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Red Stop Signs

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Sans looked around, but his view was the same from every angle—folded cloth, directly over his eyes. Blindfolded, then. His arms were tied over his head. He tugged at them, testing the strength of the restraints, and confirmed he was as fucked as he expected.

Remember to give these jerkoffs their knot-tying badge later, they've earned it he quipped to himself. Heh. Papyrus would be mad at him for making light of the situation, and somehow that cheered him up.

Much to his serious younger brother's shame, this was getting to be a regular occurrence. Papyrus' new position in the royal guard came with quite a salary, Sans' laziness and lax attitude were known quantities, and the Grand Papyrus apparently had enough affection for his useless older brother that he would pay up without fail to return him safely. In a stark contrast to Papyrus' hard attitude about the rest of the Underground, Sans was the one monster who revealed the sliver of love hiding in Papyrus' soul. That was something that Papyrus could never forgive Sans for. It was something that Sans felt immense comfort and shame about. Yet somehow, despite his best (somewhat sleepy) efforts, this was the third time he'd been captured this month.

Fourth? Did the thing with Monster Kid and the gum on the floor count? He didn't want to count that. Not everyone who shouted “I'VE CAPTURED SANS THE SKELETON” after tripping somebody and then sitting on them was necessarily right by default, and it only took Sans about five minutes to get away.

You should be immobilized for at least six minutes or more to count as a capture, Sans was sure.

It used to be a lot easier to escape when Sans still had his shortcuts, but that avenue was closed to him after he stupidly lost those powers to Grillby in a poker game.

None of it spoke well to Sans' reputation, but it was his brother's reputation he was really concerned about. More than Papyrus' anger, what he hated to see was that split-second look of uncertainty and disappointment on Papyrus' otherwise unshakeable face. Sometimes the disappointment didn't even look like it was directed at Sans, and that just wasn't acceptable.

Sans' train of thought was interrupted by the sharp tap of footsteps. He heard a nearby door open—presumably to the cell he assumed he was in—and the footsteps drew closer. He felt body heat near his face, and then the pull of fabric as the blindfold was undone. Interesting. He thought his captors didn't want to reveal their faces to him so they could remain anonymous after this whole incident was through.

Seemingly reading Sans' confusion, the monster in front of him explained.

“Being deprived of senses is supposed to make monsters more afraid. But I get the feeling it's not doing anything with you, is it?”

Sans smirked at his captor.

"I guess it would be easier to be afraid of you if I couldn't see you, long-ears.”

The monster before him was about twice as tall as him, but half as threatening, thanks to drawing the shortest straw in the genetics pool of the terrifying monsters of the Underground. He was a bunny.

Sans could feel the other monster “checking” him. That was never a good feeling. He didn't like the look that flashed in their eyes when they saw his measly one HP. But he did feel just slightly gratified by the way their face always fell a moment later when they realized this meant they wouldn't be able to kick him around for sport unless they wanted to lose their bargaining chip. Hell, even if they got frustrated with the deal and decided to kick him around anyway, it's not like they'd get much satisfaction from a single kick and then—poof.

It was a pathetic reason to be glad for his one HP, but Sans had to take his wins where he could.

But this monster's face didn't fall. Instead, a slick smile slid up nearly to the base of his long ears. It changed the cute face in a way that made Sans shudder involuntarily.

The monster considered Sans for a moment, a hand on his chin in a thoughtful expression. “I get it. I see now.” The monster nodded to himself. “You've never been tortured before.”

Sans didn't like where this was going.

“No wonder you weren't scared. It would seem impossible to torture you. That is, if you're a cement-headed plebe with no creativity.”

Sans really didn't like where this was going. Overblown vocabularies and ego were not good combos with people who thought they could do things they really couldn't. Sans had a sudden and soul-freezing thought that he might not make it out of this alive, all because of this idiot thinking he was some special-snowflake “creative” sadist.

“Hah.” Sans was going to follow up his derisive laugh with a retort, but when the moment came and went he found that nothing else came out. The silence that followed transformed his laugh into a more pitiful reply than he intended. Impossibly, the bunny monster's grin widened.

“You have doubts. Don't worry too much.” He knelt down and tucked a finger under Sans' chin, lifting his face. “I certainly won't kill you.”

“What exactly—“ Sans paused so his voice wouldn't stutter. “You just want money, don't you?”

The monster snorted. “Ohhh Sans.” He brushed a finger affectionately over Sans' jaw. Sans took a second too long deliberating over whether to snap at the finger when the monster removed his hand and jabbed his thumb back at the door in the far corner, indicating outside the cell. “They want money. I'm here keeping you company while things are settled. Apparently it's taking a while.”

