyne says sweetly.

“No!” You protest, blushing furiously.

“B-but we can’t d-draw it if-”

“SHHH!” Undyne hisses at her girlfriend, drawing her finger across her neck in the universal sign for ‘zip it.’ Oh, god.

“That wasn’t a joke? You’re seriously drawing a manga about me?” You hiss, narrowing your eyes at them and leaning forward.

“Oh, it’s very good so far.” Mettaton assures you sweetly. “A bit Sans heavy, nothing that can’t be changed going forward.” You stare at him.

“...This is it. This is what losing my mind feels like.” You mutter, shaking your head. “Give me that wine.”

“But, darling-”

“Mettaton.” He sighs dramatically, and passes the wine glass over to you.

“I’m getting my own.” He says, watching you drain it, and stalks off with all the affronted dignity of a cat who’s been given a bath.

------------------------------------

You have to stop glaring at Undyne and Alphys when Sans and Papyrus return; you’re too embarrassed to have to explain why you’re so out of sorts, so instead you put on a big, fake smile, and devote yourself to finishing the bottle of wine as you set up Home Alone 2 for Papyrus. You don’t remember buying this or putting it in the fridge; Mettaton must have discovered your parents’ wine cellar the last time he was over, which you can’t really bring yourself to care about. It’s good that someone’s using all the stuff in the house, at last, even if that someone is a robot who reads weird mangas about you and doesn’t even drink the wine he’s poured -

“something on your mind?” Sans drawls from the cushion next to you. You realize you’re glaring again, and shrug.

“Nothing major.” You say, and lean back against his arm - he certainly tends to do that whenever possible, sling his arm around your shoulders. You like it, you think, your cheeks feeling hot again. He was going way out of his way to make it clear that he was with you - well, yeah, see: the embarrassing bruise on your neck for further details. Still, embarrassing or not, it was nice. Reassuring. It didn’t feel like he was treating you like an object, honestly, not like a few of the boys in your abbreviated dating history had acted. It just felt like, well, that he wanted the whole world to know that you’d picked him.

Ugh, if Undyne and Alphys showed anyone else that manga, the whole world legitimately would know. Were they posting it online!?

Nope. Nope. Not worrying about that. You take a deep breath, and lean against his shoulder, smiling at the joy on Papyrus’ face, on Sans’ other side.Papyrus had watched Undyne and Alphys claim the loveseat, then had glanced at Mettaton on the other couch, but Sans had suddenly, excitedly, patted the free cushion next to him, so now Mettaton and Lesser Dog were sharing one, you and the boys sharing the other, much to Sans’ relief. That ‘sexy robot’ comment must have really gotten to him.

Once Home Alone 2 had finished (and Papyrus had stopped screeching with delight), it was still a little too early for anyone to think about sleeping - particularly you, since you weren’t quite sure if Sans was going to be following you back to your room again and the thought was making you feel nervous and awkward (and a little excited). Mettaton had the remote - well, technically, Mettaton was a remote, and had switched to cable, flickering through the different channels for a glimpse of his face, which the rest of you tolerated patiently. Well, one of you grumbled “narcissist,” but the rest of you were fine with it. Until-

“Wait! That one was me!” You exclaim, but Mettaton’s already stopped.

“The new poster child for the Monster Acceptance Movement, __________ __________ has been portrayed on television and social media as a friend to all monsters.” The reporter is saying sunnily.

“What.” You’ve got a sinking feeling in your stomach, noticing that the channel Mettaton has stopped on isn’t the news, but rather a notorious gossip channel.

“Now,” The reporter continues, “recent photos indicate that _________ might be a little bit more than friendly when it comes to our guests from the underground!”

And there they are. Photos, through the kitchen window, from a distance, of you and Sans. Unmistakably looking much more than friendly. “Oh, god.” You mutter, feeling hollow.

“fuck.” Sans says, distractedly putting up a hand to cover Papyrus’ eyes. Everyone else is silent, frozen in shock, perhaps, as it cuts back to the pretty reporter. Except, not just the reporter.

“NO!” You hear yourself shout, and you clap your hands to your mouth, feeling sick to your stomach, as the reporter continues.

“Here to discuss this turn of events with us, is __________’s aunt and, until recently, legal guardian, Paula. Paula, how are you this evening…”

“Well, disappointed, for one.” Her voice makes you jump. Oh, god, you can’t do this, this is everything awful at once, seeing her sitting there, all dolled up, like she knows you, like she has the fucking right-”

“Uh, I gotta… I gotta…” You take a deep, panicked breath, then stand up, walking quickly through the house, outside, into the backyard, into your safe haven-

The flashbulbs begin to go off instantly, the second you’re more than a step outside. You stand there frozen, the snow falling on your bare arms, as they snap picture after picture of you.

You can’t do this, and you’ve waited too long.

There’s nowhere to run anymore.

Chapter Text

You don’t know how long you stand there, staring, dead eyed, into darkness. The bursts of light from the constantly firing flashbulbs create afterimages, green blobs lingering in your vision even when you finally screw your eyes shut. You can’t cry. You know, on some level, that she’ll be watching you, and you always had that one rule, after she’d berated you for crying too often after your parents’ funeral; you weren’t allowed to cry. You couldn’t make your legs work, couldn’t make your brain decide where you even wanted to run, couldn’t even yell, but you could manage not to cry.

“________?” Sans’ voice is soft, even as he approaches the open door to the backyard. How does he always know exactly where to find you? Then again, he’d seen you take off before, and found you out on the beach, so maybe he just knew this was where you went when you got the impulse to run.

He clearly was not expecting your... company. You hear a noise, halfway between a quick intake of breath and a snarl.

As you turn to look at him, the universe splits open behind you.

Sans is silhouetted in the back door, and the furious, focused look on his face, only visible because of the glow from his eye, it would be enough to scare you on its own - but you can already feel the tearing behind you. You turn back, quickly, to face that awful feeling, backing up almost involuntarily - your legs are finally working to carry you away, and you’re not sure if you’re going to his side, or just scrambling away from the horror.

He’d made a door before, a neat, orderly passage between Grillby’s and your house. This was nothing of the sort. This was a gash, a tear, something that should not be, and the air was thrumming with the feeling of existence unravelling at the seams.

It was the kind of hole that several people could have fallen through at once.

There were, you notice, no more photographers in your backyard.

“Sans.” You whisper, staring at the rip in the middle of the air. This is nothing like that doorway from one familiar location to another. There was nothing familiar on the other side of that hole. You could barely look at it; your eyes weren’t designed to see colors or shapes like that. Nothing was supposed to move like the things on the other side of that terrible hole in reality moved. And god, the smell, god, god it was the reek of simple, distilled fear, of things rotting, of things falling apart - the word entropy bubbles up from some barely functioning corner of your brain, and then sticks there, stuttering in your head like a skipping CD. “Sans. Bring them back.” You breathe, unable to tear your eyes away.

“why.” He whispers, not meeting your eyes, staring into the tear alongside you. It’s getting bigger, you think. Something’s shifting in there, and you inhale, thinking that one of the photographers is going to crawl out from that mindbreaking void, but no. As it gets closer, you realize it’s something much, much bigger than a person.

It looks like an enormous skull. A horse, a goat?

“Bring them back, Sans.” You mutter again, your voice feeling weak. Blindly, you reach out, scrabbling for his hand.

“are you okay?” He whispers. The ragged edges of reality are making you feel ill. “did they-”

“They just took some pictures. They were stupid.” You whisper, feeling relieved when you find his hand, even as that dizzying feeling of magic leaks from his hand, up your arm, your heart beginning to race. “They were greedy. They don’t deserve to be hurt, though.” You can’t think, won’t think, of what might be happening to them in that realm he’s opened up. “Bring them back, Sans.”

“they’re predators.” He spits. “they wanted to make a profit off of how much they could manage to hurt you. people like them should be burning -”

“They’re people. They have families.” You whisper hurriedly. “Parents. Sisters. Brothers.” He inhales harshly. “They made a bad choice.” You murmur. “You don’t have to make one too.” His hand has been so stiff in yours, but slowly, you feel his fingers shift to hold your hand tightly. “This isn’t what I need. We don’t fight this with violence.” You whisper. That hideous skull is turning from you, sliding back into the depths you can’t begin to understand. “Bring them back.”

“‘m sorry.” He whispers, and your heart fills with dread for a moment, thinking he’s refusing. But, no, there’s a cracking sound, and suddenly the tear in space is gone, and there’s five, gasping humans sprawled on the snow in front of you, all of them in various states of extreme horror. One, a guy who can’t be much older than you, opens his mouth to begin screaming.

“no.” Sans speaks, quietly but with a world of weight. You’re astonished, the way he manages to snap from despair to calm composure. The guy who’d been about to yell immediately shuts his mouth. “no screaming. no scene. no talking. you’re going to go home, and you’re never coming back.”

“My - my camera-” One of them, a much older man, stutters. Sans suddenly smiles, all pointy teeth and rage, and you shudder.

“that’s what we call, uh, an occupational hazard, bud. you wander around on someone else’s property, you can’t blame them if you stumble somewhere you don’t belong.” He says cheerfully, terribly dangerously. “guess you lost your cameras. whoops. lesson learned, huh guys?”

Five shocked heads nod in instant agreement.

“anyway. time to go home. i’ll do you a solid. lemme show you a shortcut.” Sans says, almost lazily, and then they’re gone again, just dropped out of existence.

“Sans!” You say sharply, but he shakes his head.

“just dropped ‘em out front by their cars. they won’t be coming back.” You nod in horrified agreement, staring out at the empty backyard, at the scuffs and footprints in the snow from the scuffle. “let’s go back inside.”

“Sans.” You whisper.

“you need to go back inside, you’re not wearing a jacket-” He’s speaking too fast now, sweating slightly.

“Sans. That wasn’t okay.” You whisper.

“they were hurting you.” He says quickly, the magic fading from him in a wave that you can feel. “i can see it in your soul, they hurt you, ________.”

“I can take it, I’ve handled worse-”

“you shouldn’t have to! you don’t deserve it!” Sans insists. “i can’t do this anymore, i can’t watch the people i care about be hurt over and over again, i can’t stand back anymore and just watch you all die!” He says desperately. You take a deep breath, and shiver, realizing, suddenly, that this is about much more than paparazzi.

“Sans.” You say, trying to sound calm and reasonable, even though you feel anything but. “They were just taking pictures. I wasn’t gonna die. They didn’t touch me.” A silence hangs in the air for a painfully long time, then he shudders.

“i know. i know.” He mutters. “i’m so sorry, _________.” He hesitates, then looks miserably up at you. “fuck. i’m going to miss you.” What?

“Where are you going?!” You say, panic welling back up in your voice. He stares, bewildered, at you.

“...you’re going to tell me to leave.” He says, as if it’s obvious. You shake your head quickly, but he goes on. “i’m not the guy you thought i was, i’ve done terrible things and now you know it, i know i told you before, but there’s knowing and then there’s knowing, right?” He lets out a hoarse laugh. “i’ve done them over and over and over again. sometimes i think i’m still doing them, down there.” He pants, the light in his eye slightly wild. “that’s the thing, you know, about poking holes in space and time, you end up wearing yourself a little thin. you notice the distortions, the ripples, things begin to play over and over and over. saw a movie kinda like it up here. had the ghostbusters guy in it…” He says, as if this explains everything at once, or anything at all. He’s got a sickly grin on his face, like he’s just successfully argued his way into an undesired result, like you’ll have to, what? Break up with him, kick him on the streets? And what was he even saying?

“Space and time? Wait, time?” You repeat, astonished, then focus. “It’s okay. It’s okay. Come back in.” You squeeze his hand. “Please, baby. It’s over. Nobody’s getting hurt anymore. Come in.” You whisper. He looks up at you, uncomprehending.

“can my brother stay?” He mutters. “he’s better than me, he’ll keep you safe, he’s a better-”

“Sans, I’m not kicking you out. Either of you.” You insist, totally distracted from anything but the thought of him leaving at this point. “You probably shouldn’t have sent those people wherever you sent them. That’s… that’s a bad place for humans, okay? My brain, it … hurts, really.” You say, shuddering. “It hurts like hell to see that, you can’t put people there anymore, it’s too much. I know why you did it, but it’s too awful.” You breathe. “Will you do it next time?”

“not if you say not to.” He answers instantly. You’re not entirely sure you believe him, but right now you don’t care. Everyone always leaves, but you can’t let this one go, not without a fight. For once, you’re genuinely, fully, truly ready to fight to keep someone with you.

“Okay. We’re on the same page. I know you were just trying to protect me. If I need your help again, I know you’ll be more careful. No reason for anyone to leave. I need you to stay. I don’t know how this has all happened so fast, but it’s true, and it scares me, but… it’s true.” You stress. “I need you in my life.” You say, your voice stronger than you feel. You still want to panic, to scream about everything, but you have to hold off on that, because this is important. Nobody leaves, you tell yourself. This time, nobody was going to leave.

This long silence is the most excruciating one yet.

“thank you.” He whispers, and turns to hold you, his arms tight around your waist. You rest your head against his, trying to catch your breath. “i’m so sorry. i’m so sorry.” He mutters.

“Don’t go.” You mumble against his skull. “You don’t have to be that guy anymore, Sans. You don’t have to hurt anyone. I can help you, we can be a team, okay? We’ll watch out for each other?” You say, pulling away to look down at him.

“okay. okay.” He breathes.

“C’mon. Let’s get out of here. Nobody will be sneaking around after all that, anyway. It’ll be fine. It’ll be okay.” You tell him (and yourself) reassuringly. “And you didn’t really hurt them, right?”

“not really.” He whispers. “they’ll have some pretty bad nightmares, i’m sure, but…” He shakes his head slowly, releases you from the hug, and, still holding your hand, guides you inside.

They’ll have some bad nightmares, huh?

Well… so will you.

 

---------------------------

Inside, back in the kitchen, he looks uncertainly at you when your legs, which had been doing so well at carrying you back inside your house, suddenly lose their resolve and you stop in your tracks. You grit your teeth.

“Is she… still on TV?” You mutter, thinking, at last, of what had made you so upset in the first place. “What did she say?”

He shakes his head.

“she started saying some, uh, really bad shit. they cut away to a different story.” He mutters. “probably really regretting inviting her on in the first place.”

“Good.” Fuckers. Those absolute slimy fuckers. “Is everyone still here?” It seems impossible, somehow, that all your friends could still be sitting in the TV room, that they hadn’t noticed the universe unravelling, but Sans nods.

“yeah. paps is, uh, kindly sharing some more of his rooms. nobody wants to go anywhere tonight. everyone’s pretty worried about you.” He says softly. You groan quietly, and he quickly says, as eager to please as a puppy, “i’ll ask ‘em to go, okay? whatever you need.”

“No! No.” You say, a little too loud. “They’re all welcome to stay here whenever they want. I like having them around. I just feel terrible, they’re all spending so much time trying to keep me in one piece…”

“you’re only having problems because of us.” Sans says quietly, the guilt visible on his face. “we’d stay even if we hated you, nobody deserves this. but we don’t hate you. exact opposite.” He whispers. You shake your head.

“It’s nobody’s fault but the assholes who’ve decided that monsters don’t deserve everything humans do.” You mutter, slumping against the counter and feeling absolutely exhausted. “That’s it, Sans. It’s not on you guys. Especially not you.”

“if i hadn’t been so… you know. if i hadn’t been so obvious-” His eyes are on your neck. You grit your teeth.

“Hey. No. I’m not hiding this. They can take pictures of me if they want. They can interview my aunt until they all finally realize she’s just a huge pile of shit in a human skin.” You say. He smirks, in spite of himself. “This isn’t a bad thing, us.” You plow onwards. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It isn’t wrong. And you know what? I’d take it all on, anything they could possibly throw at me, if it meant that I could still be friends with Undyne and Paps and Alphys and L.D. and Mettaton and Frisk and Queen Toriel, and especially you.” You say, then let out an exhausted laugh. “God, did you hear that? Did you hear how many people I just said? A month ago, I had nobody, and now there’s all these people, all these people I care about, and I’m not giving that up for anything, Sans.”

He looks seriously at you. “i’m not sure i deserve all that.” He mutters.

“Well, I am.” You say, clearly and stubbornly. He sighs, and reaches up to run his fingers through your hair.

“i’ve said i’m sorry, right?” He says. “cuz, uh, i went out to take care of you, and it seems like you’re doing your best to keep me in one piece right now instead. uh, relatively speaking.” You close your eyes, leaning into his hand, knowing that you should be scared of someone who can just open a door to your worst nightmares and feeling slightly surprised that you aren’t.

“It’s okay. Things got out of control.” You say, and hang on for that moment, feeling his fingers twine through your hair and trying not to think of your aunt, or the door he’d opened, or the papparazi, or that humiliating picture of you, or anything. “Can we go somewhere tomorrow? Somewhere that isn’t here?” You whisper. “Some stores, maybe? I need to get Christmas presents for you boys and … heh, everyone else too. I didn’t know I’d have so many friends this Christmas.”

“yeah. definitely.” Sans assures you. “i don’t know if you still want to talk to the press tomorrow-”

“I do.” You say quickly. “If Paula’s going to trash me on TV, I’m going to show the world what a terrible person she is. I just… god, I feel so bad for her kid, I almost don’t want to do it. I guess, you know, assuming she ever had it. Last I saw of her before this, she was about six months pregnant, so probably, but…” You shrug. “It’s weird. I’ve got some cousin out there I’ve never met. My only family, besides Paula.” You yawn, drooping slightly. Sans frowns.

“you gotta get some sleep.” He says. You hesitate, then nod. “go on up to bed, babe. i’ll make sure that everything’s all taken care of down here, see that everyone finds a bed that needs one.” He murmurs. He seems so calm now, it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t that long ago that he was dissolving space itself.

“Okay.” You yawn again, then kiss his forehead softly, wobbling slightly as you push yourself off the counter.

“you gonna make it up there okay?” Sans checks quickly. You smile and nod.

“I’m a big girl, I can handle a flight of stairs.” You assure him.

“k. i’ll be up in a few.” He whispers, and squeezes your hand. Oh. You make a game effort at trying to figure out if that’s awfully presumptuous, but it turns out that all you feel is relieved.

“Okay. See you.” You say, and tiredly stumble down the hall and up the stairs, opening the door to your room. While Sans is gone, you quickly change into your favorite pair of sleep shorts and a tank top, then curl under the covers, switching off the lights. Ghost is gone somewhere - maybe hanging out with Papyrus - so for the moment it’s just you. For the first time in a long time, actually, it seems. You close your eyes, and those awful shifting shapes and colors fill your vision almost immediately. You jerk back, opening your eyes instantly, and turn the bedside lamp back on at once. For nearly ten minutes, you lie there, trying not to think about the void, staring at your cellphone or the wall or anything that’ll distract you.

The door creaks open, and Sans peeks in.

“hey.”

“Hey!” You’re too eager to have another person there.

“you’re still up. thought you were tired?”

“I tried. But I kept seeing…”

“shit. sorry, kid.” He pads over, closing the door behind him. He hesitates by the side of the bed, and you give him a crooked smile.

“Go on. Hop in. I think I’ll be able to sleep if you’re with me.” You yawn. He looks surprised, then immensely pleased, then immediately tries to hide both of those things, but you can still see them in his eyes before he turns the light out and climbs in behind you. Oh, it’s better, having a big spoon, even if your big spoon is both A) a little shorter than you are and B) pretty damn bony. Still, when he throws his arm over your waist, you feel relieved more than anything else, and snuggle up against him, almost immediately feeling more secure.

“night, babe.” Sans murmurs in your ear. You sigh, then whisper,

“Hey. Sans. What was that place, that door you opened? Where was that?”

You feel the hesitation in his touch as he pulls you unconsciously closer to him.

“uh. that was…” He waits for a long moment, then finally whispers, “where i came from. that was my old home.”

Chapter Text

“That place… That was your home?” You say, shocked, and practically tangle yourself in sheets and bony legs as you turn to look at him.

“uh. yeah. kinda.” Sans says, wincing. “sorry. too weird, i know.” You just blink at him.

“How…” You finally attempt, trying to wrap your mind around someone like Sans existing in a place like that. “What, where…” You try, then shake your head. Sans takes a deep breath. By the faint light of the nearly full moon, you can see him weighing his words.

“remember the other day, we talked about how i make shortcuts?” He mutters. You nod, moving your hand from under the covers to copy the demonstration he’d given you, stretching your finger and thumb apart as far as they would go, and then making a circle with them. He nods. “right. you sure you want to talk this through now, you don’t need to sleep?” You let out a soft laugh.

“I am wide awake.” You say, a little wryly. He nods, his head still resting on the pillow.

“k. thought i’d ask. so, i told you i made a doorway, right? punched a hole in the space between point a and point b.”

“Right.” You confirm, looking at the circle your pointer finger and thumb are still forming. He notices this, and nods to himself, then reaches up to trace your pointer finger and thumb softly with one bony finger.

“are these two points, your finger and your thumb, are they touching each other?” He asks you, and you blink, because it’s such a silly question.

“Of course.”

“no, but are they? if i got the strongest microscope in the world, the universe, so i could look down and see the smallest parts of your finger-”

“Like the atoms, or um, the protons and neutrons and electrons? The, um, what’s the smaller one than that, the quarks? Gluons?” You mutter, staring at your fingers.

“you humans know about all that?” Sans sounds so pleased that you have to look away from your hand to meet his eyes. He blushes slightly, a faint glow in the darkness. “not that i thought you wouldn’t, i’ve been reading, but most monsters don’t know much about that stuff, i basically only have alphys to talk science with these days…” You feel yourself smiling, which you almost can’t believe.

“I don’t know much more than what I learned in high school. I was always more into the biological sciences, we don’t go that much smaller than, like, protein interactions or maybe DNA and RNA, so it’s molecular structure but not so small as single atoms, you know?”

“uh, i don’t.” He says, but he’s wearing a big grin now. “i really don’t. you want to, maybe, teach me about it sometime?” You feel, for about the thousandth time this day, astonished.

“Do you really want me to?”

“very much.” He says, absolutely sincerely. “i want to learn everything about what makes you work.” You burst out laughing, surprised.

“Uh, I don’t think we’ll get too much of an understanding into my inner workings talking about organic chem.” You say, and are rewarded by an eyeroll. “Sure. We’ll go through it sometime, I’ve got all my textbooks somewhere. I hope I can remember half of it.”

“thank you.” He says, looking as thrilled as a kid who’s been told they’re going to Disney World. Then he remembers what he was talking about, and his expression falls. “anyway.” He plows on, and you bite your lip, remembering what he was explaining. “so, you feel your fingers touching, you see your fingers touching, but you get down on a small enough level, and they’re not touching at all. they’re atoms pushing back against each other through, uh, systems that don’t mean that they need to physically touch each other. they’re separated by space that’s almost impossible to comprehend, but it’s there. the space between the two points.” He whispers. You nod. He takes a deep breath, and again, seems to be considering if he really wants to talk about this.

“my old man, uh, gaster. was his name. w.d. gaster. he was the royal scientist, down below, in the underground. asgore appointed him because he was smart, and he never gave up, and most importantly, because he figured out how to use magic and science together.” Sans mutters, his eyes looking distant.

“dad figured out how to do it, how to poke holes in space. he built a… machine, i guess. he couldn’t open up doors on his own, so he built something that could, used his magic and science and tried to open a door past the barrier.” He shakes his head. “but whoever set up that barrier, damn, they knew their stuff. no shortcuts there. so he opened up something else entirely. like pushing a needle through fabric that’s glued to a steel wall. you don’t end up on the other side. you just get stuck in the fabric. that’s the thing, there’s no such thing as a doorway, there’s just tunnels, when you think about it. there’s always some space between. and gaster figured out, by accident, how to access that space.”

“And that’s what you opened tonight? That’s where you came from?” You say, trying to wrap your head around it. He nods, then grimaces, then shrugs.

“things live in that space. well. live isn’t the right term, but they exist. you saw one of them tonight, huh?”

“That… skull, that huge thing?” You say, your stomach squirming slightly as you remember it. Sans nods.

“heh, yeah. that guy’s actually a little more like a pet. gaster trained four or five of ‘em. think he got bored, but they’ve got this beam attack, dad called it the ‘gaster blaster’ - i know, it’s ridiculous. maybe he thought that they could take the barrier down. i dunno. he spent a lot of time in the space between, and it kinda rubbed off on him. he started looking more and more like the folks that live there. you know.” He grimaces. “uh, bony.”

“It changed him?” You whisper.

“you know what they say. stare too long at the void, the void makes you into a goddamn skeleton.” Sans says, very dryly. You’re pretty sure that’s not exactly the saying. “but, hey, he didn’t care. he thought he was onto something. hell, he was sure of it. he thought he was always just a day or two away from finding a way past the barrier, and he explored deeper and deeper in there. and i guess, one day, he found me.” He pauses, and studies you again. “you sure this isn’t too heavy?”

“No. Please.” You murmur. He nods.

“k. i haven’t really, you know, talked this out. not in a long time.” Sans whispers. “anyway, what he found out there wasn’t really me. it was a… i wish i knew. a baby something. a baby something that looked an awful lot like a human skeleton. i mean, he had quite a few of those to look at, thanks to our king. not surprised i got him interested. anyway, a discovery like that required further experimentation, obviously. he just picked me up, took me back to the lab, and got to work.” You inhale sharply, reaching up to trace his face unconsciously.

“What did he do? Did he hurt-”

“don’t really know. i was a babybones. little guy. he must have done something pretty big, because i spent a lot of time in the void, and i’ve never met anyone like me or papyrus. see, once i was old enough, dad thought, once i got my magic under control enough, he thought someone like me would be able to do what he couldn’t, that i’d be the one able to make that damn hole through the barrier. he tried to make a successor, i suppose. his best invention. he was definitely losing it a little by then. i think it broke him, when he realized that i could open a door damn near anywhere, no sweat, but i couldn’t get past that border any more than he could.” He shakes his head incrementally.

“i let him down. big time. i think that’s when i went back to being an experiment in his mind, not a son. he tried again, went back, found paps, but his heart wasn’t in it, and he gave up almost right away. i had no idea i even had a brother until gaster plopped him in my arms and told me that he was gonna be the best human collector the underground had ever seen, and that one of his sons, at least, was going to set us all free. and then, well, i basically stepped in to raise up papyrus. i ran errands for asgore for a while, we’d met plenty of times when dad gave progress reports. saved up enough money, started renting our home in snowdin, got out of the lab and the heat. dad kept working, barely noticed we weren’t around much at all, me and paps. he thought he’d had the right idea before he found me, that he just needed to finetune his machine, just had to open the right door.” Sans rubs his head. “the old bastard finally did. he’d opened a door to the space between, when he found me and paps. but that wasn’t enough. he managed to do something i can’t do. he opened a door to nothing. a place even i couldn’t stand to look at. dark as anything. darker yet darker.” He whispers, then closes his eyes, looking pained.

“he opened a door to a place there was no coming back from. and he stepped through.

His tone makes you shiver, an uncontrollable instinctive reaction, and he feels it. His eyes open up again, and he whispers, “shit, babe, sorry. i knew it. it’s a lot to take in.”

“Oh, god, Sans.” You breathe. “I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine. I’ve been sitting here, whining, because my aunt took off, and you… god. What a terrible…”

“he wasn’t all bad.” Sans mutters. “just blind to everything but his goals. still. he gave me papyrus, you know? probably saved my life too, i was feeling so awful. i tried to go back, even, back to the void, to stay. lasted a few hours, but i didn’t belong there and i knew it. you know what they say. you can’t go home.” He shakes his head, sounding exhausted. You wonder how much telling you all this took out of him.

“but i had paps. so everything ended up okay. we got out. gaster was right. if i hadn’t seen frisk, if papyrus hadn’t protected them, if undyne hadn’t been papyrus’ friend, maybe the barrier never would have fallen. he picked out two sons who would help bring it down. bastard was right the whole time.” His voice sounds thick, and without thinking, you curl against him, wrapping your arms around him, stroking his back, feeling the bump of each rib under his t-shirt.

“You did perfect, Sans. You did perfect.” You whisper. “I’m just so sorry you had to go through all that.”

“it was worth it, to get up here.” He says quietly, moving so he can see you. “it was all worth it, to see… the sun.” He says, but his eyes have that distant quality, the one you recognize, the one where he’s looking through you to see something you can’t, and you suspect suddenly, with a hot rush of emotion, that he’s not talking about the sun at all, that he’s staring through you to see that thing he’d called an immutable fact; your soul. There are times Sans is a good liar, after all, but this is not one of them.

Your heart begins to hammer roughly in your chest as you grasp the magnitude of that compliment.

“The sun?” You repeat, feeling like an idiot.

“heh. uh. not just the sun.” He whispers, his cheeks flushed, his eyes determined and still fixed on that point you can't see. And he reaches out, doesn’t even touch you, and something happens inside you, you’re not sure what, something that’s always been close and secret and vulnerable is suddenly exposed to the air, as new and sensitive as a, what, a nerve? But it doesn’t hurt, not yet, you just know that it could, oh it could hurt terribly, and you wish you could see what he sees, you wish you could see anything at all, because you just can’t understand, and his face is illuminated by something, some light, but you can’t find the source, and he’s looking at you like you’re the most incredible thing in the entire world.

“you are so beautiful.” He whispers, and you get the sense that he can see everything, all at once, all your choices, all your scars, your worries and hopes, every cell, every molecule, every atom, the space between those atoms; all the things that make you who you are. And still, it illuminates him.

“Sans…” You whisper, about to move closer again, when he murmurs,

“can i?” His fingers are outstretched, like they’re hovering just millimeters away from something, and you remember what he had said about your soul, that if he wanted to, he could even touch it, and without thinking, you nod, and he reaches, and your mind.

Just.

Stops.

Chapter Text

Three things happen at once.

One: for a flicker, for a brief second, you can see what he’s holding, you can see your soul, and he’s right, it’s a fact, it’s there, it’s real, and he’s caressing it like he can’t imagine a more precious thing.

Two: you feel it, in every single cell of your body, every nerve ending singing ecstatically, every part of you suddenly awake, attuned, and absolutely transfixed by the sensation. You know, now - what had he said, that there’s knowing and then there’s knowing - that him, touching your soul like that, oh god, he could destroy you, it would take so little effort for him to destroy you… but he’s not. Oh, this is the exact opposite of destruction, this is the opposite of entropy, this is healing, this is order, this is something totally new, and you don’t want it to end, not ever, even though it’s too much, even though you’re sure that nobody should be able to feel this much all at once.

Three: you start to cry.

You don’t notice that you’re crying; there’s too much else going on. Naturally, he does, almost immediately, and he jerks his hand away like it’s been burnt, and that feeling flickers and fades and your soul, whatever he’d done, it’s over and you’re no longer raw and exposed, it’s back in your chest, back wrapped around your heart like a blanket.

“shit. shit. shit.” He’s muttering, looking anxiously at you. You try to respond, and let out another soft sob, and he looks so furious with himself, and all you can do is hold him tight, curl up against his sternum again and weep. “i’m so sorry.” He’s whispering. “didn’t think it would hurt, shit. shit.” You shake your head desperately and manage a watery,

“D-didn’t hurt. Opposite.” And then it’s right back to sniffing and crying.

This is horrendously embarrassing, of course. It’s been so long, SO LONG since the last time you cried; every single time, you’ve managed to fight the tears and the emotions back, and now that you’ve found, for the very first time, this exotic new feeling of joy and trust and... that other word you’re very scared to think of, because it’s too soon to talk about that word and you both know it… Anyway, now that you’re feeling better than you have in as long as you can remember, you’re crying! It doesn’t make any sense!

He’s studying you, now, but the panic’s gone from his expression, and he seems to be calming down. “too much?” He whispers, and you shake your head again. Finally, you find your voice.

“I - I didn’t know anything could feel like that?” You whisper, burying your face in his t-shirt, feeling the bones underneath against your cheek.

“what was it like?” He asks softly, and the now-familiar feeling of bones sliding through your hair begins, his fingers soothing on your scalp. You let out a watery laugh, and whisper,

“Like everything was perfect. Oh, god, I don’t know. I wish I could say, I don’t have the right words.”

“i have an idea.” He murmurs, and you look up at him. His hand still moves through your hair as you ask,

“Did it feel like something to you?” He looks at you reverently, and nods.

“hell yes. god… yes.” He whispers. “it was like… i’ve never… i mean…” His brow furrows, trying to come up with what it had been like. Finally, he sighs, and shrugs, resigned to the limits of language you’re both bumping up against. “told you before. it’s a very good soul.” He whispers, and you sigh softly, tucking your head under his chin, your sniffles finally subsiding. All of a sudden, all your exhaustion has crept back into your bones, and your eyelids are already drooping, and you still can’t believe you’ve cried, but he hasn’t teased you or anything, so maybe it’s okay.

“Sans…” You murmur.

“‘m sorry. ‘s been a really long day, huh?” He whispers.

“Don’t be sorry. It was amazing. Next time… maybe I’ll not cry.” You laugh tiredly. “It was just so much. Didn’t know anything could feel like that.”

“next time?” He says, sounding like he can barely believe it. You simply nod, and he pulls up the blankets around you, and then you’re asleep, just like that.

You don’t have nightmares, exactly. You dream about a boy who’s never felt like he belonged anywhere and a girl who’s missed her family so much, and a man stepping into nothingness and being swallowed, and that beautiful, golden feeling of being (oh, hell, you’re asleep, you can think the word now)… that feeling of being loved.

-----------------------------------

“Well, if it isn’t my sleeping beauties!” Your eyes fly open and you gasp, ready for the next terrible thing. Sans makes a profoundly irate noise, pulling you closer - hm, you must have flipped sometime, because he’s being the big spoon again.

“mettaton. pal.” Sans is saying, and you recognize that calm, casual, almost joking tone as the same one that he’d used on the reporters last night. “you gotta knock.” Uh oh.

“Sans…” You say, a little warningly, then look up at Mettaton, who’s hovering in the doorway with a just barely obnoxious smile on his face, though it drops when he realizes that maybe you, like Sans, aren’t exactly thrilled with his uninvited presence in your room at… you squint at your clock and groan, 6:30(!) in the morning.

“But I did knock, darlings!” He says, leaning dramatically against the doorjamb. Jeez, you’re happy to see that yesterday certainly didn’t take the wind out of his sails. “You didn’t answer, and I was worried!”

“did you?” Sans is drawling. “was it the world’s quietest knock? because you’d think that those metal knuckles on that oak door-”

“That door is mahogany!” Mettaton interrupts. You blink at him, and are about to open your mouth to ask if he knows he’s making a reference, but suddenly you notice that there is a, er… bone that DEFINITELY wasn’t there last night pretty comfortably nestled up against your butt, and just as abruptly all you can do is blush the brightest shade of red you’ve ever blushed, and thank every single deity you can possibly think of that there’s a blanket between you and Sans and Mettaton’s prying gaze.

“the type of wood is not relevant.” Sans is saying, his face half buried in your hair. “is there an emergency, pal?” Mettaton glares daggers at him, then clears his throat.

“________, sweet, whenever you’re ready, you’re needed in wardrobe.”

“Wardrobe?” You squeak.

“You do still want to talk to the press, right, love?” Mettaton says. “We’ve got a ten AM slot, so that simply doesn’t give us much time.”

“Oh! Uh! Right!’ You say quickly. Mettaton looks at you strangely.

“Is… everything alright?”

“YUP! Fine! See you downstairs!” You say, all in a rush. He raises an eyebrow at you, nods, and very, very slowly closes the (mahogany?) door. Once you hear his footsteps clanking down the stairs, you turn cautiously to look at Sans, and then sigh softly at that shiteating grin he is sporting as he takes in your blush.

“something bothering you?” He says, suddenly way too cheerful and innocent.

“Um. Are you a little excited about something?” You drawl pointedly. He fails to contain an evil snicker, then slaps the innocent look right back on his face.

“you know biology. just a thing that happens to guys in the morning.” He replies, painfully casual, though the jerk is obviously amused by how flustered you are.

“I know it’s a thing that happens to human guys. But last I checked, skeletons, um… lack the requisite…”

“maybe human skeletons do.” He says, copying your tone. Then, the most casually yet, he adds “you know, if you’re curious-”

“Ha! Nice try.” You say, finally giving in and laughing, shaking your head as you slide away from his hold and climb out of bed. You hate to think it, but you’re a bit relieved. You’d been wondering how that was going to work out. And you were also, shit, more than a bit curious, but if Mettaton said you were going to be on camera in three and a half hours, that curiosity would have to be, uh… indulged at some other point. Sans doesn’t move, but he pouts at you - oh, that was a new move - until you lean over and kiss him slowly. After that, he’s all smiles.

“wanna wake me up when the sun’s actually up?” He asks, his eyes already sliding shut again.

“Sure!” You promise sunnily.

You’re totally sending Mettaton to wake him up instead.

-------------------------------

“You’re sure you’re up for this?” Undyne is pacing nervously in the kitchen.

“Sweetie, sit d-down and eat.” Alphys demands.

“__________, please try to hold still?”

“I am holding still, Mettaton.”

“don’t see why you need to do that to her hair. i like her hair.”

“No kidding, dork.”

“Undyne, b-be nice-”

“HUMAN, EAT! WHY ARE YOU NOT EATING!”

“Because if I move Mettaton will-”

“Stop moving!”’

“See?!”

Mornings never used to be like this.

At least Ghost is happy. He’s in the thick of things, twining around one set of ankles and then the next, begging for pieces of bacon and eggs, purring like a motor. Papyrus had told you excitedly, the second that you came downstairs from your shower (in Mettaton’s chosen, smart yet casual outfit of course), that Ghost had spent all night in his room.

(“THE GRAY CAT SLEPT ON MY PILLOW!” was actually, more specifically, what he’d shrieked at you.)

“Okay, finished! See, darling, was that so hard?” Mettaton sighs. “Now eat. There’s no point in fainting on stage by accident. Only faint on purpose.”

Oh, these are not great tips. But he’s right, you need food. Careful not to smudge your carefully applied makeup, you begin eating breakfast hurriedly, alternating spoonfuls of cereal with gulps of coffee.

“Mettaton, you’re sure it’s a good idea to invite the reporters in here?” Undyne says, for perhaps the twentieth time since you came downstairs.

“Yes! We want a nice, comfortable, relaxed ________. Let’s not worry about sets or green rooms or anything. Besides, everyone’s already seen the outside of the mansion. If ________ wants to discredit her, ugh, aunt, this is the way to do it.” Mettaton’s nose wrinkles at the mention of Paula. Oh, you didn’t know it could do that. “Just imagining that poor little lost girl, all alone, wandering the halls of this mansion all by herself, absolutely tragic, just a kitten and scraps for clothes, reading by the light of a guttering candle-” He trails off, seeing the look you’re giving him.

“A little dramatic?” You say pointedly. “Don’t, uh, don’t say stuff like that on TV, okay? I wasn’t Oliver Twist or anything.” You can feel the cereal and coffee swimming uneasily in your stomach, and your muscles tensing. Oh, maybe this was a bad idea.

“You’re gonna do awesome, punk!” Undyne says, seeing the worry on your face, and gives you a (slightly harder than necessary) reassuring punch on the shoulder. Sans glares at her.

“we all got your back.” He says softly, and you take a deep breath and nod.

From all the way in the front of the house, the doorbell rings.

“Oh, that must be them! I’ll see them in!” Mettaton says brightly. You grit your teeth and nod.

Showtime.

Chapter Text

Their names are John and Sarah. “Like, um. Terminator?” You ask, and are met with two very blank stares, followed by polite laughter that goes on a little too long. You recognize them, of course. They’ve been regional morning hosts for a while, it’s just that, well, you don’t care that much about morning talkshows? And, god, they are just immaculate. Every single hair is perfectly in place. John is probably balding, but his hair is coiffed in such a careful way that it appears he has thick, full locks. Sarah’s hairdo is possibly more incredible - when she walks over to greet you, all blinding smiles, her hair doesn’t move with her; it’s got so much spray in it that it’s practically a helmet.

They’re as happy as clams, looking around your house, admiring the artwork, being guided deeper into the house by Mettaton, who they seem to know quite well.

“Right this way, darlings, oh, you’re just going to love it, I thought the best lighting would be by ________’s Christmas tree, oh, it’s just charming.” He’s purring, all smooth showbiz motor, as slick as you’ve ever seen him. You can tell now that he does indeed have an on-camera persona, even if the cameramen, trailing behind you like ducklings, haven’t started shooting yet. You didn’t know Mettaton could get any more… Mettaton.

“Right, well, we’ll just need a few minutes to set up, and then we’ll get to it!” Sarah says brightly. “Oh, it’s so lovely to finally meet you, ________, we’ve heard such lovely things!” Lovely.

“Yes, absolutely. And may I say that you have a charming home?” John says. You try to do a normal smile.

“Heh, thanks. I haven’t been able to do much with the place, since, well… you know.” You mutter.

“Save it for the camera, darling.” Mettaton murmurs in your ear, pretending to fix a piece of hair, and you glare very briefly at him. You don’t know how to do this! You settle down on the loveseat when Sarah gestures at you to do so, and Mettaton sits next to you. “I’ll be with you all the way.” He says, softly, no longer using his camera voice, and you give him a small smile, watching John and Sarah fussily direct the cameramen to move the other loveseat painfully close, so that you can all be in the shot. You take a deep breath, wishing you could just be in the kitchen with your friends (if they haven’t crept closer to eavesdrop yet).

Still, you’re doing what needs to be done. God, there’s been so many changes this month, you barely noticed when exactly it was that you hit the tipping point that meant you would take some action. Maybe it was just seeing Paula badmouth you on TV last night, but you’re not entirely sure that’s the case. You feel, well, stronger than you can ever remember feeling, in spite of your nerves, in spite of your fear. It’s like you’ve suddenly grown a backbone - but, no, you always spoke up for other people. You’re just speaking up for yourself, now.

“Okay, ________, so we’ll take it nice and slow. This is going to be live, so no cursing, okay? We’ll have a delay of about fifteen seconds if you slip up, but our censors like it better if they don’t need to worry” John is saying with a friendly smile.

“Oh, gosh. I didn’t even think about that.” You say, feeling flustered, and notice the two anchors exchanging pleased glances with Mettaton.

“I told you two. She’s the last good girl on earth.” Mettaton laughs brightly. Your mind instantly snaps back to the little situation between you and Sans that morning, wondering if that disqualifies you from ‘good girl’ category, and then do everything in your power not to blush.

“You’re going to do great.” Sarah assures you, settling down on the other loveseat next to John and arranging her blazer carefully.

“And we’re live in five, four, three…” One of the cameramen calls, counting down the last two seconds on his fingers.

“And we’re live with Mettaton, and his dear friend _______.” John says, giving the camera a big, white smile, his voice echoing sonorously through the room. “You may have seen the storm of interest generated by Mettaton’s recent interview with ‘Good Morning, Good Morning!’, where he described a series of attacks on his poor friend ________, simply because she had the temerity to be a human who has befriended several monsters.”

Mettaton shakes his head sadly, picking up your hand and holding it between his own.

“I’m afraid that’s true, John. Unfortunately, I’m here with ________ today to talk to you because the situation has only gotten worse.” He breathes. He is perfect, mournful without being maudlin, sincere without being hokey. You want to gape at him; the robot can certainly act! But, well, that wouldn’t look good, so you stick with an appropriately sad expression, nodding at your friend.

“Can you give us a recap of what’s been going on, _______?” Sarah says kindly, and suddenly, it’s your turn. You take a deep breath, and nod.

“It’s been… a crazy couple of days.” You say, trying to speak as clearly as everyone else. “Gosh, I hardly know where to begin.”

“How about your friends?” John suggests. “How did you end up with such a close group of monsters as your circle of friends?” At that, you can’t help but smile.

“I, um, I work at the aquarium, downtown, near the base of Mt. Ebott.” You say, a little shyly, then begin gathering steam. “I suppose I probably shouldn’t say that, but I know that it’s probably already common knowledge.” You say, glancing at the cameras. “A few months back” (well, that’s pushing it, but there’s already so much that’s strange about this story that you don’t feel like explaining the condensed timeline, and well, technically, you have known Undyne for two months, as long as the end of November and most of December counts as two), “I met a monster named Undyne in the aquarium lobby, who I encouraged to apply for a job. We ended up working together, and she very quickly became my best friend. She’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.” You say, smiling in spite of yourself. “I’ve been lucky enough to meet some of my dearest friends through her, including my favorite actor on earth!” Mettaton gives you a billion watt smile, and John and Sarah laugh, this time, genuinely. “And, uh, I feel, honestly, just… so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to grow so close to them.” You say, glancing away from John and over at the cameras.

“But not everyone seems to agree with you.” Sarah says, restraining her smile. You sigh, then nod.

“A few days ago, some vandals broke into my house. They destroyed my car, and made it clear that it was because I was friends with monsters. They actually wrote ‘monster lover’ on it in… what seems to be a bodily fluid.” You say tactfully. Sarah grimaces slightly. “The car is still in the garage, you can check it out if you’re interested. The police seem to be disinterested in investigating.” Both anchors shake their head in simultaneous disapproval. “I thought that was as bad as things were going to get, but then someone actually firebombed my front yard. About half my trees burned down because someone threw a bomb into them. Because of my friends. It’s unbelievable.” You say, sighing. Mettaton squeezes your hand in a way that’s surely supposed to read on camera, and you smile at him.

“Not only have you been vandalized, but you’ve been maligned on television as well.” John says softly. “I’m not sure if you’re aware, but, last night, a woman purporting to be your Aunt gave an interview that expressed… deep disapproval of your choices.” You nod slowly, feeling Mettaton’s eyes on you. You feel like you need to choose your words very carefully. After all, it’s not just Mettaton and the anchors listening. It’s Paula too. It’s the entire world.

“I suppose she’s unhappy with me because I'm dating a monster.” You say slowly. You can see, from the corner of your eye, John and Sarah sit up a little straighter. You frown slightly. “Yeah, uh, I suppose someone sold the press my address, and well, I think we’ve all seen the photos already. I mean, they had to trespass on my property and sneak into my backyard and shoot through my window to take those photos.” You can hear the irritation in your voice, and manage to pull it back a little. “Anyway, it seems like some people were very interested in making some money off of taking pictures of me kissing my boyfriend.” Mettaton shakes his head sadly, and you give him a wry look. “And then they have the guts to call me disgusting. It’s ridiculous.” You say.

“It must be awful.” Sarah says sympathetically, and you thank her mentally for not saying something ugly.

“It’s embarrassing. And petty. And illegal.” You sigh. “I can’t imagine that any of the people making money off of it would be pleased if someone hid in the bushes taking pictures of them and their boyfriend or girlfriend or whatever.”

“Regardless of the illegality of those pictures - and based on the facts, Mettaton’s representatives have determined that they’ll be pursuing a solution for you regarding that, starting with a cease and desist,” You glance at Mettaton, trying not to look surprised, and he gives you a tiny smile, “It seems that your Aunt is quite disapproving of your new relationship.” John says gently. You lock eyes with him, feeling your muscles tense. Oh, god, you’re finally going to talk about it, you almost can’t believe it. You’ve hidden this for so long, and now you’re going to tell everyone.

“Well, she isn’t just my Aunt.” You say softly. “After my parents died, twelve years ago, when I was ten, she was appointed my legal guardian in their will.” Sarah gasps slightly.

“You’re an orphan?” She says, sounding genuine for once. “But, this beautiful house!”

“My mom and dad owned EbbCo. The power company.” You explain quietly. “They set aside money for my care, just in case anything happened to them. Unfortunately, they entrusted it to the wrong person. My Aunt Paula, the woman I was supposed to depend on to survive, took off with all the money my parents left me. I’ve never seen a dime, other than the fifty bucks here and there she’d give me to survive on for months at a time. And, since I was fourteen, I haven’t seen her, until last night on TV, anyway.” You say, calm and cold. Both anchors are staring at you now, their mouths hanging open. Even Mettaton looks shocked, and you wonder how much he actually knows - you’d figured Sans must have explained everything last night, but apparently this isn’t the case.

“...You’re saying she stole your parents’ money?” John finally stammers.

“I’m saying she stole my money. Millions of dollars.” You say, crisp and clear, looking directly into the cameras now. “I never reported it, never said anything about it, because for the longest time I figured that she was a stupid woman who made a selfish decision, but that I should take the higher road. Now I realize that the higher road doesn’t mean that I let myself get stomped on any longer.” You say, and all three of them nod approvingly, Mettaton still holding your hand tightly.

“So, I suppose in response, I’ll say this. I can only imagine that she said those things last night because she’s managed to burn through every last dollar she stole from my family, and she’s desperate for cash. If anyone wants to pay her for an interview, I want them to know the kind of person they’re giving money to. She’s the kind of person who would leave a ten year old kid for months at a time, right after her parents died. She’s the kind of person who would hit a ten year old kid for crying too much after she lost everything. She’s the kind of person who would threaten to kill a little girl’s kitten if the little girl didn’t tell the authorities that everything was perfect, after her teacher noticed the bruises and the weight loss from too little food, and the too small clothes, and the dirt.” You say, your voice shaking slightly.

“So, if that’s who you want to give your money to, because you’re so disgusted that I’ve got a boyfriend who happens to be a monster, be my guest, I suppose. But I’m not going to be quiet about it any longer. And to any of you out there who have been trying to terrorize me because of my friends or my boyfriend, I want you to take a hard look at yourselves, and figure out if this is the kind of person you want to be, someone who sees friendship and love and is disgusted by it. You’re no better than her. The real monsters didn’t come from the underground, you know. They’ve always been up here, trying to find the next group to hate because they look or sound or act different.” You say firmly, then suddenly realize how long you’ve been talking and duck your head.

“Wow.” John says softly.

“Wow.” Sarah agrees.

“Wow.” Mettaton echoes. It’s quiet for a moment, then John and Sarah simultaneously get their camera ready smiles back on their faces.

“Well, that was certainly a moving and beautiful sentiment from a very brave young woman.” John says, still sounding off-kilter.

“Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.” You say quietly.

“Anytime. You’re welcome on our show anytime you want, _______.” Sarah interjects eagerly, then turns to face the cameras. “And we’ll be right back with you, after this break.” There’s a pause where they both stare at the camera, big smiles on their faces, then the cameraman nods and the room erupts.

“Where did that speech come from?” Mettaton’s demanding, delighted. “Oh, your aunt, I’m so furious, _________, why didn’t you say?”

“This is going to be outrageous. This is going to mean a big time ratings boost.” John is saying. “Oh, okay, first thing you do, first thing, you put that up on Youtube, people are going to want to see that-”

“You did wonderfully. My god, you’re brave.” Sarah is telling you. “All alone, a ten year old, what an amazing story. Have you considered writing a -”

“Writing?! The TV special will make so much more money than any book? Do you have an agent? You need an agent.” John is demanding.

“I’ll be guiding her through all that.” Mettaton interjects, as you’re about to open your mouth to say you’re not interested. “Sarah, John, thank you so much for coming. I told you she was going to be a star.”

“But how did you do it? How did you manage to get by-” Sarah’s asking, but John’s looking at his watch.

“Sarah, we really do need to run.” He mutters. “We need to be back in the studio in half an hour. Look. Here. My card.” He produces one, handing it to you and standing up. “Anytime, just call, and we’ll be ready to talk. Anytime.” He repeats, and just like that you’re all standing up, and John has shaken your hand and Sarah has hugged you and even one of the cameramen (well, a camerawoman) has come over to hug you, and as quickly as they arrived, they’re gone, out the front door and past the snowmen and the burnt trees. You slump slightly, turning to Mettaton.

“I really did okay?” You check. He sighs, then hugs you so tightly you can barely breathe.

“You’re a natural.” He whispers, stroking your back slowly. “You brave thing.” This isn’t on-camera Mettaton anymore, this is one of your rare glimpses into the real person at his core, and you don’t even mind being squeezed so tight.

“Thank you for being there with me.” You mumble, hugging him back.

“Anytime, darling. Anytime.”

----------------------------------------------

The two of you barely take two steps inside before you’re absolutely tackled, Papyrus, Undyne, and Lesser Dog almost racing to get to you first. Sans and Alphys are hanging back a little bit, but also making their way over, the latter giving you a shy smile, the former looking at you like you just won every event in the Olympics all at once. It would be overwhelming, almost, this much affection all at once, but you really don’t care.

“You kicked her ass! You kicked every ass!” Undyne’s crowing, throwing her arm around your shoulders as Lesser Dog shoves his head under your hand, his tail wagging wildly as he looks up at you adoringly. You scratch behind his ear absently, feeling a deep sort of relief, that it’s over, that everything’s out in the open, that you haven’t embarrassed your friends or yourself.

“WE WATCHED FROM THE POOLHOUSE! YOU SAID SO MANY NICE THINGS ABOUT US!” Papyrus says, delighted.

“‘Course she did, that’s my best friend.” Undyne’s saying proudly, grinning as she trades glances between Alphys and you.

“Y-you really did do great.” Alphys says, blushing adorably.

“Man, thanks guys.” You say, feeling like you’re smiling a little stupidly. “Did you, um, I mean, did I seem like I was smart?”

“brilliant.” Sans says, that look still on his face, then glances at Mettaton. “hey, uh, bud. thanks for being there with her. you were great too.” He says, which makes you grin at him, then feel slightly suspicious when all the attention turns to Mettaton and he takes the opportunity to sidle over and lean up to kiss you, very thoroughly. Luckily, Mettaton enjoys the fawning and compliments significantly more than you do, and so you don’t feel too guilty about only paying attention to Sans at this moment, looping your arms around his neck and kissing him until Undyne finally notices and wolfwhistles. You pull back with a laugh and a grin, too relieved to feel embarrassed right now, and lean against him, listening to everyone chattering happily about this minor victory. “hey, uh, you still want to go out shopping somewhere?” Sans says, looking proud of you and a little smug and a thousand other things that you’re growing terribly fond of.

“Oh!” Well, after that kiss, you’d kind of been thinking about different plans that might involve just you and him and maybe going back upstairs, but… well, that would be kind of rude to all your friends, huh? And it was the night before the, er, night before Christmas, and you needed gifts for everyone. “Sure. Let’s do it!” You decide. “Just let me look at my bank account and see what I’m working with.” You fish out your phone from your pocket - bless Mettaton for picking out something with pockets - and pull up your banking app, a little nervously. When you see the balance, your mouth pops open.

“uh oh?” Sans says quietly. You immediately shake your head.

“She’s been way, way too generous. Oh, god, a donor’s gonna audit or something and ask why the penguin girl got so much money…” You mutter, staring at the figure. It might not be a lot for some people - it’s absolutely nothing compared to what Paula stole from you. But compared to what you’re used to, even the meager amount you’ve saved, it’s incredible. It’s more than enough for a car, and for gifts, and for all the things you’ve been meaning to fix or upgrade around here.

“Told you!” Undyne’s paying attention. “You sold yourself short for years! Barb loves you!” You shake your head slowly, then grin in spite of yourself.

“Well. I guess I’m definitely going shopping.” You say, still in a mild state of disbelief. Sans smiles up at you.

“great. you all coming?” He looks at the group of your friends. Everyone immediately nods. “okay, then let’s go.” A door in the world opens in your foyer suddenly.

You’ve never seen anything like what’s on the other side.

Chapter Text

“Ugh, here?” Undyne sighs. “Come on. Let’s go somewhere up topside, at least.” Sans scowls at her.

“__________ just gave an interview about being buddies with monsters. so, uh, maybe some tact?” He demands.

“It might be for the best, love.” Mettaton sighs. “Besides, it’s only technically underground now, half the mountain’s open to the sky already.”

“What is that place?” You ask quietly, craning your head to get a better view. You get a glimpse of beautiful stained glass and mosaic tiles, the sound of raucous music and laughter, the smell of flowers, but Sans has clearly tucked the door somewhere out of the way, because even with the colors - god, how deep were those colors! - and the smell of good food, you can’t figure out what you’re looking at.

“The old palace.” Undyne sighs. “I suppose a lot of people still like it.”

“I like it!” Alphys chimes in, a little shyly. “T-there’s music and games and little sh-shops and lots of food-”

“AND THE KING LIVES THERE, AND ANYONE WHO DOESN’T LIKE THE SURFACE ALL THE TIME! IT’S A SAFE PLACE FOR MONSTERS!” Papyrus enthuses.

“and their friends.” Sans chimes in, giving Undyne a pointed look. She scowls for a second longer.

“Hate the way you can still smell the limestone.” She grumbles, but steps through the portal, looking a bit uneasy and keeping her arms well at her sides as she does so. Thinking about what Sans had shown you, about what that fabric between spaces is filled with, you can’t blame her. Papyrus follows her with a wild laugh, and Alphys and Mettaton carefully pick their way through. Lesser Dog stays by your side, still trying to steal head scratches, but when you glance at Sans for reassurance and step forward, L.D. bolts through the door first.

“just like the other night.” Sans encourages you. “just one step, don’t touch the edges.” You swallow, trying not to think about skulls or Gaster or any of that, and close your eyes, stepping through quickly, your boots clicking on polished tile. Undyne’s there waiting for you to step through, and she quickly pulls you out of the way so that Sans can follow.

“Wow.” You whisper, glancing around, your eyes lighting up.

Both Mettaton and Undyne are right. You’re most certainly underground, you can practically feel it in the air- you’re under Mt. Ebott! Oh, god, your parents would have given just about anything for this moment, they’d be so proud of you… you can’t remember the last time you’ve thought that, but it’s true. You wish that they could be there with you, that they could have seen this.

You’re in an enormous room, all dappled stained glass and ornate, beautiful marblework. The colors are so rich it almost hurts to look at them, but it doesn’t seem like there’s half as many shades as you’re used to up above. And yet, through the windows, there’s rays of sunlight, penetrating an enormous cavern in crazy, haphazard beams. Some are emanating from massive cracks in the mountain (so big that you can even see the distant ocean through them), some are just tiny holes that narrow beams of light, no wider than a flashlight, shine through. You wonder how many monsters had been itching to take a chunk of the mountain that had held them in for so long down when they decided to leave. It surely had to be a lot, to leave the cavern this palace was in so riddled with holes like swiss cheese.

“I thought humans weren’t allowed down here without diplomatic clearance?” You say, glancing around. “I thought that the monster King was worried-”

“hey, you’re with us. you’ve got clearance.” Sans laughs, fitting his hand in yours. You hadn’t even noticed him stepping through, or the door closing, too busy looking and listening and smelling…

The room is something else entirely, after all. Sans had made the door from your house to this room so that your group all stepped out in an out of the way corner, behind what looks like several stalls, but when he tugs you forward, excitement in his eyes, you take it all in at once. It’s just so beautiful! There’s stalls of all sizes and descriptions, vendors of every kind of monster you’ve ever seen, and dozens you haven’t, all selling clothes, drinks, toys, snacks, decorations, jewelry. Some of the stalls look temporary, like they’ve been slapped up in a rush for Christmas, but others have clearly been here as long as the underground’s been opened when the barrier fell. There’s even, you notice, a carefully constructed wooden bar in a corner of the room; a Grillby’s franchise, maybe, with a pretty green fire elemental behind the bar.

And the whole great hall is crammed with monsters (and the very occasional human), all laughing and shopping and socializing and eating, lit by torches and those odd beams of sunlight and the ambient glow of the cave walls that must be magic...

“It’s so pretty.” You whisper. Sans nods.

“it’s a lot better than it used to be.” He says, glancing around slowly as if he’s trying to see it with fresh eyes.

“I never really thought I’d ever see the underground, not after mom and dad…” You murmur, leaning a little closer to him to talk over the noise and the music.

“this really wasn’t a happy place.” He says, looking around. “back then, it was a bad bad place. sometimes, anyway. you know what our king did. it was a place that… kids died in.” He says, sounding a little strained, but then quickly adds, “i wouldn’t come back here, ever, if i couldn’t see the sky out those windows.” He glances quickly over your shoulder, just to make sure it's still there. You hesitate, then bite your lip.

“You hate it down here, don’t you.” You say quietly. “Sans, let’s go. I know you’re trying to watch out for me, but…”

“nah. it’s fine.” He says quickly. “i’m near here every day for work, anyway. told you, i work for asgore.”

“You also told me you never wanted to go back underground.” You say quietly.

“‘s not underground if you can see the sky.” He says firmly. “that’s what i keep telling myself anyway. besides, you like it. you said it’s pretty.”

“It’s… I mean, it’s so beautiful.” You admit. “I can’t believe I’m here. But-”

“then it’s settled. look, everyone else is already having a good time.” He says, nodding over your shoulder again. You turn your head to see Papyrus talking animatedly to a beautiful rabbit monster, and Undyne hoisting a small, armless monster up on her shoulders with a grin. Alphys has already dived into a stall that has a sign above it reading “C0MiXS,” manned by a monster that looks half-cat, half-dog, and one hundred percent vacant. Mettaton is predictably swarmed by adoring fans of all descriptions, of course, and out of the corner of your eye, you can see Lesser Dog running up to a similar looking, but much, much bigger dog.

“Fine.” You say with a small smile. “But you’ll tell me, okay? As soon as you want to go?”

“promise.” He says, and hand in hand, you begin to pick through the crowd, as you rack your brains to think of what might possibly be good enough for all your new friends.

-----------------------------

A few hours later, and you’re totally exhausted. Apparently Christmas shopping in the underground is much the same as Christmas shopping on the surface. It’s fun! But… it’s tiring. Still, you and Sans have had a blast picking out different things for everyone, and the monsters you meet are more than willing to take your human money off your hands. At first, you think that your method of payment is the reason everyone’s so excited to talk with you, but the longer you spend among the throng of monsters, the more often you can swear you hear your name whispered, until you realize it’s not just a coincidence.

“Sans? Do... uh, am I crazy or do a lot of these people know who I am?” You ask, leaning your elbow on the ledge of a snack stand and balancing your shopping bags on your knee while you get a better grip. Sans is insisting on buying you a nice cream cone when you make the mistake of telling him you’ve never had one. He glances over at you with a wry expression.

“you, uh, did make a big splash on the news this morning.” He points out. “and mettaton was on there too, so half the monsters in here must have seen it.”

“Oh. Geez.” You mutter, suddenly embarrassed. “I didn’t really think about that. Oh, man, people must be thinking...” You trail off, shaking your head.He raises an eyebrow ridge, distractedly passing a few gold to the nice cream guy.

“yeah, how embarrassing.” He drawls. “you went on tv and said really nice things about monsters to the entire world. these people must think you’re terrible.” He says sarcastically, giving you an infuriating smirk and then passing you the nice cream. You shake your head.

“I’m just not used to being, you know, paid so much attention to.” You say, holding the cone in your free hand. His expression softens.

“they just like you, babe. but if it’s too much, we’ll go.” He says, more gently. You shake your head.

