There's a human curled at his feet, struggling to stay alive.
Sans isn’t quite sure what to do with them - he could always finish them off and absorb their soul, but he's gone this far without resorting to that and besides, they had done nothing but whimper softly against the cold snow. Killing them might invoke another reset anyways and who was he to chance that?
Picking the human up, he watches in interest as they immediately snuggle into what warmth his embrace has to offer, soft little noises leaving their lips in tandem with white clouds of air. The thing that surprises him most is how they’re so tiny and cold. This must've been the human everyone was been so hung up on, the one that’d been living in Snowdin’s forest for the past month. Sans can’t help but admire the fact that they’ve survived this long on their own.
Unfortunately, the skeleton monster has a bit of a predicament on his hands - either he takes them to his home and stashes them in his lab, or he exposes them to papyrus, both with a large risk of the human being killed and himself being dusted. That or he takes them back to where he knew they were hiding out; it wasn't that far of a walk from here.
Glancing back down at the shivering mass in his arms, the stout skeleton sighs before trudging on. No one should bother him, except Papyrus, but hopefully, the taller skeleton wouldn’t be home. He should have plenty of time to decide what he should do until then. And if he could convince Papyrus, then they would be safe.
But why was he even sticking his neck out for the little shrimp? Why did he even care? Part of him reels away and wants to drop the human in the snow right there and then. Visibly, he sneers and pauses, red iris illuminating the dark space around their figures.
He keeps walking.
The infuriating part is he doesn’t know why he cares. He just can’t bring himself to care enough about turning them in the first time he'd stumbled across them, and now here he is, saving their life. Maybe he was just tired of knowing that if they died, there'd be a reset. He’s so damn tired of resetting. Besides, this human doesn’t seem so bad.
The walk through Snowdin is the anxiety inducing, but thankfully the blizzard hissing around him hides the bundle in his arms. He snarls at any monster that dares to journey close, and most of them back off and leave him alone. A few sneer back before turning back to their own business, but not without keeping a careful eye on him. He knows most of them only leave him alone because his brother is the head of the royal guard, but he knows that he's enough of a force to be reckoned with on his own. Even if no one knows it.
Soon enough he notices the human’s gone extremely still by the time he arrives home, and he doesn't waste any time in setting them up on the ginormous couch and layering blanket upon blanket on their resting form. At first, they seem to miss his warmth with a small mewl, but by the time they're covered on the couch they look happy, some color returning to their features.
“you're nothing but trouble, brat.” Work done, he sighs, leaving the house. Might as well try to explain to Papyrus before he comes home. He couldn't have his younger brother inducing a reset, after all.
Sans is extremely confused.
Papyrus is leaning over their form, one bony hand on their forehead and another holding out a steaming cup of golden flower tea. They make a sudden noise as the jolt, the new noise causing both brothers to pause in slight worry. The skeletons aren't quite sure what that sound is, but relax as the human recovers and sits up slightly, untangling their hands from the sheets as they reach for the warm mug.
“Thank you.” Surprised, Papyrus tilts his head, narrowing his eyes in consideration. The human only downs some of the warm drink, sighing happily.
“Understand this, human! The great Papyrus does not do this out of kindness. It is out of pity and my brother's insistence that you are not dead right now. It would be shameful and weak of me to not wait until you are well before I take your soul.”
Papyrus isn't bullshitting, Sans knows, but he watches as they nod and smile kindly anyways. “Still, thank you.”
Sans wants to haul them up by their throat and ask them just who the fuck they think they are. They've caused a light blush to spread across Papyrus’ cheeks, moments after he's threatened their life. Papyrus had vowed to judge them to see if they were a kind human, and it seems that his judgement has already passed.
“You do not seem to be so bad, for a human. What is your name?” Papyrus’ voice is softer now as he watches them. He seems slightly less guarded, and Sans knows just as Papyrus knows that the human doesn't mean any harm. Monsters are good at sensing the intentions of souls, and right now theirs is just humming happily.
“y/n.” They offer meekly, over the rim of their cup. Thankfully they can't see Sans from where they're looking at Papyrus because Sans is standing behind the couch. He's not sure he can look at them right now anyways. Not like this, when he feels too conflicted to make sense of them. They should be dead, a bloody pulp in the snow or a huddled still mass in the blizzard. Not cozying up to the head of the royal guard in his home, after Sans – Sans, mind you! - saved their life.
Maybe he's a little jealous he's not the center of attention of such a warm soul at the moment. Immediately shaking the thought away, Sans decides to break the ice.
“c’mon boss. the brat can rest while we decide what to do with ‘em.” Sans notices he sounds as vindictive as he feels and wonders if that's the right way to treat this strange human. They're much kinder and thoughtful than any human he's met before, and part of him knows they're going to be swallowed whole by the underground.
Papyrus nods, watching as they set the cup down with a soft exhale. Their eyes are closing and their breathing is becoming more even - Sans is surprised they stayed awake for even this long. Then again, Papyrus is quite the commanding presence.
Sans and Papyrus leave the home for the snowy front porch, icy winds cutting deep into Sans’ bones. Papyrus looks absolutely fine in the frigid weather, but then again Sans had always had more sensitive bones. The two of them just stand there for a long moment, and Sans knows that at any moment Papyrus could change his mind, turn around, and slaughter the human. But first, he'd probably drag them kicking and screaming outside in the snow, where everyone would watch Papyrus execute them.