That was actually a bit unusual. It made Sans even more nervous. If Papyrus was settling things, everything was over and done like that. But if he'd finally grown tired of Sans disappointing him...if Sans had wasted the last bit of heart Papyrus had left to spare...

“So!” The monster clapped his hands and rubbed them together eagerly. “I assume you've never had dirt poured into your soul?”

Sans wasn't sure he'd heard correctly. Had he ever what?

“You don't seriously—“ Sans was cut off when his soul was frozen and pulled through his ribcage by magic. The unexpected sudden squeeze on his soul made him gag. The soft glow that emanated from it and fell over his clothes felt traitorous. It wasn't supposed to be out in the open like this. It was so delicate, unlike just about everything else in this world.

“Wait. You really can't do this. I mean, if I die in here—”

The monster held a finger to Sans' mouth in a shushing gesture. “Sans, Sans. You're in good hands. This will only be extremely unpleasant.”

The monster took a small bag out of his jacket, because yeah who didn't carry bags of dirt around for torture purposes, that made perfect sense, and he poured a bit of the dirt into one hand. Then he leaned over the soul, made a sound like he was going to hawk a loogie, and unceremoniously dribbled spit into the soul.

“The fu-” Sans choked on the curse. He felt, in more detail than he had ever bothered to consider the substance, saliva tendrils sticking and snapping as they dripped and pooled to the center of his soul. He could swear he even felt the miniscule air bubbles, and it was the just about the most disgusting thing he'd ever experienced.

“If I don't want the dirt to stick to the top, it needs a conduit,” the bunny explained...helpfully. He then tilted his handful of dirt over the soul. The first few granules stuck to the spit and slid inside.

Sans jerked hard against his hand restraints as his body ordered him to double over. He made a gagging noise that he didn't recognize as his own voice for a moment. He felt more dirt slide in, and his sight blacked out temporarily. He was only hazily aware of the blackout because the monster appeared to teleport from one position in front of him to another close beside him, leaning against the wall with him and holding up the bag as though it were some disguised hooch being shared between fellow street rats.

“Want another go?”


“I think you do.” The monster jiggled the bag. Sans' eye flashed in panic.


The monster tipped the bag so dirt was on the lip, about to fall.


The bunny swung a long leg over Sans' middle and settled over him in a crouched straddling position. He leaned his elbows on Sans' chest and cupped his face in his hands, the bag of dirt pressed against one cheek. “I'd like to hear why,” he said, a pleased grin stretching his face.

“You were right.”

“About what?”

“I've never. Never been tortured before.”

“Well, that was exceedingly obvious, my dear.” Sans' head dipped. The monster grabbed Sans' chin again and tilted his face up. “I want to hear why in more detail.”

Sans couldn't bring his gaze up to look his captor in the face. This was going less than optimally. “What do you mean, more detail?”

“I want you to tell me how it felt, of course.”

Sans blanched. But it only took him a second to decide his pride wasn't worth having that done to him again. “It felt...bad.” He flinched at the monster's frown. “I don't...It's too much work, describing shit. I'm not good at it.”

“Evidently,” the monster grimaced. He rose to his feet and stared down his nose at Sans.

Sans shrunk under the hard gaze. But apparently, the bunny was interested enough in his own voice to let Sans' inadequate reply slide.

“You see, I've experimented before with things that don't reduce a monster's HP. Even monsters with an average amount of HP whittle down after a while, and no one wants to use all their food just for a good bit of torture. It's a waste of resources.”

“God forbid,” Sans muttered.

“I never got the chance to work with a monster with such low HP before. It's pretty exciting for me. You know...being right on the edge of life and death."

Sans twitched nervously.

"Your life, of course, not mine," the bunny added cheerfully. He started pacing, one hand to his chin.

"There's something I'd like to test on you...” his other hand started to glow, and his long shadow fell over Sans as he stopped in front of him. “You see, so long as you're not forming bullets, you can use a thin layer to penetrate a soul with magic.”

Sans' breath went out of him. He gasped hard as it came back a moment later. This was the time for his quick wit to save him, but his mind was a blank. “ no no no.”

Sans' panic pleased the bunny monster even more. “It's perfectly safe. I mean, I'm saying that, but honestly we don't know the long-term effects yet or if my magic will leave contaminant in your soul...anyway!” Sans' feet scrambled as he pushed himself hard into the wall behind him, trying to make himself as small as possible. The bunny squatted and leaned close to Sans' cowering form. The bunny held out the glowing hand, magic lighting up the tips of two fingers. “...let's give it a try.”