“No, no. It’s good. It’s fine. It’s just… surprising.” You say with a small smile, then remember your nice cream and cautiously take a lick. “Oh my god.” You sigh after a moment, after a cool, delicious flavor washes over your tastebuds. Immediately, you take another taste. Sans grins at you.

“good?” He says, and you nod quickly.

“How is magic food so good!? It tastes like all my favorite desserts at once!” You laugh, too delighted by this new discovery to feel awkward about the sensation of so many eyes on you. “Do you want some?” Sans shakes his head.

“nah. more fun watching you.” He says with a chuckle. Of course not. He doesn’t eat if he can help it. You sigh, and, remembering his move this morning, do your best pout.

“Baby.” You say plaintively. His eyes are fixed on you, and almost immediately he gives in, taking the nice cream and tasting it quickly; oh, that’s… interesting, watching an invisible tongue lick an ice cream cone. You hadn’t actually seen his tongue before, it tended to be engaged somewhere in your mouth, but you supposed it made sense that it was invisible, after all, he kissed you with lips you couldn’t see. Was… was everything invisible? Oh, god, you’re suddenly feeling quite warm.

“it’s pretty good.” He agrees, passing the cone back to you, and for a moment, you’re distracted enough to realize that it takes basically one pout from you and he’ll do what you’re asking. That is dangerous information to have. Then again… well, one pout from him this morning, and you’d been seriously close to forgetting about “wardrobe” or anything else that involved getting out of bed… but this chain of thought is not helping you in your effort to not turn red.

“Why don’t you like to eat?” You ask quickly, and he makes a face.

“uh, i think that’s something that my dad didn’t exactly have fine tuned, back when he was making a son. i don’t think whatever he made me out of was supposed to eat much of anything.” He says. “i mean, i can do it, just takes concentration and i’m pretty lazy.” You arch an eyebrow. Well, he is at that, even if he’s had a busy few days. “drinking’s way easier. he got that down.” He adds with a laugh. “think he had eating figured out a little too well by the time he gave me paps, anyway, that kid ate me out of house and home and all i knew how to make was pasta, in the beginning.”

“Oh. Sans, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to push you-” You say quickly, filled with sudden affection for the skeleton who thinks he isn’t quite built right, and the glowing way he talks about his brother even though you know some people would be nothing but jealous.

“nah. you’re right. i do need to eat food every once in awhile. otherwise i’d starve to the bone.” He says, smirking at you expectantly. You give a single, pointed “ha” to tell him that the joke isn’t very funny, which makes him look happier than ever. Oh, you like seeing him so happy. It seems he’s even forgotten his discomfort being underground, when he’s looking up at you like that. “uh. your nice cream is melting.” He says, distracting you from your moment of content, that you could make him look like that.

“Oh!” It’s dripped onto your hand without you noticing. You glance around for napkins, see none, then shrug mentally and lick it off your hand, hoping nobody will notice, then do your best to eat the part that’s melting, licking the melted nice cream off the cone.

“uh. heh.” You glance back at Sans, and just barely restrain yourself from giving him your own smug smile, seeing how obviously flustered he is.

“Yes?” You ask sweetly. Oh, this is much more fun than when he’s teasing you.

“oh, uh… asgore! hi!” Sans sounds absolutely thrilled, suddenly looking behind you, and you turn around quickly to see an absolutely enormous monster, easily head and shoulders taller even than Papyrus, making his way towards you. He’s wearing, incongruently, khakis and a hawaiian shirt.

“Sans! I didn’t expect to see you down here!” The monster says jovially. The king, you think to yourself, this is the king of all monsters, or is it King, with a capital K, you’re not sure, but you’re sure of one thing, you never expected to be meeting him with what you’re suddenly sure is nice cream on your chin. “Oh, and this must be the human I’ve heard so much about! Welcome to the palace, _________.”

The king of the monsters knows your name without being introduced.

That thought almost grinds your brain to a halt, but then suddenly you remember Toriel, and Frisk, and that Papyrus works in Asgore’s gardens, and suddenly you feel more at ease. Maybe it’s natural that he knows about you, right, and it’s not like you haven’t met royalty before, a queen had brought dinner to your house, so…

“T-thank you so much, your majesty.” You stammer. “It’s really wonderful.”

“Well, we’re certainly glad to have you here!” Asgore says, with a big, booming laugh. “And it’s just Asgore, please.” Sans draws a little closer to you, and you wonder if it would be terrible manners to take another lick of your nice cream, or if you should just let it drip all over your hand - thankfully Sans has spotted your dilemma, and he deftly steals the treat, eating it just a little insolently as he grins up at Asgore.

“we wanted to go christmas shopping. figured it was probably better down here, after the broadcast.” Sans says. Asgore nods mournfully.

“Perhaps that is for the best.” He murmurs, shaking his massive head. “Child, please do tell me if you encounter any further problems? If I had known the sort of thing you were facing-”

“told you, boss. we got it covered.” Sans says abruptly, and for a second, there’s clear resentment in the air between them, or at least coming from Sans. Asgore still looks awfully depressed.

“I’m certain you do, Sans.” He sighs. “All the same. If there are any further problems, please do let me know. I feel that I owe you a debt, _________.” You blink up at the massive monster, confused. “You’re working so tirelessly against discrimination on the surface, and it’s brought you nothing but grief.” You have to laugh at that.

“It’s not work, your majesty.” You say quickly. You can’t bring yourself to call him Asgore. He just looks like a majesty! “They’re my best friends! I got them in the bargain, so I’m coming out way ahead.”

“thanks, babe.” Sans says with a chuckle, and Asgore nods approvingly - of what you’ve just said, or of you and Sans? You’re smiling up at the king, when Undyne and Papyrus come tearing around the corner of the stall. Undyne still has the monster kid perched on her shoulders, and he looks wild with glee.

“Jeez, there you are, loser, I’ve been looking for you everywhere!” Undyne laughs. “Oh, hey Asgore!” Asgore nods at her politely.

“Oh, I’ve just been shopping - hey, no peeking!” You scold Papyrus, who’s craning your head to try and see what’s in the big paper bags.

“MORE LIKE OFF KISSING MY BROTHER!” Papyrus replies petulantly. The monster on Undyne’s shoulders starts cracking up, looking worshipfully at Papyrus.

“What, no I wasn’t-” There it goes. The king is looking at you, and you are just praying for the floor to drop out from under you so that you don’t need to be in that fatherly, mildly amused stare.

“Ha, sure, like we’re gonna believe that.” Undyne snorts, lazily shifting the kid off her shoulders and setting him on the ground. “Go find your mom, squirt.” She tells him in an aside, and he grins at her before taking off through the crowd.

“I really wasn’t, look, look at it, look at all the shopping!” You say desperately, holding up your bags. “Papyrus, no peeking!” Oh, stupid Sans is enjoying this way too much, which you probably deserve, but all the same-

“what’s the big deal, anyway?” He asks, taking another lick of nice cream.

“THE SUN’S ABOUT TO SET AND THEY’RE GOING TO TURN ON THE CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTS!” Papyrus enthuses. “ARE YOU LAZY BONES COMING TO SEE OR NOT?”

“heh. sure.” Sans laughs. “trade you, babe.” He offers you the nice cream in exchange for your shopping bags, and you do so gratefully, looking for anything that means you don’t need to meet the gaze of the king.

“I’ll leave you to it.” Asgore chuckles. “Sans, I’ll see you back in the library in the New Year. Papyrus, we have gardening to attend to as well, when you’re done with vacation.” He smiles at the skeletons and Undyne, then at you. “_________, you’re welcome to come visit any time.” He tells you.

“Kay! Later, majesty!” Undyne calls, and immediately links arms with you, marching you through the thick crowd, through the gallery hall and into another, then another, still more shops, more monsters, until finally you emerge in a huge space, the roof entirely open to the sky, with the biggest Christmas tree you’ve ever seen dominating the center of the room. The room is packed, but the crowd parts for you and Undyne like a school of minnows does for a shark. Sans and Papyrus are a little behind you, but they catch up as Undyne guides you over to Alphys, L.D. and Mettaton, who are all the way up by the foot of the tree.

“Woah.” You mutter, and quickly take the last few bites of your nice cream, munching the cone.

“We never had them this big in the underground before.” Mettaton says, staring up at the tree.

“dunno why. there were pine trees this big in snowdin.” Sans says quietly, but even he seems a little awed.

“W-we didn’t have um…” Alphys starts.

“That much to celebrate.” Undyne concludes dryly. “But this year…”

“We were given freedom.” Mettaton murmurs.

“A-and the beach!” Alphys chimes in.

“AND DRIVING DOWN THE HIGHWAY!” Papyrus says, grinning wildly. Lesser Dog whines, and Undyne whirls to glare at him.

“No, L.D.! NOT lizards, we don’t eat those!” She says firmly, then grins. “Sushi, though.”

“I got you guys.” You hear yourself say softly. Mettaton is the first to let out an “awwwwww,” as perfectly cued as if it were a sitcom sound effect. Undyne almost immediately chimes in, but she’s grinning. You roll your eyes at them, smiling widely yourself.

“and the sun. we got the sun.” Sans says, and you’re just turning to look at him when the light in the cave dims for an instant- the sun must have just slipped over the horizon outside, but a thousand points of white light flicker on all over the huge tree; they’re not electric, so they must be magic. They look like the light in Sans’ eyes. The whole cavernous room starts cheering wildly, and some monsters begin singing a song - it’s a carol you’ve never heard before. It’s beautiful, even if you can’t make out any of the words in the eruption of excitement.

You lean just a little against Sans, feeling wonderfully content in this moment, and pretend not to notice that he’s not even looking at the tree, even though everyone else is. He’s looking right at you.

Chapter Text

After the singing and excitement following the tree’s illumination begins to wind down, Sans looks over at the group of you. Undyne and Alphys are holding hands, gazing up at the lights and ornaments on the branches still, but Lesser Dog is yawning, sitting patiently by Mettaton’s side, and Papyrus is clearing his throat rather pointedly. Sans smiles at him.

“yeah, bro?”

“IT’S ALMOST DINNER TIME.” Papyrus says. “HINT.” Undyne groans.

“Papyrus, I keep telling you, that’s not how hinting works.”

“IF I DON’T SAY HINT HOW WILL ANYONE KNOW THAT I’M HINTING?” Papyrus demands. You grin to yourself, liking his logic, then nod at your towering housemate.

“I suppose it probably is time to head back home, if everyone’s done. And we’ve got like three dinners worth of leftovers to eat, there’s more than enough for everyone.”

“Any snail pie left?” Undyne says hopefully.

“Uh, yeah. Tons.” You say, arching an eyebrow. There hadn’t exactly been a high demand for it, after all.

“Sick.” Undyne gives you her pointiest grin, and then quickly glances down at Alphys when the smaller monster tugs on her hand.

“A-are you sure we’re not, um… imposing?” She stammers, looking up at you, her cheeks red. “It’s j-just that we’ve all been having s-such a g-great time… ummm, when you’re n-not being attacked?” She practically whispers, barely audible over the noise of the crowd of monsters. You smile at her, feeling a little guilty that you’ve clearly not made your opinion on her clear.

“Alphys, you and Undyne and Mettaton are all always welcome. Like, seriously. I know you three have your own homes and stuff, but I love having you all around. You can stay at our place as often as you want, right boys?” You say, grinning at the skeletons and L.D., and feeling just a little manipulative. The truth is, you just love having everyone around, having this new adopted family that just feels so right, even though some of them have the tendency to barge in your room or commandeer the TV for anime or any of the other little habits that might be annoying if you didn’t like them so much! You don’t want them to leave, really, you don’t want this to be over… well, Sans and Papyrus and L.D. would be sticking around with you, but…

“‘course.” Sans chuckles, seeing the look on your face. “c’mon, alph, you don’t need to worry, look at her, she loves having you guys around. uh, me too.”

“I DO LIKE IT WHEN WE’RE ALL TOGETHER.” Papyrus agrees, and Alphys smiles bashfully at all of you.

“k. all settled. ready to go?” Sans drawls.

“Hey guys. Where are we going?” That voice is new. You turn around quickly to see the new speaker, and are faced with a short, almost sombrero shaped monster, who looks up at you with black, watery eyes, a scowl on its face. Behind you, you hear a soft groan coming from Mettaton, and a sigh of dismay from Alphys.

“Oh. Hey, Jerry.” Undyne sighs, very reluctantly.

“Who’s this?” Jerry narrows his eyes accusatorially at you. Ugh, he’s got what looks like that powdered dust from cheese snacks all over his face and fingers. “Looks dumb.” He adds, sucking on one finger slowly. Oh, gross. And rude!

“ugh.” It’s funny, really, Sans can stare eldritch abominations full on in the face, no problem, but even he clearly doesn’t like looking at Jerry. “jerry, bud. we’re about to split, but we all need to go check on a thing. you mind hanging tight here?” He says, clearly trying to keep the irritation out of his voice.

“I suppppoossse.” Jerry sighs, melancholic, and sits right down on the cavern floor under the Christmas tree. A split wordless second of communication passes between your friends, and then everyone, even Papyrus (who tends to miss subtle social cues) follows Sans quickly out of sight, to a less populated hallway. He opens a door back to the foyer of your home wordlessly, and this time, there’s absolutely no hesitation from your group.

You and the other monsters ditch Jerry.

-----------------------------------------

At this point, you’re ready for the next awful thing to happen (ha, as if anything could be worse than meeting Jerry) the second the portal closes behind you. The house is quiet except for your friends and Ghost, who is meowing from somewhere, probably the kitchen. Undyne, Alphys and Mettaton are sharing Jerry war stories, griping about how much they hate that guy, and Papyrus is trying to talk over them about dinner, totally distracted. Lesser Dog seems to agree with Papyrus, sitting next to the tall skeleton, his tail waving in a blur of energy.

“hey.” You jump slightly, then grimace. Okay, so you’re a little on edge. “you wanna check and make sure everything’s okay?” Sans asks softly. You bite your lip, then nod.

“Feeling a little paranoid.” You admit. Undyne overhears this and sighs.

“You need another set of eyes?” She offers.

“nah. we’ll be fast. maybe you and paps can get dinner started, though.” Sans says. Papyrus’ eyes go wide; he loves cooking with Undyne. Undyne grins at him.

“Sure thing, punk. Let’s get started. C’mon, sweetie, help me set up drinks.” She urges Alphys, then glances back at you. “You need any help, you know where to find me.” Sans nods, and waits by the door while you find your winter coat in the hall closet.

Stepping outside, it’s a beautiful, cool, starry night. There must have been another snow shower when you were inside shopping, since there’s a few centimeters of snow on the snowdog and snow skeleton outside that weren’t there yesterday, giving them an oddly misshapen look. It would be nice, being outside, if it weren’t for the fact that you were there looking for the next awful thing.

“they’re still camped out there.” Sans sighs, nodding at the distant fence. Sure enough, there’s still half a dozen media vans parked on the street. You groan.

“I don’t own that land. Technically, they’ve got a right to be there.” You say quietly. It doesn’t look like they’ve noticed you’re outside, and you want to take advantage of that.

“mm. you know, the ones from last night aren’t there. maybe if i send these guys on a field trip too…” Sans says, voice dripping with black humor.

“Too! Soon! Bonehead.” You grumble. “You promised. No touching them.” He sighs and nods.

“yeah, yeah. be nice to the vultures.” He agrees, then, after a second’s thought, adds; “they’re probably doing us a favor, anyway.”

“How’s that?” You ask, surprised to hear any kind words about the photographers escape his mouth.

“whatever group’s been coming by to vandalize your house isn’t gonna risk it with six news vans out front.” He says with a shrug. You blink, processing this. He’s right.

“Huh... Maybe I should continue to be scandalous.” You say, looking out at the dark silhouettes of the vans. Sans smirks.

“i like the sound of that.” He says, giving you a very toothy smile.

“Oh, I bet you do.” You laugh, raising an eyebrow, then sigh, as, across the front yard, a flashbulb goes off from inside a van. You’ve been spotted. “C’mon, let’s walk around back and just make sure everything’s okay back there before we go in.”

“sounds way less fun than, uh, being scandalous.” Sans says, but then he grins at you and takes your hand, and the two of you crunch through the snow and away from the flash of the cameras. You’re wracking your brain for a witty retort, but none are forthcoming; probably, you think, because you agree with him.

---------------------------------

Sans is right. Clearly, the photographers are enough to keep the vandals away for now: even the snow is undisturbed. You still shudder when you pass the spot where he’d opened the void yesterday, but other than that, there’s nothing remarkable. Undyne glances up quickly when you slide the door that separates the backyard from the kitchen open, and relaxes when she sees it’s just you.

“Anything?” She checks.

“nope.” Sans says softly, stomping the snow off his sneakers and holding his hand out for your coat without being asked. Aw, your boyfriend was sweet. Undyne smiles when you pass it over and give him a kiss on the cheek for his thoughtfulness, then she looks seriously at you as Sans strolls off to hang it up.

“You okay? I know it’s stressful, waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

“I’ve got you guys. I’ve never felt safer.” You admit with a small smile. Undyne grins at you, and then steps back as Papyrus comes rushing in, grabbing two big casserole containers out of the oven and carrying them into the dining room without a word, a manic grin on his face. You’d need to remember to read him a bedtime story tonight, you think to yourself, his routine is probably all disrupted…

Well, this plan is quashed when Papyrus announces over dinner that he intends to start off his real Christmas vacation by marathoning every Mettaton Christmas special that night. Undyne and Alphys think this is a wonderful idea; Mettaton thinks it’s the best thing he’s ever heard. And Sans, well,

“we’ll probably watch one or two before bed.” He says lazily, and it takes all your willpower to not give him a look. It certainly sounds like he’s got plans for you tonight, you think, staring down at the half eaten lasagna on your plate and trying not to blush or smile or anything like that. He’s being awfully presumptuous, you tell yourself firmly, just announcing when you’ll go to bed, much less that the two of you will be going to bed together…

Oh, goddamnit, __________, stop smiling.

He notices, of course, even if he doesn’t say anything, because he’s got that smug look in his eyes for the rest of dinner and all the way into the other room. You can practically feel his eyes on your butt as you root around the entertainment center, trying to reconnect the VHS player so Papyrus can play his taped collection of Mettaton specials (“sadly, darling, I’m at an impasse regarding pricing with all the major streaming services,” the robot pouts - his eyes are on the screen, waiting for his face to appear). When you finally get it working, everyone lets out a cheer in varying degrees of enthusiasm, and you settle in next to Sans with a laugh, watching the first special begin playing.

Well… Mettaton has certainly come a long way, you think tactfully, half an hour later. That is to say, the special is… well, it’s watchable, barely. To see the looks on everyone’s faces but Sans - even Lesser Dog’s, since he’s joined you halfway through the film - they’ve just watched a worldshaking masterpiece. Sans and you exchange a look.

“One more?” You ask quietly, and he smirks at you before nodding. This next one, which seems to be about how Mettaton saved Christmas through the power of glam rock, at least has songs, which makes up for the poor production values. Furthermore, halfway through the videotape, Ghost comes wandering in, and without even blinking, curls up with L.D. on the floor, purring loudly. This truly is a Christmas miracle, you think wryly, snuggling up against Sans’ shoulder and watching the musical numbers with half lidded eyes.

Finally, it’s over, and Sans gives a big, fake yawn.

“time for us to hit the hay.” He says, standing up, then offering you a hand.

“SO EARLY! YOU’RE SUCH A BABY BONES, SANS!” Papyrus laughs. “I CAN STAY UP MUCH LATER THAN YOU.”

“i know, bud. you’re way cooler than me.” Sans says with a shrug. Mettaton, Undyne and Alphys don’t say anything, but they all have different variations of the same expression on their faces; it definitely belongs in the knowing amusement family. You’re blushing down to your toes, but you manage a cheerful,

“Night everyone!” and wave at them before heading upstairs with Sans. When you’re out of earshot, you give him a look. “You know, you could have been a little more subtle.”

“why would i be subtle? we’re just going to bed.” Sans says, face perfectly composed, but you can tell when he thinks he’s getting away with something. Oh, he can just keep pushing his luck, you think irritably, but still walk into your bedroom with him. It isn’t until the door closes that you start to feel, well, awkward. Neither of you has bothered to turn on the light: the moon outside is so bright that your room is illuminated in cool shades of blue, and the only other pinpricks of light in the room come from his eyes.

“I, uh…” You mutter, thinking about how long it’s been since you’ve last been in a position anywhere close to this. “I’m pretty sure… I mean, uh, it’s been a long time…”

“s’okay.” The playful look is off his face now, replaced with something much more affectionate. “me, uh, too. no pressure. just wanted a little time with you on your own.” He’s clearly telling the truth, which makes that anxiety melt a little. You take a step closer to him (it wasn’t like you were far away), and he leans up to kiss you.

He’s an excellent kisser. He’s an excellent everything. He knows exactly how to make you swoon, and you can’t tell if this is because he’s experienced - blerg, whenever you think of that, you get the mental image of him and Toriel and you have to work hard at pushing it away - or if he’s just great at reading you. Whichever it is, you barely notice when the two of you take the steps from the doorway, and end up sitting next to each other on the bed, lips still locked.

Why does your overactive brain have to ruin everything? You find yourself parting from him, panting slightly, trying not to feel awkward that his hand has slipped under your shirt and his bony fingers are exploring your lower spine even as you look at him. You have a very important question, that you can’t be distracted from. “Sans. Lips?” You ask quietly. He looks nonplussed, but when no answer is forthcoming, you add, “You’re a skeleton. How? Lips, tongue, uh…”

“oh! heh.” He laughs. “uh, magic. hey, hey, hang on!” He sees you threaten to scowl. “I mean, okay, skeleton monster basics… my bones are physical. my body is magic. takes a lot of work to have a whole body all the time, though, so… i usually only, uh, manifest the parts i’m thinking about, when i need them.” He says, still looking at your lips like he wants to stop talking.

“And they’re invisible because…” You try.

“it’s work to make them visible?” Sans laughs, a little out of breath. “and i’d look weird with lips.”

“Not with a tongue, though.” You mutter, then feel your face flame red as he grins. He gets a look of concentration, then opens his mouth, revealing sharp canines and a very inhuman, slightly glowing blue tongue.

“better?” He murmurs, all wicked amusement. You nod quickly, and lean back to kiss him once more, torn between intense interest and frustration at how lazy your boyfriend can apparently be. Suddenly, another thought occurs to you, and you pull back again.

“Wait a second.” You ask the put-out looking skeleton. “You said you only manifest things when you need them. So, this morning…”

Sans buries his face in his hands, then peeks at you between two fingers.

“heh. god. okay. busted. i, uh… had a good dream.” He stammers. His blush is brighter than the glow from the tongue in his mouth, or the moonlight. “about you, i mean. i don’t know if that make it any better. um. but yeah.” He slowly raises his head, looking nervously at you.

It’s cruel, you think, holding him over the coals like this, just because you think it’s fun to see him as flustered as he makes you. Well, shit, it is fun. But it’s probably not moral. You wait another second or two, then grin, leaning forward to plant a soft kiss on his lips.

“Good. Wouldn’t want you dreaming about anyone else.” You murmur, letting your hand rest on his femur. He makes a soft, pleased noise, and kisses you again, much more roughly, and you’re just putty in his hands. His hands, incidentally, seem pretty focused on taking your shirt off, and that is just fine by you, all of a sudden. After all, you think, pulling away from him so he can get it over your head, turnabout is fair play. His eyes are fixed on you, drinking you in, and you’re so glad that you’re not wearing one of your weird bras today, because he looks like he’s about to lose his mind, he likes what he’s seeing so much. It’s a hell of a confidence boost, you think, your fingers slowly trailing higher, over the fabric of his shorts...

He’d asked you that morning, if you were curious about what sort of bone he was packing.

You were suddenly, you think, leaning your head back so he can scrape his teeth carefully against your neck…

Oh, you were very curious.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t fair that Sans didn’t have a heart. Here you were, your pulse hammering so loudly in your ears that you could barely hear anything else, and he was probably just playing it cool. Couldn’t almost have a heart attack without a heart, right, that’s probably why you were practically shaking with excitement and he just seemed to know what he was doing. He clearly had a natural advantage, the jerk. Stupid mean skeleton, stupid…

“heh. fuck. s-sorry.” He stammers in your ear, and after a second, you realize that he’s stuck, unable to figure how your bra unclasps. You can’t help it. You let out a slightly hysterical laugh, your hand stalling on its glacial journey up his leg. He gives you a hangdog, guilty (maybe a little hurt?) smile, and you shake your head.

“Sorry, sorry!” You say quickly. “Just… hahaa, god, you can figure out everything! You cut a door in space today just so we could go shopping!” He looks at you, confused. “It’s… it’s a hook and eye, bonehead. Push, don’t pull.” You murmur, shaking your head again. He squints at you, clearly still confused, then suddenly lets out a laugh.

oh!” He says, grinning widely, and a split second later, your bra is off, and you’re no longer laughing. Right, right, that was the logical conclusion to his attempt, right? And he’s just studying you like he can’t bear to tear his eyes away from your breasts. Which is flattering, but… he’s a skeleton, right? Maybe he just thinks it’s weird. Maybe he’d prefer a ribcage. Maybe he’s just taking a scientific interest.

“Uh. Is this… okay?” You hear yourself wonder. His eyes finally dart back up to meet yours, a huge, hungry smile on his face.

“hell yes.” He whispers, and leans forward to kiss you again, a hand instantly moving to explore what he’d uncovered. Oh, fuck, okay. When he was doing that, you could only focus on how good it felt, so much that the narration that had been running in your head, telling you all the things that were wrong with you, that he was going to find fault with, that were embarrassing… that constant monologue just stopped. You let him slowly ease you onto your back, your head still happily swimming. His kisses were moving down your neck now - oh, man, his teeth were sharp, he was gentle, but they were still sharp, and you had a half second where you thought to yourself that if you were covered in bite marks tomorrow, you were going to smack him, but then he found the muscle connecting your neck to your shoulder, kissing it ravenously, and it just didn’t matter anymore. You could be one big bruise for all you cared, you decide, if he kept this up.

Or, oh god, if he moved lower still.

His tongue moves over your nipple and you let out a soft, pleased noise, stroking his spine through his shirt. You can practically feel his grin - can you literally feel it? - at this reaction, and he immediately repeats the experiment on your other breast. Right, right, a good scientist always checks his hypothesis. This time you’re anticipating it, but you still can’t help yourself, you practically whimper, clutching at him tightly, and he groans quietly in response, pressing his hipbones to yours. When had he gotten so... on top of you? Oh, it didn’t matter, all that mattered now is that his hand was resting on the waistband of your pants. Hey, hadn’t you been planning on indulging your curiosity, hadn’t that been your plan this whole time, to get him undressed? He was certainly beating you to that particular goal. Why was he hesitating, though? He looks up at you.

“still okay if we keep going?” He asks quietly, but quite seriously. You blink, then nod. “yes?” He prompts deliberately.

“Yes!” You agree, a little shakily, and he grins at you again, like you’re giving him the world.

“cool. uh. my info on how to do this is pretty… theoretical? so you’ll tell me if i mess up?” He murmurs, unbuttoning your pants almost casually as he talks and sliding them down around your hips. You nod quickly, then let out a, “Definitely,” since you know he’ll just make you say it out loud again and you don’t feel like waiting that long; you’re already kicking your legs out of your pants, and, in a quick play for power, while he’s a little distracted by the sight of you practically naked, you find the hem of his shirt and raise it carefully, making sure that it doesn’t get snagged on his ribcage; but, hell, he always seems to fill his clothes out, doesn’t he, how the hell does that work…

That train of thought is abruptly derailed as he begins to rub you through your panties, and all you can do is gasp, and very quickly yank his shirt over his head. He bursts out laughing when it gets stuck on his skull, and he has to stop for a second to shrug the shirt off before grinning at you. The look on his face is half affection, half heated desire. It was not an expression you could have figured, even a few weeks ago, that you would ever see on a skeleton’s face. Now, well, you just giggle at his amusement, then lean up and kiss him, melting halfway through the kiss when he resumes teasing you. When he pulls away, he has serious intent on his face; the amusement is gone.

“can i use my mouth?”

“I don’t know, can you?” You surprise yourself by saying, giving him a daring smile. This so isn’t like you, you feel like you should be an anxious mess, but you’re just so comfortable with him! And, well, maybe this doesn’t have to be nerve wracking, maybe you don’t need to overanalyze every second of it, maybe this can just be right!

He narrows his eyes suspiciously at you, his hand hovering over the waistband of your panties. You smirk and nod.

“Yes, please.” You say, very clearly, and he gives you that marvelling, starving smile again before pulling your underwear away. After that, you have to stop thinking for a while.

It is absolutely, one thousand percent unfair, the realization bubbles up, that this tongue has been trapped in the underground for as long as it has.

Okay, that’s not exactly fair, you’re also terribly fond of the skeleton that it’s attached to. If it is, technically, attached to him. The fact remains that, at this, he’s a goddamn virtuoso. To the point that you can’t say anything, can barely think, can only gasp softly, trying to remember that there are other people in this house, that you can’t scream. He just knows you. He knows your anatomy, apparently, better than anyone could, better than even you could possibly imagine. He knows just where you like to be touched, and even places that have never seemed that interesting feel astonishing when that tongue, practically crackling with magic, moves over them. Ha, you’d thought you’d liked that dizzying rush from his magic before! Now, like this, you can’t believe anything could feel so good - and it’s just his tongue, you think, oh god, can you even handle more than this?

Your muscles are tensing before too long, and you’re fighting it, trying to hold off what you know is inevitable, because you want this to last, you feel almost greedy but you don’t have it in you to care, you want to feel like this for the rest of your life. He’s of another mind, clearly, because he just keeps driving you on, his tongue relentless, and that feeling of magic is just pooling in your belly, a barrier waiting to crumble…

One more stroke of his tongue, and it’s over.

“SANS!”

Too loud, too loud, ________, but you don’t care right now, you can’t, your body is shaking and for a second you feel empty, you want more, you want so much more, but then the next wave of pleasure hits, then the next, and the next, and you’re panting, replete and exhausted and sprawled out on the bed.

Moving a single muscle would be way, way, too much. Even breathing seems like a challenge. But you’re looking at him from the corner of your eyes as he slowly pulls his head away from you, and he looks like… you’ve seen that expression before, on the face of athletes after they get a trophy, on lotto winners on TV, on elected officials who are just a little too obviously pleased to have beaten their opponents. That smug little… oh, god, you can’t even complain, you don’t have room in your head right now, you just have to reach up and wrap your arms around him, pulling him back to your side so you can kiss him.

He kisses you for a long, long time, sprawled out on his side next to you, not demanding too much. You slowly manage to catch your breath, feeling his fingers slip through your hair like you’ve already grown accustomed to. When he parts from you again, he’s managed to tame the smugness some, and he’s looking at you all sweet and soft.

“i was okay?” He asks quietly, and you have to giggle.

“Uh, yeah. Holy…. holy shit, Sans.” You murmur, kissing the corner of his mouth. “That’s a really hard act to follow.” He grins to himself, then seems to register your meaning when your hand drifts to his waistband.

“oh… heh.” That smug look is suddenly magnified a thousand times. Oh, hell, he deserves it. Besides, he’s not even making any jokes about the fact that you’d said ‘really hard,’ and surely he deserves some kind of acknowledgement for that. Slipping your finger between his hips and his gym shorts, you grin and murmur,

“So, I finally get to see all your bones?” He bursts out laughing, a big, delighted smile on his face, and nods. Okay, here goes, all your questions answered. You ease down his shorts and reveal…

Uh. Hipbones. Like you learned about in anatomy class. For a second, you’re bewildered, and then for another second you’re furiously embarrassed - he’s a skeleton, for fuck’s sake, __________, what the hell did you expect? - and then, you hear the tiniest snicker, and you begin to shake your head.

“Sans.”

“sorry.” He manages to force the word out, waits a second, then absolutely loses it in a fit of laughter.

“Sans.” You try again, trying not to smile yourself. Damn him! This is so ridiculous but his laughter is contagious. You’re sitting there, butt naked, laughing with a skeleton because you can’t see his dick. This is the weirdest day of your entire life.

“sorry. sorry. really rude. i’m an ass. just, the look on your face.” He finally gasps. You shake your head slowly, still laughing, and murmur,

“Give me something to work with, bonehead.” He manages to compose himself after another second.

“k. k.” He concentrates for a second, and it glows into view.

Yup. That’s probably the biggest…

Definitely the bluest…

Hoo boy.

Suddenly, you feel very serious. Joking time is over. Tentatively, you sit up, and reach out, running your fingers very lightly over the shaft. He grunts very quietly, and that feeling of magic, raw and intoxicating, runs through your arm. Oh, wow, okay, that’s something you probably should have realized would happen, but… Feeling giddy, you wrap your fingers around him, and stroke him experimentally.

“ffuck.” He whispers harshly.

“That okay?” You whisper.

y e s.” He says, very quickly. You can’t help but feel a little pleased with yourself at that. Okay, maybe more than a little.

Okay, maybe you shouldn’t blame Sans for any smug expressions.

Feeling a little more confident that, other than the, uh, color ... and the light … and the magic, that this isn’t much different from a human guy, you lean forward, carefully licking the head. He shivers and groans again, his eyesockets screwing shut for a moment before opening quickly, like he can’t stand not to watch you while this happens. You’re busy reeling as the sensation of magic is magnified - for a second, it’s almost too much, and then you’re more awake, more determined, than you think you’ve ever been. You don’t hesitate a second longer, you slide your lips around him and begin to bob, your hand working what you can’t manage in your mouth.

This has never been your favorite sex act - well, you’re not sure you ever had a favorite to start with - and you certainly can’t recall ever having a very good time doing it, but right now, fuck! For once, your brain isn’t spitting out those thoughts about how uncomfortable this is, how your hair keeps getting in your eyes, your concern that you might look weird from this angle. All of that just doesn’t enter the equation this time. All you care about is making your strange, hilarious, perfect boyfriend feel half as good as he’d made you, about the magic in your chest and his hands (suddenly knotted in your hair) and the desperate, hoarse gasps he’s making, half absolutely filthy swears, half your name as sweet as anyone’s ever said it.

It doesn’t take him terribly long, in the end, which you almost regret when you’re thinking about it later. “gotta… fuck… babe, i’m gonna…” He’s straining, trying to hold off so you can move away, but you have no intention of doing so. He gasps for a second more, then, when you make eye contact with him and very deliberately bob down again, making your decision clear, he groans your name, almost disbelievingly, and begins to release. A jet of something with a taste that eludes description hits the back of your tongue for a second before you swallow… and swallow… and swallow. Aw, you think, fleetingly, your poor boy was all pent up. When he finally finishes, you very slowly pull your lips away and look at him. He’s a disheveled mess with the biggest grin you’ve ever seen plastered to his face. And you, you are smug as all hell, and now that the giddy, charged feeling of magic has faded (er, mostly; apparently, there were consequences in swallowing you hadn’t really thought about), you want nothing more than to curl up next to him and be held for a little bit before you pass out. But, you know guys, at least, the very few guys you’ve been with like this, he’ll want to get up and leave or play on his phone, or…

He sits up, wraps both arms around you, and pulls you down, then tucks the covers around you both, kissing you softly. And, god, you feel sappy just thinking it, but you feel so treasured at that moment that you barely know what to do.

“It was okay?” It’s your turn to check. He nods so enthusiastically that you have to grin, and kisses you again.

“________, i… i really, uh ... like you.” He whispers, and you get that sense again, that he’s dancing around a different word that neither of you are ready for. “like… a lot. like… holy shit, i like you. don’t go, okay? not without giving me a chance to fix whatever’s wrong?” He’s suddenly so serious that you nearly have emotional whiplash, but you see the look in his eye and nod quickly.

“I’m not going to. I’m not going anywhere.” You say quietly. There’s a comfortable silence for a few minutes, where he’s just stroking your hair and you’re taking the opportunity to explore his spine without his shirt in the way. “I like you too, Sans.” You whisper after a moment’s thought. “More than I can remember liking anyone, for a long long time. It’s a little scary.”

“i know.” He murmurs. “feels…”

“Vulnerable.” You suggest, and he nods.

“exactly.” You look into each other’s eyes for a moment, both of you thinking about this. “but… we’re a team, right? like you said?” He finally speaks up again. “we got each other’s backs? so, it’s okay.” You nod, a small smile on your face.

“Yeah. We’re a team. We’re a family.” You agree, a little sleepily. He grins at that, then nods.

“right. family.” He says, sounding rather happy with that conclusion, and strokes your hair laconically once more. “night, _______.”

“Night, Sans.” You whisper, and kiss him one last time before closing your eyes. For the third night in a row, sleep comes easier than you can believe.

--------------------------------------

For once, you’re woken up by nothing more upsetting than an alarm. You almost don’t believe it. You’re ready for, god, who next? Papyrus? Alphys? Fuck, Jerry? Someone’s gotta be busting down the door, right? But, no, it’s Christmas Eve, it’s calm, and Sans is grumbling and flailing about for the alarm, and you are just naked as hell. You snicker quietly, reaching over Sans for the alarm, and shut it off.

“Not ready to wake up?” You tease gently.

“three more hours.” He begs, and you roll your eyes.

“Fine, sleepybones. I’m gonna shower and make breakfast for everyone. You can have as long as it takes until Papyrus comes to wake you up.”

“nnn… stay… wait until i’m awake, then shower.” He attempts to bargain. You roll your eyes, kiss his forehead, and slide out of bed, feeling only a little self conscious, and hustle to the en suite bathroom, grabbing clothes haphazardly on the way. Twenty minutes later, you feel like a brand new, only mildly sinful person.

That illusion is shattered when you bump into Undyne downstairs in the kitchen, because she just takes one look at you and smirks.

“Had a good night?” She drawls. You manage a frown for about point two seconds, then nod, blushing, unable to help yourself. She gives you her widest, toothiest grin. “Because… I mean, it sounded like you had a pretty good night.” She says, so sweetly it makes your teeth hurt.

“NO.” You groan, slapping your forehead. Oh, fucking hell, that is furiously embarrassing.

“Yeah.” She says, smiling (impossibly) wider.

“Did… Paps?” You manage. She shakes her head quickly.

“Stayed up with Mettaton all night, don’t worry. Bacon?” Well that’s a small relief. And bacon sounds pretty damn good. You nod slowly, trying to determine if you’re irritated at her eavesdropping - or if it even was eavesdropping, or if you’re just embarrassingly loud - and are just grabbing a cup of coffee when Mettaton walks in, looking quite serious.

“________, darling, does anyone know your driveway gate combination that isn’t present here?” He says, sounding like he’s trying a little too hard to be casual.

“Uh, no. Why?” You say quickly. He grimaces.

“I was in the sunroom doing yoga, and I noticed a car coming down the driveway.”

“What?” Very quickly, you walk towards the front of the house, clutching your hot coffee like a lifeline, and squint out the window. There, parked next to Undyne's car, is a shiny red Mercedes Benz.

“Do you know who’s that is?” Undyne asks over your shoulder. You grimace.

“I’ve got a pretty good idea.” You say, scowling. Just then, the driver’s side door opens. Ugh, even from a distance, you’d recognize that permanently sour face anywhere.

“Aw, hell no!” Undyne spits. You grimace, watching her shuffle forward down the front path to the door, like every step is specifically inconveniencing her and her alone.

“Ugh. Horrid. Do you want me to get rid of her, love?” Mettaton sighs. You think for a second, then shake your head.

“No. Better find out what she wants.” You whisper. “Besides.” You give the two of them a very sardonic smile. “It would be rude to turn away family.”

Chapter Text

The doorbell rings, and your feeling of determination sinks slightly. Ugh, you just… you don’t want to have to interact with her at all. She was the one who made this choice, though, you remind yourself, she was the one who had gone on national TV and tried to humiliate you. You had merely responded.

“Want me to answer it?” Undyne asks, when the bell rings again. You groan, and shake your head, setting your coffee down on a table in the sunroom adjoining the foyer.

“No. Better go get her. Where’s Papyrus and Alphys?”

“Asleep in the TV room, still.” Mettaton says quietly. “Do you want me to wake them?”

“No, no, I just want to make sure that Paps isn’t around if she starts saying awful stuff, okay?” You say. “Can you guys make sure that she doesn’t get to him?” There’s the sound of barking outside, and you grimace. L.D.’s found her. Oh, god, just stay doglike, L.D., you beg mentally, walking quickly over to the foyer, trailed by Mettaton and Undyne. You swing the door open just before she’s about to ring again, having scooched as physically far away from Lesser Dog as possible while still being on the front step. L.D. is growling softly, and Paula looks a strange combination of terrified and disgusted. Well, she always kind of looks disgusted, that’s nothing new.

“L.D., c’mere.” You urge, and he shoots Paula one last withering look before trotting inside on all fours, wiping each paw neatly on the carpet and sitting by Undyne’s feet. Paula follows this with her eyes, the scowl in her jowly face etching deeper when she realizes that you’re not alone, and who your guests are. Then, of course, she manages a smile.

“_________. Sweetie. It’s been too long.” She says, and before you know it, she’s hugging you. She smells like baby powder and something else, like the stale, spilled beer scent of a recycling center. L.D. growls again, and Undyne mutters something foul under her breath. Your arms stay locked at your sides, refusing to touch her more than necessary.

“Aunt Paula. Wow. I really didn’t figure I’d be seeing you ever again.” You say, stepping back the second it’s feasible to do so. She frowns at you. Oof, these last few years have been rough on her. The last time you’d seen her, she’d still been young and somewhat fit, but now… well, it’s worst in her face. That permanently puckered sour lemon expression has etched deep lines around her mouth; it’s a face that’s most comfortable frowning.

“But sweetie, we’re family.” She says, that old familiar tune. “I was so hurt, when you stopped reaching out.” You goggle at her, astonished.

“Me? Stop reaching out? Paula, you changed your phone number and moved away with my money!” You exclaim bitterly, then shake your head when she gasps, like she’s never been so insulted. “Don’t do that. Don’t act like this is a surprise or an exaggeration. Let’s just be honest. Tell me why you’re here, and we’ll get this over with.” You scowl.

She glares at you for a second, then says, “Sweetie, you said some very hurtful things about me on television the other day. I’m going to need you to schedule another interview and say they aren’t true.” You let out a wild laugh.

“Like hell I am.” You say, crossing your arms. God, she’s a big woman, sure, but she seems so much smaller than she was when you were ten! “I told the truth and you know it. You can’t even say that I lied, there’s records at the bank showing where all the money went. I’m sure I could find records of the report my teacher filed too.”

“Yeah, face it, you’re done making money off of her.” Undyne can’t help but interject. Paula gives the three of you a sickly smile.

“You shouldn’t be hanging around with those things, sweetie. You sleep with dogs, you end up with fleas, I’ve always told you that.” Finally, you begin to feel something other than disbelief that she has the nerve to show up here.

“These are my friends. You don’t call them ‘things.’ You don’t talk to them, understand?” You snap, feeling your hand form a fist. “They might be monsters, but they’re more human than you are, you piece of-”

“You should be very careful what you say.” She hisses. “Do you know what I am now? Do you know what I do?” Her tone is so deadly, you actually fall quiet. “You think I don’t recognize these … monsters you’re consorting with, and god knows what else? I saw them all on TV, all your new friends, the day they tore the barrier down and swarmed out like army ants. They’re all friends. All thick as thieves with that big cow. You know her, I’m sure. The disgusting filth that stole my baby.” She spits.

You can’t help it, you take a step backwards.

“What?”

“Wait, what?” Undyne repeats, astonished.

“heh.” There’s a new voice from the top of the stairs, but you can’t even spin to look at Sans, still trying to process this news. You can hear him walking slowly down the stairs to join your small group. “you know, i’ve been waiting for a long time to meet you.” He’s saying casually. Paula looks up over your shoulder, her face going a little pale.

“You.” She spits. “You’re the worst one of all of them. Always on the news, those disgusting bones all over my baby. When I get ‘em back, I’m going to have you murdered for touching them, you freak, I’m going to have every bone of your body smashed, you and that other one-”

“NO.” You snap, stepping forward again. “Paula, I’m warning you-”

“y’know, it took a long time for the kiddo to open up and talk to me.” Sans is saying. “long time, before they’d explain why a kid like them would take off up the mountain in the middle of the night, even knowing that kids had disappeared up there. took a hell of a long time to admit why they wanted to disappear, why they fell down with nothing but dirty clothes and a dirty bandage.” He’s next to you now, speaking a little louder over the growl of L.D., who sounds furious.

“Oh, holy hell.” Mettaton breathes, suddenly understanding.

“Frisk?” Undyne whispers, and there it is again, that rare crackle of magic from her, and you don’t need to turn around to know that there’s a spear in her hand.

“Guys. Don’t hurt her.” You mutter softly. Sans is all toothy smiles next to you, and Paula’s suddenly looking like she bit off a bit more than she could chew, herself.

“kid said their mom was embarrassed to have a deaf kid. took ‘em out of school ‘cuz it cost too much. stopped learning signs when they were just five. frisk was so embarrassed.” He says. “must have felt like their own mom chopped out their tongue, ya know?” He shuffles his weight to the other foot, arching an eyebrow. “took ‘em a few more months to admit why they were so good at dodging. suppose it must have been almost like a vacation, underground, when your mom’s always trying to beat the shit out of you topside.”

You reel. All of this is just so much, all at once. Frisk is Paula’s kid. Of course Frisk is Paula’s kid, Frisk is a kid from Mt. Ebott who fell down and had absolutely nobody looking for them. You should have realized it, should have realized that Paula hadn’t been cut out to be a mom the last time you’d seen her, her belly swollen and her eyes dull and resentful? How many people as shitty as Paula could there possibly be in this town, that a kid in their charge could disappear and nobody would notice. Hell, it had happened to you too!

“You think anyone’s going to believe that? All I need to say is that you freaks brainwashed my baby with your magic, and I’ll have Frisk back, just like that. Unless…” She drawls. Your heart plummets. Here it is, the catch. You should have seen this coming.

“What do you want.” You spit.

“The house.” She says easily. “It’s mine, rightfully, anyway, your parents left it to me-”

“They left it to me!” You snap. “They asked you to take care of it while I was a kid, because my dad was dumb enough to think that even his jealous little sister had some good in her!”

“They left it to me.” She repeats, as if you hadn’t said anything at all.

“y’know.” Sans interjects. “i was pretty messed up, when _________ told me what you did to her. i couldn’t imagine a human leaving a little kid on their own like that. combined that with what frisk told me and i was starting to have a pretty low opinion on how humans care for their kids. but, hey, now it makes sense. kind of a gift, knowing it’s always been you.” He says, smiling so big, so insincere, that it almost hurts you to look at him, his eyes as black as the space between stars. Paula twitches slightly, recoiling even as she tries to look aloof and menacing. Your boyfriend can be a terrible thing to witness, on occasion.

“I’ll give you some time. Let’s say until New Years, to pack up. If you’re not out by then, I’ll go to the courts, tell them I’m Frisk’s mom, and that I was scared that the freaks would hurt me. Or worse, my poor baby.” She pronounces deliberately. “You’re always trying to do the right thing, ________. If you really think I’m such a bad person, the last thing you’ll want is me getting my baby back. Give me my house, and an interview clearing my name from all the terrible things you’ve said about me, and we’ll call it even.”

“Sans, Undyne, don’t.” You say quickly, feeling, rather than seeing, them both preparing to eviscerate her. Undyne growls, and Sans looks plaintively over at you, just begging you to change your mind. You’re incredibly tempted. “Get the hell out of here, Paula.” You snap, before your good sense leaves you. “I’m not giving you shit. If you’re smart, you’ll forget you had the guts to come here and ask me any of this.”

“New Years.” She repeats. “I’ll be waiting.” She backs slowly out of the still open door and shuts it with a very final slam.

“You’re not giving up the house.” Undyne says quickly.

“Absolutely not, darling.” Mettaton adds, pacing forward. “Oh, that… beast!”

“‘m actually gonna kill her.” Sans says, matter of factly. You roll your eyes.

“No you’re not.” You say, gritting your teeth as your mind churns sluggishly. “Oh, god, I need to call Toriel. Like, right now.”

“I’ve got her number.” Undyne says, then blinks. “_________, Frisk is your cousin!” You take a deep breath, trying to process this.

“This is a lot.” You mutter. “Jeez, I suppose I couldn’t ask for a better cousin, huh…”

“neither could frisk.” Sans says. “________, don’t do anything stupid, okay?” You turn to look at him and are surprised when Undyne and Mettaton and even Lesser Dog all nod in agreement.

“What?” You sputter.

“We know you.” Undyne drawls. “It would be just like you to give up your house so that Frisk doesn’t have to go through anything more.” You open your mouth to snap at her, then close it again, slowly. Damn it. Damn her.

“She’s not going to win this time, love.” Mettaton says softly.

“you recorded all that, right, bud?” Sans checks with Mettaton. Mettaton nods, and you realize why the robot had been so quiet; he’d been attempting to gather evidence.

“Naturally, but the cow didn’t admit to a blasted thing.” He sighs, running a hand through his glossy hair.

“still, that’s a threat, what she said. we can use that, probably.” Sans is muttering. He pauses for a second, looking up at you, and you’re relieved to see the light back in his eyes. “you know, it would be so easier if everyone just looked the other way and i dunked on her.”

“No dunking.” You and Undyne say simultaneously, and share a small smile.

“Wow. I have a cousin though. I have a blood relative that I like.” You whisper, a little giddy all of a sudden, before your heart plummets. “Oh, god, Frisk is going to hate me, I brought their mom back in the picture -”

“Hey. No. Paula did that.” Undyne says. “If we’re not allowed to blame ourselves for the things that people have done to you, then you’re definitely not allowed to blame yourself for this, right?” She glares at you, until you nod reluctantly.

“Right, right. I need to see Toriel and Frisk. This is big. I need to talk to them both face to face.” You whisper. “Oh, I feel so bad, breaking bad news on Christmas Eve, they’re probably so excited…”

“Darling, you’ll be giving Frisk a wonderful present.” Mettaton says, resting a cool hand on your back. “They’ve been hurt so badly, and now they’ll know that there’s humans in their family who’ll love them.” You take a deep breath, trying to see things this way.

“he’s right.” Sans mutters. “frisk always knew that their mom might pop up again. they’ve been waiting for a long time, for the other shoe to drop. it’ll be a relief, to know for sure what she’s planning on doing.” You take a deep breath, looking at him.

“I’m gonna need your help, talking to them. I need to make sure I’m being clear, and my signs just aren’t there yet.” You say, your head spinning with a thousand different thoughts. “Oh, god, there’s so much I need to tell Frisk. I need to tell them that it wasn’t their fault, that their mom has always been like this… I need to tell them about their aunt and uncle, and how much they would have loved Frisk…” You say, breathing quickly, then realize; “I think I need to sit down.”

“hey, hey. ‘s ok.” Sans whispers. “c’mon, undyne will ask frisk and tori to come over, you and i can grab some coffee and think about what you wanna say, okay?” He checks. You nod slowly. Coffee. Coffee would be good. You only get one run at this conversation. “k. mettaton, can you wake up my brother and alphys and tell ‘em what’s up.”

“Of course, darling.” Mettaton pats Sans’ shoulder absently as he walks deeper into the house, and you have to smile a little. You like it when they get along.

“c’mon, babe.” Sans urges. “forget her. we’re gonna think of something, all of us.” He tugs your hand, and you nod, watching Undyne pull up Toriel’s number on her phone over your shoulder as he leads you towards the kitchen. They all say Frisk isn’t going to hate you, and they all say that you shouldn’t give up the house to Paula to make this easier on your poor cousin.

God, you hope they’re right.

Chapter Text

You collapse on one of the barstools in the kitchen, putting your elbows up on the counter. Sans, eager to make himself useful, hurries to get you a mug of coffee and a plate with bacon and a slice of quiche on it. God, the monsters all make such good food. Toriel makes amazing food, snail pie notwithstanding. Frisk is going to be so upset that their human relative is such a disappointment-

“hey.” Sans says quickly. You glance up at him. He’s looking at you, worried.

“What?” You say quietly, your brow knitting.

“you don’t, uh… look okay.” He mutters. “what can i do? can i fix it? let me fix it.” You narrow your eyes at the anxious skeleton, suddenly certain that he’s been watching your soul, and feeling pretty certain that it’s cheating, being able to see exactly when you’re freaking out the most.

“You can’t fix it.” You say softly. He frowns. “I’m just… anxious. And upset. God, I hate her!” You hiss. He steps closer to you, and very tentatively touches your back.

“she’s the worst human i’ve ever met. almost.” He mutters.

“Sans.” You sigh, and reveal your biggest concern, the one that’s been building since Paula spoke to you. “I could have stopped her from hurting Frisk. When I was younger, if I’d had the guts, if I’d realized she probably was just all talk, that she wouldn’t hurt Ghost if I talked to the authorities-”

“no.” He says firmly. “you can’t do that. it’ll drive you nuts. you can’t go back and play ‘what would have been.’” He’s looking very seriously at you, more serious than you think you’ve ever seen him. “time is weird, ________. trust me. you can’t predict how a choice will change things. you just have to do what seems right, and hope for the best.” You open your mouth to argue, but he shakes his head. “you’re going to have to trust me, babe.” He whispers. “i might not be much older than you, but i have played this game you’re playing for lifetimes. i told you before. time, space, they’re all mixed up together. it’s like this big weird soup.” You look at him, raising an eyebrow. “you can’t wonder what things would be like if you just changed that one thing.” He whispers passionately. “not if you’re not able to change it. and frisk…” He takes a deep breath.

“look, frisk is special. frisk is very, very special. i don’t know how they’re the way they are, but… the kid sees a lot. they never give up, either. if frisk wanted things to work out differently, if they wanted you to have done something different, i really don’t doubt that they woulda done it.” He says, gritting his teeth. God, you just can’t understand what he’s trying to say, and you feel so bogged down with your concerns right now that you don’t even know what questions to ask.

“I still keep thinking Frisk is gonna hate me.” You say unhappily, feeling determined not to let this message sink in.

“the kiddo’s gonna love knowing that you’re their cousin. you’re easy to love.” Sans says, totally focused. You think about that, then take a gulp of coffee, trying to process your emotions while your face is hidden behind the mug.

“__________! METTATON SAYS THAT YOU’RE FRISK’S COUSIN! WHAT WONDERFUL NEWS!” Papyrus comes charging in as you’re still hiding. You grimace and put the cup down. Sans is watching him, but doesn’t interject.

“You think Frisk is going to think so, Paps?” You ask him, smiling in spite of yourself when you look at him; he’s got Ghost perched on his shoulder like a parrot, and Ghost is rumbling with purrs. Your cat is so happy ever since all these people arrived. It’s funny, you never thought of him as being lonely, you thought he liked it that way. Then again, you thought much the same about yourself.

“OBVIOUSLY.” Papyrus says, a note of superiority in his voice. “HUMANS CAN BE SO SILLY, SANS.” You look at him, seeing the expression on his face, like you’re missing something that’s totally obvious, and sigh, smiling a little.

“You’re a really great friend, Papyrus.” You murmur.

“THE GREAT PAPYRUS IS A GREAT EVERYTHING!” Papyrus says, grinning, but then he very carefully pats your head, the way he would with Lesser Dog. Ghost takes the opportunity to jump onto the counter from his shoulder, and immediately begins butting in on your bacon, stealing the entire strip from your plate. Oh, hell, he can have it. You smile at the cat, but Sans is frowning.

“you gonna eat?”

“Mhm.” You say, taking another sip of coffee. “Are you?” He squints at you, but he can’t get away with lecturing you for not eating if he’s doing the same thing, and he knows it.

“fine.” He pulls up the stool next to yours, sliding the quiche in front of him and grabbing a slice with his bare hand. Pointedly, he takes a bite, and you feel sorry for a second, thinking about the effort it probably takes for him to have to digest human food. Then again, he’d said he needed to eat, he just didn’t like the process… you grimace, and take a bite of your own slice. It’s wonderful.

“Sans, did you make this?” You ask, feeling a little perked up already. “It’s really good!” Sans blushes slightly, and Papyrus laughs.

“YOU DON’T NEED TO BE SO NICE TO HIM, HE KNOWS IT’S STUPID TO MAKE A PIE OUT OF EGGS AND HAM.” Papyrus insists, petting your head again.

“‘s called a quiche, bro. tori taught me, i’ve showed you so many times-”

“EGGS BELONG IN CARBONARA! NOT PIES!” Papyrus insists, and you grin, particularly when Sans reaches over and begins rubbing your back once more. It’s hard to wallow when you have people like these.

----------------------------

You sit there, munching through two slices of quiche - Sans admits that it’s more fusion cuisine, half human food, half magic - until the doorbell rings.

“THAT MUST BE FRISK AND TORIEL!” Papyrus sounds delighted. You feel… well, anxious, in spite of yourself and all the encouragement Sans and Papyrus have given you.

“‘s gonna be fine.” Sans says. “c’mon, we got this.” He hops down from the stool and leans up to give you a quick kiss when you do the same. You give him an anxious smile, then walk quickly towards the door - you don’t want to leave them waiting outside, especially with the photographers outside the fence.

You open the door, and Toriel and Frisk are there, waiting for you, both looking a little worried. Toriel steps forward at once, wrapping you in a hug that’s so maternal that it almost makes you sniffly.

“My child.” She says quietly. “Undyne called and said that you had something very important to tell both of us. We came as soon as we could.” You take a deep breath.

“Yeah. I do. Please, come in.” You urge. They do so, Frisk stomping the snow off their boots with big, exaggerated leaps that make Toriel frown and you grin in spite of yourself. You glance over your shoulder, and feel a bit of relief when you see Sans waiting for you. “Is it okay if Sans helps me out with this? My signing isn’t there yet.” You murmur. “And I don’t want you on translation duty, Toriel, this is about you, too.” Toriel nods quickly. “We should probably be sitting down.” You say, after a moment’s thought. “I’m sorry, I’m being really rude, I should be offering you tea or something-”

“Not at all, child.” Toriel says, and Frisk nods. “We both just want to know what has you upset.” Frisk tugs on Toriel’s sleeve and signs, their fingers a blur.

“kiddo’s saying that they want to make it better, whatever’s wrong.” Sans translates, at your elbow. You smile at Frisk.

“Me too, buddy.” You say, then nod towards the very rarely used sitting room. “Here, let’s sit down and talk.” The two monsters and Frisk follow you in, and Toriel and Sans choose stern floral armchairs to sit in, while Frisk hops up next to you on the loveseat. You hesitate, then look at the small collective.

“I hope I can say this right.” You say, and clear your throat. “Frisk, Toriel, I don’t know how much you’ve been told about me. A lot of my personal life has been leaked on the news, but… just in case, let me tell. I grew up in this house, with my mom and dad.” You say quietly, feeling Toriel and Sans’ eyes on you, Frisk’s eyes glued not to Sans, who is signing along, but to your mouth, reading your lips. “They died, when I was a little older than you, Frisk.” You whisper. “And my aunt, she was supposed to take care of me. She, uh, she didn’t, though. She stole my parents money, and left me on my own for months at a time, and, um, when she got pregnant, she left me for good. Her name … god, I’m so sorry, it was Paula _______.” You whisper. For a second, there’s silence, then Toriel whispers,

“But… that’s what Frisk told me their mother was… OH.” Realization strikes, and her eyes go round and wide. You only look at her for a second, but you’re more concerned with Frisk at the moment. They’ve stopped moving, and are staring at you, chalk white, their mouth hanging slightly open. There’s a long second where nothing happens, then Frisk gulps and begins to sign. Sans is watching.

“uh, the kiddo wants to know if she… hurt you. if she threw things at you.” He whispers roughly. You swallow, and nod at frisk.

“Yeah. God, I’m so sorry, Frisk, I keep thinking-” You stop talking as Frisk sniffs, then launches into a fury of signing.

“then you know.” Sans translates, while Toriel gapes at you. “you know what she was like, you know why i left, you know-”

“It wasn’t your fault, Frisk.” You say quickly. “No matter what anyone says, it wasn’t your fault, she’s always been like that, and I’m never, ever, ever going to let her hurt you again, okay? Over my dead body. I will never let that happen, sweetie, from now on you’ve got a family member who’s gonna look out for you-”

“Cousin.” Toriel whispers. “You’re my child’s cousin.” You meet her eyes, and see them swimming with tears.

“I am.” You murmur. “I’m so sorry, Frisk, I didn’t know any more than you did, but I’m here now, okay, and I’m going to be here for you for as long as you want me around-” You’re cut off as Frisk scrabbles forward, almost on all fours, across the loveseat to sling their arms around your neck, clinging tightly to you. You gasp, then hug Frisk tightly, feeling the slight body shake as they hold onto you with all their might.

“I’m gonna be there for you.” You whisper, knowing Frisk can’t see.

“she’ll be there, bud.” Sans translates quietly. “she’s your family and she’s nothing like your mom, and she understands what you’ve been through.” Well, that’s a bit of editorializing, but you don’t care, you’re so happy that Frisk is happy right now, all you want to do is hug the little squirt forever. Frisk breaks away with a little sniff, and does a sign you recognize, crossing their arms over their chest, then pointing at you. You give them a crooked, slightly teary smile. It’s funny, crying right now doesn’t feel at all shameful, and you wonder, very briefly, if Sans had done anything when he handled your soul to make you feel so okay with this overpouring of emotion.

“I love you too, Frisk.” You whisper. “I don’t know you very well yet, but I’m going to be the family you deserve, okay? I’m going to tell you all about the family you never got to meet, and I’m going to go to your school plays and your science fairs and I’m going to be a part of your life, as long as your mom’s okay with it.” You remember Toriel, and look up at her. She’s sniffling too, but then she jumps out of her chair and grabs you both up in a hug, one under each arm, and holds you tight.

“What a wonderful gift.” She says. “What a wonderful, wonderful gift.”

You don’t care that your feet can’t touch the ground, not when you’re being hugged like you haven’t been hugged since your mom passed. “Oh, my children.” She’s whispering. “I am so glad that you have found each other. I am so very glad.”

You smile faintly against the crushed velvet of her robes, then pull your face away, remembering something.

“Toriel, wait, there’s more.” You say urgently.

“Oh!” Toriel sets you and Frisk back down on the couch, and settles back in her seat almost instantly. She’s so light on her feet, even despite her size, but right now, you’re so far beyond jealous that she and Sans are close, and that she’s warm and graceful and all the things you tell yourself you aren’t. Hell, you’re glad - it’ll be a lot easier if Frisk’s mom already loves your boyfriend, and right now, all you can think of is how to be a good family to Frisk.

“Paula showed up on my doorstep this morning and told me all of this.” You say, reaching out and rubbing Frisk’s back absently as you talk. “She, uh, she must have run out of my parents’ money, because she showed up… god, I’m so sorry. She said I should give her this house, or she’d try to fight for custody of Frisk in court.” You murmur. “Look, look, if it were just me, I’d do it in a heartbeat, okay, I want the world for you, Frisk, but Papyrus and Sans live here too and -”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Toriel says, sitting up straight. “Oh, that cow, she thinks she’ll kick my niece out of her home!?” She stamps a foot, as you try not to grin yourself absolutely silly.