Or worse, make Sans do it.
It's not like Sans cares about them. He’s just tired of resetting and having to relive years upon years of timelines. It gets boring after too long, even if each human that came through was different from the last.
“Perhaps we should take the human in, brother.” Papyrus begins slowly, a hand on his jaw. Sans is surprised once again by how much of an impact they've made on him. “It would make it much easier to keep an eye on them, and while all together it would be much better to kill them and take their soul, perhaps there could be... benefits to a pet human.”
Papyrus has a wry smile on his face, and while Sans enjoys his line of thought he's not sure he could stand the human enough to be watching out for them on a day to day basis. Enough to keep them alive, but that was it.
“i, uh, don’t think that’s a good idea pap. the sheds empty. give ‘em that.” Sans offers the idea with as much apathy as he can muster, eye-lights sliding over to watch his brother from the corners of his vision. Papyrus thinks this over, and as far as Sans can tell by the lack of a definitive ‘no’, Papyrus seems to agree. “they can have their room there, and still live with us. keep an eye on ‘em easier that way.”
“For such a lazy bones, that is not such a horrible idea, brother!” Papyrus ‘Nyeh’s softly, rubbing his jaw. Sans can definitely see it now, the metaphorical gears turning in his brother’s skull as he contemplates the plan. While Sans thinks it’s better than just letting the kid go – which he wouldn’t care much for either (remember? He doesn’t give a shit about the human.) – it’s also much better than Papyrus’ original ‘pet’ idea.
So long as they had a consistent idea of where the human was going to be, near Snowdin, they could keep an eye on them without having too much interaction with them. At least, that was the case for Sans. As stated before, the only reason he was putting up with them was because, for once, he wanted to make progress.
“Alright, I have thought it through, brother. Let us prepare the shed to be adequate enough for the human to live in.”
Sans thinks that maybe, just maybe, they’re not pretending.
All of their kindness and gratitude couldn’t all come from fear, right? Not something that seemed so genuine. Especially not with the way their soul thrummed happily when the brothers led them to the shed after they recovered a day later, through the cold, to a newly furnished space. It had only taken a few hours to clean the room, set up some magic to keep the place warm, and steal a mattress from the inn.
Hey, they wouldn’t mind too much, right? For a good cause, and all that bullshit.
The thing was, when Sans took an extra hard look at their soul, Sans wasn’t quite sure what he saw. Normally the humans that fell down here were easy to read and see just how scared, angry, bigoted, or deserving of their fate they were. Sans could read their thoughts and emotions like he was looking through a deck of cards, one human to the next, with slight variations here and there.
y/n was different.
While their soul was still easy to gauge the intentions of, it wasn’t quite so easy to see. Feel, yes. But he couldn’t tell what color, size, Attack, Defense, HP, or anything else. It was a little bit disconcerting, but it still added up to more reasons Sans was becoming ever more suspicious of them. Or reasons why he just couldn’t stand them. Their bullshit smile and manners. Genuine, yes, but he hated it. He refuses to think about why he hates it mostly because he’s afraid he won’t like what he’ll find.
“Thank you.” The human smiles at the two of them, back to the far wall with a hand on one of the support beams. Papyrus had gotten rid of the bars that had previously made it a cage, once again showing just how much he likes this human. “Really, this is too much.” Damn right, Sans thinks, as their eyes slide over to him, their smile fracturing for a moment before spreading wider.
Sans begins to sweat.
“Do not worry, human! It was no problem for me and my brother to set this up.” Papyrus declares, hands on his hips. “However, we have some rules, and if you do not obey, we will not hesitate to take your soul!” Narrowing his eyes, Papyrus, despite these acts of mercy (kindness, hissed a part of Sans’ thoughts), still looks menacing enough to make real threats. Sans knows by the way their soul shivers that the human knows Papyrus’ words have real weight to them. “You must be either here or in the house by nightfall; one of us must know where you are at all times; be home for breakfast and supper or feed yourself, and do not leave Snowdin without one of us.”
“and if you start shit,” Sans cuts in. “end it yourself. take care of it on your own, kid.”
As if Sans wants another reset so soon. Doesn’t mean he couldn’t wait until it was absolutely necessary to save their ass, right?
Sans’ soul squeezes tightly in his ribcage.
Their soul shiveres slightly, seeming to hum in either response to his threat or his own soul’s movement. For a ew moments they looked crestfallen, before it disappears back into a serious look of acceptance as they nod. They have the decency to look nervous, at least, which they should be. It was extremely probable that as soon as it caught wind there was a human staying in Snowdin that monsters would come from all over for the chance to kill them.
And about earlier, when Sans had carried them through town? Hopefully, the blizzard had been strong enough to hide them from eyesight. Sans doesn’t need vultures, and he and Pap don’t need to be constantly saving their ass, no matter how much they said they wouldn’t. Papyrus seema far too attached by now to let go anyways. The taller skeleton had always been a bit of a softie when it came down to it.
“Come, human.” Papyrus finally speaks disrupting their silent examination of the Spartan accommodations. “Let us go back into the house, so I can cook us something to eat. You must be famished.”