Against Sans' will, his soul was yanked on again and almost made contact with the bunny's fingers. The bunny lightly tickled the surface, giving Sans a jolt. Sans' breathing came out uneven as he tried not to let his chest rise and meet the outstretched fingers.

“Don't. Don't. Don't don't don't. Let go of me.”

“There, now.”

The bunny shoved the fingers through. Sans gasped but wished he could have screamed. It might have helped ease the awful, stinging tension.

“That's not so bad, is it?” the bunny cooed, giving a little tug on the inside of San's soul. Sans felt the world spin in a fit of nausea. He had to vomit, but there was nothing in his stomach. Instead, just a line of acidic-tasting drool dribbled out of his mouth, his eyes rolling up. His whole body was shaking with the intense need to expel the invasion. The fingers must have been in there for hours. Except...

“28....29....30.” The bunny stopped a stopwatch Sans didn't remember him holding before. He then gently pulled the fingers out. What looked like some remaining spit clung from the soul to the removed digits. “Thirty seconds. You really hung in there like a trooper.”

The bunny smiled and reached into his jacket, pulling out a bandaid. He peeled the protective paper from it and laid it on the punctured spot on the soul, smoothing it on with his thumbs.

“Th-thir...thirty....?” Sans got out through heaving breaths.

“Thirty seconds, yes. Time stands still for pain, doesn't it? I wouldn't worry about it if it's not the record you were hoping on setting.” The bunny nudged San's nasal ridge with his button nose. Sans' body was too wracked with exhaustion for him to muster any indignity. The trembling wouldn't stop.

“Now I know you don't want me to do that again.” The bunny slammed one hand on the wall beside Sans' head. Sans weakly pushed himself as flat against the wall as he could get. The bunny's other hand gave one long stroke down the back of Sans' still exposed soul, and Sans whimpered. “And definitely not for, say..." he picked up the stopwatch again and glanced down at it. "Thirty minutes?" Sans' whole body froze.  "So why don't you go ahead and beg me for mercy.”

Sans opened his mouth, but only kept breathing heavily for a moment. When he tried to speak, he let out a sob. His pupils contracted and his expression turned distant. “B-boss.” He closed in on himself in terror. “p-p-papyrus. papyrus save me.” He kept sobbing, breath hitching in rough hiccoughs. The bunny rocked back on his heels and tilted his head onto his fist, apparently enjoying the sobs as though they were a rich ambient music.

“Shhh. Hush.” The bunny leaned forward again, face almost touching Sans'. He held Sans' head in both hands and spoke in a low whisper. “You're not very good at following directions, are you?”

Sans' sobbing stopped suddenly. His eyes darted up to meet the other monster's eyes.

“Do I look like Papyrus to you?” The bunny asked, sliding one hand down Sans' face and pressing it on his chest, molecules away from brushing against the soul. Sans felt like he had stopped breathing. The bunny's hand twitched, but still didn't touch the soul. Sans trembled. “Who were you supposed to beg?”

“Ah-” Sans tried to get any other noise out of his mouth, anything that sounded at all like words, but it was like he'd forgotten how to speak. He moved his mouth voicelessly a moment longer before giving up on that and merely shaking his head fearfully.

“No?” The bunny's hand closed around the fabric of Sans' shirt and twisted it. Sans flinched and moved his mouth again, but still wasn't able to produce a word. The best he could do with some effort was to give a high whine.

Suddenly, the bunny's darkened expression softened and he looked eminently pleased once more. “Ohhh. You can't even speak.”

The bunny removed his hand from the threatening spot near Sans' soul and allowed the soul to release and phase back into Sans' chest. The bunny wrapped his arms over Sans' shoulders and stroked the back of his head.

“You poor thing. I think that's enough for today.”

Sans wanted so badly to retort. Wanted to want to retort, to spit, to bite, anything but shivering in the bunny monster's arms and letting out one more wet hiccough.

The bunny stood up and smoothed out his jacket coat. He looked down at Sans as though he were a science project he was proud of completing admirably.

“I'll see you tomorrow,” the bunny said in a sing-song, then traipsed out of the cell and softly shut the door with a tell-tale click indicating a locking mechanism. After the door closed, Sans could see a small red light glaring at him from up in the corner.

Sans wanted to pass out, but his thoughts and residual phantom sensations kept him up for a long while later.