Niece.

“Absolutely not, not in a billion years!” Toriel is continuing. “I am the Queen of all monsters, am I not? And I have the finest lawyers, and the most gold, and my dear friend the king, and I will never, ever bow to a bully like that!” She says, indignant. Frisk is nodding, their adorable bob basically a blur as they make their agreement with that sentiment clear. “Don’t you worry, _______! She’ll regret the day she tried to mess with my family!” She says, a fire in her eyes, and Frisk hops off the couch to hop on her lap and hug her tight, then jumps down to do the same to you, staying perched on your lap after they slack off from the hug.

“Really?” You whisper. “You’re not mad?”

“Never, my child.” Toriel says, and Frisk shakes their head urgently. “We both know how she is, and we are never going to be bullied by her again, and neither are you!”

A slow, disbelieving smile crosses your face, growing bigger and bigger as Frisk pats your back and Toriel smiles at the two of you and Sans winks very slowly.

“Well. In that case.” You say, feeling like you’ve been absolutely wrung out. “Would you all like some cocoa?”

--------------------------------

It takes you a long time to make it to the kitchen - Toriel keeps hugging you, and Frisk is riding on your back, and you’re just dizzy with relief and happiness. Sans decides to give you some time to yourself, saying,

“better go tell everyone the good news.” He leans up towards you and you kiss him without thinking, then turn beet red when you feel Toriel and Frisk looking at you. Frisk gives you a very mischievous grin once Sans has left, and hops off your back - they’re insisting on making the cocoa themselves. Toriel, too, has a twinkle in her eye, and she takes your hand, sitting down at the kitchen table with you while Frisk bangs around in your fridge and cabinets, finding milk and cocoa and sugar and a big pot to mix it in.

“Well, it seems that there’s plenty of good news to go around, my niece.” She says, smiling. “Oh, goodness, Frisk has been calling him Uncle Sans, but that might be a bit confusing now!” You inhale sharply, and then when Toriel breaks out in tinkling laughter, you can’t help but do the same.

“I, um, I care for him very much.” You admit, still blushing.

“Yes, I can tell.” Toriel says happily. “Oh, wonderful, I was beginning to worry the two of you hadn’t figured it out when we all had dinner together. Not that that rogue, Mettaton, was helping any!” She beams at you, and you duck your head.

“Honestly, um?” You hear yourself saying, quite in spite of your better judgment. “I thought that maybe you and Sans were, uh…” You trail off, and Toriel blushes prettily, the pink shining through the white fur of her face.

“Goodness, no! He’s much too young for me!” She laughs, shaking her head. “Then again, there are very few people who aren’t…”

“Then you and the king, you aren’t…” You start, then trail off, seeing Frisk nodding eagerly, and Toriel shaking her head.

“To be honest, dear one, I’m uncertain how to proceed in that regard.” Frisk is signing urgently, and Toriel shakes her head. “Oh, I know what you think, love.” She mutters. “But I… oh, I don’t know. Frisk, do stir gently!” She scolds, then glares as Frisk puts down your wooden spoon to sign. “Undyne doesn’t know everything, child!” She says. Frisk sighs, then begins to stir again with exaggerated slowness.

Once the cocoa is done, Frisk sits down right next to you and begins to ask questions. You sip out of your mug and answer as best as you can, all about what your mom and dad were like, what it was like growing up on your own, how you and Ghost got by, the things you wish you’d been there to see, or that Frisk could have seen. After a while, Toriel has to make a phone call, but she calls Sans in to translate, and Sans picks up right where Toriel had left off. Soon, all the monsters are gathered round in the kitchen, listening. They’re the perfect audience; they laugh at all the happy stories, frown or grumble at all the sad ones. They have questions, too, about growing up human and not having magic, that they’ve all been too shy to ask, so you do your best to entertain them all.

After that, it’s your turn. You ask about the underground, about how Frisk had ended up there, and bit by bit, piece by piece, you get the tale of the nightmare that Frisk had faced when helping earn freedom for the monsters. Nearly everyone present is a little emotional when you’re interrupted, once again, by the doorbell.

“Oh god, what now.” You mutter. Toriel sits up straighter, brightening slightly.

“Oh, wonderful, that must be my attorney!”

“Oh! Gosh, that was fast! I’ll let him in!” You say, standing up.

“I’ll go with you, darling, just in case.” Mettaton murmurs, detaching from the group. Sans gives him a skeptical look, but then nods, perhaps demonstrating how much trust the robot has gained in the past few days. Mettaton and you walk quickly through the quiet house as you interrogate him.

“Do you know who this attorney is?” You mutter.

“No, sweet. It could be anyone, I suppose. Nobody dares to turn the queen down, so I imagine she has the best legal representatives imaginable.” Mettaton murmurs, and stops before the door. You shrug, and swing it open.

It’s a monster. Well. It’s a cat. Well, it’s a cat monster.

He’s tall, and well built, and wearing Ray-Bans and an immaculate gray suit, a perfectly crisp white shirt, a pitch black tie. His black leather shoes gleam. He’s smiling at you, a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, a briefcase in his paw, but the smile fades slightly when he sees Mettaton. He drops the cigarette on the slate paving stones, grinding it out beneath one perfect shoe, and steps inside.

Mettaton, for once, is speechless. Looking at him, you see the face of someone who’s just experienced a terrible, terrible shock.

“_________. So glad to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you on the news.” The monster is saying, extending his paw. You grasp it after a second, and he shakes your hand commandingly. “Mettaton.” The monster adds, after a moment, nodding at the robot.

“B-b… Burgerpants?” Mettaton stammers. The cat smiles, a hungry, irritated smile, and removes his sunglasses.

“Actually.” He pronounces clearly. “It’s Lawyerpants, now.”

Chapter Text

“Burgerpants-” Mettaton attempts, still looking pale and astonished.

Lawyerpants.” The cat says levelly.

“B-but, darling, it’s barely been a year, how on earth did you-”

“I. Worked. Hard.” Lawyerpants says, his eyes flashing for a second. Suddenly, you realize just how irritated he is to be in Mettaton’s presence. Mettaton, on the other hand, has lost all composure entirely, and is looking at the cat like a drowning man must look at a lifeguard.

“Well, naturally, love, you always were a hard worker…”

“Was I?” Lawyerpants says softly, arching an eyebrow, then turns back at you, a cool smile on his face. “In any event, Queen Toriel called me and gave me the basics of your situation. I’m more than happy to do any preemptive work, just in case your aunt makes the decision to follow through on her threat.” He shakes his head slowly at the thought of the blackmail. “Mettaton, incidentally, I’ll need any footage of the interaction you’ve recorded.” He deigns to give the robot a look.

“Oh! Oh, yes, certainly! What format would you-”

“Whatever is fine.” Lawyerpants says dismissively, his hand moving into his pocket for a cigarette and even producing the package before he remembers that he’s inside a house and that probably isn’t polite. He replaces it, then smiles toothily at you. “Sorry, old habits die hard.” There’s a soft, robotic sigh from behind you. “Would you mind showing me where Toriel is so we can get started?”

“Oh, yeah, sure. Right this way.” You say quickly, and begin to lead him through the mansion. He glances around with interest as he follows you, his eyes wide and alert. When he steps into the kitchen, he gasps, then gives a genuine smile with none of the polish from before.

“LITTLE BUDDY!” He exclaims. Frisk jumps down from the barstool they’re perched on and sprints over, a huge smile plastered on their face, to jump up into Lawyerpants’ arms. “OH, MAN, buddy!” Lawyerpants is saying, a thick purr under his voice - from this angle, you can see that he has a tail sticking out of his neat suit, which is twitching slightly. “It’s been way too long! You’re okay? You’re not still eating sequins, are you?” Frisk shakes their head quickly, and gestures at Toriel before signing rapidly. Lawyerpants bursts out laughing. “God, glad to hear it, little bud!” He says, then leans his head closer, listening to something you can’t hear as Frisk signs. “It was rough, buddy.” He admits. “Doing three years of law school in one year? Not easy. But hey, I got your drawings in the mail! Great hand turkeys, bud. I even know what turkeys are now!” He laughs, then shakes his head. “Don’t worry about it. I only got one ticket to invite someone to graduation, anyway, and they were a no-show, so…” He trails off, his tail thrashing once, and then he ruffles Frisk’s hair, before smiling at Toriel, regaining his professional appearance.

“I’m so glad you called, majesty. Things like this are why I went to school in the first place.” Toriel beams at him.

“Oh, we’re all so proud of you, Lawyerpants.” She says brightly. “And I just know you’ll be able to help us all with this mess.”

“That’s the plan, majesty.” He says with a cocky grin. “That’s the plan. Mind if I grab a cup of joe?” He asks you suddenly, looking covetously at the coffee machine, which still has some brew percolating on the hot plate. It’s reduced down to something just a few levels before sludge, but it’ll be strong, and Lawyerpants seems pleased by that.

“Oh, let me get it for you!” Mettaton says, practically tripping over himself to fix Lawyerpants a mug. Lawyerpants accepts it dismissively, then nods at you.

“Okay, _________. Let’s talk about your Aunt. Mind if we go somewhere private?” Lawyerpants clearly notices Sans and Mettaton exchanging a look, because he adds, “Sometimes it’s a little easier to tell the whole story if you don’t have to worry about an audience.”

“Oh. Yeah, that makes sense, sure thing.” You say with a smile, and wave at everyone. Sans grins and gives you a wave, Papyrus stares starry-eyed at the lawyer, and Mettaton practically drapes himself across the kitchen island to pass you a cup of coffee too. Oh, good, you’re gonna be extra caffeinated today. You’re getting the sense that you’ll need it.

-----------------------------

The interrogation goes on for what feels like forever. Lawyerpants is exacting. If he doesn’t think an answer is clear enough, he’ll push and push until he understands exactly how the event went down. By the time you’re done, he knows every single detail about your childhood with Paula, even the rough stuff. Especially, actually, the rough stuff. He makes it clear that even though it’s hard to talk about, the more info he has, the more ammunition against Paula you’ll be armed with. By the time you’re done, he has the contact information of your probate attorney, an external hard drive loaded with every financial document you’ve saved since you were little, and a very satisfied smile.

“Is that it?” You say, your throat feeling hoarse. He nods slowly.

“If I need anything else, I’ll call you.” He says, pulling out his cell phone and handing it to you. You shrug, and punch your number in. “Thanks so much, _________. You’ve done very well. I’ll keep you up to date, and you’ll do the same for me, right?” He checks. You nod and he smiles. “I’ll just go see Toriel and the kid on the way out.” He says, giving you another gleaming smile.

“Hey, uh, Lawyerpants? Can I ask you a question?” You ask, a little sheepishly.

“Shoot.” He says, giving a shrug. You scuff a foot on the ground.

“Seems like you’ve got a problem with Mettaton?” You mutter. His smile grows a little less sincere.

“Oh. Yeah.” He arches an eyebrow. “Back in the underground, he was my boss. Hence: Burgerpants.” He says, forming each syllable precisely.

You think hard about what it would be like to have Mettaton as a boss, then shiver. He smirks at you, all polished cool. “Don’t worry. The underground was a small place. Everyone knew everyone, almost. It’s not gonna get in the way of your defense, little b-... Er. _________. Sorry.” He suddenly gives you a flustered grin, and you realize that he’s the same age as you, more or less. You grin back at him, and he gives you a shrug, then clears his throat. Suddenly, that cool cat facade is back on his face, and he nods back towards the kitchen. “Shall we?”

“Sure, buddy.” You say, still grinning, and lead the way again.

----------------------------

Frisk is heartbroken to see Lawyerpants go. Toriel is calm and sympathetic and appreciative, particularly when Lawyerpants waives aside all talk of payment. “Cases like this, I take pro bono, majesty.” Sans elbows Papyrus.

“heh, thought we were the only pro boneo-s around here.”

Papyrus shrieks in dismay, and you do your best not to grin. Mettaton’s eyes dart between the brothers and Lawyerpants, an eager to please look on his face, as he gives a loud, false laugh at Sans’ joke. He’s clearly worked himself up to a lather while you’ve been gone, because he poses at least seven times on his way across the five feet of hardwood separating him from Lawyerpants.

“Well, just know, darling. You’re welcome back anytime.” His voice drops, low and seductive, and he gives Lawyerpants his best smouldering gaze. “Any. Time.

Lawyerpants stares at Mettaton, emotionless for a second, then shrugs and winks at Papyrus.

“Eh, that’s fine. I prefer to do most of my work online. Cooldude95 here knows what I’m talking about.”

“THAT’S ME! SANS, THAT’S ME! HE KNOWS WHO I AM!” Papyrus yelps, then, very coolly adds, “UH, OBVIOUSLY, EVERYONE KNOWS ME, I’M THE INTERNET COOL GUY.”

“‘S right, buddy.” Lawyerpants says with another wink. “Alright, all. Again. You call if there’s any problems, okay, you’ve got my number.” You nod, he shakes your hand again, and just like that, he’s gone, striding through the halls of your house like he knows it by heart.

“Hm. Fine!” Mettaton explains, and stalks over to a corner to sulk. Papyrus is looking at the doorway Lawyerpants had left through with starry eyes, as Frisk, Undyne and Toriel giggle. Sans looks at Papyrus, then the door, then Mettaton, then you.

“i like that guy.” He says, wonderingly, then gives you a very toothy grin. You roll your eyes, but smile back.

“Don’t be mean, bonehead. Mettaton’s all worked up.” You say, under your breath.

“Because my protege has cast me aside like yesterday’s fries!” Mettaton declares dramatically from the corner.

“Oh, j-jeez, Mettaton, it’s because you were a jerk to him when he worked for you!” Alphys groans, and when Mettaton looks tearily up at the small crowd for a defender, he has to launch into another sulk when nobody speaks up.

Undyne clears her throat. “Anyyyyway.” She says pointedly. “Oh, hey, _________, Toriel and Frisk can stay the night and have Christmas with us, right?”

“Undyne!” Toriel says, looking awfully embarassed. “Oh, goodness, __________, we didn’t mean to invite ourselves-”

“Hey, hey, please!” You say quickly. “The more the merrier, right! I’d be thrilled. Gosh, I need to go shopping, though, we were gonna have a big feast, right?”

“i’ll take-”

“I’ll take her.” Undyne cuts Sans off, narrowing her eyes. Sans looks affronted. “You had her all last night, it’s my turn.”

“not all last night.” Sans argues, then suddenly realizes the innuendo and blushes bright blue, burying his face in his hands as Undyne begins to chuckle unpleasantly, Mettaton lets out a watery giggle, and Toriel looks at all three of them like she doesn’t know who she should scold first. You’re eying the kitchen table, wondering if there’s enough room to hide under it, when Undyne speaks up.

“C’mon, don’t be a nerd. We’re great at shopping together, and I’m sure you guys need to do some wrapping, and Toriel and Frisk need to go grab clothes and invite Asgore-”

“What!?” Toriel says, shocked. Undyne grins at her, then puts on a contrite face.

“You don’t want the poor king, all alone, on Christmas.” She says melancholically, sticking out her lower lip in what she must think is a pout. Toriel opens her mouth, closes it, then opens it again.

“Goodness, I suppose I don’t.” She whispers, and Frisk nods eagerly, and signs. “Yes, I know Frisk. Oh, we’ll need to get that little computer Alphys made you so that poor _______ isn’t kept out of the loop.” She mutters to herself.

“HE KNEW I WAS THE INTERNET COOL GUY.” Papyrus mutters to himself. He’s totally in his own world of delighted admiration.

Mettaton lets out another groan of despair.

Sans glances up at you through his fingerbones, studying you even with the blush on his face. After a second, he sighs, then nods.

“me and paps need to wrap all our presents anyway. you guys go. be safe.” He cautions.

“Hah! I always am!” Undyne exclaims. “You ready for food shopping, loser!?” She seems so excited to go, you have to grin and laugh.

“Heck yeah.” You say, still grinning.

------------------------------------------------------------

“WELL?” You’re barely in her car before the barrage starts.

“Oh god.” You come to the slow realization. “You weren’t really psyched about shopping, were you.”

“I’m excited to have some hangtime with my bestie.” She says with a wide grin. “WELL?” She takes off down the road, and you groan.

“God, Undyne, what do you want to know?”

“Fuhuhu.” She laughs, smirking. “Was your first encounter with a skeleton to your satisfaction?” She grins wider after a moment. “What I’m saying is, were you, you know, satisfied?” She asks pointedly. You grit your teeth.

“Who says this is my first encounter with a skeleton?” You drawl.

“WHAT.” She nearly stops in the middle of the road, and you have to yelp.

“UNDYNE! JUST A JOKE!” She narrows her eyes at you.

“Don’t DO that to me, nerd!” She growls, and you have the, er, satisfaction, of getting to laugh while she’s all flustered. “Oh, that would be so weird if you’d already been with a skeleton!”

“Right, right, much weirder than being with one now.” You say skeptically, then shrug. “Gosh, I don’t know, Undyne. He’s… he’s the best.” You admit, looking down and smiling. Oh, he really, really is. She glances at you.

“Woah, we’re not talking sex stuff right now, are we?” She says. You flush. How is this more embarrassing than sex stuff?!

“Uh. No. Well, not just that.” You murmur, looking pointedly out the window.

“AWWWW! You LoOoOoOvE him!” Undyne crows. “Man, oh man, you’re so lucky you made friends with me so I could give him your number, I’m gonna make an awesome maid of honor! OH! I’m gonna be such a good godmom to your weird hybrid babies-”

“UNDYNE!” You cry, laughing. “Oh. My. God.” She’s laughing like a maniac, so much that you fear for a second you’ll have to take the wheel.

“What, you can be godmom to me and Alphys’ weird hybrid babies-” She finally attempts to say innocently, then loses it again, and you do too. Even when you’ve pulled into the parking lot, the two of you are laughing like maniacs for a good two minutes. “But seriously.” She finally breathes. “You and Sans-”

“Let’s not go crazy, okay?” You say quickly. “I mean, a lot has happened to me in these past few weeks. A lot. I don’t want to make bad choices or say something I’m not sure I mean, you know, just because everything’s moving so fast?” She looks sympathetically at you.

“It’s a wartime thing, I think. People get close when there’s a lot of outside threats. God knows I moved in with Alphys right away after the first attacks.” She says seriously. You blink. Wartime. God, you hadn’t been thinking of it like that. But then, suddenly, you laugh again.

“Oh, god, not as fast as Sans moved in with me, we weren’t even a couple yet! We’re barely a couple now!” You insist. She arches an eyebrow.

“Uh, as someone who got woken up by your, um, coupling, last night-” You groan, cutting her off.

“Just saying. I really, really care about him. And I don’t want to do anything stupid that might ruin this. I care about all of you.” You say, then give her a quick smile. “Hell, I’ve known you way more than long enough, I don’t feel weird about saying that I love you.” She rolls her eye, then processes this.

“Awh. Awh, man. Hang on, there’s um, there’s a thing in my eye.” She attempts. You blink, then grin.

“HA! You love me too!”

“SHUT UP, NERD!”

“You love me so much, you love your best friend, you want to be my maid of honor, you want to be my kids’ godddddmother!” You sing.

“__________!”

“Go on, don’t be a coward, say it!” You tease, delighted to have found the one thing that makes Undyne melt into the puddle of embarrassment that she so enjoys putting you in.

“Agh! I…. love you. YOU HAPPY, NERD?!” She demands, still flushed. You grin.

“Right now? Happier than I can ever remember being.” You say truthfully.

“Awh. MAN.” She sniffles again. “Gosh, you’re such a loser! Gah, let’s go shopping before you make me - before another thing gets in my eye!”

You grin like a wild woman the entire way through the parking lot.

Chapter Text

“So.” Undyne says, as the two of you prowl down the aisles. For just once, you’re going all out when it comes to food shopping; no looking at the unit prices, no immediately reaching for the store brand. You want to make one huge, perfect meal for your friends tomorrow (and a smaller, slightly less fancy one tonight), and you want it to just be fantastic, like… well, like you remember it used to be on Christmas.

“So?” You arch an eyebrow.

“So, what did you get your boyfriend for Christmas, did you figure that out? Cuz you nerds snuck off together and were gone all day, and since he barely lets you out of his sight, I can’t imagine you managed to shake him and buy something…” She says, grinning. You wince.

“Uh. Well, I didn’t get him a thing, exactly.” You admit. She pauses, then gives you a very broad wink.

“Gonna give him the gift of _______, huh? How’s he gonna unwrap that one under the tree?” She teases. You groan - though, hell, the thought had crossed your mind a few times, and you had already caught yourself thinking more than once about the upcoming night… It had been one thing, when neither of you had known what to expect, but now that you knew that all it took was a few minutes and his tongue to break your constantly overthinking brain into pieces like one of those chocolate oranges… Oh, it’s warm in here. It’s very warm in here. Undyne is smirking at you, seeing that your mind has drifted somewhere interesting.

“That is literally not at all what I said.” You say, composing yourself and stopping at the cheese counter. “Man, how many fancy cheeses do you think we need?”

“Like… a thousand?” Undyne says, grinning eagerly. You roll your eyes, and grab way too many, anyway. God, it’s fun to shop, for once, without a budget. Hell, your bonus can allow this indulgence. “Well, so then, what are you giving him?” She pesters.

“Nothing remotely sexy, god!” You laugh, seeing her eyebrow still raised. “You’ll just have to see when he opens it tomorrow!”

“Aw.” She pouts. “You know, you can give him something sexy too. Just saying. Just because you’ve got another gift, that doesn’t mean… Hey, can we get marshmallows and cook them in the fireplace tonight?!” Amazing. You were beginning to think that nothing could distract that mind when she’s focused on shipping, but apparently even Undyne has her weak spots.

“Obviously we’re doing that.” You say with a giggle. “We’d better make cookies with Frisk and Paps as soon as we get back too, I don’t want them to miss that. What does um, wow, what does the King eat?” It suddenly occurs to you that you’re going to need to cater to a pretty large appetite, presumably, if Asgore does come.

“Why so flustered? He’s a goober!” Undyne laughs. “Um, he likes snails, since Toriel likes snails. And butterscotch pie, since Toriel makes the hell out of that.”

“Oh, god, snails, I’d better go see if the seafood counter carries escargot…” You mutter. Undyne blinks.

“Humans eat snails too?” She says, astonished.

“Um, not frequently, around here anyway. Maybe in Paris. Good thing Mt. Ebott’s gotten so fancy from all this tourist money, a few years back this supermarket barely had fresh vegetables. Now, we might actually have a shot.” It’s true, Mt. Ebott’s always been a tourist destination, but this year, off-season just hadn’t happened, because the tourists weren’t coming for the sun and the beach anymore, they were coming to meet real live monsters and stare at the crater on the side of the mountain. At least the tourists were nice to monsters, more or less. They were just… tactless. Monsters weren’t like aquarium exhibits to be studied through glass, they were people!

The guy at the fish counter looks at the two of you, clearly startled, and you think to yourself that this guy seems like a prime example of someone who should learn tact, gaping at Undyne like that. Honestly, this is the biggest grocery store in town, he must have interacted with monsters before. You stare back at him for a second, pointedly, and he clearly remembers himself.

“Afternoon, ladies! Sorry, I didn’t expect to see any celebrities on my shift!” He says, giving you a (frankly, adorable) smile.

“What do you- Oh.” You duck your head, realizing that you’ve judged him wrong, and that he must recognize you from the news. Undyne snorts with laughter.

“She’s not used to the attention yet.” She explains for you, grinning affectionately at you. “It’s been a big few days.”

“Well, my boyfriend and I really, really appreciate you speaking up. I know it took a lot of guts.” He says, still beaming. He glances over his shoulder - you recognize that quick check to see if a manager is listening in, and warm to the cute redhead further. Luckily, you’re more or less on your own in this section of the store, so he feels free telling you, “My mom even called me yesterday. You know, she hadn’t, since I told her I was dating a monster. Being gay was one thing, but being with a monster…” He says, shaking his head. Undyne sighs, but then the young man brightens up. “But she said she saw you and Mettaton on the news, and she heard about what you were going through and she just felt awful. She said she realized that it must have been really rough on me, and that the heart wants what the heart wants, so she called and invited me and Aaron to dinner for Christmas!” He spills eagerly.

“Oh, hey, you’re dating Aaron, that’s awesome!” Undyne says, genuinely delighted. “We’re gym buddies!”

“Isn’t he the best?” The guy - his name badge says Tommy - sighs. “So cute. And such a gentleman.”

Undyne looks a little skeptical at this, and knowing that she’s not renowned for her tact, you speak up.

“Well, wow! Geez, I can’t believe so many people watched me! I’m so glad that I helped to get through to your mom. That’s awesome.” You say, feeling a little reassured that your first real interaction with a non-Frisk human after the interview is going so smoothly. (You’re not counting Paula in the human category any longer, since you’re pretty sure humans need to be warm blooded, or at least in possession of a heart). He grins at you, then gasps.

“Oh, gosh, here I am talking, you’re probably in a rush. What can I get for you?” He says, looking a little ashamed.

“Oh, it’s totally fine!” You assure him. “Honestly, that’s such wonderful news! But, uh, I was wondering… d’you have any escargot? I know, long shot….” He grins at you again.

“Cooking for the queen, huh? We’ve been ordering it in special for her. How much you need?”

“How much does she usually get?” You say, feeling relieved. He tells you. You whistle softly. That’s a lot of snails. “Okay. Uh, let’s be safe and triple that.”

“Heh. Think we might have just enough. You think the queen’s gonna be hungry?” He laughs. You shrug.

“Uh, the King of all monsters is coming to my house today too.” You say, and it’s his turn to let out a quiet whistle. Undyne rolls her eyes.

“Humans. So impressed with the title. It’s just Asgore, no biggie. He’s such a nice guy!” She says dismissively.

“We’re just not used to dealing with royalty. And Asgore is… impressive!” You laugh.

“He’s a stud.” Tommy sighs dreamily, then grins when Undyne snickers. “Okay, I’ll be right back.” Undyne grins, and then looks at the fish intently, picking out the ones she wants.

“I’m cooking dinner for everyone tonight. In the underground, we always ate fish on Christmas Eve, it’s a tradition.” She insists, and you chuckle, suspecting that she’s also angling to make sure she gets to eat her favorite food tonight.

“Sure thing. Maybe one of the things we, er, you cook, could be a puttanesca or something? You know, that spaghetti dish that has anchovies in the sauce? I want Papyrus to feel included.” You say, and she beams.

“Great idea.” Just then, Tommy returns with a large, heavy package of escargot wrapped in brown butcher’s paper.

“Anything else, ladies?” Undyne grins hungrily, and Tommy swallows.

Twelve more paper packages later, Undyne looks satisfied, Tommy looks a little intimidated, and you’re feeling more than a little relieved when Undyne turns to you and says, “Don’t worry. The fish is on me and Alphys.” She sees your brow furrow. “What’s the matter, dude?”

“I want to make an innuendo about the fish being on Alphys.” You whisper. “I want that so bad, you have no idea. And I just… can’t make it work.” You hiss, frustrated. Undyne tips back her head and roars with laughter.

“You can’t one-up the master just yet, nerd.” She says, transferring the packages into your cart.

“Anything else?” Tommy says cheerfully.

“Nah. Except, yo, idea! I haven’t seen your boyfriend since I switched to the university’s gym, I miss him! If you and Aaron want to come to our New Years Eve party at __________’s mansion, have Aaron text me okay? Name’s Undyne, he’ll know how to reach me.” She says, still grinning. Tommy looks surprised, then immensely pleased.

“Wow! Sure! Oh, and I’m, um, Tommy. Well, you guys can read, I’m sure you noticed.” He says, adorably awkward as he glances down at his nametag. “Oh, that’s so nice of you, Aaron will be psyched! Oh man, all my friends are gonna flip! See ya, you guys!” He waves at you, and you wave back.

“Thanks again!”

Once you’re out of eyesight, you tilt your head at Undyne.

“New Years Eve party?” You say. Undyne snickers.

“Oh, were you not going to have one?” She teases. “You really didn’t already start planning ringing in the New Year with your new friends and your new man?”

“Oh, shhh.” You scold, laughing. It’s a little presumptuous, sure, but the more you think about it, the wider your smile grows. “I haven’t had a party in ages, I mean, other than anime with you guys.” You admit with a shrug. “I think my last one had a clown and a pony. This could be fun. Oh, wow, I’ve never had a New Year’s kiss before! This is actually kind of exciting!”

“Knew it. And you’ll get to meet some more of our friends, and make some new ones. Like that human! It’s good for you to have human friends too, you know.” She says, matter of factly.

“That’s true, I suppose.” You muse. “He did seem like a sweetheart.”

“And imagine the look on Sans’ face when a cute human boy appears on your doorstep.” Undyne purrs. You cross your arms, looking at her.

“You’re obsessed.” You sigh. “You’re obsessed with drama.” She shrugs, not even the tiniest hint of guilt on her face.

“Don’t you think it’s hot when he’s a little possessive?” She inquires lightly. You clear your throat, glancing pointedly at the paper towel display behind her. Did you need paper towels? “Yup.” Undyne laughs. “Figured. You didn’t even bother to cover up that hickie this morning.” You think about this for a second, then your eyes go very wide and you slap your hand to your neck.

“OH NO. I FORGOT.” You exclaim, mortified. “Oh my god, Lawyerpants saw… oh, oh no, Toriel did too. AND FRISK! Oh jeez, I’m gonna kill that bonehead, I knew he was smiling about something all morning, oh gosh…”

“Hey, hey.” Undyne calms you. “It’s not as bad as it was yesterday. It’s easier to miss. And besides... you had fun getting it, right?”

“Of course I did, but… aw jeez. There’s not any new ones, are there?” You park yourself in the aisle, craning your neck each way so she can reassure you.

“None that I can see.” She says with a smirk. “Doesn’t mean there aren’t any more, I suppose, but they’re not obvious.”

“Oh my god.” You sigh, shaking your head. “Okay, okay. Let’s finish up, but we need to stop at the makeup section on the way out. I’m not leaving without concealer.”

--------------------------------------

It turns out, however, that even after you pick up the turkey and stuffing and rolls (and stuffed shells ingredients, and brussel sprouts, and a thousand other things that you both agree that you urgently need to have the best Christmas ever), even after the concealer, you have one more potential purchase, which you think of as you glance past the shampoo in the aisle and something catches your eye.

“Oh, gosh.” You mutter.

“What’s the matter?” Undyne says.

“Um... “ You nod at the display. Her brow furrows in confusion.

“What’s a… con-dom?” She pronounces, walking over and picking up a box.

Oh no.

“That’s not a thing monsters have?” You ask quickly. She shakes her head, flipping the box over.

“Uh, nope. What is it? Is it some sort of... “ She squints at the package. “I am… confused.” She mutters after a moment.

You grimace.

“Okay.” You say very quietly. “Um, how do monsters have babies?” She flushes slightly.

“Depends on the type of monster.” She says, looking at her feet.

“In general, then.” You try.

“Um… when two monsters love each other very much, and they decide to bring a precious young one into the world, they both exchange their, um, magic, and a tiny part of their soul, and a new soul grows from that, obviously, but it depends on if like, you lay eggs or if you’re warm blooded, or…” She trails off, grinning and blushing.

“But like, during sex, right?” You ask, very, very quietly, and she snorts.

“Uh, yeah, well, usually. I suppose technically you don’t have to have sex. Moldsmals don’t. Well, they don’t need another partner either, I suppose. But, in general… You have to be close enough to the other person to understand their soul enough to even begin to combine it with yours, I guess, and it’s the most fun, romantic way to to the magic exchange, in my opinion, but - I don’t know, I’ve never done it!” She stammers, then raises an eyebrow. “Why, how does it work with humans?”

You glance around to make sure, once again, that nobody’s even close to overhearing you, then tell her. She stares at you, wide eyed, for a long time, then yelps and drops the pack of condoms like it burned her.

“Bleah! WHY?!” She stammers, horrified. You shake your head.

“We don’t have magic, Undyne, we gotta make do with cells and stuff.”

“But, so like, anyone could just make a baby with anyone? By accident, even?!!” She says, shaking her head.

“Uh, yep.” You say. “That’s why there’s condoms.” You bend over and scoop up the package she’d dropped on the ground, feeling easily as embarrassed as Undyne. “So… you don’t think I’d need them, with Sans, if we-”

“Aw, jeez, dude. Better safe than sorry, get some! How many do you need?! Are they reusable?!”

“GAH, NO!” You laugh, horrified, then look at the packages. “I suppose I should, just to be safe. I’ve never actually bought them before, I don’t know…” You both stare at the wall of options, a little intimidated.

“They’re kinda arranged by size.” Undyne finally notes. Now that she’s gotten over her shock, it’s clear that she’s on the verge of giggles. “Do you know what size-”

“Uh, BIG.” You say immediately, without thinking, then make a quiet, desperate sort of scream into the hand you immediately slap against your mouth, as Undyne begins to snicker, her eyes wide.

“I am so happy we’re friends.” She finally mutters.

“This has been the most uncomfortable shopping trip of my entire life.” You reply, grabbing a box for the ‘well endowed gentleman” quickly and putting it in the cart. She grins at you very widely, obviously waiting, until you sigh and say,

“Yeah, yeah, I’m happy we’re friends too. Actually… thank god.” You admit, shaking your head. You’re not sure how you would have attempted to negotiate that purchase without her. You’ve still got some questions, and you’re pretty sure you’re buying something totally unnecessary, but she’s set your mind at ease, having a little better idea how this will work.

Then again, you suddenly recall, Sans isn’t exactly a monster, Sans is an eldritch being from beyond the realm of human comprehension, so maybe the same rules don’t apply, so….

Shaking your head again, you reach out and grab another pack.

Just in case.

-----------------------------------------

The trip home is uneventful, but you’re thrilled, upon your return, to be greeted with the smell of cookies baking, the sound of Christmas music in the air - oh, good, they’d figured out how to use your ancient iPod, hooked up to the formerly state of the art speaker system. Frisk and Toriel have beaten you back here, and Toriel wants to know where they should put their things.

“I TOLD THEM, I HAVE MANY, MANY ROOMS THAT THEY MAY CHOOSE FROM, BUT THEY INSISTED ON WAITING!” Papyrus grumbles.

“We just wanted to make sure we would be somewhere convenient.” Toriel says apologetically, smiling as Sans hops down from his seat on a barstool (where he’s been reading your Bio textbook from night school) to walk over and wrap his arm around you in wordless greeting, lips grazing your neck for a split second. That second is long enough to make you forget that you’d ever been mad at him for the bruise he’d left the other day, and it’s suddenly hard to remember what Toriel was asking.

Oh, right. Where do you put a queen? A queen who’s already determined she’s your adoptive aunt?

You take a deep breath, then release it. “Follow me, you two. I know where you should stay.” You say with a small smile.

It’s been ages since you’ve been up on the third floor. You just haven’t had a reason, except for the occasional nostalgic moment, where you go through your mom and dad’s photo albums and sit on their big bed and remember what it was like to be small and safe. Fortunately, it hasn’t gotten too terribly dusty up here - your parent’s will had that trust set aside for house maintenance, so a few times a year, the lawyer charged with maintaining the trust would hire a cleaning service to clean and inspect the house from top to bottom. Thank goodness he had, because that meant, when you opened the door to the master bedroom for Toriel, that you knew there were fresh linens on the bed, that all the lights worked still, that the bathroom was stocked with everything she’d need, and that the windows weren’t embarrassingly smudged or dingy.

“Oh, _____________!” Toriel gasps, walking in. “Oh, my, this is lovely!” You grin shyly.

“Uh, thanks. It used to be my mom and dad’s.” You say. “Since we’re kinda like family now-”

“We most certainly are family, my niece!” She says firmly. You grin at her.

“Anyway, it’s got a great view.” The windows up here are floor to ceiling, all along one wall, facing the back yard and the bay, and, to the right, the breathtaking scale of the volcanic mount.” Frisk’s eyes are wide as they walk right over to the window, pressing their nose against the glass and looking out. You giggle and walk over next to them, doing the same thing. Frisk whips out a little tablet computer from their pocket, and a minute later, a child’s robotic voice says,

“It’s so pretty! There’s so much water!”

“And sky, dear one.” Toriel says wistfully. You smile at the both of them.

“Alright Frisk, want to go see your room? It’s right next door.” Frisk nods happily, and reaches up to take your hand. You grin, and walk your little cousin into your old room. You’d barely been ten when you’d lost your parents, and Paula had told you that you weren’t a little girl, that you should move out of a little kid’s room, and you’d believed her, and picked the blandest, most adult room to stay in after that. In retrospect, Paula must have thought that being so close to your parents’ room was making your nightmares worse, and she might even have been right about that, but…

Frisk’s eyes go wide and round when they see their room. Your parents had gone all out, of course. There’s the same amazing floor to ceiling view as the master bedroom, but the walls are painted in different environments; a rainforest on one wall, the deep sea on another, a polar bear perched on an iceberg on the third. The center of the room is filled with a big, fake tree trunk that stretches from the floor to the ceiling as well; branches (complete with leaves) and planks form a climbable spiral staircase up the trunk, and there’s a slide from the top that sends you gliding right into the twin sized bed, tucked into the wall. There’s more in the tree, of course: there’s a door in the base that you can climb inside to curl up on a beanbag chair and read in privacy, or a hammock hanging from one of the medium height branches.

Oh, and there’s books and stuffed animals and toys and puzzles, and a whole closet stuffed with clothes, and a little guitar and a keyboard off in one corner, and twinkle lights on the roof. It had been the most incredible room any little kid had ever been given, you realize now. God, your parents had loved you so, so much.

“I hope you like it, kiddo.” You say with a crooked smile. “This is your room from now on, okay? Whenever you and Toriel want to visit, you’ve got a room just for you, okay? You too, Toriel.”

Frisk takes a moment, then begins hopping up and down, an enormous smile on their face. Toriel places her hand over her heart, watching Frisk’s absolute glee with an adoring, loving smile on her face. Finally Frisk calms down enough to type “THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING ROOM I’VE EVER SEEN!” They hug you tight around the waist, and you smile, your heart almost hurting with how happy you are.

“I’m so glad you like it, kiddo.” You whisper. “I love you, bud.”

“I love you too, cousin!” Frisk types and the voice chirps - it’s a very good robotic voice, no doubt thanks to Alphys

“To think that we would not have this wonderful gift of family, if that vile woman hadn’t threatened my baby today.” Toriel says, in mild disbelief, and takes the opportunity to hug you once more. You beam, letting your cheek rest against the soft fur of her ear for a moment. “You are so generous, my niece.” She murmurs.

“I mean it, Toriel. This is yours now, okay, both of you, whenever you want to stay? I want a relationship with my cousin, and with my new… oh, wow, it’s so strange to think I have an aunt I don’t hate!” You giggle. Toriel smiles so warmly at you, you can barely believe it. “Oh, just… man, I’m so sorry, just one thing.” You say quickly, feeling suddenly guilty.

“What is it, my niece?” She asks, all concern.

“Uh, the only other bedroom on this floor is…. the only one with a king sized bed. And, since we’ve got a king coming?” You say sheepishly. “Is it too weird if he stays up on this floor with you guys?”

“Oh! Er, certainly, of course!” Toriel says, blushing prettily. “Oh, goodness, of course he can.” She adds, a bit more firmly.

Behind her, Frisk smiles even wider. You might not know sign, but you know what two thumbs up means from your eight year old cousin.

Chapter Text

You leave Toriel and Frisk to get settled in, once Toriel confirms that Asgore was delighted to be invited to stay with you for the holiday.

“Oh, my dear niece, he said he would come over within the next few hours.” She says, halfway between excitement and worry. “You’re certain you don’t mind having him-”

“Of course, Toriel.” You say, quite firmly. If there’s anything lingering between her and the king, well, Frisk certainly supports it, and Frisk seems to know what’s up. Toriel’s smiling though, hearing the way you say her name.

“You could also call me… Tori, if you wished.” She says shyly. “Or even Aunt Tori.” You grin, thinking about it.

“I think that sounds wonderful.” You agree. “Gosh, that has a much nicer ring than ‘Aunt Paula,’ don’t you agree?” Toriel lets out a guilty, tinkling laugh and nods.

Frisk’s fingers move in a blur across the tablet.

“‘Tori’ is what Dad still calls Mom.” They inform you with a grin. Toriel rolls her eyes at her child.

“As does Sans, and many of my other dear friends as well, you little sassafras.” She says with a soft chuckle. Frisk beams at her, then looks around the room.

“Does Papyrus know this is up here?” They ask, and you bite your lip.

“Gosh, he must not. I didn’t even think to show him, and I think Sans told him to keep this floor off limits…” You murmur, then grin. “You wanna show him? He’s gonna be a little jealous…” You warn, still smiling. Frisk hops up and down twice, jumps up with clear practice to kiss Toriel’s cheek, and is about to tear off before they remember you. They squeeze you again around the waist, and giggle when you lean down to peck a kiss on the crown of their head. Then Frisk is off, tearing out the door and down the stairs. Damn, the kid is fast!

Toriel gazes after Frisk for a moment, smiling, then places a heavy paw on your shoulder. “You’ve made your little cousin very happy today.” She murmurs. “And, goodness, your new aunt as well! I was beginning to get a bit concerned, Frisk has been… reluctant to make human friends since we returned to the surface.” She sighs, then smiles. “Then again, they took to you almost immediately... and that was before either of you knew, so maybe this was all, somehow ... fate?” She whispers. You smile crookedly at her.

“I’m not a big fate person.” You admit. “But… yeah, the thought keeps occurring to me recently.” Toriel smiles gently to herself, and nods with satisfaction. Then, suddenly, she gasps.

“Oh, dear, Asgore will be arriving any minute now, and I’m still wearing this dusty old thing!” She sighs, pulling at the front of her lovely velvet robe. You chuckle.

“Tori, you look beautiful!” You insist, but she shakes her head.

“No, no, but I need to look… magnificent. Commanding.” She pronounces. “I have to make the correct impression.” You grin, wondering what’s going on in her head. Surely she’s not considering picking the mantel of queen back up again for good, is she?

The determination in her eyes suggests that perhaps she is.

“Well, would you like to get unpacked and changed, and I’ll call you and Frisk and Paps down when the king arrives?” You suggest. She nods thankfully.

“That would be wonderful, thank you, dear niece.” She says, already bustling out of Frisk’s room and back into the master bedroom. You smile after her, and then, whistling slightly to yourself, head down the stairs, grinning when Papyrus and Frisk blow past you, racing on the way up.

“All done with cooking, Paps?” You check. Papyrus sighs and screeches to a stop, arching an eyebrow ridge.

“THERE IS NO NEED TO FRET, HUMAN, I HAVE MADE THE PASTA AND THE COOKIES AND THE PASTA COOKIES.”

Pasta cookies. You artfully hide a wince, then smile. “Okay, bud, just checking.”

“THE GREAT PAPYRUS NEVER LEAVES A JOB HALF DONE!” He assures you, picking up Frisk and placing them on his shoulders as he speaks, like Frisk weighs no more than a feather. Frisk grins, and points Papyrus up the stairs like Napoleon on horseback, and Papyrus takes off again, taking the steps two at a time.

Thinking about Toriel’s logic, then looking down at your casual t-shirt, flannel and jeans, you wonder if you might not want to dress up a little nicer for tonight yourself. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to look cute, right? With that logic in your mind, you turn on the second story landing and head to your room.

You push the door open with your knee, simultaneously pulling your flannel off, and are met with a low laugh. You jump slightly, your heart in your throat, then glare when you realize it’s just Sans.

“don’t stop on my account.” He insists sweetly, perched on the edge of your bed, a broad smile on his face. You let out a quiet laugh, shaking your head.

“You almost gave me a heart attack!” You say, closing the door behind you and walking over to stand in front of him. “Jeez! What are you doing just sitting in here by yourself, bonehead?” He tilts his skull innocently. You rather like the mischievous look in his eyes at the moment.

“you, uh, left some groceries on the table i figured you wanted up here?” He says, flashing you a very wide grin. With the absence of any amount of tact, he picks up one of the boxes between his thumb and pointer finger, letting it dangle as he raises both eyebrows.

You blink, then immediately realize your mistake. “Oh. OH. Haha, whoops?” You say quite sheepishly, feeling your face heat up. “Eep, wait, I left that in the kitchen with the food? And, god, with your brother? Oh no…”

“oh... yes.” He grins even wider, then relents when he sees genuine distress on your face at the thought of Papyrus witnessing this discovery. “don’t worry, babe.” He murmurs, examining the label again. “i got to it before papyrus saw anything.” He waits, a perfect comedic beat, then adds, “which is for the best, because paps would have definitely wondered what a, uh, ‘well endowed gentleman’ was.” He says, his voice shaking just a little with the effort to hold in his laughter. He looks absurdly pleased with himself at the moment. Oh, that confident little shit. You just couldn’t decide if you loved it when he was like this, or if it drove you crazy. Maybe both. You couldn’t just let him grin at you like that, though, because god, you hated losing.

“You sure this is what you want to tease me about, Sans?” You ask lightly, forcing casualness into your tone. He freezes, his smile dropping, and now you’re rather enjoying the suddenly worried look on his face. “Are you absolutely certain that these are the jokes you want to make right now?” Sans blinks, suddenly considering this.

“uh, i suppose...” He begins. “maybe….” He trails off, swallowing audibly, as you move to sit, cautiously, on his lap. You needn’t be so careful. He said before that he manifests his body as necessary, and right now, his legs are more than just bone, they’re supporting you without you needing to do any difficult balancing. Ghost lap, you supposed. Oh, your boyfriend was weird. You loved it. You settle in more comfortably, a smile on your face.

“There. Wasn’t so hard to be nice, was it?” You murmur, and lean against him to kiss him slowly. He groans softly against your lips, wrapping his arms around your waist.

“define so hard.” He murmurs, sounding a little frustrated, and you grin slowly, feeling much better about the circumstances when he no longer has the obvious upper hand. Maybe another situation is growing increasingly more obvious, but it certainly isn’t anything involving a hand.

“Aw, baby, is that all it takes?” You whisper with a grin, curious, brushing your lips against his jawbone. You know that you don’t really have time for this, but, hell, if he’s gonna tease you, then you’re gonna be a tease right back in return. He sighs quietly, then chuckles.

“well, uh, i…” He begins, then grins. “oh man. let’s just say I was pretty happy to see those in the bottom of the grocery bag.” He admits. “and maybe i’ve got, um, an active imagination. and, maybe i’ve been sitting here for a while, waiting for you to show up. plenty of time to imagine stuff.” He says, giving you a toothy grin that starts a spark of excitement somewhere in your chest. “though, uh…. i mean, as long as you’re cool with it, the condoms are not, uh, strictly necessary?” He suggests after a second’s thought. You mull this over, feeling mildly pleased by this revelation. Then, something occurs to you. Undyne didn’t even know what a condom was, but Sans apparently could recognize the boxes by sight, and clearly knew whether or not they were necessary, which meant…

“You’ve been doing some research.” You murmur, giving him a grin. He flushes again, nodding.

“uh, babe, i hadn’t exactly been dating people before you. i’ve been doing nothing but research.” He breathes, and you lose control and giggle, grinning at the pout on his face.

“Poor baby.” You murmur playfully. “Lots of, um, computer research, then?” You tease, just a little, and he groans, immediately understanding what you’re driving at (and simultaneously confirming your suspicions).

“you’re mean.” He accuses, leaning forward to kiss you again.

“Poor Sans.” You repeat with a grin, and rest your forearms lazily on his shoulders, looping your arms around his neck and kissing him in return. You stay there for a while, feeling content, until he groans softly, suddenly holding you quite tightly. When he pulls away, he surprises you by no longer smiling; rather, he’s studying you very seriously. The lights in his eyes are bright and intense.

“Sans?” You murmur, the playful tone dropping from your voice as you look at him.

“sometimes i can’t believe you’re real.” He says, his voice deep and quiet and serious, and you shiver involuntarily. “i can’t believe you’re here with me. i can’t believe you want to be here with me.” He whispers roughly, and you shake your head, understanding that the mood has shifted, if not, entirely, why. On a certain level, you don’t care. You just want him to be happy. You want him to be okay.

“‘Course I do, Sans.” You murmur, curling up a little and leaning your head against his ribcage, your arms slipping around his body. “Of course I want to be with you. I lo-”

Suddenly, you stop talking, nearly gasping as you realize how close that forbidden word was to having slipped from your lips. He’s studying you much too intently to let that slide by, of course. You could practically feel every molecule of him come to attention as he hears the first syllable of something that he’s clearly been waiting for. He looks down at you urgently, a nearly desperate expression on his face.

“____________.” He whispers. “please.” His voice is rough, nearly tumultuous as he fixes those pinprick eyes on you.

“Sans, I…” You reply quietly, trying to find the right words, feeling absolutely panicked. You’re not ready, god, it’s all too fast, and if you love him, if you say that out loud and make it real and then he leaves, you’ll fall apart.

“please?” He repeats, sounding almost hopeless.

And you’re certain, all of a sudden, that yes, you do love him, because you’d do anything, anything on earth to mean that he didn’t sound like that. It doesn’t mean, however, that you’re any less scared to express it; no, now it’s worse, because you know for sure, you know for a firm solid fact like two plus two or the color of the sky that you love him, and concrete things can be hurt, concrete things can be broken.

“I just met you.” You rationalize out loud. “I just met you, so it would be stupid, it would be wrong, this is what stupid wrong people do, I can’t do that, I can’t be that idiot, I can’t let myself get hurt-” That little screaming voice in your head has finally been let out to play, and it’s saying all those calculated things, all the things you’re sure will make him leave once he realizes they’re true.

“it’s not stupid, it’s not wrong.” He’s insisting, talking over you. “it’s the only thing that’s right on this entire planet.” He’s lost control of his emotions, and he’s crackling with magic, and you’re breathing hard, trying not to be swamped by that giddy wild feeling, that ... fuck, that sensation of undeniable love. “don’t give a shit, i’ll say it, i love you, ___________, i love you already, i know it’s fast but i know your soul and i love you,” He says, each word causing another firework of delighted helplessness to go off in your chest, and you don’t know what to do.

“It’s stupid.” You whisper.

“i love you.”

I’m stupid.”

“i love every single thing about you.”

“You can’t know-”

“i’ve touched your soul, i know.” He breathes, and there’s hope back in his eyes. “please.”

You’re out of arguments. Still, you struggle. You fall silent, and so does he, and time creaks by, a minute, two, and the hope is nearly gone now, and once it’s gone, you don’t know what will come next.

You’re not cruel enough to find out. Worse, part of you wants him to know. Part of you is desperate for someone to know about this thing that’s been forming in your soul, growing stronger and more real every time you look at him or hear him or touch him.

“...I love you.” You whisper roughly, waiting for something to happen, the void to open, a lightning bolt to strike you down.

It doesn’t happen. You take a deep breath, and reach up, tracing his cheekbone with your fingers. “I do. Fuck, I really do.” You whisper, more or less to yourself, and thus consigned, lean up to kiss him once more, a sensation like what relief would be if it was magnified a thousand times surging through your core, and he threads his fingerbones into your hair and holds you tight, and there you are, in love with a skeleton who loves you back, and all the things that aren’t kissing him are slowly fading to the background of your mind, and it’s not like you feared, there’s nothing wrong at all, and something that feels happier than ‘happy’ has ever felt is coiling through you, touching each molecule, leaking into the space between molecules, and you love him, and he loves you, and-

“SANTA, SANTA, THEY’RE PROBABLY HIDING IN HERE!” Papyrus’ voice bursts your blissful bubble, and you have just enough time to quickly straighten up so you’re almost in a respectable pose - well you’re still on his lap - when the door slowly swings open, and a deep voice goes,

“Ho ho h….oh, boy.” Asgore, dressed up from head to toe in an immaculate Santa costume, is standing in your doorway, looking tremendously apologetic. Sans (sounding rather far away from you due to the sound of blood rushing in your ears at this, the greatest embarrassment of all time) glances at Asgore, then Papyrus, then you, clearing his throat.

“uh… heyyyyy, santa.” He says helplessly. Papyrus begins to giggle.

This is his finest work as a barrier to date.

Chapter Text

“Uh.. ho ho ho!” Asgore recovers, glancing at Papyrus. “Oookay, Papyrus, let’s see who else we can spread Christmas cheer to, huh?”

“BUT SANTA, THEY DON’T LOOK CHEERFUL-”

“Oh, I think that Mettaton probably needs a visit more!” Asgore manages, looking very apologetic. “Didn’t you say that he was down in the dumps, child?”

“WELL… METTATON IS VERY SAD THAT LAWYERPANTS DOESN’T THINK HE’S SEXY…” Papyus muses. “FINE, YOU’RE RIGHT. OF COURSE YOU’RE RIGHT! YOU’RE SANTA!” He grins. “BYE BROTHER! BYE ________! FEEL BETTER!” He encourages, then goes stomping down the hall to find Mettaton. Asgore eyes the both of you, winces, and very slowly closes the door, until it fastens with a definite click.

The silence is deafening.

“Did that just-”

“yup.” The two of you stare, frozen in shock at the door. Very very slowly, you stand up, climbing off of him, and then collapse onto a seat next to him, slumping.

“babe.” Sans sighs.

“Uh, yeah?” You mutter, and when he doesn’t readily reply, you turn to look at him, the feeling in the pit of your stomach growing, deepening when you see the mortified look on his face, his refusal to meet your eyes as he gazes at the door. How about that, you muse, feeling exhausted, you were right. One little ripple, and he’s about to say that he doesn’t love you, that he made a mistake, that he’s humiliated to have been seen by his boss with you and everything’s-

“we need to get a lock.” He mutters, still staring at the door.

You can’t help it.

Succumbing to the relief, you begin shaking with laughter, trying to hold it in and quivering. “oh god, don’t cry, i’m so sorry-” He whispers, and you just give up, you lose it, laughing so hard, your hands covering your face, that you just can’t stop. You can tell, without looking, that he’s staring at you like you’re the strangest person on earth, and you’re trying to recover enough to apologize when he begins to laugh too.

“Oh god,” You finally gasp, leaning against him. “Oh, god, his face…”’

“why does nobody know how to knock?!” He gasps, practically hysterical.

“Do you know? Do you - ahahah, do you even realize how many people have walked into my room since the day you texted me??” You say desperately, trying to catch your breath.

“almost everyone i know!” He wheezes, shaking his head. “we’re getting a lock!”

“The King! Your boss! Dressed as SANTA! We’re getting a lock!” You confirm, and grin at him, wiping the tears from your eyes. “Oh, god, I’m so sorry, I can’t stop-”

It takes you a long time for both of you to feel like you’re completely free of random fits of laughter. Even then, his first few attempts to speak are worthless.

“________, god, i-” He tries, and gives up when you begin laughing again, picturing the king’s horrified face. The King of All Monsters, dressed up as Santa, had busted in on you in the most important, most intimate moment of your life. Him and an enthusiastic, athletic, absolutely delighted skeleton. “oh, god, i love you.” He finally manages, still shaking with laughter, and without even thinking, you lean in to kiss him as sweetly as you know how, still occasionally shaking with the stray laugh.

“I love you too.” You finally whisper.

-----------------------------

You eventually reach an agreement. Sans is leaving first, you’re going to wrap your Christmas presents up here, then you’ll join, and hopefully the hilarity will be entirely over by then, or, better still, Asgore will no longer be dressed as Santa, because if he asks you to sit on his lap, you’re going to lose your goddamn mind.

“Be good.” You warn him, kissing him once more before he stands up.

“i always am.” He says, then winks at you, ducking out the door, before you can scold him that NO HE ISN’T. You groan, your stomach hurting from all that laughing, and pull your presents out from under the bed, grabbing some wrapping paper from the closet. You decide to wrap Undyne’s first, and are satisfied with that decision, when, not two minutes after finishing, you hear a pointed knock on the door.

“Yes?” You call.

“Uh, Sans told me to knock?” Undyne says, sounding skeptical. “Ummm…. should I come back?” You begin laughing again (ouch), and call,

“Come in, dork.” She opens the door tentatively, and chuckles when she sees the wrapped package in front of you.

“Oh, is that all!? He was being really vague about why to knock.”

“Heh, well, he would. Want to help me wrap?” You offer.

“Sure!” She flops down on the ground next to you, and grabs a multipack of action figures for Papyrus, launching into wrapping it with her characteristic enthusiasm. “So, what does that mean, ‘he would?’” She asks, pulling off what you privately think is an excessive amount of tape. You wince, then, with some trepidation, tell her. Her eyes go wide.

“C’mon.” You sigh. “C’mon, it’s not that bad, is it?” You’re beginning to feel awkward. She clears her throat.

“Uhhhh… what if I told you that, um, someone I know… had confessed that specific fantasy to me?” She whispers. You blink.

“What, with Sans?” You try. She shoves your shoulder hard.

“NO, DORK. WITH, UH… well, it doesn’t matter!” You narrow your eyes.

“...Dude, are you talking about Alphys?”

“I NEVER SAID THAT!” Undyne bellows, and narrows her eyes as you begin to snicker.

“Sorry! Sorry, Undyne, just, it was actually the worst!” You cry. She groans, and slaps a Christmas bow square on the top of your head. “Hey, what was that for?”

“You’re an innocent baby angel who deserves it.” She grumbles. You grin.

You also keep the bow right where it is.

-----------------------------

When it comes time to haul all the Christmas presents downstairs and put them under the tree, you’re already smelling amazing things that must be coming from the kitchen.

“Jeez, Undyne, what did you do?” You ask, juggling your packages. She grins.

“I just started cooking.” She admits. “All of a sudden, everyone wanted to chip in. I feel like tomorrow’s dinner is in danger of being showed up.”

Once you get downstairs, you have to admit that she’s probably right. Bringing your presents into the TV room where the Christmas tree is, you notice that the long banquette table has been dragged back in, and that it’s absolutely covered with appetizers and snacks already.

“There you are, darling! Nice bow!” Mettaton swoops over, taking half of your armful of presents and depositing them artfully under the tree. You giggle, happy to see that he’s in higher spirits, and distribute the rest. There’s more presents under this tree than you’ve ever seen, including quite a few from “Santa” that you were certainly not expecting. Frisk and Papyrus were going to have a good year this year. You stand back, smiling at the display, and then grin when Mettaton presses a glass of champagne into your hand.

“Thanks, Mettaton.” You say happily, and lean over to kiss his cheek. He beams, and then bustles into the next room to announce that you’re downstairs. Undyne’s hanging back by the tray of escargot, grinning.

“Sans would have blown a gasket if he saw that.” She comments. You arch an eyebrow.

“I think he’s actually over being jealous of Mettaton.” You say, strolling over to look at the display of food.

She gives you a look, and shrugs, strolling towards the kitchen. You’re just about to follow her when you hear heavy feet on the floor.

“Oh, there you are, child!” Toriel comes bustling over, in an absolutely lovely purple dress. “Did you know that Asgore is here?” You clear your throat.

“Uh. Yep!” You say brightly, and, in order to change the subject, quickly grab an escargot, swimming with garlic, herbs and butter, from the dish. Toriel’s eyes widen.

“FRISK!” She calls, and you hesitate. A few seconds later, the pitter patter of Frisk’s small feet echoes on the hardwood of the floors. They emerge into the TV room, pulling Asgore’s hand. You immediately flush, but realize just as quickly that you can’t acknowledge that you’ve seen him, not without revealing that he’s Santa.

“Hey little cuz! Hi, Asgore, welcome!” You say, giving a too wide smile. Asgore nods graciously, the slightest twinkle in his eye.

“Frisk, look, child, humans do eat snails!” Toriel is saying excitedly. You wince. It’s been a long, long time - but you remember being around Frisk’s age in Paris and your parents doing the same routine.

“We sure do. Wanna give it a try, squirt?” Frisk gives first you, then Toriel a skeptical look, then carefully walks over. “Don’t worry, buddy.” You tell your cousin, when they stand next to you and eye the plate. “It’s actually pretty good. Here, grab one!” Frisk does, very tentatively. “Sorry, pal, we don’t have all the tools to eat them like you’re supposed to, I think there’s supposed to be tongs or something-”

“Well, that’s just silly, we eat them with our hands in the underground!” Toriel sniffs.

“Ah, but we aren’t in the underground, Tori.” Asgore says gently. Toriel looks at him, perhaps prepared to complain, then sighs and shuts her mouth.

“Oh, I suppose you’re right.”

“On rare occasion.” They smile at each other, and you’re just beginning to wonder if you should leave, when Toriel whips out her cellphone.

“Go on, Frisk!” She urges. You grin, and nod next to the plate of snails, where Mettaton has placed several tiny, two-tonged forks.

“Grab one of those, bud.” Frisk does so. “Okay. Want to try it at the same time?” You urge. Frisk hesitates, then nods eagerly. “Okay. You chicken out, you’re a total monkey butt.” Frisk’s eyes narrow. They’re not having that. “Ready? One… two... three!” You spear the snail with your fork, pulling it from the shell, and put it in your mouth before you can regret it. It’s…

Well, it’s actually really tasty. You swallow, then look at the shell with astonishment.

“Who made that?” You ask, trying not to show your surprise.

“Me, darling!” Mettaton calls, ducking out from the doorjamb he’d clearly been hidden behind to receive his acclaim. You grin at him.

“Great job, Mettaton, they’re even tastier than I remember!”

“Oh, it was nothing, darling, I did study for a month at the Cordon Bleu school and…” He trails off, looking at the King and Queen. Toriel is still filming, but Asgore has moved closer, watching through the viewfinder with a broad grin on his face. Frisk isn’t paying attention to anyone. They’re eating another snail without hesitating, then another.

“Tori. Look at our child.” Asgore murmurs.

“Y-yes. They’re quite something, aren’t they?” Toriel whispers, and you can hear the emotion in her voice.

“It’s not too much?” Asgore whispers. “Are you okay?” The queen dabs at her eyes with the fur of her wrist.

“No. It’s not too much. Frisk is… oh, the most wonderful child.”

“Tied for the most.” Asgore says, sounding constrained. You suddenly feel like you shouldn’t be watching. Mettaton clears his throat next to you.

“Why don’t we go find your boyfriend?” He suggests. You nod quickly, feeling like you don’t belong, and follow him out of the room. He lets out a metallic sigh when he exits, and you smile at him.

“You okay?” You check.

“Oh, yes, darling. It’s just family things…” He muses. You bite your lip.

“Anything I can help with?” You offer. He shakes his head.

“Oh, it’s my cousin. They just got a new chassis and they didn’t even ask me for any help! I’m glad they're independent, but…” He sighs. “Between that and Burgerpants-”

“Lawyerpants.” You interject, unable to help yourself.

“Yes, Lawyerpants. Well, Felix…” He sighs. “In any event, I’m beginning to feel like a bit of a burden.”

“Shh.” You tell him quickly. “You’re not a burden to me. You’re one of my best friends, and my very favorite actor.” You kiss his cheek again, and hug him tightly, careful not to spill champagne on him. He lets out a soft chuckle, and hugs you back.

“Things have changed so much, so fast.” He whispers.

“Tell me about it.” You mutter, and pull away, smiling. “C’mon, bud, you need a glass of wine or something, huh?” He nods, still pouting. He’s not going to drink his glass of whatever, but it’ll probably raise his spirits.

Your spirits are similarly raised when you see Sans, Papyrus, L.D., Undyne and Alphys all laughing about something in the kitchen, and Sans immediately detaches to come over and squeeze your free hand.

Sure, a lot has changed, you think, grinning down at him, as Undyne holds a bag of icing in your face and then drags you over to the table of half-decorated cookies. It just so happens that, for you, all the changes have been, well…

You begin to decorate a gingerbread dog and, without having to ask, Sans passes you the next color of frosting you need, then picks up your champagne hand and kisses the back, still clearly as gooey as the frosting with love. You turn and grin at him, drawing a heart on the gingerdog.

Nope, these changes haven’t been even a little bad.

Chapter Text

The rest of the day is absolutely blissful. When Toriel, Frisk and Asgore come to join you all in the kitchen, you can’t help but notice that some ice seems to have thawed between them. Frisk lets out a loud (probably snail induced) burp, and grins evilly as Asgore chuckles and Toriel shakes her head. It must be tough, trying to impart manners on your cousin, you think, smiling to yourself, then glance at Sans. He’s got a distant look on his face as he stares at Frisk, until you snap in front of him.

“Hey, bonehead, you with us?” You ask, feeling a little concerned. He turns his head slowly to face you, and smiles, a little relief in his eyes.

“yeah, yeah, i’m here.” He mutters. “sorry. zoned out.” The evil smile is gone off Frisk’s face now, as they scamper over to pat Sans’ knee. He smiles at Frisk, looking a little tired, and hoists them up on his lap, saying, “alright, kid, we saved the last few cookies for you.” Frisk beams, and reaches for the yellow icing, filling in a star shaped cookie with such concentration that they stick their tongue out. There, everything seems better now. You resolve to ask Sans if anything was wrong later, then pick up a cookie you’d just decorated, munching at the tail of the gingerbread dog. When L.D. whines, you grin and slip him a piece under the table - of course, he’s welcome to his own, but he seems to do his best to adhere to dog rules, and that means begging rather than sitting up and getting his own cookies.

“No chocolate.” Undyne warns. “He’ll say he can have some but he can’t.” You roll your eyes at her.

“I know. And I’m not magic, I can’t understand him anyway. Sorry, L.D.” L.D. gives his best doggy shrug and rolls on his back on the hardwood, still chewing his cookie piece.

Once all the cookies have been decorated, Asgore clears his throat.

“Perhaps we should all have some appetizers before the dinner is finished?” He proposes.

“That’s a wonderful idea.” Toriel enthuses. “There’s so much food as it is! Though, er, it seems that we might be a little short on snails….” You blink, then turn to stare at Frisk, who’s sitting sweetly on Sans’ knee - oh, god, that does something weird and maternal to you that you’re totally unsure of.

“Dude, how many did you eat?” You say, your eyebrows unwillingly raising. Frisk grins, and presses their fingers together, then pulls them away.

“a lot.” Sans supplies with a laugh. “must be why you’re so heavy, kiddo.” Frisk gives Sans a look, which is fair since they can’t weigh that much, all things considered. Mettaton lets out a tinkling laugh, and smiles at Frisk.

“Come along, beauty, you can help me make sure that the table is set appropriately.”

“yeah, give the old man’s knee a break and go help mettaton.” Frisk glares at him, and Sans grins. “you don’t know i’m not old.” He drawls. Frisk pokes out their bottom lip, and Sans sighs. “fine. not old. you’re still squishing my knee.” He grumbles playfully. Papyrus scoffs.

“YOU WEREN’T COMPLAINING EARLIER.” He points out, and Sans’ eyes narrow.

“santa doesn’t give gifts to skels who gossip, bro.” He says warningly, and Papyrus grins.

“SANTA ALREADY VISITED!” He points out. Well, he’s not wrong. Sans groans, and mutters,

“he could change his mind…” Papyrus isn’t listening. He scoops up Frisk from Sans’ knee and carries them, under his arm, into the other room, saying,

“DON’T PAY ATTENTION TO HIM, WE’LL GUARD THE PRESENTS AND MAKE SURE SANTA DOESN’T CHANGE ANYTHING.”

Mettaton snorts a laugh unattractively, blushes, then follows. Undyne watches them proceed out, then glances at Alphys.

“W-we’d better make sure that they don’t start opening gifts.” Alphys notes, smiling faintly. Undyne laughs.

“Read my mind, cutie.” She kisses the dinosaur quickly, then strolls, side by side, after the two miscreants. Asgore chuckles to himself, watching them exit, then looks at the two of you at the table.

“Santa should probably learn to knock, huh?” He asks, a hangdog look on his face.

“santa should.” Sans confirms, witheringly sarcastic, while Toriel looks at you strangely. Suddenly, you jump up, almost spilling your champagne.

“Oh! Uh! Asgore, I forgot to show you your room, if you want to stay! I mean, King Asgore! I mean-”

“Shh.” He smiles gently at you. “My wife already showed me.” Toriel inhales slowly, then nods, and you wonder, for a second, if there’s such a thing as divorce in the monster world. “I hope you don’t mind me staying, but, if, well… if Frisk is going to be here, I’d like to be here as well, for Christmas morning.” He says, his bass voice so low that you can feel the vibrations in your champagne glass.

“Of course.” You say quickly. “Frisk thinks of you as their dad, so you’re family, right? You’re welcome whenever!” Asgore ducks his massive head and smiles at you.

“Thank you, _________.” He says. “You’re very kind to an old… well, thank you.” He straightens up. “Come, Tori, let’s see what they’re up to.” They exit, L.D. on their heels, and suddenly it’s just you and Sans. He’s got an odd look on his face.

“You want to go in?” You offer. “You don’t need to get food, babe, I know you’ve had some today-”

“hey.” He clears his throat, then shakes his head. “no. i mean, i’ll eat. but, question.” He looks seriously at you. “you know what he did, right? to try to get us out?” He jerks his head, and there’s no question that he’s talking about Asgore. “you know that he killed humans, right? kids? kids like frisk?” You swallow, surprised by this sudden change, then nod.

“Yeah. I suppose I do.” You mutter. This had been one of the sticking points in human/monster relations, after all.

“but, you’re cool with him?” Sans asks pointedly. You grimace.

“Uh, I’m not sure. I know this much. He made a wartime decision, I think. He’s a king. He has to balance the good of his people with what he’s gotta do.” Sans inhales slowly.

“it was kids, _______.” You pause, then shake your head.

“I know. I know. If it were just us, I’d say screw him.” You mutter. “But it isn’t just us. It’s us and Frisk, okay? They’re my family, so if they call Asgore ‘dad,’ then I suppose he’s my family too.” Sans frowns for a long moment, then mutters,

“fine. then i s’pose he’s mine, too.” You blink at him.

“Sans, you don’t have to-”

“he’s your cousin’s adopted dad. that means something.” He mutters. “hate what he did-”

“So do I-”

“but…” He grimaces, then looks up at you. “i intend to stick around. i’ll learn to live with it.” Your heart flutters helplessly at that. He intends to stick around.

“Sans... you don’t have to.” You say helplessly. He smiles at you.

“sure i do. i’m yours and frisk is yours, so things’ll get messy.” He says with a shrug. You squint at him, then smile after a second.

“Frisk is my cousin.” You correct. “So, Frisk is part mine. You’re all mine.” Sans takes a deep breath, then gives you a heated look.

“fuck, _______. you can’t just say stuff like that.” He says hotly.

“Or what?” You grin, and feel his eyes on you, rather self consciously.

“or i’ll be very tempted to go back upstairs before it’s polite.” He says with another unapologetic shrug. You look at him for a second, feeling uncertain about this fluttering, wild feeling in your chest. Then he winks at you, and for a split second, something flickers into vision, blue and hot and whirling and bright and … and perfect, in your vision.

“What was that?” You gasp. He stares at you.

“what was what?”

“You! Were you doing… it looked like… like a cartoon? Like a heart? Like a cartoon heart?” You attempt, and he stares seriously at you for what feels like a long, long while.

“you’ve been spending a lot of time around magic, huh?” He asks, looking pleased.

“Uh, yeah.” You mutter, and when he doesn’t add any more information, add, “Help me out.” He grins at you.

“okay. you ever wonder, why humans draw a heart the shape they draw it?” He muses. “even though a heart doesn’t look like that?”

“Uh, sure.”

“well, what if they weren’t drawing a heart.” He offers. “what if they were just drawing, uh, the thing that makes them a person-”

“A soul!?” You counter, almost immediately understanding what he's driving at. After all, you've seen one before, and yeah, it was in an unmistakable shape... “God! I thought I saw mine for a second the other night, I thought I was going crazy?!”

“yeah. not going crazy. a soul.” He confirms, looking pleased and a little confused.

“So… why am I seeing it now? Or, uh, not now, but a few seconds ago?” You mutter. He frowns.

“dunno. you’ve been spending a lot of time around magic, though.” He repeats. You nod, your thoughts drifting inexorably to last night. Yep, that had been a lot of magic, what Sans had introduced you to.

You try, for a second, to feel affronted, then shrug mentally.

You’re dating a skeleton. A magical skeleton. A magical, eldritch, ripped from the void skeleton.

These things are bound to happen.

--------------------------------------------

It’s the best Christmas Eve you can remember. The food (which seems to be coming in never ending waves, whenever someone remembers there’s something in the oven) is plentiful. The people are, well, the best. You end up playing charades for a long, long time. When Frisk begins to get sleepy (around the time that Papyrus is desperately trying to act out Aladdin), Toriel and Asgore jointly decide to take them up to bed. Papyrus heads upstairs, with a yawn, soon after. Then it’s just you, Sans, Mettaton, Alphys and Undyne. Well, all of you and a lot of Spider Ciders.

The game quickly changes to “Never Have I Ever.” It’s not a game that you’ve ever thought you’d play with monsters, but luckily, for the first few rounds, the questions are exceedingly casual. You find out that Alphys has never gone all the way underwater, that Mettaton has never gone out dancing off camera, that Undyne is petrified of red meat. Both you and Sans are forced to drink when, by a combination of plotting, Alphys, Undyne and Mettaton ask some pointed questions.

“Never have I, uh, e-ever kissed a skeleton”

“Or a human,” Mettaton smirks.

“Or gone farther than kissing” Undyne says, and both of you put your last finger down simultaneously, each feeling just tipsy enough to clink bottles before you finish your drinks. After that, you’re thinking of evil things to ask Undyne before Sans pointedly says,

“uh, think that’s a night for us.”

“But I have so many more questions!” Undyne says, upset. Sans grins, just a little dangerously.

“mm, you’ll have time to ask them tomorrow. ready for bed, _________?”

“Sure!” You say, accepting his hand up once he stands and cursing your voice for being so chipper. Undyne begins to chuckle, low and quiet, but you glare at her and her mouth shuts slowly. Sans’ fingers slip around your wrist and you wave a quick goodnight to everyone before the two of you are walking, quickly and silently, back to your room.

Once you enter, it seems like no conversation is needed. You pull off his t-shirt (smoother this time) and he takes a step backwards, then eyes the door. You’re just leaning down to kiss one of his ribs when you hear a loud thump and turn around, then let out a helpless giggle.

He’s moved your armoire, the heaviest piece of furniture in the room, in front of the door - with his mind, you assume.

“no more surprises.” He says huskily. You can’t help but nod. “paps and frisk wake up early. let’s not.”

“I’d really appreciate that.” You admit, and watch his hands, seeing one head towards the hem of your shirt (you never did get to change into something cute) before he hesitates, then abruptly reaches up and takes the bow off your head. “Oh!” You laugh, your eyes moving over his ribcage curiously, “I’d forgotten about that.”

“it’s been tempting me all night.” He mutters. “almost felt guilty, how much i wanted to unwrap you.” You look up at him, sighing when you see the grin on his face, then kiss him, nudging him back towards the bed.

“Right back at you, bonehead.” You murmur, and feel an anticipatory tremor through his bones. You’re not wasting time tonight, not letting him render you into a puddle of helpless human. You’ve told him that you love him, and now, everyone is either way upstairs or way downstairs and there’s nothing in your way to show him how much you want him. You kiss a vertebrae in his neck boldly, letting your tongue move across it, and feel him shudder. Good. Now that you’re flush against the bed, the back of his knees touching it, you inch forwards again until he sits down. This time, he gives you enough room to straddle him, and you do so at once, pressing close against him and feeling, without having to ask, the excitement at his core.

“hey.” He says quietly, and you immediately stop, tilting your head.

“Yeah?”

“so, uh, just to be clear… i haven’t ever… done this?” He says with a wince. You blink at him, settling back on your calves. “like, sex. like… you know. sex sex.” He offers, cringing slightly like you’re about to berate him.

“Oh!” You say, then smile. “Well, that’s fine.” He looks skeptically up at you, and you smile at him, even wider. “I’ve done it like three times. I’m not an expert.” You admit. “And they, uh, they haven’t been great. They weren’t exactly interested in me having a good time. So… it’s not like I know a lot more than you.”

“assholes.” Sans grumbles, and you look at him, mystified.

“You’re mad that nobody’s, uh, how do I put this... fucked my brains out?” You mutter, feeling bewildered. He nods, then shakes his head.

“heh. no. but… i’m mad that… oh god, _______. you deserve the world. i hate that anyone’s acted like you don’t.” He says, and you feel your heart begin to melt.

“Look, I just want you to be happy-” You try.

“so do i.” He says firmly, and grinds against you. “do you want to try?”

“Yesss.” You hiss, gasping at the feeling of magic against you, even through two sets of pants. “Do you?” He lets out a husky, guilty laugh.

“since the second i saw you. you’ll tell me, if i mess up?” He whispers.

“Promise.” You mutter. His smile grows slowly, so slowly it hurts, as he lifts his shirt over your head. You can’t imagine him messing up. He’s just so… confident. As much as you’ve teased him about his “research,” now that he’s started, you can’t imagine wanting him to stop.

“i want all of you. always.” He whispers, nudging you onto your back and beginning on your belt.

“I love you.” You whisper, pushing down his shorts. You almost have to squint when his erection, glowing urgently, comes immediately into view.

“i love you too.” He breathes, pushing your pants down, and with no further ado, he bites your neck, hard, and you have to do everything in your power not to scream with pleasure.

You sense it’s going to be a long night.

Chapter Text

Okay, he’s got way fewer clothes on than you, you have to note. Way fewer, and that can’t exactly be fair. Still, he seems dedicated to changing that, pushing your shirt up your ribcage - it’s just that, well, to take your shirt off he needs to move his mouth from your neck, and he doesn’t seem to want to do that either, and in the meantime, you’re just helpless, and stuck feeling fluttery and trying not to make noise. He eventually relents, placing one last soft kiss on the muscle he’d bit, and then gives you a heated look before peeling your shirt off.

For someone who’d made it clear that he’d never had sex, he certainly seemed confident in his actions.

You grin down at him when he suddenly hesitates, reaching around your back to unfasten your bra. “uh… same as last time?” He says, giving you a guilty grin. You nod.

“Same basic concept.” Gosh, you’d better warn him the next time you wore the one that clasped in the front. He snickers, nodding, and a moment later, he’s busy sliding your bra down your arms, his eyes fixed hungrily on your bare torso. “Um. Question?” You ask, feeling awkward, after a moment of this admiration.

“hm?” He glances up at you, and inhales sharply as you bite your bottom lip - oh, does he like that? You’d have to keep it in mind. All the same, he does an admirable job of trying to meet your eyes.

“Just… you know, I’m a human… and you’re a monster.”

“kinda.” He smirks.

“Kinda.” You agree. “I just… you’re really attracted to me, even though I’m so…?” You trail off, making a broad gesture at your body as if that explains everything. He gives you an amused look.

“uh. clearly.” He murmurs, then when you still look skeptical, he says, “that stuff’s kinda different with monsters. most of us look pretty different from each other. sometimes really different. i just know when i think someone’s hot, i guess.” He says with a lazy shrug. You can’t help but grin at that, and lean forward to kiss him gently. He parts from you after a moment. “but, uh, you…” He says, sounding suddenly anxious. “gotta say, babe, i’m pretty outside the norm of what humans date…” He says, glancing down suddenly at his ribcage, the glowing blue heat trapped between the two of you. You have to think about that. You’d never really thought about dating a monster before him. But, well, shortly after you met him, you’d never really stopped thinking about it. You weren’t entirely sure you had a thing for skeletons in general, but you certainly had a thing for this one in particular.

“Huh. Guess I’m kind of a freak, huh?” You drawl pointedly, grinding against him again. God, even through your pants (pushed down your hips as far as they could go), that felt good. He grunts softly, then gives you a look. You give him an impudent smile and shrug. “Maybe not a freak. Well, maybe just a little.” You breathe, and kiss his jaw carefully. “Maybe I just know when I think someone’s hot, too.” He has to grin at that. “I told that asshole receptionist at the vet the first day I met you, remember? I still want to jump your bones.” You remind him, and he smiles even wider.

“i got pretty lucky, falling for someone like you.” He muses.

“Well, you’re about to.” You tease, finally easing off his lap and climbing quickly out of your pants and underwear.

“what?” He says, totally distracted by the sight of you stripping down. “fall for you?”

“Get lucky.” You stress, and he suddenly gives you a wolfish grin. You’re considering exactly what you want to do, if you should straddle him again, when his hand wraps around your wrist once more. You gasp, then look chidingly at him, but he’s still got that predatory smile on his face - he must know that you enjoy when he holds you like that.

“get on your back, please?” He asks, and you wonder, again, if it’s entirely fair that it’s his first time and he still looks at you like he knows exactly what he’s doing. You grin and comply, hopping onto the bed and carefully climbing until you’re the right way around on the bed, then look up at him.

“Yes?” You say innocently, and he groans again, his eyes flicking quickly over you. He doesn’t answer, just moves over you and kisses you roughly - oh, that magic tongue against yours saps all the sass out of you almost instantly. Does he know how easy it is for him to do that, to leave you gasping and wanting more? A bony hand is teasing your breast, and you’re just… your hips keep straining, looking for him, and it’s a relief when he lowers his pelvis slightly and you have something to press against. When he parts from you, he’s got a look in his eyes, and you let him kiss his way down your neck again, but when it becomes clear that his final destination is the apex of your thighs, you rebel, grabbing his hand.

“hm?”

“No, I can’t wait.” You whisper. You’ll feel embarrassed about this later, but right now, it’s the truth. “Don’t want your tongue.” He stares at you for a second, then grins again.

“what d’you want?” He purrs, and you scowl at him.

“You.” You finally mutter. His smile grows wider, and he leans down to kiss you, as lovingly as he ever has, and there you are again, that helpless puddle of human that just wants him in you. Luckily, he seems to be on the exact same page, because a second later you feel him, blunt and wanting, poised to push inside of you, and the shock from feeling so much magic, all at once, it makes you moan throatily. He takes a deep breath at that, clearly trying to keep his cool.

“ok?” He checks.

“Yes!” You nod quickly.

“can i-”

“YES.” Oh, you love him for always asking, but right now you’re just about out of patience, and the relief you feel when he begins to push into you-

Well, it doesn’t last long.

You weren’t prepared for so much, you think wildly to yourself, you didn’t think that anything could feel this good, and your legs wrap around him unconsciously, pulling him deeper, and he groans, and he’s not even moving yet, and this isn’t fair, how he can make you feel so good so fast, and you just can’t give in already, he isn’t even moving…

He’s moving.

You whimper, gripping his back, your fingers twining between his ribs, and try to hang on. Each stroke inside you feels like pure lightning, if lightning set every bit of you on fire in the best possible way. He’s got a delighted, disbelieving look in his eyes, when he’s not kissing your lips or your ear or your neck, and he’s set the kind of pace that probably would have driven you insane, even without the, uh, magic dick.

Whatever research he’s been doing should be shared with literally everyone, you think faintly, before your body succumbs and you begin to spasm with pleasure. He groans quietly, and then slows down, his eyes flickering to your own.

“you ok-”

“Yes. Don’t stop.” You manage. He grins again, and brushes his lips sweetly against your cheek - he seems set on making your heart melt, not just your body - and resumes. And god, the process repeats itself, two more times, before the look in his eyes goes slightly wild. You’re feeling limp, almost exhausted from so much stimulation, but when he begins to speed up, you pull yourself back together, tracing his vertebrae, trying not to scream. You clutch at him and whisper, “I love you, Sans,” and he can’t take it anymore.

He grunts out your name and releases, and your body instantly, almost shockingly reacts, flinging you into the most intense sensation you’ve ever had, as every muscle inside of you suddenly screams *more*. He’s twitching blissfully inside you, and the feeling of pure magic is building and building and - god, you peak again.

It’s a relief when he withdraws from you, for a second, because you can barely handle that intense of a feeling, and then you feel suddenly, witheringly empty, even with the soft glow of magic still pooled between your legs. He’s breathing hard, watching you, and you can’t tear your eyes from him.

“ok first time?” He finally manages to rasp, and you let out a wild laugh, pressing your forehead to his sternum and holding him close.

“I don’t think human beings are de… designed to feel that good.” You yawn, suddenly feeling very, very tired, and you nuzzle his neck.

“oh.” You can hear the disappointment in his voice. “uh, next time, if you want, we can go a little easier-”

“Don’t you dare, bonehead.” You whisper, lips moving against the vertebrae of his neck, and he shudders, then yawns too.

“i love you.” He whispers. “should we use the shower or something?”

“In the morning. Legs won’t work.” You rationalize, and look up just in time to see a very, very, smug look - perhaps the smuggest he’s ever looked - cross his face.

“k. morning.” He says, still catching his breath. “time is it?”

“Late.” You guess, too exhausted to turn your head. Your eyelids are already drooping. “We should sleep. Paps and Frisk. Christmas.” He lets out a low chuckle, and strokes your hair.

“yeah. but… wow.”

“You’re telling me.”

“wanna do that again sometime?”

“Heck yes.” You chuckle, snuggling in closer. “Tomorrow work for you?”

“my schedule’s open.” He says, giving you a very languid, very satisfied wink. “night babe. sleep well.”

“I love you.” You whisper again.

“i know. love you too.”

----------------------------------------------

You don’t make it until tomorrow. In the early hours of the morning your eyes peel open, your mind still spooling with the wildest, hottest dream you’ve ever had. He’s snoring softly, but you can feel him hard against your back, and the slightest shift to look at him wakes him up. He eyes you slowly, then shows a sharp mouthful of teeth, his eye snapping blue.

“more?”

You nod helplessly, and lean into him again, a leg wrapping around him.

------------------------------------------------

You wake up very early the next morning, in spite of yourself, feeling sore and exhausted and absolutely blissful. There’s a split second when you look anxiously at the door, but thank god, the armoire’s still in front of it. You yawn, looking at the watery sunlight filtering in through the big window, then snuggle up into the bony arms wrapped posessively around you. It’s no good. Now that you’re up, you’re up.

“Baby.” You whisper in his ear. Well, where an ear would be. “It’s Christmas. You want to get up?” He lets out a soft grumble. “C’mon.” You cajole. “Don’t you want to see if Santa came last night?” You tease with a grin.

“nnn. couldn’t have came as much as i did.” He grumbles sleepily, and your eyes go wide.

“I didn’t know we could do dirty puns!” You muse out loud, feeling delighted, and the obvious happiness in your voice makes him peek his eyes open and chuckle. Awh, he really does look more tired than you feel - and you feel tired! “Okay, okay. Stay in bed, bonehead.” You whisper, and kiss him softly, then wriggle away to avail yourself of the shower, feeling sticky and still a little swamped with magic.

When you return from the bathroom, dripping and barely clothed, there’s the sound of four eager fists hammering on the door to greet you.

“LAZYBONES! IT’S TIME FOR PRESENTS!” Papyrus shrieks.

Yeah, Santa didn’t take any back, you lied, Uncle Sans!” You chuckle for a moment, finding a dress, and then your sleep deprived brain catches up with you. You hadn’t just heard Frisk’s tablet.

You’d just heard Frisk.

More than that, in your head, neatly, the correct signs for what Frisk had just said spooled through your brain. It was like a whole corner of your head was suddenly unlocked, like you were fluent without more than the most basic lessons!

You glance, very skeptically, at your snoring, magical boyfriend, and then back at the door.

“you’ve been exposed to a lot of magic recently,” He’d said last night, and that was true, but…

Oh, you were going to have a hell of a time explaining this.

Chapter Text

“Sans.” You walk over to his side of the bed (oh, weird, when had he gotten an official side?) and shake his shoulder. “I just heard Frisk.”

“i know, s’did i, not a liar, just said santa might take ‘em back…” Sans grumbles into the pillow. You clear your throat and cross your arms, waiting. Suddenly, he sits up. “wait. run that by me again.” He says, his eyes wide open. You give him a pointed, mildly stressed look.

“I just. Heard. Frisk. Through the door.” You say. He blinks slowly.

“...oh.” He mutters.

“Is this, uh, is this a normal side effect to, um…” You gesture broadly between you. He grimaces, then gives you a very guilty shrug, the wheels in his head still clearly turning.

“not that i’ve ever heard of?” He admits. “i feel like i would have, you know, we’re not the first human/monster couple to exist?” He mutters. He sounds like he feels absolutely wretched. You take a deep breath.

“But… you’re not a monster.” You remind him.

“uh, right. not exactly.” He says, looking upset.

“So, we’re kinda flying blind here, huh?” You mutter, sinking to a seat on the bed, and trying to ignore the renewed sound of hammering fists against the door as Papyrus screams,

“WE KNOW YOU’RE AWAKE, LAZYBONES! COME ON, IT’S PRESENT TIME!”

“go on down, paps, we’ll be down in a second.” Sans calls, and maybe the tone in his voice is enough that Papyrus merely sighs and accepts it.

“HMPH. FINE. WE WON’T WAIT FOREVER THOUGH!” He insists

"Be nice, Papyrus.” Frisk urges, and you gulp in a breath. That sensation of sound in your *brain*, the sudden flood of signs that accompanies it, it’s… it’s a little overwhelming. It’s like if you’d, at twenty-two years old, just figured out how to open your eyes for the very first time. All that new data is hard to parse.

“I’M ALWAYS NICE!” Papyrus insists as the two of them hurry down the hall. You glance back at Sans, biting your lip. He’s studying you miserably.

“shit, ________. i dunno. seeing my soul yesterday, well, frisk can see souls, i didn’t think it was that weird, but…. this is a big change. do you feel okay?” He says quietly. You think about this.

“I feel amazing.” You admit, stretching your arms experimentally, as if this will reveal some hidden flaw. Nope, you’re… well, still sore, but you feel great. “And, I mean… okay, so I can understand my little cousin now.” You grin suddenly. “God, that’s kind of awesome, right?” He nods skeptically. “Besides…” You muse, after a moment. “It’s not like humans haven’t been able to do big magic stuff before, right? It’s not totally unheard of, mom and dad have all these old books in the library about the sorcerers from forever ago, Mt. Ebbot was a hotbed, right? I mean, we put up the barrier!”

“...you’re not reassuring me right now, babe.” Sans drawls. You blink at him, then groan.

“Okay, bad example. That was tactless.” You admit. “But, hey, I’m not turning evil or anything, look, same _________, big dork, just now with translation abilities, apparently.” You promise him. He takes a deep breath.

“you’re sure?” He mutters. You think about it.

“Yeah. Pretty sure. I mean, hey, I’ll tell you if I notice anything else, but…” He winces at you when you shrug. “Hey, c’mon. I’m okay, really.” You say. “Here. Look.” You tap the space by your heart, where you now know your soul to reside. He concentrates, staring through you, then sighs and nods, looking a little relieved.

“still you.” He whispers. In spite of yourself, you feel a little relieved to hear that.

“Yeah. Still me.” You confirm, and lean against him. “Maybe this is a good thing? I mean, this is what every kid wants, right, to wake up and suddenly, bam, you’re Hogwarts material?” He blinks at you.

“um, what?”

“...Harry Potter?” You offer.

“again, what?”

“Oh my god, we’re going to need to address that later.” You mutter, looking at him, then sigh when he doesn’t smile. “Don’t look so upset, bonehead, I’m sure it’s all fine.” You urge, reaching out to take his hand from the top of the blankets.

“i just don’t want to hurt you. i never thought…” He winces again.

“Hey. Hey. Not hurt. A little ... a lot surprised, that’s all.” You say.

“love you for who you are, though. never thought you needed changing.” He mutters, and you squint at him.

“Well, look. Uh. I’m not entirely sure what I am right now. You still love me?”

“of course!” He says, shocked. You give him a crooked smile.

“Good. So, it’ll be cool, we’ll figure it out.” You lean against him until he’s supporting you, feeling quite conscious suddenly that you’re just in your underwear, and kiss his bony brow. He sighs.

“you know, it’s cool if you freak out later.” He whispers. “won’t blame you for being mad at me.”

“I’m not mad. I have… um, superpowers, now! That’s pretty cool!” You rationalize. He slowly, tiredly, lets out a chuckle.

“mhm. and how are we going to explain why you have ‘superpowers’ to everyone else?” He drawls, a bit of light back in his eyes. You grin at him.

“I dunno. You did science. Hm? Maybe me understanding Frisk is your big gift to me for Christmas.” He lets out a low chuckle at that.

“think that’ll work?”

-------------------------------------

“S-so Sans did-” Alphys begins, squinting at you.

“-science.” Sans interjects.

“Science.” You agree.

“And now you can understand Frisk.” Undyne says dubiously. You’re all crowded around the tree and the pile of presents in whatever sofas and chairs you could pull up, and you’ve, reluctantly, dropped the bomb. Well, you’d had to. You couldn’t just pretend not to understand Frisk.

“Yeah! Great christmas present, right?” You say, overly enthusiastic. Frisk, innocent soul that they are, agreed wholeheartedly.

Yes!” They sign quickly. “Thank you, Uncle Sans! It’s so cool!” You feel your smile growing a little tired, and Sans is flushing blue as he says,

“uh, don’t mention it, buddy.”

“Papyrus!” You cry, very quickly, sensing that more questions are coming. “Don’t you want to open your presents?”

“YES! I’VE BEEN VERY PATIENT BECAUSE I’M AN ADULT AND I NEED TO SET A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR FRISK AND GHOST!” Papyrus, who has not been very patient, exclaims, pacing urgently back and forth in front of the tree, the purring cat in his arms. You grin.

“Well, Papyrus, why don’t you let me take care of Ghost for a while while you get started?” Asgore says, studying the cat with interest. Toriel smiles at him for a second, then glances away, looking embarrassed, as Papyrus carefully hands your cat over. Asgore cradles the old cat with great care as Papyrus hollers and dives for the presents, and after that, it’s a free-for-all.

“________! Yo, thanks!” Undyne cries, unwrapping the fish tank you’d carefully picked out for her. “Yo, check it out, sweetie, it’ll be like we have Waterfall at home with us, once I pick out some fish!” Alphys beams at Undyne, then ducks as Papyrus and Frisk begin making their action figures fight above her head; Frisk has clambered onto the arm of the chair she’s sitting in.

“Frisk, watch Alphys’ head!” You call, and feel all eyes settle on you for a moment before you realize that you’ve spoken in that special, just-for-Frisk tone. Then Undyne snorts, diving back into her pile, and you realize you should get started on yours. God, you’ve never had so many gifts, you think, stretching a tired leg to pull a stray present closer to you. And, worse, they’re all so thoughtful! Papyrus has given you a new set of cat dishes for Ghost, designed for elderly cats that don’t like to lean down so far. Undyne and Alphys have teamed up to get you a custom stereo for whatever your new car is - Alphys grins when you open it, and promises she’ll help set it up with you, which is a decent hint that it’s more than the average stereo. Lesser Dog trots over to lay a tug of rope toy on your lap, which he’s had in his mouth all day and seems like more of a toy for him, but… hey, it’s the thought that counts, and he’s overjoyed by your gift of peanut butter treats and ear scratches in return. Mettaton, oh, he’s gotten you what feels like a whole new wardrobe, going totally overboard with designer bags and shoes and outfit after outfit, though he stresses,

“My fashion friends, darling, you’d be doing them a huge favor if you wore this, you’re something of an icon now!”

Toriel and Frisk have teamed up to give you a set of handmade ornaments, one huge pawprint and one tiny handprint with the words “cousin” and “aunt” written in their distinctive scripts underneath. “You guys made this yesterday?!” You sputter, and they both grin at you.

“We wanted to give you something to make sure you remember this year by.” Toriel explains, and you sigh happily, yanking Frisk over to give them a hug. They tolerate this for a moment, hugging you back, then laugh and squirm away, bounding back over to their pile and crowing when they unwrap the Calvin and Hobbes book you’d gotten them - the ecstatic, wordless joy pierces your brain for a second, so happy that it’s almost painful, but you’re already getting used to it. Not, of course, that it stops your overly concerned boyfriend from squeezing your hand and whispering,

“still ok?” You smile, wrapping an arm around him, and nod.

“Perfect.” You assure him, and kiss his cheek, ignoring the soft “awwww” that Alphys makes when she sees this.

Asgore - er, Santa’s - present is a surprise, but absolutely lovely. It’s an ancient book, you realize, opening it, and then, when you open the page, realize immediately what it is; an illustrated bestiary of all the water dwelling animals and monsters from the underground. It must have been made hundreds of years ago, since you can see the aging of the pages and the worn spine. The colors of the ink, though, are as bright and vivid as anything you’d ever seen.

“Asgore…” You sputter. “This is… it’s too much!”

(Sans squirms, and you can practically feel the jealousy radiate off of him).

“It’s nothing. I told Santa you’d like it.” He says, a twinkle in his eyes. Ghost is relaxed in his arms, totally limp and purring like a motor. “After all, your boyfriend and Papyrus had so much to tell me about the aquarium you work at and how much you know about the animals, and I figured that Santa might like to help you expand your knowledge.” You take a deep breath, and nod.

“You figured right.” You mutter, very carefully turning a page. Wow.

“I TOLD ASGORE, SANS BARELY SAYS ANYTHING AT WORK UNLESS HE HAS TO!” Papyrus emerges from a pile of discarded wrapping paper to announce, then dives back in.

“mine next.” Sans says quickly, and you laugh.

“I don’t have any left besides yours, babe. Gotta save the best for last, right?” You tease, grinning, and accept the compact package. When you open it, you stare at it for a second, confused. It looks like a top of the line cellphone, which is amazing, but-

“it’s a monster phone.” Sans explains quickly. “latest model. does all sorts of cool stuff, look-” He taps a button, there’s a flash of light, and then boom, there in the air in front of you is an extensive inventory of every single thing you own. “pick something. uh, something small.” He urges, and you blink, then comply, selecting a book you know you’ve left on your bedside table. There’s a flash again, and it’s sitting on your lap.

“Whaaaaaaaaat.” You mutter, looking at the book, then glance up at a grinning Sans. “Holy… cow.” You correct your language quickly, remembering Frisk and Paps. “Sans, this is… WOW.”

Alphys and Sans exchange a high five behind your back. Mettaton clears his throat, then Sans lets out a laughing sigh and high fives the robot as well. You beam at the three of them, feeling a little emotional, and hug your boyfriend close. “plus, now you can talk to frisk.” He adds, extremely deadpan, in your ear. You blink, then groan, realizing that the two of you had inadvertently ruined a huge chunk of your gift last night (apparently).

“Well, good, then we didn’t really lie.” You murmur back, then stand up. “C’mon. I gotta show you your present.”

You jerk your head towards the direction of the stairs, and Undyne whoops. You roll your eyes at her - really?! - and say, “You guys can all see in a second, I just want him to see it first.”

“didn’t have to get me anything.” He mutters, standing up. You scowl at him, and he chuckles reluctantly and takes your hand. “k. lead the way.”

You do so, climbing up one, two, three flights of stairs, until you’re at the very apex of the mansion, the fourth floor, in front of a locked door. You take a deep breath, then reach in your pocket and hand him the key.

“didn’t even realize this place had… well, yeah, there’s four floors of windows, counting that turret shape up top…” He muses. “s’ this the attic?”

“Not exactly.” You say quietly, and watch as he turns the key in the door. Oh, if there’s somewhere you haven’t been in your house since your mom and dad died, it’s here, you think, hearing the hinges squeak as he pushes it open and steps inside.

“holy shit.” He mutters, his eyes wide, as he looks around the large, round room he’s uncovered. It’s your parents’ lab, of course, their pride and joy, resting in the cupola of the house as its crowning achievement. Sans is speechless, stepping inside, his eyes wide. There’s equipment - oh god, there’s so much machinery up here, waiting to be called back to life, and even though you know a lot of it’s old, you also know that a lot of it was miles ahead of its time.

And there’s books, shelves and shelves, all waist height, all jam packed. These aren’t your parents’ college texts, these are the books they’d used in their work, heavily marked up, and a further pile, haphazard on a desk, of notebooks.

In the center of the room, dead center, aimed at the circular window in the ceiling, is a witheringly expensive telescope.

And around every single wall, barring the one with the door you’d entered through, there are windows, and windows, and windows; it’s nearly a full panorama, letting you see the sea, the land, the sky, anywhere you choose to look.

Sans is frozen, taking this all in. He holds still, only his head swiveling, for a long, long time.

“Is this… okay?” You finally have to ask.

“__________.” His voice nearly breaks with emotion. “holy… oh…” He turns, breathing hard, and leans up and kisses you, holding you tight and practically refusing to let go. When he finally pulls away (not caring that you’re now a panting, disheveled specimen of a human) he’s grinning like you’ve never seen him smile before. “this is the most amazing thing anyone’s ever… you’re sure you…. wow.” He says, looking around the room again. You smile slowly, feeling an immensely satisfied glow in what you’re beginning to recognize as your, well, soul.

“I did good, then?” You ask quietly. His jaw drops, looking at you in disbelief.

“heck yeah.” He finally mutters, and kisses you again, and you can feel the bliss radiating from the center of his chest, beneath his ribcage, and almost instantly you can figure out the allure, why he’d been interested in touching your soul. Tangibly feeling how happy he is, being able to recognize that, it’s intoxicating even from this distance, and you can’t help but think that if you were just a little closer-

No, not yet. He’s still freaked about the fact that apparently his … ugh, there’s not a neat way to put this … that he’s apparently screwed you into a state of universal fluency, you decide. And apparently, that includes being quite aware of his soul, when you’re thinking about it. Better wait. Let him get used to the idea first.

“merry christmas.” He murmurs, looking quite seriously up at you. “this is one of the most amazing...oh man, i can’t wait to show papyrus, i think i’ll put my pet rock right here-” He wanders away from you, a boy in a toy store, beginning to really get into all the different things in the lab. “what does this do?!” He taps at a machine.

“I don’t have any idea.” You admit.

“i’m gonna find out!!” He says gleefully. “oh man.... oh man!”

And for once you get it, that sappy shit that you’d heard so many times in movies and TV shows. Seeing him this happy is better than any gift you could possibly have received.

Chapter Text

Excited Sans is a hell of a thing. It’s actually wonderful to watch. He’s normally so relaxed, so laid back, so… well, you know the word Papyrus would choose, but lazy or not, right now he’s just… amped! He hugs you two more times in between opening cabinets and staring closely at different bits of machinery and pacing a long, slow, marvelling walk around the telescope.

“think we could see some of the other planets with this?” He asks, and you grin.

“Definitely. We did it all the time when I was a kid. You ever see Saturn’s rings before? Or the red spot on Jupiter?” He blinks at you for a second, then very slowly shakes his head.

“no.” He whispers. “you really think, with this…” He looks at the telescope again, and you smile.

“I know you can.” You promise. “Tonight, okay? If it’s clear out?” He takes a deep, hesitant breath, then nods, looking… well, a little distressed. You frown, trying to figure out what has him upset. “We don’t have to if you don’t want to, Sans.” You say softly, and he shakes his head quickly.

“no! no. i just…” He looks back at the room, then the telescope, then you, and mutters, “i keep thinking that the rug’s gonna get yanked out from under me when i least expect it, y’know, that i’ll blink and when i open my eyes i’ll be right back in my dad’s lab underground doing the same thing over and over again…” He gulps in another breath, then looks seriously back at you. “‘m just so happy.” He mutters, helpless, and you can’t help but comfort him, moving forward and kissing the crown of his skull. He smiles up at you, but suddenly, you see, under the happiness, true distress in his eyes.

“What happened to you, Sans?” You whisper. “Why do you think that things aren’t gonna stay like this?” He glances around the room, then sighs.

“you know the barrier.” He begins.

“Yes. Very well.” You mutter dryly.

“you know that nothing could escape it.” He says, and you realize that this is one of his explanations, the kind that you now suspect he’s been rehearsing in his head to be able to tell you, like a professor addressing his students. Oh, he’d be a very hot profess-

Not the point, ________.

“Right. Not even you.” You say, and he bares his teeth in a smile.

“‘xactly. look, of all the monsters down there, though, i wasn’t the strongest. not by half. it’s… i dunno. i mean, literally, i don’t know the whole story. i think maybe frisk does. i’m pretty sure frisk knows more than i ever could… look, all i know is this, while the barrier was up, there was a force in there, there was something, something… dark.” He says, his eyes distant pinpricks. “i don’t know. i have guesses, but… look, i really don’t know. i just know…” He takes a moment, shaking his head. “whatever it was down there could... fuck with time. like, i can do it a little tiny bit, if i think about it. i can be somewhere a few seconds before i should be able to, even, uh, with the doorways.” He waits for your shocked look, and seems a little disappointed when you just nod.

“Oh!” You say, shrugging, “Um, you mentioned space and time before. I kinda didn’t figure, you know, if you can punch a hole in space... I’m imagining you have a little leeway on when you come out, not just where.” He eyes you suspiciously, then shrugs to himself.

“okay. taking that, uh…. real well, babe, but sure.” He mutters, clearly a little unsettled that you’re not freaking out. You’re not entirely sure why you’re not freaking out either, or asking more questions, it just seems obvious to you suddenly, that yeah, time and space have to be bundled on some level.

He’s still studying you, but eventually, he clears his throat. “anyway, yeah, so i’ve got a few seconds to work with when i’m making a shortcut. whoever else was down there, though, they could punch through time as easy as i could with space. right?” He checks. You’re not sure you get it, but you nod. “and they... they were...can’t imagine the kind of soul that would be like them. they… they did everything. everything awful a creature could do.” He whispers. “never showed their face to me, but, i’m used to time, used to ripples, i could remember bits and pieces, specially from the end of a timeline. i think i lived through a lot of them.” He mutters. “a lot. and babe, the things they did, the things i remember… they hurt all my friends. they crawled inside Frisk and wore ‘em like a skin. they killed…” He stops, breathing hard. “doesn’t matter. doesn’t matter.” He tells himself quietly, shaking his head.

“God… Sans, I’m so…” You’re wordless for once, stumbling up against concepts you don’t know how to articulate. Finally he gives you a tired, crazed smile.

“your cousin, though. they must have seen everything reset as many times as me. i dunno. maybe not. maybe… maybe they just did everything right, just once. like the ghostbuster in that movie.”

“Groundhog Day.” You supply, then grimace, feeling tactless. He nods, looking appreciative, though.

“exactly! yes. exactly. saw it on tv late at night at alphys’. know the sick thing?” He flashes a toothy smile that, for once, doesn’t make you melt. It nearly makes you shudder. “that movie ended, and they played it again, the network, twice in a row. ‘s sick, right?” He whispers, and you nod, trying to figure what it would be like, to be in Sans’ shoes. (Well, Sans’ beat up Chucks.) Things like that must seem absolutely brutal to him, even if he couldn’t remember every single day he’d lived through. “anyway. i dunno how many tries it took, how many frisk remembers, but when the barrier came down...we don’t really know what happened then, just all of a sudden the kid was on the ground and the barrier was open, and whatever was messing with time stopped.” He whispers. “dunno why, dunno how, and the kid just clams up whenever i ask. i don’t ask too much anymore. it’s been more than a year.” He whispers. “but i still think, most nights… what if it starts again? what if that thing’s out here now? what if you humans were right to build the barrier, to keep whatever that thing was inside?” He says, and you shiver.

“Babe, I’m so sorry.” You mutter. “I can’t imagine living that. I can’t. I mean.. that’s an actual nightmare. No, it’s worse...” He sighs softly, then hugs you around the waist once more, leaning his head on your shoulder.

“i just don’t wanna lose this. or you. especially you. i’m so goddamn happy.” He says quietly, and you stroke his back, trying to reassure him.

“It’ll be okay.” You whisper. “You’re out now. You’ve had so long without that happening, right?”

“right.”

“It’s over. The barrier let all sorts of awful things fester, but it’s over. You’re allowed to be happy, Sans.” You assure him. “And we’re not gonna let anyone get hurt anymore. We’ll take it a day at a time. We can do that.” He shakes his head.

“don’t want a day at a time. i want a long time.” He says, sounding determined, then glances up at you with a hangdog expression on his face. “i know. too soon. i’m pushing things too fast with you, babe.”

“No, no, you’re not-”

“i am.” He says, sorrowfully, and you just want blissful Sans back, the one who wanted to look at all the books and the telescopes and the graduated cylinders and the pipettes. “i know i am. i just… i think i’d go insane, waiting, to tell you how i feel.” He whispers. “i mean, it’s not fair of me. i know for a fact that you’re who i want and need and love. i’ve touched your soul.”

“D-” You start, then take a breath. “Do monsters not do that often, then?” He lets out a soft laugh.

“not really. in attacks, in kids’ games, sure, we might touch with magic. a few of us do magic to change the color of your soul for a while, it’s a trip, you should see alphys’... but that’s different than actual touching.”

“How?” You say quietly.

“touching, not with magic, physically, is… it takes a lot of trust.” He says slowly. “it tells you a lot about a person. told me a lot about you. told me that i’d never not be in love with you.” He says, looking down at the ground.

Oh. Well, wow. If that’s true, it’s… it’s big. It’s very big. Hell, it’s huge. It’s so huge that you don’t know exactly what to do with it. He sees the look on your face, and shakes his head.

“i know. i know. too fast. i know it’s insane, i just…”

“Do you trust me?” You hear yourself saying. He looks wide-eyed at you.

“implicitly.” He says softly, but clearly truthfully.

“Then… then, can I try? To touch yours?” You stammer, flushed and embarrassed and hopeful. He squints at you.

“d’you think you can?” He whispers, and you think about this and nod.

“I mean.. I mean, yeah, I think maybe I can right now.” You whisper. He leans his forehead against your shoulder for a second, then steps away.

“let’s start small. can you see it?” He murmurs. You shake your head ‘no’, but then mutter,

“But I can feel it. It’s right here, right?” You tap the center of his chest, squinting, and he chuckles in spite of himself and nods.

“yeah. right there. okay… focus on that feeling. don’t look with your eyes. focus on it with your mind. the way you hear frisk, can you hear me?” He asks, and you bite your lip and focus…

But nothing happens. You stand there for a while, trying, but you can’t figure out what to do.

“I’m sorry.” You finally mutter. “Guess I can’t…”

“hey. hey. s’okay.” He says, and kisses you softly. “you really want this?”

“Yes!” You breathe. “I want to know what you know! I want to know you the way you know me, because I love you!” He smiles at that, and hugs you again.

“i love you too.” He murmurs in your ear. “i never thought… god, i never thought i’d love someone besides paps. now, imagining life without you is…”

“It’s not gonna happen.” You assure him, feeling a little scared that you’re promising that to this monster you still barely know, who you love so wholeheartedly all the same.

“good.” He says, squeezing you, then blinks. “hey, they’re all coming up here, i hear ‘em on the stairs.”

“Can we try again later, with your soul?” You ask quickly, and he nods just as quickly.

“whenever you want.” He promises, and kisses you once more before parting and walking to the door, calling, “hey, guys, up here, you’re gonna freak when you see this!”

You’re still reeling, slightly, from the heavy emotions, but when Papyrus bursts in first, his eyes wide, and takes in the lab with a barely audible screech, you have to grin, particularly when he bounds forward two big steps and lifts you off your feet in a hug.

“THANK YOU SO MUCH, HUMAN! THIS WILL BE MY BROTHER’S FAVORITE!” He says, so happy for the sake of Sans that you get a big, dopey grin on your face. Aw, you love Papyrus too. You pat his shoulder when he puts you down, and look at the door, waiting for everyone else to make it up.

“W-woah.” Alphys steps in next, looking astonished. “Mettaton, get up here!” She hollers a second later. Mettaton groans, but clangs up the stairs rather sulkily, though even that pretense is dropped when he emerges into the lab.

“...Goodness.” He mutters. Sans is leaning back against a counter, looking tremendously pleased with himself now.

“oh. yeah. _______ got me a lab for christmas.” He says nonchalantly.

It’s entirely possible that the best gift you’d gotten him, though, was the two looks of staggering jealousy from Mettaton and Alphys. You’d never - well, no, you had seen him look more self-satisfied, more pleased with you. But this, this was a very close second.

“This is unreal.” Alphys announces.

“There’s so much…” Mettaton mutters.

“yeah.” Sans smirks smugly.

“CAN WE LOOK THROUGH THE TELESCOPE!?” Papyrus yelps, excited, ruining the silent moment of astonishment.

“We’re all gonna, Paps.” You promise him. “Tonight, okay? Don’t want to hurt your eyes looking now.”

“Would it hurt his eyes?” Mettaton muses, and when Sans glares at him, he quickly agrees. “Tonight, though! I must say, I’m excited!”

“I-It’ll be a perfect end to Christmas.” Alphys agrees. “But… ________, Undyne wants you downstairs, she says she doesn’t know how to cook a dead bird.”

“Uh, I assume she means the turkey.” You say apprehensively. “Sure, let’s go down and help.” You start towards the door after Papyrus, Alphys and Mettaton (the latter two muttering about how some skeletons get all the luck) when you sense, rather, Sans hanging a little ways back. You turn and grin at him. “You want to stay up here and check some stuff out, bonehead?” You offer playfully.

“really? you don’t mind?” He asks. You shake your head.

“Course not! This space is yours now, I want you to enjoy it!”

“god, i love you.” He repeats again. “world’s best girlfriend.”

It occurs to you, halfway down the stairs, that based on everything he’s told you, he actually means that. He thinks he’ll love you forever. He thinks you’re the best girlfriend in the world.

Well, it’s hard not to feel a little self-satisfied yourself, after that.

Chapter Text

Undyne’s alone in the kitchen, staring dubiously at the raw turkey on a roasting pan. Mettaton trots into the kitchen with you, but Undyne shakes her head at him.

“Out.” She tells him. “We need some girl time.”

Mettaton raises an eyebrow very slowly. “Rude.” He pronounces, flips his hair pointedly, and then stalks slowly off. You grin after him, then nod at the turkey.

“Need a hand?”

“Please?” She mutters. “I only know how to cook fish and spaghetti. This is a totally new kind of dead animal.” You grimace at that.

“I guess you monsters didn’t eat all that much meat, huh, before you got out?” You say, walking over to the turkey and checking that the oven was on. Undyne shakes her head no.

“Nah. I mean, I ate lots of fish and snails. And now I’ve had, like, everything.” She boasts.

“Oh yeah?” You tease, finding the stuffing that Papyrus had been preparing yesterday and grabbing an apron - no use staining your cute dress. “Did you know that there’s places that fry up alligator?”

“Oh my god, really?” She says, her eye widening a little. “Can we go? Oh, man, that’s so cool!” You grin at her enthusiasm.

“Sure, we’ll find one. I’d like to try it too. I think Mom and Dad let me try some when I was a kid, but… you know, haven’t been so adventurous the past few years.” You chuckle, beginning to stuff the turkey. She snorts. “What?”

“_________, you’ve had more adventure in the past month….”

“Okay, okay.” You laugh. “Maybe I just haven’t been able to afford exciting stuff until recently. Have to say, having roommates totally helps on food expenses. You sure you and Alphys don’t want to just move in?” You suggest innocently, raising your eyebrows. Undyne grins slowly.

“Oh, sure, you say that now. But, considering how fast you and Sans seem to be going, you’ll probably be married by like next Tuesday, so-”

“Undyne!” You complain, rolling your eyes, then sigh. “It’s… all pretty fast, isn’t it?” She’s watching you closely, and she picks up on the small amount of nerves in your voice.

“Yeah. But… like I told you. Wartime. People get close pretty fast when the whole world feels like it’s against you.” She says reassuringly. “But...you’re happy, right? You’re happy with Sans, even though it’s fast? Because if you need someone to tell him to back off, I will, I’ve got your back, punk!”

“No, no, trust me, I’m ecstatic.” You say, which is kind of hard to say with a straight face while your hand is inside a cold, slimy turkey. Undyne grins at you.

“So you’re okay?” She checks. “I mean, don’t get married next Tuesday, I’ve got plans then, but-”

“Ha.” You say pointedly, then bite your lip. “Hey, can I ask you a question? About monster stuff?” She looks dubiously at you, and says,

“I feel like that look on your face should start to scare me. Last time you looked like that I got taught all about condoms.” You burst out laughing at that, and, finished stuffing the turkey, quickly wash your hands.

“Poor Undyne had to hear about icky human sex.” You tease. “Can you get the oven for me, please?” She beams and swings the door open, and you struggle to get the enormous bird in, then nod for her to close the door. “Okay. Now all we need to do is baste it every half hour or so. Not so bad.” You nod at the turkey. “Man, should I be drinking wine or coffee?”

“Why not both? Mix em!” Undyne says enthusiastically, and you shudder.

“Coffee.” You decide, and pour yourself and Undyne a mug, then hop up on the counter. “I dunno if this question is rude, I’m sorry. But, um, have you and Alphys… touched each other’s souls?” You ask. Undyne blinks at you, her cheeks coloring slightly.

“It’s pretty personal, but… Well, yeah, once I let her touch mine. Pretty recently, actually, for our one year anniversary.” She says softly, then adds, “Or, d’you mean, like with magic, because I’ve done that lots, I taught her how to make a shield…”

“No, no, I meant the first way.” You admit, feeling embarrassed without being sure why. “It’s just that, well, okay, so Sans touched mine-”

“WHAT.” Undyne sputters, spraying coffee on the table. “I mean, there’s moving fast and then there’s… Did he at least explain what it was going to be like? I mean, _________! Alphys won’t let me touch hers and I’ve known her forever! It’s…. it’s PRIVATE! Tell me he told you what it meant!” She demands. You grimace, thinking about how much trouble you’re getting Sans in.

“Not… really. Can you keep your voice down?” You whisper. “I don’t want anyone… look, it was a spur of the moment thing. We’d had a really intense night.”

“What, last night?”

“Uh, no. Well, I mean, last night was.... heh, intense, but no, the night that Paula was on TV, there were some reporters taking pictures of me in the back yard and Sans opened up a portal to hell and threw them in there and I had to talk him into bringing them back, and then he told me about what it was like to have Gaster as a dad and things were so intense, and my soul was… you know, out, and he was just as worked up as I was and he asked if it would be okay if he touched it and I said yes because it felt right…” You stammer. She takes a deep breath.

“Woah.” She finally mutters. “Okay. Alright, wow. We can talk about some of that later but...” She studies you. “Are you okay with it? He didn’t mess with you or hurt you or anything right?”

“Uh, yeah. It was the most intense thing I’ve ever felt, but… it was so good, Undyne.” You whisper, thinking about that moment. “I was… I felt better than I… I mean, he loves me so much, and I just… I felt like everything came back, all the parts of myself I’d lost, all at once. It felt like being healed from all these wounds I never knew I had. I was crying, and he stopped almost right away because he thought he hurt me, but it was nothing at all like being hurt…” You murmur, your cheeks bright red. “And then, god, yesterday I saw his soul for a second, and then today I can talk to Frisk and I just, I want to give him what he gave me, I want him to know how I feel about him, and I know I’m moving fast, but…” She’s giving you a soft look now, no longer half as panicked as she realizes how incredibly positively you feel about the whole experience.

“He loves you, huh?” She murmurs, and you nod quickly.

“He told me yesterday. And I… I know, I know everything I said before, but… I do, I love him too.” You admit. “I’m almost scared, how much I love him.” You say, and she pauses, groans, then sighs, a strange combination of happy and resigned.

“The two of you are so damn cute, it hurts sometimes.” She grumbles. “But, I mean, you both just seem so happy together! Well, I still think it’s really fast, but… Maybe you guys… I dunno. Monsters have this old term, you know, ‘soulmates?’” She suggests, and you giggle.

“Humans have that word too, Undyne?”

“You do? Weird!” She says, chuckling. “Thought you guys didn’t really believe much in the soul these days.”

“Well, we didn’t, maybe, before you guys came out anyway, but we just used it to mean like, two people who just belong together.” You say, quietly, and she nods.

“Exactly. Some people’s souls are just complementary. They just go together. They’re not the same, they’re just like a matched pair.” She mutters thoughtfully. “They said that was true about the king and queen.” You wince.

“Ah, yes, that famously successful marriage.” You point out, and she raises an eyebrow.

“I don’t know, dude, they seemed pretty dang friendly to me, this morning. Wait, hold up, speaking of which, hold everything the hell up, this is what I wanted to talk to you about. What the hell was that this morning, the whole ‘science’ thing!?” She demands. “Because I saw you heading upstairs with Sans last night and... fuhuhuhu, science was definitely not on your mind?”

“Um…” You glance at your coffee, trying to decide whether you should tell her everything or not.

“We didn’t hear any screams this time…” Undyne’s thinking this over. “But now you’ve got concealer on two spots on your neck, so…” She slowly grins, and then passes you a large bowl of brussels sprouts, saying, “Here, make yourself busy while you tell me.” You groan; she said it like you telling her was already set in stone. You bite your lip, hopping down from the counter and grabbing a cutting board and a knife, then finally sigh, accepting that yes, you’re going to tell her everything, if only because you, damn it, you kind of want to brag.

“Holy shit, Undyne.” You finally murmur. “He’s…. oh my god.” You mutter, blushing and grinning down into the sprouts.

“He’s good then?” Undyne says, smirking and looking tremendously pleased. She glances at the door, and lowers her voice even more, until it’s barely a whisper. “He, uh, he got you there?” She says with a wink.

You bite your lip. “Ummm... “ Okay, don’t sound smug, don’t sound smug, “The first time, he got me there four times, dude.”

Undyne gives you an absolutely delighted look.

“FOUR TIMES?!” She hisses in a barely constrained undertone, then blinks, “WAIT. ‘THE FIRST TIME???’”

You can’t help it, you give her a big, huge, absolutely delighted grin of your own.

“I mean, we were going to leave it at once, I was so tired, but then I was dreaming about him and...I woke up in the middle of the night and he woke up a second later, and….” You say, then giggle helplessly, “Um, he was suddenly very interested in it, so…” You say softly, recalling the look on his face with very little effort and feeling quite warm. She shakes her head.

“Unbelievable. This is absolutely unbelievable.” She sighs. “The two of you look like the most innocent little cinnamon bunnies, and it turns out that the only thing that you have in common with bunnies is that you’re fucking like ‘em-”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” You cut her off, grinning, and finally remember the sprouts in front of you and begin chopping them. “But, uh… so here’s the thing. So last night, couldn’t understand Frisk. This morning? I can. Now, I’m no scientist compared to Alphys or Sans, but even I can make a pretty educated hypothesis as to why I’m suddenly able to speak soul to soul. I mean, even after he came the other night I could basically feel magic inside me for hours...” You whisper again, unable to stop your overshare in your desire to just talk about this with someone who won’t freak out about hurting you.

Well, Undyne would certainly freak out, but for a different reason. Her eye goes round and wide, and she lets out three seconds of laughter that she’s just barely managing to keep quiet, then she clamps her hand to her mouth, taking a few seconds to calm down.

“Oh my god.” She breathes, looking horrified and delighted at the same time. “Oh my god, oh no, this is hilarious.”

“Hilarious?” You sputter. Oh, god, privately you’re pretty sure you agree, but Sans would be so mad if he realized that.

“Oh, hahah, no, I meant, this is very serious and dignified business.” She says in her best officious voice, then looks indignant. “Wait, so you didn’t even use the condoms? I had to go through that whole gross explanation and imagine Sans’ invisible magical wiener for nothing?”

“He said we didn’t technically need to!” You protest. “And, um, it’s not invisible, it’s bl… and, and, be quiet!” You recover quickly, realizing you’re veering off into stuff that Sans might not want shared. “I don’t want Frisk to hear!”

“Well, apparently the only reason that Frisk might be able to hear is because Sans told you that you didn’t need a condom!” Undyne hisses, that horrified/delighted expression still on her face. “Oh my god, this is so ridiculous. Is he freaking out? I bet he’s freaking out.”

“Uh, yeah. He’s not coping well. I think he thinks he broke the human.” You agree, and she snickers.

“Oh, god, this is such a great gift. Merry Christmas to you Undyne.” She says to herself, then blinks. “Oh my god, __________. What happens if… I mean, we’re assuming that he’s, uh, donated some magic to you, hm?”

“That’s a very tactful way of putting it.” You snicker, slicing a sprout carefully.

“So, um… how long do you think you hang onto that magic for? Is there a shelf life?” She whispers, then smiles even bigger. “Oh my god, do you need regular refills?” She says quietly, just delighted. “I swear to god I read a doujin like this once, punk.” You blink.

“What’s a douj-”

“FUHUHUHU NEVER MIND!” Undyne says quickly. “Let me help you with those sprouts, buddy!” She becomes a whirlwind of prep work to make up for her lapse in judgment, and you immediately resolve to look that word up, then, suddenly, grit your teeth. God, what if she was right? What if you suddenly lost your ability to talk to Frisk? What if…

“I have no idea if I can run out of magic. I don’t even know how to use what I have. I guess…” You pause for effect, knowing that she’ll like this, “I’m going to need to do some experiments and find out.” You mutter. Undyne loses it, dissolving into helpless laughter.

“God, I’m having a very good Christmas.” Undyne finally sighs, wiping a tear from her eye, and you smirk at her.

“Me. Too.” You drawl, and she begins snickering again. “Probably not as good as Sans, though-”

“No shit, boneboy got to home plate at last! And then he got to run a victory lap-”

“No, no!” You laugh. “I mean, I got him, well, I gave him the key to mom and dad’s lab, up on the fourth floor, and he’s so excited!” You sigh softly. “It’s adorable.” You say, a little lovestruck, and Undyne snorts again.

“I called it forever ago. You guys are such lovenerds.” She teases.

“Um, you know who else is excited? Your girlfriend.” You point out, and Undyne snickers.

“Oh yeah? Is she jealous?” Undyne wants to know. You shrug, demurring. Undyne’s smile grows wider. “Well, I’m not exactly done giving gifts. I got one left. ‘S gonna be a good one.” She says mysteriously.

-------------------------------------------------------

After that, you can’t help but pester her about her gift, but she stays clammed up, refusing to budge on the subject. After a while, you have to move on, especially when Papyrus and Frisk come into the kitchen to help you and Undyne cook. Papyrus has never made stuffed shells before, so he’s almost inspiring in his level of concentration as he reads and rereads a recipe you’d pulled up on your brand new cell phone - oh, man, that thing was lightning fast! You would need to check out all of the features when you had a second, because you were pretty sure that this was something that certain people in the tech sector would kill for, literally.

Frisk is adorable, the perfect helper in the kitchen, and very slowly you begin to get used to their voice on the inside of your skull. It’s not painful, listening to Frisk - they’re generally very sweet and soft spoken - but it still feels overwhelmingly new. Each time they speak, you feel yourself flinching a little bit. At first, Frisk looks a little upset by this, so you have to explain,

“It’s okay, cuz. It’s just so new for me!” As you speak, you experimentally begin to sign along with your words, and Frisk brightens right up.

That’s so cool. I’m so glad that Uncle Sans did science on you!

(Undyne can’t handle this, and has to excuse herself into the pantry to disintegrate into hysterical laughter). Frisk stares after her for a second, then shrugs and resumes mixing ricotta and egg for Papyrus. As you continue to talk quietly, it becomes less and less of a shock to your head to communicate, until finally, it seems quite ordinary. You know you don’t need to sign along as you speak, that Frisk can understand you just fine, but you still end up doing so because it feels so wonderful and exciting to suddenly have this entire dictionary of a new language, just unlocked in your brain overnight. Frisk seems to like it too, and occasionally corrects your fingers slightly or nudges a hand - even though you know how to do all the signs, you don’t have the muscle memory to perform them perfectly each time.

After a while, when you’ve been communicating easily, you find the courage to ask, “Hey, Frisk, Sans says that you can see souls. Is that true?” Frisk nods happily. “Can you explain to me how you do it?” You ask slowly. “Do you have to concentrate or can you see them all the time?”

Gotta concentrate!” Frisk chirps in your brain. “You can’t look with your eyes, though. You’ll just get your eyes tired. You have to…” Their little brow wrinkles as they try to explain this to you. “You have to use your soul and your head. Like how we’re talking. We’re using signs, but we don’t need them, we’re using our souls and our brains! So when you look for a soul, you don’t need to use your eyes, you just have to concentrate on your soul and the other person’s!” They explain brightly, and tap the spot over where their heart is located with their small hand through their adorable striped sweater. “Mine’s right here. Look with your soul! It’s red. Our souls are close in color! Maybe because we’re family?” They say shyly, then frown. “But I bet my birth mom’s soul looks like doodoo.” They say quietly, and you burst out laughing and nod.

“You’re totally right, kiddo.” You assure them, and take a breath. “Okay, let me try. Hold still.” You try to reach out for Frisk’s soul, using your own, but you can’t help it, you’re still searching with your eyes, hoping that you’ll see -

Close your eyes, almost all the way.” Frisk orders. “That’s what I do. Use your brain!” Welll, when they put it like that….

You squint, and try to reach out again, then sigh and close your eyes entirely, feeling like you’re pushing your soul physically… and then, in your head, something finally snaps into place, and you see Frisk’s soul, a perfect, perfect pure red, ideal for the perfect pure child, you think, gasping. You open your eyes, and it disappears, but you’ve got it now, you get the knack of it, and, like those Magic Eye games you played when you were a little kid, where the senseless jumble of shapes suddenly forms an image, you concentrate and stare into the middle distance and boom, there it is, sitting around Frisk’s heart, glowing somehow both behind and in front of that striped shirt.

“I did it! I can see it! Frisk, kiddo, you have a beautiful soul!” You exclaim. Frisk blushes and beams, running up to hug you, and you, intoxicated with this sudden gift, pick them up and swing them around, then lock onto Papyrus. You have to reach a bit further for his soul, but boom, there it is, a sky blue that blazes with its intensity.

“CAN YOU SEE IT, HUMAN?! CAN YOU SEE MY SOUL?” Papyrus demands as soon as he figures out what you’re looking for.

“I can! Paps, I can, you have such a pretty soul!”

“OH! OH, DEAR HUMAN, HOW NICE OF YOU TO SAY THAT! YOU HAVE A VERY PRETTY SOUL TOO!” Papyrus says, his cheeks staining red, and then Undyne elbows her way over.

“Me next! Me next!” She laughs, and you grin and look, and boom, it blossoms into view, the same teal as the spear you’d seen her conjure up before, and you gasp.

“Oh Undyne, it’s so wonderful…” You whisper. All three of your friends look overjoyed, your happiness so contagious that they begin comparing souls as if they were seeing each other’s for the first time.

“Papyrus, you do have a very nice soul.” Undyne tells Papyrus admiringly. He scoffs.

“YOURS IS SO GREENY-BLUE! MINE’S JUST BLUE!” He demurs.

Frisk is rooting around in their pocket for something as you stand back and smile, concentrating until you can see both of their souls, then all three souls at once. Finally, Frisk produces the object - an MTT brand compact mirror, and passes it urgently to you, saying,

Now you can finally see yours!” You beam, and open it up, about to look, then suddenly stop.

“Wait, wait. I want Sans to see this.” You say, feeling breathless. “Guys, I’ll be right back down, okay?”

“OH, YES, HURRY _________! MY BROTHER WILL BE SO EXCITED!” Papyrus crows joyously.

“Mmm, no hurry! He’ll be excited. Maybe someone can get their, um, battery recharged!” Undyne drawls, grinning her pointiest grin, and when you glare at her and Frisk blinks, confused, she tells Frisk, “Mettaton, I mean, sweetie. Mettaton has a battery.” Oh, smooth, Undyne.

Undyne, you’re so silly....” Frisk is saying, but you don’t stay to listen, you hurry down the hall, then take the steps, two at a time, all the way up three flights of stairs.

When you get to the top and swing open the door, flushed and out of breath, you almost have to stop to grin - Sans has found a labcoat from somewhere and is already wearing it (and looking very at home in it), and he’s got a pile of notebooks open in front of him - your parents’ notes - and a very big microscope. He turns quickly, looking as content as Ghost in front of a fire, except for his eyes, which spark with excitement, and his soul, which is… oh, god, it’s a lake on a clear day, it’s the ocean, a waterfall, an iceberg, the blue shadow on the dark side of a snowbank and the crisp, blinding white of the light side, it’s the dark, peaceful waters of the quiet room in an aquarium that a young teen used to sneak into to find someplace safe and calm, it’s all those things, all at once…

“babe, your parents were amazing. they were brilliant!” He’s enthusing. “i’ve never seen anything like - hey, are you okay?” He interrupts himself, seeing the look in your eyes.

“Never been better.” You breathe. “Sans, your soul. It’s… It’s incredible. It’s the most incredible thing…” He looks confused for a second, then suddenly, he looks even more excited.

“you can see it! you figured out how to see it!” He says, thrilled.

“Frisk showed me!” You pant, still a little out of breath from that mad dash up the stairs. “Sans, baby, you’re… it’s beautiful. It’s incredible!” You repeat again, your eyes fixed in that middle distance, watching the colors swim underneath and above and through his labcoat, his shirt, his ribcage...

“oh, you haven’t seen anything yet.” He mutters, looking so very proud of you, and takes your hand, pulling you over to a wardrobe by the door - right, of course, he had to get the labcoat from somewhere! He swings the door to the wardrobe open, revealing a long mirror on the inside of the door, and puts his hands on your hips, guiding you so you’re facing the mirror squarely.

“look.” He urges, nodding at you in the mirrored glass, and you reach out, you reach to yourself, half reach, half push, and your soul flickers into view. And you understand, now, that everything he’s told you is right. You’re an ember, and you’re the almost colorless flame, the top part of a candle, and the light by the wick too, and you’re the color of the sun - you’re almost too bright to look at, but you’re a sunspot too, and you’re the afterimage you get when you’ve been staring at a lightsource for too long and you close your eyes, and you’re the stars, too. “look at you.” He whispers. “look at how beautiful you are.”

You can’t even deny it, it’s… oh, it’s true. This soul is something beautiful. You can hardly believe you’ve had something like that in you this entire time.

You reach out again, just a little, and in the mirror, you can see his soul flickering now too, just next to yours, and you think about what Undyne had said, about monsters believing in soulmates, in souls that perfectly compliment each other, and you have to admit…

“They look perfect together, don’t they.” You murmur, and he takes in a deep, delighted breath, then nods.

“perfect.” He agrees, slipping his hand in yours, and you stand there for a long time together, just looking. You don’t know about fate, you don’t know if you believe in design, you don’t know if you want there to be such a thing as destiny, but you know this:

These two souls belong together.

Chapter Text

After a while, you manage to tear your eyes from the mirror, and the souls you’d been examining flicker out of sight. It makes you feel a little sad, but you just need to reach into that feeling of controlled power in your chest, and you’re reassured. Your soul isn’t gone for good, after all, it’s still there and so is his. You’re just… taking a little break. Now that you are, you realize;

“I’m tired.” You mutter, surprised, and he nods, much less surprised.

“sure. you’re doing something totally new. it takes work.” He says with an apologetic smile, and you yawn and nod.

“I suppose that makes sense.” You admit. “Mm, it’s not exactly fair, is it, all my muscles are sore, now it kinda feels like my soul is too. Or my brain, or … uh, something, I guess we’re getting out of the realm of biology.” He tilts his head.

“all your muscles are sore?” He asks, and you raise your eyebrows. “...nope, sorry, i’m not getting it.” He says, after a few seconds creep by where a pointed stare still doesn’t elucidate anything.

“Babe, you gave me a workout last night!” You finally laugh. He blinks, then lets out a low laugh, looking a little guilty.

“huh. sorry, i kinda forgot?” He says sheepishly, and you wince, feeling a little blindsided. He’d forgot. Wait. He’d forgot?! Last night had basically fundamentally changed your world, and this jerk who claimed he’d love you forever had forgotten about it? He’s staring at you again, like he can’t comprehend why you look suddenly upset.

“hey, uh, sorry, I guess i should be more… i dunno, sensitive about it, it’s just not something i can really figure out, since, you know, i don’t have any…” He says quickly, and it’s your turn to blink at him.

“...What?” You mutter, your anger melting very rapidly into confusion. He grimaces.

“you know? having muscles? or, um, me not having them? kinda don’t know what sore feels - heh, hey!” He cuts himself off as you groan, laughing, and flick his shoulder. Suddenly you feel about a thousand kinds of oversensitive. “jeez, what just-”

“God, I thought you were saying that you’d already forgot about last night!” You laugh guiltily, and he groans too, shaking his head.

“not, uh, not really likely to ever happen.” He says, snickering now that you don’t look upset. “ever. man, i thought you were really mad at me because i forgot muscles got sore! and like, i was just sort of… uh, i don’t know how muscles work!” He laughs, looking awfully relieved. “well. i mean, academically, sure, i just don’t have ‘em. it’s all electricity, you know, humans use electricity and chemicals same way monsters use magic.” He can’t help but add, and you smirk at him.

“Nerd.” You accuse.

“yep.” He says with a shrug and a grin. “it’s cool stuff, though, you should read your parents’ logs here, they’re geniuses! i mean, they were.” He says, giving you an apologetic glance, but you nod and tell him with a gesture to continue. “i mean, they had the idea to convert the power from the barrier into electric energy from somewhere, right? they were all tied up in this stuff, they were checking into all sorts of things. a lot of it’s honestly like nothing i’ve ever seen before, it’s so…” He struggles for a big enough word, then grins and shrugs. “it’s so awesome!” He says, and for a second, the look on his face is entirely familiar, since you’d seen the same look on your parents’ faces a hundred times, when they thought they were getting into something really, really interesting in the lab. It makes you feel thrilled and a little mournful all at once. “god, i wish i coulda met them.” He says, glancing back at the journals, and you sigh, smiling and nod.

“Me too.” You say quietly. He looks at you for a second, then closes the distance between you, hugging you carefully.

“you ok?” He checks, and you nod, pressing your cheek against his lab coat.

“Yeah. It’s just… they’d have been so happy.” You say. “For you to be here, trying to understand their work. An actual monster, in their lab…” You say, thinking of the thousands of questions they’d be firing off. You’d barely be able to see your boyfriend, if they were still alive. They’d be so busy grilling him, you’d have to steal time, you think, not at all resentful at the thought. After all. “They’d be pleased for me too. For me to have found someone who makes me so happy.” You say, rubbing his back, and he looks quite seriously up at you.

“really? even though… you know, even though i’m not a human?” Sans asks, and you nod. You never doubted that.

“Yeah. They always just wanted me to be happy, whoever I ended up with. If I ended up with anyone at all. They told me to choose the path that felt, you know, brave and right.” You say, and he smiles again, looking a little sad. Right, well, that made one set of parents. Sans had grown up with a real jerk as a father, the way he told it. “You think your dad would have been upset?” You ask quietly. He hesitates, then shrugs.

“dunno. humans have kind of a bad rap in the underground, but… look at your soul.” He says softly. “hard not to love someone like you. maybe even my old man could have looked past the human thing, ‘specially since we made it past the barrier in the end.” He muses, then shrugs, looking around. “doesn’t really matter, though. i know it was the best thing for me, meeting you.” He says confidently.

“...Yeah? Even with all the attacks and the paparazzi and Paula and everything?” You test, and he laughs.

“yeah. i mean, i’m used to bad stuff. but i mean, it’s good for me, too, that i’ve got you.” He says, and glances around. “time was, a place like this, i wouldn’t be able to sleep or eat or think until i’d figured out every single thing, every half written question in those books, all the questions of my own. i’d be up here for as long as i could get away with. i’d get weird!” He laughs, then gives you a cheeky grin. “now? i want to do christmas stuff with my friends and family. not planning on pulling the full insomnia routine either.” He promises.

“Oh yeah?” You say, giving him a grin. He smirks.

“yeah. i mean, don’t get me wrong, still a big fan of science, but, uh, you’re way more fun to spend the night with.” He says, and you roll your eyes, leaning down just a little to kiss him once more.

“Good. I’ve got plans for you tonight.” You say wryly.

“ah. heh…” He grins, looking flustered and very pleased with himself, but when you tap his chest again, where you know his soul to be now, he suddenly gets a much more intent, anticipatory look on his face. “yeah.” He says, sounding a little hopeful. “...i bet you actually can, now, since you can see them.” He shifts slightly, then looks up at you, clearly trying to keep the hope off his face. You suppose he doesn’t want you to be disappointed, if things don’t work out. “you’re learning… i mean, you’ve had a lot of changes, like, crazy fast. just saying. you’re sure you’re still okay?” He checks, and you nod.

“I’m feeling amazing. Sore, sure, but…” You trail off, and can’t help it, even though you’re tired, you still have to check again, testing the different colors of his soul. He smiles at you for a second, a lovestruck boy, then clears his throat.

“better take a break and rest up, or you’ll pass out in the turkey.”

“Might anyway, turkeys make you sleepy, they’ve got some chemical in them.” You laugh, snapping back to attention, and then, in the interest of being correct, add, “It’s called Tryptophan, and actually I think it’s a placebo, like you’d need to eat an entire turkey in order to get sleepy from it, there’s not that much in a serving.” You say, and roll your eyes when his grin grows wider.

“nerd.” He drawls, shrugging out of his lab coat and hanging it neatly up. “c’mon. let’s be social.” You grin. He was clearly particular about cleanliness in the lab, which was kind of something, since he had about three shirts haphazardly draped over your desk chair already (and he hadn’t been staying with you for all that long).

“Sure. Let’s be social.” You agree, and accept his hand, walking out of the lab together.

------------------------------

He watches out for you all through dinner, when your eyelids do begin to droop. Maybe it’s the turkey, or maybe it’s that you just can’t help it, you need to keep making sure that you haven’t lost the ability to see souls. Everyone’s abuzz with wonder at the topic for a little while, but slowly they seem to grow more used to it, and the topic shifts from your new skills to old stories from the underground.

It’s nice to listen to these, even if, occasionally, they seem to bring old issues to a head. Mettaton hates talking about how he’d fought Frisk, even though the two of them are best friends now. You get the sense that he’s ashamed of his behavior, but there’s nothing to be done. Frisk doesn’t pick up on the vibe, and keeps recalling excitedly how the crowd had loved it when they ate a Starfait, or how Mettaton had made them write an essay on air. Mettaton shakes his head slowly, and mutters that he was a total ass, and you have to elbow Sans when you see him grinning, not at all nicely, and nodding at Mettaton. Frisk still recalled the event fondly, clearly, but you can’t help but think of how small your cousin is now, and how much smaller they must have been a year ago. It’s hard to believe that anyone could ever want to hurt them, but the general consensus seems to be awkward guilt, mixed with remorseful laughter, when Frisk discusses these fights. Only Sans and Papyrus are exempt; to hear Frisk tell it, Papyrus had pulled his punches pretty seriously and had clearly never intended to hurt Frisk (Undyne coughs at this, then gulps down nearly an entire beer, her face flushed).

And Sans… Uncle Sans would never, ever hurt me, no matter what he says.” Frisk concludes their story, still laughing, and you glance over at Sans. He’s still smiling widely, but the lights in his eyes are almost gone.

He’d said he’d lived his time in the underground over and over again. He’d said that sometimes it had been worse than others. /something had crawled in Frisk’s skin/ He’d said, or something like that. You feel goosebumps rise over your body, and shiver slightly, then take in a sharp breath when Sans finds your hand under the table and holds it tight, clinging to you, just out of view from everyone else, like you’re an anchor.

It takes him several minutes after the conversation shifted to something lighter for him to pull his hand away.

Finally, dinner is over, the dishes are all done, and Undyne clears her throat.

“So, I’m hearing some big game about some telescope.” She drawls, and you grin.

“You’ll have to ask Sans, it’s his.” You say, and he laughs.

“no you don’t. but yeah, let’s go! ________ says that you can see the rings around saturn with it.”

“There’s rings around Saturn?” Mettaton says.

“mhm. s’pose the only rings you’ve seen are around uranus..” Sans drawls with a smirk. You cough on your wine - yes, you’d moved to wine - and glare at him.

“REALLY?” You sputter.

“Does Uranus not have rings?” Mettaton asks, looking confused.

“yeah, does it not, ______- ouch!” Sans complains when you swat playfully at his shoulder, an evil smile on his face.

“Look, this is really hilarious, but I want to look at the stars!” Undyne whines. Alphys gives her an odd look - probably because it’s unlike her to pass up a good Uranus joke - but then nods.

“Yeah! L-let’s go!” She urges.

“I’LL SET THE TELESCOPE UP!” Papyrus cries, taking off for the stairs.

“...uh oh. see you up there.” Sans says, staring after his brother, and then takes a quick step, disappearing in thin air (presumably to beat Papyrus to the tremendously expensive telescope). Mettaton sniffs.

“Well, he could have taken us all up.” He complains, and you shrug, saying,

“Eh, needed more wine anyway.” He approves of this idea, at least, and so the two of you end up being the stragglers of the group, but much more equipped to wait out the jostling for a turn at the eyepiece with a bottle of wine that you’ve smuggled up with you. You both agree that Sans probably wouldn’t approve of anything spillable in the lab, but, well…

Well, Sans had laughed at an accidental Uranus joke about you, so he deserved it!

When you get up there, you have to laugh as everyone, even Toriel and Asgore immediately shout,

“Close the door!” They don’t want any light filtering in, and when you’re up there, you can see why. It’s been a long time since you had last seen this view, but it really hadn’t changed much. On a clear night like tonight, through the windows you can see fields of stars in every direction, over the water and the treetops and partially obscured by Mt. Ebott looming on the other side of the bay. It doesn’t hurt to be up here anymore, not with so many people you care about, you think, sitting cross-legged on the ground next to Mettaton and looking around happily. Mettaton sighs, smiling, and the two of you simultaneously sip (or pretend to sip) your wine, just enjoying the moment. Sans is standing by the side of the telescope, letting Papyrus have a turn (“WOWIE! IT’S REALLY LIKE WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE IN THE CARTOONS!”). Undyne and Alphys are lined up impatiently, looking excited. Toriel is sitting on the opposite side of the room from you, next to Asgore, with Frisk balanced in her lap. Lesser Dog is on his back, right in the middle of things, looking up at the stars through the window and panting contentedly, his tail wagging slowly.

“k, bud, let someone else have a turn now.” Sans finally tells the marvelling Papyrus.

“OH, RIGHT! SORRY, UNDYNE, YOU CAN GO NEXT!” Papyrus urges. Undyne shakes her head.

“Nah, you first, sweetie.” She insists.

“Ummm… I t-think I’m too short.” Alphys begins, and Sans grins.

“no worries. got a stool. shorties gotta look out for each other.” He pushes it over, then winks at you sidelong, and you forgive him for the awful pun, winking back. Alphys marvels for a long time, with much different observations. She’s not content with the rings around Saturn just being pretty, nope, she needs to know the why too, what they’re made of, how long they’ve been there… You’re embarrassed by how little you remember, but you do your best to either tell everyone or look up on your fancy new phone (which does find the answers astonishingly quickly.) Finally, Alphys pulls away from the eyepiece, grinning enormously.

“Whatddya think?” Undyne demands, grinning, for once eye-level with her girlfriend.

“I-I-I think this is the b-best day I’ve ever had!” Alphys laughs, getting ready to hop down from the stool.

“nerd.” Sans chimes in helpfully.

“Watch it, punk!” Undyne snaps, then quickly turns back to Alphys. “Wait! Wait. Stay there. I um, I need to do a thing!” She says quickly. Alphys laughs nervously, but stays up on the stool. “Okay. Heh. Just. Okay. So, I, um, I love you a lot.” Undyne is saying, pacing in front of the stool. “And uh, you know, I’ve loved you for a long long time. And I was nervous. I didn’t want to take, uh, you know, I didn’t want to take the risk and then see you trapped, I guess, make you think that you were stuck with me. But, um, now.. we’re out. We’re really here. We made it out together.” She whispers. “And I figured, hell, if she wants to run now, she can-”

“Undyne, I don’t want to-” Alphys says, eyes wide.

“I know, baby. I know. You’ve made that very clear. For us, it was never about being trapped and getting desperate. We found each other in spite of all that. And now we’re out, for real, and I know how lucky we are. We’ve got each other, and jobs, and friends and family, and… a future. We’re not stuck anywhere. We’re not stuck together, either. We chose this happiness. We choose it every day.” Undyne says, uncharacteristically serious now, and even though she’s just addressing Alphys, you can feel it resonating with everyone else in the room. “I want the world to know that I choose to love you, no matter what.” She says, hoarse, and suddenly drops to a knee, and the room goes absolutely silent, except for Alphys, who lets out a wild laugh and exclaims,

“YES!”

“But, sweetie, I haven’t even-”

“I said yes!” She laughs again, hopping down from the stool and bounding into Undyne’s arms. Undyne holds still for a second, then beams and kisses Alphys, fumbling in the pocket of her leather jacket for the ring box and finally managing to find it by the time she’s pulled away, sniffing happily.

The room is no longer silent - quite the opposite, everyone’s clapping and cheering and your face just aches from how hard you’re smiling, especially when Undyne manages to get the ring on Alphys’ talon and she waves it excitedly around. “It’s beautiful, Undyne, I didn’t need all this!” She’s laughing. For once, she isn’t stuttering.

Across the room, you could swear that you just saw Asgore kiss Toriel’s cheek.

You’re about to nudge Mettaton, who hasn’t noticed, when Sans clatters to a seat next to you, grinning, and leans in for the kind of kiss that makes you care a lot less about everything, even royal intrigue, and you’re suddenly having all sorts of interesting thoughts instead, when there’s a sharp yelp and everyone looks up. You stand up slowly.

Lesser Dog is staring out the window towards the beach, which marks the rear barrier of the back yard. There’s a… a mass, moving along the beach towards your back yard. For a second, your stomach twists at the fluid way it’s moving, thinking of some monstrous slug or something that’s heaved itself off of the abyssal plane to conduct some awful affair on land, but Papyrus spots it first.

“It’s humans.” He whispers, and the fact that he’s using a normal tone of voice chills you to the bone. It is people, you can see that now, a tight group of - god, it must be fifty, sixty. None of them are using lights - they must be navigating by the starlight alone. All of them are wearing black.

“good eyes, l.d.” Sans whispers, giving the dog a distracted scratch behind the ears, then looks quickly at Undyne, Mettaton, Papyrus, Asgore, Toriel. “you guys ready?” He whispers. Undyne grins a furious, starving grin.

“‘Bout damn time.”

Chapter Text

Toriel takes a deep breath, looking at the mass of people out the window, then back at the rest of you. They’re moving slow, picking their way through the snow. You’ve got time.

Just not much.

“Perhaps I should stay here, and make sure that Frisk is safe?” She whispers. Sans gives her a sympathetic nod, but Asgore grits his teeth.

“No, Tori.” He mutters. “I’m going to need you out there. We’re going to need every fighting hand we can use. Alphys will stay back with ________ and Frisk, just in case, but… we’re going to need all hands on deck.” His demeanor is totally different now; he looks grim and stubborn and above all serious. Alphys gulps.

“I-I can’t d-do much-” She begins, and Undyne shakes her head.

“You won’t have to, sweetie.” She looks up. “Guys, we gotta move.”

“Right.” Asgore clears his throat. “______, please call the human police. Everyone else, no killing. Do you all understand?” Sans’ eye flashes irritably, and you swallow. “No killing. I know you can all handle that. Unless your life is in danger, don’t even think about it.” Asgore announces. You swallow, and pull out your phone, calling 911, as Frisk stumbles over to you,

I can fight!” They insist, and you grit your teeth. There is no way in hell that you’re letting your cousin anywhere near the danger these people present.

“You’re not fighting. You’re staying with me.” You whisper, and jump when the dispatcher picks up. You rattle off the story, feeling detached, as Asgore finishes his battle plans.

“Sans, Papyrus, I’ll need you two front and center.”

“we’ll go down now. paps can set up.” Sans mutters, and you grimace at that, not to mention the look on Papyrus’ face when Sans offers this so easily. Papyrus looks like he’s just won the lottery, and your stomach churns. Still, you can’t focus on that. You wait on the line with the dispatcher for a while, trying to update, until Sans taps your shoulder, demanding your attention, and you pass the phone wordlessly to Alphys.

“babe. safest place in the house is the cellar. i poked around. you’ve got a double reinforced steel door down there.” Sans says, and you nod slowly. “take the kiddo and alph down there. don’t open it for anything but one of us, okay?” He says, and you nod. “k. opening a door to the backyard. watch your head, asgore.” He mutters, and there’s a rent in the lab, behind the telescope, and a door to the backyard, snowy and cold, materializes.

“Baby. See you soon. Keep them safe.” Undyne tells Alphys. “Love you, okay?”

“Yeah. Love you too.” Alphys whispers miserably, and turns back to the phone.

They all file out, one by one, Sans hanging back. “you’d better go down.” He says, when it’s only him left. “love you. love you all.” Your stomach twists, and you stare as he steps through, before looking down at Frisk as the hole in space repairs itself.

“C’mon, guys. Let’s go.” You whisper. You don’t want to leave. You want to stay upstairs and watch, but…

God, you wanted that thick door between them and Frisk so much more.

You’re down to the first floor, and you’re ushering Alphys and Frisk into the basement, getting ready to lock the door from the inside, when you curse, realizing that you’re a goddamn idiot.

“What?” Alphys gasps.

“Ghost.” You whisper, and Alphys and Frisk both grimace.

“Uh, I-I think you should go d-down-”

“Not without my cat.” You say firmly, squelching down the panic in your chest. “He’s kept me alive this long, I owe him this much.” You nod at the door, your stomach twisting again. “Go down. Lock the door. You don’t open it for anybody but me or our friends, understand?” You order Alphys. “I need you to keep an eye on Frisk.”

“I-I really don’t think…” She pauses, then sees the look in your eyes. “Kay. Okay. God. Okay. C’mon, Frisk.” She tugs Frisk’s hand, and Frisk watches you reluctantly until they stumble and right themselves, teetering on the top stair.

“I’ll be two minutes. Just hang out down there.” You urge, and Alphys slowly, apprehensively, closes the door, the phone still clamped to her ear as she waits for instructions from the police.

Damn. Shit. Now it’s just you.

“Ghost!” You call, trying to keep the fright out of your voice. Maybe fright would be good, you think, walking into the TV room and trying to stay out of sight of the windows. Maybe fright would send him hiding into a space neither you nor any racist… speciesist? Why not both? Anyway, anywhere that any assholes would find him.

But, no, there the little butthole is, snoozing in front of the fire like nothing’s going on. And, of course, in his mind, nothing is going on.

“Hey.” You coo, ducking down, trying to stay out of sight. “There you are, buddy. C’mon, cutie. Let’s get out of here.” You scoop him up quickly, holding him to your chest. He yowls, unhappy at this sudden turn of events. Then…

Well, then, everything goes right to hell.

The power goes. There’s a sound, a hum slowly descending, as all the lights in the house flicker off, the christmas tree fades into darkness, and you’re faced with total and complete silence. You’ve grown used to the buzz of appliances, the hum of the huge house. You don’t know if you’ve ever heard it this quiet.

Then:

Vvvvvrpt. It’s the sound of something tearing, and then shhhk, the sound of something sliding. You know the latter, it’s a window opening. But you have lasers, you think desperately, you have goddamn lasers to stop this from happening…

Which only work if they have power.

There’s a set of footsteps now, soft and steady and practiced, padding through your house confidently. You think inexorably of how Lawyerpants, just the other day, had strode through your house with his cat-born confidence. Now, here you are, instinctively ducking behind the clawfoot recliner, Ghost squeezed tightly to your chest. He’s given up on fighting, perhaps sensing your panic; even he knows when it’s time to stay quiet.

The footsteps grow louder, and louder, until they’re in the room with you.

A nasty male laugh splits the air.

“No use hiding, little bitch. I know you’re in here. I can see your feet behind that chair. Stand up!” He barks. You don’t move, and he laughs again. “Stand up or I see if monster lovers bleed as red as real humans.”

You grit your teeth, and stand.

He’s got to be your age, maybe a little older. He’s wearing all black, trying to look intimidating, but he’s slight, scrawny even. His acne stands out red against his chalk white face. He looks… He looks a little nervous. He’s holding a gun, a shiny, black thing, pointed right at you and Ghost, and for a second, it seems like he doesn’t have the right thing to say; his mouth hangs open as he watches you, and you watch him, and Ghost dangles, limp, from your arms.

“Where’s the kid?” He finally asks.

“Gone.” You lie instantly. “Second we saw you, kid took off. We saw you coming. Miles away. Police know. They’re coming. You won’t get away with this. Leave now, maybe you won’t get caught.” Your throat is thick with panic, you feel like you can’t get enough breath, but the lies flow so easy.

“We won’t get away with this? You freaks stole a kid! We know all about it!” He hisses. “You stole a kid and pretended it belonged to you! Monsters don’t love humans, they kill them! Who knows what awful shit those freaks did, and you?! You’re worse! You sit back and let them do it, you cunt!” He gives you an awful sickly smile. “I know what they do. I watch the news. I’m informed. And you just betray us all because you can’t get a good human man. You deserve to be put down.” He licks his lips slowly, his gun quivering. “You’re not human, if you’re with them.” He rasps, caressing the trigger, and you feel your body begin to shake, almost uncontrollably. You need to be out.

You can’t be here right now.

You need a way out.

“Yeah.” He’s breathing, muttering to himself, his eyes wild. “I shoot the bitch, I send a message. Kid’s here somewhere, I know it. Plenty of time, after I shoot her. They said not to shoot, but…” He points his gun more firmly at your chest, seeming to gain some resolve. “They don’t know everything.” He hisses to himself, and you clutch Ghost closer to your chest with your left hand, your brow furrowing. You need out. You need an escape. You can’t be here any longer. Oh, god, this isn’t how you die, stuck behind the armchair with your cat and a cousin that needs protecting and a man who says he loves you fighting a whole horde out in the snow. No. You’re determined, still shaking wildly. This isn’t how it goes down.

Your vision flashes blue.

You move your arm, and a tear, a jagged, horrible tear appears in the air between you and your assailant. You know what you’re doing, even as you spilt the universe apart. There are molecules and molecules and molecules, and you know them all, and it take so little work, the space between them is so light, it takes nothing at all! to fold them, like tissue paper, to tear a hole. You move your hand like it’s the most natural thing like you’ve done it a thousand times. It’s not perfect, not like Sans’. It’s ragged, and scary but still… You know that tear. You love that tear.

Your mind clouded, still clutching Ghost, you lunge forward, leaping over the armchair with nothing in your mind but bolting through that hole. There’s a bang, an explosion of something, but you’re through, nothing hits you, you’ve made it…

Then you’re dropping.

You’d never learned how to pinpoint where you wanted to come out, you think frantically, you’d never learned any of this, you had never thought, the day that the skeleton sat down next to you at the vet, that you’d be using magic, that you’d be tearing holes in space time like you were poking your finger through a wet napkin!

You register, very quickly, that you are very, very high up, that the twinkling lights beneath you are the mansion; so, so far beneath you.

Your right hand shoots out, your left still clutching Ghost to you - Ghost is holding on just as hard, his claws digging into your skin at four distinct points as he clings - your right hand fumbles, and then snags, your forearm snags on-

oh.

It’s the edge of reality. It’s nothingness. It’s nothing a human being was ever meant to touch, and you scream as the sensation begins to pulse through your arm, pure entropy, entropy, a thousand molecules losing interest in each other and wandering away, a hundred thousand, a million…

You still dangle, hundreds of feet up in the air, clinging to the edge of the tear in space as your arm falls apart, and a strange clicking sound fills your ears, and bone by little tiny bone in your hand, you feel yourself disintegrating.

This is, you think, resigned, a significantly worse way to die.

Suddenly, the clicking sound in your ear comes into such sharp focus that you scream again, everything zeroing in to one point.

(oh, this won’t do.) The clicking announces, and suddenly the pain, the buzzing in your arm is over. It feels almost like a very strong arm is holding yours, keeping you in place. (oh, dear.) The voice sighs. (let’s put you down.) It shoves you, suddenly, and you lose control entirely as you’re forcibly ejected from that tear you made - you see it seal up as you topple down, curling on your back around Ghost, thinking that the very least you could do is save your cat and -

Whumpf.

You’ve landed in a deep pile of snow, much too quickly - you should have been falling for so long! But now here you are, in your backyard, feeling no more winded than if you’d fallen five feet. You sit up, and Ghost screams, and you try to place yourself.

“________!” Papyrus shrieks, dashing over to you almost immediately. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT HERE, WE ONLY JUST-”

“Paps! Inside! Bad guy! Frisk!” You bark, not sure how much time has gone past. Papyrus stares at you for a long second, then tears off towards the house, taking such long leaps that he might as well have teleported. You sit up, thankful for the snow poff you landed on, and look around.

The monsters have made short work of your assailants, you realize, looking at all the people, bound with magical ties, that are forming a large pile against the rock fence separating you from the beach. Most look unconscious but some are awake and swearing, and one or two are staring at you with true hatred. There’s a small scuffle going on, one or two remaining, but Asgore bellows, sweeping his trident, and then Sans is behind them, and there’s a flash, and then they’re on top of the pile, the latest additions to the pyramid of bound miscreants.

“GOT HIM!” Papyrus bellows from inside the house, as the lights flicker back on behind you, and a moment later, the tall skeleton is hauling your chalk white, stunned assailant - now sporting a rather large stain on his pants - past you to the pile. Good. You let out a soft, shocked laugh, leaning back in the snow in your pretty Christmas dress, your cat still clinging to you, and try to catch your breath.

You’re alive.

You’re okay.

Everyone’s okay.

“___________!” Sans bellows, and there’s the soft sound of feet in the snow as he practically flies towards you. “why are you… are you okay? what happened in there? are you…” He stops short, practically flinging snow towards you as he gets near, and then steps carefully closer, the light in his eyes wild. “what happened?” He whispers.

“They got in. I went to get Ghost. Got caught.” You breathe. “I made a door or something? I don’t… I got away. I don’t know. I’m fine.”

“you’re not fine.” He says blackly.

“I swear to god, I am, I just-”

“________. your arm.” He breathes, barely making a sound, and you suddenly realize where his eyes are focused.

With no small amount of trepidation, you look down.

Your left arm is cradling Ghost to you, the same as it always has. Your right arm, however, it’s holding Ghost too, but it…
There’s a line, halfway up your forearm. It’s a clean delineation, of how much you managed to throw through that rip in time, to keep you from falling to your death. On one side, your elbow, your upper arm, it’s the same as it always was. And then… it’s like there’s an impossibly thin disc, a slice of a color too dark to see, too thin to see, and on the other side it’s just bones.

You can see them, your radius, your ulna, the hundred tiny bones that make up your wrist and fingers and thumb. You cry out in surprised horror, flinching, and the bones flinch with you, clenching up like nothing is different, like all your tendons and muscles and everything else that makes a human arm work are still there. Sans jumps slightly, and stares at you.

There’s another soft crunching as Undyne comes up towards you two, a shiny, wet slick of blood on her face.

“Ah!” She yelps, seeing your arm. “Oh, jeez! Is that-”

“at least one of em got in.” Sans says quickly. “sweep inside, undyne.”

“But-”

“please.” Sans whispers, and Undyne grimaces and nods sharply.

“You’re gonna be okay.” She whispers, addressing you, or maybe your skeletal arm, before she disappears, and Sans falls on his knees and very carefully picks up your bones in his own, and each sensation is as sharp and raw as if he was touching the worst sunburn of your life.

You’re gonna be okay, you tell yourself.

You’re gonna be okay.

Chapter Text

“toriel!” Sans’ voice is hoarse and desperate. “toriel, c’mere!” You can’t tear your eyes away from your arm.

“Sans, put it down, it hurts.” You whimper, and he immediately complies, easing your arm carefully back onto your chest. You wrap it around Ghost, who’s a fuzzy ball of panic trying to cling to you with every little muscle he has, and close your eyes, trying to focus.

You can still feel each individual piece of fur on his back. Your arm is so sensitive, you can hardly believe it, but…

“I shouldn’t be able to feel.” You mutter, sounding detached even to your own ears. “Don’t have nerves. Nerves took off with everything else.”

“what happened?” He whispers. “how did they do this-”

“They didn’t.” You breathe. “It was me. I did it. I opened a door.”

“you what?-”

“I’m here.” Toriel says, panting slightly. “Sans, the police are - oh, dear.” She blinks, looking at your arm.

“fix her.” Sans demands. Toriel stares for a second.

“Sans, this is beyond-”

fix her.” He hisses tightly, holding very still. Toriel glowers at him.

“I know you’re upset.” She says, very, very calm. “But this is not the place.” She leans over you, and picks you up as easily as you’d picked up Ghost earlier. Her fur is warm against your cheek and around your bare arms - was the skeleton part cold from the snow? It was. How strange.

“what are you doing!?” Sans growls.

“I’m taking her inside.” Toriel says, still absolutely composed. “You may come if you wish, or you may assist Asgore with the human police, but you are not to do anything that will hurt my niece. That means that you aren’t going to do anything stupid. Understand?” She waits for a second, and you close your eyes. You’re just so tired.

“fine. coming with you.” Sans mutters, and follows Toriel inside as you try to stay awake.

You don’t manage it for very long. The next thing you know, you’re stretched out on your bed, and Toriel is kneeling by your side, and Ghost is practically glued to your other side, and Sans is pacing by the door, his eyes frantic.

“c’mon, you gotta be able to do something.” He’s hissing. She gives him a sharp look.

“I can no more restore her arm then I could sew flesh and bone onto you, Sans.” She says. “Surely you recognize the origins of this magic. This isn’t normal monster magic damage that I can repair. The only people I’ve never known to wield anything like this are you, your brother, and Dr. Gaster.”

“fuck.” He snarls, glaring at the ground and looking miserable.

“Hey.” You breathe, and both of them jump slightly, looking up at you. “Not his fault.” You manage, feeling annoyed that they’ve both come to this conclusion. “It was an emergency. Instinct. Was gonna get shot.” You insist.

“shh.” He’s next to Toriel in an instant. “you gotta rest, okay?”

“It wasn’t your fault.” You articulate clearly again. “Some guy broke in and had a gun. He was gonna shoot me and Ghost and try to steal Frisk. He took the shot, but I made a door. Like you. Stepped through.” Toriel gasps, but Sans speaks first.

“how-”

“Dunno.” You manage. “But I messed up. Made it way too high, the other side, I mean. I thought I was gonna fall a few hundred feet and die so I… I held onto the edge with my arm. God, I’m sore.”

“you held onto the edge.” He whispers. “oh… fuck.”

“What does that mean?” Toriel breathes, and Sans shudders.

“it means she had to feel her arm falling apart.” He says blackly. “means she felt every single atom suddenly forget how to be an arm. she held onto the void, tori. the entire damn void, all at once, flattened into the fabric between two spaces, and she held onto it.” He takes a breath, staring at you. “doesn’t make sense, though. you should be … gone, by now. it should have started breaking down the rest of your body. why are you okay?”

“Don’t know.” You mutter. “Something grabbed my arm, and it stopped hurting. It was something… I don’t know. Weird. Spoke in noises like... clicking and crunching. It hurt my head. But it got me safe down.” You manage, looking around hopefully for a glass of water. Your mouth is so dry. “Don’t know how. But it did.”

“something grabbed you?” Sans says, sounding astonished. “someone spoke to you?” He peers closer at your arm, too afraid to touch it again, and you lean up a little and look at it too. There’s that perfectly clean spot, a few inches from your elbow, where your flesh and blood start up again, and the delineation point, where you expect to be able to see a cross section of flesh and blood and vein and tendon, it’s just… black. Darker than black. It seems to draw in the light and refuse to let anything out, and it’s just slapped on your arm, your bones jutting out in an unsettling contrast. Sans swallows roughly. “i’ve seen that color before.” He whispers. “he saved you.”

“Who?” Toriel asks, her sweet face looking upset. “What are you talking about?” You shake your head slightly. You understand now.

“His dad. The old scientist. Right?” You say, looking at Sans. “You said he went deeper than anyone could go, in space, but…”

“that color.” He says with a slow, cautious nod. “that’s what the place he stepped into looked like. he held you together. he saved your life.” He says, his voice cracking. “don’t know how the bastard did it, but… he saved you.”

“Is that why I can still…” You pause to yawn, your eyelids drooping unwillingly again. “Can still feel stuff? Can still move my hand? What’s holding it together?” Sans lets out a very strange laugh.

“the guy knows his damn skeletons.” He mutters, and the three of you think about that for a long moment.

“What am I?” You finally ask.

“human.” Sans answers, before Toriel can. “mostly.” Like Sans is a monster, mostly, you think, and marvel at the fact that such a thought could actually feel soothing.

“Is everyone okay?” You finally think to ask.

“Of course.” Toriel sighs. “There were only fifty-three of them.”

“fifty four. one in the house.” Sans points out.

“Still. The odds were easy.” She whispers. “The king is dealing with your law enforcement right now.” She reaches out and strokes your hair fondly. “You need to rest.” She tells you again, and you try to find the right words to argue. How can you possibly sleep with half your damn arm missing? Yet, your eyelids are drooping again, and you turn on your side, holding your arm rather protectively in front of you, to try your hardest.

“Sans?” You whisper.

“right here. staying.” He assures you. “s’okay, tori, find frisk, give ‘em a hug for me.”

“You’re sure?”

“i’ll call if there’s any trouble.” He assures her, kicking off his muddy sneakers and climbing up on the other side of the bed. He’s reaching over you to turn off the light, but you shake your head.

“Nnn.”

“k. light on.” He whispers, and settles down next to you, Ghost sandwiched between the two of you. You close your eyes for a second, then, almost unconsciously, reach behind you. Your fingers - bones, you think quickly - feel much too sensitive as they bump against his wrist, but you find his hand the same and pull his arm around your waist, feeling relieved when you can release his hand and the sensation stops. He’s frozen for a moment, before he makes a soft, despairing noise and curls up tightly to you - Ghost meows irritably and stalks out of the way to sit by your feet. “‘m so sorry.” He whispers.

“Shhh.” You mumble.

“shoulda stayed with you.”

“Couldn’t have. Put everyone at risk.” You assure him, and he pulls closer still, until he’s perfectly nestled against you.

“try to sleep.” He says, and you nod slowly.

“Love you.” You whisper, your hand twitching painfully.

“love you too.” He sounds broken, and you try not to dwell on it too terribly as you let exhaustion claim you once again.
------------------------------------

You’re falling apart. Every single cell is giving up, wandering away, turning to dust and blowing off you or dripping off like sludge, soaking into the mattress. You try to scream, but your mouth is already too far gone, you can’t feel your tongue, your lungs will barely hold air, and your eyes are dimming and-

“hey! hey! s’ok. you’re ok.”

You gulp in a deep lungful of air, feeling the tears streaming from your eyes already, and scramble upright, your back against the headboard, looking yourself over. Two legs, torso, two arms - kinda. You’re here.

Kinda.

Sans is looking anxiously at you - he doesn’t look great, you can see that now.

“ok?”

“Nightmare.” You gasp, feeling freezing with sweat. “God. Oh god.”

“you’re fine.” He whispers, sitting up next to you. “almost made it through the night.”

“What time is it?”

“early.”

“Did you sleep?” You ask, and he makes a face that’s answer enough. “Sans.” You sigh. “You should have slept.”

“someone needed to keep an eye on you. i had to make sure…” He sighs, then takes a deep breath. “no changes.” He assures you, and you look down at your arm again - you keep vacillating wildly between wanting to stare at it and having no interest whatsoever in looking at it ever again. He’s right. There’s no change, other than the dull throb having receded from it. You lift your skeletal hand up, and brush some hair out of your eyes dubiously - it no longer stings. It feels natural.

You aren’t sure how you feel about that.

“I need a shower.” You whisper. “Different clothes. I feel disgusting”

“how about a bath?” He bargains. “less standing.” You blink at him.

“Um, my legs are still pretty much the same, think I can stand.” You say, “Unless… um, do you think I can get it wet?” He laughs in spite of himself, then looks guilty.

“yeah. you can get it wet.” He assures you. “i mean, i’ve never had the alternative, but i assume that it’s pretty much the same as your old hand in terms of what it can do. well… ring shopping might be tough.” He drawls, and you roll your eyes at him.

“I’m taking a shower. Are you coming, or would you rather sit here and make jokes?”

“coming!” He says, standing up quickly. “does, um, do your bones still hurt?” He asks, as you push out of bed yourself. You grimace.

“Not so bad.” You mutter, flexing your hand again and looking down at it. “Oh, weird. It’s so see-through.” You murmur, seeing the floor through the fine bones in your palm. He blinks.

“yeah, i guess that would be weird.” He says, mostly to himself. You give him a tiny smile.

“This must be really bizarre for you, huh?” You point out, and he laughs.

“um. nah. this stuff i guess… i’m used to it. i mean, void stuff, bone stuff obviously. gotta be weirder for you, i’m sure.” Well, he’s probably not wrong there.

He helps you undress - you can’t for the life of you get the zipper in the back of the stupid dress you’re still wearing, which makes you feel awfully helpless; the smooth metal just slips between your fingers.

“you’ll get the hang of it. gotta imagine you have fingers that can grab it.” He advises.

“I’m not sure I can do that, what you can do.”

“if you couldn’t, i don’t think you’d be all in one piece right now. your brain’s still holding you together and telling your bones to move, babe.” He coaches you quietly, and you try not to feel strange about the fact that he’s undressing you as he’s doing so.

“I guess…” You whisper, shivering again, and manage your underwear yourself before quickly bolting into the shower, feeling a little silly that you’d tried to wear cute lingerie for him, all things considered. The hot water is a godsend, and for a moment, you just close your eyes and feel the heat soak into you - the drops are a little much, still, on your hand, but they’re not painful at least, you’re just aware of them. The curtain rustles, and Sans awkwardly leans halfway in.

“um, d’you want me in there, or-”

“Yes, please.” You say quickly, feeling uncertain as to how you’re going to manage holding your shampoo or bodywash or anything. He steps in a second later - heh, no blue glow this time, he looks like something that could be hanging in the corner of a bio classroom, but for the intelligent light in his eyes, studying you.

“here. hold your hand out.” He offers, and you do so, grimacing again as you see the water dripping through your hand.

“Ugh, that’s so…” You shudder. He gives you an encouraging smile.

“tell your hand that it can hold the water.” He says. You frown. “it’s not hard. imagine your old hand there. imagine holding water in your palm.” He mutters. “try closing your eyes.”

“Oh! Like that!” You say, surprised. It’s the same advice Frisk had given you, after all, and you know, now, how to push out with your brain and your soul to see something, so instead, you push - through, you suppose, down your arm to the tips of your fingers. It’s much, much easier than trying to see a soul. One second, you’re just bones, and the next, the water is bouncing off your hand, your forearm, just like it used to, just like it does on your other arm.

“heh. or the whole arm. that’s good too.” Sans says. You blink at him.

“I see what you mean. It’s work… it takes effort. Not a lot, but, some effort...” You muse, flexing your hand again, “but it’s not that bad… Oh, thank god.” You suddenly slump with relief, feeling like all of this has caught up with you at once. “Oh, god, I thought I’d just be getting snagged on things forever. I thought I’d hurt…” You whisper, looking at your hand, the pool of water forming on the invisible palm. “This isn’t so bad. It’s not so bad.” You tell yourself.

“you know, it’s okay to be upset still.” Sans is watching you closely. “it’s a … it’s a big change. you’re allowed to be mad at me.”

“Sans.” You say sharply. “Please. Don’t. This magic, okay, whatever it is that means I can use it-” He gives you *a look*, and you roll your eyes at him, “it saved my life back there. I was going to get shot with a gun point blank. Humans don’t come back from that.” You whisper. “It’s… it’s gonna take some getting used to, alright, but I’m not mad at you. I’m really, really thankful. Whatever happened saved my life.” You repeat. “And… I’ve got a lot to figure out right now, okay, I can’t do that and have you stuck in some guilty place.” You look seriously at him, then kiss his forehead softly. “I need you to sleep, and eat, and help me feel… normal.” You admit. “I can’t promise I won’t freak out again. I need your help to get through this. Like, very literally. This is new territory for me.” You remind him, and he nods at once.

“‘course. i’m gonna be there for you.” He insists, looking like he’s desperate to be doing something to help, right this very moment. You smile slowly, the expression feeling strange on your face.

“Deal.” You whisper, and tentatively reach out to grab the shampoo. This time, your hand grips it easily, no sliding or scrabbling. “Wow.” You murmur, and he smiles at you.

“you’re a really fast learner.” He tells you, sounding, if anything, a little proud. You look at him again.

“You’re sure this isn’t weird for you? Like, you’re sure?” You find yourself asking. “Like, you’re not a little upset that your girlfriend’s suddenly pretty… freaky?” You switch hands with your shampoo to wiggle your skeletal fingers.

“uh.” He glances away, looking awkward, and you feel somewhat vindicated - of course he thinks you’re a freak, everyone will! - before you notice the color in his cheeks. Unwillingly, your eyebrow raises.

“Sans… do you, um … er, do you like how I look now?” You manage. He lets out a soft groan.

“i know! i know it’s messed up!” He says pathetically, and seems totally surprised when you step out from under the stream of water to hug him tightly. “you’re not mad-”

“That my boyfriend still thinks I’m cute? No!” You say, quickly. “I mean, that’s one less thing to worry about.”

“heh. you know, i was totally into you before this, just, uh, for the record.” He points out quickly, and you suddenly realize how weird this is, to be nude and in the shower and this close to your boyfriend while he talks about how attracted he is, and you’ve got a skeleton arm and…

“I think you were right.” You murmur.

“hm?”

“Shoulda gone with the bath. I gotta sit down. This is a lot.” You whisper. He gives you a terribly sweet smile, and reaches around you to fiddle with the controls on the shower, until the water starts coming out of the faucet instead. You sit down quickly, closing the drain with a quick motion - thanks, skeleton hand! - and then begin laughing softly as the water begins to rise around you and you slump back onto his ribcage.

“what?” He asks, reaching to take the shampoo from you and eyeing it dubiously before beginning to massage it into your scalp. God, that feels so good that you almost forget his question.

“Just… this is already the weirdest day of my entire life.” You mutter, your eyes closing again. He lets out a low chuckle.

“pretty sure that’s fair, babe.” He points out.

You’re pretty sure he’s right.

Chapter Text

The prospect of getting out of the tub is daunting. You’re half asleep again by the time that Sans has rinsed the conditioner from your hair. This whole… arm thing, it’s exhausting, you think.

“Am I always gonna be so tired?” You ask, slumping against him. He shakes his head cautiously.

“don’t think so. i’m not. well, i am, but i don’t think it’s cuz i’m made of bones.” He says with a laugh. “never seems to make paps tired. nah, i think your body went through a hell of a shock. you need to sleep and eat and sleep some more.”

“Don’t.. ugh, I don’t want to have that nightmare again.” You mutter. “Don’t want to sleep if it’ll be like that.” He exhales through his teeth. “What?”

“i think if we both try to stay awake to avoid the nightmares, uh, we’ll break down sooner rather than later.” He mutters. “i’ve tried that routine, babe. it, uh, it doesn’t end well.” He says, and you sigh. “i’ll be there, whenever you wake up. every time. promise.” He whispers.

“Sans, you don’t need to… I’m sure you’ve got other stuff to do.” You argue halfheartedly, and he shakes his head.

“staying.” He says, so firmly that your heart stutters slightly. For a moment, you don’t have the words. You’re not used to someone taking care of you like this. You’d gotten through every flu, every stomach bug, basically everything on your own, spare Ghost. And now… well, he was staying.

“Thank you.” You whisper, and his arms pull a little tighter around you, hugging you softly.

“it’s not a big deal.” He replies with a chuckle, and weirdly, he clearly means that too. “you ready to get out?”

“Oh. Probably.” You say, thinking about how much work standing will be. He slides carefully out from behind you, and offers you a hand - a very strong hand, of course, since one second you’re sitting, and the next you’re standing, dripping. He passes you a towel quickly.

“hang tight.” He instructs, and hurries back into your bedroom. A few seconds later, he’s returned with some clothes - oh, god, he’d been in your underwear drawer, that was embarrassing, you think, then promptly remind yourself that he’s seen you naked, so maybe you shouldn’t be all that embarrassed. And the sweatpants and soft cotton t-shirt look so nice right now. He sees you swaying slightly and offers you his shoulder to lean on without being asked. You change as quickly as you can, wincing when you forget to keep projecting the … ugh, the hand? The ghost hand? Well, when you forget to project padding, you decide, around the tender bones of your fingers, you’re surprised by the sudden sensation of the fabric of the pants you’re trying to pull up. You grit your teeth, focus, and project, then finish getting dressed.

You’ll get used to it, you tell yourself.

“back in bed?” Sans says hopefully, and you think about that nightmare, shudder, and shake your head.

“Can we go downstairs? I promise, I’ll nap on the couch, just… I don’t want to be back in bed right now.” You bargain. He squints at you, then nods.

“lemme take you.” He murmurs, and you wince, thinking about travelling through one of those doorways. He seems to read your mind. “i’ll carry you downstairs.” He assures you.

You’re too tired to argue, so you nod, and he scoops you up rather easily. You yawn, and try not to fall asleep again while he carries you, but it’s almost impossible; he’s suspiciously comfortable for such a bony guy. Well, you supposed he was making himself deliberately comfortable, which was awfully sweet. You end up not even managing to keep your eyes open all the way down the stairs. You just feel so safe when he holds you like this.

---------------------

You’re still snuggled up in his hold, now covered by a blanket, the next time you open your eyes. He’s sitting on the couch, his head tilted back, fast asleep. The sight makes you smile slightly, realizing that he’s managed to relax enough to sleep. You reflexively check your arm, pulling it out from under the covers to stare at it. Oh, there’s nothing different, of course. You don’t know why you expected otherwise. Maybe it’s a little less tender.

You’re about to close your eyes again when your stomach growls loudly, and you realize why you’re awake. Oof, you’re starving. You don’t want to wake Sans, though, so for a second you hold still, then, painstakingly, inch yourself off his lap. Thank god he sleeps like the dead. He stirs once, grumbling your name, when you move too fast, but you eventually manage to get away. Standing, your head spins slightly. Oh, man, you need food. You pick your way painstakingly into the kitchen, and are greeted by a gasp.

“_________! You’re up?” Undyne says, jumping. She’s in the process of making a sandwich at the counter, and looks alarmed to see you standing there, framed in the doorway.

“Uh, yeah.” You say, feeling… awkward. Her eye flicks instantly to your arm and you struggle very hard not to immediately tuck it behind your back.

“...Man.” She mutters, then looks up at you.

“Uh.” You clear your throat. “I just need some, uh, toast or something.” You attempt. Your voice sounds strained and unnatural, even to your own ears. You didn’t expect to feel so damn awkward or uncomfortable in front of your friend, but you feel like all she can see right now is your arm, and you’re surprised at how much that seems to sting. “I’ll… get out of your hair.” You whisper halfheartedly. She breathes in sharply, groans, and strides over to you. You barely have a second to think before she’s grabbing you tight, squeezing you and trembling slightly.

“C’mon. Don’t be like that. You scared the shit out of us, nerd.” She whispers hoarsely. She’s not even making the effort not to cry. “You’re okay?”

“I’m sorry.” You mumble into her shoulder. “I didn’t mean to.. yeah. I’m okay. More or less.” You feel a little better, realizing that much of her initial reaction must have been absolute horror at the prospect of almost losing you.

She pulls back after a second, and wipes her eye, sniffling a little. “Can I see?” She asks, quieter than you’ve ever heard her before. You grimace; you’re gonna have to get used to this. With trepidation, you hold your arm out. Her eye goes wide, and she examines it for a long moment.

“Still works?” She asks, and you nod, flexing your hand to demonstrate. “Cool.” She whispers, sounding … envious? She realizes this and quickly shakes her head. “Gosh, sorry.”

“You… you think it’s cool?” You mutter. She gives you a guilty look.

“Um. Sorry.” She says quietly, then, when you raise an eyebrow, she gives you a reluctant nod. “It’s so badass.” She says unhappily, clearly thinking that she’s upsetting you. You let out a low chuckle, shaking your head.

“Sans likes it too.” You tell her. “I think he feels even worse than you about liking it.” Well, to be fair, you’re pretty sure that Sans really likes it. She has to laugh at that.

“Well, yeah, I guess that makes sense. What do you think? I mean, how do you feel about it?” She asks quietly.

“It’s… weird. It’s so weird.” You mutter. “I’m not used to it. I think it’ll be a long time before it seems normal.”

“Yeah, know that feeling.” She says dryly, and when you look at her, confused, she pointedly taps her eyepatch. Realization slowly sinks in. God, if anyone knows what it’s like to lose something like this, it’s Undyne! In fact, holy hell, it must be so much worse for Undyne. Your arm looked weird, sure, but it wasn’t… gone. Not the way she’d lost her eyesight...

“I’m an idiot.” You whisper, shaking your head. “I didn’t think-” She gives you a quick, reassuring smile.

“Hey, see? You didn’t think twice about it. You were totally used to it.” She says. “That’s how everyone’s gonna be with you, too, before you know it. Sure, you’ll get some stares on the street. I get plenty. I mean, I would anyway, I’m a monster in a human city. But… you know what I’m saying, right? It’s not the only thing I think about anymore. Not the first thing I think about in the morning or the last thing in the evening.”

“Undyne, what… happened?” You ask quietly. She snorts and shakes her head.

“Bit off a little more magic spear than I could chew in a fight. My fault. Gotta be the only person in the underground to actually take my own eye out with my magic.” She says.

“Heh. Know the feeling.” You admit. She winces and nods.

“Well, now we both look super badass.” She offers, and you grin, your smile feeling natural for the first time all day.

“Damn straight.” You agree, feeling… well, reassured. You can talk to Undyne about this, and she’ll be there for you and understand what’s going on.

“Want a sandwich?” She changes the topic with a gentle smile (it looks weird on her) and you groan and nod.

“God, please, I’m so hungry. And water or gatorade or something, I need like a gallon.” You say, hopping up on a barstool.

“On it.” Undyne is eager to help, and moves very quickly, grabbing you a glass of water and then beginning to construct a second sandwich made of leftovers. The second it’s in front of you, you pick it up with both hands, ignoring how awkward you still are with the right, and begin to eat.

“Oh my god, this is the best sandwich I’ve ever had.” You groan, your mouth full. Undyne grins, and immediately starts making you another, seeing that it’s not likely that you’ll slow down.

With food and water in your stomach, you feel so much better. Almost immediately, you feel much more like yourself. You’re just opening your mouth to congratulate Undyne on her engagement, realizing that you’d forgotten the other night, when you’re startled by a loud noise. You’re certainly alert enough to be on your feet and swearing the second you hear Sans’ deep, panicked voice yell out your name.

“Shit.” You mutter, looking at the door. “I’m in the kitch-” You call out, but he’s already there, bursting into the space next to you through a doorway, his eyes wild. “Hey! Hey. I’m okay. Just getting some food.” You assure him quickly. He takes a deep breath, looking at you, and the doorway behind him seals with a snap.

“...jeez.” He mutters, catching his breath, then takes both of your hands, clearly not really thinking, and kisses you fiercely, like it would kill him to let go. You… well, you immediately forget that Undyne’s in the room. You lean into him, at first just trying to reassure him, and are surprised by the desire building somewhere deep inside you at this contact; you hadn’t had room in your head to feel anything like this in the morning, but now, god, your head is swimming with how much you love this man…

Undyne makes a small sound accidentally as she turns away to do some dishes, clearly trying to give you some privacy, and you remember yourself. Pulling away from Sans, just a little, it’s your turn to catch your breath. “Heh. Sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you.”

“s’okay.” He mutters, flushing, and you wonder if his mind had wandered down the same path yours just had. Maybe. His bony fingers are still twined through your own, and at last, it doesn’t hurt. In fact, it feels pretty…

It feels right?

“just didn’t expect you not to be there.” He’s saying quietly. You make an apologetic face.

“Yeah. Sorry. I was starving. Undyne made me a sandwich.”

“Sandwiches. She had four, dude.” Undyne chimes in, turning to grin at you, and you roll your eyes.

“Sandwiches. Don’t tattle.” You grumble, and Sans grins.

“glad you ate. you sound so much better.” He says happily, and you nod.

“I’m feeling so much better. Thanks to you guys.” You say, and then jump as Asgore comes striding in, eyes hard.

“Sans, is she alright? Oh! _______! You’re up!” His eyes dart to your arm. Yup, this is going to become routine.

“I’m fine.” You assure him. “Thanks so much for… everything, Asgore.” You’ve been bottling that thought up. “You really came through last night. What happened, after I…” He heaves a sigh, still looking at your hand in Sans’ for a moment.

“The police officers came to collect the aggressors. Unfortunately, quite a few of them have already posted bail. They’re being watched, apparently. Mettaton needed to turn over his memory of the fight as evidence, but since you’re a human and you invited us onto your property, given the circumstances, Lawyerpants says that it’s very unlikely that they’ll succeed in pressing any charges against us.”

“Gosh. I didn’t even think that was a possibility.” You admit, then scowl. “Oh, hell, so some of them are already out? They could come back?” You whisper.

“not likely.” Sans says darkly. “can’t see ‘em lining up for seconds.” You glance at him, wondering just how short of “not killing them” he’d come, and then think about the boy with the gun who had tried to kill you and Ghost, and wanted to steal Frisk, and suddenly, you can’t bring yourself to care if any of the humans got a few broken bones or whatever. Sans has a wide, false smile on his face, and you’re not sure if you like it, but when you squeeze his hand, he looks back at you, his expression gentle once more.

“Well, again, thanks so much, Asgore.” You whisper. “Last night could have gone a hell of a lot worse. How’s Frisk?”

“Frantic to see you.” Asgore says with a laugh. “Are you up for more company?”

“Definitely. I’ll find ‘em.” You say, untangling your hand clumsily from Sans’. He looks at you.

“babe-”

“I just need to stretch my legs.” You explain softly, cutting off his protest. “I’ll be okay. I’m feeling a lot stronger. I’ll sleep some more after. You probably should too.”

“well, let me come with. they’re up in frisk’s room playing, i think.” You wonder vaguely when he’s going to feel comfortable letting you out of his sight.

“Sure.” You agree. “Let’s go up now, before I get tired again.”

Every sore muscle screams on the stairs getting you up to the third floor, and you can hear the excited chatter of Papyrus from the second floor landing. As you grow closer, you hear the occasional spike of Frisk’s playful speech in your brain as well. They’re playing with Papyrus’ action figures. You pause outside the door to Frisk’s bedroom, which is cracked open, and knock carefully, wincing at the strange, hollow sound of bones on wood. A second later, Papyrus is flinging the door open.

“HUMAN! YOU’RE AWAKE!” He says, delighted. “WE THOUGHT YOU WOULD SLEEP FOREVER!” He steps aside, staring at your arm with starry eyes. “LOOK AT YOUR AWESOME BATTLE ARM!”

“...Battle arm? Oof!” The wind is practically knocked out of you as Frisk comes sprinting over and hugs you tightly. “Hey kiddo.” You whisper. “You okay?”

I’m so sorry it was my fault I’m so sorry I heard Alphys tell Mom that she heard him and you were trying to protect me I’m so sorry this is all my fault-” Frisk babbles frantically, still holding tight to you. You take a deep breath, and drop to your knees to lock eyes with Frisk.

“This wasn’t your fault, Frisk. The only person whose fault it was was the guy who broke in the house.” You whisper. “That’s all.”

They were looking for me. They wanted to take me. Why did they want to take me?” Frisk asks you. “Nobody will tell me anything.” They look so upset, practically on the verge of tears, that you reach out to stroke their hair, skeletal fingers sliding through their neat bob.

“we don’t know, kid. but we’re not gonna let anyone take you anywhere.” Sans says firmly. “me and paps and your mom and dad and undyne and alphys and mettaton… and your cousin, too. we’re all pretty tough. we’re never gonna let anyone hurt you again.” Frisk gives him a distant, strange look, remembering something, but then they glance at you and nod.

Everything’s different up here.” They tell themselves quietly, then look up. “Can I see your arm, _______?!” They sound so excited, that you nearly get whiplash from the sudden change in mood.

“hey, frisk, buddy, it’s still a little new for _______, maybe-”

“Nah. It’s cool.” You tell Sans with a small smile. “What do you think, bud?” You hold out your arm, and Frisk squints at it.

It’s SO. AWESOME.” They say reverently, and in your head, you can tell that they mean it.

“NYEH! IT WOULD BE COOLER IF SHE GOT TO BE ALL SKELETON LIKE THE GREAT PAPYRUS, BUT THIS IS CERTAINLY AN UPGRADE!” Papyrus has been itching to chime in, and he grins at you. You roll your eyes, but you have to admit… well, you didn’t really think that Frisk would go running, screaming from you or anything. Not really. Well, maybe a little.

“paps.” Sans is saying warningly. You surprise yourself by chuckling, shaking your head.

“Man, I love you guys. Thanks, Frisk. And Paps, I guess.” You say with another laugh. “I kinda thought everyone would freak out.”

“uh, we sort of got that out of our system while you were sleeping.” Sans mutters, and you’re mildly thankful that you’d missed that panic. “speaking of which, babe, you wanna try and get a few more hours?”

“YOU SHOULD REST, HUMAN, YOUR ARM DID GO MISSING!” Papyrus frets.

“Okay.” You agree, though you’re not exactly feeling sleepy right now. You’re feeling pretty damn strong. But…

Well, the prospect of a few hours of private time with Sans is tempting, you think, not a little guiltily. It’s been hitting you in waves, all day, how lucky you are to be alive. Right now, you want nothing more than to be alive with him.

Sans offers you a hand up once more, and something in your expression makes him blush again. He looks you over for a second, and you get the sense that he’s managing to hide a smirk as he firmly tells Frisk and Papyrus,

“you guys still gotta let her sleep, okay?” They both nod, guiltily, but when he takes your hand and strolls at your side down the stairs again, you suspect that sleep might very well be the last thing on his mind.

Chapter Text

It takes you perhaps a second, maybe two, once you’re in your room, to pull Sans to you and kiss him forcefully. He doesn’t seem to be complaining. Quite the contrary, his arms twist around you and one hand knots in your hair, his tongue demanding entrance to your mouth, which you willingly and immediately yield. When he leans away, he’s breathing hard.

“thought i was gonna lose you last night.” He whispers roughly. “you’re still okay. you’re really okay?”

“Yeah. I’m okay.” You assure him, fumbling with the hem of his shirt. Your mind is rather set on getting him undressed again. You have to admit, now that you’re getting … slightly more accustomed to the fact that half of your right arm is just bones and magic, you’re more than a little curious about, uh, all the parts of his body that don’t glow in the dark. And it was daytime, anyway, and you hadn’t really had a proper look, all things considered, and-

“you’re sure you don’t need to sleep?” His hand has slid rather dangerously far down your back, and you can tell he’s struggling to behave right now. “you probably should sleep, you’ve been through a hell of a lot-”

“I don’t want to sleep.” You say clearly, feeling almost mulishly stubborn. You probably could sleep, when it comes down to it, but this is way more important. “I’m still alive. I want to be alive right now.” He groans softly at that, then growls deep in his chest when you have the audacity to lean forward and nibble at one of the bones of his neck. He forgets his composure entirely, grabbing your butt with a greedy hand, and you have to try hard not to feel like you’re getting away with something as he does so.

“thought i’d lost you.” He mutters again. “was so busy trying to keep you… no. not busy. i was angry.” You shiver at his tone, but it’s not at all an unpleasant shiver. “they were coming to hurt you.” He whispers hoarsely. “i wanted to hurt them. i wanted to teach them a goddamn lesson. nobody gets to hurt you. you or frisk. it felt so good to finally do something. felt so good to stop waiting for the other shoe to fall. lost control. wasn’t… i shoulda been watching the house.” He sounds so contrite, but he can’t stop gripping you, holding you so close that you can barely string two thoughts together.

“You didn’t know.” You point out, breathing hard. He shakes his head.

“you haven’t played that game yet. the ‘what ifs.’” He mutters. “if i hadn’t been having so much fun… god, it just felt so… justified.” He says, and falls still as you pull his shirt off him - well, not entirely still, he moves enough to get the job done. “i shoulda stayed with you. there was more than enough of us to take ‘em all down. it was so easy.” He breathes, once he’s free of the t-shirt. You shake your head.

“You can’t play that game. Not up here.” You say, guessing where his worry starts. “We’ve only got one shot to make a decision up here, Sans. No Groundhog Day. No…” Resets, the word settles comfortably into your head, and since you don’t quite understand it, you don’t dare say it out loud. “I survived. I still have you. I still have all of you, everyone.” You whisper. “I wasn’t ready to die, and I…” You trail off, suddenly wanting nothing more than to be closer to him, as close as possible.

“i know. too stubborn to die.” He says, reverently, and lets his other hand slide down the back of your pants, bones against bare skin. You gasp, feeling privately satisfied that he’s on the same page as you, and cautiously run your sensitive, raw fingers over his ribcage. He shudders. “god, babe, you’ve got some strong… that’s some strong magic.” He hisses, and you blink.

“I’m just borrowing it.” You point out, and he shakes his head.

“that’s not my magic. not… entirely, anyway.” He says, panting. “i know what mine feels like.” You have to stop for a second to think about that.

“...Humans don’t have magic, Sans.” You point out softly, and he shakes his head.

“humans used to. frisk does. you do.” He says, tolerating your sudden distraction admirably, all things considered. You bite your lip, thinking, and he watches you bite your lip, his tongue glowing rather obscenely as he admires you, panting - oh, you can’t think about that right now. Right, of course. Frisk could see souls, Frisk could communicate with their soul, and … well, Frisk had somehow survived fighting nearly all these monsters, all these friends of yours that had taken fifty-four men down like it was barely even work. And Frisk sure as hell didn’t have the same excuse for their abilities as you’d been forming for yours.

“Huh.” You mutter, thinking about that, then moan when he grabs your butt a little tighter, almost immediately losing your train of thought. He’s inching you backwards without you even really noticing, the bed his clear goal now that you’re aware of it, but this time you don’t want to be a helpless puddle of human that can only reciprocate. You gather your willpower and nudge him pointedly, and he grunts. “Lie down.” You demand, and he takes a breath, then obeys, though not without pushing your pants and panties down first. You let out a soft laugh at his behavior - oh, he’d listen to you, you got the sense he’d do whatever you wanted, but submissive he most certainly was not - and straddle him quickly, feeling a little silly that you’re both half dressed (opposite halves, which was probably for the best, since you could already feel him straining beneath you and you weren’t entirely sure of your willpower).

Grinding softly against him, you lean down to kiss a rib softly, just above where you know his soul to be. He makes a soft noise, threading his hands through your hair, which is nearly reward enough. Encouraged, you run your tongue along another rib, enjoying the smooth sensation. “Does that feel good?” You whisper. He nods quickly, then, awfully shyly, he mutters,

“can i show you?” You almost shake your head no - he always finds a way to make it his turn to please you! - but something in his eyes makes it clear that he wants this.

“Okay.” You say, feeling a little nervous, and carefully, reluctantly, climb off him, stretching out next to him. He smiles, a little anxiously, and has your shirt and bra off in a heartbeat, faster than you could have thought possible (fast enough that you suspect some time manipulation is at play), and just like that, he’s poised over you, a skeleton wearing nothing but black jogging shorts and a hungry expression.

He leans down, and you expect him to lathe his tongue over your ribs, or your breasts (he certainly liked those), but when his fingers form a circle around your right wrist, you whimper, realizing his intention. He immediately freezes. “too much?” He asks, and you have to gather your willpower in order to shake your head no.

“Try.” You finally utter, when you realize he’s waiting for you to form words, and he nods slowly, carefully lifting your skeletal hand to his mouth. He kisses your palm softly, and you shudder, your eyes screwing shut.

“too much?” He asks again quickly.

“No. No. Just… a lot.” You breathe hoarsely. He hesitates, watching you, and then you feel his tongue against your wrist and yelp, then giggle wildly before slapping your free hand to your mouth, realizing how loud you’re being. He gives you a look that, on any other day, would surely have been a smirk. Today, it’s awfully tender. His teeth and tongue scrape the fine bones of your wrist again, and you curse quietly, still trying not to moan or giggle, and then you give up entirely when he moves a little lower, and that magic tongue slides, god, between - oh, it’s between your bones, that’s so…

“shhh!” He stops what he’s doing to laugh, looking entirely mollified right now, and you try your best to scowl at him, your chest still heaving, and you tear your arm away to slip into the waistband of his shorts, wrapping your bones around the part of him that’s been pressing against your lower stomach this whole time, and suddenly, wonderfully, he’s not laughing any longer, his eyes blissful and vacant, his tongue dragging lazy lines on your neck as you try to cope with the magic surging up your tender new arm, breathing hard and trying to cope with the sensation of a thousand fireworks in your bones, your free hand twined through his ribs again, until he grunts and mutters, “i need you,” and well, after that, you let him have you. He sounds urgent, after all.

He is urgent.

And you’re still alive, and… and they can’t take this away.

Afterwards, when you’re little more than a panting mess of satisfaction, feeling absolutely… uh, god, there had to be a better word then ‘filled,’ right? Ugh, fine, filled with magic, the sensation growing more familiar but no less pleasant - god, he’d finished this time, you’d thought, then he’d dragged his fingers across your face, whispered your name and started right back up again - okay. Okay. Breathe. Calm down. What were you thinking? You’d definitely had a thought going just then, beyond being so utterly satisfied that thoughts just weren’t coming.

“You’re amazing.” You finally manage. He’s still catching his breath, his fingers tight in your hair still, staring at the ceiling.

“god. i love you. you too. fuck, you’re great!” He whispers reverently, and a companionable silence fills the room for a while, as he strokes your hair and you lean against him, feeling like nothing could possibly be wrong right now. Fuck dying. Fuck getting shot. Fuck losing a good half of your arm. He loved you and you loved him, and that was all that mattered.

Until he speaks again. “but. uh…. probably shouldn't've done that.” He breathes.

For a moment, you’re too astonished to say anything, your heart just… plummeting.

“Sorry?” You query, rolling on your side to look at him, trying to keep the disquiet from your voice. You fail, and he winces.

“no! no, i mean, just… we don’t know how your magic works, right, so maybe adding, uh, other elements into the mix… i mean, we don’t know what i’m doin’ to you...” He attempts, looking more and more unhappy as he sees your face.

“You regret it.” You say, suddenly feeling cold. “You think that was a mistake, now that you’re done.” Oh, maybe he’s not that different from other guys after all.

“no! well, uh, maybe-” He begins, and you’re suddenly just done with this, astonished by how much this hurts, how much that ‘maybe’ hurts. “i’m just saying, it’s, uh, it’s not good science-” He stammers, and your eyes narrow, and you sit up abruptly, sore, your head spinning.

“I’m not an experiment, Sans.” You snap, not looking at him. “And if you had some issue with what we’re doing, the time to speak was an hour ago.”

“oh… oh, fuck. no, no, i don’t regret it! but, i don’t know, we don’t know what i’m doing to you, babe!” He sits up, looking awfully upset.

“Probably would have been a good thing to mention an hour ago.” You repeat icily, standing up and refusing to look at him. “You don’t get to just do that to me, tell me it wasn’t a good thing, now that you’ve got your rocks off.”

“my what - no, look, that’s not what i’m saying, i just, i don’t want you to get hurt with this!”

“Well, good thing I bought those condoms then, huh? So you could remember this was a concern, you know, an hour ago?” You say, surprised at how angry you feel. You’re just, god, you’re blindsided! You never expected him to be so thoughtless. Clearly, you weren’t on the same page after all, because that had clearly, god, clearly meant a lot more to you than it had to him! “Your magic isn’t hurting me. I don’t know what it’s doing, but it’s not hurting me.” You snap, your back to him, as you look quickly for your clothes. “If anything, it saved my life last night.” You dress with quick, decisive moments, feeling his miserable stare on your back. “I’m not a mistake.” You finally hiss. “I didn’t think you’d ever act like I was a mistake.”

He breathes in sharply. “of course you’re not-”

“Hey!” Undyne’s voice is crisp and loud in the hallway. “Lovenerds! Hate to ruin the party, but Paula’s at the front gate again!”

Oh, of course she is.

“I’m gonna go deal with this.” You mutter, and step out of your room quickly, stinging and sore and hurt and ready to tear some awful bitch a new one.

Chapter Text

Undyne’s waiting for you in the hall. She does a double take, seeing the expression on your face. “Woah, buddy. You okay?”

“Not really.” You breathe, pushing your hair out of your eyes. Ugh, you can feel him on you, in you, and you are in just absolutely no mood to deal with that right now. You feel so stupid! He was just like everyone else. Asshole had his fun then said it was wrong. Fucking typical. “C’mon, I gotta deal with this bitch.”

“Woah. Hang on.” Undyne blinks. “You’re not going to wait for Sans?”

“Sans isn’t coming.” You pronounce clearly, knowing he’s probably listening behind the door. “This has nothing to do with him.” Undyne looks at you, alarmed.

“...Hey, pal, are you-”

“I’m fine.” You insist, through clenched teeth, both hands curling into fists. One of them feels like nails on a chalkboard, and you have to take a second, focus, and project a hand around it pointedly. Goddamn it. It feels stupid and small, but you are just miserable that you have to do that, just now, that so much has changed. For a second, you’re simply, brutally unhappy, and then you think of Paula, creeping around your property, coming here for god knows what reason days before she said she would… the anger flares back up, and you try not to dwell on a sweet, punny, boneheaded skeleton who had said something accidentally cruel, as you stew.

It’s easier to move, so, on a mission you storm downstairs, Undyne at your shoulder.

“Hey. Hey, what’s up? This isn’t just about Paula, clearly.” She says, and you feel your body tense further.

“It’s fine.”

“Will you stop saying everything’s fine!” She snaps. “I know where your head’s at, right now, I know nothing’s fine! And I saw Sans a few hours ago, he couldn’t handle being an inch away from you, so where is he now?!” You pause at the landing, in the foyer, and glare at her for a long moment, even though you’re not angry with her at all.

“He fucked me and then he said it was a mistake.” You finally hiss, aware that Frisk is somewhere in the house and unwilling to have your voice carry. “Guess he was so turned on by the fact that I lost half my goddamn arm, he couldn’t decide it was a mistake until he was done.”

“He said it was a mistake?” Undyne breathes, looking surprised, and for an instant, you feel guilty, since it hadn’t been... exactly like that. You think. It had just felt like it.

It had felt a hell of a lot like it.

You consider, briefly, that in spite of his astonishing lack of tact, that what he’d said wouldn’t have set you off a few days ago, then scowl again.

“Want me to beat him up?” Undyne’s muttering, looking protectively at you. “I can probably beat him-”

“No! No.” You take a deep breath. “Leave him alone, Undyne. I’ll deal with this mess later. I want to get this bitch off my front yard and away from Frisk right now.” You mutter, and stride to the front door, feeling prickly all over, yanking it open before Paula has the chance to knock.

She stands there, in the door frame, looking awfully tired and pathetic, but when she sees you, her eyes go wide.

“You’re alive.” She says, and flinches as you step forward, then stumbles backward. You snort, slamming the door behind you (unconsciously, right in Undyne’s face.) You’re in a goddamn mood.

“Disappointed?” You snarl, your eyes narrowing, and she gasps and shakes her head quickly. No.

“It’s been on the news all morning. That the house got attacked.” She whispers. “They’re not reporting anything about what happened, not if there were any casualties, nothing. I thought-”

“No such luck.” You spit, practically shaking with barely contained rage. “Whoever you told to kill me was shit at following directions, bitch.”

She stares at you in utter astonishment, and for a second or two, when you realize her confusion seems awfully genuine, you stare back at her, suddenly feeling equally bewildered.

“I-I didn’t…” She whispers. “I just came here to see if you were -”

“They were here looking for Frisk!” You snap, regaining your outrage. “You honestly expect me to believe-”

“W-what….” She’s not paying attention. She’s looking down at your side. She’s seen your arm, and she, she clearly doesn’t think that you’re badass, not one bit. “Oh, god, what did they do to you, Tadpole?” She breathes, sounding terribly upset. She looks like she might vomit, looking at you. You haven’t heard that nickname in a long, long time. She doesn’t deserve to be using it.

Your stomach twists, and for moment, some distant part of your brain opens, spooling through all the things that you could do to her - there’s so many things! There’s so many ways that you could hurt her, but right now, your brain is coming back to bones, over and over again, and you can practically feel one forming in your hand for a second, you can practically feel one shuddering into life, all the easier to throw, or to spear… and then you think of Sans, lying there in your bed saying that you were a mistake, and your fingers slip through it into nothingness, forming a fist once more. “Those monsters-” Paula starts.

“Humans did this to me.” You snarl, and she flinches again.

“Those were the monsters I was talking about.” She whispers, looking at your arm again. “________, you’ve got to go to the hospital, that’s not-”

“It’s nothing that can be fixed!” You growl, stepping forward again, your hand twitching. Something’s pooling around it now, and when you spare a glance down, you see that it’s not orange-red flames, or piercing blue flames, but a subdued, somehow menacing purple color that’s covering your hand. Paula sees it, and gasps.

“________, this isn’t right, you need help, I’ll take you, I’ll get you help.” She whispers, and for a second, you entertain the thought, thinking of a human doctor picking up your arm, trying to do - what? What exactly?

“You can’t help.” You say softly, and then grimace, the soft sound of footsteps in the snow coming around the corner of the house from the back yard. It was Sans, right, it had to be Sans (he wouldn’t leave you to face her on your own - oh, god, had he left you on your own?). You whirl around, but not before Paula shrieks. Whatever vague sense of sympathy you’d seen in her eyes has disappeared the second she spots her new target. She looks… hungry. Jealous. Greedy.

“MY BABY!” She wails, and Papyrus and Frisk, who’d clearly been racing each other in some sort of challenge, grind to a halt. Papyrus looks down at Frisk, then up at Paula, something busy in his eyes. Frisk doesn’t notice Papyrus, scrambling forward, a look of disbelief verging on anger (maybe fear?) on their face. “There you are, baby, there you are! Momma’s here! Momma’s gonna take you home, and keep you safe, and you’ll never, ever have to see these awful people, ever-” Paula coos, attempting to shove past you.

You snap. Something strange and new and... maternal? makes you step, instantly, in between Frisk and Paula, and you understand, suddenly, all those warnings you’d always heard about never getting between a grizzly and her cub, because, hell, this kid might be biologically hers, but Frisk was your responsibility now, suddenly, somehow; you refused to let your cousin get hurt ever again.
You’d promised.

You lash out, without even thinking, your bony hand swinging through the air, and it’s like time slows to a crawl.

Well, no, you reflect, watching the wave of purple magic surge towards Paula, it’s not like time slows to a crawl, that’s exactly it, time just shivers to a halt in the wave of the boiling fury that’s just exploded from you. You know instantly, without thinking, that this isn’t something you’ve stolen from Sans. No, this, right here…

This is yours.

Frisk grinds to a standstill, their hand pulled back into a tiny fist, fury clear on their face. Papyrus, scrabbling to hold Frisk back, shudders to a stop as well, his eyes wide and worried. Paula freezes too, looking somewhere between thrilled and scared and horrified, and you stand there in the middle of this frozen circle of time, breathing hard. There’s a purple… a something, a dome, and you’re the center of it, and nothing’s moving in the middle, not at all, and you can’t see the sky at all, just this barrier you’ve erected with Paula and Frisk and Papyrus in the center, and… There’s errant snowflakes, suspended in the air in front of you, and they refuse to move, and you’re suddenly so tired again...

Oh, my. You’re a fast learner. That… clicking, that crunching sound from last night splits into your brain, and you jump, eyes wild, trying to find the source. Don’t bother. I’m not really here. Just… observing. The voice breathes. Since I gave you your arm, I was curious what you would decide to do with it.

You can’t see who’s speaking, can’t see anything odd, but - no, if you reach out with your soul, the way you did to find Sans earlier - can’t think about him - oh, something almost shudders into place, something almost the shape of a man. It immediately disintegrates, and a pleasant, deep male voice chuckles.

Goodness, you’re stubborn. He laughs. I can see what my son sees in you. You twitch irritably again, trying not to think about Sans. There’s so much magic bubbling beneath your skin now, and you’re itching to strike out, and you don’t have the faintest idea what you’re-

This must be quite hard for you. Monster children learn their magic very young. The voice - Gaster’s voice - clicks. You don’t even know what your attack is yet. Though, I must say, this time freeze, it’s very… interesting. The voice laughs. You know they can’t see you, from the outside of this bubble, right? Gaster drawls. How interesting. I dare say, you might be borrowing some of my magic too. His voice grows low, and dangerous, and he repeats, HOW INTERESTING.

There’s a brief surge of something, for just a second or so, and then the feeling of him fades, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t see the faint flicker of his shape any longer.

Time crawls by, and noting moves, and you don’t move, and the voice - Gaster’s voice - has vanished. How much time passes, you’re not entirely sure. You know this much, that your heartbeat grows steady, and your breathing grows slow, and the ache disappears entirely from your arm, as the hours (days?) creak by. Time doesn’t seem urgent in here. This doesn’t seem like somewhere you need to leave. You have time, so much time, to collect yourself.

You don’t move much, you barely expend any energy. The thought occurs to you several times, the image of a fish, trapped beneath a frozen pond, slowing its metabolism and thoughts and actions enough to survive the harshness of the winter. And time still passes, and nothing in this dome changes, and the raw parts of you grow less and less raw, until finally, you look at Paula, really look at her, and see through her for the first time, deep into her soul;

It’s gray, like slush on a city sidewalk. It’s tarnished, filthy, wounded in ways you can’t understand. And there, hidden away in the core of her soul, like a rat in a nest of cotton-candy insulation, is the faint, soft glow of something red, something pure, something like… something like Frisk. You look at it, then you look at Frisk, and your wild fury ebbs, and for the first time in what feels like a long time, you think about the fact that time should really be moving forward again.

The bubble bursts, and time begins again without your command. Everything happens all at once. Paula staggers backwards, landing ass first into a pile of snow. Frisk screams, a terrible sound in your brain, and pulls back their hand and *slaps* Paula across the face, and then Papyrus leaps forward, scooping up Frisk, as Paula lunges for the child that she’d pretended to care so much about just seconds ago -

“enough.” Sans is next to you, dressed and wild and furious, before you know what to think. “paps, frisk, inside.” Papyrus gulps guiltily.

“YES, BROTHER.” He hauls Frisk up onto his shoulders, and Frisk, as wild as a feral animal at the sight of Paula, spits at her as the skeleton hauls them inside. Sans smirks at this for a second, then looks at you, his eyes dark and dangerous.

“you okay?” He asks you in an aside, and, your voice cracking, you instantly reply,

“No! I’m not okay!” It feels like an admission of guilt, and Paula, that bitch, she sees how perturbed you are and smiles, she smiles, like a toad that’s spotted a fly, like a cat with a mouse, but she doesn’t know Sans, and she doesn’t know you, because neither of you are anything like prey to this woman.

“i could send her to the void.” He says, offhandedly. “or, er, you could do the honors.” You think about this. Yes. You could send her to the void, you’re quite aware of this now. It would be so easy, and indeed, behind the curtain separating you from the void, something’s calling to you, eager-

“Hm.” You whisper, and make a small gesture, almost testing… a sliver of sky splits open, and then the urgent force of what’s on the other side pushes, strains at the little hole, then bursts through, a joyous trill sounding in your head.

You recognize this; too, this creature from the other side, a floating, eager skull that can’t wait to be at your side, reminding you inexorably of Lesser Dog, except for the scale. This skull is much bigger on its own, just a skull, than Lesser Dog is as a complete being, and it is terrifying in its own right. It floats over to you and nudges your skeletal hand with the tip of its snout, looking for a reassuring scratch, and as you do so, running smooth bone along smooth bone, Paula screams again.

“YOU’RE ALL FREAKS! YOU’VE TWISTED MY BABY AND YOU’RE FREAKS!” She yells, utterly beside herself. The … what had Sans said his father had called them, Gaster Blasters? It coos a concerned noise next to you, and you shiver, running your fingers over the bone again.

“go to your home, paula.” Sans hisses. “you won’t like what happens if you don’t. this isn’t your house. _______ isn’t your niece. frisk isn’t your child. you are done here.”

The being at your side, the one who isn’t your boyfriend, growls softly when Sans has finished speaking, and you can feel more of them now, hanging on the other side of the void, waiting to be told to strike...

Paula gulps, staring at your new friend (your new weapon), and reaches a conclusion.

“Fine.” She snaps. “Keep the deaf garbage. I’m done with you both.” She backs up, you growl, and she walks very quickly away from you and Sans and the Blaster, her back ramrod straight as she keeps darting looks over her shoulder to make sure you’re not just waiting to attack.

Sans watches her too, all the way into her car, then down the driveway, then off into the late afternoon. “_______, i’m so sorry.” He breathes, and you inhale, and the Blaster and the hole in space and everything else you’ve created winks out of existence, leaving reality wrinkled for a second, painful to look at, before it smooths out. You look down at him, feeling so old and tired and weak, and you don’t twitch away when his hand finds yours again, phalanges against flesh, as you struggle with the idea that everything’s different, now, and there’s nothing you can do to change that.

Chapter Text

He comes downstairs cautiously, feeling as miserable as he’d ever felt. There’s a dull pounding in his skull, and for the first time in a long, long time, he’s just wishing that a reset would happen, that whoever was pulling the strings would spool time back a few minutes so he wouldn’t say the stupid thing that hadn’t needed saying in the first place. God, he knew you weren’t coping as well as you were acting, he could see that on your face, in her eyes, the moments where you weren’t forcing yourself to act. Even the sex - god, especially the sex! - had been you struggling to come to terms with everything that had happened in the past twenty-four hours, and he’d been…

Well, he’d been a real asshole, for a dude who didn’t have one.

He hesitates, seeing Undyne inside the foyer, staring through a window. She’s not outside with _______ and Paula, and that makes him anxious. “uh.” He clears his throat, and she whips her head around, scowling when she sees him.

“Probably not a good idea to go out there, bud.” She snaps pointedly, and he groans, running his hand over his skull and feeling so incredibly stupid. Of course you'd told Undyne, you'd been so furious with him…

“scooch.” He demands, wanting her vantage point at the window. She gives him an “are you fucking serious right now” look, and he decides, after a second of her withering regard, not to press the matter. He crosses the foyer and takes up position at the window with a slightly worse vantage point of the scene, and he wonders if you know that he’s there, if he should step outside. After a few seconds, they both wince, as Paula notices her niece’s arm and begins to panic, and _________ looks so… you look angry and pained and desperate.

“Uh.” Undyne clears her throat, temporarily forgetting that she’s pissed at him. “Do you think we should-”

“nah.” He says quickly, thinking about how well that would go down. Besides, the whole fight, he figured, had happened because he was so busy fretting about your health and feeling uncertain about what was happening to you, and he had been too thick skulled to realize that you were, naturally, just as worried about the same things. He thought about the previous night, how good, how righteous it had felt to just… work out a little bit of his anger on the people trying to hurt his family. He wasn’t selfish enough to deprive you of the same opportunity, right?

Or maybe… heh, hell, maybe he just really wanted to see Paula get dunked on.

Who could blame him?

“Woah. That’s new.” Undyne mutters, seeing the purple light creep over your arm. He blinks, then stares closely. That is new. His first instinct is to panic, but he’s very, very good at hiding that panic. He’s had an eternity to get good at hiding that panic.

“not looking good for paula, is it.” He drawls, raising an eyebrow ridge. Undyne snorts, glancing over at him with a bloodthirsty smile, before she remembers she’s not on his team and scowls again, looking away. It takes her another few seconds to speak.

“We should probably step in if things go south.” She points out, and he nods unwillingly.

“give her some time.” He whispers, thinking about his own father for a second, how much he wished that he had the opportunity just one more time to tear into him, to tear him to pieces for what he had done to Papyrus - who didn’t seem to be exactly right after that fight, god, there was another thing he needed to handle soon - and… and what Gaster had done to him, too. You look miserable, sure, but also somehow happy, victorious even, and Sans knows, god, he knows that this has been such a long time coming, and that you need this. “we don’t step in unless something goes-”

“Uh oh.” Undyne catches the flash of movement first.

“what?!”

“Something went.” She says, nodding, and Sans sees them too, Papyrus and Frisk happily sailing towards you and Paula, and for a second, he’s frozen, just frozen, seeing the look on Frisk’s face twist from bliss to hate -he’s seen that face before, oh god, it’s happening again it’s happening again- and he’s only just gained his composure enough to make a doorway to get in between Paula and Frisk when something snaps. For a millisecond, he swears he sees something rise from you, blast from your body like a mushroom cloud, the inside a vibrant purple, the outside that sickly, impenetrable black that he’d been seeing all too often these past few days. It slides down around them like a dome, a… barrier, god, a barrier with Paula and Frisk and Papyrus and you in the middle, all the people he loved in the middle (well, barring Paula, he was not a fan of Paula), and he’s about to scream when, just like that, it’s gone.

You stand just where you had been, looking… calm, as everyone else staggers and Frisk screams wordlessly, scrambling to try to strike at Paula, and Sans is inclined to allow this too, but Papyrus, kind, loyal Papyrus, is not. He dances from foot to foot anxiously, trying to figure out how to stop this.

“Uh, did you just see something… weird?” Undyne’s squinting dubiously, clearly uncertain that anything’s happened at all. Sans hesitates.

“dunno. get my bro and the kiddo in?” He says, and steps through the doorway he’s created, feeling angry enough to send Paula on a trip that she’ll never come back from, as she lunges at Frisk, feeling furious enough to rain down hell, but then he meets your eyes, just for a second, and he remembers his place. You can handle this. You don’t need saving.

The blaster that you call from the void, oh, it loves you so much that he nearly smiles, a genuine, besotted smile and you don't even blink, you just reach out and scratch it like it's a puppy and he knows then, he knows that you'll be fine, you're not fine but you will be, even with all the changes, all the magic, even with everything being new, and when he reaches out to take your hand and you let him, the acidic panic in his chest fades to a dull thrum.

You’ll be okay. You’ll be okay on her own. He needs to stop hovering, stop replaying every single decision he makes in his head to try and find the way that he’s hurting her, because there’s no more resets up here, there’s no spooling back, no changing time, and if he loses you, he’ll lose you for good.

**********************

You stand there, holding his hand for a long time. Finally, he speaks.

“hey, uh, look, i said something really stupid back there. but you’re not a mistake. never. what i- what we did wasn’t wrong.” His thumb moves over the soft skin of your left hand cautiously, and finally, you nod.

“It wasn’t cool, bonehead.” You whisper.

“i know.”

“You really hurt my feelings.”

“i know. i’m sorry.”

“I was so angry, I almost killed Paula, I think.” You mutter, and he snorts out a laugh, and you do too, and you let go of his hand. “I’m gonna go for a walk.” You decide.

“want company?” He asks cautiously, and you hesitate, thinking. It would be nice to have someone with you to rub your back and tell you that you’re okay, but you’re just… a mess of emotions right now. You need time to think. Time without him.

“I need some time.” You confess. “Time on my own to think this all through.” It’s funny, now that you’ve calmed down some, you don’t have the faintest idea how you’d done any of the things you’d just done, how you’d frozen time in a bubble like a snowglobe, how you’d sliced that little hole that the skull had come bouncing through, full of love for you. “Go on. Go in, find Paps and Frisk, talk to them, okay? I’m gonna go down to the beach.” You say, and brace yourself for the argument - how dare you go down to the scene of the battle alone - but it doesn’t come.

“k. here.” He shrugs off his coat without questioning you for a second, and passes it over. For a second, you’re worried - it’s not like him to be so okay with this, is he done with you, is he just pretending - and then he pauses when you slip it on, stares at you, then hugs you hard. “see you when you’re ready.” He murmurs, releases you, and trudges back inside the house. You take a moment, inhaling the scent of the coat - it smells like him, and you’re not emotional enough or irritated enough with him not to love that.

The backyard is no longer a pristine, snowy scene. There’s too many footprints in the snow, too many smears of red, or, eugh, brown … gross, gross, you try not to think about that. You just charge right through all the mess, down onto the beach, and are relieved when your favorite spot is still undisturbed. It’s sunny, and oddly warm again for the day after Christmas, and you feel comfortable plopping your butt down on the dune, over the sea grass and snow, and leaning back.

What had just happened?

You felt better, you had to admit, you felt so much better after that endless pause in the bubble. Better enough to let him hug you, to consider that you might owe him an apology for overreacting too. But now that your head wasn’t filled with Sans, you had to think about all the questions that hadn’t been answered, not at all.

Paula had seemed legitimately upset, to see you hurt. Well… you flex your hand experimentally, dragging your bones through the snow and sand, and shiver. It wasn’t really a hurt, anymore, was it? It was just… new.

“I have a skeleton arm.” You try out, speaking quietly to yourself. “I am a human being with a skeleton arm.” Oh, no, suddenly you’re on the verge of hysterical laughter, and there’s that - that keening, that joyful eagerness in your mind again from somewhere very far away. Huh.

Very tentatively, you raise your arm, and close your eyes, and push, trying to find the source of that spike of joy. It’s everywhere and nowhere, it’s in the space between molecules, it’s in a place that hurts and feels like home all at the same time, and you push -

Elegantly, a door slides open again, just the right size this time, and the skull - your friend - glides through, an excited rainbow of sounds chirping in your head. You know without thinking that it’s the same one from before, and you’re not at all surprised when it flops to the ground next to you and snuggles right up by your side, keening joyfully. You look at it for a second, then reach out slowly and resume scratching it’s - her? Her. Her head.

“I’m gonna need a name for you, buddy.” You whisper to yourself, looking at the open door to the void. The enormous skull chirps contentedly, and you scratch it again, leaning carefully against it.

There’s the soft sound of footsteps behind you, and you nearly snap your neck, looking for the source, and your friend growls irritably. You relax, seeing the source of the footsteps a second later.

“Hey Frisk.” You murmur. Frisk looks teary and miserable, but is bundled up tightly, and takes no time at all to scramble up the small dune and tuck themselves in on your left side. The skull makes a soft “?” in your brain, and you very reasonably explain, “It’s my cousin,” before realizing how absolutely insane this whole situation is. Frisk has noticed the doorway to the void and is tugging your sleeve, looking horrified, gazing into it. You wince, think hard about how to do this, then begin to close the doorway. Your friend on the other side whimpers, and you hesitate, and then very cautiously, like zippering up a tent door, you leave it almost all the way shut. Your friend grumbles, satisfied. Frisk takes a deep breath, then looks at you, then the skull, then clambers into your lap, looking too exhausted for even non-verbal communication.

You wrap your arm tightly around them, kissing the back of their head without thought. “She’s a liar, Frisk.” You whisper. “She’s - “

I know. I know.” Frisk says quietly. “I didn’t think I’d ever see her again. She asked me to come home. She didn’t even care that I left.” They shudder, and the skull by your side lets out a soft, almost apologetic groan. “______, what is that thing?” They add softly. “It looks like… like things I saw in the underground

“I don’t really know.” You mutter. “I guess it’s kind of a stray. Well, she. I think it’s a she.” You hug Frisk a little closer, and wait for their breathing to slow, their trembling inhalations to come easier.

Can I name it?” Frisk finally asks.

“Sure, sweetie. I don’t think it’ll mind.” You murmur. Frisk scrunches up their face to think about this for a while.

Spot.” They finally decide, and you blink, then burst out laughing. “What?” Frisk sounds a little insulted.

“It - she’s a skull! She doesn’t have any…” Frisk scrunches up their face at you and you remember, suddenly, how young they are. “Fine. Spot.” You glance over at the grizzly sized skull that’s snuggled up to your right. “That okay with you?”

It chirrups happily.

You sit there for a while, the three of you.

I’m not garbage.” Frisk finally whispers.

“Of course not.” You reassure them, smoothing their hair slowly. “She’s… she’s hurt in her head, sweetie. She doesn’t know what she’s saying.”

You won’t let her take me back, right?” Frisk finally asks. “You’ll keep me safe, and I’ll keep you safe, deal?” You pause, then nod firmly.

“Deal.” You promise.

The three of you sit there, more or less in silence, until the sun slips under the horizon.

Chapter Text

Finally, you nudge Frisk, who’s stopped trembling, and looks like they’re well on their way to a peaceful slumber. You probably should be freezing, but the skull - Spot, you correct yourself quickly - is so warm that you actually feel very comfortable. Still;

“We’d better head in, Frisk. I’m sure your mom’s worried about you.” You murmur. Frisk sighs sleepily, stretches their arms, and climbs off your lap, standing up slowly. You glance at the - Spot, you glance at Spot, and carefully ease your body weight off the huge skull. Spot groans unhappily, and rises off the ground when you stand up, hovering by your side. “Sorry, Spot.” You murmur. “You’d better go home now, okay?” You scratch it one last time, and it looks almost reluctantly at you, then at the tiny sliver of void that you’ve left open. “I promise, we’ll play again.” You tell the massive beast, feeling a little silly and feeling entirely unsure if she could even understand what you were saying. It huffs quietly, and butts against you carefully, then drags itself (somehow dramatically) back over to the tiny hole in the universe you’ve left open.

Where’s she going?” Frisk asks, their brow furrowed. You smile a little.

“Back home, kiddo.”

Can’t she stay?” Frisk protests, and you think about this.

“I don’t think so.” You murmur. “This isn’t her world. If I closed the door back to her home, I think she wouldn’t be able to stay, and I don’t want to see if it would hurt her.” Frisk nods solemnly at that. “Okay, bud, look away.” You caution, and concentrate, carefully peeling that hole in reality open again. It’s… tiring. Opening up a door to somewhere else was one thing; you had to be able to think clearly about two distinct locations, and then yank them together and push at the same time. You understand a little better where you’d messed up the other night; you’d had lots of time to think about this in the bubble where time refused to flow. The other night, you’d pushed through that fabric at an angle, you’d made the hole much, much too high…

It was different than accessing the void, though. The void was tough. It was like taking a razor blade to a piece of cloth and trying to split the fabric in half, not length or widthwise, but in thickness, in that third dimension you rarely think of flat things existing in. It was painstaking, mentally.

The door slides open once more, and Spot huffs out a sigh, gives you one last loving chirp, and glides back through. Breathing hard, you seal the door tightly behind her. “Kay, Frisk. You’re good.” You say, seeing that Frisk has their hand clapped tightly over their eyes. They remove it cautiously.

Hey, ________?” They ask, tentatively. “How are you doing this stuff? I thought we couldn’t use magic… I mean, except, the soul stuff?” You look down at them and shrug.

“I don’t think most humans can do the soul stuff either.” You mutter. “I think maybe we’re a little different. I don’t know.” Frisk frowns, and you give them a quick smile. “It’s not a bad thing, being different, Frisk.” You tell them quietly. “You know that, right?” They look dubiously at you, and you think once again, how horrible it must have been to have Paula as the main influence for the first seven years of Frisk’s life. “It’s okay to be different.” You say firmly. “There’s no such thing as a normal person, kiddo. We’re all weirdos, deep down. Anyone who says that they’re normal just isn’t comfortable with whatever kind of weird they are, I think.” You ruffle their hair, unable to help yourself.

Mo- Paula said that I was… I don’t know the word. Looks like ‘detective’ when she speaks. Means I’m broken.” Frisk mutters, and you grit your teeth.

“I don’t think you’re broken.” You assure them. “I think you’re just different in a way that a lot of people don’t understand. A lot of people are weird on the inside, so it’s not so easy to see. You… and me,” You glance down at your arm, your hand sticking out of Sans’ borrowed sleeve, “we’re weird on the outside. People are gonna notice us no matter what, I think.” You say, then shake your head. “But you know what? Anyone who thinks that there’s something wrong with us, just because we’re different, they’re not worth our time. We’re awesome. We can do lots of things that ‘normal’ people can’t do.” You remind them, and Frisk giggles. “Right?” You encourage. “You and me, we’re the real deal, bud. We’re not just a deaf kid and a freak, right? We can use sign language, and uh, reach in narrow places I guess? We can see souls, and we can make friends with any monster, no matter how scary they look. We’re total badasses! Oof… uh, don’t tell Toriel I just swore.” You catch yourself, but Frisk is now laughing hard. “But you get it, right? We’re humans who use magic, like from all the old stories. We’re pretty dang cool! We’re like Harry Potter!” You rationalize.

Who’s that?” Frisk says, tilting their head. You stare at them for a long time.

“Oh my god. Okay. We’re fixing this.” You finally say, and grin, the smile finally, truly feeling natural on your face again. “Race you back?” Frisk lets out a quick laugh, their eyes bright, then tears off.

“Cheater!” You call, sprinting off after them with a huge smile on your face, and at last the ache and trauma from the past month no longer seems so insurmountable anymore.

--------------------------------

Frisk beats you - barely - to the back door, and the both of you clatter inside, laughing and stomping snow off your boots. “Oh man, it’s a million degrees in here!” You exclaim, grinning at Frisk. “Guess we got used to the snow, bud.”

“heh. i’ll take my jacket back if you want.” You jump at the noise, and see Sans sidling around the corner into the kitchen.

“Oh! Jeez, you scared me.” You say, suddenly feeling a little awkward.

“heh, uh, sorry babe, didn’t mean to startle.” He looks pretty nervous, like he’s worried you’ll start snapping at him again, so you take a deep breath, sliding out of his jacket, then hand it back to him with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s cool. I was just a little alarmed.” You drawl. He pauses in his motion to reach for the coat.

“...did you really just-”

“Almost jumped out of my skin.” You say innocently, batting your eyelashes.

“oh my god.” Sans says, with flat affect. Frisk snickers next to you, and you lean in, and murmur,

“I didn’t realize there was anyone in the radius.

He can’t take it. He groans then bursts out laughing, just a little harder than you think he normally would have just for a few bad skeleton arm puns. He seems profoundly relieved, and you realize just how worried he must have been, earlier, that you might still be furious with him, or worse, done with him entirely. Frisk rolls their eyes at Sans - it definitely wasn’t that funny - then tugs your hand. Oh, yeah.

“Hey, bonehead, we’re gonna marathon Harry Potters and eat leftovers until Toriel says it’s bedtime, you want to join?” You offer, an olive branch.

“yep.” He says, almost instantly. “but, uh, i still don’t know what that is.”

“Jeez, were you guys under a rock or… oh, god, that was tactless.” You mutter, when Frisk bursts out laughing again and Sans grudgingly follows suit. “Oh, jeez.”

“there were probably a few barriers between us finding out about it, babe.” Sans drawls, grinning, and ambles behind you and Frisk, hovering slightly while you dig out the DVDs. Once you get the first one going, you plop down on the big sofa next to Frisk. He hesitates, and you have to pat the space next to you pointedly before he sits down, again, looking rather relieved.

Hey, everyone! Come here, we’re going to watch an important human movie!” Frisk bellows officiously, making the inside of your head ring for a second. You narrow your eyes at them, and grin back at you, though they snuggle a little closer, looking much less mischievous, when they see that you’re setting up the captions for the movie without needing to be asked.

Papyrus arrives first, and promptly squeezes into the tiny amount of space on the other side of Frisk, making you all shift until you’re practically in Sans’ lap (he doesn’t seem to mind this at all). “OH! A HARRY POTTER!” He exclaims. “WE USED TO BUY MACARONI AND CHEEZ SHAPED LIKE A HARRY POTTER, BROTHER! I HOPE THIS IS AS GOOD AS MACARONI!”

Undyne and Alphys show up next, looking like maybe they’d been awoken from a nap, with Lesser Dog at their heels. “What’s the big deal, squirt?” Undyne asks, yawning, then notices you sitting next to Sans and arches an eyebrow minutely. You shrug, equally minutely. You’re not mad anymore. She rolls her eye and gives you an affectionate grin as Frisk tries to explain what’s going on - they recognize the logo, now, but they don’t know anything about the story. Alphys does, of course.

“I-I-If any of the f-fanfiction I’ve seen is right, it’s about a b-blonde guy who wants to smooch a g-guy with glasses!” She says knowledgeably, plopping down next to Undyne in the loveseat.

“What’s all this talk about smooching!” Toriel walks in, her brow furrowed. “Frisk, I am not sure you’re old enough to watch this film, child.” As you reassure her that, no, Frisk will be fine, Asgore and Mettaton arrive, coming up from the cellar.

“Well, we made Alphys’ generator permanent.” Mettaton’s saying, brushing his hands together. “Nobody will be able to cut the power here any longer, so - oh!” His eyes dart to your arm (right, half these people hadn’t even seen it yet) and you raise it slowly, giving him a sheepish wave.

“SHH! THE MOVIE IS STARTING! I LOVE TRAGIC ROMANCES BETWEEN PEOPLE WITH YELLOW HAIR AND PEOPLE WITH GLASSES. THEY NEVER GET OLD!” Papyrus insists, and Asgore chuckles.

“Well… I’ve actually seen this movie already, so, I’ll see about getting some dinner going.” He says wryly in his deep bass, dimming the lights. “Enjoy, everyone.” He winks at Toriel, who blushes prettily, then walks into the kitchen.

Everyone does, immensely. Ghost trots out to hop up on Papyrus’ lap about fifteen minutes later, and you watch all of Sorcerer’s Stone, break quickly for a dinner that manages to deplete the rest of the leftovers, and then resume your positions immediately. About halfway through Prisoner of Azkaban, Sans very tentatively shifts, easing his arm behind you, and you wonder how long he’d been thinking about doing that.

******************************

He’d been thinking about doing that, he thinks anxiously, since the second you sat down next to him. He braces for the backlash, but you simply hold still for a second, and then, equally tentatively, rest your head on his shoulder, cuddling deliberately against him.

He hoped you weren’t looking at his soul at that moment, because it felt like it was shining so brightly in sheer, giddy relief and joy, well, it might have hurt your eyes.

Chapter Text

The rest of the night passes peacefully enough. You’d been nervous, a little, leaning against Sans. It was funny… you’d fought that morning, but it already felt like ages. Well… for you, it had been ages. Maybe not ages, but, god, how long had you spent in that bubble? What even was that bubble? When Hermione pulls out her time turner, you wince, then glance at Sans. For the first time all night, he’s definitely paying attention to the movie, the pinpoints of light fixed on the screen.

Well, yeah, he’s not going to like this one bit.

“Hey,” You murmur, nudging him gently. “You okay?” He gives you something that’s almost a smile and nods, then, tentatively, very slowly, reaches out to slide his fingers through your hair, looking half convinced that you’re going to yell at him. You want to show him that it’s okay, because you suspect that he’s looking for something to make him feel grounded, certain that time isn’t going to start skipping again. It’s clearly got him on edge, the cavalier way that these humans are manipulating time, and you just don’t want him any more upset, now that your irritation with him has dissipated entirely.

...Hm. Maybe you should put off mentioning that whole timestop thing you’d pulled off this afternoon, then, huh? He seems pretty worried about losing you as it is, you don’t want to know what would happen if you mentioned that you seemed to have some degree of control over time, just now. Even if it wasn’t a reset, even if it was just, like…

You eye your old N64, gathering dust in the entertainment center, and remember how you and your dad used to spend evenings duking it out over Super Smash Brothers, bickering about who was better, Pikachu or Ness, how you’d used to drive him nuts by pressing “start” and freezing the game, rotating the camera and laughing at how hilariously the characters were posed.

Pause, you thought, feeling his bones trace against your scalp. It was a pause, what you’d done.

He’s still looking at you nervously, and you realize you’ve been lost in thought, not really reacting, so you give him a small smile and lean your head back onto his shoulder, feeling a little anxious yourself, that you’ll say the wrong thing and hurt him, or that…

God, the world had just gotten so much bigger, these last few days. You’d gotten bigger (not physically, of course, if you wanted to be technical you’d actually gotten smaller, all... arms considered and all). Inside of you, though, there were all these new parts of you waking up. Your mind - and your soul? - had been racing, sprinting, trying to keep up with everything. Now that you had a second to breathe, you felt like you hardly knew who you were. You hadn’t changed, of course, but… you had?

Plenty of time to figure that out, with a few days left of vacation and presumably fewer attacks on the house, you decide, snuggling closer to Sans without really thinking about it. Even with Papyrus shrieking about how pretty the dementors are, you’re flagging again, and his playing with your hair never seems to help with that. You could curl up and go to sleep right now, but, well, you’re enjoying this so much, the calm happiness in the room.

When the movie ends, Toriel stands up. “Frisk, Papyrus, bedtime.” She tells them. The other two occupants of your sofa grumble and stand up. Asgore chuckles and stands up too.

“I’d best be heading home, myself.” He says quietly. “Kings don’t get much time off, after all.”

“Oh!” You blink. You’d forgotten, somehow, that everyone wouldn’t be staying here forever, than in spite of all the insanity of the past week, eventually, it was just going to be you, Sans, Papyrus and L.D. here. Everyone else had homes, other things, and here you were, being selfish… “Well, Asgore, thank you so much for… everything.” You say, getting quickly to your feet and walking over to the massive king. “I really… I mean…”

“Hush.” He claps a heavy hand on your shoulder, giving you a sorrowful look. “You paid a dear price for your refusal to turn on your friends. I regret so much that I …” He trails off, looking at your arm, and sighs. “I do not believe I am very suited for war.” He mutters, and then squeezes your shoulder and releases you. “You’re welcome in the palace any time, dear. And I’m only a phone call away.” He promises, and then begins to extend his goodbyes to everyone else.

“Uh, about that.” Undyne sidles over to you, once she’s done hugging the king. “I was wondering… I mean, me and Alphys were talking… look. We’re, uh, we’re worried about you.”

“Undyne-”

“It’s just a really big place for so few people to be around.” She says quietly. “And it seems like…” She grimaces, not liking this serious discussion. “It would be good for you to have people who love you nearby.” She finally pronounces. You glance back at Sans - he’s standing now, hanging back a little behind the king - and she adds, “Lots of people. For, uh, your protection.”
She shifts slightly from foot to foot, and says, “So I was wondering if it would be cool if we extended our stay here for a little longer, me and Alph? At least until we get the place a little safer?” She says, looking down at the floor. You can’t help but grin.

“You’re such a goof.” You laugh. “Jeez, honestly, like I’d say no. You guys are welcome, for as long as you need, you know that. Everyone who wants to stay here has a place. For as long as they want to be here.” You say, a little louder, just to make sure that’s clear to all parties, and flush slightly when Sans locks eyes from you across the room, looking at you like… you’re not sure you’re a good enough person to deserve a look from him like that.

“Y-you’re sure?” Alphys has snuck up behind Undyne. “I-I mean, w-we just want to help-”

“Yeah, guys, I’m sure. As long as you want.” You repeat. Undyne grins, and Alphys gives you a wide, shy smile.

“this mean i gotta share my lab?” Sans drawls, ambling over. Alphys ducks her head, and Sans gives her a wink. “hey, could always use the company.” He offers. “‘sides, sometimes it’s good to have someone else around, make sure that our experiments don’t get too… ya know?” He offers. Alphys clears her throat.

“Yeah.” She whispers, and something passes between their eyes that you don’t understand. After that, Sans looks, if anything, relieved. Honestly, Undyne does too, enough that the scrunched up glare she’s been giving Sans all night - she’s more willing to hold a grudge on your behalf than you are! - fades away.

“Suppose moving my piano here would be kinda silly, huh? I mean, we will be going back home, right babe?” She sounds like she’s trying to convince herself. “At some point?” Alphys chuckles, and you blink, surprised.

“Undyne, you know we’ve got a piano, right?”

“WHAT!” She bounces totally upright, looking delighted.

“Jeez, yeah, I had no idea you played, it’s in the lounge in the other wing of the house!” You laugh. She takes a deep breath, then, trying to sound very calm, says,

“You mind if I, um, check it out?” You grin.

“Sure, jeez. I wanna hear you play!”

“ME TOO!” Papyrus has made his way over.

Mom, please?” Frisk begs, and Toriel smiles softly down at her child.

“One song. Then bed.” She says sweetly.

“I KNOW WHERE IT IS, I’VE SEEN EVERY ROOM, LET ME SHOW YOU!” Papyrus grabs Undyne’s hand and tugs her away quickly, and you smile, getting ready to follow as the group begins to migrate. Sans catches your hand, squeezing it quickly, and murmurs,

“i’m gonna take the king home. see you in a few. gotta make the door outside.” He says, and you nod, thinking about how tricky it would be to make a doorway the king would comfortably fit through in here.

As a result, you end up next to Mettaton in the lounge, as Undyne begins prowling around the piano, her eye wide. Mettaton smiles at you.

“Hello, darling.” There’s something soft and sad in his voice, and you struggle to recognize it. “May I see your arm, beauty?” He whispers, as everyone else is occupied, and it clicks.

“It’s okay, Mettaton, really. It’s not like I lost anything, really. It still works.” You say, holding it up for him to look at. He lets out a melodic sigh, and runs a sleek, metallic finger across your palm. You jump slightly, then laugh.

“Still pretty ticklish. At least it doesn’t hurt anymore.”

“That seems… fast.” He says, arching a perfect eyebrow. You grimace and shrug, remembering that you’re not going to blab about the pause just yet. He looks back down at your arm, and turns your hand over in his, investigating the back now. “So delicate.” He whispers. “You know, darling, I changed forms, once upon a time. Well… twice, actually.” He says quietly, and glances up at Frisk. Oh, right, you remember this now, how they’d all laughed around the dinner table (except Mettaton) about Frisk’s fight, and the old boxy body that Mettaton had once called his own. You hadn’t thought about that, before, about how that change hadn’t been exactly voluntary. “I remember it being terribly… draining.” He says, looking distant. “I think, maybe, if I’d done it on my own terms… well, it doesn’t matter. It turned out to be for the best. This is the body I was meant to be in, after all.” He looks closer at your hand, then up into your eyes. “I hope you find peace too, ________.” He whispers, and lifts the back of your hand to his lips, kissing it softly, before releasing you to wander over to the side of the piano, that sad look still in his eyes as Undyne sits on the bench and begins to stretch her hands, sounding the keys experimentally.

“you okay?” You jump slightly, then relax, realizing it’s just Sans before you even turn. Then, of course, you think with trepidation about what he’d just witnessed, surely, Mettaton kissing your hand - oh, god, would he yell at you? You meet eyes with him cautiously, expecting the worst sort of jealousy in his eyes, but he simply looks concerned. “you look sad.” He says quietly, moving a little closer to you as Undyne spots what’s missing - a bottle of ancient scotch tucked away in a cabinet that she helps herself to, in a rocks glass that has to be a little dusty. You smile at her, then down at Sans.

“Yeah. Mettaton was just telling me about the day he fought Frisk.” You murmur, and he glances across the room at Mettaton, then at your arm, then nods to himself.

“i kinda forgot about that.” He admits. “you should talk to him, i think, when… after some more people have gotten to see your arm. him and undyne. they’ll probably be more help than i could be. i mean,” He pulls a face, “i’ve always been this hot.” He says, holding up his own arm. You groan, nudging him with your hip, then gasp, in spite of yourself, when Undyne starts playing.

It’s not just in your ears. Undyne is focused, totally captivated by the piano, and the notes that she’s playing, they’re in… they’re in your head, too!

Frisk’s eyes are closed, a delighted smile stretching their face, holding onto Toriel’s hand fiercely and breathing hard, and you realize, feeling foolish, that… oh, god, Frisk had spent their first seven years without music, and now…

“great, isn’t it?” Sans whispers, smiling at Frisk from across the room. “you should see ‘em listen to blook’s stuff, they have some on their phone, they’ll listen for hours. toriel doesn’t have the heart to make ‘em stop, even when they’re supposed to be doing homework.” He says fondly, and you grin at your cousin, slipping your arm around Sans’ waist and enjoying the moment.

Undyne can play! She takes long breaks between each song to sip at the (doubtless expensive) scotch and receive her due adulation, and Toriel permits “one more song” to turn into four or five before she drags Frisk and Papyrus off to bed - Papyrus argues that he’s allowed to stay up later, and Toriel says that if Papyrus wants a bedtime story, he’s coming now. He can’t argue with that logic, so he leaves willingly enough.

“I should go to bed too. I’m still beat.” You tell the room apologetically. “I don’t want to, though, you’re so good, Undyne!”

“Aw, shucks, punk!” Undyne laughs, giving you a broad, pointy smile. You wonder for a second what’s got her smiling like that, then realize that Sans, who’s barely stopped looking awkward, now looks absolutely frozen, like he has no idea what he should be doing. You take a breath, wondering if you really want to ask him to join you, and you can practically feel the tension in his bones.

“Come on up whenever you’re sleepy.” You finally murmur, where his ear should be, and feel him sag, his relief palpable. Well, right, he didn’t like going all night without seeing you, you knew that, but still-

“literally always sleepy.” He says, giving you what he clearly thinks is a casual shrug, and you can’t help but grin again. “night everyone.”

During the chorus of “night!”s, Undyne gives you a look. She clearly thinks you’re going too easy on him, but, well, she would. You try your best “hey, I’m not going to fool around with him or anything tonight, I feel like I have a while before I’m okay with that and besides, I’m really sleepy” look on her. Her brow furrows, and she mouths,

“Whaaaaaaaat.” Well, alright, maybe that was a lot of information to try to communicate in a glance. At least Sans is on the same page as you. When you get back up to your bedroom (Sans tolerating your chatter the whole way about how good Undyne is at piano), he almost immediately says,

“gotta brush my teeth, two minutes.”

You don’t know if he does have to brush his teeth - you’re not entirely sure that’s a thing he does - but you know that he’s giving you space to get changed right now without him watching you, and you take it, then squeeze past him to wash your face and brush your own teeth. When you’re back out, you see he’s changed the sheets on the bed, and is scooting Ghost down to the foot of the bed so you can climb in.

“Thanks.” You say, climbing in and feeling a little awkward again. God, when does this feeling end?! You switch off the bedside lamp quickly, taking refuge in the darkness, and feel his side of the bed sag a moment later. He doesn’t move to hold you, though, and for a while the two of you are there, frozen and clearly still awake, uncertain. Finally, you roll on your side to face him, and ball up your courage into one act, leaning over to kiss him. Again, his relief is palpable, and he moves his arms tightly around you, holding you even when you pull away. “I’m sorry too.” You finally murmur. “I yelled at you, but I wasn’t just mad at you. I was taking it out on you, I know that’s not fair.”

“shh. s’okay.” He assures you quickly.

“I still love you.” You do your best to show him the sincerity of that statement. “I want to be okay again, us. I know I freaked you out-”

“look.” He cuts you off.

“Hm?”

look.” He releases you and sits up, tapping his chest.

“Oh.” You gather your flagging energy, and look.

He is a kaleidoscope of blues, so vivid it almost hurts, flaring, surging, joyful patterns;

You reach out without thinking about it, and now that you know souls better, you know how to pull, that gesture with your brain that brings that cartoon heart shape up and out of his body, through his stupid novelty tuxedo shirt he’s decided to wear to bed (that you’re more than a little jealous of), hovering and casting light that’s there and isn’t there all at once. Your hand hovers over it, and then you catch yourself, remembering what Undyne had told you, that this was serious, not something monsters did lightly.

please” He whispers hoarsely, after you’ve stayed frozen for a few seconds, and you swallow, and very carefully reach a finger out, tracing it down the side of that ridiculous, beautiful soul.

Oh.

He is so, so hurt. No. He has been so, so, hurt. He’s healed like a bone that’s been broken too many times - even once would be too many - and it’s left lines, cracks you couldn’t see before... but now it’s so clear, the enormity of the things that he’s witnessed, the frequency of that hurt.

But he loves. In spite of that hurt - maybe because of that hurt - he loves like you could never have imagined. He loves so fiercely, so overwhelmingly. He loves his brother so much, god, he loves Papyrus just as much as Papyrus deserves (and you can tell, now, the towering esteem he holds Papyrus in, the pride, the affection that has always had to slide somewhere between brotherly and paternal). But that’s not all. He’s in love with every single day that starts up new, every single sunrise and sunset, every star, every blade of grass, every gust of wind. He loves life so, so much, even the bad parts, even the parts that hurt.

And he loves you. He loves parts of you you’ve never noticed, never cared to think about. He loves the face you make after you’ve laughed too hard, the look in your eyes when you’ve just thought of something that you think is particularly clever and can’t wait to share it. He loves the way you look at Frisk, and at Undyne, and at Papyrus, hell, even Mettaton, like you can’t believe people this wonderful could be in your life.

He loves it so much when you look at him like that. When you look at him like that, the hurt is almost entirely gone, almost an afterthought.

He is blisteringly smart. He is curious. He is brave. He is wildly mischievous, and he is so, so funny, all the way down to the center of his soul. He is not really lazy, but he likes people to think that he is. He is simply astonishing. You didn’t imagine that anyone could have so much packed inside them, and this is one touch, this is one graze of your finger, and he is -

He is crying.

You pull your hand away carefully, knowing what he’s feeling, and let him gather his soul back up before wordlessly wrapping your arms tight around him, settling your head on his chest and letting him gather himself.

“i don’t deserve-”

“You are perfect. You deserve everything.” You whisper, kissing his sternum through his shirt. “I understand now.”

“huh?”

“I know you.” You breathe. “How could I ever not be in love with you?”

The awkwardness and fear is long forgotten. You fall asleep like that eventually, holding each other tightly, each convinced that you got the better deal out of the bargain.

Chapter Text

As the next few days pass, you begin to adjust to what has rapidly become the new normal.

Mettaton leaves the next morning, with kisses for everyone, even Sans. Sans tolerates this with the patience of a saint, his eyes barely leaving you for the moment that it takes to pay attention to the melodramatic antics of the robot, the aftereffect of the previous night. Okay, fine, you’d both woken up a little … obnoxiously in love, which everyone else seemed to be doing their best to tolerate. Mettaton hugs you three times, perhaps feeling that he doesn’t have your full attention for the first two, and makes sure that you know that he’s only a phone call away, whenever, but he does need to get some filming done in L.A., dearest.

The house feels a little less lively in his absence.

Alphys and Undyne move in that same day, the twenty-seventh. They first act tentatively, with suitcases and a few books, and then, on the twenty-eighth, when you point out that they’ll be having to make a lot of trips back and forth if they really intend on staying for a while, everything else arrives. Sans takes the day to help (warning Papyrus to stay on the other side of the house and to keep Ghost with him, honestly, when the cat begins poking around the large doorway he’s set up in between houses), hauling boxes with good cheer. He probably could use another set of hands, but some of Alphys’ comics are risque enough that you understand instantly why Sans has banned Papyrus from helping. Alphys blushes, but is entirely unapologetic.

You help too; changing into comfortable clothing and helping to box and carry things from Alphys’ cramped campus housing - your right arm can suddenly hold a lot! Undyne stares at you with undisguised jealousy when you scoop up one of her heavier weights to carry through the portal, and Sans smirks at her, clearly proud of you. She glares at him, and gets her revenge a little later by drawling that she and Alphys will be taking the bedroom furthest away from your own, all the way in the other wing by the lounge, since they value their sleep and don’t appreciate being kept up all night by horny skeletons.

Sans doesn’t smirk after that, and finishes up the move rather quietly, not meeting your eyes. You, on the other hand, take the first opportunity you can to punch Undyne in the arm, hard, when you’re in private. She winces and jumps back.

“What was that for!?” She’s all injured innocence.

“For the ‘horny skeletons,’ jeez!” You say irritably. “A) I’m not a skeleton, and B), you didn’t need to make things more awkward!”

“Well, you’re part of a skeleton. Technically, you’re like, all skeleton, always have been, you just show a little more off than most people.” Undyne points out, awfully rationally. You narrow your eyes. “Besides, I thought everything was cool between you guys! I thought you were more in love then ever, right?” She snorts. “The way you were looking at each other over breakfast yesterday, eesh, I felt like I’d just eaten a bag of sugar just watching! Honestly, dude, I’m the one that just got engaged, and even I’m not that far on cloud nine.”

“We are.” You hiss. “We’re fine. We just haven’t…” You flush, thinking back to that morning…

You’d woken up, blissful, in his arms, feeling well rested even though you’d spent most of the night talking; okay, maybe you were being a little insufferably in love, but, well, his soul! He’d still been fast asleep, but when you shifted, he’d grumbled groggily and slid his hand onto your butt, made a growling, happy noise… and you’d just frozen, suddenly unable to think of anything but the thing he’d said the last time anything like this had happened; that he’d regretted it after the fact. He’d cracked his eyes open a second later, realized where his hand was, and pulled away quickly, looking absolutely mortified. You’d been trying to think of what to say, when he’d babbled something about seeing what Papyrus was up to and left abruptly - you’d never seen him get out of bed so fast!

“Haven’t…” Undyne prompts, bringing you back to reality, and you make a face. “Ah. Trouble in paradise.” She divines, and laughs. “Don’t worry, nerd, I’m sure you’ll bone again eventually.” She says, with a grin that makes you extend a particular skeletal finger towards her, glaring. “Oooh, flippin’ the skarm bird, _______’s getting tough on me now!” She snorts, and your eyes narrow again.

...Skarm?” You whisper pointedly. Undyne realizes she’s gone a step too far.

“Uh. Heh. Just something I’m t-trying out…” She stammers, reminding you an awful lot of Alphys. “Like… uh, skeleton arm, you know?”

“...Is everyone else calling it that?” You say, chewing over this new information. She winces.

“Uh, everyone but, you know, Sans, we kinda thought he might throw us into the um, ocean a whole bunch of times if he thought we were teasing you…” You grimace. She’s not exactly wrong to have that fear, you suspect. You poke her right where you’d punched her, with the ...skarm in question.

“He had better hear it from Frisk first, if you don’t want anyone to get in trouble. He’s more sensitive about it than I am right now, I think.” You warn her, stepping back through to her house for the last box of her stuff, and kind of regretting you’d given her the warning. Surely she could use a nice dip in the ocean to think about not teasing her dear and devoted friend.

-------------------------------------------------

Frisk and Toriel are still at your house, somewhat to your surprise. The queen had explained to you after Mettaton left, rather shyly, that Frisk was on vacation until the day after New Years, and that they’d begged to stay around to get to know you better. You’d assured her at once that you were so pleased to have Frisk around, and if there was anything she needed to get done, you would be happy to spend some time on babysitting duty. To your immense pleasure, Toriel had actually taken you up on the offer; she had lesson plans to write and a classroom to redecorate.

So, you spend the twenty-ninth and the thirtieth of December mostly just bundled up and hanging out in the backyard with Frisk. Well, Frisk and Spot; those two have taken a shine to each other (though not half as much as Spot loves you, to be fair).

You talk a lot about growing up with Paula, just wandering around the grounds. Frisk tells you their dad had never been in the picture, which is not a huge surprise to you. They’ve seen pictures, met him a few times, but the guy hadn’t ever bothered to learn to sign, not even the rudimentary ones Paula knows, so Frisk basically had no connection with him. You get the sense that Frisk wished that their dad had stuck around, all the same; they’d really suffered under Paula’s sole supervision. You’re beginning to realize how easy you’d gotten off. Paula might have smacked you around a few times, thrown a few plates at you, but you… well, you’d at least been older than Frisk was now. Frisk was just so small. God, what you wouldn’t give to spool back time, to be the person Frisk had deserved. You’d been here this whole time, in the same town, there’d been years and years you could have at least tried...

Sometimes it’s too hard for Frisk to talk. When that happens, you find a distraction. Frisk’s favorite one is to prank Sans - they figure out pretty early on that your right arm can really whip a snowball when you choose to do so, and they almost immediately point to the top of the house, at the curved bank of windows where Sans spends every free second when he’s not with you.

The first time you hit the window with a snowball, he’s down in a flash, jumping through a (messy, for him) doorway, eye sockets wide, labcoat half off, ready for a fight.

You feel mildly horrified that your first thought upon seeing this is sort of along the lines of “hot damn.

Frisk dissolves into laughter as you feel mildly guilty and shift from foot to foot. He groans, taking in the scene - you, blushing and doing your best to look innocent, Spot, shoved right up against your side and totally oblivious to anything but being near you, and Frisk, who has totally lost their chill laughing at the look on Sans’ face.

snow-most gave me a heart attack.” He finally snickers, and takes a few steps to give you a sweet, somewhat relieved kiss. That takes the wind out of Frisk’s sails; now that they’re getting more used to you, they have decided it’s downright disgusting that their cousin is kissing their uncle. Which, well, yeah… but!

“We are literally in no way related, Frisk, don’t be a baby.” You remind them over a chorus of EWWWs.

Still gross.” Frisk insists, and has to dodge a noogie from Sans, laughing again. Sans shakes his head, muttering something under his breath, then looks up at Spot.

“man, this girl really likes you, huh?” He muses, holding his palm out in front of the huge skull. Spot deigns to press her nose to his palm, chirping reservedly in your brain. She’s not a huge fan of him kissing you either - she’s wary around anyone big enough to potentially pose a threat to you.

“She’s got good taste.” You tease, and he grins.

“sure does.” Oh, damn it, when he smiles like that you still go all weak kneed and sentimental.

Frisk groans again, and tosses a snowball at Sans’ head, and the rest of the afternoon passes in a pitched battle of snowy intensity, particularly when Papyrus and Undyne join in on the fun.

------------------------------------------

Sans doesn’t fall for the snowball trick again the next day, to Frisk’s (fine, and your own) disappointment. Frisk will have none of that, so you reluctantly say goodbye to Spot again to set up pranks inside, instead.

… Is the door to the void getting harder to open? Oh, god. You’re not sure it is, but it feels like it might be, and you should… you should really probably be telling Sans about that, but you can’t bring yourself to. You’d spent the night, again, talking and cuddling, and neither of you had done anything less chaste than a kiss, particularly after the, uh, the butt incident. If his theory about why you’re suddenly so good at magic is even halfway correct, that’s something you’re really going to need to talk about sooner, rather than later, but even thinking about it just makes you want to turn red and crawl deep underground.

You take a deep breath, and set to helping Frisk distribute their alarmingly huge collection of whoopie cushions around the house. To Frisk’s fury, Sans seems to have a preternatural ability to avoid whoopie cushions, which you discover when he comes down for a cup of coffee, picking the one stool that isn’t rigged.

To Papyrus’ even greater fury, he sets off six in close succession, which leaves the taller skeleton nearly apoplectic on the floor of the kitchen, screaming about injustice while Lesser Dog rather gingerly gnaws on his femur in what seems to be a gesture of apology. You have to step outside the kitchen to laugh where Papyrus can’t see you and be further injured, tears streaming down your face. You jump when something brushes your back, but it’s just Sans, who’s smirking at you.

“classic whoopie cushion prank. good work.” He tells you, and you try to compose yourself.

“Why does Frisk even have so many?!” You groan, still shaking, and he grins, raising both eyebrow ridges. “Oh… oh, god, of course. I’m sure Toriel is so pleased with you.” You laugh.

“she loves ‘em too. hey, question.” He says, still looking rather pleased with himself.

“Sure.” You wipe your eyes once more, and try to regard him more seriously.

“so, uh, tomorrow’s new year’s eve.”

“Yup.”

“and, big party here, right, monsters, humans, and so on…” He says, looking skeptical. You shrug and nod.

“Yeah, that’s what Undyne’s planning, anyway, I’ve sorta just stayed out of the way.” You admit.

“right. well, i mean, it’s a big date night, i guess, for humans … heh, i don’t know why i feel so nervous, we’re already dating, i just, uh, you wanna go out tonight, instead? somewhere nice? not grillbz?” He offers, looking a little bashful. You smile at him, your cheeks hurting from laughing so hard a second ago.

“That sounds awesome. I’d love to.” Even if you hadn’t wanted to go out, the look on his face at that answer would have made it worth it.

“heh. awesome.” He repeats. “i’ve, uh, i’ve actually got a surprise for you, so i thought maybe… well, you’ll see. k, say, sixish?”

“Oh, um, wow. Sure!” You say, feeling awfully flattered, and a little nervous.

“uh, cool. k, heading back up, stop by if you want to, you know, get alphys to sit on a whoopie cushion too.” He says with a brilliant smile, and steals a quick kiss before heading upstairs. You can practically feel the happiness radiating off him.

A surprise.

You immediately head towards the other wing of the house. If anyone owes you several hours of picking over what that could possibly mean, it’s Undyne.

After all, you’d even heard Toriel say “skarm” this morning.

She definitely owes you one.

Chapter Text

“He’s totally gonna propose.”

“You shut your mouth!” You glare viciously at Undyne, who smirks at you. You’re sitting cross-legged on the foot of her bed, cuddling Ghost on your lap.

“Just sayin’. He wants a surprise date, all of a sudden-”

“A MONTH, UNDYNE. We’ve known each other a MONTH. This is literally our second date!” You groan.

“Uh, have you seen how he looks at you?” She drawls. “He’s gonna propose.”

“Oh god.” You have a terrible, sinking feeling in your stomach, remembering the day he’d helped you into the shower. “He did make a joke about ring shopping once. I mean, I think it was a joke??”

“Probably not a joke.” Undyne grins hugely, enjoying your discomfort. When you still look horrified, she rolls her eyes, looking, if anything, disappointed in you. “Oh, c’mon, buddy, he’s not really gonna propose, I was teasing. You’ve known each other a month. He’s not that thick-skulled.” She assures you.

“Really?” You whisper, still feeling anxious.

“Really.”

“If he proposes, I’m gonna punch him. Skarm style.” You threaten, and she snickers.

“Don’t worry. It’s okay.” She pulls both legs up onto her bed, then her eyes widen. “Unless-”

“Oh, god, what.”

“...You think he’s pregnant?” She whispers, the evil light in her eyes flaring up again. You groan, burying your face in your hands as she cackles.

“You think you’re hilarious, but you’re the exact opposite.” You grumble. “You’re a huge jerk, that’s all, and I think you’ve been letting Alphys read too much Harry Potter fanfic to you.” She smirks, but doesn’t deny it. Alphys and Undyne have gone in deep into Harry Potter over the past few days. “But seriously, I have no idea…”

“Maybe he’s gonna tell you he thinks it’s time to get back to business.” She proposes, then waggles her eyebrows. “You know. Like. Busin-

“YES, I KNOW.” You groan. “He could just tell me that now, he doesn’t need to take me anywhere to do that. But…”

“What?” She catches the genuine conflict on your face, and stops grinning, looking a little concerned.

“I don’t know, just… I kinda like this?” You admit. “Where we’re at right now? I mean, we were moving so fast, and now we’re kinda… catching up on the stuff we missed out on, you know? I feel like I’ve learned more about him in the past four days than I had the entire time before that. Like, did you know that he’s never had peanut butter? Seriously. Just never occurred to him to have it. And did you know that he plays the trombone? Which, by the way, I’m pretty damn sure he does just so that he can make trom-bone jokes?” You laugh, and Undyne groans.

“I never thought of that.”

“Yeah. He’s good, though!” You say quickly. “He’d only play a little for me, but he’s good!”

“...Well, that explains the horn section coming from your room last night, I suppose.” Undyne laughs. “So, if you’re having fun, what’s the problem?” You hesitate, then grimace.

“I’m, um, worried that my arm will fall off?”

“COME AGAIN?” Undyne says, looking delighted once more, then mutters, “Sorry, that was probably not polite, given your current, uh, lack of, fuhuhuhu, com-”

“DON’T.” You glare at her again, then grimace at your arm. “I don’t know, dude. This thing is kinda held together by magic and, um… whatever this thing is, whatever Sans’ dad did…” You gesture vaguely at the black disc that delineates your flesh from bone, trying not to touch it. You’d learned very quickly that touching it was enormously uncomfortable, even if the rest of the, ugh, skarm, was more or less fine (if still a little sensitive). “Just…” You take a deep breath. “What if I run out? Like, if we’re all right, and I’ve been able to do this stuff because… you know.”

“Magic c-”

“Yes.” You take a deep breath. “Dude… I like my arm! I want it to stay in one piece! Or, you know, many pieces, but still a cohesive unit!” Undyne snorts.

“Look, he’s not gonna let things get dire, if that’s even what’s happening. I mean, are you feeling okay?” You take a moment and consider this.

“More or less. Maybe a little tired when I let Spot out.” You confess. She makes a face.

“Void magic man. Ugh. Gives me goosebumps, uh, no offense. You sure you don’t just wanna learn how to make a spear? I mean, you’re still new at this, you haven’t settled on any attack or anything, right? We could just make you a Mini-Undyne.” She proposes, and it’s your turn to snort.

“Oh? I thought that’s why you proposed to Alphys, so you could make lots and lots of Mini-Undyne-”

“SHUT IT!” Undyne growls, reaching for a pillow. You hop quickly off the bed, unwilling to let this whole thing degrade into a pillow fight.

“I’m gonna go get changed, it’s five already. I’ll tell you how it goes.” You tell her with a laugh, and she gives you a grin.

“If you come back with a ring, I swear, I’ll never stop making fun of you-”

“Goodbye, Undyne!”

---------------------------------------------

You go up to your room and paw through the new wardrobe that Mettaton’s provided you, wishing that everything didn’t need to be shrouded in such secrecy when it came to Sans. Sans loved secrets, though, or rather, he loved the big moment where he got to reveal them, so you decided not to go down and badger him for the restaurant name in an effort to make sure you were properly dressed. You’d just look nice.

You eventually pick out a cap sleeved black dress that hits your knees- black goes with everything, right? It’s a very flattering cut, of course (thanks, Mettaton!). More importantly - it had pockets. You can’t help but wish the robot was with you to help you with your hair and makeup, but you do your best, traipsing into the bathroom, and looking at your arm helplessly in the mirror for a moment, trying to decide if it looks weird, if you should put a glove on or something.

Well, it does look weird, but, you decide, it’s you now. You can’t hide it forever, so why hide it at all? Hell, if people were going to look anyway…

You find the silver cuff in your jewelry box, way in the bottom drawer, in the back. It was an old thing, a treasured thing - your mom had picked it out for you when a trip for work had led her to a month in the Navajo Nation. It had stopped fitting you once you turned maybe eleven, twelve, but now…

It slides on like it was designed for your arm.

You’re feeling a little smug about this, sitting on the edge of your bed and slipping on some awfully cute black shoes, when Sans walks in, looking worried.

“i don’t think i have nice shoes.” He says instantly, and you burst out laughing. Then, he gets a good look at you, and he takes a step forward, almost against his will, then blinks and stammers, “uh, you look… i mean… oh god, you look, you’re…”

“Pretty?” You suggest, giving him your best ‘pretty’ smile.

“not good enough.” He says, shaking his head. “you’re… gotta say, babe, my vocab doesn’t fail me too often…” You snicker, standing up and looking him over. He’s doing his best to dress up, honestly, but nice clothes seem to react to him the same way oil does with water. You walk over, and deliberately straighten his dress shirt so it hangs properly on his shoulders, and get his tie in order as well, then nod at the suit jacket in his arms. “Put that on, I’ll see if I can find some shoes for you in your room.” You murmur, then, unable to help yourself, lean to give him a quick kiss. He looks much less stressed over that, and is wrestling the suit jacket on while you walk next door, where all his clothes are still stored, to find some shoes.

He has a pair of shoes that could pass for nice, if nobody looked too closely - well, he’s got one shoe, at least, it takes you ages to find the other one (it ends up being wedged into the pages of a monster textbook about humans, as a makeshift bookmark). His room is absolute chaos, but you have to admit, you kind of love it. After Paula, seeing a room in an untidy state gives you a guilty, delighted thrill.

“Here, found some.” You tell him, walking back into your room. He blinks at you, sees the shoes in your hands, then sighs with relief.

“thought i left those in snowdin. lifesaver.” He says, putting them on quickly, without socks. “k, you ready to go?”

“Almost.” You laugh, and give him a hand up to his feet, giving him a slow, deliberate kiss when he’s found his balance. “Okay, ready.” You murmur, and he gives you a look like maybe he’s not ready, after all that. He swallows, seems to gather his resolve after an extremely fleeting glance to the bed that somehow manages to make you flush all the way down to your toes, and mutters,

“k.” Then, more elegantly than you’ve ever seen him do so, he draws a doorway to, well, elsewhere, in the middle of your bedroom. You stare at it for a second, then smile at Sans and step through (ignoring the keening delight and immediate despair from Spot as you pass through the doorway for a split second, and she recognizes your presence in the space between). Sans steps after you, and you blink, looking around.

“Woah, uh, where are we?” Sans gives you a guilty laugh.

“uh, the new restaurant in Mettaton’s casino in Vegas. know you love those high-end cooking shows, so …”

“Are you kidding me?” You hiss, glancing around at the opulent, silver and pink decor, all of it positively dripping, well, Mettaton. “I thought that this was a Gordon Ramsay restaurant?!”

“uh, dunno who that is? maybe? mettaton said he’d hook us up.” Sans says with a lazy shrug, and you let out a soft whimper.

“...If I see Gordon Ramsay, I’ll actually die. Understand? There will be none of me left. I will explode.” You warn him, and he grins wide and eager, understanding just how hugely he’s succeeded.

“heh. kay. c’mon, we’ve got reservations.”

“D’you think he’s cooking here tonight? Oh my god, do you think he made beef wellington? Sans. Sans. Do you think the Masterchef Junior kids are here, because-”

“c’mon, ________.”

You take a moment to gather yourself, grab his hand, and allow yourself to be escorted into the best date you could have possibly imagined.

---------------------------------

Several hours later, you are absolutely weak with laughter. Not at all weak with hunger; Sans definitely has that covered. They serve an eighteen course tasting meal, including the famous Beef Wellington, and Sans actually, gamely, tries most of it - though his heart is really in the drink pairings and the one fire-roasted tomato and fiddlehead puree (with creme fraiche, truffles and osetra caviar) that you’ll probably be tasting in your dreams for the rest of your life.

Everything’s been so perfect; you’ve been secluded enough in a corner booth to make you feel like a VIP, without making you feel like you have to hide. The waitress compliments your bracelet twice, even bringing over another woman to look at it, without once mentioning the skeletal arm it’s attached to. Your sommelier is actually a small, irritable fire elemental, not a human, who makes absolutely impeccable wine suggestions, all on the house at Mettaton’s request. By the time that the waitress brings out the final course of desserts, you’re stuffed, tired, and just a little tipsy.

“Sans. The surprise?” You finally ask, boldly, when you realize that he’s perfectly content to sit back and watch you eat the truffles that the (comped) check has been served with, a slightly hungry look on his face.

“oh! fuck!” He’s probably more than a little tipsy, too, since he hasn’t been eating as much. All the same, he immediately reaches for his pocket.

For a heartstopping second, you think he’s going for a ring box, and your hand curls up into a fist in spite of yourself. Then he plops it on the table… it’s a much used journal that you immediately recognize.

“Dad’s journal.” You mutter, squinting at the book, and glance up at Sans. “What?”

“so… i’ve spent the last few days looking through the stuff your parents were working on. figured i’d pick up where they left off. least i could do, since i get to work in a lab like that.” He says, and looks at you, admiringly. “babe, your parents… smart, it doesn’t cover it. i’m in awe. they were interested in everything.” He murmurs, reverent. “no wonder i love you so much. no wonder you’re such a wonderful person. god, they just… look, if we knew humans could have been like that, underground, i don’t think… i don’t know what i’m saying. just, they were good, good people.”

“They were the best.” You confirm quietly. “Sans, god, I wish you coulda met them, I swear, they would have loved you, they’d have practically adopted you, okay? Like, they just… they weren’t scared of anything, ever, especially anything different. They would have loved you.” You repeat, and he grins, sheepish.

“god, i hope so.” He whispers, then shakes his head. “anyway, forget me. look.” He opens the journal to a page that unfolds to two pages, then four, then six, a complicated, bifurcating diagram that looks oddly familiar…

“A family tree?” You guess, and he nods.

your family tree.” He says. “scooch over, look.” You comply, inching down the bench seat of the corner booth you’re in until you’re right by his side. “look, here’s you, and here’s where frisk would be.” He points out, showing you the diagram. “here’s your parents, and your dad’s parents, and … look, all the way up here…” He traces his way, generation after generation up the tree, and indicates an ancestor of origin, someone your dad must have been deliberately tracing back to, because there’s her name, all the way up there, “Calista,” and then, scribbled in red, in your father’s cramped script, right underneath, “SORCERESS.”

“What?” You whisper, and Sans smiles gently, wrapping his arm around your back.

“looks like you come from a long line, babe.” He whispers. “i mean, all of your dad’s stuff, all of it, all of his work on the barrier, it’s all about one question - where did the magic come from originally, to make the barrier in the first place? and, based on this… it looks like it was part of you and your family this whole time, that ability to do magic. i don’t understand all of it. don’t understand half of it, not yet, but… it’s beginning to get clearer, why you and frisk can do stuff no other human can do.” He gives you a shy smile. “you’re special, _________. you’re so special. and your mom and dad left all this stuff for you, trying to figure out how that specialness works, and i’m gonna help too. we’re gonna figure this out together.” You pause, gathering your emotions.

“Holy shit.” You finally mutter, feeling partially delighted, partially awestruck. This is… well, it’s such a gift. It’s like your mom and dad had reached out to give you one last thing, like you’d had one last conversation with them. “Sans, baby, this is… god, this is so amazing.” Sans grins.

“yeah. but… babe, your parents loved you so much. they wanted you to have this, no matter what. know how I know?” He breathes.

“How?” You ask quietly. He doesn’t say anything, just folds up the family tree with painstaking precision, then flips to the front of the journal, laying the inscription open.

“To our darling ________, may you never stop questioning, never stop seeking, never stop fighting, until all barriers have been torn to the ground. Your loving parents, Mom and Dad.” You read, and are embarrassed to feel your throat swell with pending tears. “Sans… I can’t…. I never even thought….” You whisper, suddenly wanting nothing more than for him to know why you’d never seen this in the first place, why you'd been too worried and emotional to even step into the lab, much less read through the work your brilliant parents had left behind. He shakes his head.

“the two of us, we’re gonna figure this all out. magic, energy, your family… what happened to your parents. deal?” He whispers, and you realize, for the first time, that he’s not buying the party line, that your parents’ car had hit ice and sailed into the sea twelve years ago. No, you think, looking into the tiny bright lights that demark his pupils, he’s not buying that at all.

“Deal.” You hear yourself say, shakily.

Chapter Text

The check is taken away, two elegant flutes of champagne are put in its place, and the sommelier beams and crackles at you as you try to wrap your mind around the last few minutes. Sans is eyeing you carefully.

“babe, sorry, didn’t mean to upset…” He mutters, and you shake your head.

“No apologies. This is wonderful. I mean, it’s a lot. I guess I knew, I mean, they worked at the barrier, I knew they had to be researching magic on some level...” You whisper, your hand caressing the familiar leather cover of your dad’s journal. “This is… god, I just have so many questions. If my family is magic, why didn’t my dad ever use any? Why can I, or Frisk?” Sans smiles slightly.

“dunno. got some guesses. we’ll do some tests. plenty to keep us busy, next few weeks.” He says, giving your hand a reassuring squeeze.

“Tests?” You say, a little apprehensively. He looks to the heavens for guidance.

“don’t worry. nothing embarrassing or painful or anything.” He assures you. “jeez, babe, ‘m not gonna bite.” Your eyes travel unconsciously to his mouth, or rather, his teeth.

“Too bad.” You sigh under your breath, not really thinking about anything other than the tragedy that his mouth hasn’t been anywhere near your neck for the past few days… then you suddenly remember exactly who you’re talking to. His expression hasn’t changed, but his pupils are suddenly brighter, more intense, and for the time being, you find yourself struggling to think about anything besides him.

“think i like tipsy you.” He mutters to himself after a moment, then laughs. “hell, think i like every version of you.”

“Hm?” You snuggle a little closer, looking up at him through your eyelashes. You know what you’re doing, and, given the soft laugh he gives you, so does he. “Which versions are you talking about?” He swallows, and reaches haphazardly for his champagne glass, downing half of the flute in a gulp.

“uh, well, there’s happy you. i like her.” He drawls, at last. “and excited you. and annoyed you is pretty, heh, hot, gotta admit.” You narrow your eyes at that, and he grins. “yeah, exactly.” He says, which makes you come up short, since he apparently enjoys that glare. You wait for him to say more, and he seems awfully tempted, his eyes lingering all sorts of places that his eyes shouldn’t be, not when you’re in public.

“D’you wanna go home, Sans?” You finally murmur, running a bony finger over his jaw. He takes a second to collect himself after that, and you let him, sipping at your champagne glass as he distractedly pockets your dad’s journal once more.

“please.” He finally agrees, sounding a little wound up. In your current state, all you can think of is how much you want to help him, er, relax. Unwind. Forget moving slow, forget catching up for lost time, you are just stupid in love with him (and a little drunk!) and you want to make him happy. He looks like he might very well be on the same page; you like the look on his face right now very much. He slides from the booth, and you follow suit, glancing back at the table one last time. Your sense of gratitude gets the better of you, and you clear your throat.

“Sans, this was the best date I’ve ever, ever… I never thought I’d be somewhere like this.” You tell him honestly, before you get too distracted to make sure he knows that. “I especially never thought I’d be somewhere like this with someone as… as amazing as you.” He’s smiling shyly now, the heated look off his face for the moment.

“me too.” He says, low and quiet, then grins. “glad you liked it, babe, i think i need to give mettaton my firstborn or something, said i’d owe ‘im big time, but totally worth it.” You snicker at that.

“Aw, don’t worry, baby, I won’t let him Rumplestiltzkin you.” You tease, and he chuckles, taking your hand - he seems to be carefully alternating between the one made of flesh and blood, and the one made of bone, to ensure that there’s no hint of favoritism - and leading you out into the casino proper, then down a side hall where it’s safe to make a doorway right back to your bedroom. You step through (hi Spot, bye Spot, sorry!) and smile slowly at him when he joins you, the door to the casino snapping shut behind him in an instant. He’s so good at that. He’s so good at so many things. “So.” You say, sinking to a seat on the foot of the bed and taking your shoes off.

“so.” He grins at you and sits down next to you, shrugging off his suit jacket and doing the same, seemingly feeling much better the less fancy his outfit is. Oh, you’ll have to take him to a dive bar or something next time, since he’s been so willing to put himself through discomfort for the sake of making you happy. He loosens his tie, and you swallow, feeling that he looks much better like this, mildly dishevelled and in what appears to be an excellent mood. Still, he doesn’t move any closer, and after a minute of this, you try to take a stab as to why.

“So, uh… just to be clear… when I… freaked out? Um, at you the other day, I was kinda going through a lot of stuff? Like, um, the skarm and everything-” He arches an eyebrow ridge - he doesn’t love the term “skarm,” even though it’s grown on you, you have to admit. “Well, heh, you know. But, um, I’m totally past that. I am so far removed from being mad. I get why you said what you said. I know you were just trying to look out for me.”

“uh… good.” He suddenly sounds strained, like he has to force out the word, and you study him.

“Sans, what’s wrong?” You ask, quieter. He takes a moment to collect himself, then groans.

“uh… just that it would, fuck, it would… it would be smarter to wait a while.” He says, extraordinarily unwillingly, like saying those words is causing him physical pain. You blink, feeling a little caught off guard (and more than a little disappointed). “just for another day or two, just… look, babe, i am real unhappy about this.” He mutters. “i am a little drunk, and you’re looking like… that, and there is literally nothing on this earth i want more than to take you and-” He stops talking abruptly, perhaps realizing that he’s not on a productive path. “we just don’t know enough.” He says quietly. “i gotta know you’ll be okay, or come up with a game plan, or something… look, it’s all immaterial, right? i plan to be around as long as you’ll have me. so, hopefully, uh, none of this will matter, but if we do need to spend some time, uh, apart…” He groans, rubbing the back of his neck. “gotta make sure you’re not gonna get hurt in my absence. also. don’t want you to ever feel like you’re stuck with me, you know? gotta just… figure out how you’re staying in one piece now, make sure you stay that way, without my, uh-”

“Help.” You supply, and he lets out a low laugh.

“not exactly what i was gonna say, but sure.” He says, trying to hide a guilty, slightly evil smile and looking down at his feet. You just know that there’s hundreds of jokes he’s just desperate to make, that you’re sure he’s already thought of, that he’s absolutely certain you’ll kill him for even thinking.

“Sans…” You murmur, and he looks at you, all wide eyes and worry, and you feel cripplingly guilty for snapping at him the other day. While he might lack some tact, his intentions are always, always good.

“but hey, look, uh, we could um, we could do non-magic stuff, k, just cuz, uh, gettin’ me off involves magic doesn’t mean that you gotta-” He begins, wild for a solution that’ll leave you happy.

“Shh.” You say quickly, and give him a soft kiss before he can stammer out anything else. “I’m not gonna yell at you again, Sans. I’m so sorry I made you feel like you needed to be nervous about - look, you’re doing me a huge favor right now.” You assure him. “Like, a hundred favors, actually.” Seeing how upset he looks makes you realize just how much self-control it’s taking for him to be so noble. “I get it. We need to learn more about how all this works. You don’t want me, uh, falling apart.”

“literally the only reason.” He says quickly. “you have no idea how much i wanna-”

“I definitely have an idea.” You sigh reluctantly, and the two of you share a conspiratorial, longing glance before you burst out laughing. “Oh… man. Okay. We’ll be good. I’m, um, gonna go get changed in the bathroom, then we can go to bed. Because if we’re being good, I am wearing some underwear that would definitely be unfair to show you right now.” You say, standing up. He groans quietly, in an astonishing amount of distress, and you realize that it had probably been unfair to say that, too. “Uh, sorry!” You say, walking quickly to the bathroom, scooping up some shorts and a t-shirt to change into, and taking the moment by yourself to try to cool down. You’d feel so much more disappointed if it wasn’t so painfully clear that this was an act of love from him, this restraint. And, well, he was right. You couldn’t just count on him being there to… fill up the tank, you decide euphemistically. No matter what he said, he had to feel free to leave you. He couldn’t just stay forever because you were leeching, quite literally, off him. Because everybody left, and maybe he would, too, sweet words and all, but you weren’t going to keep him on a leash to keep him with you…

You quickly splash some water on your face, composing yourself. Stop being defeatist, _______. He said he intended to stick around. He was just trying to take care of you, and that was okay. You were allowed to enjoy that. In spite of everything Paula had told you, you were deserving of care.

When you walk back into the bedroom, only the bedside lamp is on, and he’s under the covers in what is assuredly another novelty shirt. He looks at you and sighs.

“not fair. still hot.” He grumbles, and you have to giggle at his displeasure at this development as you climb in next to him.

“If you’re so upset, you’ve got a perfectly good bed in the other room…” You point out, and he shakes his head quickly.

“nope, happy here.” He insists, switching off the lamp and curling to your side, all warm, bony angles. You sigh, and wrap an arm around him, nuzzling his neck - his, er, cervical vertebrae, you were trying to learn the names a little better.

“Would you call these cervical vertebrae?” You muse out loud.

“i call ‘em neck bones.” He says with a laugh, and you roll your eyes. A comfortable silence stretches between you, and eventually, you speak up again.

“Hey, Sans?”

“mm?” He sounds sleepy, but you can tell from the way he’s holding you that he isn’t anywhere near sleep. Faker.

“What you said at the restaurant, about… you know, about figuring out what happened to my parents. What did you mean?” You whisper. “I mean… you know they died, right, they um… they recovered their bodies, eventually.” Oh, you are not great at pillowtalk. This has just been scratching at the back of your head ever since he said it, and now, without distractions, you can’t help but ask.

“yeah, i know. looked it up online.” Sans mutters, his arm tightening protectively around you, and you wonder if he’s thinking the same thing as you are. It had taken a while, too long, for the dive teams to locate the car and get them out in the icy waters that winter, but the ocean was still the ocean, and the animals that lived there had been busy. They hadn’t been suitable to show you for identification purposes - they’d had to check dental records, a fact Paula had drunkenly told you a month or so later. Thinking of that gruesome reality, of the fact that your parents had been more bone than flesh themselves, by the time they were pulled out of the water… you shudder slightly, in spite of yourself, thinking of the void, the stench of entropy that still billowed from it, the sense of things falling apart that persisted whenever you looked too hard at it, touched it for too long. Sans senses your distress, even with your head still tucked under his, and strokes your back slowly, soothingly.

When he speaks again, his voice is much more gentle. “i don’t get everything that they were doing up there, _______. not in their lab here, not by the barrier, but i’ve seen the design for the turbine, and they were doing stuff with energy and magic conversion that i was only just getting into, before frisk showed up. they had the turbine up by the time you were two, ‘s twenty years ago that they had figured out how to draw power from the barrier, not just a prototype, a totally working machine. they were miles ahead of me, and that was twenty damn years ago.” He says. A lesser man would sound jealous. He sounds awestruck. “i think… i think they were close, to taking the barrier down. i really do.” He whispers. “i think they were close, and i think that a lot of people were ready to write off that car crash as an accident before they even started investigating.” He pauses for a second, letting you digest that, his hand tracing your spine.

“Why don’t you think it was a crash?” You finally whisper. “The roads are dangerous when they’re icy up there, everyone knows it.”

“yeah.” He says quietly. “so, i mean, i thought the timing seemed a little suspicious. can’t figure out their notes, exactly, but i mean, in the journal, he even says it, he thought it was gonna be months, maybe less, before the barrier fell. but people have accidents all the time.” He takes a deep, deep breath, then shifts his head back so he can meet your eyes. “you ok?”

“Yeah. Yeah. Tell me what’s up, Sans.” You insist, all the distractions from before, the lust, the alcohol, the sheer giddiness suddenly just background noise. You’re regarding him with a sudden clarity, realizing the amount of thought he’s been putting into this while you’ve been outside, playing in the snow. He swallows - you can hear the sound, even though you’re sure there’s no reason for him to do so; it’s such a human tic that you almost want to stop this line of questioning and just spend some more time adoring him, but you don’t. He’s answering questions, as best as he can, and they’re questions you hadn’t dared ask out loud, not ever.

“like you said. it took a long time to find the car. d’you know why?” Sans whispers, and you nod.

“It was winter. Hard to search in the cold-”

“no. it’s because the car wasn’t where it should have been.” He mutters. “for them to have slipped on the ice and gone off, where the skidmarks were, where the guardrail came down… they shoulda been closer to shore, they shoulda been hundreds of feet east from where they found the car.”

“Tides. It moved.” You suggest weakly, and he pauses.

“maybe. you remember that car though? suv. not a light car. not easy to move. and… look, fluid mechanics, not my speciality, but i’ve looked at the maps of the coast there, and i popped over to check it out, and it just seems like, if the tides woulda carried it anywhere, i think it woulda been in the other direction.” He mutters. “but even then. wasn’t deep, just deep enough to stay under at low tide. and it was stuck on rocks, don’t know how it woulda moved in the first place. lotta things aren’t adding up, babe.” He says, and shakes his head, slowly. “i aim to find out why.”

You know him, you know him to the center of his soul, you know that nothing makes Sans rouse from his act of being lazy more than the problem, the intellectual challenge that the word “why” presents, but this time, you can tell, it’s not a game for him, it’s not for fun. He’s furious on your behalf, on your parents’ behalf, and maybe (a little) on his own behalf, for the decade spent underground that he believes wouldn’t have happened if your parents had lived just a little longer.

And you trust him. You trust him enough to believe him when he confides these suspicions, even though that belief is already opening up wounds that you thought had closed a long, long time ago. After all, you’re furious too. For your mom and dad. For Frisk. For all of your friends from the underground, all the children that had died in Asgore’s miserable effort to escape. And for yourself, god, for the suffering you’d endured when your entire universe disappeared overnight, in one fell swoop that seemed to indicate nothing more than the world being a cruel, capricious, malicious place.

“Sans, I love you.” You whisper, and he squeezes you tightly.

“love you too. just wish… wish this had all worked out differently. wish i’d been able to tell ‘em how smart they were, what a wonderful human they’d raised…” He whispers, and you gulp and nod, thinking that it’s not quite fair, that he holds your parents in such esteem, that you hold Gaster in such low regard, and that you’d been the one to be visited by his parent, post-mortem, and not the other way around.

“I wish that too.” You mutter. “God, I really do.” He sighs, then kisses you roughly, hungrily, all his passion and desire and love in the singular gesture. You close your eyes and cling to him, trying not to go limp. You’re breathing very hard by the time he stops kissing you, and you have more than half a mind to protest.

“fuck, i love you.” He breathes, kissing you once more, fleetingly.

“W-we should probably go to bed.” Your voice is embarrassingly shaky, and he senses your weakness like a predator gets the scent of blood, his smile growing wider, before he remembers himself and pointedly, deliberately, relaxes his hold just a little.

“yeah. you’re right. night, babe.”

“Night, Sans.”

It takes a long time for either of you to fall asleep.

---------------------------

You awake from a dream that was in absolutely no way wholesome, into a scene that is similarly lacking in some... whole? You’re not sure if that’s how wholesomeness works, altogether, but you’re also pretty sure, under the circumstances, that you should definitely not be considered an authority.

Sans is asleep, and it’s a damn good thing he is, because if he was awake, you would probably have to punch him. After all, you definitely hadn’t fallen asleep like… like this! He’s got a hand up your shirt, which would be bad enough, if it weren’t for the fact that he is clearly - clearly - also having a very good dream, which has manifested in him pressing hard against your butt, occasionally rocking his hips and releasing a soft groan each time.

For a few moments, you lie there, paralyzed. Then, very guiltily, you determine that a good part of your paralysis stems from the fact that you’re kind of (really?) enjoying this. Oh god. You should move. Any second now, you’re going to move.

He lets out a slightly louder groan, this time inarguably containing your name. You scramble away, quickly, waking him in the process.

“wha-” He says blearily.

“I NEED AN ADULT.” You say without thinking, scooting out of bed and rearranging your shirt. He does a double take at that one, then takes stock of his ...situation, then slowly, deliberately, pulls the covers up over his head, letting out a much less happy sounding groan.

“...sorry?” The pile of blankets on your bed finally enunciates.

“We need a chaperone.” You mutter, feeling uncomfortably warm. “I’m, um… getting chang-… I’m going downstairs. Uh. Yep.”

“‘s so early, though.” He peeks an eye out, and you glare at him.

“You know what will happen if I get back in bed.” You say flatly, trying to ignore the pounding of your heart.

“heh.” The blankets snicker. You glare at him - this whole damn thing was his idea! - grab an outfit at random from the dresser, and stalk into the bathroom to change, breathing hard. Oh, until he’s certain that he knows what’s going on with you, that you won’t dissolve just because you’ve been cut off from the apparent source of your magic, you need someone to get right in between the two of you.

Luckily, there’s someone that you’re absolutely certain fits the bill entirely in this house, and he, out of everyone, is probably already awake. You’ve just barely changed and stepped out into the hall when an excited scream fills your ears, followed by a clatter of bones.

“HAPPY NEW YEARS’ EVE, HUMAN!” He yelps, and you give him a big, relieved smile.

“Papyrus, I’ve never been so happy to see you. Want breakfast?”

You ignore the disconsolate grumble from your room as you and Paps traipse downstairs.

Chapter Text

“_________, YOU’RE UP VERY EARLY, FOR A HUMAN!” Papyrus sounds thrilled. You snort.

“Think it’s pretty early for anyone, Paps. Sun’s barely up.” You yawn, walking over to the cabinet and grabbing a coffee filter and the canister of dark roast, plopping quite a few scoops into the paper filter. Papyrus watches with interest, hovering behind you.

“WELL, I’M VERY HAPPY TO BE ABLE TO SPEND SOME TIME WITH YOU AND LEARN HUMAN COOKING TIPS!” He says, beaming, and you grin up at him, rubbing your eye sleepily.

“Yeah, Paps. Mmph, sorry.” You yawn, then stretch slowly. “I haven’t been hanging out with you so much, huh?”

“WELL, YOU’VE BEEN BUSY WITH MY BROTHER.” Papyrus says with a shrug, and you try not to frown, filling the carafe with water. You have been the exact opposite of busy with Sans, that’s the whole - “SO, YOU BOIL THE BROWN STUFF, THEN RUN IT THROUGH A STRAINER?” He peers at the coffee maker. “COFFEE IS BASICALLY PASTA.” He determines, and you burst out laughing.

“Mhm. Basically.” You agree, filling the reservoir and starting the machine. “Okay, bud, what d’you wanna make for breakfast?”

“CAN YOU TEACH ME SOMETHING NEW?” Papyrus sounds tentative, and you can’t help but grin at him again.

“Sure.” You yawn again, giving him a sleepy smile when you’re done, and he narrows his eyes at you.

“SANS IS RUBBING OFF ON YOU.” You’re suddenly very glad that you aren’t drinking coffee, or you would have choked. Yeah, Sans had certainly tried to rub off on you…

“Just didn’t get that much sleep.” You say quickly, trying not to blush. “Hm, how about some popovers, bud? My mom and dad taught me how to make ‘em when I was a kid. They’re tasty!”

“GREAT IDEA! YOU’RE VERY SMART, HUMAN. POPOVERS ARE THE BEST! WHAT ARE THEY?” Papyrus is always a fountain of enthusiasm. You chuckle, quickly grab a cup of coffee while the carafe is still filling (letting some splash on the heating plate, to Papyrus’ delight), and then break out the eggs, flour and milk to get started.

Undyne and Alphys stroll into the kitchen by the time the popovers are in the oven, in pajamas and looking awfully cuddly. Undyne raises an eyebrow when she sees you, already up and on your second cup of coffee.

“Hands.” She demands, and you hold both hands up, groaning, to confirm that there are no new rings. She lets out a huff of something that’s either satisfaction or disappointment, and you have to chuckle. Papyrus stares at you, mystified, as Alphys snickers, then he reaches very slowly towards your coffee cup, trying to sneak a sip.

“Oh, heck no.” You swat his hand. “Told you, you can have coffee if Sans says it’s okay, but you’ve already got more than enough energy.” Papyrus looks sulky at that, particularly when Undyne smirks and pours herself a mug, locking eyes with Papyrus as she takes a sip and makes an exaggerated “mmm” noise. “You’re being mean.” You tell Undyne, sighing, and begin washing some strawberries, thinking that a fruit salad would probably be pretty good with breakfast.

Toriel and Frisk come downstairs next, L.D. trotting at Frisk’s side. You wave at them and chuckle when both immediately, without asking, get to work washing and cutting fruit as the kitchen fills with happy chatter. It’s only when there’s only a few popovers left and everyone’s lingering over their plates that Undyne drawls,

“Where’s the bonehead, anyway? He’s usually up by now.” You shrug, she arches an eyebrow, and you chuckle, swatting Papyrus’ hand again; he’s going for the last sip of coffee in your mug while he thinks you’re distracted.

“I’ll go check on him. If he’s not up by now, I’ll send you in to wake him, Paps.” You promise with a laugh, and grab an extra cup of coffee to bring up to him, thinking that it might serve as an enticement to get out of bed. When you get up to your room, though, the bed is empty - he’s actually made it, which is sweet of him, and awfully out of character. “Hm.” You mutter, and then trudge up to the only other likely location, two floors up.

Sans whips his head around when he hears the door to the lab open, then relaxes.

“hey babe.”

“Hey, you didn’t come down for breakfast.” You say. “Gotta eat something today, okay? Brought you some coffee for now, though.”

“oh, thank god.” He walks right over, grabbing the mug and downing a big gulp. “hey, stay put, i was gonna ask you to come up in a minute, anyway.” He could only have been up here for the hour and a half or so since you’d last seen him, but he looks like he’s totally focused right now.

“Uh, sure. Whatcha doin’?” You ask, hopping up onto one of the chairs by a desk and wishing you’d thought to top off your own coffee before you came up. He turns to look at you with a faint smile.

“figuring stuff out.”

“Be more vague.” You drawl, turning your mug over to try to get the last drop out. He sighs, walks over, splashes half of his coffee in your mug, then walks back to a machine on the other side of the room.

“remember how i said i was gonna figure out what this does?” He says, placing a reverent hand on the device.

“Yup.” You grin, taking another sip.

“think i figured it out.” He steps back to look at it. It’s a little taller than a refrigerator, a sleek gray box with dials and switches. At the top, an arm sticks out, suspending a black dome like an upturned colander several feet into the room. “‘member how you couldn’t see souls at first.”

“Uh, yeah, that was like ... a second ago.” You say dryly, exaggerating (but only slightly). He turns to grin at you.

“you’re cranky this morning.”

“Three guesses why, asshole.” You arch an eyebrow, and he has the good grace to look guilty, but also a little amused.

“probably deserve that. couldn’t have been the best way to wake up.”

“Waking up was ...fine.” You say, biting your lip after a moment, your cheeks heating. It had been the leaving him bit that you hadn’t loved. He notices, and closes his eyes, taking a second to collect himself.

“heh, anyway. working on fixing that situation. i said i was figuring stuff out.” He laughs, and turns back to the machine. “once i figured out that this array up here was basically a big camera designed for filtering out different wavelengths…” He scratches his skull. “when i got up here, it was pointed out, that way.” He gestures at the window, where Mt. Ebott looms on the other side of the bay.

“I’m really not following, sorry, Sans.” You say, and he shakes his head.

“i’m not being clear. i think this was set up to trace magic residue from the barrier, to see if any was leaking beyond the barrier. i think they figured that there was a lot going on that human eyes couldn’t pick up on.”

“But now the barrier’s gone, so…” You take a sip, and he nods.

“i’m thinking… i’m pretty sure that this can show us what background magic would look like converted to light energy. i mean, it exists as light energy on some level already, but i think when i turn on the array and look at this screen back here, i’ll be able to trace…” He squints at the screen, and flicks a switch, and it flickers, shudderingly to life, showing a blue square with the word “unengaged” written in the corner in green.

“Background magic?” You repeat, then it clicks. “Light energy. Oh. Like… my arm is clearly sticking together with magic, but it’s not always glowing, um… I guess last time it did anything, it was purple?” Sans nods.

“yeah. and the barrier had magic that wasn’t visible but extended through the whole underground. had to, to stop me from being able to cut a hole out. think your parents had discovered that the barrier had some aftereffects out here too, or at least, they could get a read on it all the way from over here. but…” He takes a gulp of coffee, then says, “uh, basically, i’m gonna point the camera at you, we’re gonna look at the tv, and see if anything interesting shows up.” You can’t help but giggle. “what?”

“Sorry, it just killed you to dumb it down that much for me, huh?” You laugh, and he rolls his eyes.

“good scientist is able to explain what they’re working on so a toddler could understand it. i need practice.” He admits. “anyway, let’s get the shades and give it a shot?”

“Sure. It’s, uh, safe, right?” He gives you a smile.

“yeah. just a camera. but i tested it out on me first, anyway.”

“Sans!”

“well, i wasn’t gonna use you as a test!” He says, indignant, pulling a window shade down.

“Yeah, but… what if you were wrong!?”

“i wasn’t.” He says with a shrug, and you groan.

“I don’t like you using yourself as a guinea pig, bonehead. There’s a reason labs follow safety procedures.”

“...yeah, we, uh, we weren’t too big on that down below.” He says vaguely, and you roll your eyes, pulling down another shade. The room is getting dim.

“What did you see when you tested it?” You finally ask.

“uh, me. but blue.” He says with a shrug. “then alphys stepped in, and it was, you know, alph, but yellow. which she already is. but yellow halo, i guess.”

“So, what’s your hypothesis?” You ask, and he grins, pulling the last shade down.

“you, but… purple, i guess. but i wanna see how your arm reads, if that’s different from the rest of you, because, from what you said, my… y’know, my dad-” He’s looking at that disc of delineation again, the odd, uncomfortable black line that separates flesh and bone.

“Sans… hey, wait, if we’re doing this, we should, um... talk about that. About Gaster.” You mutter, feeling quite guilty suddenly that you hadn’t found the guts to have this conversation before now. You’d never intended to hide it, but putting it off had sure been easier, somehow.

“yeah?” He tilts his head to the side, looking both confused and very interested.

“Okay so… the last time I used my magic more than, like, letting Spot out… if it even is mine, anyway, you know, when Paula… anyway… something weird happened.”

“oh?” His voice is measured.

“Yeah. It was like… look, I know I should have told you this sooner-”

“‘s ok. just tell me.” He looks very intrigued.

“Paula took a swing at Frisk, and I just snapped.” You mutter. “I dunno what I did, but… I am like one hundred percent sure I’m not imagining this. Time… stopped.” You look at him, ready for him to panic, but he merely looks very thoughtful.

“stopped like…”

“Like, all of a sudden I was in this… dome? I couldn’t see out of it, it was all purple and it was the four of us on the inside, me and Paula and Frisk and Paps. And everyone else was frozen, like pressing pause on a movie.” You say apprehensively. He nods quickly, his eyes wide and interested. “You… okay?”

“i’m fine.” He assures you swiftly. “knew i saw something.” It’s under his breath, an afterthought. “figured… i dunno. go on.”

“...Yeah.” You say quietly. “Look, that’s not all, okay, um… I heard that clicking again. Your dad. When I was in the dome.” He inhales sharply at that.

“you’re sure? i mean, you think it was him?” He says quietly.

“Yeah. He said something like… ‘I can see what my son sees in you.’” You say softly. “I can’t imagine it would be anyone else. But mostly, he was saying… that I was learning magic fast? And that I had some of yours, I think… and then he sounded kind of pissed off. No. He was scary.” You mutter. “And he said that it looked like I was using his magic too.” You mutter. “I don’t know what it means, really, and I should have told you sooner, I just… I haven’t even, I don’t know if I could do it again, and after everything you went through underground, I, I mean, I don’t want you to think that I planned to mess with time, Sans, I really-”

“babe.” He takes a step closer and hugs you hard. “i’m sorry.”

“What?” You’re lost, confused, braced for him to lash out.

“if i made it seem like i’d be mad at you… i’m not, okay? this stuff is just… it’s just happening to you. all this crazy stuff is just landing on your plate, and you’re coping like a champ. i know you didn’t ask for any of this. i know that.” He says, rubbing your back. He sounds a little unsettled, in spite of those sweet words, but he’s there, he’s with you, and that counts so much more. “then what happened?”

“Um. Gaster… left. I couldn’t feel him there any more. And I just stood there. For a long time, I think.”

“...how long are we talking?” He asks quietly, and you shake your head.

“I really don’t know. A while. Hours, at the least. Maybe longer. Until I felt like I could handle everything again.” He lets out a sound of slight surprise. “Yeah. And then I just… popped whatever bubble we were in, and time kept moving. And I’ve never felt like I could do that since then.” You admit, taking a step back and meeting his eyes. “Sans, I’m really sorry-”

“it’s okay.” He assures you again. “i’m really glad you told me. everything we learn is useful.” He looks a little wary, to be fair, but he’s still there, not running scared, and that means a lot.

“You’re not… freaked, that I, I guess… I can do time stuff? I mean, I think I can do time stuff?” You check, and he shakes his head no, then nods a little, reluctantly, then indicates no again.

“i know you.” He finally says. “i know you’d never do anything… wrong, with it. and, i guess, i was kinda expecting it.”

“You were?” You say, feeling blindsided.

“yeah. your cousin… look. it’s not my story. but frisk can do a little more than they’ve let on to either one of us, i think.” He says. You furrow your brow, and he says, “maybe they’ll open up to you. god knows i’ve tried. maybe because it’s you, though… you know, another human?” He says hopefully, then shakes his head. “i can hope. for right now though… let’s run this thing?” He nods at the machine, and you, your head still spinning, nod in agreement.

“k. can you stand under the, uh, the dome?” He asks, pulling down the final shade and leaving the room much darker than it had been moments ago. You nod, and walk quickly to the spot he’d indicated, looking nervously at the dome hovering above you. “it’s gonna move.” Sans warns, and you nod again.

The machine boots up in stages, and the blue screen suddenly flickers to life, a black and white shot from above you, like a security camera in a store, coming into focus. Sans looks at it, then pulls a control and the camera arm above you lurches back, the shot shifting until it’s looking down at you at a slight angle. “k.” He mutters. “here goes.” He flips another switch, there’s a soft sound, a rumble, and then the screen snaps into color.

“woah.”

It’s not color, exactly. The room is still black and white, but there you are, the space around your heart that shifting fire color, slowly fading into purple maybe a few inches away from your soul. But… that’s not all that’s lighting up. There’s another color on the screen, one that Sans needs to change the camera angle to see. Once he gets both of you in the shot, it becomes clear. There’s tendrils of blue magic, his magic, being drawn into your soul even at this distance, feet apart from each other. His magic, bits and pieces, are sliding through the air like tiny ribbons of light being drawn into a black hole, directly into your soul, unable to escape the magnetic pull.

“Oh, god!” You’re horrified. “What the hell am I doing to you, Sans!?”

“uh, nothing.” He sounds bewildered. “feels like nothing. i’m gonna step closer-”

“Don’t! What if I-”

“if you were gonna hurt me, i’d already be hurt.” He reasons. “this has been going on this whole time, remember? we’re just seeing it for the first time now.” He takes a step closer, and more smoky twists of blue magic rush towards you, burrowing into your soul. “huh. how about that.” He mutters, moving his arm experimentally in the air. Looking at him, you see nothing, but on the screen behind him, there’s a trail, an echo, an afterimage of blue magic. It begins to drift away, and then seems to fall into your orbit and is drawn closer, apparent fuel for the furnace that is your soul.

Oh, god, you’d thought your soul was beautiful, you’d actually thought that, you hadn’t known what you were doing, that you were a leech, a vampire, a thief...

“There’s something wrong with me.” You whisper, feeling disgusted, crossing your arms in front of your chest, trying to block out the image of your soul drawing his magic in. The camera jitters, when you pull your right arm into view.

“no there isn’t.” Sans says, his eyes locked on the screen. “nothing wrong with you.” He steps back to the controls, and zooms the camera in on your arm, looking suddenly worried. You see what he sees a second later.

The camera hates that black disc, Gaster’s creation. It renders choppy and pixilated and not at all like the smooth circle you see in real life. But from it… again, faint, pitch black tendrils of magic are drawn, woven through the bones of your arm, your hand, like tendons, like your missing musculature… but they don’t stop on the bony side of your arm, no, they lace through you, following the path of the veins in your arm, scraps of black smoke being constantly drawn, faint but steady, into your soul.

“Turn it off.” You beg. “This is… I don’t want to be like this.” Sans takes a breath, then shakes his head.

“just a little more. s’okay. you’re okay.” He whispers. “babe, just… try to do magic, okay, just a little? open a door.” He urges, and you grit your teeth and nod. Closing your eyes, refusing to look at the screen, you trace a tiny door to your bedroom, barely the size of your palm. “good.” He whispers. “look. look. you didn’t take anything from me.” He says. “not even making the door. you’re not drawing from me. it looks like human mages just… collect extra magic. that’s all. you’re okay.”

“Extra?” You crack your eyes open.

“extra. already used. remember, we monsters work different. we shed magic energy all the time. s’like… body heat.” He tries to explain. “nobody’s stealing from you if they, um, put on a coat that’s already warm cuz’ you wore it, right?”

“Right.” You say, suddenly seeing what he’s saying. “I’m not… pulling it from you, then? It really isn’t hurting?”

“right.” He assures you quickly. “i am really sorry for this analogy, babe, but you’re like… you know, a sponge? you draw in, um, residue, it looks like?”

“A sponge.” You repeat, and he grimaces.

“again, sorry.”

“No! Thank god! I want to be a sponge! Rather be a sponge than a… damn succubus!” You say instantly, watching your soul swirl on the screen. “But… my arm?” Sans hisses out a breath.

“i dunno. it looks like whatever my old man cast sheds just like a living monster. i just hope…” He blinks. “i dunno. his magic never used to be that color. i wish i had answers.”

“Do I just do it to you? Like, are you the only monster I'm, uh, cleaning up after?” You mutter, watching the blue tendrils on the screen again.

“doubt it.” Sans says, “not if you’re getting the same effect from dad’s spell too. i bet you pull magic from just about anything that sheds it.”

“Why’s my magic purple, then?” You ask softly, looking at the orange red hue of your soul, and how the color flares into purple like a sunset the further away you look. Sans snorts.

“preface this with it being a guess.” He cautions. “but i’m thinkin’ it’s because my magic’s blue, and because i’ve been, uh, shedding a hell of a lot of it near you.”

“Heh.” You manage.

“i’m guessin’ if you got really snuggly with alphys, your magic would start to get more orange.” He mutters, then pauses. “don’t, though.”

“Wasn’t planning on it.” You assure him. “So my arm…”

“looks like it’s got nothing to do with me. that spell’s holding it together, and it’s like no magic i’ve ever seen.” He breathes. “do you mind standing here just a little longer? there’s just a few more things-”

The door to the lab echoes with a deliberate knock.

“Is it safe to come in?” Undyne’s wickedly amused voice carries through the door. You glance at Sans, uncertain. “You guys done, uh, playing science?”

“Uh-”

“yup.” Sans calls louder than you. She steps in, her expression of gloating glee turning to confusion when she sees you under the machinery.

“Oh. You’re actually doing science.” She snorts. “Right.”

“shh. look at the screen.” Sans says, distracted. “like i thought. sponge.”

“What?” Undyne steps forward, and the teal scraps of magic the camera reveals she’s leaving in her wake, they slowly slide towards you, into you. “Oh, what?” She repeats, looking at the screen.

As Sans begins to explain, you look at the screen, watching the color of magic around your body slowly shift, the purple tempering and becoming deeper as more colors of magic mix.

Okay, you think to yourself, checking once again, just to be certain, that Undyne doesn’t seem to be in any distress. She’s not. She’s looking at you, fascinated.

“Can all humans do that?”

“pretty sure only a handful. we just happen to know ‘em.” Sans says wryly.

“COOL.” Undyne cries. “________, use my magic, make a spear!”

“Uh, I don’t know if I can-”

“DO IT!” Undyne bellows, and you flinch, and try your best, sticking your hand out, and for a second, you almost have it, you almost have something, and then it slips away and Undyne pouts. “Shucks. We’ll just have to snuggle more until you can do it.”

“nice try.” Sans growls, and Undyne smirks at him.

“She’s my BFF, we can snuggle, BFFs do it all the time!”

“and alphys? she gonna be happy with this snuggling arrangement?” Sans clearly thinks he’s won.

“She can snuggle with us too!” Undyne crows. “We can get one of those huge beds, and-”

“like hell you will!”

As the very serious scientific discussion turns almost immediately into jealous bickering, you take a step back, and gulp in a breath.

Sponge.

Okay. You can live with sponge.

Chapter Text

“Guys.” Five minutes have passed, and Undyne and Sans show no signs of stopping griping at each other. In fact, both of them look like they’re enjoying it a hell of a lot.

“We need to see if she can even make a spear in the first place, so she’s gotta hang out just with me. Snuggly style. That’s science, Sans.”

“heh, you think setting something on fire is science too. no wonder you lived in waterfall, you’re a cavewoman.”

“You lived in a cave too, idiot, we all did, literally the entire underground was a-”

“GUYS.” You groan, stepping out from beneath the camera dome and standing between them. You have the inexorable mental image of conflicting magics being absorbed into your soul, but now that you’re out of range of the camera, there’s no evidence that you’re - bleaugh, you’re gonna have to find a better term than collecting residue, that sounds disgusting. “This has been a really fun time listening to you, um, call each other weird and mean names? But… are we done? Like, have we reached a conclusion here?”

“oh, uh…” Sans pauses, thinking this over, then switches off the machine, his eyes suddenly alight. “i mean, i guess for the time being?”

“Um, meaning?” You prod, reaching behind him to steal the last gulp of the coffee he’d been kind enough to share with you.

“welp. doesn’t look like your arm’s gonna fall off anytime soon.” He says with a slow, languid, exciting grin. You think on this for a second and suddenly you grin back at him, gathering the unspoken conclusion from that phrase. Heck yes.

“Okay, so… I know her arm not falling off is a good thing and all, but… you guys look, like… maybe too happy about it?” Undyne says, arching a brow.

“Um, Undyne, it’s my arm!” You laugh, catching yourself. “Yeah, I’m happy about it.” Well, not just that, but you couldn’t very well say that you were happy that your boyfriend would probably feel the need to tear your clothes off the second she left the room (...for the sake of good science, of course). At least, you couldn’t say that while Sans was anywhere nearby, or he’d be insufferable for the foreseeable future. You were fond of smug Sans, but there were limits even for you.

“Well, awesome! So, got any more science planned for the rest of the day?” She asks.

“uh…”

“Nope?” You answer with a shrug, still trying to sound nonchalant.

“Good, so no plans?”

uh.” Sans is a little more pointed, and you dart a glance at him, then at Undyne, then sigh,

“...Nope?” You ignore the slightly defeated groan from next to you, as you say exactly the wrong thing.

“Perfect!” Undyne beams. “So you can help me get set up for the party!”

“oh. the party.” Sans says flatly. “‘s gonna be fun.” He’s visibly discouraged. Undyne squints at him, then at you.

“Oh! I was… thinking that I could research new cars online? For a few hours?” You fumble, trying to recover the situation. Research was something that you could do in your room, right? In private? With your boyfriend?

“Dude, you can teleport.” Undyne points out. “And we live and work in the same place now, if you really needed a ride. You can put it off for a non-party day.” It’s perfectly rational. It’s the sort of thing you can’t really find a good argument against. After all, you had been lying. God, wasn’t there a “get-out-of-decorating-so-you-can-get-banged-real-good” excuse that sounded halfway realistic? You think for a second.

You’re coming up blank.

“I… suppose that makes sense.” You say glumly. She squints at you again.

“Hey, are you okay? If you’re having a bad day or something, you really don’t have to!” She urges, so sincerely that you can tell she wasn’t asking those questions just to mess with you and Sans. No, you think reluctantly, she really and truly just wants to hang out with you. Which means… ugh, you can wait. It’s New Year’s Eve. Maybe it’ll be more fun that way. Maybe, you think, looking at him from the corner of your eyes, he deserves to wait, after that stunt this morning...

“No, no, shh, I’m just sleepy. It’ll be fun, uh, decorating. Get set up, cook some more, make a playlist...” You assure her with a grin.

“Hey, alright! Make sure you get a nap in or something, though, this is New Year’s Eve, can’t have you crapping out on us halfway through the night!” Undyne urges.

“nap could be definitely be arranged.” Sans sounds much happier at that suggestion, and you do your best not to look at him, feeling his eyes on you. Goddamn it, Sans, don’t… don’t be so distracting.

“Aw, sleepyheads had a late date last night?” Undyne coos.

“Not that late.” You do your best not to grumble, and Sans coughs quietly, hiding a smile behind his hand. Undyne’s eye narrows, looking at the two of you.

“Huh.” She finally says, sounding unconvinced of, well, everything. “Well, you wanna get started decorating? I ran out last night and got all these streamers and balloons and stuff.”

“Oh, hey, we’re going all out, huh?” You laugh, and she nods excitedly.

“It’s our first real New Year’s Eve! Last one, we’d barely been out a month, we didn’t even know about New Year’s.” She explains. “Besides, I think a lot of people are gonna come! All our old friends from the underground were into it, and Frisk’s friends from school, and… it’s gonna be rad!” She pumps her fist, and you grin. “‘Sides. If you have any trouble tonight, there won’t just be a few of us. There’s gonna be a damn army.” She says, suddenly serious, and you hesitate.

“Tonight? I figured that they were all still pretty beaten down from last time-”

“they probably are.” Sans wraps an arm around your waist and raises a browbone at Undyne. “better safe than sorry, though. they wanna attack on a day that everyone’s supposed to be celebrating again, they’re gonna regret it.” He says, and you nod reluctantly.

“Well, let’s hope they don’t - shit. Guys. Paula.” You suddenly recall her threat, and feel both of them looking at you. “She said she’d give us until New Year’s. She might mean today.”

“Hah, like she’s gonna show her sorry ass after the last time she showed up here.” Undyne scoffs. “Don’t worry, nerd, we’ll keep her away. G.D. promised to work security at the driveway gate tonight too. Nobody uninvited is getting in.” She promises.

“Still.” You turn to Sans, who still has his arm around you, and you can’t help but brush your lips against his cheek. “Babe, can you make sure everyone’s on board, that Frisk doesn’t wander too far out of sight for the next few days?”

“on it.” He agrees, hugging you a little closer, and you smile down at him, kissing him again, finding his lips this time. Maybe you stay there a little long. Undyne clears her throat.

“Uh, d’you guys need some time?” Sans perks right up.

“yes.” He gives her a tense grin.

“Sans!” You try to groan, but really only laugh, trying not to blush. “I’m going to decorate.” You say, wriggling out of his grip.

“hm, fine. tell me when you need to, uh, nap.” He drawls, and you let out a terribly embarrassing giggle and hurry off before anyone can say anything else that’s ridiculous. Undyne lags behind you, a puzzled look on her face.

------------------------------

You don’t get the chance to, uh, nap. You’ve got a thousand things that apparently need getting done before throwing this monster… rager? Party? Heh, “mash?” Undyne tells you that she estimates at least seventy people, but not to worry, hospitality is big with monsters so nobody will be showing up empty handed.

“And no uninvited guests, right?” You double check, hanging up the last streamer in the foyer - the place looks like a silver ribbon and streamer bomb has exploded - and Undyne laughs and nods.

“Yeah. No psychos in all black, no… Jerry.”

“Oh, thank god.” You sigh.

“Figured you wouldn’t want terrorists at this party.”

“Or Jerry!’ You laugh, and narrow your eyes as a soft ‘heh’ is audible from the next room over. Sans is prowling around, being decidedly unhelpful, and just waiting for you to crack. And, god, you want to, you really do, but your absence would just be so conspicuous, and…

Ugh, hell, maybe you just didn’t want him (and Undyne) to know just how easy it was to have your entire mind preoccupied with straight up sin, to the point where even the discovery that you were a magic… ugh, sponge, didn’t seem that interesting.

Finally, after the sun has set and calm has settled over the house, it seems like there’s nothing left to do but wait for your guests to arrive. Well, Undyne’s guests. Well, yours too. You supposed. You have to admit that you’re excited - an actual party! Granted, a party that kids would be at (Frisk was beside themselves with excitement), but still… a party with people that you liked!

You’re just pacing over to make sure you’ve put ice in the drink bucket when he falls in step next to you, bony fingers sliding around your right wrist, his pinky dragging across the fine bones on the inside as he does so. He’s been missing for the past hour or so, keeping Frisk out of everyone’s hair after a very short somebody had started setting off noisemakers about seven hours early, and you’d relaxed somewhat, dropped your guard to the point where even this tiny contact makes your knees buckle slightly.

He doesn’t say anything, just grins at you and strolls by your side, guiding you deeper and deeper into the house, your heart thumping pleasantly in your ears. Finally, he seems to think you’ve gone far enough and opens a door at random - it’s the laundry room, pitch black and smelling faintly of fabric softener. It’ll do. He raises an eyebrow at you, an invitation, and you step in at once, tugging him along with you, a huge smile on your face.

Somewhere else in the house, the sound system kicks on, your playlist beginning to play - fuck, the party must really be starting soon, what time was it? - as he pushes up against you and you lean back against the washing machine, kissing him hard as you slide your arms around his waist.

He wastes very little time, sliding his hand over your hip, up your shirt, dipping into the cup of your bra and grabbing urgently, while you try not to whimper into his mouth. Oh, god, he’s pressing between your legs as he kisses you and he’s hard, even through your jeans that’s obvious, and your brain is moving sluggishly but very, very happily. He pulls away, breathing heavily, his tongue snaking out to trace a line up your neck - it seems particularly inhuman right now, and you’re almost astonished at how much you’re enjoying that fact. But… god, people are going to be here any minute!

“Sans… no time for-” You pant, pressing against him.

“i know.” He purrs, a deep rumble you can feel all through you. As your eyes adjust, you can see a positively wicked look on his face.

“Then… hnnng-” His teeth are on your neck now, and he’s toying expertly with your nipple, “then why-” He looks up from your neck reluctantly, rocking his hips slightly against yours as he murmurs,

“just wanna make sure we’re on the same page.” Your eyes widen in horror, then slide shut immediately as he finds a new spot to bite, twisting his hand into your hair. Oh, god, he had every intention of leaving you like this until midnight, didn’t he, a desperate, aching fever in your chest -

The doorbell rings. He licks the spot he’s been biting one last time, then takes a step back.

“sorry to, uh, hang you out to dry, but it’s time to be a good host.” He says with a wide grin, winks at you, and - oh god, the bastard steps through a doorway that he’s opened and closed before you can even process what’s happened.

You take a long minute to collect yourself, before practically stomping out of the laundry room, murder on your mind.

Chapter Text

Little shit. Little goddamn shit, oh god. You make it halfway down the hall, before you think about what you probably look like, since the little shit in question had been all over you. You let out a soft whine of distress, hearing the sound of voices in the foyer, the excited chatter of your friends, and new friends, and the… and the goddamn asshole who had just…

Gritting your teeth, you quickly, irritably, slice a doorway to your bedroom, stepping through and sealing it with no small amount of exertion. You have to stop and catch your breath for a second once the door is sealed, glaring at nothing. Well there was another reason to be sulking right now! You were certainly drawing in magic all the time, according to those cameras, but in order for you to do the big stuff, it was beginning to feel like it almost certainly took an extra contribution to make it anywhere near easy. And your willing contributor had just made a goddamn fucking laundry pun, and then -

Okay. Time to calm down.

You take a deep breath, picking your way over to the bathroom, and flip the light switch, though not before you notice the trail of faintly glowing saliva on your neck. Your hand balls into a fist and it takes more than a little effort to not think of any more unkind names for Sans. However, the light reveals that your hair is a mess, your neck is possibly messier, your bra needs adjusting, and… oh hell, you need to just try again, if you want any shot of looking presentable.

Fine. Fine. You’ll try again.

You know you’re being rude, not coming down to greet everyone, but you take your time, washing your face - and neck, jeez-, brushing and styling your hair, reapplying makeup (perhaps a bit bolder than you might usually, just to make a point), and changing from the outfit you’d worn all day while setting up in. Well, the last one was enough to make you glad that he’d pulled that shit, almost; you’d grabbed a shirt at random from your dresser this morning, and it had taken until this very minute to realize that it featured a rasta chili pepper with the words “We Be Jammin’, Mon” on the back. Maybe not the best outfit to wear when meeting new people. Or, well, anyone.

There had to be a good reason you owned that, right?

You decide not to worry too much about it, and switch into black jeans that are a little tighter than you usually wear, a shirt that hangs off one shoulder, and boots with a heel, just to really drive home to Sans that you’ve got a few inches on him. Okay, you’re being spiteful, but you certainly aren’t alone in that category tonight. And besides, it’s not like you’re dressing too outrageously. You’re just showing him that you won’t be intimidated by rogue acts of….

...dry humping. Okay.

Taking a deep breath, you push open the door and proceed downstairs, greeted by Undyne’s immediate shout of,

“There you are, loser! Look who’s here!” She gestures excitedly, and you grin, recognizing Tommy, the guy from the fish market, and the monster who must be his boyfriend - what was his name? -, a tall, extremely muscular monster that looked halfway between horse and… fish? He seemed to be hovering very slightly, in order to move around on land, his arms wrapped around both Tommy and Undyne’s shoulders.

There’s a few other monsters chatting with Alphys in the foyer, and already quite a few coats by the door, so you figure that more people and monsters are already inside, milling about - or being dragged about by Papyrus. Sans is nowhere in sight, in spite of his claim that he wanted to be a good host. You try not to let your irritation show on your face, but end up smiling sincerely when Tommy gives you an eager, shy wave.

“Oh, hey guys! Tommy, I’m really glad you came out! And, hey, nice to meet you-”

“Aaron.” The monster introduces himself, taking your hand, smiling cheesily, then placing a big, ostentatious kiss on the back of it, winking. You burst out laughing, it’s such an over the top performance. Tommy groans, then does a double-take.

“Oh… um… ________?” His voice sounds higher pitched than it had been the last time you’d seen him. “Uh, just out of curiosity, has that… always been like that?” He’s staring at the bones in his boyfriend’s hand like he’s never seen anything like it. Aaron turns his big head to stare at Tommy.

“Is that not normal for humans?” He asks, looking confused. You can’t help but laugh as Tommy
squints at Aaron.

“Um, sweetheart, you’ve lived on the surface for a year now, you should know what humans usually look like.” He says pointedly, and Aaron whinnys out a laugh.

“What do you mean?! You’re all different colors and shapes and your manes-”

“Hair.” Tommy sounds like this is the thousandth time he’s made that correction.

“Hair has even more colors and shapes. Too bad about your arm though, ______. Can’t get ripped without muscles!” Aaron laughs, releasing your hand to flex slightly. Tommy sighs, then raises an eyebrow at you. You shrug.

“Wanna grab a drink and I’ll tell you about it?” You offer.

“Um, yes. Thank you.” Tommy agrees, and Undyne beams, elbowing Aaron.

“The humans are making friends!” She hisses.

“I know, isn’t it cute!?” Aaron booms at your retreating backs. You glance behind you to see that he’s now winking at Undyne.

“Wow, your boyfriend is sure… a winker.” You say, and Tommy snickers.

“He just gets excited when he’s meeting new people.” He says, and, thinking of Papyrus, you nod,

“Yeah, I’ve got one of those too.” He snickers, and you show him to the TV room, where the drinks are set up, and grab a beer, holding one up questioningly. When he nods, you open it and pass it over, feeling his eyes lingering on your arm. “Okay.” You sigh, collapsing into an ottoman. “...weird story.” You’ve been thinking about this for a while, how to attempt to explain this to other humans, humans who weren’t Frisk at least, in the simplest fashion. Your version of the story gets a little hazy and unspecific; a door in space time opens up in front of you, but you certainly don’t make it yourself, something happens there (you’re not sure what), there’s no mention whatsoever of Gaster, just of you and Ghost and Papyrus and Pizzaface, as you’d unkindly nicknamed your attacker.

You do your best to tell Tommy all this, figuring that, hey, he’s in the same boat as you, and that he should know that, dating a monster, weirdness was totally on the table. Telling him is challenging, though, not because the story makes you feel particularly emotional right now, but because there’s so many people hurrying in and out, grabbing drinks, stopping for hugs or introductions. About halfway through, Mettaton arrives, and you have to introduce him to Tommy, who’s absolutely starstruck and can barely stammer a word out. Mettaton is cordial and gracious, right up until he sees a feline figure strolling over to the drink table, tail twitching, and then he takes a step back, ducking his head, as you stand up to greet Lawyerpants.

“Hey, buddy!” He exclaims, eyes alight, then grimaces. “Or, uh-”

“Hey, it’s a party. Let’s skip the formality.” You laugh. “Man, nice suit.” You’d thought he was impeccable the last time you saw him, but he could have stepped off of a billboard for Armani this time. Granted, it would be a weird, cat-centric billboard, but a billboard all the same. He lets out a purring laugh, then his pupils widen, seeing your arm (this has rapidly become a theme), just as Ghost’s do when the kitty spies something interesting.

“Hey, bud… sorry about that. Toriel told me, uh, the abbreviated version, the day after Christmas.” He says, and you shrug.

“I kinda like it. Serves the same function as my last arm.” You admit. “Plus it’s, you know, super punk rock.” He purrs out another laugh at that, and sets to fixing himself a scotch, neat, then pats your shoulder.

“Hey, I gotta circulate. Find my, uh… friend.” He says. “See you around, okay?” He pats your shoulder, tips a wave to Tommy (who hasn’t talked, looking totally overwhelmed at this point), and pointedly ignores Mettaton.

“Sorry, beauties, my deepest apologies, but I simply must circulate as well.” Mettaton says, giving you both a wide, false smile, and drifts off in the same direction that Lawyerpants had disappeared before you can warn him about what happens when you bother a cat for too long. Tommy sighs.

“Did you seriously make friends with every single hot monster all at once?” He says mournfully, hopping up to get another beer.

“nah. met me first.” Sans’ voice cracks, amused, from the direction of the other hallway. You pause, and take a pointed second to turn around, giving him your best expression of mild interest, like nobody particularly important had said anything, and then sink back into your armchair, taking a sip of beer.

“Hm.” You say, trying to look uninterested, though the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when he strolls over to you and perches on the arm of the chair, just close enough to barely be touching you. He’s got a cider it looks like he’s been working on for a while, and an evil grin on his face. Tommy observes this, trying to hide a smile. When nobody says anything, you finally sigh. “Tommy, my boyfriend Sans. Sans, Tommy is dating Aaron.” Sans snorts and extends a hand to shake - you whip your head to make sure he’s not doing a buzzer trick - or worse, Frisk had told you that he had a whoopie cushion one too, which suddenly makes you burst out laughing, unable to help it.

Sans pauses, mid-shake, and turns to look skeptically at you.

“somethin’ funny?”

“Oh, god, I’m so sorry guys, I just remembered… Frisk and I hid all those whoopie cushions yesterday, and I don’t think Papyrus set them all off…” You say, too amused by the prospect of innocent guests deploying them to be irritated about the fact that Sans had left you all hot and bothered. For now. Sans mulls this over for a second, then snickers, finishing the hand shake while Tommy looks like he’s never witnessed anything like the two of you.

“heh. that’s gonna be great.” Sans laughs, leaning against you slightly. “hey, kid, don’t warn aaron. it’ll make my night if he sits on one.”

“You know Aaron?” Tommy finally laughs. Sans shrugs.

“i know everyone.” He says with a placid grin. “speakin’ of which, babe, l.d. wants you to meet his family.”

“Oh? Where is he?” You say, sounding a little suspicious.

“kitchen.” Sans is all sweet innocence.

“Go on, I should find Aaron anyway, before he starts trying to lift anyone.” Tommy laughs, standing up.

“later.” Sans tips a wave and a wink that seems just a little like he’s imitating Aaron. Tommy nearly coughs on his beer, and, when he’s behind Sans’ back and you’re waving at him, offers you a mouthed ‘nice!’ with two thumbs up, jerking his head at Sans. You hear yourself giggle, then groan when Sans looks innocently up at you. For the moment, it’s just the two of you in earshot (there’s a few monsters you’ve been introduced to and promptly forgotten the names of by the Christmas tree, but that doesn’t count). “what’s wrong, babe?” He’s grinning, and you bump him hard enough with your shoulder that he nearly loses his balance on the armrest. He smirks at you and says, “looks like something’s got you all wound up.”

“I’m very mad at you.” You do your best to sound very mad, standing up, but it clearly doesn’t work, because he just hops up right after you and slides his arm around your waist.

“shame.” He says lightly.

“Not the one who should be talking about shame right now.” You drawl, ignoring how happy you are to have him this close again.

“hm, you changed.” He switches subjects rapidly, and it takes you a second to catch up as to what he’s talking about. “feelin’ a little unclean? your, uh, clothes, i mean.” He’s walking you ostensibly towards the kitchen, and you’re doing your best to remember that’s the end goal.

“I don’t know why you’re so pleased with yourself.” You snort. “You’re in the same boat as me, pal. Oh, wait, I know, maybe it’s ‘cause you’re used to it, since you’ve got literally a permanent case of blue ba-”

“frisk! hi frisk!” Sans says urgently, as you turn the corner in the hallway and nearly run into your cousin, who’s leading a pack of small monsters through the house, their expression gleeful.

There she is! That’s my cousin!” Frisk bellows, and seven or eight monster kids surge forward, starry eyed, trying to get a good look of your arm, while you do your best to collect yourself.

“woah, easy guys.” Sans is suddenly all sweet and protective, like he hadn’t been tormenting you just a second ago, which is enough to make you thaw a little.

“Yo, can we see it?” One of the kids - who you recognize from the palace, the kid with no arms - chirps, and you chuckle, holding your arm out so the little monsters can admire.

“COOL.” Four or five voices say in unison as the kids lean forward to look, admiring, and you grin, happy that Frisk’s friends are so impressed. Sans clears his throat after a second, and you laugh at him.

“Sorry guys, I guess Sans wants me to meet some dogs?” You laugh (suspecting that it’s not even a little on his mind right now). Sans shrugs, Frisk scoffs, and then points the kids onwards, muttering something about gross adults smooching. Sans watches them leave, then looks back at you.

“you were saying?” He says lightly, eyes sparking, and you groan and take a step closer to him, leaning to whisper in his ear (...er, area),

“Blue. Balls. You sure you want to be so accustomed to them, bonehead?” You kiss his temple, as softly as you can manage, then, when he doesn’t protest or move, drop a little further down to the hinge of his jaw, brushing your lips against it. He makes a soft noise that is in no way a complaint, and you grin to yourself, thinking that this is much more fun. You’ve worked your way down to a vertebrae (and his hand has worked from your waist to the fabric of your waistband just below your lower back), and you’re vaguely thinking that this isn’t a good spot, that this is a hall and anyone could walk by, when someone walks by.

“Yo, boss!” Undyne calls, and you jump from Sans like a startled rabbit, whirling around. She locks eyes(/eye) with first Sans, then you, then sighs. “The hallway???” She grumbles. “Guys. Guys. We’re making an impression here. They’re going to think we’re a household of horny degenerates, and even though that might be true for half of us, that won’t stand. Not in my house.” Your jaw pops open, ready to protest, when you remember that, yes, this is Undyne’s house, you’d told her that, and you slump, defeated. Sans looks both flustered and guilty (asshole, why hadn’t he looked guilty for you?), but he mutters,

“uh, maybe you got a point. ‘sup?” Undyne gives you both a very stern look for a moment, not answering, and you sigh.

“Remember when all you wanted to do was see us kiss?” You whine. “What happened to those days? I miss those days!”

“Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for it, but there’s kids!” Undyne finally cackles, shaking her head at the both of you.

“they went that way!” Sans protests, pointing vaguely.

“And kids never turn around and go any other direction, right. I forgot. That’s a rule.” Undyne drawls, and you sigh.

“Kay, ‘kay, point made. What’s up?”

“Right.” She snorts. “You know that uninvited guest policy?”

“That we’re not going to have any?” You drawl.

“Well, we got one anyway. He slipped by G.D.”

“Aw... dude.” You groan, as Sans snaps,

“what?!” He’s back at your side in a second, looking furious and protective and all sorts of other things that sort of just make you want to push him back against the dark wood and plaster of the wall and pick right back up where you’ve left off.

“Are they dangerous?” You demand.

“did you dunk ‘em?” Sans needs to know.

“Relax.” Undyne sighs. “We got him the second he walked in the door. I just wanna know what you want to do with him. _______, can you please stop looking at Sans like that and focus!? UGH! NERDS. We’ve got him in the foyer.”

“c’mon. lessgo see.” Sans says, twining his fingers through yours, and he begins walking purposefully towards the foyer, while Undyne scoffs and picks up the rear.

-------------------------------------

“Aw. Aw. Undyne.” You see your uninvited guest, and turn to Undyne, who has the good grace to look a little guilty about the smile she’s biting back.

“He’s not invited.” She points out.

“ugh.” Sans groans. “really? we’re really doin’ this?”

In the foyer, Papyrus is sitting on your captive, looking rather unhappy about the fact that he’s the one who has to physically restrain him. Also, well…

Jerry’s a weird shape to sit on.

“I didn’t even want to come to this stupid party anyway!” He’s complaining. Sans groans, and Undyne tries, again, not to laugh.

“goddamn it, jerry. how’d you even get in?” Sans demands, keeping his distance. Jerry licks his lips. He takes a long time to do so, and you shudder again.

“Threw the dog some cheez puffs.” He finally admits. “Walked in while he was distracted. Don’t know why. This place sucks.”

“The one weakness in our security system.” You sigh, and Sans lets out a snort of laughter before catching himself. Jerry sniffles, then lets out a somehow… damp sounding sigh. He looks absolutely miserable. Papyrus pats his head gingerly with one hand, then almost immediately jerks the hand away.

“Don’t even like parties with cool monsters anyway.” Jerry grumbles, pressing his face closer to the hardwood.

“Ugh.” Something guilty twists inside of you, seeing how pathetic he looks. “UGH. Okay. Jerry-”

“oh, no, don’t.” Sans mutters.

“Do you want to stay until midnight?” You finally sigh. Everyone else in the room sags, totally discouraged by this.

“Ugh. Whatever.” He blinks watery eyes, and Undyne groans.

“And you promise to leave right after the ball drops?” You prompt.

“I suppose.” He grumbles. You glance at Papyrus, and say,

“Paps, I’m so sorry. You wanna… just, you know, keep an eye on him? Guard style?” You propose. Papyrus blinks, then says, very gravely,

“I AM HONORED THAT YOU WOULD TRUST ME TO GUARD SUCH A LOATHSOME … I MEAN, SURE.” He stands up, and Jerry decompresses slightly. Sans and Undyne are both giving you looks.

“Hey.” You sigh. “He was smart enough to get in here. That taught us a lesson on where our security sucks, right? That’s worth a few beers and snacks. Besides, nobody should have to be alone on a holiday, and he must have been really lonely.”

“I can hear you, you know.”

“SHUT THE FLIP UP, JERRY!” Undyne bellows, whipping her head around to look at him, then she sighs. “Yeah. I guess.”

“you’re too nice.” Sans sighs, but he says it warmly. “c’mon, let’s go see where everyone is. be social. probably smarter than being elsewhere right now.” He says, and you see his point. Both of you clearly can’t be trusted right now. Undyne rolls her eyes at both of you, then points towards the TV room.

“Only got two hours left, people are starting to head for the TV.” Undyne says. “I think Aaron just got Woshua to stop cleaning it, even.”

“oh hell.” Sans laughs, and points two fingers at his eyes, then at Jerry, the universal signal for “I’m watching you,” before he leads the way back deeper into the house.

------------------------

The time flies; the TV room is packed. Somehow you missed Asgore showing up, so you have to run over to hug him, and smile at the way that Toriel is right by his side. That’s a good sign, right, if that’s what Toriel wants? Asgore certainly seems like he’s in a good mood.

Frisk is on Mettaton’s lap; the robot’s finally been coaxed away from following Lawyerpants like a sad puppy, in order to tell stories to a totally adoring audience of children. Speaking of sad puppies, a whole mess of dogs, L.D. amongst them, are gathered around a monster that looks like… a whole mess of dogs. It’s honestly a little unsettling at first, but when L.D. urges you over to meet Endogeny, you lose your nerves; they’re a perfectly sweet dog. Dogs.

Lawyerpants, on the other hand, looks like he’s chatting up a pretty human girl you’ve never met before, his tail occasionally thrashing when he laughs. Good for him, you think, waving at the cat, then chatting with Tommy and Aaron again, meeting and immediately being scolded by Woshua for your poor housekeeping, dropping to a crouch so you can hear what a Froggit is saying, grabbing another drink, a snack…

The whole time, Sans is right by your side.

Finally the big moment rolls around. Everyone’s packed into the room now, eyes locked on the TV, as the countdown begins at a minute. The human hosts on the TV are remarking at what a fascinating year it’s been, how this’ll be one for the history books, as the ball slides lower. Sans squeezes your hand.

“we’re getting outta here the second we can, right?” He murmurs in your ear, and you flush again - you’d been doing such a good job of not doing that! - and nod mutely. He grins, and swings your hand slightly as the seconds crawl down. Everyone begins chanting at ten… nine… eight…

Frisk is tearing around the room, trying to distribute the noisemakers they’d been banned from at the last second.

Seven… six… five…

Undyne is on Alphys’ lap, sharing a single sofa cushion so as not to disturb the little Whimsun sitting shyly next to them. They’re gazing into each other’s eyes, ignoring the countdown, or indeed, the room around them.

Four… three… two…

The king and queen are practically touching now. Papyrus, remembering the tradition to kiss at midnight, is scrambling desperately away from Jerry.

One.

You realize, when the room erupts in a cheer, that you’ve been braced for something terrible to happen, bombs to go off, gunmen to flood in, something! Your head whirls, eyes scanning the room, ready for the attack (Sans is tense next to you, too, and you suspect he’s thinking the same thing), but… nothing happens. In spite of the apparent dramatic predilections of your attackers, they’ve seemed to sit this one out. Instead, all you see are happy couples; Undyne and Alphys, Aaron and Tommy, Papyrus and … well, nobody, but he certainly looked happy. Mettaton scoops Frisk up to give them an ostentatious smooch on the cheek, while Frisk giggles widely, and oh! Toriel and Asgore are kissing very shyly and -

Sans clears his throat, and you let out a wild, relieved laugh and lean to kiss him too, and after that, it’s like there’s nobody else in the room, even with the noisemakers and laughs and sounds of good cheer, someone turning the TV off and switching the music back on, Jerry whining as Papyrus begins dragging him back outside…

Doesn’t matter.

When you part, a second later, you’re both a little dazed looking.

“love you.” He murmurs.

“Me too.” You say, and he tucks a piece of hair behind your ear.

“still gonna kick my ass?”

“Yup.”

“good.” He grins hugely. “upstairs?”

“Please.”

In the midst of all the good cheer, nobody notices the two of you slip away.

Chapter Text

Oh, please. Like you were going to let him get away with his stunt so easily. It was good that he thought he was getting his way, though. That made you feel almost better about the whole thing.

He looks so pleased with himself as you navigate past the different monsters that have spilled back out into the halls and other rooms, the few humans (should you have made an effort to meet more of them?), the… Jerry, who’s pitching a fit arguing with Papyrus in the foyer.

“You’re not my boss!” He’s complaining, clinging to the front doorframe while Paps tries to push him outside.

“I AM SO!” Papyrus shrieks, feet skidding on the hardwood; gosh, Jerry is strong, for such a weird little dude. Either that or Papyrus wasn’t giving his all. Sans blinks, then stops to watch the scene, absently running his fingers along the inside of your radius as he does so. Heh. That was new. You… oh, you like that.

“need help, bro?” Sans calls. “looks like you’re in a, uh, sticky situation.”

“WHY IS HE STICKY!?” Papyrus wails. “JERRY, YOU HAVE NO REASON TO BE SO STICKY!” Jerry blinks those tiny, watery eyes, and lets out a smug laugh. “DON’T BE PROUD OF BEING STICKY!” Papyrus commands, giving him another shove, and Jerry finally topples outside, Papyrus clattering after him.

“Paps, you okay?” You call, trying not to shiver from the cold, or from Sans’ fingers exploring up your arm.

“NYEH!’ He sounds fine. “DON’T WORRY, HUMAN, I’LL DO MY BEST GUARDING. I’LL BRING YOU A FULL REPORT AS SOON AS I’M DONE!”

“bro, don’t.” For the first time, Sans sounds a little worried. You smirk at him.

“BUT I AM ON GUARD DUTY! I MUST REPORT TO MY SUPERIOR OFFICER, AND SINCE _________ GAVE ME MY ORDERS, IT’S HER! NYE- ARGH! GET BACK HERE, JERRY!” Jerry’s making a break to get back inside the house.

Grillby arrives, neatly stepping over the pile of squabbling monsters in the doorframe, and tilts his head slightly at you and Sans. Oh, god, were people still just showing up?

“heh. hey grillbz.” Sans squirms slightly. He knows, you figure, that he should be a better host to his friends, but he also clearly doesn’t have the patience for that right now. Grillby looks back at the fighting monsters in the doorway, then makes a soft sound, like raindrops hitting a campfire. Well, you’d figured out that there were limits to what you could translate the day that you determined you couldn’t understand L.D., but it still surprised you slightly. Sans shrugs. “found his way in. she’s too nice.” He jerks his head at you. “let ‘im stay.”

Grillby makes a hissing sound that manages to convey polite incredulity, and you grin guiltily.

“Hey, Grillby. Glad you could make it.” You say, a little shyly. “And… yeah, I mean, it’s a night for everyone to celebrate. Even Jerry.” Grillby makes a small gesture, but you gather the meaning: Touche.

“bar closed tonight, grillbz?” Sans sounds a little impatient with small talk. Grillby burns a little brighter, and Sans winces. “oh. uh. yeah. i guess they are all here.” He says, and then plasters on a smile. “well, have fun, bud. saw your daughter around here somewhere, think they were chatting with doggo-”

Grillby stands straight up, then tips a curt wave, and stalks deeper into the house. You arch an eyebrow at Sans, and he laughs quietly. “i mean, i did. wasn’t a lie. but…”

“Mhm.” You drawl, and call to Papyrus, “Hey, give, uh, Asgore your report instead!”

Sans lets out a quiet, but thoroughly evil laugh, and you catch yourself. “Just kidding. Not Asgore. OR Undyne or Alphys or Toriel!”

“THEN WHO DO I TELL?”

“Uh….”

“frisk?” Sans suggests.

“Frisk needs their sleep!” You lecture, and he snickers.

“think of someone else, then.” He says under his breath.

“Uh…. Ghost! Report to Ghost!”

“OK!” Papyrus yells, then adds, “JERRY, DON’T LICK ME! AGH!!!!”

You shudder, and Sans groans, then tugs you upstairs.

When he pushes open the door to your bedroom, you step in, and smirk when the very first thing he does is grimace and shove the armoire in front of the door - at least he bothers to use his hands, this time. You were kinda wondering about the last time.

“Sans, how did you move that thing before? I don’t think I can move stuff without touching it.” Sans smirks at you.

“sure. ‘s a blue magic thing.” He says, then grins, wide and dangerous. “you’ve got purple magic. right now anyway. i mean, i assume. s’gonna be purple tomorrow.” Oh, that cocky little shit. “hey, hey, babe… wanna see another blue magic thing?” He thinks he’s hilarious. You arch an eyebrow at him.

“Really?” You say, strolling over to the bed and easing your boots off, taking your time with each zipper. “Not on your A game, Sans.”

“c’mon, that was funny.” He says, and you shrug, pulling off your socks and padding barefoot to the closet, bending down to store your boots. Hey, it’s not your fault if he decides to stare at your butt while you’re doing that, right? You can feel his gaze on you without needing to look. Good. Lazily, you shrug off your shirt. “hey.” You’ve got his attention in full now. “i wanted to do that.”

“Hm. Too bad.” You say, yawning theatrically, and still refuse to turn around.

“you’re not gonna give me the cold shoulder all night, are ya?” He snickers, but he sounds a little nervous.

“They’re not cold.” You say, unruffled, shimmying out of your pants now. “Be warmer once I’m snuggled up under my blankets, fast asleep.” He makes a quiet noise of protest. “Mhm.” You sigh, bending over again to pick your pants up and fold them neatly. “See, I was really psyched earlier today about finally getting to… god, is ‘bone’ too played out? I don’t care.” You answer, before he can say something clever. “Like I was saying.” You hang up your pants and finally turn to face him, brushing your hair out of your eyes. “I was very excited about getting to bone my boyfriend, but then he decided to be a tremendous goddamn asshole, and now… hm, I just don’t think I’m feeling it.” You drawl, letting the true frustration you’d felt a few hours ago color your words.

He stares at you, looking like the dictionary entry for the word “crestfallen.” It’s nearly enough to make you giggle, but you keep your face impassive. “In conclusion, I’m going to bed now.” You saunter back over to the bed, climb in between the covers, and then lean to turn off the lamp, plunging the room into relative darkness. He hasn’t moved.

“you’re gonna sleep in that?

“Got a problem?” You murmur, yawning.

“...no.” He hesitates, then finally, reluctantly, he trudges over, shrugging out of his blue zip-up and leaving it somewhere on the floor, then climbing onto the other side of the bed. Good. Goooood.

“Night, Sans.” You say cheerfully, stretching out on your back.

“night, babe.” He does his very best to sound sweet in spite of his obviously crippling disappointment, which is almost, almost enough to make you crack. You dart a glance at him when you think he’s not looking - well, he is looking, but it’s at your breasts (which you’ve left deliberately unobscured by the blanket), rather than your face.

Perfect.

He can’t miss it, then, when you begin to snake your hand - your right one - very deliberately over your torso, then down, between your legs. You don’t know where you’ve suddenly gotten the guts to tease him like this, but right now, you can’t imagine anything more fun in your entire life. He takes in a slow breath through his teeth, noticing you; he can’t see your hand beneath the blankets, but it seems like his imagination is definitely filling in the blanks.

“babe.” He says, inching a little closer, and you turn your head and give him a very unimpressed look.

“Kinda busy here.” You inform him, sliding your hand into your underwear - oh, that felt very unfamiliar, there were way too many bones involved suddenly. Are you really going to do this?

He looks like a frustrated, miserable mess all of a sudden, and you have to battle mightily to keep the smirk off your face. It lends you enough courage to actually proceed; you rub yourself with a bony finger and let out an involuntary, surprised whimper of pleasure almost immediately; you hadn’t realized how good this would feel.

“...babe?” He tries again, his cheeks glowing a furious blue. “why don’t i… i mean, i could…” He trails off when you close your eyes, trying to look focused.

“You had your chance earlier, and instead, you decided to mmm-fuck with me.” You’re probably overacting a little.

“sorry.” He says it under his breath, like it hurts to form the syllables.

“Hm?”

“i’m sorry. can i help?” He speaks more clearly, and you open your eyes slowly. For a second, the two of you lock eyes, and you raise your eyebrow again, very pointedly, until he groans - that is a lovely sound right now - and then sighs,

“fuck. damn you.”

You wait. He grits his teeth. He knows what you want.

“ ...please?”

You can’t help it. You let out a loud, victorious laugh, and relent, leaning to kiss him as he sighs with relief and then moves instantly closer, his arms wrapping greedily around you as he runs his hands over what feels like every square inch of body he can at once. One hand chases yours out of your panties, stealing its position, and soon you’re actually whimpering in earnest, sure this is what heaven feels like. This, or something close, anyway. He keeps this up until you’re barely able to catch your breath, his tongue pressing sinuously against yours in a way that human tongues just can’t do.

Every single part of you is alive, right now, just being this close to him. You think about what he’d said, about shedding magic, and think about how much your soul must be drawing in, just being this close, and then he pulls his hand away from you and all you can think of is how much you wish it was still there. He grins at you, and licks his fingers lewdly, a devilish spark in his eye.

“Oh, god.” You hear yourself sigh, lifting his shirt off. He assists you without complaint, then eyes your bra.

“you’re such a tease, fuck.” He sighs, reaching around your back (half lifting you up, with obvious ease) to find the clasp. Which, of course, you’d prepared for - if he was going to fuck with you, you’d thought earlier, you were going to do the same right back, so you’d put on your one front clasping bra, certain that it would throw him for a loop. While he fumbles at your back, you shrug mentally and slide your hand into his shorts, wrapping bony fingers tight around him. “ah-” He grunts, and then there’s a tearing sound and your bra is off - though not by the conventional method.

“Sans! I liked that one! You didn’t have to-”

“get you another.” He promises hoarsely, and bites your breast just hard enough to almost make you forget to stroke him for another moment or two.

The two of you keep this up only for a few more minutes, before you both seem to reach an unspoken conclusion. He helps you out of your underwear - much more gently than the scrap fabric that had once been your bra - and kneels between your legs, and you don’t even care that his shorts are still on, just pushed down, you don’t care about anything but-

“please?” This time, the word carries absolutely no reluctance. He always, always wants to make sure you’re on the same page, and you love him for it.

“Please. I need you. Right now.” You confirm, pressing your hips to him, and you shudder with instant relief when he begins pushing into you - he seems just as relieved.

“fuck, i love you.” He whispers, feeling your legs wrap around his waist, pulling him deeper - oh god, was he bigger? You weren’t sure if you could handle it for a moment, then suddenly, you’re absolutely sure that the only thing you can’t handle is the thought of him, not inside you, ever, ever again.

“Hard.” You whisper, already clinging to his ribcage, and his eye sparks dangerously.

He’s more than happy to oblige.

It barely takes five minute before your body totally succumbs, and you moan out his name, trying to hold on as you clutch him again and again, your mind grinding to a blissful halt. He slows down a little, letting you catch your breath, and stops kissing your jaw long enough to meet your eyes, when they slide back open.

“one.” He counts, the smile on his face either infuriating or amazing - you can’t quite decide - before he begins work on ‘two.’

----------------------------------

The trouble with skeletons, you mull, several hours later… well, it wasn’t really trouble at all, it was just a fact. Human guys stopped after they came. That was biology, right, they needed a while to collect themselves before they were interested again.

Sans isn’t constrained by biology in the same way, and he’d clearly spent the last few days thinking about everything he wanted to do to make up for lost time. And, oh god, you had certainly encouraged that pursuit.

And now… well, you’d never felt more exhausted. Or sticky.

Or satisfied.

“we should take a shower.” Sans is mumbling against your neck, curled up against you - he really does love being the big spoon.

“Mmm.”

“any second now, we’re gonna move and take a shower.”

“Mhm.” You yawn, your eyelids drooping.

“it’s gonna happen.” He warns sleepily.

“Mhm.” You breathe into your pillow, stretching leaden limbs for a second and then wriggling back next to him.

“tomorrow morning?”

“Mhm.” He lets out a soft laugh at that.

“you just saying mhm to everything?”

“Nnn.” He laughs again, and hugs you a little closer.

“okay. night, baby.”

“S’morning. Technically.” You breathe, tracing your toe along his shin.

“k. good morning. i love you.” He whispers, so sweetly that it almost makes your heart skip.

“Love you too. Love you so much.” You mumble.

“still mad at me?” He’s trying to keep the laugh out of his voice, but you hear it anyway, and love him more for it.

“Oh, you could do that again sometime.” You say, closing your eyes, and he lets out another sleepy laugh.

----------------------------
He still doesn’t fall asleep for a while. He stays up, his eyes half open, watching the wild, flaring flames of your soul.

There were billions of other humans on this earth, literal billions. There were thousands and thousands of monsters, too. But he was the one who could make your soul light up like that. You’d picked him, and he got to watch you come alive.

And for a while, while he’s watching you take deep, even breaths, he doesn’t care about the resets, the eternity spent underground, any of the things that normally made it such a challenge to slap that smile on his face. It had led to you. It had all led to you, every decision, every choice. Some greater force had judged him, and found him decent enough, for you to allow him into your life.

He’s getting a little emotional, he thinks, pressing closer against your back. But he’s got you. He’s got you.

He’s never letting go.

Chapter Text

He wakes up.

He takes a breath.

He screams.

He cuts himself off almost immediately, but it’s only because screaming isn’t enough. He’s in a bed, but... He’s not in your bedroom. He’s not in your house.

He knows this place.

Row upon row of hospital beds, the miasma of sickness, of despair in the air. The blue green glow from weak fluorescent lights. The pink bedspread. The dead plants. The dog dish.

“no, no, no … fuck no!” He scrambles upright, out of bed, scrapes desperately at the fabric of space, knowing it’ll be futile, knowing that nothing will open - a reset, a fucking reset, he thought these were done, he thought he was free and now he’s back, down here, in the underground, in the lab, back behind the barrier, back where the sun refused to shine -

The door opens. Just like that. The door opens, and there’s your front yard - he hadn’t known where to try for, he’d just aimed for *home* - and the panic welling up in his throat suddenly recedes. He’s not trapped. He’s not trapped.

(Well. Now that we have that out of the way.)

He whirls, but the voice comes from nowhere. It’s so familiar, a voice he’d know anywhere, but there’s something different. Underneath the calm, even timbre, there’s a strange, even… clicking.

“...dad?” He finally rasps.

(Why so surprised?) Click. Click. Click.

Gaster sounds amused. Sans gathers himself back together by degrees. He hates that he’s been caught off guard, he hates that Gaster knows it… oh, god, does he hate that Gaster knows it, that he’s clearly planned this. Finally, he slaps a smile on his face.

“uh, kinda hard to talk to ya if i don’t know where i’m looking.”

The voice lets out a bitter, long suffering sigh. (Really, son. I’d have thought you would be miles beyond physical… Very well. But, do know, this is… uncomfortable for me.) There’s a moment where nothing happens, and then slowly the shadows in the room begin to creep together, pooling into a shape on the floor, a puddle that slowly rises into a shape that almost, if Sans squints, resembles his father. (There. Satisfied?) The shadow asks, gliding a little closer to Sans.

Don’t flinch, don’t flinch, don’t….

“heh. not exactly.” He arches a brow. “...where have you been, dad?”

(Busy.) The word is short, clipped.

“i didn’t ask what you were doing. i asked where you’ve been.” He says, more confidently than he feels. The Gaster-shape straightens slightly, becomes more corporeal.

(Wherever you scraped together the impression that you could address me in that tone-)

“can it.” Sans suggests. “you’ve been gone a long time, gaster. shit, uh, changes.”

There’s a deadly pause, and then a burst of wild, clicking laughter fills the room. It is not, Sans notes, the sanest laugh he’s ever heard.

(I have, son. I have been gone a long. A long time.) Gaster whispers. (Do you know where I’ve been yet?) Click. Click. Click, his father’s voice goes.

Sans recognizes that clicking suddenly. His gaze darts to the wall of the lab, and Gaster chuckles, this time sounding proud.

(Good lad. That’s right. When I opened that door, that power, I couldn’t have known… no. I had hopes. I had hopes. The void was too small. There was no way out from there. I had to go deeper. Or… advance.)

“how did you-”

(Picture a two dimensional line. A two dimensional world. Picture a square. The square exists on that two dimensional plane. It is flat.) Gaster clicks, that familiar, didactic tone in his voice, a professor to a student. (How could a square conceive of a cube? You can, of course, son, but the square, even if it was intelligent enough to do so, could not. You can imagine a depth, not just a length and width. You exist in a three dimensional world.) He clicks out a rhythmic laugh. (I knew I was close when I reached the limits of my perception, my comprehension, when I struck something I could only understand as darkness.)

Sans doesn’t look at the shadowy shape of his father. He’s still looking at the wall. Well, he’s looking at the wall clock. More specifically, he’s looking at the second hand.

Click. It advances a fraction, one sixtieth of a circle. Click. Click. Click. Click.

He looks back at his father, and a scrap of advice someone had told him long ago drifts through his skull.

Beware the man who speaks in hands.

“so you made it, huh? the fourth dimension. huh. really is time. just like we thought.” He finally says, low and even.

(I did. It took me some time to adapt, to understand that my three dimensional self simply would not do. Luckily, where I am now… I have nothing but.) Another clicking laugh. (I imagine I would look quite monstrous to you now, if you could perceive me. Probably for the best that you don’t try.)

Sans takes a while to think this over. He wishes desperately that he was wearing something more than novelty boxers at the moment.

“why didn’t you free us, gaster?” He finally whispers. “if you found a way past that damn barrier, why didn’t you-”

(That’s why I brought you here.) Gaster suddenly has no more self satisfaction in his voice. He is stern, almost furious. (We need to have a little father-son chat about who you’ve chosen to … consort with.)

“wh-”

(QUESTIONS LATER.) Gaster suddenly booms. (Do you really think I was free, you imbecile? Do you really think I could have freed you pissants? THE BARRIER WAS COMPLETE. Do you understand me? NOTHING COULD GET OUT. NOT. EVEN. TIME.”) He stops for a second, seeming to gather himself. (I am… constantly surprised and astonished by how facile the human souls have proved when it comes to time magic.) He finally whispers. (It seems to be a bit of a speciality in their species. But then, you’re a smart lad. You know.)

“thought i was an imbecile-”

(Son. Son. Please.) Gaster lets out another suffering sigh. (Such a persecution complex. May we continue?) He actually waits, the shadowy shape doing its best to look patient somehow, until Sans slowly inclines his head. (The barrier made it easier, of course. Limited the possibilities, limited the effort. So easy, even a child could do it. Several children, in fact, as I believe you’ve gathered. Oh, the skips, the resets, the loading and reloading from set points! Just children, Sans. Children shaking a snowglobe and seeing where the flakes fall. Until finally, your little pet human shook that snowglobe so hard it broke open, and then your world opened and….) He breathes in a hiss of satisfaction, (so did mine.)

“you were trapped too.”

(Of course. You must have noticed, even you must have, that suddenly you didn’t need to work to remember who I was? That your friends remembered me too? I was free of that puerile fetter. Oh, time is so much more interesting when you’re not just watching the same tired events play out over and over again! Suddenly, I had the whole universe to study! Er. Have. Tenses are… tricky.) He lets out a wild giggle, and Sans tries not to wince.

“don’t think people were meant to see so much, dad.” He mutters, and Gaster lets out another wild laugh.

(Maybe not, son. Maybe not.) Gaster sounds distant, and hiding in that distance is something entirely unhinged.

“...dad.”

(I see everything, you know. If I want. I’ve seen the big bang thousands of times. I’ve seen the absence thousands more. In some realities, it never happens. The switch never gets flipped. I’ve seen so many, many things. And in this timeline, I see one thing that… worries me.) The wild laughter is gone now, the strict disciplinarian back in its place. (This girl. This human. Your new… friend. She’s done something she shouldn’t have.)

He bristles, his eyes going hard without realizing it. “you leave her the fuck alone, gaster, or-”

(BE CALM.) Gaster roars, sounding furious. (OR YOU’LL WHAT, SON?) Sans doesn’t move. He doesn’t know. A minute creeps by, where he doesn’t say a goddamn thing, just keeps his eyes fixed on whatever Gaster’s pulled together to represent himself. (She stopped time.) Gaster finally says, as if nothing at all had happened. (Humans are good at that sort of thing, I know, they made the barrier, and then your little friend, down below… but this is new. This wasn’t a reset. This was stopping time. She made a bubble, a globe, just like the old sorcerers did when they made the barrier. A tiny one, but a globe all the same. She kept time out though, and she stayed aware and alive and she MOVED while she did stopped time in her bubble, and no matter how much magic she’s using, she shouldn’t be able to do that. I had to work very hard to talk to her in the first place.)

“i know. she told me.”

(At first, I was just interested. Here was something new!) Gaster chuckles. (But I’ve been thinking. Time is MINE. She can’t go grabbing pieces wherever she wants.) Sans snorts.

“so what, whaddya want me to do? is this my dad tellin’ me to break up with my girlfriend, cuz’ i gotta say, you picked a hell of a time to decide to be back in my life and givin’ me fatherly advice. uh, no pun intended.”

(Again, such a persecution complex. No, you fool.) Gaster chuckles. (Why do you think I saved her in the first place?)

“uh, boredom, i assume. maybe you liked the challenge?” Sans proposes, and Gaster lets out another peel of unhinged laughter.

(No, son, it’s because I saw what happened to you in all the timelines where she didn’t make it.) He whispers. (Oh, she didn’t survive in almost all of them. So many pretty girls in bloody piles in the snow. So many broken sons. It was painful, almost, to see you so pathetic. You might be a… what would you say, a piece of shit? But you’re my piece of shit. You always will be.)

There’s a sinking feeling beneath Sans’ ribs when he hears those words, as he tries, horrified, not to think about what his father had just said, about all the other universes where... He can’t. He can’t think about that.

“then what? stop, uh, helpin’ her get magic?” He finally mutters, arching a browbone.

(Again, son, I don’t really give a flying fuck. Have fun with her. Spend as much time as you like, be happy. Fornicate yourself senseless. I must say, I was a little surprised you were so terribly interested in that pursuit, given your biological composition. How can a skeleton even have the concept -)

“woah. we’re definitely not talking about this.” Sans says quickly, feeling like a petulant teenager suddenly. A terrified, horrified, petulant teenager. “and it’s about the most disgusting thing i can think of, if you’re watchin’-” He adds urgently, but is cut off by Gaster’s laughter.

(Trust me. Of all the things in this universe I could watch - and I can, son, I can watch ALL THE THINGS, but… that ranks just about rock bottom.) Gaster snorts. (Just… pass the message along, will you, son? No more time stops. Not ever. That’s not a privilege she’s earned.)

“...that’s it?” Sans mutters.

(For now.) Gaster says lightly. (Now. I believe we both have things to do, and I must say, being in this dimension is exhausting. Time for us to go our separate ways, I think.)

“wait. wait!” Gaster’s already started to fade, but he stops, and looks at Sans patiently, if a pillar of shadows with a vague head-shape can be patient. “you said questions later. i have questions.”

(I suppose I did.) Gaster sighs.

“how’d you get me here? you gotta machine to make shortcuts, somewhere in that dimension?” He demands quickly. Gaster chuckles.

(No, son. Merely a different perspective. Most of time/space, I still struggle to punch through, but those places that you and your beau have cut doors into… well, Sans, you should know this better than most. They seal up, but it doesn’t take much to open them again. Nothing ever heals perfectly, and you’ve cut into this lab, and that room you were... sleeping in, often enough that it was easy to make a tunnel between the two.)

“...huh.” He’d never thought about that.

(Anything else?) Gaster drawls.

“yeah. what happens if she doesn’t take your recommendation. what if she stops time again?” Gaster thinks about this.

(If she insists on being childish, and being in my family, then I will treat her like an errant child.) He finally pronounces.

“bein’ in your family-” Sans says sharply, confused and worried. He remembers how he had been treated as an errant child.

(Perhaps.) Gaster says. The shadow gives a tiny shrug. (Goodbye, Sans. Oh, and… give all my love to Papyrus, will you?) The reminder of his brother motivates Sans to say the thing a caring son should say, what Papyrus, who loved without question, would say:

“dad… look, i don’t think that place is good for you. i think you should come home.”

(No going home, son.) Click. Click. Click. (So much left to see…)

He’s gone.

Sans holds still, trying not to shudder, for another long minute, then scrambles to cut a new hole, stepping quickly back into your bedroom and sealing the hole behind him, knowing it’ll never be strong enough. His very first thought is to check on you.

You’re there. You’re asleep. You’re okay. Everything’s okay.

As if you sense him at the side of the bed, you wake up, stretching and looking grumpy that your eyes are open, and like… oh god, the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.

“Hey.” You yawn, and then smile - god, that grumpiness never stays for long, and the way your eyes light up when you look at him, it’s enough to make him want to weep and wrap his arms around you and bare his teeth at time itself and scream that nobody gets to hurt you, ever ever again.

“hey.” He reaches out and slides a hand through your hair, seeking reassurance.

“You’re up already?” You whisper, looking pleasantly surprised for a second, before you register the expression on his face. Then, you only look worried.

“long story.” Your brow furrows slightly at that one.

“Wanna tell me? And, uh, do you still want that shower?”

He thinks of the reek of the lab, the sickness, the lurching shape of his father, the threat, the image of her dead and bloody in the snow, and he nods slowly.

“yeah. i really, really need one.” He shudders.

Chapter Text

It’s weird, seeing him this out of sorts. Oh, sure, you’ve seen him upset before - probably way too often. But this was…

“Baby, what happened?” You ask quietly, watching him run his hand over his skull as he waited for the water to warm up - you’ve managed to migrate to the bathroom, and are doing your very best to act like you’re totally comfortable just having a butt naked conversation. Which, well, you’d done before, but it’s still a little weird! The, er, sudden nature of your relationship (and subsequent cohabitation - well, fuck, it wasn’t even subsequent, he’d moved in before you’d even been on a date!) had you discovering these odd moments where you found yourself still a little unsure.

He’s in another world, though, he’s not even covertly checking you out, and that’s so different from his behavior recently that it has you fully spooked.

“my dad. our pal. sent me on a little trip this morning.” He finally pronounces, stepping promptly into the shower. You run that sentence through your head a few times before speaking.

“Whaaaaat.” God, when are you going to master the art of normal responses? You push the shower curtain out of the way and step in after him. “Please. Expound on that thought. Elaborate.” You urge.

“woke up in the lab. underground. creepiest goddamn place.” He mutters, reaching around you for the bar of soap and running it vaguely over his ribs. You get the sense this isn’t strictly necessary for him, but it seems to be making him feel better.

“How-”

“he’s been figuring some stuff out. lots of stuff, apparently. he can open a door anywhere we’ve opened doors, babe.” Sans mutters, and you blink.

“Ew, so he was in our bedroom? Oh, oh, EW. What? EW.”

“i know. look. it gets worse.” Sans sighs, giving you an extremely apologetic look as you try not to think about the possibility that his dad had seen you naked. But, well, it does get worse. As he explains his encounter with Gaster your skin begins to crawl, and you’re shaking your head unhappily before he even gets to the punchline. He seems totally horrified, and worse, bleak in a way that you just haven’t seen on him before. He seems like the ordeal has sapped him. And telling you Gaster’s purpose in visiting the third dimension is clearly the most painful for him; he doesn’t meet your eyes, and he practically whispers, in his deep rumble, when he gets to that bit.

“He came to tell you… to tell me… not to stop time?” You try out. Sans winces and nods, his eyes dim. “Oh. Jeez. Okay.”

“okay?”

“Okay, I won’t stop time. I mean, I have no idea how I did it in the first place, but I’ll, you know, not do it again.” You say with a shrug.

“...babe.” Sans is staring at you like he can’t figure you out. “we can work something out, i don’t want you to feel like he can control-”

“Sans, I don’t like seeing you like this. I’ll do whatever’s necessary to keep him from freaking you out like this again.” You say quickly. “Besides, it’s not like… I don’t know, like something I was born with or anything. It’s something I did once, and almost nobody noticed, you know? It’s cool. Let him… god, this is weird. Let him hang out in the fourth dimension or whatever. Let him be in charge of time. As long as he leaves you alone.” You sigh, feeling somewhat strange that this level of magical weirdness is beginning to feel normal.

“yeah?” Sans doesn’t seem particularly convinced.

“Yeah. I just want you to be okay. That’s my biggest concern right now.” You tell him quietly, leaning forward to kiss his skull, which is beaded with stray droplets of water. Almost as an afterthought, when you pull away, you glance down at his chest and focus in that in-between way. You jerk with surprise - you’re used to seeing his soul so bright, barely contained beneath his ribs, but right now, it’s…

Dull.

“what?” Sans is watching you, and he follows your gaze for a second, looking down at his chest before sucking in a breath between his teeth. “oh.”

“...Sans-”

“don’t freak out. used to always look like this, underground.” He interjects, sounding just a little worried, and you realize just how much being back there again when he hadn’t expected it, feeling like he’s under the thumb of his dad again, how it’s chipping away at him. You’d felt the pit of black despair he’d lived in before he escaped the barrier. When you’d touched his soul, you’d seen that, vividly, how much it had taken for him just to get out of bed, to do anything, so convinced in the futility of the effort, the knowledge that it would get wiped away by a reset, that he could barely rouse himself for anything at all.

God, you hated knowing that you’d slept soundly while something had happened to him that had caused his soul to fade so much.

“I’m not gonna let him hurt you again.” You mutter firmly, fingers fanning out on his sternum without even thinking, clean bone against clean bone. You want to make this better so badly-

“hey.” Sans says quietly, and you realize that you’d been reaching with your mind too, trying to … well, physically just fix it. But, right, you remembered what Undyne said, that touching souls wasn’t something that monsters did lightly.

“Shit, sorry, I really wasn’t thinking.” You say quickly, pulling your hand away, and he shakes his head.

“s’okay. just feelin’... i don’t think you wanna touch it right now.” He says quietly. “it’d make you feel pretty…” He shakes his head slowly, trailing off, and you sigh softly, and wrap both arms around him.

“I know. I know how you feel.” You whisper, thinking of how distressed he’d been when he’d seen you, that first night he’d torn open a door to the void, that day Paula had suddenly and unceremoniously forced her way back to your life via that shitty, awful television interview. He’d been so horrified, looking at you - he’d been ready to send some humans to the void forever because he could see how hurt your soul was.

And now Gaster had forced his way back into Sans’ life; and in doing so, he’d showed just how easily he could hurt Sans. Could hurt either of you. No wonder his soul wasn’t shining particularly brightly.

“i know you do.” He replies quietly, and nuzzles into your neck, hanging onto you under the soft cascade of water. “later, okay? just need a little time to…” He takes a deep breath, his ribs rising and falling in reaction to the operation of invisible lungs, and he twines his fingers in your hair, still holding quite close to you.

“Yeah.” You sigh, and kiss him softly, after meeting his eyes for a second first. “Let’s… let’s get out of here today, okay? Do something outside, let you see the sky a little bit? No need to... science today, let’s do something you’d like.”

“heh. i like science.” He laughs tiredly, then smiles at you. “but… yeah, okay. that sounds great. we’ve got one day of vacation left anyway. can we bring paps?”

“Duh.” You say fondly, and kiss his forehead. “C’mon, baby. As much as I like hanging out with you in the shower, let’s get out of here.” He snorts at that, and you finish cleaning yourself quickly, noticing a few tender areas here and there - he’d been holding you pretty tight last night, though you hadn’t noticed until just now. At least there seemed to be no new embarrassing marks. He notices that you’re taking stock of your current state, and he shyly asks,

“hey, uh, you feelin’ okay?” You snort, and nod quickly.

“Um. I feel bad saying this, but I feel amazing? Like, wow, last night was… I mean, even forgetting the weird magic aspect, um, heh…. you know, unbelieveable, but right now? I feel like I could take on the world, magic-wise, and I’m pretty damn sure I’ve got you to thank for that, so...” You trail up, cheeks feeling warm, but it’s oka